Have you ever felt meh? Meh is the verbal expression equivalent to a shrug of the shoulders.
Meh days can result from physical, emotional, or spiritual battles. For those of us suffering a chronic illness, meh days are usually a combination of two or more of these factors.
I am writing this article on a meh day. I had a flare-up of my illness last night and today is a day of rest and recovery day.
My body is weak. I forced myself out of pajamas only to pull on yoga pants and t-shirt. I gave myself an imaginary gold star for changing clothes, even if I traded one set of comfortable clothes for another. Because conservation of strength is my primary goal, showers are optional these days. Showers require too much energy.
My favorite coffee mug is too heavy, so I traded it for a lighter mug. My thought processes are as slow as Eeyore’s trot. Between sips of liquid mercy (AKA coffee) I hurry to type before the fog completely enveloped my brain.
As I refilled my mug with liquid mercy, the phone buzzed with a text from my friend and spiritual accountability partner. The text reads:
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
(Lamentations 3:22-23, NLT)
I smiled at God’s timing. He knew I was having a meh day. He knew I needed an extra dose of encouragement. I sensed God nudging past the brain fog,
“My mercy is for meh days too!”
God met me in the kitchen, wearing my yoga pants and holding my I-feel-weak-today coffee mug. God knew my struggle. He knew I wanted to cry, but that would only make my body hurt more. He knew the true number on my pain scale, even if I tried to fake feeling better than I was so my family wouldn’t worry (again). He knew the brain fog blanketed my thoughts and that today I should not drive nor pay bills.
Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see All I have needed Thy hand hath provided Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!
Dear friend, God knows your struggle. His compassion and mercy are new every day. Every morning we brew our coffee with fresh coffee grounds, so is God’s mercy. We never have to live today on yesterday’s compassion or mercy. Whether you are a chronic illness warrior or a supportive caregiver, God’s mercies are new every day. His mercies are for the meh days too!
 Written by Thomas Chisholm, Composed by William Runyan, Public Domain
I originally published this article in the “Pressing On” column for the Broken But Priceless Magazine. Broken But Priceless, is an online quarterly magazine, which addresses the heartfelt needs of those battling chronic illness and their caregivers. If you or someone you know, would benefit from such encouragement, please share this article and/or link.
In today’s post, Leah Lively shares tips on overcoming Bible study obstacles.
Leah and I briefly met before her family moved to the Louisianan bayous. Years later, their family moved back to the east coast with her husband’s career. Between surviving gulf coast hurricanes and the storms of parenthood, she has written a new Bible study called, “30 Days with John: A Journey with Jesus’ Most Beloved Disciple.”
Overcoming Bible Study Obstacles
A few weeks ago, I asked my Facebook friends to tell me some obstacles they faced when it came to studying the Bible. They echoed some of the same challenges: the Bible is difficult to understand, where do you begin, and an inability to stay focused. I understood the struggle all too well, until a couple of years ago.
In 2017, I attended a conference for writers and speakers in Christian ministry. A well-known Bible teacher organized this event and took us step by step through her time in prayer, in the Word, and writing. Two takeaways the main speaker shared were: we had to be in God’s Word if we wanted to share God’s Word in our world. Also, as believers, we had to know God’s Word because the world is constantly going to come against His Truth. If we don’t know His Truth we will be deceived.
1. Create Authentic Time
The speaker continued to give us the tools to create an authentic time of studying the Bible. It isn’t magic. It isn’t something some believers have, and others don’t. In the book of John, chapter 16, Jesus shares with the disciples in His final hours. He tells them He will be going away because if He leaves, the Counselor (Holy Spirit, Spirit of Truth) cannot come to them. “When the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.” (John 16:13) Jesus promises that when the Holy Spirit comes to them, they would finally understand. Their eyes would be opened to all Jesus had been teaching for the last three years.
God offers us the Holy Spirit too. When we become believers, the Holy Spirit
becomes a part of us. When we open God’s word, the Truth comes alive in ways we
have never seen to the point that we cannot wait to discover all the Spirit has
to show us. The Bible was written through the help of the Holy Spirit, so we
need to pray and ask the Holy Spirit for help in understanding the scripture.
“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name,
will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.”
2. Read in Chunks
Another speaker at the conference addressed which scripture to read. She recommended reading the Bible in chunks. We tend to focus on a verse or two, which is fine, but to get a bigger picture and understanding of the passage, she said we should read the entire chapter or read through an entire book over the course of several days. To gain understanding, it helps to know who the author is, what perspective he has, as well as the time frame he is writing in. I had never read the Bible this way, but I was determined when I returned home from the conference.
I prayed next time I sat down to study, asking God (through the Holy Spirit) to reveal His truth to me. I asked for understanding. God led me to study the life of Paul. I started in the book of Acts, reading about his life, his conversion, and ministry. By reading Paul’s letters in the order he wrote them, I was able to compare them with details in Acts to see what he was experiencing when each letter was written. My eyes were opened to a greater understanding of Paul and the trials he experienced throughout his ministry.
Two years later, on May 1st, I published a study on the book of John titled, 30 Days with John: A Journey with Jesus’ Most Beloved Disciple. Each day’s study begins with prayer, a full reading of the passage, and then questions to take you back through the scripture to aid in understanding. The study is concise, yet in-depth, for those who get overwhelmed by longer studies and lack the available time to complete them. I hope the study I have written will help facilitate going deeper into God’s word. We don’t have to be pastors or teachers, speakers or writers to love and understand the scripture. It’s here for all of us. The more we know God’s Word, the closer we become in a relationship with Him.
There are always going to be obstacles when it comes to reading scripture because the enemy doesn’t want you to do it! That is a topic for an entirely different blog post. Don’t allow distractions and obstacles to keep you from growing closer to God. If you need more focus, pray and ask God. The more He draws you into His Word, you will find those distractions and obstacles won’t be a problem for you. I hope the suggestions I have given will encourage you and give you some confidence in reading and understanding God’s word.
30 Days with John: A Journey with Jesus’ Most Beloved Disciple,available online at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.
Born and raised in Virginia, Leah’s faith journey began in a small church in a small town. She is a wife to one and a mom to 4 along with a sweet female boxer. Leah is motivated by 2 Corinthians 13:11 where Paul encourages the church in Corinth to “become mature and be encouraged, be of the same mind, be at peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.” She wants believers to grow in their faith and discover a hunger for God’s word. Leah’s genuine and authentic style of presenting the gospel lays a foundation for readers to learn more of God’s Truths.
Innumerable pulmonary embolisms (blood clots) in my lungs held my life at ransom. But grace, God’s grace paid the price.
April 14, 2018, I left the Radiant Roanoke Women’s Conference early. My chest hurt and I found it difficult to breathe. Once home, I slept for three hours and woke with a pounding sensation in my chest. Despite the three-hour rest, my blood pressure skyrocketed and my pulse thumped at a whopping 122 beats per minute. I swiftly packed an overnight back and my beloved drove me to the ER.
EKG, chest X-rays, CT scan, and blood work all pointed to one cause: “extensive bilateral pulmonary embolisms.” In everyday language, both lungs were full to the brim with blood clots. Physicians later determined the cause as one of the medications used to regulate the flare-ups of my chronic illness, Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis.
Blood clots in the lungs are fatal, but God’s grace prevailed.
Deep draughts of air expand my lungs to their full measure. There is no more pain and no more coughing. The pulmonary embolisms are gone. With each breath, I meditate and count inhaling grace, two, three, four then exhaling praise two, three, four. Rather than being angry at the turn of events in my life, I am thankful. Thankful our resurrected King is still in the business resurrecting lives.
Our resurrected King is still in the business resurrecting lives.
This situation taught me the grace of God is more than a spiritual principle; it penetrates on an intracellular level for our good and for His glory. As we continue into Holy Week, let us remember to give God thanks for the resurrected King and grace in our lives.
“Tis grace that brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home.”—Amazing Grace by John Newton (1725-1807)
There is no special formula for choosing a word for the year. But, if you’re not sure where to begin, ask yourself these questions:
What is the one thing I struggle with?
What is my deepest desire?
What do I want to accomplish this year?
What character trait do I want to develop?
Is there a verse that resonates in this current situation?
What do I need the most in my current season of life?
What word or topic do I want to explore?
Is there a word that repeatedly shows up?
Unshakable: My first word
My first year, I chose a verse that resonated with me. During that time, my husband’s company was restructuring, relocating employees, and forcing extensive traveling. All of which wreaked havoc in our family dynamics and in my spirit. For an entire year, I read, journaled, pondered, and meditated on this promise within Psalm 16:8:
“I have set the Lord always before me; Because He is at my right hand I shall not be shaken.” (Psalm 16:8)
These pursuits provided a foundation of unshakable faith. Years later, a diagnosis of a rare genetic disorder would test my faith. However, because I had engraved ‘unshakable’ and Psalm 16:8 in my spiritual foundation when the diagnosis came, I swayed a bit but remained steadfast in faith.
Ask God to guide you in the word choice. By seeking God’s direction, you are relying on His Sovereign nature, and are involving Him in the process. One of the attributes of God is that He is Omniscient. This means God is all knowing–He knows everything there is to know, past, present, and future. By involving God in the process, He is eager to whisper to your heart the area you most need.
Rest: My 2018 Word
Rest was the word God gave me for 2018. To be honest, I didn’t like this word. Rest felt lazy. At the end of 2017, our family had moved to a new town. I wondered how in the world I was going to rest in 2018 when I had a gazillion boxes to unpack. By involving God in my word, He revealed over the course of the year, that He wanted me to enter into His rest–a soul rest. The verse I selected to accompany the word rest was Psalm 46:10, “Be still [cease striving] and know that I AM God.”
My soul was at rest in 2018. My soul was at rest when the scans confirmed my daddy’s cancer. My soul was at rest when the ER doctor told me both of my lungs were full of innumerable blood clots. My soul was at rest when mom had hip, knees, and shoulder surgery. Rest—this type of rest only comes from God. My lungs are now clear and healthy. My dad had surgery and undergoes immunotherapy every three weeks and mom is in physical therapy and doing great.
As you pray for the right word, you will notice words begin to catch your attention. This is where the fun comes in. Document or brain-dump these words onto paper. Grab a journal, sticky note, or index card and jot down each word that rises to the surface of your mind. For me, this is the fun part. I love to use colorful pens to document each word in a journal.
Even if you don’t like the words that come to mind, jot them down anyways. You are not selecting a word yet, but jotting down ideas. One word will lead to another. Continue to pray for guidance. As you do, your senses will heighten. You’ll notice song lyrics, street signs, and phrases like never before. God will guide you in the process.
Choosing the Right Word
After you have asked yourself the probing questions, prayed involving God’s guidance, and documented words, you’ll notice one word or phrase rises above the rest. This is your word. For me, when one specific word keeps showing up, then I know it is my word. It as if God is giving me a heavenly nod or nudge.
Years ago, a friend introduced the notion of focusing on one word for the year. Despite being several years younger, my friend possessed a mature faith that I wanted to emulate. She didn’t merely know about God, she understood God, the way He moves and the nuances of His character. Like my friend, I wanted to know God intimately, not know about God from a distance.
An Eight-Year Discovery
Looking back, I smile at each focused word. Some years I understood the reason why the focued word captured my attention. However, other years the reason behind the chosen word remained a mystery for me to solve.
2012: Unshaken (Psalm 16:8)
2013: Provision (Genesis 22:8)
2014: Abundance (Psalm 65:11)
2015: Hope (Hebrews 6:19)
2016: Trust (Romans 15:13)
2017: Refuge (Psalm 73:28)
2018: Rest (Psalm 46:10)
2019: Dwell (Psalm 91:1)
This year I will dwell on the word ‘dwell.’ While the layers of this word have yet to unfold, I have an inkling that God intends to teach me to:
Dwell in His unfailing love(Exodus 15:13)
Dwell in His joy (1 Chronicles 16:27)
Dwell is His rest(Psalm 91:1)
Dwell in His protection (Psalm 91:9-10)
Dwell in His peace(Psalm 4:8)
Dwell in His goodness and love (Psalm 23:6)
What is your one focus word for the year?
Perhaps, you’re not sure how to select a word. Next week, I will share ideas on how to choose one word for the year.
Dwell is my word for 2019. I love to study words, understand their context and cultural and historical application. Each year I choose a word to dwell on (pun intended) for an entire year.
This is my seventh year of intentionally focusing on a word, phrase, and verse. By purposefully studying God’s written voice, the Bible, and focusing on one word, I gain a greater appreciation for God’s character.
I chose to dwell on the word ‘dwell’
for this year. My key verse for the year is Psalm 91:1. I also chose to study, meditate, and memorize
(Lord willing) Psalm 91:1-16.
“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” (Psalm 91:1)
Friend, do you have a focus word for the year? I’d
love to hear what’s simmering on your heart for 2019.