[Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." -Jeremiah 1:5]

"Isn't it reassuring to know that God has a plan for us, just as he did for Jeremiah? Not only does God know the number of hairs on our head (Matthew 10:30), but he also knows the purpose he has for our life and for the people our life will touch.

    Can we imagine a bleaker picture than the opposite-that we are here by random chance and will die and dissolve back into the nothingness from which we came? According to this perspective, the universe has no purpose and no plan; it exists in cold indifference.

    Some physicists predict the universe will perish in one of two ways. Either the density of the universe will not be enough to sustain its expansion, causing it to collapse, or the universe will expand forever, causing all matter (down to the molecular level) to eventually disappear. Both scenarios predict a universe that dies with the same purposelessness with which it was born. In this theory of the universe, a human life has equal purposelessness. If life ends when we die and our soul does not live on, we are truly insignificant.

    However, God offers us something different: life with purpose. One of these purposes is to have a personal relationship with him that honors him and gives him glory (Deuteronomy 14:1-2; Isaiah 43:7,20-21). We can even be assured that the difficult times in life are not without purpose (Romans 8:17, 28).

    Although God's plans for us may not seem as grand as those God created Jeremiah for, God has important plans for our lives, TOO. Everything that happens, from our birth to death, is part of his grand design. We were not born of chance but of intention. Far from meaningless, our lives are instead rich in significance. So, as the Lord told Jeremiah, "Get yourself ready!" (Jeremiah 1:17)."
-Lee Strobel (emphasis added)

[I hope you all had a wonderful, family and friend-filled Thanksgiving. Though we should be thankful 365 days of the year, I do appreciate gathering together for the specific purpose of thanksgiving.]

If my title attracted you, maybe you’re a lot like me. I have always claimed to have an awful memory. Most times, I lived up to this claim! I’m sure many people in my life would gladly share stories with you of my forgetfulness. I’ve accepted this as “who I am” and have willingly used it as an excuse. 
Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right
You’ve heard that one before, but isn’t it true? If you actually take time to study the human brain, we are capable of SO much more than we are currently doing. I’ve learned about this, but it’s so much easier to apply to someone else’s life…certainly not my own!

I mentioned the James Bible study a few weeks ago. In this study, Beth Moore gave 5 levels/challenges for the study. The fifth and most difficult was to memorize the book of James. As she said this, the rapid beat of my heart and the prompting of the Holy Spirit convinced me I needed to do this. You see, two-ish years ago, Duncan and I committed to memorizing the book of James. Let’s just say…we started. We’ve attempted a few more times. But I think I allowed myself to let it slide because of my “bad memory.”

But sometimes, you just get a little fire in you and decide that enough is enough. It’s time to take on the challenge!

Here’s James Chapter 1:

So bare with me...it's definitely not perfect!

Beth Moore has a strategy for memorizing that I tried to follow. She uses an acronym with the word “abide.” AH! I was a little giddy when I saw this part of the challenge, too. If you have “favorite words” like I do, you’ll understand what I mean.

“Abide” resonates deeply with me. I think of John 15. I think of remaining with Christ and walking with Him through whatever life may bring. I think of the Holy Spirit whispering this word to me time and time again. I just love this word. Abide.

…And what better word for memorizing scripture than this one? It’s perfect. 

So here it is: 
A = Ask. Ask God for the ability to memorize and to have His living Word in us. He wants to give it to us. When we memorize, the mind is captive to Christ.
B – Believe. Believe you can do it! In the captivated mind we find a power we never knew was possible. God’s Word is set up for memory work.
I – Increase. Increase the portion you are memorizing each week. When memorizing chapters, you must treat them differently than verses. She recommends printing out one chapter at a time and laminating it. Set goals that work for you. Don’t leave it open-ended, and be willing to extend the goal if you need to. Plan on one chapter per month, several verses per week. The first week you will memorize several verses, then the next week you will review the previous verses while memorizing a few more.
D – Determine. Determine to set a time every day to practice. Practicing requires discipline. She practices while exercising, setting her page in front of her on the treadmill.
E – Enjoy it! Even if you don’t get every single word, the Word is accomplishing something in you. The Word sets us free when our thoughts get caught in the muck.

To you with the bad memory, I hope you find this encouraging. You can change!! Praise God for that!

I stumbled across this blog a couple weeks ago and found some valuable marriage advice. But today, there is a message for everyone. For you! Read her blog and watch the humbling video, and I know you'll be blessed because of it.
From Joy:

"..Sharing brokenness with one another is a gift. 

By showing our brokenness to one another Jesus and His power can more clearly shine through. When we keep it to ourselves, try to clean up our story, our sin, and only show our beauty to one another, that is what they see.

Our beauty. Beauty that is man-made and hollow.

But when we take the brave step of sharing our ugliness, our pain, our broken pieces, then His beauty can shine through, and it is truly beautiful.

He gets the glory of a life redeemed. Not us..."

What goes through your mind as your eyes scan these pictures?

There were many things I wanted to write about today...but I'm just going to keep it simple:
Picture 1: Handwriting & memorizing the entire book of James
Picture 2: Same as picture one with the addition of necessary caffeine ;)
Picture 3: Notes from one of my bible studies

Why am I showing you this? Well, I've been studying the book of James with a group of wise ladies from the church. We started back in September and we're wrapping up next week. So you're thinking, "and...you're point?"

I realized the more I study & learn, the more I become hungry to study & learn!  These pictures may look overwhelming, or it may remind you of homework, but they remind me of my past few months wrestling with God's Word.

It has NOT been easy. Read a few lines from James, and you'll understand what I mean. Many times I've opened the Word feeling a little insecure about my lack of knowledge  & wisdom. 
But, James says, "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt..." As I've been doing this study, I've been learning to ask for wisdom in it, and thanking God in advance, knowing he will give it.

I'm excited to continue studying like this, even when this bible study is over.
 There is so much to learn and God is always ready to fill our lives with His truth, but first we must throw ourselves in it!

I hope you'll open the Word, immerse yourself in it, and see for yourself how God works in your life because of it!