Tuesday, April 30

Psalm 136 is a Psalm I love for many reasons.

The main reason that I love it is because it turns my heart to mush when I read it and think about ALL the things God has done for his people. Thankfulness is vital component of a heart that is growing in maturity and in walking with the LORD. Without thankfulness, our heart becomes hard and not so welcoming of the LORD in our day.

If you find your heart a little crusty around the edges, start with thankfulness today as you come before the LORD and read this Psalm from beginning to the end. By the end of it, you will be thanking the LORD for ALL the things he has done in your life too!

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Monday, April 29

Finishing Strong In a Bible Study Class

Today's post may sting a little. It's totally okay though, because we ALL have most likely thought these thoughts mid way through participating in a bible study with a group of women. No one who reads this post is alone in her thinking about bible study.

Bible Study Teachers Struggle TOO!
Let me be clear: If you think your Bible teacher never deals with defeating thoughts about finishing a bible study, you are wrong. We all struggle with discouragement at some point and time. As a Bible study teacher, I get tired. Weary. Discouraged. I wonder if my efforts to encourage a woman where she is in life at present really matters when I don't see the fruit. Some bible study days I too, think, "I'm tired" and "I wish I could just be at home tonight on the sofa in my pink flannel jammies" or "It's been a long day, I wish I could ditch the whole thing." I am just being honest. 

But I can't act on these thoughts because I am the leader. 

So what do I do? How do I move beyond that defeating funk attitude? 
I preach myself the Gospel again. Yes!!! I have to preach to my mind and heart about the reason why I lead, and why I am so passionate for women to be growing through the study of God's word and not let my defeating thoughts win the mind battle. Over time, I have had to learn to take these kinds of thoughts tightly captive. The following verses are ones I go back to on the days where I begin to think, "what's the use?"

Colossians 3:2- It's not about letting the thoughts I think lead my life. It's about setting my mind back on the calling God gave me years ago to do.
 Philippians 2:7-8,- Jesus was obedient to finish the work at the cross. I will be obedient to complete the bible study whether others finish strong or not.
2 Corinthians 5:7- Faith is not about walking in what I see around me It's about continuing the journey despite what I don't see, focusing my eyes solely on Jesus. 
Luke 10:2- The harvest is plentiful. Keep working it despite the shortage on laborers.
Destructive Thought Patterns That Keep Women From Growing Through Bible Study
You too, as a bible study participant, may have also felt some of the following thought patterns while in the middle of a bible study or toward the end of a bible study class. Which one of these have you thought on the day of bible study class? 

These are just a few of the destructive thoughts that I have witnessed over the years that keep women from growing in their walk with Jesus while participating in a bible study group. It should never surprise any of us when we begin to think them especially on the day of bible study. What these thought patterns should DO is SIGNAL to our hearts that a greater war than we can physically see is going on between our flesh and spirit. 

These thoughts become a serious problem when a woman lets the thoughts lead her away from finishing a bible study. Staying away from a study once started and not finishing strong is how a woman sabatoges her own spirutal growth. Guess what happens? Satan wins because you stay where you are. Not only does he win in the area of spiritual growth, he wins because he has kept you from being connected to a group of ladies who are journeying alongside you as well dealing with the same life issues. He has kept you isolated and alone, just like he likes to do. Remember Eve in the garden? He loved talking to her while she was alone! 

What's Wrong With Not Finishing A Bible Study?
There are times when you can't finish a bible study because of a big life event that comes your way. I know. I had to stop mine this past fall because my daddy died. Christmas schedules began to pick up around that time and life was crazy for everyone.  I stopped it before he passed away and postponed the last two sessions til January. I did finish it when my flesh just wanted to say, "everyone has forgotten it, just don't complete it." I was not going to give in to a pattern of not finishing because Jesus finished the work on the cross for me. 

What's wrong with not finishing a bible study is not the one study you don't finish. I know things come up. What's wrong is when a woman decides that this is the pattern for her spiritual growth. She starts a study and is "gung ho" at the beginning and midway through, these thoughts come in and she stops. She lets this become the pattern of her bible study life. Then, she is not ruling the destructive thoughts that she is thinking, but letting her thoughts rule her spiritual growth. 

"Houston, we have a problem!!!!!" 

The REAL DEAL on Women's Bible Study Groups
Women need to connect with other women about life, Christ and his word. It revives us. It gives us spiritual energy that we didn't have before. It brings new friendships. It deepens the friendships we have made. But when we let a pattern of starting and stopping become the way we DO bible study, we aren't doing bible study. We aren't doing anything really. We are letting life lead us and missing out on growth, purpose and deep connections.

The truth is, a bible study unfinished is a bible study is simply unfinished. It's like going to the grocery store and leaving a full grocery cart at the checkout counter unpaid for. The food was chosen, looked at and even desired, but it has not been used and has no real purpose. It's just left there full waiting to be opened and eaten.

Examining Your Bible Study Life
Is this the pattern of your bible study life? Is this a struggle for you? 
It doesn't have to be. Just like you commit to going to a concert, playing baseball games, signing up for dancing and art lessons you commit your family too, so it must be the same in commitment to bible study. Commitment doesn't happen. It's consistently chosen time after time because you are committed to finishing it through and learning in the process.

You know what happens as you begin to really commit to growing in the LORD with other women? Amazing growth! More purpose is found! More connections are made and the feelings of "being alone" begin to fizzle. That is how you know you are defeating the enemy.

I love Bible study. I love teaching women. That is my hearts passion. And that is the reason I believed it was important for me to write this post- not to condemn you, but to encourage you to keep going. To walk by faith and not by sight. To pursue God and not let life overtake you. To decide today that you will commit to a group of women and study God's word together. 

You can become a woman who finishes bible study strong and grows in the process. It begins by not giving in to lies and excuses over why not to finish.

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Saturday, April 27

I had too lofty a goal to get this entered by Friday evening. Getting the photos loaded required a bit more work than I had planned. I am now well acquainted more with my new computer. Thanks for being patient with me.

The Free Art Friday for April 26th winner is.....

                         Thanks to everyone who entered!


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Thursday, April 25

Good morning friends!
Free Art Friday begins today, Thursday April 25th at 7am and will run until Friday April 26th at 4pm. After that time, I will close the opportunity to enter. Please enter your first and last name (only one time please) under this post in the comment box to enter for this mixed media 8X10 painting. Follow the promptings of the box to enter. If you have any trouble, please Facebook me on the Joy Treasure Facebook Page and I will check on the issue.

The winner of this painting will be drawn on Friday evening and will be posted on Friday April 26th no later than 9pm.

Inspiration for this painting was Deuteronomy 6:5 and colors were inspired by current Pottery Barn Teen prints. This painting is perfect for a tween/teen girl to place in her bathroom or room. It's a constant reminder that we are to love God with all our heart.

To view the painting please click here:

I have not learned my way around the Mac as far as adding pictures so this is the best way to find out what it looks like at present. Also, if you have not had a chance to keep up with the Joy Treasure Facebook page, feel free to click "like" to keep up with the latest updates.

Blessings to y'all!
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Wednesday, April 24

Finding God in the Middle of Your Week

When your find yourself covered up by deadlines, baseball and dance practice, a to do list that won't quit, dishes that keep piling up like a stack of red solo cups and various fast food wrappings that begin to overtake the lining of the floor mat  in your vehicle, you my sister need to find God in the middle of your week. These are simple signs that life is running you and you aren't running life. It's a sign that you need to slow down for a minute and be still. So how does a woman find herself on this fast and furious racetrack only a few days after she was at church singing, "How Great Thou Art" in the sanctuary? 

She has said "Yes" to too many things and said "No" to God.
The answer to finding God in the middle of the week is learning to say "Yes" and "No" to the right things.

Sounds bizarre to say both of these words doesn't it! But saying "yes" to God and saying "no" to more activities, restoration can be found in the middle of a busy week. The word "no" sounds so harsh for some of us. For me, it is the toughest word for my mouth to say because I love to say "yes" to almost everything. I don't want to miss something. I don't want to miss an opportunity for ministry or fellowship. But as I grow in maturity in Christ, I am finding that saying the word "no" is the only word that gives me back freedom in my life for the most important thing which is time with my LORD. Saying "no" is not saying, " I don't care" or "I 'm not interested." It's saying, "I have priorities and a plan for my week" and this doesn't fit into my plan at this time. Saying "Yes" to make time for God is a discipline that will not take away time from your week, but give you the necessary energy and restoration that your heart is longing for. 

Take notice of these familiar verses in the bible that speak about the importance of stillness:

"He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters." Psalm 23:2

"Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;.." Psalm 37:7a

"Be still, and know that I am God..." Psalm 46:10

There is nothing in the Bible that instructs us to "do more" to find God in our day. It's actually the opposite. To be still. To be patient. I am so fascinated by that simple fact because it's the exact opposite of what the world tells us to do. 

No other illustration in the Bible paints a better picture of believers than sheep. In fact, did you know sheep are creatures that have a hard time lying down? In W. Phillip Keller's book, A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23http://www.amazon.com/Shepherd-Looks-Psalm-23/dp/0310291429/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1366811262&sr=8-1&keywords=a+shepherd+looks+at+psalm+23 he cites four reasons why it is not an easy task for sheep to lie down. He says they must be free from four things:

"free from all fear, free from friction with others of their kind, free from pests so they can relax and they must be free from hunger." The only person who can give this sheep this kind of relief is the shepherd. He is the only one who can provide for the sheep all it needs to be still and lie down" (page 33). 

No wonder sheep have a hard time lying down!!! Sounds like us doesn't it!!! But notice the only one who can provide for the sheep the needed rest is the shepherd. He is the only one who can free us from our fears, provide direction on the friction we have with another person, can give us the food to satisfy our hunger, and give direction to our busy schedule that steals time away from him.

I wonder what fear dear sister, you are harboring in your heart that is keeping you from stopping to take a moment with your shepherd? I wonder what friction with someone you work with or a family member is draining all the life out of you this day? I wonder what little tasks that keep piling up on you this week is stealing time away from your shepherd? I wonder what hunger in your heart is keeping you so restless that you keep going until you are almost exhausted. Give them all to the Shepherd. 

Say "Yes" to the Shepherd and say "No" to the things that continue to steal time away from the LORD. Make a better plan to get the things that need to be done, done. Make time in your schedule to stop and be still and spend more time with the Shepherd. And the next time your week begins to show  signs of the fast and furious racetrack, remember to not do more, but be still more. And you will find God in the middle of your week. I promise!!!

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Monday, April 22

Manna Monday: Moving Forward from Grief

                           Moving Forward from Grief

How do you know when you are moving forward in the grieving process? How do you know you are getting better? That you are healing?  

As an American, I want a fast grief fix. A drive through relief. But this is not the way grief works. Every strain of sorrow has an intended purpose in the tapestry of our lives. Some of us let God comfort us. Some of us stuff our grief away and never really get through it. It is possible to move forward out of grief. It is possible to begin to enjoy life again without the presence of your loved one. I never thought it was possible, but it is.  Here are a few things that I have reflected on during my grieving process that has helped me to know if I was moving forward in the grieving process. And I am. Slowly, but surely, I am moving forward.

Moving Forward Means Doing the Hard Work
     Thankfully, the tears aren't flowing as often as they used to. I am getting back into life and into a routine again. One thing I have learned is that to get better, you have to let yourself heal and do the hard work to get better. To move forward through grief and not get stuck in "why", bitterness or depression,  you have to do the work. You can't go around it. You can't go under or over it. You can't silence it with busyness because grief will always come bubbling back up to the surface if you haven't truly gotten through it. You have to go through it. To go into the storm and walk each step and get to the other side. Getting to the other side for me has been being a part of a local Griefshare group exclusively for women at my church. www.griefshare.org/ Doing the work has meant I show up at every meeting, I participate, I do the homework during the week and I grieve. The workbook has brought things to light that I would have overlooked on my own. It has helped me be more a tune to connecting my tears to the new losses that happen over a period of time (there are lots of little losses a person feels over and over after they lose a loved one). 

The greatest loss I have experienced has not only been the day of the funeral.  Believe me, that was a hard day. But it is not the hardest day. It is the days, weeks, and months after the funeral when the reality sets in that your loved one is never coming back on this earth. Even as a believer when you know you will see your loved one again, the reality is, they will not be coming back to your present life now. And that's hard to get used to when they have always been a big part of your daily life. It is the reality that you will never get to hug or call them. That you will never get to hear their voice again this side of heaven. That's a hard truth to swallow. For me, doing the hard work has meant to give myself a focused time to consider these questions and do this work. Looking back through the first week and the 13th week in my workbook, I see myself changing, my words becoming softer and more at peace.  I see myself healing. And that is a good feeling. I don't know where I would have been if I had gone through all these feelings on my own and not with a group. 

    Moving Forward Means Listening for God to Speak
     As I look back on the cancer journey God allowed my family to go through, I see scripture sprinkled down the path. Each one holding me up, encouraging me, and reminding me that God was with me. From the day my daddy entered the hospital to even now, God is still speaking to me specifically through scripture. This journey through cancer that God allowed our family to journey was already planned before time. God WAS in the beginning, and IN the beginning He knew the days of my sweet daddy's life (Psalm 139) The hours, minutes and last seconds. He knew them all. His sovereignty has reigned through it all even at times when I didn't feel like He was reigning. He was!!!  Genesis 1:1 tells us, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."  Seems like a boring verse to us in the church because we all know it.  But we overlook it. Everything as a follower of Christ rests on this one verse. Creator God, was, is and will always BE. Recently, Genesis 1:1 kept showing up to me in various ways. It was obvious God was speaking to me through His written word. Repetition is one of the ways God has spoken to me through my devotion times with Him. And this verse came up three times in one day. And even recently since then. 

As I meditated and prayed over Genesis 1:1, I asked the LORD what He was trying to tell me, it became clear to me that He was letting me know that I was moving forward in the grieving process. That I was adjusting to the new life, the new beginning without my daddy. Part of that truth made me sad, because I felt like I was leaving my daddy behind and moving forward, and part of me rejoiced because I could tell that I was healing. That I was moving forward.

Just this past week, a new beginning was seen in a rose bush a dear friend sent to me the day my daddy died. It bloomed. For months (Six months almost to the day of my daddy's funeral), I have been looking for this bush to bring forth a bloom. To show a sign of new life. And it did. What a sweet reminder it was to me when I first saw it last week and also that God makes all things new. That life here on earth goes on. That seasons still change. I am by far better than I was that cold November day when I said goodbye to my dear sweet daddy. How I thank the LORD for being my comfort. My JOY! 

Moving Forward Means Living Life and Serving Others
One of the best, and the hardest, ways to move forward through grief is to keep living life and serve others. To keep moving and trying to do the hard things that you don't feel like doing keeps you from getting stuck. Serving others helps to take the focus off of yourself and see there are so many needs around you. God has a purpose for our lives even without the presence of our loved one.

Moving forward has meant that I have made myself go back to the places that I had not been since my daddy died. Some of these have been bittersweet, because when I went back to them, it also made me sad. But going to these places has also helped me not to avoid them like I felt like avoiding them. There are still a few places that I have not been that I went with my daddy in his last months, but I will get to them. One at a time. 

It's a good thing to see myself moving forward out that dark place. Out of such raw pain and depths of emotions. It's a good thing to know my God now in a deeper way than I have ever known Him. It's a good thing that I now know how to encourage someone who is beginning to step into the waters of grief to say to them, "Hold on to Jesus, He will rescue you and comfort you. Just hold on!"

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Wednesday, April 17

Returning to the Blogosphere

Can Anyone Identify With ME?
OK. So my blogging came to a screeching halt when my laptop got malware on it in February (sigh). And then the search began for  a new computer and the hard process of going through all my files and emails (that I love to collect and not delete-smile). So this process took, well, til today. It's April!

So here I sit at my computer, which is quite lovely I must say. But, all my files are still not on my computer which includes my drawings which I use for a blog post as well as on the heading of my Facebook Joy Treasure page. "Be patient!" I say to myself. "It will get better. I think?"

  A Much Needed Break
I have to say the computer break was, well, probably well needed. Grieving over my daddy's death in the fall of 2012 has been hard and I am coming out of  a place that I never thought (at the time) was possible to come out and be better for it. But God continues to remain Faithful, loving and is my comforter.

Where Does Joy Treasure Go From Here? 
So what will the blog look like now?
I don't know. I am trying to get my brain wrapped around using a Mac and all the things I used to do on my laptop I will have to learn how to do on my Mac. I have a new art program that I think I will love but will have to learn it as I go. So the artwork will return slowly but surely.

I will be posting again on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays about the issues that we as women deal with: in parenting, marriage, singleness, spiritual growth and adding some fun ideas with art and crafts. And don't forget Free Art Friday will be coming back as well!!! Yahoo!

So, as my drawing (which I made on my new art program and I don't know how in the world I was able to find it and be able to post it at the top of this post) says, "Can you identify with me?" With being frustrated, with having an obstacle in the middle of your road that you find it hard to go around? Learning new things is a good thing. It stretches us out of our comfort zone and teaches us that we CAN do new things if we are patient and try. I will get better at navigating myself around this computer and the blog will be better for it.  As "Pete the Cat" would say, (a kindergarten favorite book) "It's All Good!"

Well, my coffee cup is dry which means that the post is over for now because I need to go refill my cup! See ya next time with a main focus instead of a bunch of rambling and hopefully some new artwork that will be more inspiring than this one!!!

Love y'all and thank you for supporting the Joy Treasure blog and Facebook Page. It's why I do what I do! For you!!

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