He will make your paths straight.

It’s funny how many turns a year can take, isn’t it?  I guess that’s just part of life.  And I can’t even handle that it’s nearly mid-December.  But I am so glad that God promises us in Proverbs 3:6 that if we acknowledge him, he will make our paths straight.

If you’ve read my blog for any length of time you may know I set goals at the beginning of every year.  I never posted them, but here were my goals for 2015:

  1. After losing a paycheck and feeling like my house (and in turn my mind) were basically in chaos, one of my goals was to (daily) make sure my kitchen table and dining room table were cleaned off.  In January, I did great.  In the same vein, I wanted to reduce clutter so I joined a clutter free challenge (link here in case you’re interested) and it went really well.  With each piece of “stuff” I got rid of, I felt free-er and lighter. Then life happened.  Ha!  You should see my kitchen table this morning, piled up with papers and books and bags and mail, and whatever else my kids dropped there!!  But in between there has been what my favorite author, Lysa Terkeurst, calls “imperfect progress”.
  2. Another of the things I wanted to work on this year was being a more constant pray-er.  1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “pray continually” and I really wanted to have a more constant connection with God in my daily life.  Again, there has been imperfect progress here.
  3. Enjoy life more.  I tend toward seriousness and I wanted to lighten up a little.  One way was to try to play more games with my kids and that has definitely added a bit of fun to our lives.  We’ve been playing backgammon a lot this year and now my two youngest usually beat me!

As 2015 wore on and I was having some health issues, I added another focus for the year – to be more content and thankful for what I have.  Laying on the couch all of July made me realize that there is so much to life that I take for granted!!

So here’s what’s so neat about the way God works.  As my kids started school in September and I was struggling to get everything in order (even the kitchen table!).  I was going to write 1 Thessalonians 5:17 on my chalkboard in the kitchen so I would be reminded to abide with God each moment during  week.  As I looked it up, I read the whole passage:

1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Isn’t that interesting?  I started just with intentionally working on just verse 17 at the beginning of the year but what God has really been working in me has been all of verses 16-18!  Through the course of the year these themes of rejoicing, prayer, and thankfulness have just been rewritten on my heart over and over again.

“In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

Amen and amen!

 

 

 

Back-to-School

Happy Back-to-School Day, friends!

My house is quiet this morning and when my house is quiet my mind can think. full. thoughts. Yay!

Today we dropped off a 9th grader (high school – eek!), a 7th grader, and a 3rd grader. At no time is it more apparent than the first day of school how quickly life goes!

As I was praying for my children this morning, I started to pray simply that their days would go smoothly. But that thought was interrupted by this thought from God: How will they learn to rely on God if everything goes smoothly?

(thank you, Jesus, for your divine interruptions! your ways are always better)

It’s so true, isn’t it? The times in my life when I learned the most, trusted the most, and grew closer to God weren’t when things were going smoothly. If I want my kids to seek after God and follow Him all their lives, then they need to NEED him. And then learn to RELY on Him.

So I prayed instead that they would feel His presence with them today, let the Holy Spirit guide them, and that He would provide whatever they need for every situation.

Amen and Amen!

Prayer: Not a Last Resort!

DUH, right?

About a month ago I stood in a small room as my son was getting his blood drawn.  He was anxious.  Defiant, but quietly, as is his pattern in public.  But there was no more I could do to help him through it.

All I had left was prayer over the situation.  And as I lifted up some prayers, I realized.

My typical operating mode in day-to-day life is to look at prayer as a last resort.

In my head, I know it shouldn’t be.  And I do (nearly daily) have some prayer time set aside in the mornings.  But I had gotten to the point where I prayed, checked that off my to-do list, and then slipped into the rest of my day focused on what I had planned for the day.  And only when I got myself in a situation where I felt like there was nothing else I could do about it was I prompted to pray.

I had forgotten 1 Thessalonians 5:17 – “pray continually.”

Do you ever find yourself praying only as a last resort?

I just know God was whispering to me in that moment – “don’t rely on your own ability.   Rely on me.”  And the lesson is that I need to rely on Him even when I feel capable!!!

So my goal in the immediate future – pray continually (and especially in the many mundane moments of the day), and get in the habit of relying on Him alone, always.

So I’ll leave you with this – a quote I heard on the radio early this year and which hasn’t left me.  (Forgive me, I’ll have to paraphrase and I don’t remember who said it!  If I find out, I’ll let you know!)

“In order to fully follow God, we need to give up the thought that we know anything.”

Tips for Reviving Your Prayer Life

Just over a year ago, I wrote this post.  

At the time, I was struggling with being consistent in prayer and also with remaining focused in prayer.  

And because I knew that God had given me three special gifts – that can also be distractions – I knew that He certainly had an answer for me as to how to have a vibrant prayer life even in the midst of mothering.  

As I mentioned in that post, I tried writing out my prayers in a journal.  It was just what I needed.  I also contrived to have my prayer time whilst my three distractions were distracted themselves (which during the summer meant morning cartoons).  I would go out to my screened-in porch, drink in the morning air and my coffee, and begin to write.  

Journaling my prayers has stuck with me since then.  I do love looking back, remembering what I was praying about, and then realizing that God answered prayers – and in sometimes really unexpected ways.  The discipline of writing the prayers down also gave me better focus.

I thought today I’d share a few ideas about prayer that I’ve used over the years to keep my prayer life from wilting .

  1. Journaling my prayers – enough said!
  2. Changing the scenery.  Try praying in a new place – a different room, in the car, outdoors, in the shower.  
  3. Pray while walking.  I have also been trying to walk at a local park three times a week after I drop my kids off at school.  While I walk, I pray.  Something about the early morning, being outdoors, and movement has made these prayer times really powerful.
  4. Change the time.  You’ve probably heard plenty of times to get up before your kids to pray.  But the reality is that for some people, and for some seasons in life, this is nearly impossible.  When my oldest two were preschoolers I was always amazed that they would sleep through my husband getting up and getting ready for work – but if I tried to get up before them?  forget it – somehow they sensed it and they’d be up bouncing around as soon as I got out of bed.  So my advice is don’t get stuck in thinking it has to be a certain way.  Do it when it works for you.  And when it stops working, try something different.  Now that my kids are in school, I am able to get up before them to pray.  
  5. Pray when the Holy Spirit prompts you.  Don’t have 5 minutes alone during the day?  That’s ok – God will still hear one prayer at a time.  One word, one sentence prayed in the middle of your daily tasks works.  
  6. Memorize a prayer or a verse from the Bible and pray it (or write it on a 3×5 card and stick it on your fridge).

I want to hear from you!  How do you keep your prayer life consistent and fresh?  Do you have any tips or ideas you would add to the list?

Rest

The end of the school year is almost here and it’s getting craaazy!

One of the things I wanted to do this year was to incorporate more listening time into my prayer time.  In other words, being quiet, waiting on, and listening to God.  Yesterday as I was doing that, this verse came to me:

Matthew 11:28 (NASB)

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.

And then this thought (which was the revelation for me, since for goodness sake, I’ve heard that verse a thousand times!!) – God doesn’t give me a to-do list when I come to Him, He gives me rest.  He isn’t expecting me to check things off {my} list, or His list for that matter.  He wants to give me rest.  I have to confess that I often seek God as a means of accomplishing my to-do list or a means of fixing the things that are broken in my life!  Instead of coming to Him to BE in His presence, I’m there just asking for help accomplishing things on my own.  I can get caught up in focusing on issues rather than on Him!  It’s so backwards!!

Check out verses 27-29 in the Amplified Bible:

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.]

 Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls.”

Sounds good, doesn’t it?  I could use more blessed quiet!  🙂  And of course, I need Him and a relationship with Him more than anything I could accomplish on my own.

 

The amazing thing is that this verse came to me twice more yesterday – in a FB status update from Proverbs 31 Ministries and then in a friend’s blog.  (I love it when God shows His persistence!)

 

God’s been taking me on a journey over the last several years – dealing with perfectionism, fear of failure, and faith – and I hope to share more about that soon.  Sometimes these journeys of learning can be winding and long – and I have been struggling to find the right words to explain where I’ve been and how God has revealed himself to me.  But I know it’s a journey I want to share because I know many women struggle with the same feelings of failure.  So come back soon for more!

some links worth clicking

Happy Monday!

Just wanted to share with my peeps some things I read this morning that I thought you might be interested in.

First off, if anyone is looking for a more structured independent bible study, this might be a good place to start.  It’s only for a month, but I’m thinking it might be just the thing for you if you haven’t yet developed the habit of being in God’s Word on a daily basis.  A month is just long enough to develop that habit!

Check out this bible study at the Doorposts blog.

(fyi, the first link will take you to the Day 1 post, and the second will take you to the current day’s post.  If you start today, you’re only really 3 days behind!!)

Secondly, tomorrow is Election Day.  I hope you will take the time to vote.  I found this Prayer for America on Election Day on Albert Mohler’s blog that is really excellent reading.  And maybe you will pray it tomorrow, as well?

Have a great week, friends!

reviving my prayer life

Psalm 1:1-3

1 Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
    which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
    whatever they do prospers. 

The grass on our lawn is brown.  And crunchy.  And seriously in need of water.

And frankly, so is my prayer life lately.

Not because I’ve wanted it to be that way.  It’s more of a by-product of our relaxed summer schedule.  Whenever I purpose to sit down and pray, something else comes up (or maybe I should say someone else ) that must be done.right.now.

Ah, such is the life of a mom of more than one child – someone always needs something!

So today I pulled out a brand-new journal (a gift from our MOPS group last year) and started to write out my prayers.

I’ve never listed my prayers before – I think because it just seemed kind of overwhelming.  You know the prayers you say every day – for the health of your family, or safety, or whatever?  Do you list those every day?  Or not?  Do you only list new things, or those things you’ve been praying for years?  See? – too many decisions.  🙂 

Anyways, I thought I’d try it.  I thought it might keep me on track a little better, as well as help me to not forget things.  We’ll see how it goes.  I’m hoping for a little more thriving vibrant green than withering dry brown.

The great news is that when I come to God in prayer, even after a long while away, I don’t have to guiltily hang my head.  He just smiles and says welcome back – I’m glad to see you.  Glorious Grace.

What about you?  Does your prayer life thrive in the summer sun or wither? 

Do you keep track of your prayers in writing?  Why or why not?