This Week’s 7 – Challenge for Today

Each Monday on the Pure Purpose blog, I feature This Week’s 7, a simple list about an everyday topic, giving you ideas and encouragement. This week’s list includes a challenge for your day. Will you accept? I’m making assumptions about some of the things you’ll do today, so I’m not challenging you to add something to your day. Choose one or accept all the challenges. Let me know how it goes!

  1. Walk. As you take physical steps today, think of the impact your steps have on your spiritual journey. Are you blazing a trail on your own? Are you asking God to bless your steps – after you’ve already taken them? Are you second-guessing yourself to such an extent you’re frozen and don’t move? Be intentional as you walk today. I will walk with the Lord  in the land of the living. (Psalm 116:9)
  2. Talk. Be mindful of the words you say today. Encourage others. Build others up. Are you making excuses for what you say? Are you taking others into consideration? Are you being bold in what God wants you to say but remaining silent when he guides you to silence? Be intentional in your talk today. When you talk, do not say harmful things, but say what people need—words that will help others become stronger. Then what you say will do good to those who listen to you. (Ephesians 4:29)
  3. Rest. Life is busy. How well do you rest? Quiet yourself – even in the middle of a busy time or place. Look around. Take a deep breath. Soak in all God provides. Sink into his blessings. Trust him to refresh you throughout the day. Be intentional in your rest today. Anyone who enters God’s rest will rest from his work as God did. (Hebrews 4:10)
  4. Pay. How are you spending your time, money, and energy? Do you hoard time, money, or energy? Do you overspend time, money, or energy, resulting in emotional, financial, or spiritual debt? God provides. Respond with good stewardship. Be intentional in how you spend your life today. When people work, their pay is not given as a gift, but as something earned. (Romans 4:4)
  5. Read. How are you filling your mind? What sources do you trust? Be discerning in what is worthwhile to read, hear and see. Step beyond the basic choice between what’s good and bad. You’ll more often need to choose between good and good. Choose the best. Consistently soak in God’s Word. Be intentional in what you read today. Until I come, continue to read the Scriptures to the people, strengthen them, and teach them. (1 Timothy 4:13)
  6. Eat. Does your day revolve around food? Do you ignore what your body is telling you? Does the ease of eating override the health of eating, or does the short-term pleasure override the long-term effects when you’re making a decision? What do your habits reflect about your priorities? Make healthy choices – one at a time. Be intentional in how and what you eat today. The answer is, if you eat or drink, or if you do anything, do it all for the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)
  7. Tech. You will likely use a variety of technology tools today. How are you using them? Are they helping you connect in healthy ways, or are they pulling you away from relationships? Reflect on your priorities. Choose each click well. Honor and glorify God in all you do. Be intentional in how you use technology today. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as it loves its own. But I have chosen you out of the world, so you don’t belong to it. (John 15:19)

Join the Online Pure Emotion Study!

I’m thrilled to be a part of Internet Cafe Devotion‘s first online Bible study, beginning this Fall! We’ll be digging into Pure Emotion together, meeting with women around the world. Perhaps you have difficulty joining a Bible study in your community. Perhaps you usually lead Bible studies, and you need some personal time to let God rejuvenate you. Perhaps you want to gather a few friends together to study but need the structure of someone else leading. Perhaps you’ve already studied Pure Emotion, but you’d like to work through it again for reminders.

Wherever you are, God will meet you!

God meets you just where you are – and loves you too much to leave you there. We’ll do the same for each other as we come together to encourage each other to study and live out God’s Word!

Here’s how it works:

  1. Register for the study and purchase your copy of Pure Emotion.
  2. Mark September 11 on your calendar. That’s when we’ll begin!
  3. Each Sunday night during the study, you’ll receive an email with a devotion specific to the upcoming week’s study topic.
  4. You’ll also receive emails on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday of each week. This is how we’ll stay in contact, ask questions, and share thoughts, challenges and insights. Tuesday will be a brief encouragement to insure you’re getting started with the week’s study. Thursday will be a short post or video to check in with you and challenge you to apply what you’re studying in daily life. Saturday will be a wrap-up before beginning the next week.
  5. Ask questions anytime in response to posts or by emailing biblestudycounter@internetcafedevotions.com.

I look forward to studying with you this Fall!

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV)

This Week’s 7 – Excuses, Excuses

Each Monday on the Pure Purpose blog, I feature This Week’s 7, a simple list about an everyday topic, giving you ideas and encouragement. This week’s list includes common excuses people make when they want to avoid something. Yes, sometimes these excuses can be valid reasons, but how often do you rationalize something as a reason when it’s actually an excuse?

  1. I don’t have time. You make time for the things you want to do. Call it what it is. It’s not a priority for you. If you make something a priority, you’ll find the time.
  2. I’m not feeling it. Emotions shouldn’t drive decisions. Emotions enhance experiences, but obedience and faith are the foundation of actions, whether you’re feeling a moment of inspiration or not.
  3. Someone else will do it better. Yes, they will. You’re likely not the best in the world at anything. It’s okay. God knows everyone’s strengths and weaknesses. He created you for community, and he fits all the pieces together.
  4. I need to wait until I have a better plan. Strategy is important. God created us as rational, thinking beings, and he wants us to use what he gave us. But we can twist what he gave us, relying too much on our reason instead of our relationship with him. Sometimes the details are revealed along the journey.
  5. I’m afraid. Failure, judgment, risk. Fear is real, but it’s sometimes not an accurate reflection of where you are or need to be. Identify the reason behind your fear. If it’s valid, deal with it and move on. If it’s not, set it aside and move on.
  6. It’s too late. Who says? It might seem too late. Someone might say it’s too late. But is it, really? Last time I checked, God was the only one who could determine perfect timing with absolute accuracy.
  7. I don’t like it. You’re not going to be able to throw a party in celebration of everything going on in your life, unless you want to plan a series of pity parties. Choose obedience. Try it; you might like it.

My brothers and sisters, God called you to be free, but do not use your freedom as an excuse to do what pleases your sinful self. Serve each other with love. Galatians 5:13

This Week’s 7 – Ways to Stay Connected

Each Monday on the Pure Purpose blog, I feature This Week’s 7, a simple list about an everyday topic, giving you ideas and encouragement. This week’s list includes ways to stay connected with people. In today’s rush-from-one-responsibility-to-another, or glue-your-eyes-and-hands-to-your-phone, we can seem connected when we’re actually missing out on going deeper with friends and family. Step out of the rut and foster healthy, growing relationships.

  1. Take a walk. It doesn’t have to be a fast or long walk. Stroll through a park, explore a walking trail, or take a walk down memory lane in your neighborhood.
  2. Fill a card with words. Sounds like writing a simple note, but challenge yourself to take another approach. Write a collage of words that describe what you appreciate about a friend or what memories you share with a family member.
  3. Create a virtual scrapbook page. Smilebox is one of my favorite sites to create and share a page of photos and notes to email a friend or family.
  4. Send a surprise. It’s fun to receive a fun package, especially when it’s a surprise. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. Keep your eyes open for fun, easy-to-ship items such as notepads, magnets, and favorite candies (that won’t melt!).
  5. Plan a surprise “date.” Set the time and date, so the person knows you’ll pick her up. Give her only the basics, such as anything specific she might prefer to wear or have with her. Do something unusual you know you’ll both enjoy, such as painting pottery, going to an amusement park, or creating frozen yogurt treats.
  6. Make a puzzle together. Set aside time each week or every other week to work on a puzzle together. Roll it in a puzzle saver in between get-togethers, so neither person is tempted to work on it alone. When you’re done, stand back and enjoy the completed pictures – and the chatter you enjoyed throughout the process.
  7. Create a new memory. Try something neither of you have done: ziplining? sushi? kickboxing?

This Week’s 7 – Summertime Snacks

Each Monday on the Pure Purpose blog, I feature This Week’s 7, a simple list about an everyday topic, giving you ideas and encouragement. This week’s list gives you ideas for scrumptious summertime snacks. Add your favorites to the list, and we’ll all refresh our recipes this summer!

Farmers’ Market Salsa

2 ears fresh, sweet corn, cut off the cob

1/2 medium red onion, diced

2 green onions, white and green parts, chopped

1 1/2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved

1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, and chopped in chunks

1 jalapeno, sliced

1/4 bunch fresh cilantro, leaves chopped

1 lemon, juiced

1 lime, juiced

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl, tossing to coat. Put the salsa in a sealable plastic container.

Mixed Berry Dessert

2 tablespoons low-fat yogurt (key-lime or lemon)

Juice of 1/2 lime (about 1 tablespoon)

1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves, torn

1 cup cubed cantaloupe

4 medium strawberries, stemmed and quartered

1/4 cup raspberries

1/4 cup blueberries

Whisk the yogurt, lime juice, and mint together in a medium bowl. Add the fruit and toss to combine. Serve.

Watermelon Cookies

Watermelon

Vanilla-flavored Greek yogurt (or cream cheese or other icing substitute)

Sprinkles (optional)

Slice melon into 1-inch-thick slabs, then use cookie cutters to make shapes. Frost your treats with vanilla-flavored Greek yogurt (spoon the yogurt into a squeeze bottle to make decorating really fun and easy) and top them with
sprinkles if you like.

Twisted Shake

1/2 cup milk

2 scoops chocolate ice cream

3 tablespoons chocolate syrup

1/8 teaspoon peppermint or orange extract

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Mix on high for about 8 seconds or until the ingredients are evenly combined, then pour into a tall glass.

Fruity Fruit Punch

2 cups cranberry juice

1 cup pineapple juice

1 cup orange juice

1/4 cup grenadine syrup

1/4 cup lime juice

1 lemon, cut into thin slices

1 lime, cut into thin slices

3 1/2 cups club soda, chilled

Mix the juices and syrup in a large pitcher. Chill for at least an hour to let the flavors to blend. Right before serving, add the lemon and lime slices and the club soda, then pour over ice.

Pudding Pops

1 small package of instant chocolate pudding (3.4 ounces)

2 cups milk

1/2 cup sugar

With a wire whisk, blend together 1 package of instant chocolate pudding, 2 cups milk, 1/2 cup cream, and 1/2 cup sugar. Pour the mixture into popsicle molds. Or, pour it into small plastic cups, cover each with aluminum foil, and insert a craft stick through the foil. Freeze and eat.

Chocolate-Dipped Trail Mix

3 cups nuts (peanuts, almonds, and pecans)

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

1/2 cup coconut flakes

1 cup raisins

1/2 cup dried cranberries or cherries

1 cup chocolate chips

Mix together the nuts, sunflower seeds, coconut flakes, raisins, and dried cranberries or cherries. Spread the mixture on a baking sheet lined with waxed paper. Melt the chocolate chips in a microwave. Pour the chocolate over the baking
sheet in ribbons. Stir to coat everything. Let the chocolate cool, then break the mix into pieces and pack it in individual containers.

What’s one of your summertime favorites?

Your Guide

guide a: something that provides a person with guiding information; b: a person who directs another’s conduct or course of life; c: a device for steadying or directing the motion of something (merriam-webster.com)

What guides you?

Before you answer too quickly, let me give you a few scenarios.

  1. You hurriedly run into the store to pick up a few things. You need to get in and out as quickly as possible. As you approach the check out lane, you see someone with an overflowing cart getting ready to get into the shortest line – the one you were ready to get into. If you quicken your steps just a bit, you could possibly get there before she does.
  2. The service at the restaurant is horrible. You suspect someone didn’t show up for work, because the servers are doing their best at trying to cover too many tables. But your coffee is regular, not decaf, and your toast is burned. Your server places the check on the table. It’s time to decide on her tip.
  3. You’ve been getting together with a group of women for a short time. It’s a group of women you feel a connection with and can see longterm relationships budding. You listen to them talk about a woman who called to say she’d miss the get-together because of a family issue, and you hear more of the family issue you feel you need to know. You’re fairly certain the woman wouldn’t want these details shared so freely, and you know you wouldn’t want the group talking about you when you weren’t there…but you wonder how they’ll respond if you speak up.

What influences your decisions?

Past experiences? Words of parents, teachers and friends? Expectations of who you are or who you should be? Standards of your faith? Guilt? Convenience?

When you do things, do not let selfishness or pride be your guide. Instead, be humble and give more honor to others than to yourselves. Do not be interested only in your own life, but be interested in the lives of others. Philippians 2:3-4

Easier said than done sometimes. We’re inundated with a multitude of messages from many people around us. We’ve been bombarded with messages of our culture for years. Plus the fact that we’ll atrophy into selfishness because that’s just how people are. We have to be deliberate about not letting selfishness and pride guide us, being humble, honoring others, and being interested in the lives of others.

Being deliberate involves careful and thorough consideration as well as an awareness of the consequences. Next time you’re faced with a decision, ask yourself a few questions:

  • How will my decision impact others and my relationships with them?
  • What message am I sending and what values am I reflecting by my decision?
  • What am I basing my decision on, and is that basis credible?

In your lives you must think and act like Christ Jesus. Christ himself was like God in everything. But he did not think that being equal with God was something to be used for his own benefit. Philippians 2:5-6

The Mountains

In the beginning God created the sky and the earth. Genesis 1:1

So God created human beings in his image. In the image of God he created them. He created them male and female. Genesis 1:27

Jesus answered, “Because your faith is too small. I tell you the truth, if your faith is as big as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. All things will be possible for you. Matthew 17:20

Before the mountains were born and before you created the earth and the world, you are God. You have always been, and you will always be. Psalm 90:2