Monday, February 19, 2018

Lent aka Spring Training

If you've been paying attention, you'll have noticed that there's less and less of me on social media. I started small with changing my password on my Facebook account so that I couldn't check it. And that quickly escalated to a downloading of my account and deletion. Like, never getting it back, it's gone, if you want one, you'll have to start over deletion. And then I just switched my time to checking my Instagram, which used to be in check until Facebook went away. And then lent started and I put all of my Instagram accounts on temporary disable. And they're probably going to stay that way until I get beyond the point of turning to my phone to see if it has anything for me in terms of entertainment and validation. Hopefully, that will be take about 40 days, give or take a few Sundays.

So, I'm hoping to use this lent period to get myself all prepped for what can be in my life. I really want to serve God with all my heart, my soul, my mind, and my body. I have a hard time with all of those at once. And there's no time like to present in regards to figuring out how to get closer to that goal.

Here are some of the things I hope to do this lent to encourage that. One, prayer in a more directed way for my husband. Currently, I'm using Power of a Praying Wife. It's been awhile since I've picked it up, but it's been very fruitful so far. Two, I'm reading through the bible this year and I try to write down each day one verse that jumps out at me from that reading. Three, increasing actual physical activity. I got some resistance bands for my birthday, I'm going to learn how to use them and maybe dust off the rebounder to get myself ready for some springtime/summer running. Four, I'm going to just be who I am instead of striving for more of what I think I should be.

Let me talk about that a bit more. My whole life I've struggled with pursuing what others see that I'm good at. For instance, French, chemistry, public speaking, writing, baking. Any number of things. I hear praise and immediately wonder if that's something I should pursue with my time and energy. And sometimes I do and I like the results but more often than not, I just end up getting down on myself for not being able to do what I KNOW I should be doing and what I would LIKE to do. So, this lent season, I'm going to be a housewife, stay at home mom, homeschooling lady. I'm going to clean my house once a week, sneak time in to research the book I'm working on in my mind and blogging about it when it becomes more than thought, and I'm going to be me. I'm going to meal plan, mom night out, journal, talk with friends, write some notes to people, check in when folks bubble up, be a deacon at church, walk my dog, and enjoy MY life. No one else gets this perspective on life and God that I get, it's unique to me. I'm going to take some time to enjoy the view.

What about you? What are you up to this lent?

Monday, February 12, 2018

Do You See What I See?

This week, I did not get to any fictional writing, but I did polish a sermon and preach it. I will preface this by saying, I have not listened to the entire audio, but I'm sharing it anyway. If you would like a copy of the transcript, just send me an email! 

It's entitled, Do You See What I See? and is based on the scriptures from Mark 9:2-9 and 2 Kings 2:1-11

Monday, February 5, 2018

I love a good serial

Back in high school, we read Dickens, who is famous for his serial stories. I just cannot get enough of the concept. In our high school paper, a friend and I wrote one about I think a pepperoni pizza. We would have a small installment in each paper. When I was writing for NaNoWrimo, I generally share as I'm going along. And that's what I've decided to do again this year as I start writing my next novel. Completely unedited, just whatever ends up in the word processor at the end of the week. And today was my first day sitting down to write and I thought it fitting to share with you what's the start of a new story.

Hopefully, you will notice some similarities between Krystyana's story and Christian's story in Pilgrim's Progress. I can't guarantee consistent writing, but when I have something to share I will on Mondays.

Krystyana had been coming to this library every week since she could remember. Her mother would bring her as a young girl, as a teen should would find escape in the quiet shelves of non-fiction, even as an adult it was where she felt most comfortable. She cherished the first time she was able to bring each of her children with her. The library was where she was most herself. It didn’t make any sense to her then when she found this book that made her question everything she had ever known about herself.
She didn’t know how she had never seen it before, the cover looked well worn and the pages as if they had been read several times through. She had been through every book on every shelf and here was a new one. It didn’t have the checkout card that told her it belonged to the library, so someone must have left it here. She wasn’t sure if she should take it with her but a not fell out as she thumbed through. Picking it up, she read the clear script that said “This book is yours, Krystyana. I have been waiting for you to be ready to read these words for a long time. Now that the time has come, I trust that you will know what to do with this treasure.”
She looked around to see if anyone was watching her but it was just the regulars, browsing the internet, flipping through this week’s magazines, and having conversations with the librarian. She shoved the note back into the pages and carefully slid the book into her bag. It felt as if she had discovered some great prize her in the midst of all these stories she had come to know and love. She knew with just the few words she had read that this book was somehow different.

When she finally got home, after the kids were asleep and her husband had gone out to have a drink and talk with his friends, she lit a candle, turned on her reading lamp and tucked in to the book from the library. She was an avid reader, able to gulp works of fiction in just one sitting, but this, this book required her to take small bites but each one filled her mind with more and more thoughts about her life. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Make Your Voice Heard in Heaven by Barry C. Black

What feels like a lifetime ago, Joel and I had the pleasure of meeting Barry C. Black at a conference in Montreat. If you're a part of a small congregation in the PC(USA) I would highly recommend checking out Wee Kirk (, it was a huge blessing to our family during our time in small church ministry. Anyway, back to Barry C. Black, he's the Chaplain of the United States Senate. This little jewel of a book on prayer was born out of his recent speech for the 2017 National Prayer Breakfast.

Make Your Voice Heard is a practical application of Biblical truth. Each chapter is grounded in scripture and the easy application of those verses. The book starts with a new look at the Lord's Prayer/Our Father. Black does an excellent job of marrying the traditional prayer with the ACTS prayer. He explains easy ways to take this prayer that most of us know and how to expand it to create a genuine and intense time of prayer with God.

The rest of the book goes through several different areas of prayer including how to pray when God is silent, times of temptation, and celebration. Each section is short enough to be read in one sitting and has a point by point recap at the end of the chapter. It would be an excellent book to guide your personal prayer times as well as to be read with a group.

It's quite astonishing to think about how much Black was able to squeeze into 145 pages. I look forward to re-reading this guide on prayer and putting them into practice this year.

A copy of this book was given to me by Tyndale Publishing house for the purpose of review. I'm never required to give a positive review but I'm always thankful when I can.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

When Willpower Fails

I posted this picture on Facebook this morning. I was reminded today that I quit smoking over 16 years ago. I do dream about it on occasion and talk with friends about it, too. But I have yet to go walk into the drug store or gas station and buy myself a pack or even bum one off of a friend since I quit.

I wish that I had that same willpower towards Facebook. I posted that image up there because I have not been able to break my habit. This past winter I've found myself in a vicious cycle of checking in circles. Meaning I'd check Facebook, go check my email, maybe Instagram and then go back to Facebook and start the whole thing again. I was not good for my mental fortitude. To sit there and recognize your addiction and not be able to do anything about it. I decided to do something about it. I'm not sure if it will work because honestly, I have created a lot of spaces of responsibility on Facebook, some of which I don't share with anyone else. So if I don't do it, it doesn't get done.

I created another account, with just those responsibilities associated with them. No friends, no groups, no pages, no news feed, nothing but those responsibilities. And now I will need to tell myself that they are only available on my computer during specific work hours. If they really are work then they should be able to be contained within work hours and not need constant supervision!

All of that is just an attempt to create a failsafe where my willpower has failed miserably. I prayed about this. I asked for direction, guidance, a clue even and got not much in return other than a feeling that I already knew the answer. Sometimes, life is like that. We want God to come down and give us some kind of miraculous event that will change our hearts, minds, and actions. But we already know what to do and it looks like hard work and potential discomfort. I think that's a lot of the reason that I haven't done this before. I knew that I needed to reduce the pull of Facebook, but I kept telling myself that I HAD to be there because I was viewing it as a ministry. Which though that was part of my purpose there, no ministry should take up that much time within a day.

So I'm here, telling you why I'm not there personally. I really do hope that it can be different for me. I don't have much hope left in myself, but fortunately, the God I serve has plenty for both of us.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Galatians Week 6

Week 6 of our Galatians Study! Wrapping up just in time for Advent! Join us in the Bible Study with Tina Facebook group to get some daily encouragement, two words Facebook Live!

Study Questions Week 6

  1. What does it mean to restore someone gently? 
    1. Is there a time that you can think of that someone has restored you gently? Take some time to write down all the things that you remember about that time. In what way did the person approach you? How did they make you feel? Was there an action that they encouraged you to take to correct your behavior/thought?
  2. Do you have people in your life that help carry your burden? Give them a word of thanks, this week. And look for someone that you can come alongside to help with their burden. It can be physical (like holding a door open), spiritual (praying for someone), emotional (being present in their grief or celebration). 
  3. Paul says in verse 7 God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 
    1. Take some time to examine your actions lately and see if you've been a fair-weather friend to God. If so, take the time and effort to reconnect.
    2. We can't plant green beans and then be upset when it's harvest time and there are no tomatoes. We only get back a return on what we invest. What have you been investing lately?
  4. Paul talks often in his letters about being crucified to the world. It's easy to think that if we just remove ourselves from the world or reduce its influence on us then we will be able to become righteous. In verse 15, Paul reminds us that circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything. Whether we are fully focused on gaining the world or a hermit living in a cave closing our eyes to the world, we are focused on the wrong thing, the world. What is one step you can take this week to put your focus on God and becoming a new creation?
  5. Challenge of the week: Take some time each morning with your daily plan and lay it down before God and ask what things you should add and take away.  

Leave your comments below or join the discussion on Facebook and Instagram #BibleStudywithTina

Having trouble getting the podcast to play? You can access it directly through this link. Or send me an email to get a copy of the manuscript.

Want to subscribe so you don't miss a single episode? Use this feed in your podcast app of choice

Monday, November 20, 2017

Galatians Week 5

Week 5 of our Galatians Study! And we have a special guest on the podcast this week! PS He's super handsome in case you couldn't tell from his voice.

Study Questions Week 5

  1. Identify and celebrate one area of your life that you have found freedom from slavery. And then identify and confess one area that you are still under the yoke of slavery.
  2. Verse 6 says "the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love."
    1. How do you express your faith? 
    2. Explore at least one new way to express your faith through love. Write a letter to a friend, take a meal to a neighbor, give a smile to a stranger. Whatever it may be, step out of your ordinary expressions of faith and try something new.
  3. Tina talked about the two lists in verses 19. Grab a journal and see which side your life falls on recently. Since the second list is fruits of the Spirit, it means that God can make them grow in your life. Pick one that you would like more of and pursue God for it.
  4. Verse 25 says "Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit." 
    1. How do we keep in step with the Spirit? 
    2. How are you specifically keeping step with the Spirit? 
  5. Weekly challenge. Love your neighbor as yourself.

Leave your comments below or join the discussion on Facebook and Instagram #BibleStudywithTina

Having trouble getting the podcast to play? You can access it directly through this link. Or send me an email to get a copy of the manuscript.

Want to subscribe so you don't miss a single episode? Use this feed in your podcast app of choice