Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Prayer Journal

"Pray without ceasing." ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:17
I am definitely guilty of this!  But most of the time it's a recited blessing or selfish one-liners:
"Help me be patient with this toddler!"
"How do I lovingly tell my husband 'I told you so!'?"
"Get me home safely!"
I discovered my long lost prayer journal during my recent quest for organization.  And boy has it been lost - 3 years lost!  I am so ashamed!  My prayer life can stand improvement.

I desire a more intentional prayer life, but it would take me hours to pray for everything that needs praying for - the reason I organized a prayer journal.  I wish I could give credit to whoever gave me the idea.

A) My prayer journal is one of those petite 3 ring binders with loose leaf paper in it.  On the inside front cover is handwritten the format for an intentional prayer:
Let's consult Mr. Webster (paraphrased by me) for a few definitions here:

  • Adoration - the act of worship, honoring
  • Confession - disclosure of sin for the purpose of reconciliation; "a written or oral acknowledgment of guilt by a party accused of an offense"
  • Thanksgiving - expression of gratitude; acknowledgment of goodness
  • Supplication - a humble and earnest request
  •      Petition - a [personal] request
  •      Intercession - a request for someone else
  • Surrender - "to yield to the power, control, or possession of another...;" "to give up completely or agree to forgo especially in favor of another;" "to give (oneself) up into the power of another especially as a prisoner;" to give (oneself) over to something (as an influence)"
  • Listening - to pay attention; to be alert; give consideration
B) There are 8 divisions:
The weekly details, described below, can be rearranged as it fits your routine and schedule.

  1. Scripture
  2. books
  3. my family
  4. missionaries
  5. people and their prayer requests
  6. lost people
  7. my own needs and concerns
  1. my church, my pastor, my fellow believers, my Sunday School class, those with whom I'm  involved in spiritual ministries
  2. other churches, other believers (effective in bringing people into the kingdom; their growth as disciples; boldness in witness; development as leaders), those who live in restricted countries
  3. revival, spiritual awakening
  1. unreached/lost
  1. national concerns (people, situations, and places)
  2. government leaders (people of character, sensitive to righteousness, good decisions, who do not know Jesus)
  1. those who cross my path randomly
  1. people of other nations (leaders, missionaries, fellow believers)
  2. Lord, call more laborers (may each one hear and obey Your call)
  3. mission strategists, decision makers responsible for world evangelism
  1. family
  1. neighbors
C) Tucked in the front inside flap I find 3x5 index cards with Scripture verses written on them for memorization purposes, prayer request printouts from church and Bible study groups, and a blank Thank You card.

I used to be involved with the Baptist Student Union at Campbell University.  They had groups called outreach teams.  We would spend the weekend with a youth group at a particular church, ministering to them through song, Bible study, games, skits.....  The team would stay with host families.  Since my prayer journal accompanied me wherever I went, I kept a Thank You card inside to leave with my host family.

D) Stuck in the clear pocket insert at the back was a poem, quoted at the end, that I learned while studying at the Focus on the Family Institute.

While typing all these details out, I realized how legalistic this may sound to someone without OCD or without high organizational needs or without time constraints.  (Sometimes I wish I didn't crave lists and binders and filing cabinets and file folders and organizing trays and labels and . . . .)  This surely is not intended to make prayer time rigid, but to purpose it.  To allow communion and sharing between God and His children.  To bring wholeness to that "pray without ceasing."

Excuse me while I go converse with my Father!

O Christ, my life, possess me utterly.
Take me, and make a little Christ of me.
If I am anything but thy Father's son,
'Tis something not yet from the darkness won.
O give me light to live with open eyes.
O give me life to hope above all skies.
Give me thy spirit to haunt the Father with my cries.
George McDonald, Diary of an Old Soul (adapted)

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Life of Communication with a Toddler

"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. 
"And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."
~ Deuteronomy 6:4-9
I have been reading a must-read for anyone who has children, of any age, still living at home.  It's entitled Shepherding A Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp.  I have a comment to share upon reading Chapter 10, "Embracing Biblical Methods: A Life of Communication."

I am the stay-at-home mommy to a nearly 19 month old.  My days are filled with A LOT of supervision and a lot of "no-no's" and "let's do this instead."  All my chores have to be designed in a way where a toddler can help.  I'm constantly explaining how our doggies are nice and that we shouldn't hit them with a puzzle-piece hammer or a drumstick.  I'm learning how to deal with temper tantrams (yes, my sweet little angel has a very short fuse!) - Little Jack will know how to count to 10 soon and problem solve.  If I do get a chance to do something on my own, I'm interrupted with a toddler approaching me, book in hand.

I get tired.  And look forward to bedtime.  But then I think, "Ah!  Finally time to get done all those things I couldn't do with Little Jack awake."

I get discouraged as we have a 2-story farm house, infested with mold, that needs remodeling before it's livable again, and limited resources (ie. NONE) to accomplish this.  Grandma could keep Little Jack and I could get a job, to bring in a steady income.  I feel torn between what I think is God's calling on my life - being a wife and a mommy - and "necessity".  And just when I'm in despair about our choice God ALWAYS brings a reminder into my life that this is my calling.  Today's -

"There is a simple way to look at the cost of deep, full-orbed communication.  You must regard parenting as one of your most important tasks while you have children at home.  This is your calling.  You must raise your children in the fear and admonition of the Lord.  You cannot do so without investing yourself in a life of sensitive communication in which you help them understand life and God's world.  There is nothing more important.  You have only a brief season of life to invest yourself in this task.  You have only one opportunity to do it.  You cannot go back and do it over.
 "You live in a culture in which there are opportunities for you to do things unheard of in history.  You are presented daily with scores of options for investing your life's energies and creativity.  There is more than you could ever do.  You must, therefore, prioritize.
 Parenting is your primary calling.  Parenting will mean that you can't do all the things that you could otherwise do.  It will affect your golf handicap.  It may mean your home does not look like a picture from Better Homes and Gardens.  It will impact your career and ascent on the corporate ladder.  It will alter the kind of friendships you will be available to pursue.  It will influence the kind of ministry you are able to pursue.   It will modify the amount of time you have for bowling, hunting, television, or how many books you read.  It will mean that you can't develop every interest that comes along.  The costs are high."
 p. 97
 But the benefits FAR outweigh the costs.  Little Jack will only be a child once and I want to be the one investing in him.  And I'm journeying through what all that entails and anticipating how God is working out my path of life.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

How to Fall In Love Again in Four Minutes a Day

"Love...is not self-seeking." ~ 1 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV)
This year will mark our 5 year wedding anniversary!  I feel that's an accomplishment, especially in this day in time when commitments are based on happiness and self fulfillment.  Love is the hardest and best work I've ever done and will ever do.  I get so excited when I find creative (and often common sense) ways to spice up the love life of this "old married couple."  And to be able to do it in 4 purposeful minutes! 

The 4 Minute Marriage Habit:
How to Fall in Love Again in Four Minutes A Day

It only takes four minutes a day to move into a deeper heart place. Four minutes a day to connect, deepen the communion. Live koinonia.

Who doesn’t want a deeper relationship?

1. Four Focuses

Four times a day focus on the love you vowed. When I leave the marriage bed, leave the front door, when  I return to front door, return to marriage bed. These are the four critical archways of time in our day. Touch or whisper a sweet nothing when passing through these gate points, and we walk into hours of closeness. It’s the focus that makes old love fresh love.

2. Four Embraces

Four times a day, embrace. Embrace fully and hold each other’s eyes. That’s all. Repeat four times daily. The one flesh breathes best when the skin pores are close; connected.

3. Four Affirmations

Four times during the day, thank him.

For working faithfully, for hanging up his towel, for putting gas in the van, for making this heart skip a wild beat. Look for the ways to thank him and watch how he moves closer.
The 4 Minute Marriage Habit to Fall in Love Again:
4 Focuses + 4 Embraces + 4  affirmations = Falling in love all over again

Thank you again Ms. Ann Voskamp at A Holy Experience, http://www.aholyexperience.com/, for your insight.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Day's Drafts

"So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." ~ Psalm 90:12

Do you ever feel like you’ve been busy all day, but don’t get much, if any, accomplished?  I find planning and to-do lists very helpful.  And very discouraging when I don't get everything marked off.  Recently I came across this really neat planner (attached below) that I would like to share.  It's been most helpful to me in not only planning and writing to-do lists, but prioritizing those to-dos and organizing my day.
Taken from "A Holy Experience" Blog

1. The Day's Dire - the 3 most pressing needs to tend to
I don't feel obligated to do 3 (although I certainly have at least 3 dire needs!).

2. The Diner - the menu?
Meal Planning is definitely something I need to work on!  Along with cooking in general.

3. The Domestic - the household tasks
These are the chores not done daily.

4. The To-Do - tomorrow's Dire's and Draft
This step is SO important to avoid getting distracted from the task at hand.  I think of so many things that I need to do throughout the course of my day.  Instead of stopping what I'm doing, getting distracted to accomplish what I just thought of, I simply jot it down here and plan on doing it tomorrow.  I find these distractions are what make me feel like I've been busy all day without accomplishing anything.

5. The Definites - the things definitely done every day
I really like the water glass icons!  Keeps water intake on the forefront of my mind since I see it every time I look at my planner.

6. The Dailies - the daily rhythm
Here I document all those mundane chores that get done almost on auto-pilot mode (except cleaning the litter box.  That takes a little more motivation!).

7. The Doxology - looking for gifts to give Him thanks for today
This reminds me of a line in a VeggieTales song - "A thankful heart is a happy heart."

8. The Day's Draft - draft out when during the day you'll do the dires, dailies, domestics, and to-dos
This organizes all those lists!

The first week of implementation has proved productive.  Maybe it has been more mental, since my house is still a mess!  I feel accomplished and things are getting done.  That's important.  And I'm also remembering this quote:

"The accomplishment of a day
isn't so much about accomplishing goals but abiding in God,
and this is the thing that needs remembering."
~ Ann Voskamp, author of The Holy Experience Blog ~

Sunday, January 8, 2012

My First Blog Entry: Where I am Today

I have a mental list of all these things I want to accomplish, goals I want to reach, to better myself and the life of my family in all areas of our existence.  And I'm always justifying not doing them.  And blogging is the last thing I thought I'd ever do!  So, here's to the baby steps that make up the journey of the rest of my life.