Amy Scott's Thoughts

Sharing the thoughts that bounce around in my brain!

Thankful August 9, 2014

Filed under: Children's Ministry,One Thousand Gifts Challenge — Amy Scott @ 9:39 pm

I used to be the thankful guru. After reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp and starting my own gratitude journal, I was sold on thankfulness being the key to joyfulness. It was a very eye opening season for me and one that I hope to not forget. So, in the spirit of remembrance, I’ve trying to recapture the flame of thankfulness in my life. It started with a short Bible reading plan that focused on thankfulness and I’ve moved on to re-watching the One Thousand Gifts DVD study. I’ve been viewing my week in light of thankfulness and here are a few thoughts that I’ve been pondering.

It’s been a good week. One for the record books – in big and small ways. This last week we had Family VBA at our church. For four nights families came together to talk about God, pray together and have a lot of fun. It’s a great opportunity for parents to lead their children in matters of faith. I truly love the format we use and it’s been such a joy to watch the fruit of this ministry. On top of a great week at church, we also dinners offered before the evening event started so I didn’t have to make dinner all week long. That’s a true blessing!

This week my father had surgery to help correct a condition that has been bothering his heart. His surgery went textbook and I got to visit him shortly after he got out. He had great color and seemed in good spirits. Dad was released from the hospital with a good report and has jumped back into his everyday life. I’m so thankful! God has been good and I’m excited to see my father’s health improve.

I’ve gotten to spend time with my hubby and Owen this week and time with some out-of-town family. I’ve gone shopping and purchased some much needed items (and somethings just for fun). Things are good. Really good. However… discontentment finds a way to slip in. In so many small ways, I found myself being derailed this week. It’s so easy to complain, even if it’s just in my mind. It’s amazing how easy it is to grumble. There is always a tension between thankfulness and discontentment. I unintentionally look at my life and say yes, it’s good, but here are all the ways it could be better.

When I found myself being thrown off track this week, I started my own mental gratitude journal. It’s a mental list I go over as a reminder of how good things really are it. This list helps to right my train of thought. It usually goes like this:

I have a roof over my head. I have food in my pantry. I have clothes on my back and in my closet. I have warm blankets on my bed. I have a husband and son that I love and who love me. We are all relatively healthy. We have all we need and way more. We have vehicles and baby toys and a great job that provides for our family. We are surrounded by family and friends who love us and want us to succeed, etc.

This list continues until I’ve talked myself off my discontentment ledge. It’s annoying how easily my thoughts turn negative. I’m trying my best to take these those captive and send them way. I want to replace them with thankfulness. God is good. I am beyond blessed. I am thankful!

 

Time for a New Plan August 7, 2014

Filed under: Bible,One Thousand Gifts Challenge — Amy Scott @ 1:01 pm
Completing plans

Completing plans – I love getting this congratulations screen! Makes me feel good!

I finished my Bible reading plan in July. It was great to read the whole Bible in a year again.  I love reading the Bible yearly because it has really helped me familiarize myself with God’s word. Repetition has been good for me. The plan that I’ve used the last two years has been perfect for me. It’s a 6-day a week plan so you get one off built into it. It’s called OwnIt365 and it covers the whole Bible in one year. The readings are about 20 minutes each, so it’s not too demanding. I’ve loved it! But… I’ve been playing around with new plans now that I’ve completed another year long commitment. I’m thinking I’ll go to back another one year plan maybe in January, but right now I’m doing some exploring of other plans that are shorter and more focused on specific things. The first plan that I went through was one based on Thanksgiving. It was a two week plan and it literally took 5 minutes or less to get through the readings. Then I did a devotional plan about motherhood. It was encouraging and had just a couple of verses attached to each reading. I’m finding it interesting to do readings that are shorter and not full chapters. There is a lot to be said for covering a lot of ground in the Bible. I’m learning that there is also value in short readings too. I find that I remember the short readings more through out the day because they are to the point. The mom devotional especially kept me thinking throughout the day. I even wrote one of the verses on my new white board as a daily reminder. Today, I started to re-watch my study DVD of Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts. Owen loves the music in the video and it was a nice 20 minutes to look back on a study that meant so much to me a few years ago. I’m really enjoying this season of tweaking and exploring new plans. It’s a nice break from the routine. The YouVersion App on my phone and iPad also makes it super easy to discover new plans and keep track of where I am at. I’ll keep you posted on where I end up next!

 

Going Digital November 9, 2013

Filed under: Amy's Bookshelf,One Thousand Gifts Challenge,Parenthood — Amy Scott @ 4:47 am

It’s been a week since I purchased my iPad mini and I have to admit that I’m really liking it. I almost didn’t want to like it because that would make me less of a “book” person. But, I have been swayed to the digital way. I downloaded a free book app and I just finished The Story Girl by LM Montgomery. I love LM Montgomery and her books are free! I love free! I am on to The Golden Road and then it’s time to download Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey. Apparently, I will use my iPad to read Canadian authors! O, Canada! Good stuff! It’s been great to download free books and I didn’t miss the paper page as much as I expected to. This is a new age in my life. A turning point. As Anne of Green Gables would say, a bend in the road. Okay, I’m done with the Canadian references.

Other perks to my iPad would be texting, email and web surfing. Everything is so much bigger than my cell phone, so I’m guessing that is less strain on my eyes. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to email from my iPad because of the size. I figured it wouldn’t work as well as a full size computer, but it turns out that emailing on the iPad is pretty easy – even when I’m one handed! It’s great! I’m feeling more connected to the world.

The hardest part for me is when I go to buy Sarah Bessey’s book, it will be an electronic copy which means I can’t proudly display it on my bookshelf. I love looking at my books. They make me happy. I do believe that an electronic bookshelf will never move me in the same way. However, I will admit that for right now and the season that I am, I am giving in.

Right now I’m also contemplating a few other things that might need to go digital. I’m still using my prayer journal, but I’m finding that time to write in a journal is getting harder and that is one task that I really can’t do one handed. At least not well. I’m also still doing my gifts journal in my quest to count to 10,000 gifts, but this is the same issue as the prayer journal. It’s harder to multitask journaling right now.  I’m still doing it multiple times a week, but not daily. The prayer journal isn’t something that I think I want to be digital, but I’m contemplating moving the gifts journal into digital form as well. We’ll see how much of my life continues to become digital now that I have the iPad. At this point, I haven’t used the iPad for blogging, but I’m quickly moving in that direction as well.

So this hardcore book worm and journaler is slowly changing her ways. I want to fight it, but honestly, it’s letting me do the things I love to do in a new way. Using one device for all these things is simpler and it means I don’t have to surround myself with a book, a cell phone, a laptop and multiple journals. Before Owen, I was used to this pile of items surrounding me, but now it’s all on one device. Too weird! Who am I?!?!?! These are crazy times and they call for crazy measures!

 

Lessons in Trust September 28, 2013

Filed under: Amy's Bookshelf,One Thousand Gifts Challenge — Amy Scott @ 9:52 am

It takes more than one time for me to learn a lesson. The last few years God had really called me out my ability to trust him. Being a natural worrier and an anxious soul is a continuous battle for me. If I say I trust God then why do I worry so much? Why can’t I let go of the details? My words say one thing, but my actions and thoughts say another. Right now it seems that there a lot of things that I can worry about. On a lot of different levels, my life is unsettled. Dwelling and worrying aren’t really solutions. Most of the things that are up in the air in my life can’t be solved quickly and really aren’t dependent on me. It’s just so hard to sit by and trust that it’s all going to work out. However, I am reminded of my reading in One Thousand Gifts by Anne Voskamp. She has this illustration of a bridge and how we go over bridges all the time without really contemplating their structural integrity. We cross over them with little to no thought. We just trust that they are going to hold, because they always have. Right now I see a lot of bridges before me. They lead to the unknown places and may even look a little wobbly to me.  However, God has carried me over many bridges before into unknown territory and the bridges have held. They didn’t collapse underneath me. He has been good, he has been constant, he has been stable. I have no reason to doubt that these next bridges won’t hold when so many bridges in my past have stood firm and taken me further on this great adventure with the Lord.  I take on an attitude of unbelief when I worry and when I doubt. True trust is walking forward, crossing bridges, going into unknown places knowing that God is there and God is good. I wish I could learn this lesson and have it stick. I deeply want to let go and trust God. In fact, in some moments I feel that I have achieved that trusting calm, but then I take it back. I go right back to where I was. Back tracking is not the faster route to what God has in store me. The funny thing is I can be so fickle. Right now I’m wrestling with all these thoughts and all these emotions and trying my hardest not to let fear dictate my life. There are moments, though, where I give up. Mainly, because I’m too tired to worry anymore. In these moments I have a “que sera, sera” attitude – what will be, will be. There is no need to invest so much emotional energy into things that I can not control. It’s a daily choice or even a minute by minute choice to cross the next bridge and trust that with God it will hold.

 

Ten Thousand Gifts August 13, 2013

Filed under: One Thousand Gifts Challenge — Amy Scott @ 7:40 pm
Flowers from my mom!

Flowers from my mom!

I’ve been blogging throughout my One Thousand Gifts Challenge. It has been quite the process. It all started two years ago and I’ve officially crossed the 7,000 gift threshold at the beginning of August. Originally, I thought counting to 1,000 would be hard and take a long time. I soon learned that counting gifts becomes a lifestyle and once you build the habit, you don’t want to stop. Usually I contemplate taking a break in between thousands, but not this time. This time I didn’t blink an eye. Just keep going. With 7,000 documented moments of grace and God’s blessing, I decided that 10,000 is well in sight and I’m going to go for it. Onward, I count!

I know it’s been said before and I’ll say it again, counting gifts has been a life saver for me. It has taken me from the brink of some pretty dark places in my life. It’s so silly that I should need to count. Is a habit really necessary for me to be remember that God is good and I am loved? It feels like I should just know this. But, I so easily forget. Naturally, I get caught up in my own worldview and my own drama. From my perspective, it’s all about me and that is in no way good. Gift counting reminds me to look on the bright side. It reminds me that my life has an overabundance in it. I am in no way lacking, so why not be content? Being content leads to joy and peace – two things I want to hold on to more desperately then I can express. Gift counting brings life and my own natural attitudes bring death, so yes, I will retrain my brain. I will push beyond my own tendencies and grab a hold of something good. Because good things really are around, if I choose to see them.

I seriously cannot recommend gift counting enough. It’s so simple! Thinking through this week I can list things like flowers from my mom, emails from friends, the smell of garlic breadsticks, dinner with my hubby, a walk to the mailbox in the sunshine, packages at the door, baby kicks, camping pop tarts and on it goes. I have a roof over my head, a good job, a family that loves me, friendships that enrich my life, ministry opportunities that bless my sock off. What is there to be glum about? Well, plenty… if I choose to think about it. However, I will choose to think differently. I will see the blessings and hopefully turn around and be a blessing to others. This is my prayer!

Have you started counting? I dare you to try! It’s addicting!

 

Retiring a Journal: 6,000 Gifts May 29, 2013

Filed under: One Thousand Gifts Challenge — Amy Scott @ 10:10 pm
Journal started August 2011 and finished May 2013

Journal started August 2011 and finished May 2013

Somehow reaching that next 1000 sneaks up on me. I realize it’s coming and then all the sudden it’s here. That’s what happened today. I honestly thought I would finish later this week, but as usual, gifts surprise me and there are always more than I expect and the counting goes quickly. I have counted One Thousand Gifts six times. I thought it would get old – it doesn’t! I thought it would take a decade to fill a journal – it doesn’t. In fact, it hasn’t even taken two years to fill this journal. I’ve learned not to stop counting. It’s a good habit, so why break it? I always think I’ll want a break after counting 1,000, but I miss it. I crave it. Counting gifts has opened my eyes to the small things. It makes everyday life special and unique no matter what. It takes my dark days and reminds me that there is a silver lining. It’s been a process of retraining my brain. I don’t often look for the good in things. I know that sounds un-Christian, but I’m not weird to think Pollyanna thoughts. I’ve never been good at that sort thing. I’m frank, to the point. I’m glass half empty and what’s wrong… I wish it weren’t so. How I would love to see the good in things. This is precisely why gift counting is something I feel compelled to do. It makes me more like the person I so desperately want to be. It helps me to see past my hang ups and hurts and to see how much I am loved. Each day I have the opportunity to open my eyes and see God’s hand at work. Each day I have the opportunity to acknowledge the gifts and say thank you. Will I take that time? Will I really look for them? I want to say yes, so I will keep on counting. One journal might be filled, but don’t worry, I have blank journals just waiting for their pages to be filled. How many will the next journal hold? 7,000 gifts? 8,000? I’m excited to find out. It’s amazing to me how simple it is to find joy and contentment when you’re looking in the right direction. It’s all a matter of focus. I can focus on the negative and it will grow bitterness in my heart. Or I can focus on God’s good gifts and stay thank you. This brings the spark of joy back into my heart. I can be content because I know in the smallest ways I am seen and I am loved.

 

Learning in Layers May 22, 2013

Filed under: One Thousand Gifts Challenge,Recollections,Women in Ministry — Amy Scott @ 10:43 am

I’ve been mulling this post over in mind for a few weeks. I’m finding that as I contemplate about the future, I also have this strong desire to look back and see where the Lord has led me. It’s so evident that his hand has been on my life. Especially, the last year and a half. I had no clue the growth that would take place in my life over the last year, but God has been faithful. I didn’t learn all these lessons at once. Just like layers, God has been removing things from my heart that shouldn’t be there and replacing them with His truth. Most of these lessons I knew in theory, but they were head knowledge, not heart knowledge. I’m finding the best lessons are learned through life experience and often by walking down hard roads. The good news is that the hard roads lead to great places.

A year and a half ago, I was bitter and displeased. I had this restlessness and a desire for more. I wanted everything I didn’t need and it made me unhappy because the things I wanted weren’t panning out. I’m so thankful for the intervention I received because I see now what a slippery slope I was on. My friend and mentor, Pastor Vicki Judd, gave me a book called One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. I know I’ve written about this book many times here and you all are probably sick of how much I love this book. However, it’s impossible not to be grateful for the life change this book brought in my life. It took me back to seeing the small things. It brought me to a place of thankfulness, gratitude and contentment. I was so discontent in this season and this book was like medicine that I desperately needed. As a result of this book, I have kept extensive gratitude journals. When I’m tempted to let myself go down that road of discontentment, I am reminded of all the blessings the Lord daily pours into my life. Simple things like having dishes to unload from a dishwasher or having a bed to make or having friends to pray with or a family who loves me comes back to the forefront of my mind and puts me at ease.

At our annual church ladies retreat in April of 2012, we did some assessments to show us our spiritual gifts and our natural personality bents. The purpose to was empower women to serve where they love and to embrace the way God made them.  As an introvert in ministry, I’ve always felt a bit misunderstood, so this was a great exercise to explain to people who I am and how I function. The spiritual gifts assessment really did confirm my love for teaching and investing in people. If I’m doing these things in some capacity, I am doing what God made me to do. The exercise that I was deeply impacted by was when our leader gave us a list with hundreds of words on it. I love words and so the act of cutting down this list into seven core words was quite the challenge for me. However, it was worth the effort and I can see myself in my seven words – acceptance, compassion, courage, encouragement, integrity,  joy and vision. I have these words, as well as my spiritual gifts, as the desktop of my laptop (for about a year now). When I pull my computer up, it’s a reminder. Interesting situation, lately I’ve read a book called The Synergist and one of the categories of leaders in this book is a Visionary. According the books standards, I am not a visionary. However, when it comes to my personal life and my ministry, I value vision. I value having a direction and seeking the Lord for what he is doing. I don’t get swayed very often from my vision – once it’s set, I am working for the goal.  I was feeling kind of a poor about my lack of being a visionary after recently reading this book and re-looking at my lists has just reminded me that I have vision where it counts in my life. That makes me happy.

After this assessment, I felt pretty good about the journey the Lord has taken me on. I was just brimming with excitement for the “big” things I thought God was preparing me for. Oh my, I didn’t realize the next lesson was going to be so hard. After totally affirming who I am, God taught me humility.  Humility was hard and painful. I learned that I  have a lot of pride. I have a lot of big thoughts and big dreams and instead of looking at what was right in front of me, I was always looking to what was next, what I wanted to see happen. Humility taught me a lot about letting go. I learned that I can’t make doors open and I learned that some things aren’t meant to be, at least not in my timing. I had to let go of my expectations for myself. I had to let go of how I taught I was being perceived and just trust God. No more struggling to have my own way. Humility taught me a lot about acceptance. If I was doing what God called me do, it didn’t matter what people thought or what I thought about myself. Humility was the hardest lesson to learn because I learned it by hitting a brick wall. But God was good and he walked me through that season and I am grateful for the change that came in my life.

So now I look forward to a new season. I look forward to raising a family and entering into a different time of ministry. I can see how the Lord has prepared me over this last year to be at this point. I have learned that only person I really need to accept me is God. Even at this year’s ladies retreat, I was reminded that I only need to be defined by God. My life is more than titles and roles. I am more than what I can offer people. I’ve learned the joy of contentment. I have learned that going lower isn’t a horrible punishment. With humility comes freedom. I am free in a lot ways that I never have been. True, it’s easy to pick up those old ways of doing things and those old mindsets, but I am fighting to keep these lessons alive within me. They were worth the time and tears. I’m positive they have set me up for this next season and that they will be a source of strength in my future. God has been faithful to teach me these lessons in layers. Each one adds new depth to my life. I can only imagine what will be next. What an exciting journey!