Monthly Archives: August 2015

Reinforce Life-Givers: Refocus Challenge Week 4

reinforce life giversIn the last 6 months, I’ve had a reoccurring conversation with different people. We all seem to be wondering the same thing: What makes me come alive? What activities draw out joy, pleasure, and fulfillment in my heart? What gives me a boost to be more like me in a way that makes God and me smile together?

Often, we don’t know the answer off the top of our heads. We are caught in the current of to-do lists, job expectations, personal goals, and managing seasonal changes. New moms, college students, and empty-nesters alike have all forgotten what it means to play in their own unique way.

In this season of refocus, I am desperately seeking to know Jesus more intimately, and allow Him to shape my thoughts, behaviors, and attitudes about myself and the world around me. I am convinced He didn’t just die for my sins, but He rose that I might experience joy!

When we build on our identity in Christ with a strong relationship with God, we can use that as a launching pad to be all that God has called us to be. That includes the fun-loving, carefree, at ease versions of ourselves!

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10

God has provided abundant, unique blessings that help each of us enjoy life. With a little bit of intentionality, we can rediscover and reinforce these life-givers. Here are 2 steps to start the process:

Step 1: Make a Life-Givers List. This is like a bucket-list for your everyday life. Make a list of the activities, people, food, places, environments and topics that help you come alive, feel encouraged, and reinforce your relationship with God. Here are a few from my list:

  • Painting
  • Hammock
  • Proximity to the water (lakes, ponds, rivers, etc.)
  • Playing piano
  • Watching good movies (well written, complex plot, excellent score, no sex scenes, etc.)
  • Ukulele 
  • Quiet time with Jesus and coffee
  • Projects with my mom
  • Candles
  • Cross-cultural ministry
  • Reading light-hearted fiction (I’m currently reading A Princess Bride)
  • Conversations with my pastor’s wife
  • Tea
  • Popcorn
  • Worshipping with Shane
  • Kayak
  • Locally owned coffee shops
  • Hiking
  • Journaling
  • Jazz
  • Giggling with the twins
  • road trips
  • White string-lights over a patio
  • Museums

Step 2: Make a Time-wasters list: What activities, people, environments, and topics tend to drain life, leave you feeling numb, or steal your attention from what matters. My list is:

  • Unfettered social media scrolling
  • Constant snacking after 9pm
  • Women who play the comparison game
  • Talking about dieting
  • Micromanaging my blog
  • “Sleeping in” (but not really sleeping)
  • Netflix binges
  • Driving in town
  • Too much screen time
  • Messy spaces
  • Texting (vs. actual phone calls)

Step 3: Invest your time, money, and to-do-list space on the Life-givers, not the Time-wasters. It won’t be easy. And it wont always work (we have to do our jobs or clean the house even though it might feel draining). Sometimes, we can transform time-wasters into life-givers. I do this by setting a timer for social media, inviting others to join me as I clean, and focusing on enjoying what I eat. With the right mindset, we can reinforce the things God has given to help us enjoy life to the fullest!

So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun. Ecc. 8:15

Lord, reinforce life givers pin it

Thank you for giving us life! Help us to enjoy it, not just “get-through-it.” Because of Jesus’ resurrection, we can see renewed joy in our daily schedules. Holy Spirit, remind us when we get bogged down by everyday joy-thieves, that your power is available to us to reinforce the life-abundant you have planned for us.

In the joyful name of Jesus,

Amen

Week 4 Challenge:

  •  Monday: Take inventory of your life givers. Schedule sometime this weekend to enjoy one hour of a specific life-giving activity.
  •  Tuesday: Make a list of your time-wasters. Pick one to address this week (mine is FACEBOOK!).
  •  Wednesday: Clean up your social media tools to optimize your use of them (networking, family keep up, etc.)
  • Thursday-Saturday: Spend some time enjoy your favorite life-giver with a friend, your family, or just by yourself (is that a novel idea for you?).

Check In:

What is your favorite Life-Giver?

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20 Tools to Help You Pray: Refocus Challenge Week 3

20 prayer toolsWelcome to the 5 Week Refocus Challenge. I have set up this challenge to find my way back to the best God has for my life. Instead of being swept away by the tides of busy schedule, bursting closets, and an overstimulated mind, my prerogative is to return to closeness with Jesus, to refocus my worship on Him. One way to do that is by rekindling my prayer life. In the last post, I mentioned 5 reasons we can’t stay focused in prayer. I will address the 5th issue here today: no one has taught us how to pray.

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say:

“‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.’” Luke 11:1-4

If the disciples had to ask Jesus how to pray, then perhaps we should shed our arrogant facade and admit we need some instruction too. Prayer comes naturally sometimes, and sometimes it feels forced. I love talking to God, but I think prayer is so much more than that. Discouraged in my prayer life, I attended a very helpful seminar lead by Chuck Lawless. The ideas he shared brought clarity to my perspective of prayer. Since then, I have acquired a few more tools over the last few months that have helped rekindle my prayer life:

  1. Practice: Don’t be discouraged if your prayer life feels weak. Your prayer muscles wont become strong without regular exercise and practice.
  2. Let Scripture Inspire You: When we read God’s heart in His Word, we can connect with Him more intimately as we pray His desires.
  3. Pray spontaneously: This is where most of us gravitate. We pray what we feel, in the moment, for the moment. This can be beautiful, authentic, and raw.
  4. Use a Prayer Blueprint: This is the opposite of a spontaneous prayer. We naturally pray for ourselves, our needs, etc. A “blueprint” reminds us to pray in repentance, pray for the global church, and focus on praise and thanksgiving. Find pre-written prayers in Psalms, church resources (Book of Common Prayer, etc.), and even Pinterest!
  5. Pray through A.C.T.S.: This is a simple blueprint that reminds us to focus on Adoration of God, Confession of our sins, Thanksgiving for His gifts, and Supplication for our needs and the needs of those around us.
  6. Pray ACTS specifically: Spend Monday meditating on God’s amazing character. Adore Him for an entire day. Spend Tuesday with an open heart to conviction; repent as the Holy spirit makes you aware of your selfishness. Take all day Wednesday to thank God for His gifts! These 3 days will sharpen your perspective of God, boosting your confidence for Thursday, the day you spend praying for others (supplication).
  7. Get a prayer app: I appreciate Echo for helping me keep track of names and needs I commit to pray for. It also has a timer so I can focus on prayer with out distractions!
  8. Let others See You Pray: Jesus prayed intimately and personally with the Father in front of the disciples. My parents did the same each night they tucked me into bed. We can do the same in front of our children, siblings, roommates, spouses, and parents. If we do so to honor God, not ourselves, we can provide others with a powerful example of how to pray.
  9. Prayer Walking: Get active and pray outside the box! Walk downtown, in your neighborhood, on a college campus, or at the mall. Allow buildings, people, and billboards to shape the focus of your prayers.
  10. Drive-by Prayers: Same as prayer walking, just pray as you drive. I’ve started praying for the joggers I see on my way to church on Sunday morning.
  11. Pray Proactively: We tend to allow negative events and fear shape our prayer life. What if we prayed ahead of time for health, connected marriages, salvations, and closer walks with Jesus.

    Prayer is not just a response to life, it is our life. -Chuck Lawless

  12. Screen-time Power: Our phones can be dramatic distractions in our lives. Find ways to replace social media scrolling, games, constant texting, and google searches with moments of intimate prayer. You can also incorporate prayer into your screen time, seeing Instagram through God’s eyes, praying for your Facebook friends, etc.
  13. STOP: stands for Student Time of Prayer. Decide with your friends or family on a moment in the week you commit to stopping together, even in different location, to pray. (Interestingly, other religions do this as a cultural norm.)
  14. Target Supplication: Pray for a different sphere of influence each day of the week: family, work, local church, government, persecuted church, spouse, friends, etc.
  15. Prayer Support: Paul asked for prayers that he might be bold to share the gospel. Who do you know is sharing the gospel that you can pray for their boldness?

    And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Col. 4:3-4

  16. Pray On the Spot: Ask people how you can pray for them, then ask if you can pray with them, right there and then.
  17. Invent a Prayer Trigger: Every time I ________, I will spend a moment in focused, intimate prayer. The meal prayer is a perfect example, but it often gets overshadowed by hunger and busyness. Invent a new prayer trigger like getting in the car, brewing coffee, saying goodbye, tucking my kids in, etc. Bonus: make your prayer trigger a community event with your spouse, family, classmates, etc.
  18. Clean and Repent: While scrubbing the floors, I confess my sin. As I weed the garden, I pray for God to rip the roots of pride out of my life.
  19. Prayer Massage: give your friend, sibling, or spouse a back rub or foot massage as you pray for their physical health, spiritual intimacy with God, and boldness to share the gospel in their lives.
  20. Praise through the ABC’s: use the alphabet to help you think of various things to thank God for in your life: Legs that walk, my Mom’s presence, the Neighbors kindness, for Opening my heart to your gospel, for Perseverance through a trial, etc.

Week 3 Challenge:20 tools to help you pray

(You will notice the week 3 challenge has you praying specific ACTS prayers throughout the week)

  • Monday, Aug. 24: Take a moment to be still tonight, and connect with God, intimately, for 10 minutes.
  • Tuesday, Aug 25: Practice praying simple prayers of adoration today: tell God how great He is, just because He is God. Pray Psalm 145 as a reference.
  • Wednesday, Aug 26: Offer a prayer of confession. Open up your heart to the Holy Spirit’s conviction, and acknowledge with God the areas in your life you have dishonored him. Feeling stuck? Pray through Psalms 32.
  • Thursday, Aug 27: Set your heart on thanksgiving! Throughout the day, train your thoughts to say “Thank you” to God for each moment, person, blessing, or trial you encounter. Then check back for Rekindling Prayer Part 2: How to pray.
  • Friday: August 28: Spend time praying for the needs of those around you. Focus on God’s heart for them: to enter into relationship with Him through Jesus, to grow in faith, to share the gospel, etc.
  • Saturday Aug 29: Pick a “prayer tool” above and practice it with a friend or family member.
  • Sunday, Aug 30: Pick a prayer tool you can incorporate into your daily schedule for the next 6 months. Mine is the focused ACTS prayers.

Check In:

What is your favorite prayer tool to keep you focused?

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Rekindle Your Prayer Life: Refocus Challenge Week 3

rekindle your prayer life

Today, my husband said to me, “woman, we need to go on a date. It’s been too long.”

I wholeheartedly agreed. It’s been a long couple of weeks gearing up for the school year, and Shane and I need a chance to reconnect.

When I think about how I need to rekindle my love life, I am reminded of the importance of rekindling my prayer life. Prayer is the hearth for which one’s relationship with God first takes spark. Prayer is the fuel that keeps it burning bright. Prayer is the ember that, when the fire is burning hot, floats unchecked to help kindle a new person in faith.

When we gather around a campfire of grace, we see clearly the center of our fellowship is praying to God, because of Jesus, through the Holy Spirit.

Hear my prayer, O Lord, Give ear to my supplications! Answer me in Your faithfulness, in Your righteousness!

Psalm 143:1

5 reasons we don't engage in prayer pinIf prayer is such a crucial and beautiful act of our faith, why is it so difficult to engage in? I think the top 5 reasons are:

  1. We have a worship problem (idolatry)
  2. We are intimidated to approach the great throne of our King
  3. God is not visibly present for the conversation
  4. Boredom
  5. No one has ever taught us how to pray

1. We have a worship problem (idolatry) 

Idolatry is the great enemy of a thriving prayer life. We tend to be too busy paying attention to other things and people to devote our attention to God. Not only does this decrease the amount of time we are available to pray, it cheapens our quality of time with God.

It is clear when my idols are more important to me than God: I am easily redirected from focused prayer. When I have a worship problem, I don’t put myself in an environment or position to give God my all. I keep my idols close, even when I pray. My phone rings, my mind wanders, my eyes droop with sleepiness, and my prayer time is over. These completely sabotage spiritual intimacy. I must get my heart right with God, and practice God-worship every other minute of the day, to adequately prepare my 15 minutes to pray.

2. We are intimidated to approach the great throne of our King

It is imperative that we remember our identity in Christ before we pray. It enables us first to boldly approach our King and Father, confident He sees Christ in us, rather than our imperfection. Secondly, remembering our identity administers humility in us. Proper perspective of our past and present circumstances in Christ helps us to pray with conviction, gratefulness, and urgency.

3. God is not visibly present for the conversation 

When we adopt the right perspective of God and ourselves, we stop thinking of prayer as a one-sided conversation. Our God is not an “invisible” God. When I choose to see God with my hearts-eyes, I find He is more tangible and present than anything I can fix my earthly eyes on.

4. Boredom

After existing in high-stimulus environments every hour of the day, we tend to feel lost and uncomfortable in prayer. God calls us to a sense of stillness, where hushed hearts are ready to connect with Him. To engage in the still moments of prayer, we must renew our thoughts to be focused, becalmed, and single-minded.

Father,

Thank you for hearing our prayers. You are worthy of our attention and praise. Help us to pray, teach us to pray, show us the value of connecting with you through prayer. Give my friends and sisters reading this today a burning urge to get away with you and rekindle the conversation with you, God.

In Jesus name,

Amen.

Week 3 Challenge:

  • Monday, Aug. 24: Take a moment to be still tonight, and connect with God, intimately, for 10 minutes.
  • Tuesday, Aug 25: Practice praying simple prayers of adoration today: tell God how great He is, just because He is God. Pray Psalm 145 as a reference.
  • Wednesday, Aug 26: Offer a prayer of confession. Open up your heart to the Holy Spirit’s conviction, and acknowledge with God the areas in your life you have dishonored him. Feeling stuck? Pray through Psalms 32.
  • Thursday, Aug 27: Set your heart on thanksgiving! Throughout the day, train your thoughts to say “Thank you” to God for each moment, person, blessing, or trial you encounter. Then check back for Rekindling Prayer Part 2: How to pray.

Check In:

How do you connect with God in prayer?

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Re-set Home Base: Refocus Challenge Week 2

#resethomebaseDo you ever have an area in your life you wish you could install a “reset” button? I used to play a bit of Mario Bro. back in the day, and that little reset button was my best friend.

Mario is about to fall down the hole? Reset!

I do the same with my electronics. iPod acting up? Reset back to factory settings. One of the twins got ahold of the TV remote and changed the screen to stealth mode (it exists I swear!)? Reset!

I even do this with a bad day. I take a nap, however short may be and wake up to start over: reset!

Today, my home needs a reset button. I wish such a button existed. Or that magical fairies would reset our home to “factory standards” while I take a nap. Alas, I realize that I am the reset button. My efforts are what will take our home from chaotic tornado leftovers to welcoming sense of order and celebration.

Disclaimer 1:

May I just say that I am 100% ok with having a messy house. I have no problem inviting other messy humans into my very real home. However, I do believe that having an orderly and clean environment fosters an atmosphere of welcome to guests and spurs on diligence and discipline for those of us that live here.

Disclaimer 2:

I whole-heartedly believe in saying “no” to chores in order to say “yes” to big moments of ministry, family togetherness, and pursing quiet times with God. This has been our week thus far. And I celebrate my dirty dishes when their presence on my counter indicates my attentions have been kingdom minded (although not so much when my attentions are netflix-minded). Still, now we are moving into a season which incorporates our home as the main sanctuary for rest and discipleship for our college students. Thus, Reset Home Base becomes the next task of the 5 Week Refocus Challenge.

She looks well to the ways of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Proverbs 31:27

The Plan:

My strategy is to clean in short bursts between writing this post. First up: clean out the car.  After our ministry overnight retreat, which included the dog, two babies, and half our kitchen, the Pirate Ship (my savvy name for our huge family suburban) needs to be reset…

(1 hour later)

Well, the car is clean, but the kids managed to open a ziplock bag of dog food in the entry way. I don’t know when they figured out how to open a ziplock bag, but it’s a new level of clever. Twins got skills, I’m telling you. With dog food everywhere, including the kids mouths, my next goal is to reset the living space. I imprison the children in the playroom for 10 minutes while I sweep up the puppy chow, only to return to a playroom covered in diapers. Evi managed to pull out all the diapers from a bag I left on the guest bed.

  
Long story short, the kids are setting the reset agenda for me. And making it feel like a never ending task.

(Next hour)

Nap time is a glorious productivity enhancer! I have now successfully rendered the kitchen, living room, and hallway back to order. (Check Instagram for the before and after photos) And yet, I’ve more to do, so I am going to finish this post so I can be singleminded as I clean.

4 Tips to Reset Your Home-Base:

4 tips to reset your home base

Clean Sweep: My mom always taught me to start at the door and work your way around the room. Pick up any item in your path and put it WHERE IT BELONGS. Don’t make piles.

Deal with Piles: Ok, I don’t follow all of my mom’s advice. I am a pile maker, people. I make piles of items based on their final location: bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, laundry, etc. My problem is, I sometimes forget the piles, and the piles become unpiled, and I’m back to square one. Don’t move on to the next task without rendering the piles finished. And don’t just shift piles from one room to the next. Find a home for everything

Clean top to bottom: Mom taught us a handy trick: while you are picking up, use a dust rag to sweep surfaces top to bottom, that way you won’t miss any bobby pins or knick-knacks out of place. Clever way to get us to dust, mom.

Focus on the small tasks: I’m putting laundry away one second, the next I am full-on cleaning out my closet. Meanwhile the rest of the house suffers my lack of attention. For my own sanity, I need to schedule big chores, to set-aside time later to tackle them so I can focus on the quick reset needed at the moment.

Whether your home-base is your house, your car, your bedroom, your office, or your bathroom, take some time to re-set it. Clear out the clutter, distractions, and evidence of wear-and-tear to make your space effective to launch you into your day, your worship, and your ministry to this world.

Week 2 Challenge:reset home base pin

  • Monday, Aug. 17: List 5 ways you can worship God and start your day right in the morning.
  • Tuesday, Aug 18: make a be-still plan. 
  • Wednesday, Aug 19: Download the free background for your phone, and start memorizing Psalms 46:10
  • Thursday, August 20: Reset your home base, and share a before/after pic of the reset on instagram or Facebook using #resettinghomebase #5weekrefocuschallenge
  • Friday, August 21: Take a break from all the busywork and re-read (see what I did there) Reinstating Stillness.
  • Saturday, August 22: Return here for a recap of Week 2 (and don’t forget to use #5weekrefocuschallenge so your instagram and Facebook posts can be featured here!)

Check-in:

What do you consider home-base and how do you reset it each season?

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Reinstate Stillness: Week 2 of the Refocus Challenge

reinstate stillness

I thrive on seasonal change. We are exiting the summer of lazy laundry days mixed between exciting travel adventures. Upon us is the back-to-school season, with promises of routine, cooler weather, and pumpkin spice lattes. Unfortunately, this new season is also littered with a whole lot of “have-to’s”:

  • I have to fit in one last camping trip.
  • I have to buy that new sweater.
  • I have to sign my kid up for sports.
  • I have to join another club.
  • I have to get back to the gym!

We are lucky to forget to add pre-planned Christmas shopping to our list. A season meant to bring stability, structure, and new opportunities is creating chaos of our priorities, overwhelming the hours in our day, and stuffing our closets to the brim. We become:

  • Busy
  • Overwhelmed
  • Rushed
  • Activity-Driven
  • Exhausted
  • Living for the weekend

Shane and Becky's Honeymoon 2010During our honeymoon in Jamaica, Shane and I spent some time cliff jumping and cave-snorkeling in the ocean. The waves that day were less than tame. I used all my energy to stay afloat as the water tossed my body toward the rocks. After only 10 minutes of pure determination to enjoy the water, I was spent.

My body felt sore, weary, and older than it was. I needed a break.

I think this is how the demands of the school year can feel. Exciting at first, adventurous and brave, even. But soon the pleasure turns to a beating; the excitement turns to exhaustion.

Lisa Chan mentions this kind of exhaustion in her video: Be Still. She says,

“We wonder why women are so spiritually dead? Why the women in the church are struggling with depression and anxiety, and stress, and totally lacking in spiritual maturity.”

She sums up the spiritually dead into two categories: women who claim to be too busy, and women who claim to be too weary. She goes on to note that these women still find time and energy to commit themselves to reality TV shows, magazines, internet games and quizzes, social media scrolling, and scrapbooking. And yet these things only “perpetuate feelings of being worn out by the world, and tired, and empty.”

It is so easy for me to be tossed by the waves of every task and activity our culture offers. I have to learn to get out of the water. I need to spend some time being still with Jesus on the beach for a while.

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging…

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth.”

The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Psalm 46:1-3, 10, 11

God modelled this kind of stillness for us on the 7th day of creation. Priscilla Shirer writes about this in her book, Breathe: “The purpose of God’s Sabbath day was not to put up his proverbial feet, take a load off, and chill out after creating the universe… He wasn’t tired, He was expressing satisfaction.”

We too, can relax without plopping on the couch with netflix running. We can reflect God-style stillness by taking satisfaction in Him. In order to be still, we must:

  1. Put it in our schedules.
  2. Clear out the distractions.
  3. Cultivate hushed hearts that listen.
  4. Choose active-stillness: intentional letting go and being quiet.
  5. Practice.

Establishing a daily/weekly time to be still does not mean we are weak women. It means we are Christ-centered women.

Just like on my honeymoon, participating in the waves of activities and “have to’s” are not necessarily evil. However, God calls us to focus our worship, our schedules, our efforts, on knowing Him! We can navigate the waters better when we jump in a boat where the captain whispers, “peace, be still.” And then we realize he is addressing the storm in our own hearts, rather than the chaos all around us.

Lord,

This concept of sabbath, rest, stillness, quiet is so counter-cultural. Help us to learn the art of stillness in the midst of chaos. Give us wisdom to say no to the kind of chaos that keeps us rushing away from you.

In Jesus name,

Amen.

Week 2 Challenge:

  • Monday, Aug. 17: Set your alarm to rise earlier. Make a list of 5 ways you can honor God and start your day right in the morning.
  • Tuesday, Aug 18: Wake up and embrace the day! Make a plan to set aside on 1/2 hour to be still with God this week. (It might be harder than you think)
  • Wednesday, Aug 19: Download this free background for your phone, and start memorizing Psalms 46:10

FREE Phone background

  • Thursday: Check back for the next post!

Check In:

Where do you go to be still?

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Reclaim Your Mornings: Week 2 of the Refocus Challenge

 

 

reclaim your morningsAfter everything God has taught me last week, about my identity in him and me need to worship Him with intentionality, I am convinced that my next challenge is to reclaim my mornings.

Summer brings glorious travel opportunities that I love and treasure, and that wreak havoc on maintaining a daily schedule. The days between trips, when our family is home, the priority is to rest and recuperate… and do lots of laundry!

Summer adventures are unique, and worthy of a scrambling in our schedule. However, I am ready to reclaim my mornings before launching into the next season.

But I will sing of Your strength and will joyfully proclaim Your faithful love in the morning. For You have been a stronghold for me, a refuge in my day of trouble. To You, my strength, I sing praises, because God is my stronghold— my faithful God.

Psalm 59: 16-17

It is a privilege to join this psalmist in worshipping God in the morning. I have been training my thoughts to jump straight to praise when I first wake up. It isn’t easy. On good days, I usually spend my first AM thoughts migrating toward checking Facebook, the weather, or my calendar. On bad days, my first thoughts are to grumble, loudly. All of these remind me that I have a worship problem, not just a tiredness problem.

Here are my simple steps to reclaim my mornings:

  1. Praise the Lord with my very first thoughts. (see Proverbs 3:9 for more)
  2. Strive to be present. With my 1 year-old twins, nothing can replace the giggles and cuddles we bond over when I join them to wrestle on the floor as they smear cracker-slime on my legs. I am also striving to be present with God. The idea of a sacred-sit-down has been preoccupying my mind lately. I am striving to make my quiet-time a greater priority.
  3. Utilize a putter-free to-do list. I tend to employ a version of ADHD that I have yet to be diagnosed with into my tasks. But NO MORE! To reclaim my mornings, I need to have singular focus, especially when the babies take their nap.  Instead of meandering through my chores, washing a dish here, folding a sock there (checking Instagram in between)— I choose to focus, conquer, and move on! There are life giving activities that await my day. I need to recognize the importance of the small tasks that keep our family flourishing. However, I don’t need to let those tasks preoccupy my entire day.

How about you? What would reclaiming your morning look like?

  • Redefining, or increasing, the time between the alarm and the drive to work?
  • Cutting 15 minutes out of your vigorous work-out for a sacred-sit-down with God?
  • Exploring your culinary skills with healthy breakfast options?
  • Banishing AM screen time?

Heavenly Father,Reclaim Your Monrings

You have created mornings. In Lamentations 3, you promise your mercies will be new with every sunrise. I praise you, for you are worthy! “Satisfy us in the morning with Your faithful love so that we may shout with joy and be glad all our days.” (Psalm 90:14)

Jesus, thank you for providing redemption through the cross. You set our example to rise early in the morning to meet with the Father. And your rising again gives us the power to rise each morning, with our eyes set on you.

Holy Spirit, help us not to waste our first moments with our families or roommates. Give us grace to choose our first words wisely. Provide wisdom with what we first focus our eyes upon in the mornings.

Be the center of our focus, Lord.

Amen

Week 2 Challenge:

  • Monday, Aug. 17: Set your alarm to rise earlier tomorrow. Make a list of 5 ways you can honor God and start your day right in the morning.
  • Tuesday, Aug 18: Wake up and embrace the day! Check back Tuesday afternoon for more instructions for the 5 Week Refocus Challenge.

Wishing you a Good Morning,

signature

Check In:

How you are reclaiming your first hours of the day?

P.S. I want to see your morning pics! Share your progress in this week’s challenge on Instagram and Twitter with #reclaimingmornings and #5weekrefocuschallenge . We can celebrate together through the week, and at the end, I might even feature your progress to inspire others!

Need more ways to improve your sunrise hour? Check out my series 10 Habits for a Purely Fantastic Morning Routine.

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Refocus Challenge: Week 1 Review

The 5 Week Refocus Challenge is well underway. Here’s a recap of week 1:

My Thoughts:

What an awesome week of sweet soul searching!

Remembering my identity in Christ was invaluable to begin this process of “getting back to” God’s best for my schedule, my thoughts, and my relationships.

I set up some reminders of my identity in Christ in highly visual spots. My favorite is my current home screen background for my phone (verse from 1 Peter 2:9)

 

 

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Next, I dove deep into my thought-life, schedule, and day to day activities to uncover my true objects of worship. I discovered a few areas I need to refocus by intentionally worshipping God through these activities, instead of using them to worship myself, others, or the almighty to-do-list check marks. Some I need to refocus are:

  • Worrying about followers/views on my blog
  • Time spent on Facebook/Instagram
  • Thinking too much about my size/looks
  • Turning our ministry into a check-list mentality instead of a relationship-based one

God is helping me refocus my worship in these, and other areas. I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to contend with my flesh here. It’s been an emotional and spiritual battle to embrace the power of “re-“.

(Check out my quiz to discover any areas you struggle with idolatry/making much of anything other than God)

These 2 concepts, remembering my identity and refocusing my worship, have been invaluable in this grand return to a cleaner, fuller life, inside and out.

 

From the Campfire Circle:

What!? I have no status reports to share?

It’s true. No hashtags like #5weekrefocuschallenge or @campfiregrace were found in my search, on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

The idea of walking with friends and family through these changes, as you also strive for a refocus moment, is incredibly encouraging! 

I consider each of you a part of my campfire circle. It’s the place we meet, celebrate, and share with Jesus and each other all that God is doing in us… together. Let us empower one another by sharing the journey of the 5 Week Refocus Challenge.

Join me next week as I strive to reclaim my mornings, and rekindle my prayer life!

Check In:

How has God helped you refocus on him this week?

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Focus of my Worship Quiz

  (This post is from Campfire Grace on Instagram. Feel free to treat it like a s’more: you like it, you share it.)

Doing the #5weekrefocuschallenge has been, well, challenging. I didn’t realize how unintentional I have been about how I spend my time, money, and worship. My attention has been targeted at things other than God, and it is depleting me of God’s best. (Read more on my blog: campfiregrace.com)

Here are 10 ways you can reveal the object of worship in your life:

  1. What do your Facebook statuses make a big deal about?
  2. Ask friends/family what you make much of in life
  3. What is a reoccurring theme in your text messages
  4. Check your debit card statement to evaluate who/what you worship with your money
  5. Scan your calendar for patterns of devotion
  6. What is the subject of your instagram pictures?
  7. Write down the object of your focus each hour of one day.
  8. What are the things/activities you can’t say no to?
  9. What do you think about/plan in the shower?
  10. What thoughts distract you when you sit down to pray?

Remember, Gods Word does not direct us to spend all our time and money and attention on church stuff. However, Gods Word DOES guide us to glorify Jesus with our time, money, possessions, and conversations. Let’s refocus our worship, pointing ourselves and others toward Him in faith.

Check in:

Which number helped you rethink your worship-focus?

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Refocus Your Worship: Refocus Challenge Week 1

How to Refocus Your WorshipHappy Hump Day! How is your progress so far on this grand endeavor to refocus your life? Personally, the harder I pursue the power of “re”, the more I see how much I need it!

On Monday, we started with dessert; celebrating our identity was a great place to start this five-week refocus challenge (that blog post wasn’t even on the schedule; God is faithful).. However, today and for the next few weeks, we are going to camp out with this idea of REFOCUS.

If we are going to rediscover God and His perfect plan for our lives, we must redirect our worship. That is what we do hour by hour in our every day lives. We worship. We give devotion, attention, praise, and focus on something.

If we aren’t careful, we sometimes end up worshiping our schedules, our opportunities, or our goals. Often, we end up worshiping the pointless and unnecessary. Like embers burning bright, yet swept away by the wind of this task, that person’s opinion, or a certain “season.” What we worship is often only seen in hindsight.

God is worthy of our worship, intentionally given and protected from distraction. I’ve found I can give Him my attention and focus in 3 ways:

  • Time
  • Money
  • Possessions

These 3 elements are the avenues in which we live life, and worship. I think Christians have a misconception about the lives God wants for us. We quote Jeremiah 29:11 with fierce conviction: “God has great plans for my life!” Then we go about using our time, spending our money, and gathering more stuff without any second thoughts.

Aiming for a full life, we end up with a busy one.

Pursuing happiness, we arrive at the end of our week exhausted.

Contending for financial and relational security, we become overwhelmed with anxiety and loneliness.

Jeremiah 29:11 is a truth we absolutely should cling to. However, God’s plan is not just to give us a great life. God’s best for us is to give us himself. To know Him is to know a full and good life. Here’s the complete idea behind the “good life” verse:

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 

In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.”

Jeremiah 29:11-14

In order to embrace the life God has planned for us, we must refocus our worship. I plan to do this by…

  • (Time)
    • Stopping activities done out of fear of disappointing others
    • Rearranging my weekly calendar around God’s priorities
    • Saying no to daily activities that makes me too tired or too distracted to meet with Jesus. (Netflix binges, social media, too many meetings)
    • Building my yearly calendar with intentionality and Christ-centered focus
  • (Money)
    • Being wise about my spending
    • Inviting the Holy Spirit’s to guide my budget
    • Letting go of control
  • (Possessions)
    • Instead of pining for a shirt or new kitchen tool, I am going to use what I have to God’s glory
    • Being more grateful
    • Giving more generously
    • Living with less clutter, that inevitably distracts my mind from focusing on Christ

 

I also intend to perceive my daily activities, the have-to’s (dishes, meal-time, playing with the twins, paying bills, work) as WORSHIP. Instead of going through the motions, I believe God can redeem these aspects of my life to draw me closer to Him. As long as I refocus my perspective.

Father,

How to refocus your worship and embrace God's best for you: HimselfI repent of my idol worship. I have made idols out of small things, paying attention to unnecessary activities, and adoring pointless things. Thank you for this reminder to know you. Through Jesus, you made that possible. Through the Holy Spirit, you made access to your heart attainable. Help me to refocus my worship, my devotion, my attention back to you. Reveal any activities in my calendar, any hours in my day, any charges to my credit card, that do not draw me closer to you. I trust your wisdom to provide the best possible version of my life today through worshipping you. Because You deserve it.

Amen

Week 1 Challenge:

  • Monday, Aug. 10: Share s’mores with friends, family, neighbors, and tell the story of how your identity has been changed by Jesus.
  • Tuesday, Aug 11: Flood your space with truths about your identity in Christ (sticky notes, verses on phone background, worship music, etc.)
  • Wednesday-Friday: Repent of idol worship! Set aside a 10 minutes to an hour, each day, to focus on God, tell Him how much you love Him. Make a list of distractions (things you have a hard time saying no to) for each day below, and either
    • change your perspective to know God better through them
    • remove the obstacle keeping you from God’s best for you: Himself.
      • Wednesday: Refocus your daily agenda, weekly schedule, and yearly calendar. You may need a full weekend to do this; be sure to include your family members (kids too) and the Holy Spirit.
      • Thursday: Refocus your budget/spending intentions
      • Friday: Refocus the possessions in your home/car
  • Saturday: Watch for the next blog post and further instructions.

I know this week might be difficult. Don’t forget your identity in Christ as the foundation for re-building a life centered around Christ. Let me know how you are doing, leave me a comment on Facebook.

Praying for you,

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Check in (type your comment below):

What is one thing you plan to refocus your worship on this week?

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Remember your Identity: Refocus Challenge Week 1

week 1 identityWelcome to the 5 Week Refocus Challenge!

For the next 5 weeks, we embark on a return journey together, to refocus on intentionality, worship, and God-honoring celebration! If you are new, start here.

When we accept a challenge like this to better our lives, we often assume our current position is negative, weak, lost. If you have not given your life to God through the cross of Jesus, this is absolutely true. However, for Christians, it is imperative that we believe the truth about our standing with God.

We are whole, perfect, righteous, accepted, and at peace with God because of Jesus. Nothing we achieve will change, add to, or take away from this position. We embrace change only because we believe in the power of working out our salvation as Christ works in us.

So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.

Do everything without grumbling and arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world. Hold firmly to the message of life…

Philippians 2:12-16

In order to work out our salvation, we must remember it! We need a sacred-sit-down with Jesus. When we…

  • remember who we were before Christ, we become humble.
  • recall all that Christ’s death and resurrection accomplished on our behalf, we become grateful.
  • rejoice over our identity as daughters (and sons) of God, we become free.

The spirit of humility, gratitude, and freedom is the perfect attitude to begin such a journey of refocus. Unhindered by internal lies of inadequacy and set free from pride-filled achievement, we can pursue God’s best for His glory and our good.

We must begin our challenge around a campfire of grace, much like Peter did with Jesus in John 21. We must recall our standing before God: perfect because of Christ. Any movement to achieve greater health, a closer walk with God, or a better use of our time is just icing on the s’more (sounds decadent, doesn’t it?).

I cannot think of a better day to start this journey than on National S’mores Day! Now, every year on August 10 (#nationalsmoresday) we can recall our identity in Christ and celebrate with those sacred squares of gooey goodness.

Dear Lord,

pin it identityI praise you for the work of Jesus to rescue and redeem us. Knowing my right standing before you, I boldly ask for help to be the daughter you created me to be. Holy Spirit, help me and my sisters here to embrace truth in order to be refined and refocused.

For your glory, and because of your sacrifice,

Amen

Week 1 Challenge:

  • Monday, Aug. 10: Host a campfire in honor of National S’mores Day. Share s’mores with friends, family, neighbors, and tell the story of how your identity has been changed by Jesus.
  • Tuesday, Aug 11: Flood your space with truths about your identity in Christ. Write them on sticky notes for your car and kitchen cupboards. Use dry-erase markers to truth-up your bathroom mirror. Sing along with worship songs like this one:
  • Wednesday: Watch for the next blog post and further instructions.

Find me on instagram and don’t forget to share your pics of your progress with #5weekrefocuschallenge , #week1 and #campfiregrace!

 

Check in (type your comment below):

What is one word to describe your new identity in Christ?

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