Engaging with Scripture through handwriting

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But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. (2 Peter 3:18 NIV)

I recently read a quote by Shannon Leibold which stated, “Handwriting Scripture…a meaningful way for us to dive deeper into God’s Word. As we imprint God’s truth on the page, the Holy Spirit imprints His truth on our hearts, which leads us to respond in prayer and worship.”

Boy, have I found this to be true! Handwriting portions of God’s Word into a composition book began a journey of absorbing Scripture, unlike anything I had ever experienced. As I continued to embark on the adventure, Scripture began penetrating my life beyond my wildest imagination. Yes, merely inscribing verses word for word.

Although Scripture writing was only a portion of my note booking when I began my visual legacy, words cannot express the restoration in my soul from the modest habit of writing out Scripture. I am sure those who knew what I was doing thought I was nuts! Why would anyone fill pages of a composition book with verses already printed? At the time, I could not explain my why but I knew it was what the LORD was instructing.   

After several months, I noticed a change within me. It was as though a transformation was taking place as each page became adorned with God’s Word in my handwriting. The routine practice of Scripture writing was refining my heart. What I loved most was the way the Holy Spirit began revealing a deeper understanding of God.

Why was this working? How could such an uncomplicated convention pour out remarkable gains? What was it about this section of my notebook that made me crave further knowledge of God? 

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12 NIV)

Get ready-give me the grace to be honest-it wasn’t until a stopped the practice that the answers came. Hindsight on steroids might I add. When another life tsunami hit, the benefits of Scripture writing became very evident. Let me share four gains I found with you.

1. Visual intentionality. Have you ever had good intentions but? – well you understand. When engaged in church, bible study, small group, or personal Scripture reading, I always “intend” to revisit a verse capturing my attention. You know the Scripture where you felt a nudge from the Holy Spirit. However, my follow-through usually fell limp as a noodle.

“Copy-writing” gave me the outlet to carry out those intended plans and illustrate my purposeful actions. It was a way to get beyond the distractions of life and press inward to God. I had a plan of action I could maintain after being in the Word. Simply copying an “attention verse” opened the door to engaging with the Bible on a new level. It brought the gift of meditation.

2. Focused concentration. Diversions-interruptions-distractions: call them what you wish. I refer to them as squirrels. Truth is when it comes to absorbing Scripture, they are mental strategies directly from the enemy. My wandering mind always wants to know God more as it drifts to the next distraction. Would you agree?

Penning Scripture centers my attention. I can slay those pesky disruptions when concentrating word from word. My focused attentiveness gives way to the time needed to ponder the message of Scripture. It is exactly what I need to reflect on God’s Word and find Him on a more profound level. Handwriting verses gave me a red light from the world and a green light to a deeper relationship with the father.

3. Improved knowledge. Read it, write it, read it again. There is something to this I promise! We all have methods of comprehension and preservation. God created us all with unique methods yet what better way for everyone than copying text.

Why? First, writing verses brings to life details and words we might otherwise miss. It decelerates the speed at which we read and allows us to absorb the meaning. Next, it opens the door to remembering because the text is being digested at a rate which can sanction retention. The mind begins to place itself in the words. Therefore, the Holy Spirit is able to reveal a greater awareness of who God is and an understanding of the Bible.

4. Applied faith. For a good part of my spiritual journey, I struggled with the application aspect. You know the area where the rubber meets the road in your faith and it is up to you to apply Scripture to life circumstances. Basically, it is placing yourself in the text, clinging to the promises, obeying the commands, and growing in faith by relying solely on the attributes of God.

Writing out Scripture allowed me the time to mentally place myself into God’s Word. It imparted time to sit still and allow the Holy Spirit to convey a direct message for me. I began seeing myself in the words of the Lord and realizing how I could carry out this beautiful life manual offered. The wisdom from the father was shaping me and molding my prayers. I began releasing the reigns of my dash on earth and started infusing His truth into my life.

 I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me. (Proverbs 8:17 NIV)

Yes, this all came from simply slowing down and concentrating on the text word by word. The reward of handwriting Scripture gave way to a deeper understanding and personalized faith I needed and desired. I began to know God on a more intimate level and our relationship remarkably heightened.  

I went beyond typography and discovered a way to grow in my spiritual journey. Each handwritten verse became a present received from the ultimate giver of life. As I scribe His Words, a sense of gratitude always shows up and I cannot help but thank Him for Scripture.  

“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Jeremiah 31:33-34 NIV)

So, I now have a composition book solely devoted to handwriting Scripture. It has proven be a means to focus in on those highlighted verses and allow the Holy Spirit to articulate precise instructions from God. Letter by letter the formation of the Lord’s Words onto the lines have not only saturated the blank pages but have inundated my heart, mind, and soul in such a way I cannot help but share with YOU!

In 2022, the Refining ministry will be hosting Bible studies, workshops, and retreats to walk alongside you as we embark on handwriting Scripture together. There are many creative ways we have to aid you in capturing a visual legacy and infusing God’s Word into your life. It is astonishing how this simple task can intensify your relationship with the LORD. We cannot wait to share this with you.

We are super excited for the days ahead and the time together with each of you. See you soon!!!!

More information will follow in the New Year.

MERRY CHRISTMAS

Painting by Jesus Lugo
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6 NIV)

Merry Christmas friends! What a glorious time to reflect on the beautiful gift of eternal life given to us through the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

I encourage you to schedule intentional reflection time within the next few days and simply thank the LORD for His glorious love. As I began my scheduling, one question kept coming to mind, “Where would I be without this gift?” That statement really humbled my heart and encouraged me to carve out a special time with our Heavenly father over the next week. I hope it inspires you as well.

Refining Leader: Robin and her husband, Edward

Count down to 2022 is upon us! What is your vision for your spiritual journey in the year ahead? Now is the perfect time to ponder the new year growth steps for you. It is so important to be purposeful and deliberate when wanting to mature in Christ. What are your aspirations? What are God’s goals for you? What are some actions and commitments that it will require in 2022?

Refining Leader: Mandi and her spouse, Lee

As you begin thinking about the next steps in your spiritual growth, we want to help you discover practical and authentic ways to deepen your relationship with God. Here are a few of our commitments to you in 2022:

  1. We will continue offering discussion study sessions over books of the Bible because we are committed to deepening the knowledge of the LORD with you.
  2. You direct our serving ministry! Thank you for your encouragement to invest in a social media format to better serve you. Your following on Facebook and this blog is appreciated.
  3. We realize everyone may not be in a season to attend our online Bible studies, and that’s ok! Therefore, we plan to offer other avenues. Just like you, we are pondering, praying, and planning for 2022.
  4. SO, let me be the first to let you in on part of our plans…(drum roll please)…Refining is thrilled to introduce a “Notable Faith” focus AND our BIG kick-off will begin with a Note Booking RETREAT!

We are inviting you to participate April 21-23 for a getaway in Glen Rose, TX. This intentional time will be extremely laid-back. I promise this is less compact than any other retreat we have held. The setting alone will be a chance to get away, enjoy nature, and carry out some growth intentionality.

If you love Bible journaling, scrapbooking, visual art, or simply want to leave an illustrated legacy of a life in relationship with GOD this is the retreat for you. Listen, you don’t have to be crafty at all! We will share very practical steps, tips, and tricks to creating an illustration of “Notable Faith” from your Scripture intake.

Be on the lookout for more information soon!!!

Refining Founder: Genna (that’s me!), husband Shawn, and son Ryan
My other twin son, Kyle, his wife Shayla, and our adorable grandchildren: Jude & Sydney

Until then-MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Much love,

The Refining Ministry

Joy found in a Savior

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Have you ever been the recipient of a random act of kindness? You know the type of thing that happens out of the ordinary for no reason. Maybe someone left you flowers, a cupcake, and a devotional on your porch which you while away. What a wonderful display of tenderness and unselfish love. We might go as far as to call it “counter cultural”.

Jesus’ life is a perfect example of someone who did the unexpected. He loved the unlovable, accepted the rejects, forgave sinners, and the list continues.

Derwin Gray refers to the Messiah as “the counter-cultural king” who brought “a holy disruption.” Jesus was our perfect example to go beyond all worldly barriers and extend hope, peace, and love and in doing so we would experience pure joy of the LORD!

Paul wanted the world to fully know the Joy found in Jesus. He spoke directly to the Philippians and clearly stated ways to adjust one’s state of mind. We find this in the reading of Philippians 4:4-9:

Rejoice in the LORD always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The LORD is near, Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Paul knew the joy that would come from living counter-culturally. He also knew the sacrifice it would take and the worldly consequences that would come. Yet, if Paul were among us today, I think he would bear witness to the extreme happiness within a believer when carrying out the father’s will.

Scripture reminds us in Romans 15:13 that we cannot produce joy that comes from God. He alone fills us with unexplainable joy-the kind of happiness that cannot be shaken by circumstances or the horrific events of this world.

In John 16:22, we read about the lasting joy given by God. Scripture promises us that no one can take away this special joy.

I have heard it said like this: “Jesus’s love brings peace even in difficult circumstances, contentment regardless of comfort, and joy in our eternal hope.” WOW! What a powerful statement very applicable to Advent.

This 3rd week of Advent, as we light the Joy candle, may we take time to reflect on the happiness from the birth of Jesus. May we remember-we don’t have to despair in our present world-WHY? – because Christ will come again. AMEN!

Heavenly Father,

This third week of Advent, let our hearts be flooded with your Joy and let us be overwhelmed with rejoicing. We are so grateful for the abundant joy you offer through the gift of Jesus, our Savior and Lord.

May we always remember our joy doesn’t come from this world and it is a gift from you-a present that first Christmas to the world to extend a counter culturally love beyond our imaginations. Help us extend Your joy to those around us.

In Your precious name we pray. Amen

May you be encouraged to focus on the Joy of the Lord and carry out Philippians 4:8:

“Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy—dwell on these things.”

Peace found in a Savior

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Has there ever been a time in life where you lacked peace?

This past week has been a whirlwind-some over the top experiences, amazing memories, stressful busyness, and one big jab to the heart. As things have settled a bit, I realized the unexpected news and what the future holds did not give me peace of mind. There is no doubt I left God’s peace out of the equation. I dare to say you might have been in my shoes a time or two yourself where your life lacked peace.

Somewhere this week I ran across a short analogy that hit home. It simply stated: “During the rush of angry weather, a bird sat on her nest with peace.” (Clearly that wasn’t me this week!) The story went on to define peace as truly having a calmness of heart amid the stressful chaos and trouble. What really caught my attention was the fact that peace was described as a state of mind, not a state of surroundings. This really went against my thinking: peace means to be in a place where there is no noise or trouble-NOT! Why would I need peace if there wasn’t a need for it?

If real peace is a state of mind, not the state of the surroundings, how can it be obtained? Listen, there was no way I could have produced the peace I needed a couple of days ago. However, my mindset was different when I settled down and called on the Holy Spirit’s power living within me. There is no doubt the peace and hope I received were a precious gift from the Father. A complete comfort washed over me when I stopped, focused, and relied on the LORD.  

In John 15:13 we read, “No one has greater love than this: to lay down his life for his friends.” What peace comes when you know someone has your back, especially God. He is always with us, even when chaos is all around.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

There is music in these words, spoken by Jesus in John 14. 

I realized this week that I must practice the peace of God. I have to condition my mind to live in the father’s peace. It is essential for me to claim God’s peace within my body and practice what I preach: getting the body into a quiet state and breathing in the peace of God and exhaling the tension. 

As you walk through the second week of Advent, I encourage you to allow the Almighty God to touch the depths of your soul with His peace. Ask Him to fully disclose the meaning of what He said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Please know His presence alone can deliver peace over any issues in your life. May He empower you with His peace and fill you to overflowing.

WHAT CAN WE PROVIDE FOR YOU IN 2022?

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The Refining Ministry knows the importance community plays in a spiritual journey. Our mission is to encourage others to strengthen their Christian relationships, especially with God. We know the gift of fellowship reveals the need for one another and highlights the wisdom we gather from others.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 1:24-25 NIV)

Taking this Scripture to heart, the Refining Ministry strives to provide various studies, workshops, and retreats online and face-to-face. Also, we aim to offer intimate settings where participants can gather, build community, walk alongside one another, pray together, and share life experiences.

We are devoted to building community, online and face-to-face, with women just like you. You are family to us. We love the beauty in community and the diversity it brings to a spiritual journey.

Because of this, we want to refine our methods to inspire, equip, and encourage you. So, we would like your input regarding 2022.

We want to hear from you. Please leave a comment below letting us know what you would like the Refining Ministry to offer you in the upcoming year.

Don’t be shy-let us hear your thoughts.

(you can leave a message via Facebook or email us at refiningministry@gmail.com)

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