Tag Archives: refocus

Redesign the Schedule: Refocus Challenge Week 5

redesign the schedule

These past 5 weeks have given me much-needed perspective and focus. The season has turned, and we are fully launched into the fall semester/season of ministry and family life. With the truth of my identity in Christ fully remembered, and the purpose for my life in full focus (to know God more intimately in every moment), I am equipped to redesign the ever flexing schedule into something that works for our goals, rather than against them.

Instead of filling up my weekly calendar with tasks and appointments I’ve been doing all year, I gave myself a blank page to work from priorities up. I kept this process very simple:

Step 1: List the Important. After praying for God’s wisdom and processing with Shane, I compiled my list of needs, responsibilities, and joys:

  1. Spending time with God
  2. Loving my husband
  3. Raising my kids
  4. Optimizing our home as a sanctuary
  5. Mentoring my disciples
  6. Engaging in healthy community
  7. Flourishing (stay healthy physically, mentally, and emotionally)

redesign the schedule pin itStep 2: Brainstorm details. These are the “how” to spend time accomplishing the important:

  1. Spending time with God >> quiet time, prayer, church worship service
  2. Loving my husband >> Weekly date nights, stay home on weekend mornings
  3. Raising my kids >> pray, engage in their play, add activities/outings, be present!
  4. Optimizing our home as a sanctuary >> clean, cook, plan
  5. Mentoring my disciples >> lead girls Bible study, occasional discipleship coffee date
  6. Engaging in healthy community >> women’s Bible study, work out classes, friend dates
  7. Flourish >> work out, healthy meals, reinforce life-givers, sleep

Step 3: Calendar it. Starting with the priorities, I designed a daily routine and weekly schedule that will promote a lifestyle of focus on Christ.

I tried to leave plenty of margin for spontaneity, and will fight for flexibility when our schedule needs to bend to our needs. I really appreciate having some structure to guide (not dictate) how I spend my time. I am praying this design will optimize my relationship with God and others, increase my intentionality with the kids, and give me room to say YES to the things of God.

Thank you for joining me for the 5 Week Refocus Challenge. It’s time to start LIVING FOCUSED. Feel free to revisit any of the challenges as you walk confidently with God into this new season.

With joy,

signature

Follow Campfire Grace: its like a smore: you like it, you share it.
0

Renounce the Rush & Retake the Space: Refocus Challenge Week 5

 

renounce rush pin itRenounce the Rush

We often don’t hear the voice of God when we are serving the voice of busyness. In her book, The Best Yes, Lisa Terkeurst comments: “A woman who lives with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule with often ache with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul.” I plan to reconstruct my schedule to work FOR my best (God’s best), not against my desire to flourish. I’m making room in my schedule to be still with God, spend quality time with my family, and fuel my soul with life-givers. A family friend calls this our “sanctified no” space.

Reading Priscilla Shirer’s Breathe has propelled me to factor in margin, or “white-space” in my plans. In my dapples with graphic design, I have learned that white space is one of the most important elements of a presentation. White-space clears out distractions so the focus stays on the main idea of the poster or book cover.

In the same way, I believe white space in my schedule will help me focus on the main goals God has for me. White space is not the leftover hours that don’t get filled. I plan to schedule intentional “white space” in my calendar this season.

In the next few days, I plan to take inventory of each hour of the week. Is the way I spend these hours honoring God by drawing me closer to Him, and serving in the way He want’s me to serve? (More on this later in the week).

renounce the rush

Retake the Space:

This renouncing of clutter can apply to our physical spaces as well as our schedules. Inefficiency is oozing all over our home (and car!). This distracts me from intimacy with God. It provokes ungratefulness and over-accumulation. I’m not using what He’s already provided, and worse, I’m withholding generosity from our wealth of stuff and space. Does anyone else sense this need to unpack the unnecessary? It’s time to retake our space!

As with the schedule, taking inventory of each room and closet in our home will generate a grand refocus for our home’s true purpose.

  1. For each item and every space, I’d like to ask: is this serving it’s purpose? Some rooms are not arranged to their fullest potential. Some cupboards are not fulfilling the goal of organization. Much of our closet is dedicated to housing unfolded laundry and worn out shoes.
  2. I will upcycle, donate, or trash anything that is not a “yes” to the above question.
  3. For my clothes, I plan to wear EVERYTHING once over the next month (ok, not my wedding dress). This is the best weather for tanks+cardigans and sweaters with shorts, so I really can wear each item in my closet. If I can’t bring myself to wear a shirt or dress, I will muster the courage to move on by donating it.

I must not that retaking our space is different than week 2’s idea of resetting home base. I recommend reseting home base first (perhaps weekly?) before trying to take back the space for it’s best use and efficiency.

By initiating a grand take over of our time and space clutter, perhaps we can stimulate a much-needed de-cluttering of our minds as well.

Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people),

Making the very most of the time [buying up each opportunity], because the days are evil.

Therefore do not be vague and thoughtless and foolish, but understanding and firmly grasping what the will of the Lord is.

Ephesians 5:15-17 (Amplified Version)

Lord,

I am humbled that you provide such wealth of time, space, and stuff in my life. I am ashamed by my misuse of and lack of gratefulness for it all. Please forgive my poor attitude and lackadaisy. Give me wisdom to embrace each blessing you provide—the time in my day, relationships in my life, and the stuff in my home—and honor you with it!

Thank you Jesus for making this possible

Amen

Week 5 Challenge:

  • Monday: Take inventory of the important things in your life. Put the list on your fridge/bathroom mirror and commit to prioritize these things. Post a picture of your list on instagram with #reprioritizingtheimportant and #5weekrefocuschallenge
  • Tuesday: Figure out what immediate things tend to steal your attention from the important (these might be similar to time-wasters). Set a strategy to ignore them.
  • Wednesday: Take a hard look at your schedule. Is there any breathing room? Any quiet time? Write down any distractions and pray about how to renounce the rush.
  • Thursday: Unpack the unnecessary in your home. Make a list of each room (each closet should have it’s own line item). And brainstorm ways to conquer the list a little at a time.
  • Friday: Check back here to Redesign your Schedule.

Check in:

How do you plan to de-clutter your schedule or your space?

Follow Campfire Grace: its like a smore: you like it, you share it.
0

Reprioritize the Important: Refocus Challenge Week 5

reprioritizeDo you ever feel like the day just got away from you? Its the end of the day, but you have to make sense of the chaotic covers on the bed you never got a chance to make that morning. The to-do list is looming over your head, with hardly as many check marks as you’d hoped for. Your stomach is growling because, whoops, you forgot to eat dinner. Yet you know for a fact you did not spend your whole day twiddling your thumbs, right?

When I come to the end of my day, the time to clock out and let God be sovereign as I become unconscious, I like to have that feeling of accomplishment. That my day counted in a way that honors God, serves my family and community, and fulfills me, sanctifies me, and satisfies me. Unfortunately, that feeling is rare.

Proverbs gives an example of a woman who has such a confidence:

She girds herself with strength
And makes her arms strong.
She senses that her gain is good;
Her lamp does not go out at night.
She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hands grasp the spindle.
She extends her hand to the poor,
And she stretches out her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of the snow for her household,
For all her household are clothed with scarlet.

Proverbs 31:17-21

I believe this woman experienced confidence in her work and home life because she prioritized the important. So many of us can’t prioritize room or time for the important things in our life because we are busy attending to the immediate. You know what I’m talking about:

reprioritize list

The important isn’t always a “big” thing either. I think distraction of the immediate also leads to disobedience to God in the little things. too. “Miraculous power comes through mundane faithfulness,” is a quote that has deeply impacted my life this year. As I read the Bible, I realize that most stories focus on the epic moments in a person’s life, not the mundane faithfulness that led to those moments. If I am going to honor God with my everyday life, I must learn to live between the lines of epic.

It’s not just about going through the motions; its about knowing God through the motions. Reprioritizing the important provides that sense of accomplishment and fulfillment I crave. All I did today was crawl on the floor wrestling my babies. I sang and spoke and rhymed colors and shapes like a broken record as they completely ignored me (or so it seemed). I tucked them into bed, praying for God to grow them into a strong man of honor and a graceful woman of compassion.

reprioritize and pin itTHESE MOMENTS are my “important.” They are important because God says so, and because they are fleeting. I didn’t publish a book, write a non-profit grant, or design an anti-cancer drug. Those important things are for someone else or some other time.

I don’t want to ignore the power, the adventure of every day living. I don’t want to humdrum through each day waiting for the weekend. I don’t want to surrender significance in exchange for survival. I want to reprioritize the important.

Will you join me?

Week 5 Challenge:

  •  Monday: Take inventory of the important things in your life. Put the list on your fridge/bathroom mirror and commit to prioritize these things. Post a picture of your list on instagram with #reprioritizingtheimportant and #5weekrefocuschallenge
  •  Tuesday: Figure out what immediate things tend to steal your attention from the important (these might be similar to time-wasters). Set a strategy to ignore them.
  •  Wednesday: Check back for the next post.

Check in:

What is one important thing you want to reprioritize in your life?

Follow Campfire Grace: its like a smore: you like it, you share it.
0

Rejuvenate with Purpose: Refocus Challenge Week 4

Rejuvenate with purposeThe last couple of years wreaked havoc on my body. In November 2013, just a few short months after I started getting a handle on my health, I got pregnant with twins. My body conceived, carried, gave birth to, and nourished through 12 months of breastfeeding my precious Titus and Evangeline. Dedicating my body to such a task has been a great joy, and also a great sacrifice.

The babies are now toddlers, and the responsibilities for my body have changed. Instead of rest, extra calories, and snuggle time, I now need to have greater strength, endurance, speed, and alertness. It’s time to restore my health and fitness. It’s time to rejuvenate with purpose!

Since I can’t seem to stick with my goals unless I give them them titles and nicknames, I have created Becky’s Better Body Plan. The plan is to have a body that feels better, looks better, and functions better for the season God has for me to live. I am not going on a diet, nor am I criticizing the body I have. I actually like it. In fact, my husband loves it, my kids lived in it, and I have a decent time getting around with it. This Better Body Plan is not a response to some kind of internal hatred towards myself. Rather, because I love and am grateful for the body and life God has given me, I feel privileged to pursue greater health, strength, and perseverance.

Below are the specifics for my plan to rejuvenate my body for God’s purposes.

Since every persons body, life-stage, and circumstances are different, I DO NOT RECOMMEND my proposal as a prescription. However, I DO encourage you to read through my strategy, be inspired, and formulate your own. There are a few things I think we all could improve on for our bodies’ sakes, like drinking more water, improving flexibility, and activating a healthy heart rate. Spark more ideas and community by sharing your plan of attack with the #rejuvinatewithpurpose and #5weekrefocuschallenge hashtags on your favorite social media site! Here are my specifics:

Becky’s Better Body Plan 2015

  • Stretch each morning
  • Drink a glass of water before each meal
  • No snacking after 9pm (savor some tea instead!)
  • Eat something fresh (fruit or veggie) at each meal.
  • When you eat rich or indulgent foods, ENJOY them!
  • No legalism, only freedom to have a healthy body
  • Get moving 2+ times a week
  • Remain in God’s Word on a regular basis so I can also…
  • Prioritize mental health: agreeing with what God says about my body (and identity) over anything the scale, dress size, or mirror says:


My child, never forget the things I have taught you.
    Store my commands in your heart.
If you do this, you will live many years,
    and your life will be satisfying…

rejuvenate with purpose pin itDon’t be impressed with your own wisdom.
    Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil.
Then you will have healing for your body
    and strength for your bones.

Proverbs 3:1-2, 7-8

For many of us, having a healthy body is as simple as having a healthy relationship with God. Prioritizing His Word provides perspective on food, work, laziness, excess, and general health. We are able to enjoy a satisfying life in Christ when we hide His commands in our heart.

Kickstart!

To get in the mood to rejuvenate, I am kickstarting this healthy season with a a little bit of “treat yo-self” luxuries including:

1. A new hair style

2. Shopping spree with my bestie (with breastfeeding behind me, this mama needs some new bras!)

3. An at home Spa day. While Shane watches the kids, I get to pamper myself with candles, face masque, hair conditioning masque, a warm bath, a paraffin wax treatment, and a mani/pedi. The added bonus of a husband who gives killer back massages reminds me luxury is not only found at a fancy hotel spa. (However, a fancy spa gift-certificate is always an appropriate gift for a new mom…)

4. I am also giving my body a system cleanse (similar to a juice cleanse), which will provide a good foundation for my digestive health, and hopefully resolve my dairy issues (a complicated relationship since last October).

Its important for us to remember that rejuvenation is not just to increase our energy, feel younger, or freshen up our appearance. Even though I am finished physically nourishing my children, my body is still not just about me. Rejuvenating with purpose means we are agreeing with God’s prerogatives for our lives, and championing healthy bodies to meet those purposes.

Lord,

Give us grace to use our bodies for your purposes. Keep us healthy to do so to the best of our abilities. If health is not possible, give us strength to serve you in through the struggle.

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 (through the weekend): Spend some time enjoy your favorite life-giver with a friend, your family, or just by yourself (is that a novel idea for you?).
  • Friday: Make a Better Body Plan with your name on it. Strategize how you can keep up this plan through the rest of this season/semester.
  • Saturday: Kick start your rejuvenation with something special for your body. Share your “treat” with #rejuvenatewithpurpose and #5weekrefocuschallenge on instagram!

Check in:

What do you need most in your season to rejuvenate for God’s purposes?

Follow Campfire Grace: its like a smore: you like it, you share it.
0

How to Hide Pages from your Facebook Newsfeed

Screen Shot 2015-04-30 at 3.48.06 PM

Today’s post is a special application to the 5 Week Refocus Challenge. In the last post, we tackled the idea of taking inventory of our life-givers and time-wasters. One thing I found to be poorly serving me is Facebook. I often defend my devotion to Facebook, claiming its sufficiency as a tool for social connection. However, I’ve noticed it is now a big bulletin board for things people find interesting (I already have an app for that called Pinterest).

If I see another FB article using cheap attention-getting tactics like “This man opened a door, you’ll never guess what happened next!”, I think I will pack up my family and move to a remote cabin on a mountain somewhere, then I’ll make a blog post about it titled “She moved her family to the mountains, and you’ll never guess where”, and when you open the blog post, it will say, “never, ever. The End.”

Seriously, it’s getting obnoxious. I realize as a blogger, I want people to share my blog posts. But I am completely ok if friends and family want to just know about my life, not my interests. So, as a courtesy, I pledge to only post about personal life happenings on my personal profile. No more interests (see my pinterest profile for that). No more blog posts (follow my blog-page for that).

I realize that every human being is not interested in compartmentalizing Facebook as I am. There will always be another Buzzfeed article or Bestvine to clutter my connection with actual humans. Therefore, in order to use Facebook for its purpose (at least in my opinion) to build relationships, I found a way to hide everything else.

hide fb page

I make a habit to do this simple clean-up exercises every time I scroll through Facebook. It doesn’t take much time, and it is somewhat cathartic. If I am really interested in a page or article, I will find it on the internet or pinterest. Facebook actually has an algorithm that shapes my feed, often favoring pages, and ads over friends’ posts; its all based on my clicks, so I don’t even click on those any more! Since “hiding” them, I haven’t seen anything from buzzfeed or vines anymore, however there is always another page promoting something.

It takes diligence to clear up the feed, but it’s worth it. Now, I can scroll through and focus on relationships.

However, even focusing on relationships can fail to serve its purpose. My husband preached a message in our youth ministry a few months ago about God’s omniscience (that God knows all things, about everything, at all times). Shane said we often “play god” through social media (Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Newspaper apps, etc.), pursuing the need to be omniscient about everyone. Convicted, I resolved to use social media apps as tools for connection, not a means of control and presumed-omniscience.

In order to ensure that social media serves it’s purpose, Shane and I decided to build boundaries on when we utilize screen time. The main parameter we set up was no screen time in bed. I do not use it to “wake up” in the morning, nor to “wind down” before sleep at night. (Who am I kidding anyway, it never works that way.)

By purging Facebook of distractions, and by limiting screen time, I believe I have recaptured the beauty of media as a tool for appropriate connection.

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:

How has the 5 Week Refocus Challenge helped you reclaim your social media space?

Share your progress by adding this post to your personal Facebook or twitter feed: 

“I’m reinforcing life-givers by cleaning up my Facebook feed! #reinforcinglifegivers #5weekrefocuschallenge @campfiregrace.com”

Follow Campfire Grace: its like a smore: you like it, you share it.
0

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?

Follow Campfire Grace: its like a smore: you like it, you share it.
0

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?

Follow Campfire Grace: its like a smore: you like it, you share it.
0

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?

Follow Campfire Grace: its like a smore: you like it, you share it.
0

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?

Follow Campfire Grace: its like a smore: you like it, you share it.
0

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.

Follow Campfire Grace: its like a smore: you like it, you share it.
0