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Christy Catherine Marshall

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December 1, 2007

We had a blast this week discussing the homework. We all cracked up about Beth’s “gnat in the lip gloss” story.

She said she was leaving her house one day with serious ministry matters on her mind when a gnat landed smack dab on her lip gloss. “For a minute I thought I’d have to go back in the house for a spoon to dig it out,” she writes.

It’s true that trivial things can distract us from what’s important — and sometimes we just need to stop and pray! For us moms in the study, we talked about how the little distractions of daily life can get in the way of our main purpose of teaching and training our children to become more like Christ.

This week’s lesson focused on Daniel’s prayer in the 9th chapter of the book of Daniel. Wow — reading through that chapter several times reminded me what urgency there is to Daniel’s praying. He ends with, “O Lord, listen! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, hear and act! For your sake, O my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name” (Daniel 9:19 NIV).

After studying and discussing this, I realized that in my own life, prayer often comes as a last resort, after I’ve mulled over a problem, worried for days about it, written in my journal, whined and complained to others about it — THEN I remember, “Oh yeah! I think I’ll pray about it!”

This lesson showed me brilliantly how I must pray FIRST.

How incredible that in the midst of Daniel’s prayer, the angel Gabriel appears to him and says, “Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding. As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed” (Daniel 9:22,23).

Wouldn’t you love it if a messenger from heaven would come tell you right away the insight you’re longing for in your prayers? Sometimes, when we pray, we can almost instantly feel in our hearts the answer is “yes” or “no,” yet other times, we can do nothing but wait. It may seem like God isn’t listening, and that our prayers are merely bouncing off the ceiling.

But God is listening! He chose to answer Daniel’s prayer right away through a direct message from Gabriel. And He’ll speak to our hearts too, if we do not give up.

Do you write your prayers down? Sometimes we pray so hard about something, but if it’s not written down, we can quickly forget the anguish our souls went through as we waited for God’s answer. I’ve kept journals for years, and it’s amusing to look back and see how hard I prayed for certain things (like a husband!). If my prayers weren’t written down, it would be easy for me to forget how God is the True Giver of all Good Gifts.

What are your prayers today? If you’re not going through this study with us, I encourage you to read through the 9th chapter of the book of Daniel and see how this earthly man who was “highly esteemed” in heaven prayed — and how God chose to answer his prayers.

Dear Lord, teach us how to pray! Our faith is so small at times, yet you’re always there, waiting patiently for us to come to you and share our concerns. Thank you that you listen to us. You know what’s best for us, even though we may not like what we’re suffering through at the moment. Thank you for the example Daniel gives us, in showing us how to pray with power and conviction. Amen.

November 27, 2007

I’ve gotten behind on posting about my Beth Moore Bible study, and I need to catch up! I still continue to learn and be amazed about the book of Daniel.

A couple of weeks ago, I went out to eat with some of the ladies in our group, and we ended up talking about dreams. This study has made us so much more aware of how God can use dreams as a way to communicate with us.

Do you ever wake up with a certain image or word stuck in your mind? Perhaps this is something you dreamed about — and the word is what’s left behind.

I really believe God can speak to us through our dreams, if we’re sensitive to His Spirit. If you’re like me and you always forget your dreams, you can keep a notebook and pen by your bed and jot them down as soon as you wake up, even if it’s the middle of the night!

At the beginning of the week 8 homework, Beth Moore writes:

I’m praying that your passion to study this fascinating book will continue to grow and your life will bear much fruit as a result. Your God is accomplishing awesome purposes in you, Dear One. Have the confidence to thank Him for it. Nothing about this adventure is accidental in your life.

When I read that, I felt like she was speaking directly to me. What an adventure!

One thing that struck me during the homework is learning what the word “parable” means. Parable comes from the Greek word, paraballo. (See why it would be so helpful to know how to read in GREEK!) Para means “near” and ballo means “to cast or put near.” Beth explains, “A parable uses something familiar to help us understand something heavenly or spiritual.”

Isn’t that amazing? I shared this definition with a group of about 50 homeschooled kids and parents in a writing workshop I gave a couple of weeks ago. I told all those kids that God has a wonderful plan for their lives — and that part of His plan is for them to tell stories that will help others understand the Good News.

After my workshop, several kids came up to me and told me they were writing novels! It was fun to encourage them — and they spurred me on as well.

How about you? Are you writing your own parables? One of my main purposes for this blog is to encourage all of you moms out there to tell your stories! Preserve them for future generations. If you’re not writing your stories, who will? The best way to preserve a story, of course, is to get it published and in the hands of multiple readers!

Dear Father, Thank you for the gentle reminders you give us to keep writing, if we have stories burning inside of us. Show us the best places to submit our writing so that we can work under editors who will help us grow. I pray we would not give up in our quest to tell others about you! Amen

November 21, 2007

I want to thank all of you who’ve emailed me with your encouragement. So many things are up in the air about where my “home on the web” will be, or if I’ll even have one.

Yesterday was both a happy and sad day for me. I attended the “Thanksgiving Feast” at the preschool where my children have all attended. This was the 8th year in a row for me. In many ways, nothing has changed — the food is always the same, the songs haven’t changed much, there is an energetic joy in the room filled with happy preschoolers, parents, grandparents, and teachers.

Yet for me, I knew this would be my last — next year, we won’t have any children at this preschool. What sustained me was the thought that I can always write about these happy times, when the kids are older and I have a quiet place to sit and reflect. Which I don’t have now.

A chapter ends … a new one begins.

I feel the same way about this blog. So much is up in the air. I want to eagerly press forward with some things in my writing world — yet the little people in my home need me more than anyone else right now.

I want to thank you for your friendship, prayers — and patience! As I’ve thought about losing my blog, I’ve been sad thinking that it’s the only link I have with many of you who have become personal friends over the past two years, scattered though we are.

More than anything, I want to finish up writing about my Beth Moore Bible study journey. That will be four more posts, I hope.

Meanwhile, I’m thankful to have family Thanksgiving celebrations to look forward to.

I wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving!

By: Heather Ivester in: Beth Moore,Blogging,Parenting | Permalink | Comments Off on Happy Thanksgiving

November 5, 2007

As I type this, I’m escaping for a few minutes into the clean world of letters on a keyboard. What a relief!

A terrible stomach bug has moved through our house. Ugh! One of those preschool bugs. All seven of us have caught it. Good thing I’m not contagious through your screen, or you’d hate me.

My two-year-old came down with it first. I had thought maybe she’d just eaten too much Halloween candy — but it turns out that was only the beginning of what has kept my washing machine in constant use!

At any rate, I’m determined to make it through this Bible study journey, and here we are on week 8.

A few of us have already started to discuss what we’re going to study next — after the Christmas break. We’re first browsing through our church’s media supplies — to see if they’ve already purchased a study we can use. (We really enjoyed Mary Kassian’s Conversation Peace last spring and would like something like this again.)

This week was a short session for us. We didn’t have any discussion of last week’s homework! All we did was watch the video because several of the women in our group had to leave early to be downstairs for the preschool costume parade (including me). But we decided this was the best option instead of canceling.

The homework in our workbooks focused on Daniel 7, exploring the four beasts from Daniel’s dream. I’m so glad we’re studying this book chapter by chapter because I wasn’t overwhelmed at all. I recognized the four kingdoms that the four beasts symbolize.

There is a neat chart on p.138 that we filled in, showing the four empires and how they’re symbolized in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream from Daniel 2 and later in Daniel’s vision in Daniel 7. The empires are:

Babylon — golden head, lion with eagle’s wings
Medo-Persian — silver chest and arms, lopsided bear
Grecian — bronze belly and thighs, leopard with wings
Roman — iron legs, beast with 10 horns

I really enjoyed this homework, especially toward the end of the week as Beth explained very clearly the difference between amillennialism, historic premillennialism, and dispensational premillennialism. I’ve never really understood these points of view in such detail, yet I LOVE using my brain to think through these things.

Our homework includes charts that help it make more sense, and I’m definitely going to keep this workbook handy as a tool to be able to teach this someday (maybe to teens). Beth makes the point again and again that brilliant scholars disagree on these issues, and we would be wise to study the different points of view on our own.

As the week wraps up, Beth says, “You can do this, Dear One! Ask God for focus and a supernatural ability to learn … Where the healthy mind is concerned, exercise prolongs sharpness. If Scripture is brain food, eschatology is an energy bar on steroids.”

I’m still processing what we learned from the video — the history lessons are so cool to me. I went through 12 years of public school and 6 years of a public university education — so I’ve never studied world history from a Biblical point of view. Oh, I wish something greater for my children!

The people we’re learning about now are leaders of the Gentile Empires that ruled over Israel, known as the Beautiful Land. So we’re studying Alexander the Great, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, as well as Cassander, Lysimachus, Ptolemy, and Seleucus. Some of these names are familiar to me from world history classes I’ve taken — yet I only learned what I needed to know to pass a test. Now that I’m learning about the impact they had on Christianity, I’m fascinated.

More than ever, I WISH I could read the Bible in its original languages. If you’re young and haven’t gone to college yet — PLEASE don’t waste those precious years when your only responsibility is to learn! Study Hebrew and Greek!

Someday, when my kids are older, this is what I plan to do. I’m not all that great with learning languages, but I loved learning Japanese, so why couldn’t I force my brain to learn how to read Hebrew and Greek? When I read my Japanese Bible, I’m amazed at the deeper meanings I can pick up from scripture. I know that my understanding of God’s Word, limited only to English, is like drinking a watered-down Coca-Cola (you know how it tastes when the ice melts!).

I want the REAL thing!

God, thank you for giving us a hunger and thirst for your Word that comes from your Holy Spirit, inhabiting our minds. Thank you for the joy we’ve found through this study, that has unlocked some of the secrets of the Scriptures. Give us the energy and health to finish up this journey through Daniel! We love you, Lord, and want to know your Word more so that we can know YOU more. (And please help this stomach bug to move quickly through our house — and be gone!) AMEN.

October 31, 2007

This week at our Bible study I was reminded more than ever how much I appreciate the friendships God has blessed me with. You know, when you’re surrounded by children all the time, you sometimes feel like a castle, with a moat all around you. It can be hard to reach outside the moat — yet we need friendships with other women just as much as any time in our lives. Maybe even more than ever.

It’s hard to write about this now, since I’m still in the midst of it, but someday I want to make a special effort to reach out to women with young children. People look at me and think I’m busy and happy raising my little family, and I’m very thankful for this time of life. But my soul is thirsty. In person, I find it very hard to move beyond “small talk.” Yet I crave depth in my friendships.

That’s what I really enjoy about this Bible study. The workbook and DVDs are tools that give us women a reason to get together and cut through the small talk — as soon as our workbooks are open, we’re digging deep, plowing through the jewels of scripture, and sharing our treasures with each other.

Our discussion this week focused on how our culture has changed through the years. In the homework, Beth asked us to write the names of the presidents who have served during our lifetime. (With a little help from Wikipedia), I wrote down:

Richard Nixon (1969-1974)
Gerald Ford (1974-1977)
Jimmy Carter (1977-1981)
Ronald Reagan (1981-1989)
George Bush, Sr. (1989-1993)
Bill Clinton (1993-2001)
George W. Bush (2001-present)

Beth asked, “In your opinion, has American culture and its mores risen and fallen dramatically under the direct influence of each president?”

This question led to a lively discussion. We tried to steer clear of politics, but we could all definitely see a shift in our culture under certain presidents. But mainly, it’s the little things that change, bit by bit, until suddenly you see a big shift.

Beth explains, “Cultures are stronger than human leaders because they are dictated by masses and cultivated by time” and “they are influenced by unseen powers. Invisible principalities.” As we moved into discussing Babylon as portrayed in Revelation 17, I began to grasp how the powers of evil move behind the scenes — yet our God is going to win the last battle!

One girl in our group talked about how every day she is seeing little things she can do to take a stand for her faith. She mentioned how she was in a Wal-Mart recently and saw a display for a horrible, gruesome movie right next to the kids’ movies! She said, “Before this Bible study, I probably would have just turned away from that image, but instead I decided this was something I didn’t want to let go.” She went and talked to a manager about it! Who knows — if all of us can do something like this, we can take back our culture for good. [Edit: The Wal-Mart manager responded to her request and MOVED that disgusting poster! Victory!]

I shared how a few years ago, a friend of mine was complaining to her husband how graphic the magazine covers are at the checkout counter — especially the tabloids. So her husband talked to the manager of a grocery store in our area (Publix — YEA!), and they now cover these magazines up, so only the top of the magazine shows.

I was surprised to learn that “with the exception of Jerusalem, no other city is mentioned more than Babylon in the Bible.” Babylon is mentioned 290 times! It’s so interesting how the visions of Daniel compare to John’s visions in Revelation. I would never have made those comparisons on my own.

In the video this week, we studied Daniel 7, focusing on how God is called “The Ancient of Days.” Isn’t this scripture incredible:

As I looked, thrones were set in place,
and the Ancient of Days took his seat.
His clothing was as white as snow;
the hair of his head was white like wool.
His throne was flaming with fire,
and its wheels were all ablaze. A river of fire was flowing,
coming out from before him.
Thousands upon thousands attended him;
ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.
The court was seated,
and the books were opened.

(Daniel 7:9-10 New International Version)

I love these verses! They give me a concrete image I can share with my children when they ask me questions about God.

Do you know how many questions a 4-year-old can ask about God in a single day? Now when my son asks, “What does God look like?” I can say, “I don’t know for sure, but let me read to you what Daniel saw in a dream about God. Here’s what He looked like to Daniel.”


As a mom, I need my faith to be built so that I know what I believe, and I can pass this along to my children. It’s truly a privilege to be entrusted with the care of raising up children in my faith. There is no greater joy on earth!

October 23, 2007

This session wrapped up the first half of our Daniel study. I’ve already learned so much!

I don’t really know what to expect in the second half, except that I know we’ll be focusing more on eschatology, a new word to my vocabulary. Eschatology is defined as “a branch of theology that deals with the final events in history, beliefs concerning death, the end of the world, and the ultimate destiny of mankind” (from p. 114 of the Daniel workbook).

What blew us all away in this session is that we learned Daniel was an old man, in his 80s, when he was sent to the lion’s den. Doesn’t this go against the image you have in your mind of a young, brown-haired Daniel sitting among a few gentle lions?

Beth made it very clear to us that the story of Daniel in the Lion’s Den is NOT some sweet little Sunday school story. These were hungry, vicious lions — and Daniel probably had white hair. How utterly cruel! I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a picture of a white-haired Daniel in the lion’s den.

Before we started the video, we discussed the homework from week 5, and several things stuck out to me. As we talked about being holy vessels, one lady made the point that it helps her to think of the Trinity when she’s thinking about us as being holy. She said, “God the Father created me, Jesus the Son saved me, and the Holy Spirit lives in me. The Trinity is what makes me holy.” Wow — I really liked that insight.

We also talked about how Caleb (Numbers 14:24) and Daniel both stuck out like sore thumbs in the cultures around them. We need to be the same way. Interestingly, in day four of the homework (p. 104), Beth asks, “As you’ve considered becoming Daniel-like in your own Babylon-world, in all honesty, whose opinions or attitudes have you dreaded most?

–Worldly individuals who might think you’ve lost your mind
–Mediocre Christians who might think you’ve gone too far”

We discussed how it’s sometimes a real struggle to be around other Christians, who think you’re sort of out there, a zealot. If you don’t watch the TV shows or see the movies your peers see (even those who sit right next to you at church), they might feel like you’re judgmental, boring, or too critical.

I admire those Christians who are strong enough to keep their eyes, ears, and minds away from destructive images. If you want a modern-day example, read Sallie’s wonderful post here about why she and her husband avoid watching TV. This is so inspiring!

A good portion of the video teaching in this session focused on prayer in the face of a crisis, as Daniel found himself in a somewhat URGENT situation! How do you respond when you go through something scary? Beth says we respond in one of three ways:

We PANIC (and make bad decisons).
We become PARALYZED (afraid to do anything).
We PRAY (ask God for divine strength).

I have repeated this so much in my head the past week — because I so often do the first two, instead of immediately seeking God for help. For example, just yesterday, I found myself terribly lost while driving to watch my daughter cheer for a football game. She had already gone on ahead in the school bus, and I somehow got majorly confused trying to read the hand-drawn map we’d been given.

It was raining, foggy, and I had two preschoolers asleep in my car. The minutes ticked by, and I couldn’t find the street I was supposed to turn on! The game was halfway over, and I was in the midst of panic when I finally called my husband for help. I didn’t know if I should give up completely and try to find my way back home — or keep driving. It turns out I was only about 15 minutes from the game — but when you’re lost, stuck in traffic in pouring down rain, and worried your little girl thinks you’re not going to show up, everything seems miserable.

I eventually made it to the game — five minutes before it ended. Then we had to turn right back around and drive home. So I spent a solid 3 and 1/2 hours in the car yesterday! But the words, “PANIC, BE PARALYZED, or PRAY” did shoot through my head. So this is a lesson I’ve taken to heart.

We repeated out loud one of my favorite verses:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7

May God bless you with a prayer-ful week!

October 18, 2007

I occasionally skim through my website visitor statistics to see who’s reading here and why they came.

It never ceases to amaze me that God may have sent a particular person my way to speak to them through my meager attempts to write what’s on my heart.

Sometimes, the search phrases are hilarious, and other times they make me cry.

Here’s a sampling of what moms out there are searching for online, ending up here, during the month of October 2007:

• verses to comfort and give hope to a mom of an alcoholic son
• mother writing letters from the heart to their teen daughters
• essay love between mom and daughter
• frustrated moms
• where can i find an article on a mothers love no matter how her child treats her
• is it ok to eat poppy seed dressing when youre pregnant
• blog neverending housework mom
• what to put in an october newsletter for moms of preschoolers
• how does a 14 year old girl make new friends
• snobby homeschool moms
• becoming a guest on the joyce meyer show
• who said youre only as happy as your unhappiest child?
• frazzled mom organization
• how does the mother in i stand here ironing try to make it right again
• is avonlea a real place?
• online mother teen daughter devotional

I know people probably end up here and go, “huh?” I’m not really a one-stop shop with all the answers, and there are millions of other sites full of more information than mine. All I really have to offer is what I’ve learned through my daily experiences of being a mother of five kids under 12. Maybe this is how I show my hard-earned gray hair — since in real-life, I try to hide it under highlights!

My favorite search here is “blog neverending housework mom.” HA! That’s me! My housework never ends — it’s like a treadmill I run every day. I would be in the pits of discouragement if it weren’t for FlyLady — so if you’re a “neverending housework mom,” maybe you can find some relief from FlyLady’s organizational methods. They’ve sure helped me!

It is truly a privilege to be able to take the journey that I’m on, attending my weekly Beth Moore Bible Study, and if I’m opening a small window for some soul out there stifled in a culture or a season of life with no opportunity like this, I pray my journey offers you a breath of fresh air. Attending Bible Study is the highlight of my week, and my joy is magnified just thinking that I get to come home and share all that I’ve learned with my family — and with you.

This fifth session taught me about an event I really haven’t thought much about. The banquet, hosted by Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson, Belshazzar. You’ve heard the expression, “the writing on the wall.” Well, now I know the night this took place was October 12, 539 BC.

On this night, Belshazzar hosted a huge banquet, “for a thousand of his nobles,” as well as his wives and concubines. At one point, he asked his servants to bring in the gold and silver goblets that had been stolen from the temple of God in Jerusalem. Then they all drank wine from them. Scripture says, “As they drank the wine, they praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone” (Daniel 5:4).

This was horrible what they did! They took that which was holy and used it for unholy purposes. Beth took us back to the scripture where Moses anointed these very goblets in Leviticus 8:10-11. They were consecrated to the Lord, set aside for holy purposes!

What happens next is truly awe-inspiring. Daniel 5:5-6 says, “Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote. His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his knees knocked together and his legs gave way.”

No one could interpret what God’s hand had written, except Daniel, who was brought in by the Queen Mother, possibly the wife of Nebuchadnezzar, who had not forgotten Daniel’s God. The hand had written: “MENE MENE TEKEL PARSIN,” which Daniel interpreted to mean that God had numbered the days of Belshazzar’s reign, he’d been weighed on the scales and found wanting, and his kingdom would be divided and given to the Medes and Persians.

And that very night, Belshazzar was assassinated, just like Daniel said! Darius the Mede rose to power in Babylon.

Beth talked to us about how our physical bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. We are holy! We’ve been bought at a price, the blood of Jesus Christ, and we are to treat ourselves as holy. She shared specifically about how we women are to dress ourselves modestly. We can still wear cute clothes! But we should choose items that present a modest image that honors God.

I was so happy to hear someone saying this. This is a GREAT study for teen girls. If you’re looking for scriptures for teens to remind them that they are consecrated and set apart from the culture, show them what happened when Belshazzar used the holy golden goblets of Israel for unholy purposes!

P.S. Aloha and Konnichiwa to my new Beth Moore Bible Study friends in Hawaii! 🙂

October 9, 2007

I didn’t get all my homework done before this last session. This always happens to me — I start out with a bang, then I get distracted by family life, and it gets harder to stay motivated.

Thank you so much for your comments — they mean a lot! Particularly, this from Tina, who wrote:

As I had my quiet time with the Lord this morning, He is placing on my heart the need for a Beth Moore Bible Study in our church. I have both Believing God and Daniel as I have continued them on my own.

I just googled “Beth Moore Bible Study” and it led me to your site! Praise God, I am ENCOURAGED as I read your blog and the comments from others!!

I truly feel like I am so NOT the one to do this, but I can’t get away from it! LOL! Please pray the Lord will show me … I have tried this before and was very discouraged because of lack of commitment from the ladies. They feel it is too much homework and they don’t have time for once a week meetings. God Bless You!

Tina, and anyone else who feels this way, if God is nudging your heart to start some kind of study like this, please go for it! Even if you have a VERY small group, or you have women who come once or twice but can’t commit, you just never know what a difference that one time might make in their lives. And the word will spread. (or I should say THE WORD will spread!)

It also helps to have a convenient meeting place that provides childcare (like our church does). And food! Hey, we gotta eat breakfast — why not eat with friends, free for an hour or two from childcare responsibilities?

You could also hold the group meeting in the evening and hire a teenager to watch everyone’s kids in a playroom or other area. I was in a group once that met from 8-10 pm! These were mostly homeschooling moms who couldn’t get out during the day — yet our husbands could babysit at night.

Our group’s discussion leaders always tell us please don’t let the homework commitment hold us back from showing up — we really just need to get together. I’m sure there are many of us in the room who come to the group with blank homework pages — but that’s OK! In a different season of life, we may have more time to commit to learning.

I am praying for you!!

OK — back to our group…

Our discussion this week focused on how we could raise children who don’t get caught up in our materialistic culture. There is one woman in our group who I absolutely admire. She is a mentor to me because she is just a little bit older and MUCH wiser, as her daughters are now college age, and they’re both wonderful godly young women.

She said she and her husband started taking their girls on mission trips (overseas) when they were as young as ten! Her husband has a medical ministry in a certain third-world country, and their whole family has participated in his work over the past decade. She said nothing has impacted her children more than seeing how impoverished people really live.

When our children complain about how they wish they had this or that, one woman says she tells her kids, “There will ALWAYS be some people who have more than you do and some who have less than you do. Just be thankful for what you have.”

In the video, Beth focused on the 4th chapter of Daniel. This is when Nebuchadnezzar has this dream about a tree, and he’s once again so disturbed by it, only Daniel can interpret it for him. We learned about the absolute splendor of ancient Babylon, and how Nebuchadnezzar’s prosperity kept him from acknowledging the one true God (even though just the chapter before he was amazed at the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego).

After the dream is interpreted, a year passes, and the king becomes insane for a period of seven years. You can read about all this in Daniel 4:28-37. During this time, he lived like an animal out in the wild, eating grass, and “his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird” (v. 33).

Beth opened up about the difficulties she went through in her personal life during a dark time in her early 30s. I would really like to read her book, Get Out of That Pit, to know more specifically what she’s talking about. I think many of us could relate — being a mom with young kids can be a struggle mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Yet God is working in our lives during those years to make us more dependent on Him to meet our every need.

At one point, Beth reminded us what a privilege it is that we have enough money to be able to buy a book, and enough education to know how to read it. Wow. How often I forget what a privilege it is to be able to read! One of my favorite quotes is attributed to Horace Mann, who said, “A house without books is like a room without windows.”

I think each of us in the group left with a sense of awe, wondering how we might be able to be used by God to help those who live in poverty.

Lord, please make us aware of ways we can reach out to help others in need. You have a unique purpose for each of us. Help us to become more aware of our gifts and our passions — so that we can follow the calling you have placed on our hearts. Put people in our path who remind us what a big world we live in and what we (and our children!) can do to make a difference. Amen.

October 4, 2007

Oh, this Bible Study keeps getting better every week. I’m absolutely amazed at how much we’re learning together. If anyone reading this knows Beth Moore personally, please give her a big hug from all of us preschool moms here in west Georgia.

I made it ON TIME this week to the study — actually, I was 15 minutes early! It was my turn to bring breakfast and help get the food table set up — hey, that works for getting me out the door earlier. I brought fruit, cheese, and cinnamon rolls — along with ruby red grapefruit juice. And of course I got the coffee brewing for us sleepyheads!

Our discussion focused on prayer this week, since we talked about what it was like for Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to pray together, hoping they wouldn’t be cut to pieces by Nebuchadnezzar, who was freaking out in a big way about his nightmares. He got so angry he wanted to kill all the wise men in the kingdom.

I’d never thought about how the other three felt when Daniel woke up saying God had answered their prayers through his dream. Why did God choose the mind of Daniel instead of the others? We went around the room sharing experiences where we felt like God spoke through someone else with a message for us.

I was sitting next to this sweet lady who taught 2nd grade for 26 years before retiring, and she shared a story that blew me away. She said when she was in college, she was dating a boy who wasn’t a Christian. One night, she started to feel convicted about it, and she prayed about what to do. She said, “I REALLY liked this boy. I mean REALLY. I didn’t want to stop dating him. So I prayed to God about it. I asked God to show me in ‘black and white’ if He didn’t want me to date this boy anymore.”

The next morning, she walked to the lobby of the boys’ dormitory to see this guy, and while she was waiting she saw a newspaper sitting on a side table. The paper was flipped open to Billy Graham’s question-answer column. A girl had written in, “I’m dating a guy who’s not a Christian. What do you think I should do?” Billy Graham answered with great power and conviction!

Isn’t that timing incredible? This lady said it was just like God was speaking to her directly, through Billy Graham, and it was in BLACK AND WHITE. I love this story. How different her life would have been if she hadn’t prayed that prayer and been perceptive to God’s answers. They truly are all around us.

The video lesson focused on Daniel chapter 3. King Nebuchadnezzar had built a 90-foot golden statue and wanted everyone in the kingdom to bow down to it. This was as tall as an 8-story building. How weird! We can’t even imagine that in our culture.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Rack, Shack, and Benny for all you Veggie Tales parents) refused to bow to the statue, and they were thrown into the flaming furnace. The heat was so intense, the guards who threw them in were killed.

Now here is the really amazing part — Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did not burn when they were thrown into the hot furnace. They walked around unharmed, and there was a fourth “person” inside the furnace walking with them. Beth said the Hebrew translation implies this was a preincarnate appearance of Jesus Christ, though some scholars believe it could have been the angel Gabriel.

At any rate, all that burned was the rope that tied up their hands. When the three emerged back out of the fire, not a hair on their heads was singed, and they didn’t even smell like smoke.

Beth taught the bulk of the study on how we go through all kinds of fiery trials. Referring to Daniel 3:3-18, there are three different scenarios that can happen when Christians face fiery trials:

1) We’ll be delivered from the fire, and our faith will be built.
Beth compared this to finding out a suspicious lump turned out to be benign, or after prayer, it was miraculously GONE.

2) We can be delivered through the fire, and our faith is refined.
Using the cancer analogy, Beth says this may be like the patient finding out the cancer needs treatment, such as chemotherapy. God brings many people safely through this fiery trial.

3) We can be delivered by the fire into His arms, and our faith is perfected.
What would have happened if Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had burned to ashes? They would immediately have entered heaven, into the arms of Christ. This is what happens when a patient succumbs to disease; their faith becomes sight.

If we come through the fiery trial alive, will we smell like smoke? We will, if we insist on clinging to the past instead of moving forward and embracing the freedom that comes from Christ. Beth made the point that sometimes God will allow us to go through fiery trials so that our bonds can be burned — so that we’re set free.

The teaching was so powerful, yet several times during the video, we all laughed when Beth told a funny story. It feels great to laugh — most of us in the room live under so much stress with small children in the house! We love learning together — but it’s also great to just enjoy BEING together.

After the video, we prayed for each other. Always, I’m reminded of how much I have to be thankful for. There are so many people struggling through major illnesses, job changes, trouble with children … we really need the fellowship to pray for each other and build each other up.

I was thinking today about how this Bible study is kind of like a gym. You go to the gym to build up your muscles and increase your physical stamina. When you do this, endorphins are released that make you feel good — and your health is better.

With our Bible study, we’re coming together to build up our spirits, increase our knowledge of God’s Word, and increase our perseverance to head back out into the world as women of faith. It feels wonderful to get together — and we can’t be spiritual wimps if we’re going to survive in our modern-day cultural Babylon.

Each of us has our own sphere of influence. Most of us still have young children in the house, but some of the women in our group are grandmothers and are directly influencing two generations. Will we be wise women and use our toned-up spiritual muscles to help spread the Gospel? Because of this Daniel study, I know at least the women in THIS group will.

Thank you, Lord, for giving us women opportunities to get together to grow spiritually and learn more about your Word. Thank you for the legacy of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. You saved them from the fire, and we know you’ll also refine us from whatever fiery trial we’re going through. Give us wisdom, Lord! Sometimes we feel so spent, as if we’ve given everything away. Only you can refresh our spirits. We praise you for your Word that knows no boundaries. Amen.

September 25, 2007

How are you? Have you had a good week so far? I’m starting to get used to this once-a-week blog routine, though I’ve enjoyed catching up with a few of you through email. Thank you so much for taking the time to write!

What a joy it is to reconnect with old friends — and new friends too! 🙂

Well, I made it to our second Beth Moore Bible study meeting — barely. I straggled in a few minutes late, so I missed the fellowship time. Our group meets upstairs from the preschool, so at least half the women in the room also have their hands full with preschoolers. As I entered the room, my mind was scattered in a million different directions.

I sat down next to our youth pastor’s wife, wondering if she would notice I had the word “X-RAY” scribbled across the back of my hand. This was to remind me NOT TO FORGET to pick up my son’s x-rays from the hospital in the 20-minute break between Bible study and the end of morning preschool. I didn’t want to have to take a 2-year-old down to radiology, but we needed those x-rays for his afternoon doctor appointment. (He dislocated his thumb playing football — not fun.)

At first, my body was there — but my mind wasn’t. But gradually, our discussion pulled me in, and I felt like a lost and thirsty traveler, stopping in for a cool drink. We talked about integrity, stemming from the week’s homework about Daniel. We learned the Latin word for “integrity” literally means “entire.” Beth Moore writes, “The lifeblood of integrity is becoming the same person no matter where we are — no matter who’s around.” We discussed how only Jesus Christ is perfect, yet we are to strive to be more like Him on a daily basis.

Our homework for week one of this study focused on Daniel being taken captive to Babylon. For the first time, I saw this from his mother’s point of view. How devastating! Her beloved teenage son was carted off 900 miles from Jerusalem to Babylon, along with several other outstanding young Hebrew men. Babylon is modern-day Baghdad.

Loss of Identity
What shocked me while reading through the lessons is that Daniel and his fellow captives were forced to undergo a radical loss of identity. Their very names were changed — from names that glorified God to names that worshiped the false gods of Babylon.

Daniel means “God is my judge.” His name was changed to Belteshazzar, which means “Bel will protect.” Hananiah means “Yah has been gracious,” yet his name become Shadrach, meaning “inspired by Aku.” You get the picture. These precious sons of Israel were torn from their homeland, their families, and everything they believed in.

Yet Daniel becomes our hero, our inspiration! He resolves not to defile himself with the king’s food, and is allowed to do this because of his tact in approaching his superiors. The video lesson focused on Daniel’s interpretation of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. It was so interesting to study this ancient history, learning about the rise and fall of four world empires (Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Grecian, and Roman).

Modern-day Babylon
We’re surrounded by a culture that is hostile to our faith. Beth Moore’s teaching reminded us we must be like Daniel and stand strong. She encouraged us to exercise the muscle of restraint. If Daniel could say no to the king’s rich foods, what can we say no to? What pulls us away from following God? What do we struggle with?

Beth says she will give up “rich meats” during the first six weeks of the study. I wondered how I could exercise the muscle of restraint more — and I realized my major struggle is with SUGAR! I let myself get slack over the summer, and I ate like I was 16 again — which I’m NOT.

I’ve noticed how my energy drops so drastically when I eat sugar or anything processed with white flour. So this is what I’m going to work on — getting stronger in the area of eating more healthy.

Connecting Hearts

Here are the verses we’re trying to memorize during this study, Daniel 2:20-23. Beth encouraged us to write them on separate notecards and try to learn a little more each day. I’m putting these verses over my kitchen sink, where I spend a good portion of my day. Just reading these verses makes me so excited about what God is doing in my life — and in yours too. I’m praying for you!

Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
wisdom and power are his.

He changes times and seasons;
he sets up kings and deposes them.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning.

He reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what lies in darkness,
and light dwells with him.

I thank and praise you, O God of my fathers:
You have given me wisdom and power,
you have made known to me what we asked of you,
you have made known to us the dream of the king.