In What Season Does a Soul Thrive?

Nature Bells Grass Summer Green Flowers BlueBy Stacey Kuszak

If I were to attach a season to thriving, it would be easy to choose summer. After all, it’s the season when things are homegrown, the time when people are more apt to slow down and exhale, when everything looks good and tastes good. Yes, it’s easier to thrive in summer than it is in winter.

Or is it?

In what season does a soul thrive?

In the bible, thriving is tied to perseverance. I don’t usually need perseverance in seasons of the soul that feel like summer.

I think a lot about the life of Joseph. Nobody would really look at his life and say he was thriving. It seems to me, that every good thing that happened to Joseph was followed by a heap of bad things. One step forward, ten steps back. Yet when I look at the whole of Joseph’s life, I am stunned by the constancy of God and His work to make every moment of Joseph’s life count.

In what season does a soul thrive?

Joseph thrived in situations where most would fail. His life was molded by pain and hardships. Yet he tells us time and again, “The Lord was with me.” In season and out, Joseph stayed connected to God, whether he was serving in the palace or surviving in the prison.

In my own seasons of perseverance, I’m tempted to strive and hustle my way through. At the first sign of trouble I go looking for God as if He has left me. I search for answers to why life is painful. I think surely this isn’t the story God wants to write.

Joseph didn’t spend much time asking why the series of unfortunate events happened to him. His general response was, “What should I do now?” Joseph was at peace with letting God write his story. The result? Joseph thrived.

In what season does a soul thrive?

If Joseph’s life is a testimony, a soul can thrive in any season if it is connected to God–if God is the one writing the story. Romans 5:3-5 reminds us of this promise:

We also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our heart through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Certainly summer can be good for the soul, but the next time you find yourself in winter, don’t be dismayed. Hold on to the promise that God will use it all. Stay connected to Him and thrive.

5 Ways to THRIVE This Summer

leaf-141494_1920My dream for summer is sunshine, rest, and lazy days (or at least a more relaxed schedule). I crave extra time to connect with family and friends and neighbors, to travel, to invest in the things that matter to me most.

Glory!

But too often my summer dreams fall short of reality. Faced with more free time and the idea that I have all day to get things done . . . I get nothing done. When I release myself from the schedule required in the fall, winter & spring, I also tend to release the habits and routines that help me to thrive.

2 weeks into summer, surely I am not the only one already sliding into this trap?

Maybe summer brings a drastic change in routine for you. Or perhaps you’re a stay-at-home mom with small children, and the only change summer brings is heat. Or you have a job that doesn’t change or flex when summer rolls around.

Whether or not the season changes our weekly routines, we can ask:

How can I thrive this summer?

I’m focusing on 5 things as my prescription for thriving this summer.

#1 Make space, find quiet

During the year, I fight hard for quiet moments with God–time to read God’s Word, time to pray, time to sit and listen and be still. Often there is more time and space in summer, but because I’m not fighting for it, I miss it. For me, the key is to find quiet and space first thing, when possible.

My summers offer the freedom of sleeping in past my normal 6:30AM wake up. But I’ve found life works better for me when I wake up before my day, rather than being woken up into it. I’ll set the alarm for a little later, but I’m still going to set it. And I want the first thing on my list (when possible) to be a date with Jesus and peace and quiet, hopefully on my back porch with my coffee, journal, Bible, and maybe a good book.

#2 Have a plan

One of the best parts of being involved in EquipHer, besides getting to study the Bible with other women, is knowing exactly what I want to do in my time with Jesus. Summers offer more freedom, which I love. But I’ve learned that if I show up to my time in the Bible not knowing what to do . . . I end up not doing anything. So I know I need a plan.

Were there any portions of the EquipHer studies you did this year you were unable to finish, that you could go back and spend more time on? Is there a book of the Bible you’ve been curious about, that you could read through paragraph by paragraph over the summer?

A few things I’ve tried in past summers: Read and pray through the Psalms, a Psalm a day. Read through the book of Proverbs, a chapter (or half chapter) at a time, thinking about wisdom. Choose a gospel to read through over the summer, looking at how Jesus lived and interacted with people (This would mesh nicely with the EquipHer study this summer, covering the gospel of Mark.)

#3 Read good books

Summer is the best reading season, and I’m always on the lookout for great beachy reads and chunky paperbacks I can take with me to the pool or read on a blanket in the front yard while the kids play. But I also try to choose a few non-fiction books to feed my soul, Christian Living, or spiritual memoirs. I’d recommend anything by Ann Voskamp or Shauna Neiquist, and the best book I read this spring was Deidra Riggs’ ONE: Unity in a Divided World. I’m in the middle of Falling Free by Shannan Martin, a beautifully written story blending encouragement and challenge.

#4 Get outside

Winter in Nebraska finds me fantasizing about the summer, freedom to be out in the sun, to feel a warm breeze on my face, to exercise somewhere besides looking at a screen. But it’s easy to let the summer blaze by without taking advantage of any of these things, even though I know how genuinely good they are for my soul. This summer, I want long walks, eating on the back porch, grilling out, enjoying Nebraska’s “Good Life.”

#5 Invite others in

I’ve learned that one of the keys to my own feeling of happiness and fulfillment is connectedness with family, friends, and neighbors. What a delight to move out of the season for pulling straight into our garages and closing our homes up tight, when our main interaction with our neighbors is bundled up waves while scooping snow.

This summer, I want to live with open doors and a full table. Summer offers freedom to make a new friend, deepen an existing friendship, or reconnect with those you rarely see during the year. You don’t have to throw a party every week, but is there someone you’ve wished you could get to know or connect with on a deeper level? Pick up the phone, throw some burgers and dogs on the grill, and forget about the pressure to scrub your house from top to bottom. You’ll be glad you did.

Before we know it, cool breezes will be blowing and the leaves will begin to turn. What are you going to do to thrive this summer?

Find more from Renee at her blog, More Than Eyes Can See.

The Secret of Being Content

Season Summer Green Maple Leaves Leaf Tree

By Sheryl Murray

Thriving . . . quite an appropriate summer blog theme–a time of plants sprouting and reaching for the sky and young animals newly born and developing. That’s how I want my faith to be each day. I really want to be thriving–growing daily and reaching for the Son. But sometimes I find myself striving or just plain barely surviving. My heart’s desire is to be thriving while being content–with my circumstances and with the growth that the Lord is doing in me. What’s the secret?

“I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”      Philippians 4:11

I cannot tell you the number of times I have read and re-read this verse looking for the secret. For years I thought there needed to be a colon, not a period after the word want, i.e., to say, “I’ve learned the secret of being content and here is the secret:” but that isn’t the way it is written. I puzzled over the verse for years until one day it finally hit me–the secret of being content is contained in verses 4-9 above.

 Rejoice! (v. 4) God loves and cares for us. He wants the best for us. His ways bring life. We can trust Him. Express your love for Him with praise.

Do not be anxious. (v. 6) God is sovereign. Nothing takes Him by surprise. Live your life today; He takes care of your tomorrows.

Ask God for what you need, in thanksgiving. (v. 6b) God is our Father. He wants a relationship with us. Although He already knows everything, He wants to hear from us. It is difficult to be discontented with our circumstances while we are thanking our Lord for all that He has provided for us

Think on things which are good and right and true (v. 8)- Focus on Jesus–the way, the truth, the life. Peter could walk on water while he kept his eyes on the Lord but started to sink when he looked around to see the storming wind and waves (Matthew 14:22-33).

Put into practice what you already know (v. 9) Don’t fret over things you don’t understand. Rather, put into practice what you do know about trusting and obeying God. Keep reading His Word which transforms our minds and keeps us in His will.

These are the principles, the “secret,” to being content. You and I need to allow the Holy Spirit to give us the power to follow these principles. And the result? Peace which transcends all understanding (v. 7) and an ability to do all things that the Lord has asked of us (v. 13).

That sounds like thriving to me!

 

 

From Our Titus Class Teachers …

As a ministry, Titus Women is committed to leading women in three areas – training in God’s Word, learning what worship means, discovering the importance of prayer.  So, we’ve designed a class to focus on those areas and put feet to our faith in living them out in the daily moments of life.  3 different teachers will lead us, here’s what they’re saying:

Lisa Bash

I’m a wife and mother and am teaching in the Titus class on Prayer.   To be honest, prayer was a wrestling match for several years of my journey.   I wrestled with God trying to explain to Him why He should give me what I wanted.  The problem with that method is as obvious as looking at the previous sentence.  It was always filled with ‘I’ and ‘me’. 

Then, God gave me a great gift. 

His Spirit began teaching me what His word said about prayer.   He taught me about abiding with Him, and what faith was.   He also put on my heart how important listening and obeying were, and how all of these things work together to make prayer life rich and rewarding.   

The Prayer portion of this class will be talking about how to look upward, inward and outward in prayer in a way that is as unique to you as you are to Jesus!!!

Sara Eyster

My name is Sara Eyster.  Bill and I have been members at LBC since 1993.  We have been married 20 years this month and have a blended family of adult children who have blessed us with 5 grandchildren.  We love spending time with all of them.

Bill and I enjoy teaching and mentoring couples and also consider time with the grandchildren our ministry.  Additionally, I am greatly blessed to be a Titus Women teacher  – blessed by the Word I study and the women who study along with me and encourage me. 

This fall, my subject for 4 weeks of the “Titus” class is “Discipleship”.  What a concept!  To study in order to be more like Jesus.  I am praying that we will do just that.  

Discipleship can seem like a high and lofty goal and I always found it pretty easy to look like someone who lived by the rules, sang in the choir, taught Sunday School and had  my wits together.  It is a little more sobering to actually understand what true discipleship, being like Jesus, really means.  And I have a ways to go yet but I find I can look back over a couple of years and see that I am being transformed.  “Praise God!” 

We will study it mostly in the context of your personal life among those you love the most – your family.  They know you better than anyone else.  You can’t pretend with them. It is where the rubber meets the road.  And believe me, sometimes there is a lot of screeching and smoke.  But take heart ladies, we have help – great powerful help.   

Kathy Bowman

This summer we were blessed with our 18th grandchild!

 I have taught many studies at Berean but never one on Worship.  If you are like me, you have a great desire to worship a holy God. But do we approach Him with the right attitude? 

What does our life, our words, our behavior, our priorities point to as the object of our worship? 

As we study Old and New Testament passages about worship, we will learn what it is to be equipped to move beyond dry rituals and superficial expressions to a lifestyle of authentic worship.

Thrive!

May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope! (Romans 15:13, The Message)

 Green hope is what makes us thrive.  It’s not just for those already living successfully who pump out heaping baskets of fruitfulness.  It’s not for the strong and capable among us.  Green hope is for the empty in need of a fresh filling of joy and peace.  It’s for those who believe with their lives not just their words.

 This is what green hope looks like ….

 

Of all the places for a seed to sprout and take root and grow, why here?  There would never be abundant soil, the rain would quickly flow away from this tree, and the heat off the rocks would always be intense.

 Of all the places for God to water and nourish a seedling, why not here?   It’s roots would dig deep and be tied to a rock, it would be sheltered from harsh weather, and it would always rely on the day-to-day care of the Master Gardener.

 Where has the Master planted you right now?  Are you thriving there?  If you allow Him to tend your heart, invite His care into your life, and trust Him to protect you each day you will brim over with hope.

It’s our desire to lead you into a deeper understanding of God through study in His Word, reflection on His Spirit at work around us, and being part of a community of faithful women who love Jesus and one another.  Thrive and flourish with us at Titus Women this year!