Tag Archives | Jen Wilkin

ONE Verse for 2017

This week graciously allows us to linger and reflect before 2017 ushers in a new blank slate for us to begin again. But, can I be honest? Beginnings can sometimes feel overwhelming. That’s why I love having something solid to hang onto as December fades into January.

For the last three years I’ve asked God to give me one word for the upcoming year. It’s a simple way to focus on what He’s already teaching me. This “One Word” practice has helped me sharpen my focus and align my priorities.

This year, I’m trying something new.

Instead of resolutions I know I’ll fail to keep, I’m choosing “One Verse” from scripture as my anchor for the entire year.  And I want to invite you to join me. It’s really pretty simple.

One Verse for 2017

Choose ONE verse. Just ONE.

First, pray. Choose something familiar, or choose something challenging, but let God guide your choosing. If you’re currently studying a particular book, go with a verse from that part of the Bible. Since I’ll be spending the Spring semester studying 1 Peter with a group of women from my church, my One Verse is from 1 Peter:

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect… 1 Peter 3:15

Learn each word, ONE by ONE.

Study each word in your One Verse. With the help of an English dictionary, record definitions and make a list of synonyms and antonyms.

Look up several different translations to see how they compare. This adds layer upon layer of meaning. Spend time examining the Greek or Hebrew meaning of key words. (Blue Letter Bible is a good place to start.)

Study the book and chapter that house your One Verse.

Understanding the time, audience, and culture is so vital to studying scripture, because it helps provide some much needed context. With an entire year to sink into these words of God, take a deep breath and take your time!

Record findings, questions, and pray throughout the entire process. Dig deep!

Make memorization an art project.

Create a piece of art centered around your One Verse. Display your One Verse in a spot that gets your daily attention.

1 Peter 3:15

1 Peter 3:15 artwork for iPhone 6

Whether it involves putting the words to a melody or painting them across a canvas, don’t limit yourself. I saved this graphic as my screen saver on my iPhone, because I know I’ll look at it multiple times a day.

If you want to create your own digital art, try using picmonkey.com. Upload a photo or use one of the free backgrounds or effects. If you need help on sizing for iPhone, click here. (Be sure to leave room for the time and date on the home screen.)

May 2017 be filled with fresh beginnings, heart-pounding adventures, and breathtaking moments alone with your Creator! Share your One Verse in the comments below. We’re in this thing together.

Jesus loves you,

Kelly

 

 

 

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What I’m Reading and Gifting This Season

What I'm Reading and Gifting This Season

I accidentally left two paperbacks on the bedside table of the hotel room my husband and I stayed in after a recent gala downtown.

At home, after I discovered the books hadn’t made it to my bag, my husband called the hotel. An answering service picked up, then rerouted his call to the voice mailbox of a woman in charge of lost and found.

These weren’t just any couple of books. I had covered one of them in notes and asterisks and lots and lots of my own words, and I only had one more chapter left to read. Someone loaned me the other one, and she raved about it when she placed it in my hands. I planned to start that one next.

My loving husband, who does not share my obsession with books, tried (ever so politely) to convince me that my books sat in a trash pile somewhere collecting dust. He kept saying, “Kelly, they always toss things of little or no value.” I cringed with every repetition, while he shrugged his shoulders as if this news should not be devastating.

How did I end up married to a man who thinks paperback books hold no value?

He left a message, and to my relief, the woman called back the next day. She found the books and said she would hold them until we could come pick them up. During the time between the message he left and her call back, I thought about who might’ve found those books.

All this led me to reevaluate what makes books so valuable.

Nothing compares to opening a freshly printed, brand new book. The smell is invigorating, but the possibility of discovering something new is what drives my love of reading. There is something even more precious about receiving a book from a friend or loved one who tells you, “I knew you’d love this one.”

When it’s a book they’ve already read, marked up, and highlighted, it’s a whole new experience. For this reason, I’ve started to gift my books. Yes, books I’ve read. Books with notes in the margins. Books I’ve packed with me on a hotel excursion or trip to the beach. I wrap them with a simple strand of string and slip on a tag with a hand-written note.

What I'm Reading (and Gifting) This Season

Passing along a good read is gift-giving at its finest.

Gifting your books is the perfect way to spread some love this Christmas season, and it couldn’t be more simple. Scour your own shelves at home. Get creative on how you wrap those goodies—gift bags, boxes, or pretty ribbon you’ve got laying around. The possibilities are endless!

As always, here are seven good reads for winter…

{Christian Living}

None Like Him by Jen Wilkin

I’ve been reading this as a devotional. Jen Wilkin takes ten attributes of God and beautifully disassembles each one in a way that draws us deeper into the heart of God.

{Creativity}

Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

To dare greatly is to show up and let our whole selves be seen. This is a must read for all leaders, educators, parents, and everyone who wants to lead a courageous, whole-hearted life.

{Spiritual Growth}

The Listening Life by Adam McHugh

Listening is one of God’s greatest gifts because it provides the precious assurance that we are not alone. Adam McHugh carefully and eloquently describes how being a listener is being a servant, someone Jesus is to each of us.

{Discipleship / Spiritual Growth}

Shattered Dreams by Larry Crabb

Larry Crabb presents an “invitation to taste and see that the Lord is good even when the bottom falls out of your life.” He implores readers to recognize how God uses the pain of shattered dreams to help us discover our desire for Him.

{Marriage}

What Did You Expect? By Paul David Tripp

I wish I had read this convicting and heart-wrenching book fourteen years ago when I was twenty-one and marrying my true love. The message in this book has helped change my perspective towards marriage and the many ways in which God wishes to redeem it.

{Historical Fiction}

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

When I finished the last page, I wanted to turn back to the first and start all over again. This story made me reevaluate what I call strong and what I call weak. I learned that true strength isn’t found in what others see, but in seeing what others don’t.

{Current Events / Middle East}

They Say We Are Infidels by Mindy Belz

This riveting collection of stories about those suffering persecution at the hands of ISIS realigned my view of the universal church. The church operates first as a family, and these stories demonstrate this in the most costly and sacrificial way.

What I'm Reading: Winter Edition

Thanks for showing up here every few months and proving that the stories that connect us together are priceless treasures waiting to be shared with those around us. Be sure to check out my new page, GOOD READS, for all my absolute favorites.  

Kelly

 

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What I’m Learning: Summer Edition

What I'm Learning: Summer Edition

I get together with a group of women every Sunday night. We laugh, we cry, we pray for one another – oh, and we stuff our faces with yummy (sometimes healthy) food. It’s a safe place where we’re free to be our real selves. It’s where healing and learning and growing happens.

My favorite part is when someone shares what she’s learning.

I love hearing things like, “This is where God has me, but I don’t know why we’re here,” or “He’s teaching me about this, but I don’t quite understand it.” It’s like looking through a well lit window right into a beautiful soul where God is just doing His thing.

There is freedom in laying these lessons out on the table long before they’re tidy and clearly articulated and understood. We learn better when we process together. We need people along the way who are willing to just sit back and listen. We need people who are willing to ask us the hard questions. We need people who are willing to say, “Yeah, me too.”

Sharing what we’re learning is a lot like handing over a really messy rough draft.

There’s a certain level of vulnerability that comes with sharing something that’s still in the works. Life is all about recognizing that we are all still a work in progress. Today I’m sharing what I’m learning in hopes that it will encourage you to do the same. After all, rough drafts eventually become beautifully polished stories.

I’ve been unpacking Jesus’ response to His followers when they asked Him who was the greatest.  Jesus’ answer reveals so much about His heart and sheds some light on my own, too. Jesus’ response isn’t a recipe for how to become great; it’s a lesson on humility.

Jesus says in Matthew 18:3, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

My kids are home for summer, so there have been endless opportunities to reflect on the phrase “like little children.” Sensing that God wants me parked here this summer, I started a list of words that describe little children. Every time a new word comes to mind, I pull out my journal and jot it down. Nothing fancy – just a simple, scribbled list. This is what I’ve written so far:

L i t t l e  c h i l d r e n :

h u m b l e

s m a l l

p r e c i o u s

h o n e s t

n e e d y

d e p e n d e n t

b e l i e v i n g

t r u s t i n g

n o t   p o w e r f u l

v u l n e r a b l e

t e a c h a b l e

It’s the last one that has caused me to look at my own heart and ask, “Am I like that? Am I teachable?” Maybe it’s because of the one hundred and one questions being hurled in my general direction on a daily basis, all of which begin with the word, “Mommy,…? Mommy,…? Mommy,…?”

Little children ask questions because they don’t know, and they’re not the slightest bit ashamed to admit it.

Discovering the answer is more important than making sure no one finds out they don’t have it. Little children aren’t afraid to say, “I don’t know.” They know that the very words mark the beginning of an adventure.

So, why do these three little words feel so uncomfortable coming out of my mouth? After all, only God is all-knowing. I will never have complete or unlimited knowledge and understanding. But, I’ve started to notice how much saying this phrase frustrates me.

This summer Jesus is asking me to get comfortable with saying, “I don’t know.”

In Women of the Word (one of the books I shared last month), Jen Wilkin talks about how patience is part of the learning process, especially when it comes to studying God’s word. She uses the word dissonance a bunch. I looked it up in the dictionary the other day just so that I could understand it a bit better.

Dissonance is defined as “a simultaneous combination of tones conventionally accepted as being in a state of unrest and needing completion; lack of harmony or agreement; tension.”

My restless soul craves completion. Engaging the dissonance between “I don’t know” and “I understand,” helps me come to terms with my limitations in light of a limitless God. Willingly entering the tension means placing myself in a position to learn.

I’m learning that humility means choosing to be teachable, and being teachable begins with saying, “I don’t know.”

What is God is teaching you this summer? Is there a phrase (like mine) that you’re learning to embrace? Leave a comment… I’d love to hear from you!

Kelly

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What I’m Reading: Summer Edition

carriedbylove.com/summer-reading

I have a thing for old-fashioned books – you know, the ones with pages that actually turn. I love the feeling I get when I open to the very first page, and I love savoring the last words of a story that has transported me to a different place and time.

I scribble thoughts in the margin that I don’t ever want to forget, and I dog-ear important pages I want to come back and read again. But, my absolute favorite part of reading is passing books I love on to someone else. Today I’m sharing four books, three of which were passed on to me by people I love and respect.

Rising Strong by Brené Brown 

I was amazed at how much Brené Brown’s message resonated with me. Her relatable style is engaging, and though her findings are strictly research based, many of them are actually biblical. Rising Strong is all about having the courage to get back up after a fall.

Our brains are wired for story, so when we have gaps in our understanding, our brains fill in those gaps with a story, whether the information is true or not. Brené talks about confronting these stories we’ve made up in our heads.

Satan lies in such subtle ways, and sometimes it’s hard to recognize that we’ve believed a lie until the story has gotten away from us. Rising Strong is about taking responsibility for our stories. This book taught me the importance of paying attention to what I’m thinking, feeling, and believing especially when all I want to do is dismiss, deny, or hide.

You can listen to Brené Brown share more about Rising Strong in this interview.

TLS #124: How to Compassionately Set Boundaries in Relationships with Brené Brown

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes 

Me Before You is about life and love and the hope it requires to move past shattered dreams. It’s about losing control and deciding what defines us. It’s about asking ourselves whether it’s possible to protect our own hearts from breaking. It’s about coming to terms with the vows we make and the lies we believe.

I couldn’t read a page of this book without thinking about a dear friend who suffered a similar spinal cord injury from a car accident at the age of 15. Throughout Me Before You, I was enraged and also heartbroken, but I found it to be a very thought-provoking read. I love stories that make me reflect on what I believe and why I believe it.

My belief in Jesus has changed every other belief I hold.

Our decisions in life are wrapped up in what we live for. The pursuit of contentment is the heartbeat that pulses throughout this entire book. Me Before You was a good reminder to continuing sharing with the world how true contentment can only be found in a relationship with Jesus.

This book gave me a renewed passion not to use my opinions to try and change people’s minds, but to use my life to point to Jesus, the only One able to change people’s hearts.

 

Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds by Jen Wilkin 

I read this book a while ago, but a conversation with my daughter led me to read it again. When I was not satisfied with my best response to her question about a well known bible story, I realized that it was a passage of scripture I needed to relearn. As I began to search for clarity for my daughter’s sake, I found myself reaching for Women of the Word.

Jen Wilkin has helped me understand how the Bible is, first and foremost, a book about God, not a book about me. Women of the Word will change the way you view the Bible, challenge you in gracious ways, and give you courage to seek God with all of your heart and mind and soul.

If you are interested in reading along with me and live in the West Houston area, I will be leading a book discussion this month at my church. Email or message me for more details. I’d love to connect with you in person!

 

The White Umbrella: Walking with Survivors of Sex Trafficking by Mary Frances Bowley 

Mary Frances Bowley, the founder and president of Wellspring Living, has carefully and beautifully strung together delicate stories from women who have been victims of sex trafficking. Each story will unravel you in a heart-breaking, but necessary, way.

The color white represents purity, and the umbrella represents protection against the storm. The White Umbrella provides a profound picture of our willingness to stand shoulder to shoulder with survivors of sex trafficking. We all have a place in this fight. If you don’t know where you fit in, reading this book is a perfect place to start.

I love this quote: “You see, it isn’t about what you do or all the excitement of joining a compelling cause. It really is about you and God. He is the ultimate Restorer, and His work never fades… Walking with survivors of sexual abuse and trafficking is a messy and complicated opportunity. But how beautiful is it that God has given us His white umbrella of love so that we can spread it over someone in the storm. When we do that, they too can experience the love, protection, and care that Christ longs to give us all.”

I am not the same after reading this book. My eyes have been opened, and God is answering my “what now?” prayer.

carriedbylove.com/summer-reading

What are you reading this summer? Leave a comment… I’d love to hear from you!

Kelly

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