Monday, April 29, 2013

Week 1 -"Called to Love as God Loves - Unconditionally"

"The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' "  Mark 12:31

Welcome to our next study!  From Women of the ELCA, we are going to briefly explore how we are "Called to Love as God Loves - Unconditionally".

Session 1 looks at Mark 12:28-31, Luke 10:25-28, Matthew 22:37-40, and Leviticus 19:18.  These verses are included in the hand outs, but I encourage you to also read them in a different translation.
Loving ourselves is probably one of the more difficult things we are called to do!  This short study will give us the opportunity to break down these verses and explore how we feel about them.

In 'for further reflection' Romans 12:3-8 touches on our spiritual gifts.  If you have not done a spiritual gifts assessment or aren't sure what spiritual gifts are, this is a nice first step into thinking about them.  This is not, however, an exercise to discern what they are.  If you completed "My One Word" and have started your journal, this is a great opportunity to journal!  Write about the things you do well, the things others affirm in you, and things you love to do.  More than likely, these are your spiritual gifts!

Take time to digest the verses in this week's reading and spend time reflecting on the questions.  While some of them are short & obvious, pulling answers directly from Scripture, others require deeper consideration.  In our fast paced lives we are often tempted to write down the first thing that pops into our head - which is often very helpful.  But it is also a good exercise to allow the questions (and our initial answers) to sit in our hearts & minds for a time and see what else there is to see (via your own writing).

Have a wonderful week!  Check-in with your friends here on the blog.  Discuss this week's session and or how you are doing with your one word!

Your Partner in Ministry,
Shelly (honey)

"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  Proverbs 16:24

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Mid-week check-in

"I was in the Spirit of the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet, saying, "Write in a book what you see..."  Revelation 1:10-11 (NASB)

Ok, so mid-week is a bit of a stretch!  It is Thursday, after all.  Hopefully you have read chapters 9, 10, 11, and 12.   It is quite a journey from chapter 1 to chapter 12!  And to think we've covered it in 4 short weeks.  But, this is not the end - it is a beginning.  Some people take these 4 weeks to choose their word; it doesn't come to everyone at the same pace.  Keep reading and, as Mike suggests in chapter 10, "write your guts out"! 

What he says in chapter 10 is a great testament for journaling.  I know not everyone likes to write or reflect on their day, but your journal can also include lists, drawings, and stream of conscience writing.  Everything Mike says journaling can do for you is true!  If you struggle with journaling, refer to page 140 for some ideas of things to write about.  Most importantly, don't let anything hold you back!  Start now and you will begin to see "the voice of God whispering to me, encouraging me, convicting me, and guiding me to be the person that I was created to be."  (Ashcraft, MOW, p 142).

"Wait for it" here is not a line from a sitcom.  In this instance, "wait for it" (chapter 11) refers to our prayer life, "waiting on God.  Waiting to discern his plans.  Waiting for him to form our hearts and transform our desires." (Ashcraft, MOW, p. 149).  It's not easy!  We live in a fast paced world, a world of short cuts and ways to avoid the wait.  Yet, this is what we are called to do.  There is no "Fast Pass" to the front of Heaven's line!  And don't be fooled into thinking it is a passive time!  Waiting is an important activity in God's world and the life of a Christian.

Finally, Mike talks to us about numbering our days (Psalm 90) and the trap of "destination thinking" in the final chapter.  As you finish the reading, take note of what stood out for you.  Was there an 'Aha moment'?  Is there a burning question in your mind?  Do you need to go back to a chapter, idea, or question?  I know I do!  I may even read the entire book again.  Bring those thoughts to the blog in the comment section.  I'd love to know what you thought of this practice!  How are you doing with your One Word?  Tell me, becuase I'd really like to know :)

I have been a fan of this book, the process, and the idea of My One Word since the beginning, but now...  Well, I think my feelings have morphed from just liking it to a level where I feel I want to gift it (and a journal) to my friends and family.  All the things Mike writes about we already know, because God has been telling us through His word for centuries, and  Jesus taught us through the writings of his disciples.  My One Word is a tool to help us focus our lives, to aid us in moving towards being the person God created us to be. 

Remain daily in the Word (through your one word).


Remember, "Change is possible.  Focus is required. Dependence on God is absolutely fundamental." (Ashcraft, MOW)

Your Partner in Ministry,
Shelly (honey)

"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  Proverbs 16:24

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Week 4 - My One Word

"Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.  Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is."  Romans 12:2 (NLT)

To the wonderful group of women who gathered Friday morning for our in-person discussion: Thank you for a great morning!  And keep the comments on the blog coming!  They are fantastic; I love reading them throughout the week.  Posting as you read is like talking about a movie with a friend right after you've seen it.  Sometimes, as I'm reading I want to turn to someone and say, "holy cow!  that was great!" or "I have no idea what the author means by that." or "Ouch, that truth hurt." or "WOW!  What did you think about that?"  I hope you come to see the comment section of the blog as a week long conversation, a place to react, question, and make requests.  It 's also a dynamic tool for those of us who cannot attend on Friday mornings or need to miss a session or two.   I love you all and am so grateful that you have chosen to share this journey with our small group.

Last week's session taught us that "resistance builds strength".  We know this about our physical life (working out, lifting weights), but it's also true in our spiritual formation. Mike talked about the 'unrealistic expectations' we have for our lives; his example of the person who chooses "patience" as their one word and then assumes God will remove all the slow people from their path, is both pointed and funny.  The point being that, when 'patience' is our one word, we should expect that our patience will be tested, because resistance (resisting the urge to grumble about the slow person in our check-out line) builds strength.  We should not "measure our progress by the absence of struggle", but remember that "character is developed by how well we deal with the struggles we face, not by how well we avoid them" (Ashcraft, MOW video).

Just as Mike concludes the video session by telling us to embrace the struggle, we move into chapter 9, where we read, "If Satan can control our thoughts, he can control our behaviors." (MOW, p 120).  Talk about a struggle!  

I don't know about you, but my mind is where I fight my toughest battles.  'Why is this?', I often wonder.  Is it because I'm a woman, because my mom was a perfectionist and passed that mindset on to me, because the media & the world tell me I'm not good enough, because I have a history (family & personal) of depression?  Why am I my own worse enemy?  Does everyone think like this?  Will I pass this negativity on to my children and how can I stop it?!  I need only to search Scripture to find my answers (one of them opens this post).  Chapter 9 is filled with Scripture that tell us how God wants us to think.  And what happens when we "fix our eyes on Jesus" and the Scriptures and God's truths.

I love chapter 9!  I could spend hours talking about it, but I won't :)  Let me urge you to spend some time with it.  Besides reminding us of God's truths and pointing out Scripture to help us with our thoughts, Mike gives us some helpful ways to make the changes we want to make.

I am looking forward to reading your reactions to chapters 9, 10, 11, & 12 (our reading for this week).  Although this will bring us to the end of the book,  remember that My One Word is a year long project. 

Keep your word in front of you daily, memorize your associated Scripture and practice your one small action.  Keep your journal and your book handy, as you may want to refer back to them throughout the year.

"Change is possible.  Focus is required.  Dependence on God is absolutely necessary."  (Mike Ashcraft, MOW)

Your Partner in Ministry,
Shelly (honey)

"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  Proverbs 16:24

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Week 3 of "My One Word"

"These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts... Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads."  Deuteronomy 6:6,8

Have you ever "lost" your car in the parking lot?  I have a terrible memory for things like this!  I can be in a store for only half an hour and not be too sure where I parked.  In an attempt to make life less stressful, I try to park in the same area at the mall, park under light fixtures, and take note of where the car is in relation to the store.  Even with all this, I can still misremember where I left my car!  If the kids are with me, I usually ask one of them to remember where we parked! 

With an lost car incident only an hour old, I sat down to read chapter 5 the other day.  Should I be surprised that the chapter was all about how forgetful we can be!?  That's why Mike urges us to 'Keep It In Front Of You', "it" being our one word.  Like my attempt to park in a location I will remember, in order to remember our one word, it should be placed where we can see, hear, feel, or touch it every day.  How will you keep your word in front of you?  Share in the comment section ways you plan to keep your word front and center in your life over the course of the year.

If you haven't yet chosen your word, keep with the process.  List, research, pray, look for Scripture that supports your word.  Once you have your word, commit to one small action that you will take in regards to moving you towards that person you want to become, in Christ, through your word.  For example, my word is honey and my action is be nice!

Most importantly, keep reading!  Mike's stories are funny and relate-able, inspiring and comforting.  This week we are reading chapters 5, 6, 7, and 8.  They are short, generally less than 10 pages, so I know you can do it! 

I look forward to reading your reaction to any of the chapters we're reading this week.  And don't forget to tell us how you will keep your word in front of you!  I have been eating a spoonful of honey to remind me that "Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body." Proverbs 16:24

Your Partner in Ministry,
Shelly (honey)

Friday, April 12, 2013

Week 2 - My One Word follow-up

"So don't get tired of doing what is good.  Don't get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time."  Galatians 6:9

Change is a process.  Process takes time.  Don't get discouraged.  Don't give up!  We will reap a harvest of blessing!  God tells us this through Paul's words to the church in Galatia.  They needed the encouragement and so do we. 

Have you chosen your one word?  Remember, it is a process.  Follow the suggested process in chapter 3 of My One Word.  For more encouragement and a more simplified version of the process (and if you don't yet have a book), visit, under the tab "Pick Your Word"and follow the instructions.  Remember, this is not about change born of regret.  This is about "moving forward with vision" (MOW, pg. 45), towards the kind of person you want to be.

This morning in small group we shared our One Word and the one small action we are making this week, in regard to our one word.  Here they are:

Love  -relinquish (control) through prayer
Honey - be nice!
Connect - stay (with Bible study/church/community to make deep connections)
Listen - stop more
Peace - (she's still thinking about this as of this morning)

And yes, there were some of us who did not yet have a word.  That's ok!  I hope they were inspired and encouraged by our discussion.  I look forward to learning about your One Word, why you chose it, what it means to you, and what small action you will take this week.  And don't forget to find a verse that connects to your word, one that you can memorize so that it becomes a part of you this year.

For even more inspiration, there are Words & their reasons sprinkled throughout each chapter (in red ink) and there are lots of them on the MyOneWord website, too.  Go there, you can't help but be encouraged!

This week keep your word in front of you!   And follow through with the one small action you committed to making.

Read chapters 5-8, too :)

"Change is possible.  Focus is required.  Dependence on God is absolutely fundamental" (M.Ashcraft, MOW)

Your Partner in Ministry,
Shelly (honey)

"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  Proverbs 16:24

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Week 2 mid-week check-in

"When first things are put first, second things are not suppressed but increased."  C.S. Lewis

Welcome to the mid-week check-in!  With the faster pace of this study (a whole book in 4 weeks), I thought it might be a good idea to check-in with everyone to see how it's going.

These first 4 chapters are fantastic!  Easy reading, with a lot of what I need: repetition of important thoughts & ideas.  How about you?  What do you think so far?  With our in-person discussions being mostly about the video, I'd love to hear (read) what you think about the book, via the blog!  It's a great way to stay connected to each other throughout the week.  And a true lifeline for those who are doing it partially or completely on-line.

The personal anecdotes and stories woven throughout these chapters often make me chuckle, because I can relate!  Except the basketball story in chapter 2, that one made me cringe, then painted a picture that helped me to better understand what My One Word can do. 

As I read, I underlined, starred, and took some notes.  One of my favorite quotes from the video opens this post.  I have more and, if you'll indulge me, I'll get around to telling you what I did with them.  But first, let me get to chapter 3!  The one I approached with trepidation because I really wasn't sure I'd be ready to choose a word by the 3rd chapter.  'Shouldn't we do that towards the end of the book, not the beginning?', I thought. 

When I sat down to read, those 3 words stared at me "PICK YOUR WORD" like a command that I didn't think I was able to or willing to obey.  I thought this chapter would be a lot of work: "here it comes, making lists, looking up meanings, researching, looking for words in Scripture... Yikes!"  I don't have time for that!  But, putting first things first, I read on.  Turns out there is a lot of good stuff in those 8 pages!  I found myself underlining & note taking eagerly.  Then came "Reflect".  Uh-oh!  Now the work begins!  Not so, it was just the same questions that Mike has asked since the first video, in a concise, do-able list!  I still wasn't ready, though. 

Instead, I was drawn to write out my favorite quotes and Bible verses from the chapters on 3x5 cards.  I'm not sure why I did this; procrastination, avoidance, an easier task?  But, it's what I did and perhaps needed to do.  As Mike says, there is no right or wrong way to make your list.  It is highly personal and the process is, too!  So, whatever you need to do to get to your list, do it!  A few hours after I wrote my 3x5 cards, my list started to form.  I was in the car (luckily a passenger) and grabbed my prayer journal (the only paper I had) and started my list.  I've been adding words for the last 24 hours and feel it's still not complete, but that's okay.

Have you started your list?  What do you need to do before you begin?  Here are my 3x5 cards:  I read them over & over and even put one at my kid's breakfast plate as a morning encouragement!   It's kind of small, so you may want to view it in Full Screen mode.

If you cannot view the video in your e-mail, please go to the blog, to view!

Two final thoughts on the reading:

1) If the One Word stories in red print that are found throughout the chapters seem distracting, read them after you've finished the chapter.  They are random sprinklings of encouragement and not necessary for understanding the chapter.

2) When I take notes that have pronouns, I change them to personal pronouns to make it more meaningful and direct.  Notice my last card... I changed "we" to "I".

Have a wonderful week!  I look forward to hearing from you here on the blog and meeting with you on Friday, if you are available! 

"Change is possible.  Focus is required.  Dependence on God is absolutely fundamental."  Mike Ashcraft, M.O.W

Your Partner in Ministry,


"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  Proverbs 16:24

Monday, April 8, 2013

Week 2 of "My One Word"

"For God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey him and the power to do what pleases him."  Philippians 2:13

Welcome to Week 2 of My One Word
On Friday we watched the first video in which Mike Ashcraft gave us an overview of how & why he developed My One Word and what is in store for us over the course of the next few weeks.  It was a little intimidating, but also very exciting! 

If you were not able to join us on the 5th, you can still see the video!  Go to  The first video segment can be found on the webpage.  After you watch the video, come back here (the blog) and post your reaction in the Comment section.  We shared various reactions, from "really, you want us to read how many chapters?" and "I will be accountable to this word for a whole year!?  That's a long time."  to "I'm excited!  I wish our whole church could do this!".   I can't wait to see what you think.

As a reminder, this week we are reading Chapters 1-4.  And, if you need to re-read chapter 3, you are in good company :)  There is some work to do this week, but I pormise it's not much and the dividends will be worth it!  The chapters are short and the reflection questions are thoughtful.

So, grab your book (or e-reader), your Bible, journal, and a pen and get started. 

Remember, "CHANGE is possible.  FOCUS is required.  And dependence on God is absolutely foundational." Mike Ashcraft, My One Word

Your Partner in Ministry,


Monday, April 1, 2013

Let's Begin "My One Word" !

"Be silent, and know that I am God."  Psalm 46:10 (NLV)

When my son was in 2nd grade, his first year at the local public school, he had difficulty adjusting.  His complaint to me was that his classroom was loud.  Having been in his room a few times, I knew that generally the class was well behaved and not overly boisterous.  What I realized when I went in for a conference was all the visual stimulation, the clutter and busy-ness of the classroom and the fast paced schedule.  It all made it hard for him to quiet his mind enough to concentrate on his lesson.

That was an "ah-ha" moment for me.  It clarified something I had been trying to understand for years:  The world in which we live is loud! And I don't just mean it's filled with noise (which is it!). It's colors are loud, it's demands on our time & energy are loud, we are visually assaulted with images, our schedules scream "hurry up", we talk about the ticking of clocks of self-imposed, culture-imposed, and even biological deadlines (presumably getting louder as time moves on).   All this NOISE makes it difficult, and sometimes impossible, to focus on the important things in life.  We can easily get distracted, off track, and confused. 

We all need to find a way to slow down.  The medical world is finally discovering what God has been telling us for countless ages:  REST.  Rest is essential.  Quiet is necessary.  Let go and let God!  "Be silent, and know that I am God."  Psalm 46:10 

We need to limit the noise of living in order to focus on the important things of life.  The book My One Word will help us do just that. 

This Friday, April 5th, we begin with the video and book series, My One Word.  If you have not yet purchased your book, it's okay.  Most orders from Amazon come within a few days :)  And you don't have to do any reading before our first session, anyway.  Order your book and relax.

If you have your book and want to start reading, here's what I suggest as an order of importance:
1) pg 181-184 Video Discussion Guide (scan the questions, we will discuss them after the video)
2) pg 13-16 Introduction
3) Chapter 1
4) Reflection questions at the end of Chapter 1

After this week, the reading will be important for you.  It is how you will narrow down your One Word, which we will all eventually share with one another.  Sharing our word is essential in being held accountable to it.

I strongly recommend a journal.  While there is often some blank space after the reflection questions at the end of each chapter, it's not very much.  As I was journal-ing today, I found that by writing out what I at first thought was a non-answer, I eventually came around to something more significant.  It was through the process of slowing down to write that allowed me to see what was really going on.  There may be things within the chapter you'd like to make note of, too.   And, you may want to note things that stand out to you in the videos as well, since this is what most of our discussions will be based upon.*
Your journal can be anything, by the way.  It can be an old notebook, a binder with lined paper, or just some paper stapled together.  Whatever you have that you can keep with your book and bring to your computer and/or our sessions.
If you've never 'journaled' before, don't let that intimidate you.  It's just the latest word for writing because the word 'writing' often intimidates people!  It's just writing down what comes to mind, making note of favorite ideas, and jotting down things that bring up more questions for you.  It doesn't require much time, either.  There is no quota of pages to be filled or number of words.  Put your thoughts on paper - there is no judgement or critique.

*If you are following on-line and not attending Friday mornings, start or join a discussion on the reflection questions or group questions on our blog (note: if you receive updates via e-mail, you must go to the blog to enter a Comment).  The group questions from the video don't rely on having seen the video; it is the discussion between us that is vital.  Visit our blog,, and the web page and blog at for even more support and connections!

I am so excited to get started!  Thank you for joining me on this journey of life change!!

Your Partner in Ministry,

"Kind words are like honey - sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."  Proverbs 16:24