Aug 25

FOR FAITH: BEAUTY INSIDE AND OUT

IMG_20140817_101212This weekend was FUN!

What made it fun was spending time with my daughter—creating new body scrubs to accompany the launch of my women’s Bible study series, With Faith Like Hers.

We got the idea when we were talking about Queen Esther going through 12 months of beauty treatments before she was presented to the King.

Wouldn’t women love a 12-month spa experience?

We women love to be pampered. We love smelly-feel-good things that encourage us to inhabit our beauty. Maybe every day should be a spa day.

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So Nicole and I are doing something about it. We’re launching ESTHER’S SPA, a beauty line of smelly-feel-good body products to honor women in the Bible, starting with an invigorating sugar scrub to get rid of that old dead skin and reveal the beauty beneath. Like what God does when He gets hold of our hearts.

Nicole and I are having fun imagining what each woman in Scripture would have liked and then creating a fragrance to honor her.

 

Eve Kindle CoverI am Eve

Eve spent her early days in the Garden of Eden, surrounded by succulent fruit. Yes, there was that one forbidden fruit, but the others must have been delicious. So our scent to honor Eve and accompany the Bible study, I am Eve? 

Pomagranate and mango.

Can you say “Yummmm”?

 

 

 

I_am_Esther_Cover_for_KindleI am Esther

We picture Queen Esther strolling through the Persian palace grounds. The grounds must have been filled with sweet-smelling flowers. Our scent to honor Esther and accompany the Bible study, I am Esther? 

Jasmine, lilac and lily.

Do I hear a unanimous “oooooh”?

 

 


Ruth-Front coverI am Ruth

Ruth spent all day in the fields, gleaning barley and never complaining as the itchy chaff flew into her face and down her lovely neck. She must have needed a warm bath to help her relax. Our scent to honor Ruth and accompany the Bible study, I am Ruth? 

White tea, ginger and honeysuckle.

Can we say “ahhhhh”?

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The process of creating fragrances these Bible women might have loved is such fun. And more fun doing it with my own beauty, Nicole.

I like to imagine a woman with a copy of one of the books studying Scripture to help encourage inner beauty with a jar of fragrant scrub helping do the same on the outside. Like turning that “spa experience” into a mini spiritual retreat. God beautifying her inside and out.

Making one more trophy of grace for His glory.

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We have Mary’s and Elizabeth’s scents finalized, too. All that awaits are the book releases. I am Mary and her body scrub will be released in time for a Christmas study of  Jesus’ earthly mother. I am Elizabeth  and her body scrub will be released in early 2015.

A matching body lotion will follow. The ESTHER’S SPA  line will launch next month over at Honor Bound Books & Gifts with the sugar body scrub.

If only the Internet had cyber smell!

 

 

 

 

Aug 22

FOR FAITH: Explaining the Trinity

HBB Logo ms jpg 300 dpi

The triquetra represents the Trinity. Here it is part of the logo for for Honor Bound Books

An acquaintance once asked how I could believe in a 3-headed god.  I was horrified to think that’s what she thought we believed.

But really, how do you explain the triune nature of God?

“God in three persons, blessed Trinity,” we sing.

“Father, Son and Holy Spirit,” we pray.

But where does that idea come from? How can we explain it to ourselves, much less to others?

We believe it because God is described and shown that way in Scripture. True, no one verse uses the word Trinity. But it is clear through all of Scripture that it is so.

 

Old Testament

In the first two lines of Genesis, we see that “In the beginning God…and…the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” In other words, the first lines of our Bible, show that God is a plural entity.

Elsewhere in the Old Testament, Psalm 8 says that the Lord (Yahweh) says to my Lord (Adonai)…Once again we see the plurality of God.

 

New Testament

In the New Testament, Jesus commanded that we be baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Paul also refers to all three entitles together (2 Corinthians 13:14, 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; 1 Peter 1:2). Jesus continually says that He and the Father are one.

There are distinctions between the persons of the Trinity—the Father, the Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit. But there is never a separateness in the essence of God—God’s basic nature. God is three persons but one essence. Together they are one. Together they are God and are what we refer to as the Trinity.

Maybe that’s not a very thorough explanation, but it is what we have. Most likely it’s all our human minds are capable of grasping.

 

Examples

Some folks use the example of the three leaves of a shamrock to explain the Trinity. Or H2O as ice, vapor and liquid. Or an egg with a shell, yolk and white. But those fall short of describing God.

For mathematical folks, the Trinity is NOT

1 (Father) + 1 (Son) + 1 (Spirit) = 3.

Multiplication works better:

1 x 1 x 1 = 1

because each person of the Trinity is fully and completely God; not a lesser portion of a larger whole.

It’s OK that we don’t understand it completely. We are not meant to understand the entirety of God. Only to love and obey Him.

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We don’t believe in a 3-headed God and the concept of the Trinity of God isn’t a contradiction. It is simply a mystery. Something to ponder and treasure in our hearts.

Meditating on God’s character? That’s a good thing, even if we can’t come up with something we can explain satisfactorily to others.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? How do you explain the Trinity to others?

Aug 18

FOR READERS: Passing Strangers

strangersOur Christian women’s book club just finished reading Angela Hunt’s novel, Passing Strangers.

It is the story of three people whose lives are a mess. They meet casually while taking an Amtrak train tour.

It’s the story of how their relationships form and grow; how people can step out of their personal problems and help someone else in need.

It’s the story of friendship and grief, forgiveness and faith.

And it’s a good read.

 

I’ll be reviewing this book again over at Ruby for Women. It will be one of the books that my brand new online book club will be discussing. Right here on this very website.

Folks from my in person book club are invited to chime in on the book as are the rest of you.

Folks from my online book club are invited to chime in also. With all that chiming in, it’ll sort of be like Passing Strangers–people meeting casually and perhaps allowing their relationships to grow into real friendship along the way.

To join the book club, click on the tab at the top of this page titled “CAROL’S BOOK CLUB.” Then subscribe up at the top right hand corner of that page so you can participate when the discussion gets going. The discussion on this book may not start for a few months.

Which means you still HAVE TIME TO READ THE BOOK.

But SOON we will get started chatting about the books up for review in the next issue of Ruby for Women, expected out in September. I’ll keep you posted!

I HOPE YOU’LL JOIN THE FUN!

Aug 15

FOR FAITH: OZ AND I—STOP POUTING

OZ AND I image copy

Once more Oswald Chambers gave me a head whacking. This morning he reminded me of  1 Thessalonians 5:19:

Do not quench the Spirit. 

Oz cautioned: God says to you, in effect, “Don’t be blind on this point anymore.”

 

 

No pouting, Oz says. No, excuses. No “but I can’t help it” comments. If God has revealed something to you, it’s not then time to give up on overcoming it; it’s time to take God at His word when he speaks through Paul, saying, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

If I’m doing it with the Spirit, I’m not doing it on my own. I can do it; we can do it—together. And if God is for me, who can be against me?

Lately God has been tossing Scripture, devotionals and blog posts at me from all directions. Most specifically He keeps bringing me back to James 4:17:

If anyone knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, for him that is sin.

Ouch! For me, the latest good I should be doing is healthy eating. But when I discovered that the 99 cent store has the same crackers that sell elsewhere for $3, my bargain-loving self stocks up. When I need a quick lift of energy, my too-busy-to-find-something-better self heads for white sugar. Eat dinner while watching TV? Can we say “unconscious over eating”?

  • Isn’t saving money a good thing?
  • Isn’t having energy to get things done good?
  • Shouldn’t I be relaxing with my family in the evening?

What’s bad about that?

The point about things like eating, exercising, and drinking too much is that our human brain assumes that it’s all about us. It’s only us we’re harming. But two things:

  1. These bodies don’t belong to us. God only gave us stewardship over them while we’re on Earth. How are we doing taking care of them?
  2. These bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. If God lives inside these bodies, it isn’t just us we’re harming. Applying that spiritually, if Jesus was sitting in our dining room, would we turn on the TV and feed the King of the Universe crackers and white sugar? 

It used to be that for me, a healthy lifestyle was about working hard to look good. The process of writing Bible studies for women has assured me of the truth that God already sees me as beautiful. Now the pressing matter of health has less to do with looking good and more to do with being obedient, not grieving God Almighty and taking better care of His stuff—me.

Thanks Oz for the reminder. Trying harder today. Succeeding better. Because I’m not alone.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Is there an area the Holy Spirit has called you to not be blind anymore? Are you still making excuses? How has that worked for you?

 

Today’s post is based on the August 14 devotional by Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest.

Aug 11

FOR FAITH: Coffee with Jesus

Launch 3 covers no date

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Working toward something you believe in is like having a never-ending cup of coffee. It gives you energy; clarity; endurance; drive.

 

 

 

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The first week of September I will be launching my women’s Bible study series, With Faith Like Hers. There’s so much to do. So many details to coordinate. So many technological bugs to work out.

And so much fun in the doing.

This Bible study series began nearly three years ago with a spiritual discussion when I felt God tugging at my heart to write a book about Queen Esther.

“How about a nice series of blog posts instead?” I asked.

The thing about obedience though is that you have to be obedient. And ultimately I was, pursuing the writing of that first book. That first book became a series even before the last word was typed. The series is now three books. A fourth—about Jesus’ mother Mary—is in final revision for release before Christmas. A fifth book—about John the Baptist’s mother Elizabeth—is in early revision for release in 2015.

I have always said that even if only one person’s faith grows because of the writing of these books, it will have been worth the years of toil. Well, it was worth it because at least one person’s faith has grown—mine.

What about you? How has your own faith grown because of a study of Scripture meant to share something with someone else?

Aug 08

FOR FAITH: The Spiritual Truths I Learned from Oil Painting

 

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from commons.wikipedia.org

 

I’m not a painter but I wish I were. I had just enough art classes to know that my talent was so far under the surface it would take an enormous amount of love of art to spend the time to bring it to the surface.

The type of art I did best was water color. But the medium I loved to study was oil painting. It’s a very spiritual medium.

And it reminds me of Jesus.

 

 

The Palette

An oil painter has a palette of colors. He mixes a little bit of this color and a touch of that color and a giant dollop of the one over there. He gets a color that is uniquely his own.

It’s what God does with us, too. We have those experiences; these desires and giant dollops of pain. God takes it all and mixes it with His enormous love for us and we become unique children of the Most High.

 

The Canvas

How many times have we heard stories of masterpiece paintings found beneath layers of art done by not-so-masters? One painting done on top of another. Or a masterpiece painted over something that was not masterful before? Because the canvas itself was valuable.

So too does God give us re-dos. So too does God cover us over with His love to redo what was beneath. Turning junk into a masterpiece but retaining the canvas. Because the canvas upon which God paints is itself valuable.

 

The Process

It takes time and perspective to create a masterpiece. Fortunately God has the time and the perspective. Sometimes we don’t understand what He is doing in our lives. But He does. We only need to be still and live in patient excitement for how He is working on this one unique masterpiece that is us.

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Scripture tells us that God is the potter and we are the clay. He is also the master painter, coloring the canvas of our lives…

…and creating His masterpiece.

 

 

 

 

Aug 05

FOR FAITH

Make-every-moment-an-aha Advice for the day.

Aug 04

FOR FAITH: FROM KNOWING TO UNDERSTANDING

bible3

 

One of the very coolest things about writing my women’s Bible study series With Faith Like Hers is that the research takes me deeply into Scripture. I’ve not only learned about the history and culture of the people whose lives are recorded in Scripture, but I just generally have so much better familiarity with where things are located in the Bible—whether I’m using my scribbled-in-the-margins bound paper and leather Bible or my searchable cyber one.

 

I still don’t know chapter/verse for most passages that come to mind. But I now generally know where to look for them, sometimes even in the very correct book. How cool is that?

 

 

And cool how every time I read Scripture, God reveals more truth to me. Things that were always there. Things I’d never noticed. Things I’d never understood. Things I’d like to understand. Things I may never “get” on this side of heaven.

 

It’s thirst-quenching. It’s also thirst-making, as one revelation leads to more questions and a deeper desire to know and understand and as each revelation deepens my understanding of God’s character, His plan and how I fit into it.

 

Thanks, Jesus for making us desire knowledge and ensuring that the best thing to desire knowledge about is you.

Aug 01

FOR FAITH: PENNIES REMIND ME OF JESUS

1990-issue_US_Penny_obverse_2

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Find a coin and pick it up.

All the day you’ll have good luck.

~0~

 

…so I do.

Then one day someone shook the earth out from under me.

She said, “You should only pick up coins if they’re face up. Those you can wish on. If they’re face down, they’re bad luck.”

 

Oh, no! I can’t leave a perfectly lovely coin just sitting on the sidewalk without picking it up. Worse, how could I leave it for some unsuspecting stranger to pick up? They’d get all that bad luck.

 

Maybe I should flip the coin over, I’d think. I could walk around the block and re-find it again, once it has become a “good luck coin.”

 

Then I had a flash of brilliance. I could change the lucky coin rules. Here’s what you need to know.

 

  1. You don’t get to “wish” on coins anymore. Now when you find one, you pray.
  2. If the coin is face up, you pray for yourself or your own needs.
  3. If the coin is face down, you pray for someone else or their needs.

 

Now when I find a coin, I pick it up and pray. All the day I have good luck because I have reconnected with Jesus in one more way.

 

The Book of Revelation tells us that heaven has golden bowls of incense which are the prayers of God’s people. I keep all my lucky coins in a big drawer next to my bed. When I pop my newly prayed-over coins into my drawer, I think of all the prayers they represent. I imagine that to God those coins probably smell almost as good as His heavenly incense.

 

Yup. Finding lucky coins gives the phrase “pennies from heaven” a deeper meaning— one that reminds me of Jesus.

 

And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people  (Revelation 5:8).

 

Jul 28

FOR FAITH: Oz and I–The process

OZ AND I image copy

This morning Oswald Chambers smacked me in a more gentle way than he usually does. In today’s devotional, My Utmost for His Highest, Oz reminded me that the process is more important than the product. He said:

What we see as only the process of reaching a particular end, God sees as the goal itself. 

It’s about trusting God now. It’s about relying on His strength alone. It’s about following His leading and jumping onto His wagon now instead of building our own wagon, loading it down with non-essentials and then trying to push the whole thing up the hill–by ourselves.

Often we look at trials in our lives and wonder what is going on. Why has God placed them in our lives? And we answer ourselves that perhaps God is preparing us for something bigger in the future.

While, God can and does use everything for good, including preparation, today Oz reminded me that God is also–and perhaps more–concerned with the now, not the later.

So am I trusting God this very minute? Am I learning to see Him leading me right now? Am I jumping into His wagon this moment?

Or am I looking off into the horizon (or not looking at all) and imagining that God is only using the now to prepare me for the then?

Moment-by-moment obedience. Because the work He is doing right now is His goal. Thanks for the heads up, Oz!

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