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Friday, May 22, 2015

VarieTEA

Va*ri*e*tea  \və-ˈrī-ə-tē\ n-  the quality or state of having or including many different variations best appreciated with a cup of spiced chai.





        My good friend and fellow writer, Nancy Swihart, has had a variety of farm animals through the years. Her favorite were her sheep. Her home displays her collection of sheep; sweet reminders of the creatures she once cared for. She also serves me chia on Fridays as we meet to encourage each other in our pursuit of word crafting. This scrumptious brew of tea, spices, and milk gives my routine of Earl Grey a little variety.

              Where as Nancy collects sheep, I collect collections. My Dad, a career Navy man, sent me gifts from all over the world. These tokens of affection resulted in my many collections. In elementary school I began collecting dolls and glass animals. As a preteen I added candles and piggy banks (many were not pigs) to the mix.  Frogs, fairies, tea pots, and tea strainers have joined my collections in adulthood. Endless variations on a theme intrigue me.



some of Nancy's sheep

        Apparently God delights in variety as well. Consider how many colors appeared when He said, “Let there be light.” With each creative word He spoke seemingly endless varieties of plants and creatures were formed. Then He made man in His image; male and female, alike but varied. No two human beings are exactly the same. Like snowflakes we possess a uniqueness all our own. Each individual, like a single facet of a diamond, adds sparkle to God’s infinite image. The Lord is a God of infinite variety.



        I love to hear how people come to faith. The same Gospel saves us. Yet our stories are not the same. As most mothers will attest each labor and delivery varies, so our Heavenly Father births us each into His kingdom in different ways. All come through the cross but we each arrived via different paths. Once born again we become His body; a variety of members gifted in a variety of functions.

        So why do I fall into dull routines of seeking this God of infinite variety? His mercies are new every morning so shouldn't my pursuit of Him be renewed as well? These questions provoked my thinking through the years and set me on a course of another collection. 

Here are a variety of ways I've been blessed to use in my pursuit of God:
Prayer;

  1. walking
  2. kneeling
  3. standing
  4. eyes wide open
  5. flat on your face
  6. extended thanksgiving with no intercession
  7. extended praise with no intercession 
  8. intercede  all the way through my churches directory a page a day.  Praying very specifically for people.
  9. interceding for my city, state, and federal leaders
  10. walk through my neighborhood praying for each household I pass
  11. cry out in an honest lament when my heart is heavy 
Praise;

  1. Go through the alphabet reciting attributes of God
  2. Sing from a hymnal or along with youtube
  3. Dance as I sing
  4. Write a poem or anthem declaring His greatness
  5. Recite and contemplate His names and their meaning 
Bible;
  1. Approach my reading conversationally; begin by asking God to speak. Then as the Holy Spirit convicts of sin, confess. If I don't understand I ask Him to explain and study to find His answers. If He impresses me with a task to do make a plan to do it.  I interact with Him as I read because His Word is alive!
  2. Read for mastery; a micro approach. Read an epistle as a letter, in one sitting. Then continue doing it day after day until I've read it 40 times. Sum up the theme in one word discover the natural outline of the book.
  3. Read the Bible chronologically; a macro approach. This discipline reveals the unity of the books of the Bible. I discovered the Bible, though many books, tells one grand story, HIS story of redemption! 
  4. Spend a year in Proverbs reading one a day to gain a heart of wisdom.
  5. Read through the Bible in a year mixing both Old and New Testament passages.
  6. Speed read the Bible through twice in a year.
  7. Reflective reading (great way for the very busy person to slow down and be with Jesus); pick one short account of Jesus from the gospels and approach it several ways through the week. Example; day 1 read to understand, get cultural insights. Day 2 put myself in the story. Consider how it may have looked, what do I see, hear, smell, taste. Day 3 breath prayer, after reading in one breath respond to God. Day 4 meditate after reading intentionally retell myself the story throughout the day. Day 5 apply it to my life, think of something intentional I can do in light of what I'm learning. Day 6 journal write down my responses and understanding of what I see Jesus do. Day 7 repeat one of the practices I enjoyed most. Pick a new account each week. Try it for a year!
(My dear friend, Nancy, you can visit her at http://www.nancyswihart.com/)

"The only wrong way to worship is the way we always do it." (Unknown). Let's grow in our understanding of God's infinite variety by letting Him pour into our lives in a varie~tea of ways.

What are some ways you've added variety to your time with the Father? Which of the variations I shared seemed most interesting to you?

Dear Father, You Who made all things fresh and new, please, revitalize our lives in a variety of ways. Help us appreciate fellowship with you in new ways that we may grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. Amen

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