I never thought this would be my story to tell……

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We stood in the hallway outside of our presentation rooms, greeting those who would be listening to us speak at a women’s Lifeway event. Since there was a lull, I said to another presenter in the hall, “honestly – I never thought if I were speaking to women it would be about kids and their social media.” My fellow presenter walked toward me …. “and I never thought I would be teaching on sex,” she said with a smirk on her face.
Again I find myself saying, “Why me? Lord, please pick someone else. This surely isn’t my favorite topic. I am sure there is someone way more qualified and eloquent than myself for You to use. What topic could I possibly want to avoid? You may or may not have guessed it—Depression.
Depression. A word, a diagnosis, a disease I really knew nothing about. Like others I could attempt to understand it through my own experiences of sadness or despair – life had brought several of those chapters to my front door – but actual, diagnosed, clinical depression, well I was pretty ignorant until it visited my house two years ago.
A difficult breakup, ended friendships, terrible regret: they seemed to create the perfect storm. I watched my 17-year-old daughter going through the motions. Reading her Bible, limiting her activity so she could rest, being selective about her social media and entertainment choices, but she still had an overwhelming sadness. Unshakable. Paralyzing. After the word “suicide” was mentioned to a mutual friend all alarms switched to high alert. I called our faithful friend/counselor and asked her to do an immediate assessment because I was so concerned.
I will never forget the counselor’s phone call after that emergency appointment. The words are inscribed deep in my emotional memory. “Tina, I have a measurement tool that I use with a scoring type result. As a rule, anything over a score of 17 requires immediate intervention; your daughter scored a 40. You need to get her to a doctor immediately.” I scheduled an appointment for the next day.
When she returned home I asked her……”so did you know it was this bad?” Her response, “Mom, I have felt like I was drowning.”
Thus I was offered a front seat on the journey of depression.
“Mom don’t tell anyone!” (Know that now I have been given her permission to share.)
Yikes, how did my 17-year-old already anticipate the judgment and misunderstanding that comes when saying the word “depression.” Pretty insightful, considering here I am two years later still somewhat baffled by the talk and conversations that surround her struggle. I’ve heard people say that women who take anti-depressants just need to learn to trust God more. They need more of Jesus not a medication. If you have history with depression, you may need to get a cold rag to keep your blood from boiling – trust me, I have permanent marks from biting the inside of my mouth. However, if you have no history with this subject – these phrases – their phrases – may sound reasonable. I find it compelling to kindly and lovingly share a few thoughts to those who might count themselves among the second group.
I am not a medical doctor, not a psychiatrist or psychologist but, I am sharing things as a mom who watched her own child go to a scary place.
First, know that depression is overwhelming. A sea of sadness with no easy out, no life raft, no safety net, no shore line in sight. In our case the one drowning had very little clarity or strength to “reach out” or “swim harder” or “pray more” or “read your Bible more.” My loved one needed someone to swim all the way out to her and physically attach the life line to her body. For someone struggling with depression, one of the biggest misconceptions I hear is the expectation that someone struggling can have the frame of mind, motivation, or clear path to get help.
Second, depression is something that can be seen on brain scans of those who struggle. It is not imaginary but a real chemical difference that is happening in the brain of someone who is clinically depressed. Just like a broken bone can be seen in an x-ray, a broken chemical balance can be seen in the brain of someone who is depressed.
Because the symptoms of depression have behavior or emotional manifestations, some believe that those behaviors and other symptoms are within the control of the depressed, that medication shouldn’t be needed; you should be able to “fix” your thinking/emotions yourself.
So, to those original phrases that started me thinking and now writing on this topic – “You just need more of Jesus,” my reply is that I would be the first to say I need more of Jesus! We all need more of Jesus! But what about your friend who has diabetes or your neighbor who has cancer – do they need more of Jesus? Of course, they do! But would you ever suggest that they not seek help through doctors and that “trusting Jesus” is the only help they need? Most of us would probably never discourage someone from getting the medical help they need.
Personally, my own struggle has been with headaches. After years of them progressively getting worse and shutting down more and more of my life, I sought help from my physician. I now take medication daily for my headaches and have a significant part of my life back. Hallelujah! Does my medication make me less of who I really am? No, it allows me to be more of who I really am and who I want to be. I don’t want to be stuck in bed four days a week to nurse a migraine. Likewise, someone with depression doesn’t want to be stuck in bed, in a sea of sadness trying to migrate life’s daily demands.
So, does depression mean you are broken. Yes! We are ALL broken. We live in a fallen world. The more time goes on, this suffering earth and its inhabitants suffer the weight of our “fallen world.”
So why do I share? Many people I know who suffer are cautious to speak up for themselves. It’s vulnerable enough to admit the struggle, let alone deal with the stereotypes and painful Christian phrases believers throw around. Along with their depression, the circular thinking and enemy is quick to suggest they are once again judged and not understood.
Initially, I had thoughts of frustration – then compassion for ignorance – then the urge to speak up! Or write down some words that may help others understand.
Last week I saw the movie Dunkirk. I had heard reviews from those who loved/disliked the movie before seeing it myself. I was moved by the movie, both by its glimpses of the remarkable good and the remarkable bad sides of humanity. One of the last scenes depicts the rescued soldiers disembarking from the boat onto the safe shores of England. Ever aware of their own desperate struggle to survive, they move in waves along the ports edge finally safe when one soldier notices a pilot in uniform and makes some snide remark “where were you when we needed you?” Another harshly judging one who was passing out aid as someone who “wouldn’t even look us in the eye.” The first had been a pilot who crash landed after being almost solely responsible for their survival, the other a man who didn’t look them in the eye because he himself was blind.” It stuck with me. Even while we celebrate our own freedoms, we must be careful not to pass judgement or assume we understand the journey of the one walking beside us. Just because you watched an old episode of Dr. Phil or read an article on the topic, does not mean you understand. Everyone struggles with it differently.
Ladies – let’s admit it – we don’t wear the words of our struggles on cute fashion t-shirts. We wear them on our hearts. It is no wonder why Paul shared in 1 Corinthians 13 that you may have every gift under the sun, but if you don’t have love, you’re nothing. Our words, our actions, our opinions need to be bathed in love. Honestly, I am not yet thankful that I came face to face with depression, but I am hopeful for a day when those who struggle can share with others without the judgement and assumptions that we experienced. A day when someone can be as open about their chronic headaches as they are about their struggle with depression. A time when the compassion that is poured out to the one in chemo is shared, too, with the one battling depression.
Lord, Your Word says they will know we are Christians by our love. My prayer is that we get better at loving each other. Amen.

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Christmas in May….

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Dear Friends & Family –

Merry Christmas…..In MAY!! Yes it’s crazy but I thought like bikers in the Tour de France I would draft my annual Christmas letter off of all the others announcements and invites the Davis Family is sending out this year. Lots of celebrations around these parts in the coming months. First Kendall will graduate from High School in 3 weeks and Colby will marry his precious Gloria in just about 3 months. (More details in their customary paragraphs. 🙂 ) So for those who like to jump ship upon seeing this letter take two complete pages – I completely understand! Just know that you are on our Friends and Family list for a reason. We love you! We want to stay in touch! And we want you to know you have a place to stay anytime you come through beautiful TN!! For the rest of you that enjoy the unabridged version here we go…..

Colby is finishing his 2nd year of college at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia Arkansas. Before he went for his first year he met the girl of his dreams right here in Hendersonville. They continued their relationship and this last year God really showed His favor to them when she got word that her tuition was going to almost be fully funded through scholarship allowing her to join Colby this last year. Their relationship has been one that us girls in the family (the perceptive ones) knew quickly showed signs that God had sent a real help meet and life partner to Colby. Everyone always has to comment “they’re so young” to which I remind them that Billy and I got married at the same age and have been blessed beyond words to start our lives together at a young age. For those who don’t know Gloria I will give you a few details. She is studying Mass Comm at OBU. She is the middle of 3 girls raised by a godly family that has truly discipled them in the word. She is beautiful, kind, loving, and like Colby is an “old soul” and has a heart for people and missions. She is a wise counselor and the writer of many an encouraging letter. I had prayed that Colby would marry a girl whose family truly understood what it was to be called to ministry and would be equally supportive and prayerful of their future assignments. We got just that! The Berry Family is all that we could have hoped for! We recently found a small house there near the college to purchase as an investment property and a residence for them as they finish school. (honestly it was cheaper than most cars) so it has been fun to hear how colby is cutting the grass and edging and helping his neighbor with his new garden. Their wedding is at the end of July giving them just enough time for a honeymoon and a move back to campus. Colby in addition to school has taken on working with a local pastor there in his construction business. This summer they will build a house from start to finish. Hopefully we will get a few weeks with him before he starts his own “real” adult life with his new bride.

Kendall will graduate in May and will attend Liberty University in the fall. She is planning to major in Business Administration with a minor in Healthcare Management but I would not be surprised if her roommate who is an elementary education major makes her consider education – she loves kids in a way that shows it is a big part of the gifting that God has placed in her life. Whether it is there to be a mom or maybe a teacher of some kind I have a feeling she may change majors once she is there. We will see. You may never see a girl get so excited to babysit. She has a number of families that call her their “favorite.” Recently she even had 4 kids for a weekend and reported having a “great time.” (That’s when you know it’s a God gift!) After taking 9 college hours and working full time last semester she had only one required class this semester and is enjoying some stress free time before the next chapter starts. She continues to make us laugh with her funny stories and imitations and how she sees life. I know the hardest part of leaving home may be missing all the day to day stuff with her three younger brothers so she is trying to spoil them all she can before she leaves. She gives advice to Caleb, helps Keaton finish late night homework, and provides an endless supply of snack contraband to Christopher. Honestly being the only bearer of estrogen after August scares me a bit – but I know Kendall is headed right to the center of God’s will for her life. I can’t describe how her face lit up when she entered into worship with 15,000 other young people when we visited last spring. By her countenance I knew we had found her next home. She will be 9 hours away but I plan to start a “flight home” fund soon. 🙂

Caleb is growing like a weed. Literally! He grew nearly a foot this last year and will be 15 in September which means a learning permit and all things that keep parents in constant prayer. Billy has let him practice with Colby’s old car so he does endless circles around our driveway and down to the new chicken palace. Despite our 10 year old signing up for the 4h chicken project – Caleb has proven to be our true farmer and nurturer of animals. His name means “dog lover” so that connection never surprised me but the chicken thing – well I have to admit I didn’t know it would be “his” thing. We are up to 41 chickens and 4 ducks. DUCKS ARE DUMB! He brings them up to our tub for swimming and has begun naming the chickens. He is mortified that we plan to eat them after they slack off in the egg laying department. I told him the fact that he named one “nuggets” and the other “tenders” doesn’t help! He has pretty much ditched all things sports and fully devoted himself to skateboarding. (ok for those exercise people reading this – I am not sure there is a better core workout than skateboarding all day) He is in great shape and loves to challenge himself. School continues to be a place he pretty much tolerates – although now that he is considering a future in radiology his effort has increased significantly. He starts high school next year and loves volunteering at our church by running sound and working tech. He is not much of a group person – but he is a great conversationalist – never without a great story or interesting news report. 🙂

Keaton will be 12 in June. He will start middle school next year so we will have all kinds of changes. Two in college, one in high school, one in middle school, one in elementary school – yes that’s it – don’t worry! He is the one I keep my eye on a bit extra after I discovered that despite teaching seminars on children and technology had no idea he had created his own email account and was posting “Justin Bieber” like lip-sync videos on a popular social media site. WHAT!!! After I got over the shock Billy and I entertained ourselves for several nights watching all of his swooning songs that he had secretly been choreographing downstairs. (Even a few duets with a cute girl at school….) Yes!! I had no idea!!! He continues to be our most social child. He never, NEVER meets a stranger and probably legit has 10 BEST friends. He is studious, creative, easy to parent – and a real people person. He is sticking with a missionary doctor for his future but this one may well end up President.

Christopher…..oh Christopher. The caboose of the family just turned 10 and his mouth turned 20. He is quick with that tongue. Funny. Sarcastic. I have a feeling this one and I may have a few conflicts as his independence increases and his tongue is not well tamed. Often what he says is just flat out hilarious. He can make us all laugh. My mother in law once said Obama should have hired him to be the humor Czar. He is one of the youngest in his class but bright and yet bored easily. He loves soccer and along with Keaton play in a local league. He is obsessed with wearing suits and bow ties. I bet it is hard to name any 10 year old kid you know that gets more joy out of getting a suit for his birthday than much anything else. For those who didn’t already see my Facebook post – recently we went to his 4th grade recorder concert – he warned me in advance he would only be playing a, b, & g – those were the only notes he knows – then asked me after if I noticed he faked the others. 🙂 He still plans to be a cop one day – I am hoping for judge.

Yikes – running out of space quickly – so – maybe for those who want to know or keep in touch better with Billy and I find us on Facebook – we are pretty good about sharing milestones there – Billy continues to work for Paragon and this year is growing his team significantly with some great folks. I have taken a semester off of bible teaching to be available for my graduate and groom to be. This place is a zoo – literally – and over and over and over and over I am amazed by the goodness of God towards our family and the grace He extends at His expense. We are humbled and in love with our Savior!!

The Davis Family

A Great Name!

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I am big on name meanings. I wish I would have considered it as important before I named my first one after a coal miner 🙂 but God was big on names too. One of the cultural things I think we have a hard time understanding was that in the culture of the bible “names” were very meaningful. They spoke of meaningful aspects of a persons life and identity. For example it’s not hard to see why the name “Moses” meant drawn from water. But in modern days this is a bit harder to grasp. Maybe the closest thing we can half quip about is Indian names like “Little Chief.”

In our house my youngest child has unusually small hands. A year or more ago my 14 year old started calling his little brother “baby hands.” (you have to have thick skin in our family) It stuck! And affectionately we have added a bit of a cajun accent to it and call him bubbahans now. Every time we say it or call him by that name “bubbhans” we reflect on how little his hands have always been. So consider this, when we look at some stories in the word knowing the peoples’s names and their meanings can bring greater joy to the story being told.

Consider Hannah. Hannah means “God is gracious.” Imagine not that Hannah was called “Hannah” but that every time someone referenced her they were saying “God is gracious.” Imagine these moments for little Hannah as she is held by her daddy and cooed to….”God is gracious you beautiful girl.” Later in life “God is gracious it is your turn to do the dishes.” “God is gracious you got a letter in the mail today.” A bit silly as far as my examples go but truly imagine that every time anyone referred to her growing up the phrase “God is gracious” was a part of her story – her identity. Now glance at 1 Samuel where we read that “God is gracious” is married to a man with another wife who is able to bear children while she remains barren.

Try to imagine hearing “God is gracious” while your husband’s other wife continues to have children. Imagine Peninnah teasing poor Hannah – “hey God is gracious – where are your sons?” “ Where are your daughters.” Elkanah her husband tried to compensate by giving Hannah extra portions of the sacrifice (1 Sam 1:5) because he loved her – but I doubt it came even close to soothing the broken heart that was unable to conceive. Then in verse 6 we are told that her barrenness was a part of God’s plan, but also that her rival “kept provoking” her to irritate her. And His word gives us even more detail – Verse 7 – this went on “year after year.” And every time she went up to the house of the Lord, good ‘ole Peninnah was there to ridicule “God is gracious” until she was reduced to tears and unable to eat. So basically our sweet Hannah “God is gracious” is ridiculed every day, year after year, about what comes to be the most important thing to Hannah – having children. Want to guess if Hannah struggled with God’s graciousness in these years?

Many of you know how the story continues, after pouring her soul out to God – He answers and gives Hannah a son. Upon weening, as promised, Hannah gives her young boy back to God in service to His temple. We read that each year (Sam 2:19) Hannah would make a little coat for her Samuel and deliver it to them temple. (Our mommy hearts hurt at this thought.) But this verse is the delight! This is what caused my heart to leap for joy as I read it this week…..look at verse 21 in 1 Samuel Chapter 2, “The Lord was gracious to Hannah; she gave birth to three sons and two daughters.” Did you catch that?

THE LORD WAS GRACIOUS TO HANNAH!

After years and years of not seeing or understanding how she would represent God’s grace – Hannah was the recipient of His overwhelming GRACIOUSNESS to her. God came through in demonstrating His grace!

What about you? What has God spoken over your life through His word that has not yet come to pass? What promise do you have a hard time believing He really meant for you? How many of you may even have a Peninnah or tormenter who ridicules you and the promise you hold on to as you wait?

Don’t lose faith!

Don’t lose hope!

The same God that wrote this beautiful story of His Graciousness is writing yours today. He is wanting you to trust Him in the midst of your circumstances. He is wanting you to “pour out your soul” 1 Sam 1:15 to Him and trust that He hears your cry.

So today friend we can delight in our God! We can trust His plan, His timing, His providence.

We can experience the Graciousness of God in our lives!

We can delight in His GREAT NAME!

Technology Under the Tree – Pointers for your children’s devices

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Top 10 tips for Technology Use for Children/Teens I had a mom ask for Technology safety tips recently and so I thought she is probably not alone with having a gift under the tree that will introduce their child to a new device this Christmas – and it is always better to be one step ahead than one step behind in this arena. So here are some suggestions.

 

  1. Delete and replace your browser – whether it is an ipod/kindle/or other electronic with internet capability the best thing you can do for your young person is to download k-9 or another kid friendly browser available in the app store and then delete the one that comes with the device….ie explorer or safari. These kid friendly browsers will go a long way to keep inappropriate content off of their device.

 

2. Put a private password on the device that requires the child to come to you to have it unlocked for use. This prevents them from spending unmonitored time on the device. Try setting a timer for yourself for an hour and then taking up the device. It will automatically lock again until you approve them spending time on it.

3. Make sure that all app purchases are made by you and with your approval. If any app is found that was not approved they lose the device for a period of time. For those using itunes make sure your account is set to require password each time a purchase is made – this is a setting you must choose.

 

4. Any app or program that requires a registration associate with your email and you create the log in and password. My son doesn’t even know his password – I just created his instagram account myself and put it on his phone. That way he cannot make changes to settings and I have access to content.

 

5. MONITOR ALL ACCOUNTS – I hate to give you a horror story example but they are easy to mention – my latest is I have an account that daily likes my son’s skateboarding photos and the user id’s photo is female genitals – I have reported and blocked the first account and they make another pass at him under a different name – without monitoring you will miss seeing this kind of activity. Do not trust monitoring apps to replace your eyes and senses – they are not good at catching a lot of this.

 

6. Set up a charging station in a public area – parents room – etc. Require the device be charged there and present after a certain time each evening. That gives you access and keeps them from sneaking in extra device time instead of sleep time.

 

7. Take up all electronics at least an hour before bed. Use before bedtime can disrupt their ability to fall asleep – I know this to be true 🙂

 

8. Do not pay money for 3g capability – wifi at home is sufficient opportunity – they really don’t need access to the internet 24/7.

 

9. Require all social media accounts to be protected and require approval – Often I see requests before my children and can delete inappropriate followers from the beginning.

 

10. Talk with other parents/follow blogs/ read articles – everything you know today will have changed in 6 months so you need to realize it is a growing changing world that you should attempt to keep informed about.

 

If you have other questions …. feel free to email me at thetribeoffive@hotmail.com

CHEW BIBLE STUDY – Starting August 17 & 18 – YOU PICK :)

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Ok ladies so I have had many of you ask me for more information about the bible study I am leading in August. I am going to give you all the details here so you can pray about whether this is something you feel God leading you to do. Each evening we will have two components. The first will be a lecture/learning style that will be teaching the eras of the bible, the structure of the bible, basically a good bible basics or refresher course. (This will feel a bit like class room with worksheets and handouts.) The second part of the time together we will be sharing about our homework which will basically be a quiet time technique where we will be journaling through 1st and 2nd Corinthians. (more details then you could ever want to know follows the logistical information below. 🙂

Here are the basics: We will meet on

Monday nights from 7:11 – 9pm starting August 17th Location: At our barn located 119 East Allen Road in Hendersonville off Counterpoint road

OR Tuesday mornings 9:30-11:30 at LHBC – starting August 18th

This study will go approx 12 weeks – not meeting any days Sumner County is out of School for weather or icy roads You will need a bible and a journal or spiral notebook (the thicker the better) If you prefer instead of the journal you can actually purchase a journal made for 1&2 Corinthians on Amazon called Journible for Corinthians –

So why is it called CHEW? Chew stands for Cherish Highly Every Word. After taking more than a year off from leading bible studies I really sought God about what He wanted me to do next. I had been in a sort of pattern of teaching through Beth Moore workbooks but felt God wanted to do something new with my quiet time. Shortly before this season I was introduced to Journibles – basically writing God’s word. This brought new life to my quiet time and set fire to my heart. During this same time women began to “confess” to me in hushed tones that they were a bit embarrassed that they really didn’t know the bible very well. Some were intimidated, some overwhelmed, some just felt like they missed out and really wanted some old fashioned teaching. So when I asked God about what may be “next” He began to confirm that the very tools that had been a part of renewed joy in my own life would be a blessing to others. Last year I introduced C.H.E.W. to three ladies groups. The feedback was a blessing and confirmation that God was using this format to revitalize others. In those first two groups we journaled through many of the Pauline epistles this semester we will take on the gospels. So here is the good news and the bad news. For those of you who may be used to a workbook and study questions this will be a new experience – I don’t know whether that is the good news or the bad news – personally for me it was a stretching time as I became kind of addicted to my familiar format.

The good news is – it is all WORD – all of it – and your teacher is the Holy Spirit. Here are a few paraphrases of ladies who took the study first semester….

“I have been reminded that God’s word is what I need as a parent. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by all the blogs and books and being in God’s word daily has reminded me that His word is enough.”

“I always thought I needed a study and when I would finish one I would kind of lapse until the next one was available. This format has encouraged me that I can be in God’s word without a book or workbook aid.”

One sweet 6th grade girl shared with me…. “I have been praying and asking God how to go deeper in my quiet time and I believe He has answered me with how you showed me I can get in His word.”

So with those encouragements I am excited to see what God has in store for us in a new semester. In place of the Pauline epistles we will be journaling our way through the Pauls letters to the Corinthians. Nothing! I mean NOTHING will set your heart on fire like spending 12 weeks Chewing on God’s Word! The journal I have asked you to purchase will help us concisely journal our way through these two books. The second part of the study – the getting smarter part – will be learning and rehearsing the eras of the bible until the context of scripture becomes familiar and acts as a true guide when we are doing future study. The format for this part of our time together will be guided by the book 30 Days to Understanding the Bible. YOU DO NOT have to purchase this book…but it will be the basis for which we walk through the structure of the bible.

Ok, so I didn’t lie – I shared more than you could ever want to know but I have yet to master a simple paragraph to really communicate what is involved. My experience is the daily part will take you between 20-30 minutes per day…but honestly you may stir up an appetite you forgot you had and want to chew and chew and chew. Everyone is welcome. Feel to invite a friend and try it the first night to see if you feel in your spirit God is leading you to commit to the 12 weeks. I am hoping that with the start time some of you with kids can get most of the evening done and maybe leave dad with the night time routine to join in. You may want to grab a cup of coffee – be sure to bring some highlighters and sticky notes or whatever learning tools you enjoy. It will not be all Long Hollow ladies. It may not all be ladies – I am hoping for maybe teen girls who are up to the challenge to join us – it’s a great study to do with your daughters – but whatever God has in store I am excited to get into God’s word with you!

C.H.E.W. Bible Study – beginning August 17th & 18th 2015

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Ok ladies so I have had many of you ask me for more information about the bible study I am leading in August. I am going to give you all the details here so you can pray about whether this is something you feel God leading you to do. Each evening we will have two components. The first will be a lecture/learning style that will be teaching the eras of the bible, the structure of the bible, basically a good bible basics or refresher course. (This will feel a bit like class room with worksheets and handouts.)  The second part of the time together we will be sharing about our homework which will basically be a quiet time technique where we will be journaling through 1st and 2nd Corinthians. (more details then you could ever want to know follows the logistical information below. 🙂

Here are the basics: We will meet on

Monday nights from 7:11 – 9pm starting August 17th Location: At our barn located 119 East Allen Road in Hendersonville off Counterpoint road

OR Tuesday mornings 9:30-11:30 at LHBC – starting August 18th

This study will go approx 12 weeks – not meeting any days Sumner County is out of School for weather or icy roads You will need a bible and a journal or spiral notebook (the thicker the better) If you prefer instead of the journal you can actually purchase a journal made for 1&2 Corinthians on Amazon called Journible for Corinthians –

So why is it called CHEW? Chew stands for Cherish Highly Every Word. After taking more than a year off from leading bible studies I really sought God about what He wanted me to do next. I had been in a sort of pattern of teaching through Beth Moore workbooks but felt God wanted to do something new with my quiet time. Shortly before this season I was introduced to Journibles – basically writing God’s word. This brought new life to my quiet time and set fire to my heart. During this same time women began to “confess” to me in hushed tones that they were a bit embarrassed that they really didn’t know the bible very well. Some were intimidated, some overwhelmed, some just felt like they missed out and really wanted some old fashioned teaching. So when I asked God about what may be “next” He began to confirm that the very tools that had been a part of renewed joy in my own life would be a blessing to others. Last year I introduced C.H.E.W. to three ladies groups. The feedback was a blessing and confirmation that God was using this format to revitalize others. In those first two groups we journaled through many of the Pauline epistles this semester we will take on the gospels. So here is the good news and the bad news. For those of you who may be used to a workbook and study questions this will be a new experience – I don’t know whether that is the good news or the bad news – personally for me it was a stretching time as I became kind of addicted to my familiar format.

The good news is – it is all WORD – all of it – and your teacher is the Holy Spirit. Here are a few paraphrases of ladies who took the study first semester….

“I have been reminded that God’s word is what I need as a parent. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by all the blogs and books and being in God’s word daily has reminded me that His word is enough.”

“I always thought I needed a study and when I would finish one I would kind of lapse until the next one was available. This format has encouraged me that I can be in God’s word without a book or workbook aid.”

One sweet 6th grade girl shared with me…. “I have been praying and asking God how to go deeper in my quiet time and I believe He has answered me with how you showed me I can get in His word.”

So with those encouragements I am excited to see what God has in store for us in a new semester. In place of the Pauline epistles we will be journaling our way through the Pauls letters to the Corinthians. Nothing! I mean NOTHING will set your heart on fire like spending 12 weeks Chewing on God’s Word! The journal I have asked you to purchase will help us concisely journal our way through these two books. The second part of the study – the getting smarter part – will be learning and rehearsing the eras of the bible until the context of scripture becomes familiar and acts as a true guide when we are doing future study. The format for this part of our time together will be guided by the book 30 Days to Understanding the Bible. YOU DO NOT have to purchase this book…but it will be the basis for which we walk through the structure of the bible.

Ok, so I didn’t lie – I shared more than you could ever want to know but I have yet to master a simple paragraph to really communicate what is involved. My experience is the daily part will take you between 20-30 minutes per day…but honestly you may stir up an appetite you forgot you had and want to chew and chew and chew. Everyone is welcome. Feel to  invite a friend and try it the first night to see if you feel in your spirit God is leading you to commit to the 12 weeks. I am hoping that with the start time some of you with kids can get most of the evening done and maybe leave dad with the night time routine to join in. You may want to grab a cup of coffee – be sure to bring some highlighters and sticky notes or whatever learning tools you enjoy. It will not be all Long Hollow ladies. It may not all be ladies – I am hoping for maybe teen girls who are up to the challenge to join us – it’s a great study to do with your daughters –  but whatever God has in store I am excited to get into God’s word with you!

Anyone else a Madea fan?

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I don’t know why but I am often drawn to the stories of unnamed people in the bible. People whose stories made the headlines but whose names remain unknown. This morning I came across one of these unnamed in 2 Samuel 20:16. (She may in fact be the inspiration behind Tyler Perry’s Madea character…..)

In this passage David’s army is hunting down Sheba – a Benjamite who has proven he will just be a big problem for Judah. Sheba has taken refuge in Abel and David’s armies have built a siege ramp to take the city.

15 All the troops with Joab came and besieged Sheba in Abel Beth Maakah. They built a siege ramp up to the city, and it stood against the outer fortifications. While they were battering the wall to bring it down, 16 a wise woman called from the city, “Listen! Listen! Tell Joab to come here so I can speak to him.” 17 He went toward her, and she asked, “Are you Joab?”
“I am,” he answered.
She said, “Listen to what your servant has to say.”
“I’m listening,” he said.
18 She continued, “Long ago they used to say, ‘Get your answer at Abel,’ and that settled it. 19 We are the peaceful and faithful in Israel. You are trying to destroy a city that is a mother in Israel. Why do you want to swallow up the Lord’s inheritance?”
20 “Far be it from me!” Joab replied, “Far be it from me to swallow up or destroy! 21 That is not the case. A man named Sheba son of Bikri, from the hill country of Ephraim, has lifted up his hand against the king, against David. Hand over this one man, and I’ll withdraw from the city.”
The woman said to Joab, “His head will be thrown to you from the wall.”
22 Then the woman went to all the people with her wise advice, and they cut off the head of Sheba son of Bikri and threw it to Joab. So he sounded the trumpet, and his men dispersed from the city, each returning to his home. And Joab went back to the king in Jerusalem.

Notice in verse 16 she is called “a wise woman” and again in verse 22 she is noted as having “wise advice.”
Does anyone else just love this account? Here is a powerful man with an army ready to take out an entire city and it’s people to have one man and a woman stands up and says “hellerrr….” in a Madea voice – We will just throw this guys head over the wall and you can spare us.

This tickles me – not only because I really can see a Madea like character cast in this story but because of the times I feel like I have had to throw myself in front of my husband who sometimes gets riled like a moving freight train and seems destined to overkill the challenge. Can I get a witness?