Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Remember, do not forget!

"Search for the Lord and for his strength; continually seek him.  Remember the wonders he has performed,     his miracles, and the rulings he has given..." Psalm 105:4-5

"Remember, do not forget (fill in the blank)..."! 
I can't tell you how many times I've said that to my husband, my children, my family, the class parents, my friends, and myself!  I pen reminder notes, send them via e-mail, in newsletters and blogs, and sometimes I even resort to making phone calls or face to face meetings.  I have 3 calendars, plus those put out by the various teams and organizations that have a hand in making our family schedule.  All in an effort to remember to not forget something!   In fact, right this minute I am remembering that I have forgotten to mail a check!  Thank goodness for notes - when I checked, I saw that I had mailed it, a week before the deadline!  Have you ever done that?  Thought you forget, only to discover that you didn't!?  It makes me wonder what kind of life I've gotten myself into when I forget that I remembered!

Forgetfulness is not a 21st Century problem!  It goes back to the very beginning of human existence.  In My One Word, Mike Ashcraft talks about the Israelites forgetting God's love for them as they wandered through the desert.  It seems like a crazy thing to forget, considering the miracles that took place to get them out of Egypt, but it happened.  And it happens to me all the time!  I am acutely aware that I am a very forgetful person.  I forget people's names right after they introduce themselves; I forget important birthdays; or where I hid gifts, documents, and that air freshener refill that I love and they only had 1 left!  I forget to rely on God for what I need, to thank Him for all he has done and to enjoy the life he gives me.  My forgetfulness can be so frustrating!  So, I turned to 'the great big book of everything': the Bible.

I looked it up on Bible Gateway and the phrase "do not forget" (or some form of it) appears in 15 passages (NLT) from the books of Deuteronomy through Hebrews.   These include commands to God's people and the promise that God does not forget.  Okay, so I'm not the only one who is both using this phrase and in need of it.  It is comforting to know it's not just me!

Then I searched the word "remember" and was overwhelmed by 267 passages (NLT)!  I guess that settles it; humans need to be told to remember!  It appears in 52 out of 66 books of the Bible!  From Genesis to Revelation!  If it was written down that many times, can you imagine how many times it was spoken?!  Clearly, remembering is something we have to be reminded to do.  So when we forget, because we will, we shouldn't throw in the towel.  Pray and keep moving forward on the path to becoming the person God created us to be.

What are some ways you remember things?  I'm sure you learned RoyGBiv to recall the colors of the rainbow, and Every Good Boy Does Fine (or similar phrase) and FACE to learn to read music.  What about now, how do you remember important events, schedules, goals, and God's promises? How will you remember your One Word this year?  What will you do to "Keep it in front of you", as Mike urges us in chapter 5 of My One Word.  And how will you recall everything that happened throughout the year on your journey with your word?  Mike has a suggestion for that, too: "write your guts out"!  For more encouragement click here to read what Women of the ELCA says about journaling.

I am excited to read how you will keep your word present and engaging throughout the year!  For those of you who leave a comment based on these questions, I will randomly choose one person to receive a pen and journal!  I will choose and announce the winner on Wednesday,  April 2nd!

What's Next?
Our next study will begin Friday, April 4th.  Copies of the free booklet can be picked up from me or you can dowload it here.  It is about finding your style of following God's lead! 

Your Partner in Ministry,
Eph 6:10-18

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

Thursday, March 20, 2014

My One Word - Chapters 11 & 12

"And the Lord replied, "I will personally go with you, Moses.  I will give you rest - everything will be fine for you."  Then Moses said, "If you don't go with us personally, don't let us move a step from this place."  Exodus 33:14-15

As we come to the end of the book, we are reminded of the importance of The Journey.  By now, you have probably chosen a word, or at least narrowed it down.  But in the process of choosing, don't forget the purpose of your One Word - to draw closer to God.

I chose an obvious word for chapter 11: WAIT and for chapter 12 it is JOURNEY.  Both words point to the fact that it takes time to get to our destination, just as both chapters talk about the importance of what happens between today and a year from today with our one word.  We all have a 'destination' in mind when we choose a word - a new & improved self, attitude, outlook, etc.  But it's the moments and days in between now and then that make the change possible. Often times we see a journey as just a waiting time til we get to our destination.  But there's a better way to view it;  Mike puts it this way, "Waiting prepares me for his (God's) lead." (MOW, 159).

Most importantly, it's who we rely on to make that change in us.  Just before the passage above, Moses is a talking with God and expressing concern about traveling to the Promised Land.  The Lord's assurance is not just for Moses - it's for us, too!  When we wait on the Lord, our time is not wasted.  When God travels with us on our journey, he teaches " to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom" Psalm 90:12  

Over the next few days, as you finish reading "My One Word" and begin a year-long journey with your word, don't forget to travel with the best tour guide around: God!  Remember to stop and smell the roses and keep a travel journal so that you can look back and recall all the things, big & small / good & bad, that you experienced along the way.  "The normal, natural pace of our lives will not likely lead us toward spiritual formation" (MOW, 23), so be intentional in your endeavour, stay focused on your word, and remain open to what God is doing in your life.

Your Partner in Ministry,

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

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

My One Word - Chapters 9 & 10

"There is meaning in every journey that is unknown to the traveler."  ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I read this quote this morning on Facebook - it was posted by the ELCA.  If you are on Facebook you should follow them!  They've been posting inspiring quotes throughout Lent!  When I read this one, I couldn't help but think of the My One Word project!  Mike talks about staying open to what God will do through our focus on our word in chapter 7.  And in chapter 10 he touches on why journaling is so important; one of the reasons being that it allows us to see later, that meaning which wasn't clear in the beginning.  We stay with one word for a year, because it is a journey whose destination is not yet known.

Regardless of where you are, keep moving forward, keep reading and writing; listen for God's voice in your search for your word and stay open to what He will do with you throughout the coming year.

Chapter 9 is a little aggressive!  With a title like, "Blow Up the Moment", what did I expect?  But when it comes to avoiding or defeating sin (whatever the sin is) we can't take a laissez-faire attitude.  I thought of the word TEST in this chapter.  Mike suggests we run some tests when we are in situations that can lead us away from God.  We have asked the question over & over, "how do I know it's God talking to me".  In this chapter (along with the 4 C's in chapter 6) Mike gives us some guidance as to how to slow ourselves down and control our thoughts, rather than letting emotions and our "mind monkeys" control them!  I love the image of "mind monkeys"!  It cracks me up and. at the same time, scares me a little!  My mind monkeys run the range from "5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed" to the pack of baboons chasing Jane in Disney's Tarzan.  Can you tell I have kids!?  No matter what your mind monkeys look like, they can be tamed with Scripture.

The word that came to me in chapter 10 is a bit obvious: WRITE!  Mike implores us to write our guts out.  And even for someone like me, who enjoys writing, it's not an easy task.  It is a discipline.  To take the time every day or even every other day, to slow down long enough to put pen to paper and record our thoughts, observations, activities, and feelings requires discipline and obedience.  I know I didn't do so well last year with this, but this year it is one of the things I hope to incorporate through focusing on my one word.  Mike does a fantastic job of proclaiming the benefits of journaling.  So, I won't restate his declarations, I'll just say "Find a journal and get started!  Right now!"

We are almost to the end of the book, but that is merely the beginning of the journey!  If you have your word, great!  I hope you have already found a Scripture to guide you and are working on your one small action.  If you haven't yet chosen a word, stick with the process and keep your eyes and ears open!  I thought I had my word narrowed down to 2 last week.  I shared them, Kindness & Obey, but what others said in the course of discussing their words and mine, I have since heard another whispering to me.  More research, listening and writing for me this week!

In the comment section, please share your word (if you have one), your Scripture, your one small action or any questions or struggles you are having discovering your word.  I can't wait to read about your One Word!

Your Partner in Ministry,


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

Thursday, March 13, 2014

My One Word - Chapters 7 & 8

"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see."  Hebrews 11:1

This study is going fast!  I don't know about you, but I feel like even though I can get the reading done, the reflection questions will take a little more time to really sink in.  I suppose that's why this is a year long endeavour and not just a 4 or 8 week study!  Hang in there and remember, it's about the process, not perfection.

Chapter 7, "Let It Morph" is all about staying OPEN (my word for the chapter) to what God is doing in  us through our word.  Proverbs 16:9 says "We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps." I know, it seems contradictory to say 'stay focused' AND 'stay open'!  Staying focused on our word, which is chosen with help and direction from God, will begin the work and staying open to what God has intended for us will sustain us and "bring about his purposes and our maturity" (MOW, 101).  As you journal your journey throughout the year, you will begin to see how staying open to what God wants will allow your word to morph.

Chapter 8, "Seeing Through Your Word" is all about TRAINING!  I was never an athlete, but my children are!  Training is something I have learned a great deal about as an adult and I'm trying my best to pass on this newly acquired knowledge to my children.  Training, not just physically, but mentally & spiritually, is very important!  It is how we can be strong when we are put to the test.  The way we think, they way we view the world, the way we react to the world is a little bit 'nature' (how we're wired) and a little bit (maybe a lotta bit) 'nurture'.  We are intelligent and can train our brains.  Mike goes even further and says that we can also, with God's help, through the lens of our one word, train our hearts.  On page 107 Mike puts it this way, "what we see determines the direction we will go.  The attention of our eyes focuses the affection of our hearts.   The eyes of our heart, once enlightened... show us a reality that our physical eyes cannot see.  A reality based on the words and promises of God."  Of course, all of this is dependent on staying focused on our word and staying open to what God has in store!

Once you have a word, write in your journal your reason for choosing that word.  What inspired, drove, or impressed you about the word? What hopes do you have for the year?  Answering these questions now will be helpful in the weeks and months to come.  It will serve as a reminder of your intentions and help you to see how your word morphs over the year.

I would love to know what your word is and why you chose it!  Please comment below to share with us!

As soon as I have settled on my word, I will let you know!  Remember, it's a process not a race; it may take some time to settle on your word for the year.  Stick with it, pray, and let God guide you to His word for you.

Your Partner in Ministry,

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

Monday, March 10, 2014

My One Word - Chapters 5 & 6

"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me."  John 10:27 ESV

Last week was an amazing week for my two teenagers!  My daughter and her partner won a state-wide video contest, my son had a hat trick, his team won a weekend tournament, and their high school hockey team became State Champions!  I can't help but be very proud of them!

Have you had days like this, where you're on top of the world?  Energy is high and it seeps into everything you do. Take a moment to  recall that time.  How long did that euphoria last?  How long did it sustain you?  In our busy lives it's easy to forget even the most exciting & uplifting feelings that we experience.  In fact, when I mentioned what a great week it was, my daughter said, "Oh yea, that was this week!" in reference to her video contest.  Amazing!  They had worked very hard on the project and drumming up votes, yet with everything else going on, she had forgotten that it was only days before that she had celebrated a victory.  Memories can be short, even for the good things in life!

A one word description for chapter five is Remember.  Mike talks about how forgetful we humans can be and gives us our first challenge: "Don't fail to remember." (pg. 76).  Even with all the work that we put into discovering our one word, chances are that if we are not intentional, we can forget our word.  He says, "... the single most difficult part of this One Word journey is continuing to focus on our word for a full year." (pg. 75).  In the Reflect section, he gives us some good advice about how to keep our word in front of us.

Last year I decided to electronically sign all my e-mails with the Bible verse that contains my word.  Every time I sent an e-mail, it was there.  Often I would re-read my e-mail through the lens of My One Word and make appropriate changes or not send it at all!
What are the ways you are going to keep your One Word in front of you?  Please share your ways in the Comments!  I can't wait to read all your creative ideas.

The one word I chose for chapter six is: Obey.  Personally, I find that difficult.  I am a rule follower, but I don't like being told what to do!  On page 82 Mike gives us challenge #2: "... stop making excuses for inactivity."  Oh, I am so good at making excuses - I consider it a hobby!  But that's not what God expects; 'he is waiting for us to obey.' (pg. 90).  Mike also tackles the question of 'how do I know it's God's voice?'.  According to him, hearing God requires the Four C's: Consistency in my walk; Clarity on his purpose; Confirmation in the Word; and Counsel from wise friends.  When you're unsure if what you're hearing is coming from God, put it to the test of the 4 C's.

And don't forget to journal your journey!  It's the best way to remember, reflect, and obey.

Connect and share in the comments :)  I look forward to reading about your One Word journey!

Your Partner in Ministry,


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

Thursday, March 6, 2014


"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come."  2 Corinthians 517 ESV

Welcome!  I am so glad you are here!  We are currently reading My One Word by Mike Ashcraft and Rachel Olsen.

In an homage to choosing one word for a year, I have decided to listen for one word in each chapter.  Mike packs so much into each chapter, I found it helpful to look for an overall theme.

As I read chapter three, one word kept coming to mind: patience.  This chapter is Mike's 'formula' for choosing a word: his process, thinking, and Scripture.  He lays out an approach that is very helpful in tackling such a daunting task.  And overall I hear him urging us to be patient.  Follow the process, use a pen & paper (because it takes longer to write words than it does to think them), dig into your thoughts and Scripture. Over and over he says things like, "So give this question some in-depth thought.  Don't rush the process.   Approach this patiently.  ...allowing questions to remain questions for some period of time - so that truth can arise."  (pg 45).  In an earlier chapter Mike mentions that his church took the better part of 3 weeks choosing a word.  This is not a process to be rushed; there is no deadline to be met.  Stay with the process and continue to move forward.  It is time well spent.

Even if you think you already know your word for this year, I encourage you to go through the process with an open heart and mind.  Often times it is not about the destination, but the journey.  There is much to be learned along the way.

One thing I found very helpful to me over this past year is choosing a Bible verse to go with my word.  It was this verse that sustained, encouraged and reminded me of my One Word and what it was I was moving towards; who I wanted to become in Christ.  This was my anchor!  It made the difference between this being another self-help workshop and a catalyst for true & lasting change.  I implore you to connect your one word to a verse in the Bible!

Honesty is the word that floated to the surface of chapter four for me.  Maybe you have a different view?  I'd love to know what it is!  We all approach this project from right where we are and see things from various angles.  But if I had to sum up chapter 4 in one word it would be honesty.  I loved Mike's story about his chat over coffee with Jerry!  I know people who fit this scenario and yet, I know that at times I do, too.  It is so easy to think there is something wrong with everyone else, especially when we are self-deceived.  When we are not honest with ourselves, like Jerry or like Dan, it's difficult to move forward with change.  Honesty, especially with oneself, does not come quickly.  When we are self-deceived it is probably a result of years of thought patterns, habits, and covering over.  And just like Rome wasn't built in a day, neither were our self-deceiving ways.  It will take some time and effort to sort through that hall of mirrors to find the real self!

On page 66 Mike lists the three things required for our formation to happen:
1. An accurate view of Christ
2. An accurate view of yourself
3. An accurate view of yourself in Christ
"Regularly looking into Scripture will help with all three."  (pg 66).

So, how are you doing with the reading?  I know this can be a challenge, especially if it's been some time since you've taken a class where note taking is required.  Not that it's required for this study, but I think it's very helpful.  If you are having difficulty, here are some things that I do to help me read, understand, and note things of importance (to me).

1. I write in my book!  It took me a long time to write in my books, but now I do it freely.  I underline (sometimes in multiple colors), star, question, and write other notes as I read.

2. A notebook (or journal)!  I keep my notebook with my book, along with a pen or two.  I take notes by chapter and write the page number of almost everything, so I can more easily find it later.

3. Personalize!  When I'm taking notes, either paraphrasing or quoting, I change the pronouns to make it personal.  For example, on page 61 he writes, "Only when we being to let what we believe affect what we do are we able to embrace the process of formation."  In my notes, I changed all the "we"'s to "I"'s.  Go back and read it, inserting "I" for "we" and you'll see what a more powerful impact it has.  This is also very powerful when reading Scripture.

4. List!  I make the lists; not always how Mike suggests, but I do make the lists.  If you don't have the time to sit quietly to make your list, take a suggestion from the show "My Name Is Earl".  He jotted down his list of things he wanted to change on a little piece of paper and carried it in his wallet.  If you're always on the go, consider making your lists in a small notebook you can throw in your purse and work on it anytime you have a moment or when something comes to mind.

5. Read daily!  Even if it's only half a chapter, or read one day and spend time with the Reflection Questions the next.  This will give you the time you need to follow the  process.  However, the timeline of finishing the book is up to you, which is why I've adopted this new format of blogging 2 chapters at a time and reserving our coffee hour discussions for the video of the day.  This is a very personal project you have chosen to do.    Because we are a group, there is a schedule we'll follow (generally 4 chapters a week) so that our discussions are mutually beneficial and the video series is timely.  But if you are on a chapter I've already posted and want to comment on it - great!  Go to the blog post about that chapter and comment; I'll get your comment and do my best to respond.
P.S. I tend to carry my book to appointments so I can squeeze in some reading while I'm waiting :)

I hope these tips are helpful.  Do you have any other tips you'd like to share?  Working quiet time into our busy lives is a challenge and advice is always welcome.

Comment below on your thoughts, insights, and questions for chapters 3 & 4.  I can't wait to connect with you and hear what you have to say about your My One Word project so far!

Keep reading, keep writing, and keep praying!

Your Partner in Ministry,


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

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Change? Change!

"Have you lost your senses? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?  I ask you again, does God give you the  Holy Spirit and work miracles among you because you obey the law of Moses?  Of course not!  It is because you believe the message you heard about Christ."  Galatians 3: 3 & 5 NLT

Welcome to our study, the My One Word project!  I am so glad you are joining us.  We meet here, on-line, and in person on Friday mornings at Redeemer Lutheran Church, see the church website for more detailed information.  If you are unable to join us for coffee, that's okay.   The study is able to be done completely on-line through the blog, comments, and your book, if need be.  But a support group is vital; being held accountable for your word is part of the project.  I encourage everyone to share Comments on the blog; it is a wonderful tool to keep us all connected!  If you are a friend or member of Redeemer, connect with us in person on Sunday or any time we gather as a community of faith!  If you are joining us from afar, welcome, I hope that you will feel in community with us through this page.  Better yet, encourage a friend or two to join you, and us, on this journey!

Our format for this study will be a little different than in the past.  The blog will be about the chapters and discussion questions from the book and our coffee time on Friday will be about the video.That doesn't mean there won't be any cross-over, but it will allow people to read the book at their own pace. I will endeavour to blog about 2 chapters at a time, so you can read the corresponding blog posts and comment on your current chapter!  And if you are joining us on Friday morning, but haven't completed all the reading, do not worry, as our discussions will mostly be about the video we will watch.

Note:  The video series is a companion to the book and not necessary to participate in the My One Word project.

Chapter one, "What is My One Word?" explains how and why the project was developed.  It's not often readers get to see behind the curtain of why a book came into being.  But it's not just an introduction.  Mike hits us with some thought provoking statements and introduces us to ideas and phrases he will use throughout the book.  I encourage you to read with a pen & notebook.  Even though this is the second time I have read it, there are a few new things I noticed and a few I had forgotten.  I wrote them down & underlined them, again.  The one statement that caught my attention this time, and I will admit, shook me up a bit is this, "... the lens through which you examine your heart and life for an entire year." (pg 24).  It's the word "examine" that has me a bit unnerved.

How about you?  What is it in chapter one or the reflection questions that has you unnerved?  Or excited?  What have you already learned about yourself through these 9 pages?

Chapter two answers my question of, "isn't this just another self-help book?"  The answer is "no", of course.  And Mike shares a few stories that will make you laugh, cringe, and say, "ah-ha".  Take some quiet time and absorb as much as you can from this chapter.

There are two things from chapter 2 that I hope to understand more fully, "God helps those who abide with him, those who walk with him in faith" (pg 34) and "Our efforts are not the source of the change we are after; they can't be.  Rather, they get us in a position for God to change us." (pg 35).   I am comfortable with doing things to make a difference, but these 2 statements are more ethereal.  They require me to draw closer to God and allow Him to make the change.  I can't help but recall the readings from this past Sunday on Transfiguration; where Jesus took Peter, James, and John up the mountain and "Jesus' appearance changed so that his face shone like the sun, and his clothing became dazzling white." (Matthew 17:2 NLT).  I certainly don't expect that kind of physical transformation, what comes to mind rather is the fact that Jesus just showed up and God transformed him.  He had to physically get up the mountain, which probably was not a walk in the park, it took some effort.  And he had to choose to go there, rather than attend to some other more pressing matter.  I think perhaps that is how My One Word will help me this year.  It will be the tool I use to climb closer to God; it will be a reminder that drawing closer to God is more important than the laundry or catching up on my favorite TV shows.  It will put me in a position to depend on God (pg 39).

Grab your journal and write out your answers to the reflection questions.  As Mike says on page 23, "The normal, natural pace of our lives will not likely lead us toward spiritual formation."  So take this opportunity, a few minutes right now, to slow down.  Put pen to paper and write what's on your mind.  You will be so glad you did!

I have shared some of my thoughts on these first two chapters.  Won't you join me in the Comment section below?  What challenges or excites you?  What have you learned?  What questions do you have?  I look forward to hearing from each of you!

Remember, if you are reading this in your e-mail, go to the blog (click here) to post a Comment.

Your Partner in Ministry,

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