Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Seeking to Love Others Well

This month, I decided to intentionally and creatively seek to love others well. My initial plan was for this to last a week. And then I felt like I couldn't fit in all that I wanted to into one week! So, most of my October was full of thoughtfully showing others in my life that I love them! Here's some of what I came up with....

I made prayer cards for many of the girls I meet with on campus. How better to love someone than to pray for them?

On a Thursday night, I was meeting 2 volleyball girls at the Rutgers Women's Soccer game. And it was a cold one! I brought hot chocolate for us to enjoy while we watched the game. 

On Friday afternoons, I lead a team Bible study with the softball team. And boy do I love those girls. And I spend my early Friday afternoons in the student center where Dunkin Donuts tempts me regularly. So, I thought I'd share the indulgence with them at Bible study by bringing a dozen donuts to share with the group!

Tyler has a love for all things bread. Especially banana bread. But he also loves cinnamon. I found a recipe on Pinterest for banana cinnamon swirl bread. It was to die for. He loved it! And he was very surprised to come home to a freshly baked loaf of deliciousness after a long day on campus.

This month, I met regularly with ten girls on campus. And if you haven't picked up on it via my social media posts... fall is my favorite season. So I made "fall in bag" goodies for each girl and gave it to them at our one-on-one meetings, with a hand written note that included one of my favorite verses. These were a hit! The girls loved them and I loved giving them! Each bag included a CD of Christian music, hot apple cider mix, hot cocoa mix, a fall magnet, a carmel apple lollipop, and fall stickers. 

My friend and soon to be coworker Caity came over one Wednesday afternoon for some training and hang out time. Instead of just feeding her my leftover fruit dip, I whipped up a loaf of pumpkin bread with cranberries and pecans. It was so yummy! We enjoyed time together over cider and pumpkin bread =)

One of the lovely ladies I am discipling on campus is a senior soccer player. Her senior day was Sunday October 27. Tyler and I went to an earlier church service in order to get to the game early and see her honored on the field! I hope she felt loved.

The other night I had to run a quick errand to the store for a dinner ingredient. Tyler wasn't interested in coming...which allowed for me to pick up some of his favorite candy as an early Halloween treat!

Some of the other intentional things I did were:
  • Dishes. In our house, dishes are not the responsibility of the chef. But on a few occasions this month, I both cooked and cleaned up to give Tyler a break =)
  • I also texted a friend on the anniversary of her dad's passing to let her know I was praying for her and that God loves her.
As I look back over the month, I am ehh... I guess satisfied. But I did notice that the most common way I showed others love was in my primary love language-- gifts, followed by acts of service. Just thought that was interesting. I also would have loved to do a better job of loving my friends afar well. Maybe that'll be November's challenge! Loving others well from miles away....

How are you seeking to love others well?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Study, Learn, Grow

This year, I have done more studying of the Bible than probably ever before. I have grown in my faith immensely. My confidence in my relationship with the Lord continues to increase, as does my identity in Him alone.

I started the year studying Beth Moore's Breaking Free and was blown away. God spoke so tenderly to my heart through that study. And I just recently finished Kay Arthur's Lord, I Want to Know You which is a study through the names of God. Here's a snapshot of the end of my study--

Both studies taught me unique lessons. Today, I began going through the book of Hebrews, no pre-made study, just me, God, and the Bible. I also really enjoyed that-- the freedom to uncover God's Word all on my own (well, by His leading obviously).

Without God's Word, I know I wouldn't be where I am in my faith today. I cling with all my heart and soul to the Word. It's what keeps my mind purified. It's what I hold on to when everything else around me is falling apart. God's Word is how He reveals Himself to me. And I couldn't be more grateful to know God in a personal way and have free access to His Truth! What about you.....

How have you found studying the Bible helpful? Do you prefer a pre-made Bible study or going through the Word on your own? Does your studying promote growth in your life -- are you applying what you're learning?

Here are some helpful resources on how to study scripture.

"How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you." - Psalm 119:9-11

Wednesday Night TV

In the Stowell Home, every Wednesday night, Duck Dynasty is turned on at 10pm. Tyler laughs hysterically throughout the entire episode. It warms my heart to hear him laugh, deep belly laughs, for about 30 minutes straight.

Last Wednesday however, was the premiere of Preachers of L.A. at 10pm on Oxygen. From the previews I had seen, I was skeptical of the show and rather turned off. But similar to Keeping Up with the Kardashians, I figured it'd be one of those "it's so crazy you can't look away" type shows.

So, after Duck Dynasty ended, we flipped to Oxygen. For the first twenty minutes I watched, I sat there and thought, "this is exactly what I was expecting." Twitter was blowing up with tweets like, "the Holy Spirit is nowhere to be found in this show!" "Hypocrisy at it's finest..." "A preacher with a baby mama...welp..."

But towards the end, I saw glimpses of hope! Maybe these guys aren't seeking money, fame, and glory. Maybe they are seeking to bring God alone glory and to grow as men. 

And then we watched again this week. And I have to say, the show does pleasantly surprise me. However, I am deeply saddened by the [portrayed] "status" of these men -- especially after spending the summer in the heart of L.A. and seeing the depravation and needs there amongst the people. 

I'm not sure if this show will hurt or help Christianity. I'm not sure if the show will please God or the Enemy more. I'm not sure of this show is reality or "reality." And I'm not entirely sure how I feel about it. But I do know that after viewing the show, seeing this really got me worked up.

As the show continues to air, I can only hope and pray that America is not deceived. God (and Christianity) bears no promise of riches, glory, or even worldly success. He does promise love, life, and forgiveness. 

I am curious what your thoughts are on the show. Have you seen it? What's your reaction?

"If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world." - John 15:19

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Loving Enemies

Jesus said, "But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." (Matthew 5:44). Pretty straight up, right? No if's, and's, or but's about it. But certainly not easy!

How do you love those around you? How do you embrace someone who lives and believes differently than you do? How do you avoid judgement and exude love? How do you demonstrate God's love to others?

This was a conversation I had this week with a friend, as she's struggling in this area. We brainstormed some practical ways to show the love God has shown us, to others.

We came up with...
doing the dishes
making dinner
praying for others
praying with others
sharing with others what we've learned about God 

But what about for you....? What comes to mind, what does God bring to your heart? If we want to live a life of obedience in response to God's love, we need to aim to love others!