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Life with Aunt Bubba

Words of Wisdom, Faith and Friendship

Skinny Place #3 – the Bible

When I was a little girl, my Grandma Libby gave me a pink Precious Moments Bible that I still have to this day. Today, I probably have five or more Bibles that I’ve either purchased or received as gifts, most of them in different translations.

November 2013 is really when my faith journey hit the fast track, as that was the night I was baptized surrounded by family and friends. Over the last three years, my faith and commitment to God and myself have definitely been tested, but there is one thing that consistently gets me through the hard times — the Bible.

Every morning, literally before my feet even hit the floor, I start my day with scripture, thanks to K-LOVE’s Encouraging Word of the Day. After getting ready for my day, I sit down at the table in the dining room, or my desk like today, and dive in deeper to God’s word.

Before I became a Christian, anytime someone mentioned God or the Bible to me, I tuned them/it out.

“Why should I listen to God or trust Him?” I would often ask myself or others. “I have been hurt by every man in my life! How is God going to be different?”

I was scared.

I was vulnerable.

I didn’t want to get hurt again.

Now, the more I dive into God’s word, the stronger my relationship with Him becomes. The stronger I became. The more trusting I became. The less worry I tend to have. I’m constantly reminding myself of God’s word from Jeremiah 29:11:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

But what are you supposed to do when these plans don’t go the way you wanted them to go?

Recently, a friend of mine suffered a tremendous heartbreak. She’s hurt, she’s confused, but she’s also questioning God and wondering why He would put her through something like this.

“Girlfriend, I have been in your shoes, more than once, and it stinks.”

It’s not pretty when the ugly cries start, and especially when the ice cream runs out, but now that I have a foundational relationship with God, I know He has my back and is going to take care of me. He told me so in Proverbs 3:5-6:

“Trust in Me with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Me, and I will make your paths straight.”

Friends, as you prepare your hearts and your minds for your faith journey, I encourage you to open up your Bible and look for your skinny place with God. He has your back, too, and if anything, may His word be a lamp for your feet and a light on your path.

Aunt Bubba

 

Skinny Place #2 – Journaling

My first diary was green plastic with a small lock to keep my secrets a secret. It had Holstein cows wearing sunglasses. I thought it was THE coolest diary in the world. I bet if I look in a few boxes in my basement, I could find it.

Writing has always been something I enjoyed, so naturally, when I began my faith journey nearly five years ago, journaling was something I wanted to make sure I made part of my routine.

Every morning, I open up Jesus Calling and Jesus Always, two devotionals by Sarah Young, my Bible and a journal. I’m always excited to see what piece of scripture will stand out to me the most, then I journal about is using the SOAP. method.

devotional

For you men reading this, maybe you’re thinking, “journaling isn’t really my thing.”

I hear you.

Would it help if I told you I know a man who considers journaling one of his “skinny places,” too?

My friend Sam keeps a journal like me.

I knew he was a cool dude!

For Sam, he always wanted to keep a journal, but it always seemed to fail for one reason or another. Here’s more from Sam about keeping a journal:

 “Late last year, I was moved by the Holy Spirit to begin reading the New Testament from beginning to end and write my thoughts during that exploration.  I realized that I knew all the stories we go over during worship, but never knew the writings that occurred between these verses and how they impacted our understanding of the Word of God.  At first, I thought this little exercise was simply to take notes, but I quickly realized it was more than that.  This may seem weird or cliché, but I actually felt the Holy Spirit flowing from my body, through my hand, into the pen, and onto the page.

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Photo by Sam Giroux.
Before even opening anything, I take a few minutes to pray. I pray for forgiveness, I pray for those on my personal prayer list, I give thanks for the gifts God has provided to me, and I pray for wisdom to read the bible with an open mind and spirit… to read what God wants me to read.  There are also times I just sit in silence and listen, sometimes God is speaking to us and we do not even know it since we are too busy talking.  When I have finished my prayer, I begin my study.

I have learned to be patient and read only a little bit at a time so that I can fully focus on what is being written. Sometimes this is only a few verses and sometimes this is a few chapters…I wait for God’s inspiration to help guide my journey.  I jot down verses that stand out to me, I write down explanations of these verses as needed (even taking the time to look up online commentaries if needed), and then I end with my “Thoughts” on what I have just read…how does it make me feel, what could it all mean, how does it affect how I live my life?  Sometimes I am writing to myself and sometimes I am writing to an anonymous audience.  This is when I let the Spirit flow.  When you do this, it is amazing what comes out.”

Like Sam, I start my day with scripture often before I get out of bed (I read K-LOVE’s Encouraging Word of the Day and go from there) and often get up an hour before I probably need to in order to have plenty of time to write.

After I start the coffee pot, I head to the dining room table to prepare my heart and head for what I’m about to read. I’m always so hopeful that the Lord will “speak” to me. I recite Psalm 143:8-9 as my opening prayer:

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you, I entrust my life. Rescue me from my enemies, Lord, for I hide myself in you. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.”

If you’ve been thinking of a different way to connect to God, try journaling. Like Sam, you might be surprised what the Lord reveals to you.

I want to give Sam a big THANK YOU for sharing his journaling experience with me and with you. I hope to share more from Sam soon!

Blessings,

Aunt Bubba

About Sam: Sam Giroux lives in Boonville, MO with his lovely wife of almost 14 years and two adorable daughters. He’s a member of the Nelson Memorial United Methodist Church. Sam is currently reading Every Man’s Bible, New Living Translation, but he also consults the New International Version and the King James Version when discerning important verses.  His favorite verses include Luke 18:14 and Acts 20:24, and he enjoys long walks on the beach. Just kidding…I added that final part. 🙂

Skinny Place #1 – Music

Music has been a part of my life since the day I was born, in one way or another.

My late grandmother was a piano student at Julliard. My mother played the piano. I played the trumpet in the fourth grade, sang in the honor’s choir in fifth grade and even had a solo or two in the sixth grade. When the right song comes on the radio in the morning, you might see my daughter and I jammin’ at a stop light on the way to school.

Music makes my soul sing. 

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about five different ways to listen for God. Music is one of the ways I hear God “speak to me”. There’s something about listening to Christian music that makes me feel closely connected to God.

Growing up in the Methodist church, I was used to singing straight of a hymnal on Sunday mornings. Some of my favorite songs are from a hymnal, but my church, Woodcrest Chapel, introduced me to a different kind of music several years ago — contemporary Christian music!  Being able to rock out and praise God is something I never thought I would do. Most of the songs and artists I listen to are inspired by scripture, which is added to their songs, so it’s almost like I’m reading the Bible and singing at the same time!

If you’re looking for a new way to get close to God, try music.

Some of my favorite songs include:

  • Only Your Love – Kari Jobe
  • Praise You In This Storm – Casting Crowns
  • Everything Glorious – David Crowder Band
  • Give Me Faith – Elevation Worship
  • I Will Look Up – Elevation Worship
  • Oceans – Hillsong UNITED
  • One Thing Remains – Jeff Johnson (this is the song that helped me make the decision to get baptized)
  • Let Them See You — JJ Weeks Band
  • You Are Everything – Matthew West
  • New Lease on Life – MercyMe
  • I Can Only Imagine – MercyMe
  • Your Love Never Fails – Shane & Shane
  • Awaken My Soul – Robbie Seay Band
  • Soul on Fire – Third Day (as seen in ‘Miracles from Heaven’)
  • Nothing is Impossible – Planetshakers
  • Soar – Meredith Andrews

I could go on and on, but I’m pretty sure you’re already bored.

Bottom line, if you don’t like to read the Bible, journal or maybe talk to someone about God just yet, try a different skinny place — music. Turn on K-LOVE or watch one of the videos linked above. You’ll thank me later. You’re welcome.

Happy singing!

Aunt Bubba

5 Ways to Listen for God

“God doesn’t ‘speak’ to me the same way He ‘speaks ‘to you. I keep thinking I will hear Him clearly tell guide me one way or another.”

When my friend made this statement to me the other day, it pulled at my heartstrings, but I’ve had those same thoughts myself. About five years ago, I felt the same way he did.

I was confused. I felt lost, and maybe a little forgotten. I was looking for some clear direction from God and didn’t feel like I wasn’t getting any.

I remember wanting the same relationship with God that my friend Amy had.

“Why doesn’t God ‘speak’ to me the same way He ‘speaks’ to Amy? Am I not good enough? Did I mess up too much?”

I think I felt because Amy was a “better Christian” than me, she had “an in” with the Big Guy.

“She’s been a Christian longer, so of course God would ‘speak’ to her before He spoke to me.”

Those were the things I was thinking. Five years later, I would finally understand that God “speaks” to us all differently.

In order for God to ‘speak’ to you, I believe it’s important for each of us to identify a skinny place.

Before you go getting all angry with me, I’m not trying to tell you that you need to lose weight (put down the carton of ice cream already).

A skinny place is defined as “a place where Heaven and Earth meet so closely together, that you felt God’s presence and a sense of peace and awe. It’s a place where God is active and present.” — Piet Van Waarde

This is the definition that the former Senior Pastor at my church, Woodcrest Chapel, shared with the congregation in October 2016. This series opened to my eyes to the many ways people could connect to God and ‘hear’ from Him. After the conversation I had with my friend, I thought it was time to dig out my notes and help someone else find their skinny place.

Over the next few entries, we will dive into a couple of the skinny places Piet discussed, as well as a couple of mine own, including:

  1. The Bible
  2. Nature
  3. Conversations
  4. Music
  5. Journaling

By the end of this series, I hope you have found your skinny place and God is finally “speaking” to you, too.

Love,
Aunt Bubba

 

When to Panic, When to be Patient

When the water company calls you and tells you there is water spewing from the meter at your house, that’s never a good thing.

A couple of days ago, around 11:30 a.m., I received a phone call from my water company that went a little something like this:

Nice lady at the water company: “Ms. Cowgill, this is “Angela” from your water company. Someone was walking by your house and noticed water shooting from your meter, so one of our guys went over there and shut the water off. When you get home, you won’t have any water.”

Me: “Umm…OH MY GOSH! Any idea what happened?”

Nice lady at the water company: “We don’t. All we know is that it’s on the house side.”

In my mind I’m thinking, my ENTIRE house is flooded, precious family memorabilia and EVERYTHING in my basement is floating in water and TOTALLY RUINED!

Me: “Ok. Thank you so much for the phone call. I’m headed home right now.”

Panic sets in.

I pack up my stuff, tell my boss I may or may not be back today and proceed to leave the office.

I’m not usually the one to panic. I’m usually the one that says “We won’t worry about it until we absolutely have to. It’s all going to be fine.”

Yeah well, not that day!

On my way home, I call the property management company and tell them I may or may not have a water/plumbing emergency, but I’m on my way home to figure out what the heck is going on! I also may or may not have broken the law once or twice on my drive home. I’ll let you jump to your own conclusions on that.

I arrive home, prepared to have a full-fledged meltdown.

Cautiously, I enter my home and begin checking every sink, faucet and pipe upstairs. As I open up my basement door, I expect to see things floating in a pool of water, but guess what — THE BASEMENT IS DRY!! THANK YOU, JESUS!!

So what the heck is the problem then? The lady on the phone said it was on the ‘house side.’

You men reading this know exactly what she meant.

There’s a pipe burst in the ground somewhere on the side of the water line that isn’t the water company’s responsibility.

Ah…I didn’t think about that!

I call the property management company back and tell them to call off the National Guard because the leak isn’t inside my actual home.

Long story short, I ended up having to spend one night with my wonderful momma and one night showering at the gym because I was determined to live off of 12 gallons (4-4 gallon jugs) of water just so I could flush toilets, wash my hands, brush my teeth and make coffee in my own home.

After two days of not having water, the problem is fixed. I’ve never been more grateful to NOT own this home. I can’t imagine what kind of bill that would have been today, especially when he started digging for a second time. I’m grateful for the homeowner who can take care of this!

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Never a good sign when he starts digging an even bigger hole.

Patience is a virtue.

I’m a very patient person. Sometimes, too patient. Some people might get super upset and demand the problem get fixed IMMEDIATELY.

My attitude about this?

This situation was out of my control, and b*tching and moaning isn’t going to make something get done any faster in my mind. That’s not the most Christian way to handle something either.

If something like this were ever to happen to you, here is some advice from two friends:

“When life gives you lemons…”

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“When life gets you down, you know what you gotta do?”

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Photo from http://www.lovethispic.com

My point is, when there are situations beyond your control — chill. Be grateful for things that you do have versus the things that you don’t.

For me, I’m grateful I have a momma that lives close enough and who loves me enough to let me spend the night with her. I’m also grateful that I had heat, even when I didn’t have water. I survived just fine.

Blessings to you!

Aunt Bubba

P.S. Don’t judge me. That’s His job. 🙂

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Crisis Time: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Students spent the night at school.

Hundreds of cars flipped upside down or in ditches.

Hours upon hours to drive a few miles.

Yesterday, mid-Missouri got hit with a little ice storm. It took me nearly four hours to drive a total of 17 miles (work to school to retrieve my child, then school to home).

It was INSANE! I’ve never seen anything like this in Columbia before.

It’s times like this that bring out the best in people, or the absolute worst in people.

THE GOOD

  • Teachers and administrators stayed at schools for HOURS to keep kids calm and safe while they waited on busses or parents to arrive in order to get kids home. Some people even opened up their homes for students who couldn’t get home and gave them a safe place to spend the night.
  • A man who lives in the neighborhood across the road from me spent a lot of time salting a very steep hill so other people could get home to their loved ones. Many people had to leave their cars parked on the road (or in my driveway) and hike up an icy hill just to get home.
  • People praying for the safety of the road crew and emergency service personnel who risked their lives trying to serve their community.

THE BAD

  • The horribly impatient and rude drivers who did nothing to help the situation by insulting people who were trying to do their jobs.
  • The man who simply sat in his truck and watched the other man salt a hill, never once offering to help.
  • The people who assumed parents didn’t realize their kids weren’t home from school yet, or who couldn’t get to their children. Maybe they couldn’t? Maybe they were trying their best?
  • Possibly me, for even writing about the bad. 🙂

Yes, the City messed up. Yes, the school administrators probably should have called off school earlier or canceled it altogether, but give a little grace, people. These are tough decisions to make.

THE UGLY

  • More inclement weather is coming.
  • The temp is supposed to get down “bitter cold,” per the local news stations.
  • Did I mention a -15° wind chill?
  • BRR!

The Missouri Department of Transportation has been urging drivers all morning to avoid the roads. They are still icy. If you don’t need to get out, DON’T!  Not only are you risking your life, but you’re also risking the lives of the people in your community.

Sometimes, the worst situations bring out the very best in people.

Get on Santa’s nice list. If you find yourself in a position to help someone out, do it. You’ll be glad you did.

Aunt Bubba

 

 

“Seeing isn’t Believing, Believing is Seeing”

I love Christmas!

Some of my favorite things about Christmas include the songs, the nativity scenes, giving to those in need, and extended opportunities to spend time with family and friends.

The older I get, the more I try to focus on the real reason for the season and not so much the commercialized reason. It’s hard to convince some people of this though, especially when a lot of folks don’t have a growing relationship with Christ like I do. Now, I don’t have birthday party for Jesus or anything like that (maybe I should), but I love everything about this time of year.

Some people have a stronger belief in Santa than they do of Jesus. I’m not necessarily saying that you can’t believe in Santa (I’m 37 years old and still believe in the spirit of him), but if it’s so easy to believe in ‘ole St. Nick, why can’t you believe in Jesus, too?

They do have several things in common, for example:

  • They both have beards, one much whiter than the other.
  • They both were carpenters, one for toys.
  • They both show up unexpectedly. You never knew when Santa would show up, so your parents made you go to bed early on Christmas Eve.
  • They both know everything about you. Jesus knew us before we were born. Santa knows who is naughty or nice.
  • They command you to listen to your parents.
  • They both give gifts.

With that being said, what could the belief in Santa Clause possibly have in common with the belief, or lack thereof, in Jesus Christ? santa

“Just because you can’t see something, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.”

I love this quote from the movie The Santa Clause, and I found myself thinking of this movie, and my reason for comparing Jesus and Santa, when I read 1 Peter 1: 8-9, in my devotional this morning. It reads:

“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

We keep the spirit of Santa alive in our children’s hearts by giving them hope that he really does exist. We can’t see him, but we love him. Heck, even as an adult, I know he doesn’t really exist, but the inexpressible joy I feel when I think about all the Christmas mornings I woke up as a kid elated with “gifts from Santa,” it makes me smile to this day.

This is the same for my hope and joy that Jesus Christ gives to me. Just because I can’t see Him, I love Him, and I know that He is there for me. The hope I have in Him restores my faith in Him, my belief in Him, and I rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory.

This Christmas season, as you’re preparing your plans, I encourage you to consider putting Christ back into Christmas. It’s ok to celebrate with stockings and gifts, but don’t go overboard. Jesus really is the reason for the season.

Peace and blessing to you and yours,

Aunt Bubba

 

NEW Advice Column Starting Up

“Dear Aunt Bubba…I need some advice.”

Many times, friends and family ask me for advice. I think I’m a great advice giver, which is probably why people come to me when they need someone to talk to. I’m also a good listener and feel as though people can trust me to keep certain information confidential. I am good about being sensitive to certain things, but I also call it like it sometimes.

Enter Dear Aunt Bubba, my new advice column! If you or someone you know needs some advice, email me at dearauntbubba@gmail.com. I’m happy to help in any way I can!

If I feel our little Q&A session can help others, I’ll post it on the blog (don’t worry, all identifying information will stay confidential on the blog to protect all parties involved).

Aunt Bubba

“Let us love one another.”

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit.”

The above scripture is from 1 John 4:7-13 (NIV). It is the scripture that stood out to me the most while reading my devotional and Bible this morning. While it should make me think about all the blessings in my life, it makes me think of all the horrible things going on in our world—the hate, the crime and all the people who could really use a whole lot of Jesus.

God is love.

God loves us.

We ought to love one another.

Today marks the first Sunday of Advent in the United States. While this traditionally marks the start of the Christian year, many of us use it to start the Christmas season in preparation for the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. As you prepare your holiday plans and pocket books this season, I’m challenging you to prepare your hearts for a season of love.

Love God. Love one another. As Ellen DeGeneres says, “be kind to each other.” Approach each day and each person in love. You never know what the other person is going through.

Peace and blessings to you this Christmas season!

Aunt Bubba

Photo from Picture Quotes.

 

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