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Entries in Prayer (28)

Tuesday
Sep242019

Upgrade Your Homemaking with the 7Ps

Morgan Farr is a multi-talentd woman with great influence both biblically and practically. In this Homemaking UPGRADE, she applies a military concept to home skills for greater success.

“Prior Proper Planning Prevents Painfully Poor Performance,” Morgan says. This is a saying that is often posted in military circles, often referred to as the 7Ps.”

I (Dawn) think that’s a mouthful and hard to say, but it certainly drives home an important point! 

Morgan continues . . .  

I have used my own version of the 7Ps to successfully run a military garage gym ministry, and I want to share my 7Ps of Homemaking. 

I have found that almost all of my stress in homemaking has been related to not having enough time or energy for a task. With my 7Ps for homemaking I am better able to manage my time and energy.

These are the Ps that I follow: 

  • Planning and Preparation
  • Pace and Play
  • Pen, Pew and Prayer

1. Plan and Prepare

The first thing that I would recommend to anyone looking to upgrade their homemaking would be planning and preparation. These are crucial aspects of running a home well.

From planning the meals, doctors appointments, and vacations, to planning guest visits… homemakers plan a lot.

“Let everything be done decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40).

Find a way that works for you and use it to help you plan and prepare well. 

While I am aware that there are a million calendar apps out there, I am still a paper planner kind of gal. I have a large wall calendar and a small spiral bound planner that stand between me and disordered chaos.

I use a different color coded pen for each member of the family. That way I know at a glance who has something major each day. This helps me to plan out my week and see any major issues ahead of time.

My husband and I make certain that we are available on Sunday evenings for a planning meeting for the week. We discuss upcoming events, things that need to be added to the grocery list, and anything else that needs to be prepared in order to keep the family running smoothly. 

2. Pace and Play

Once you have a plan and you have prepared to follow through on it, the next thing you should do is decide on your pace and play rhythm.

"By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done" (Genesis 2:2-3).

The Creator of the entire universe rested on the seventh day.

Be realistic about how much work you can bear at this point and create opportunities to recharge. 

There are many ways to get ahead in this area and upgrade your homemaking. I have alarms set on my phone for 1:30 pm every single day. This helps me to pause whatever project that I am working on, and take a break.

This break could mean:

  • I read a book,
  • I walk on the treadmill,
  • I sit and drink a cup of coffee, etc.

It depends on the day and the projects I am working on. If you are someone who loves the outdoors, maybe that means stepping outside to enjoy God’s creation for 15 minutes on your lunch break.

The important part here is to realize that while hard work is good, it is equally important to set a healthy pace with opportunities to play the way that works best for you. 

3. Pen, Pew, and Prayer

My final—and probably most important—recommendation is to make sure you spend time with a pen, in a pew and in prayer.

“And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone" (1 Thessalonians 5:14).

I think everyone should keep a journal, no matter the season of life. This can help you avoid sin patterns, love the people around you, and understand yourself better. Even if all you can do is write in a one word entry, that can help you later to see where your heart and mind is headed over time. 

I would also strongly encourage you to get in the pew at church.

By that I mean:

  • Be a part of the fellowship and accountability.
  • Find a mentor and a mentee in your community.
  • Be a part of the body of Christ in both a physical way and in your prayers.

Sharing our burdens with other believers is one of the greatest mercies of the Christian faith. We have to be vulnerable enough to open up our hearts and share the burdens that we carry, especially as homemakers where much of the battle is unseen among mops, children, and groceries. 

God has given us the incredible ability to be keepers of our homes. It is our responsibility to ensure that we do the absolute best job of it that we can.

Taking the time to ensure that we follow the 7Ps helps us to honor God with our homemaking. 

Which of these 7Ps do you need to devote more energy to?

Morgan Farr is a Texas-loving, succulent-cultivating, book nerd. Stationed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, this Army wife is working to better love her husband, develop her three small children, and learn more about homeschool. Morgan is a homemaker dedicating her time to ministering to other Army wives through Bible studies, one-on-one mentoring, and physical training. She writes about her transition out of feminism and into biblical womanhood at The Forgiven Former Feminist

Graphic adapted, courtesy of RawPixel at Pixabay.

Thursday
Sep122019

Upgrade Anxiety to Excitement in 4 Steps

Joanie Shawhan is a "choosing joy" sort of person, despite some tough circumstances she has faced. In this Biblical Thinking UPGRADE, she helps us choose a positive, godly attitude over one that can be debilitating.

"My heart raced," Joanie said. "Why was I dreading what should have been a fun celebration?"

Joanie Shawhan has been on one of my (Dawn's) big encouragers in a cancer journey, often challenging me to turn my fearful thoughts into faith, and my anxious thoughts to joy. So I'm excited to read her four steps to "upgrading" anxiety into excitement—and I hope you will be too.

So practical. So real.

Joanie continues . . .

Several months ago, my book, In Her Shoes: Dancing in the Shadow of Cancer, was released. With a friend’s help, I organized a book launch party in my home. We prayed, planned, and prepared. Every detail had been taken into account.

But when the morning arrived, I felt anxious, devastated, and drained.

What happened?

First, Mother Nature had overstepped her boundaries.

I was sure by the end of April we would’ve accelerated into spring with any significant snowfall relegated to the rear. But I was wrong! Instead, a massive snow band hovered over the highways my guests would be traveling. The swath shifted every few hours with predictions ranging from a dusting to eight inches.

Several out-of-town visitors cancelled. Would my only guests be my faithful helpers? I feared my launch party would flop.

Desperate, I cried out to God.

Suddenly I experienced an aha moment—sometimes anxiety and excitement can produce similar physiological responses!

The same sensations I was experiencing: accelerated heart rate, rapid shallow breaths, trembling, muscle tension, and butterflies in the stomach can be caused by either anxiety or excitement.

But I was so familiar with these sensations that for me they signaled only anxiety. I had never associated these physical manifestations with excitement.

Would I allow anxiety to rob me of the excitement and joy of celebrating my book release?

I realized I needed to CHOOSE EXCITEMENT.

That’s when I felt the Lord whisper, “Rejoice!”

In anticipation of fun events and celebrations, how do we switch our thought tracks from anxiety to excitement?

Here are a few ideas.

1. Ask God to help us recognize the presence of anxiety.

Sometimes we become so familiar with an emotion or emotional response that we fail to recognize the source of that vague sense of unease or apprehension.

We need to identify our feelings and the lies we believe about our situation in order to respond appropriately.                                                                                    

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts (Psalm 139:23 NIV).

2. Discern if the emotional response is appropriate for the situation.

Since anxiety and excitement can produce similar physical cues, we must determine if the situation is a real or imagined threat.

Anxiety can take us on an imaginary train ride of numerous what-ifs that never happen, derailing our strength and joy.

We need to rein in our runaway thoughts.                                                        

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things (Philippians 4:8 NIV).

3. Pray with thanksgiving.

Thanking God changes our focus from our problem to the loving God who cares for us.

I had much to be thankful for. The book I had labored over for years was finally in print. I had prayed and placed the details of my book launch party in the capable hands of God and many friends.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God (Philippians 4:6 NIV).

4. Choose excitement.

I chose to use the emotions I associated with anxiety—my racing heart, quivering stomach, and chest tightness—to fuel excitement instead of anxiety.

This choice immediately changed my perspective.

A new joy and strength surged through my body and emotions. I was excited about my party.                                                                              

Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength! (Nehemiah 8:10 NLT)

Rejoicing and choosing excitement over anxiety changed me as well as the atmosphere of my book launch party. Despite the threats of snow, I welcomed a house full of guests. I enjoyed their company, signed books, and gave away fun door prizes.

I felt energized, excited, and joyful.

This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:24 NKJV).

How do you upgrade when anxiety attempts to rob your joy?

Joanie Shawhan is an ovarian cancer survivor, registered nurse and author of In Her Shoes: Dancing in the Shadow of Cancer. She has been a featured guest on podcasts, radio, and television. You can find her media interviews, blog, speaker topics, and contact information at www.joanieshawhan.com. Her book, In Her Shoes: Dancing in the Shadow of Cancer, is available at Amazon 

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Alexandr Ivanov from Pixabay.

Thursday
Aug152019

Praying Through Our School Problems

Julie Sanders, a teacher, cares about students. In this Prayer UPGRADE, she calls us to pray for our students, especially as they struggle in school or face tough circumstances in their education.

"It doesn’t take long into a new school year before problems emerge," Julie says. "No education format is exempt from trouble to sort out, so how do we find school solutions in spiritual ways?"

I (Dawn) know Julie is right. Whether our children are in public school, private school, or even homeschool, when problems arise, we need to know the best way to move forward.

Julie continues . . .

When the first sign of a school problem appears, with speed unique to moms and grandmas of students, we can assess an issue, create a list of options, and find the school office number.

In the moment when our learner faces a fear, challenge, obstacle or conflict, it’s easy to forget about being quick to listen and slow to speak (James 1:19).

Education questions today raise issues related to curriculum, requirements, pacing, classmates, special needs, transportation, and cultural exposure, to name just a few. Parents face challenges to ensure students receive academic opportunities they need, while shaping their spiritual perspective and relational patterns.

Keeping the school formula at home has its benefits and challenges, while traditional classrooms, Christian or private, invite their own opportunities and obstacles.

Thankfully, God doesn’t call us to bow to problems, but to bow to Him.

Rather than being a fearful woman, I can be a prayerful woman.

In The ABCs of Praying for Students, I wrote, “What our learners need more than anything is our prayers—prayers fueled by your genuine love and a heart full of hope for the student on your mind.”

In Paul’s explanation to his learners about the essence of his prayers for them, we find guidance for how to pray for students on our hearts and minds.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:16-19).

We want children:

  • to learn according to their ability,
  • to respect their teacher,
  • to develop healthy peer friendships,
  • to make wise choices, and
  • to have a friend at lunch.

Those things matter, and God cares about every element in our child’s education.

But most of all, we want our learners to intimately know the love of Christ, so deep and wide that no vocabulary describes or defines it.

Back-to-school problems have a powerful ability to turn our thoughts toward things we can touch, people we can email, supplies we can get, and assignments we can review. Earthly things (Colossians 3:2).

But in God’s greater curriculum, these things come under a bigger plan to help learners know the love of Christ. This truth applies from cradle to college and career.

Whether you school in a traditional classroom, a co-op, homeschool, or a one room schoolhouse like my mom, God wants to use the experience of education to teach our child the truths that matter most.

May our kids and grandkids know we pray for their concerns, but most of all we pray for them to know the concern and love of God toward them. There is no greater lesson to learn.

The most powerful thing we can do for our students will never be found on a school supply list. 

Engage what your child’s education needs most: the great power of your prayers at work.

As the learners we love start a new school year and problems emerge, what is your default action? Resist the urge to whip up a list and type an email. Instead, stop and pray for God to use hard things to lead to holy things.

Julie Sanders has been teaching students of all ages for thirty years. She loves Back-to-School season and how learning leads grown-ups and children to God’s deep and wide love. Julie is the author of The ABCs of Praying for Students, available at Christen Price Studio. Learn more about Julie at her blog.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Open Clipart / Vectors at Pixabay.

Tuesday
Jul022019

Only One Thing Matters

Grace Fox, a career missionary, knows much about the pressures of ministry, but she has learned to focus on God's purposes for each day. In this Spiritual Life UPGRADE, she encourages us to have a biblical perspective on how we invest our time for greater intimacy with the Lord.

"So many voices and genuine needs clamor for our attention," Grace says. "So much noise fills our physical and mental space. Our busy lives pull us a gazillion different directions but in truth, only one thing really matters."

Grace echoes a truth I (Dawn) struggled with for years. So much to do, so little time. And it didn't help that I was determined to do it all—many times without checking in with the Lord.

Grace continues . . . 

I’m a recovering A-type personality who totally “gets” Martha (Luke 10:38-42).

She thrives on purposeful work especially when it involves those she loves. The day Jesus and His disciples visit, she invests her total self in serving them.

Martha slaves in the kitchen while her sister Mary lounges in the living room. Mary sits at Jesus’ feet, listening to Him teach and hanging on every word.

This scenario reveals two sisters and two demonstrations of love for Jesus.

He acknowledges both, but commends only one: “There is really only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it—and I won’t take it away from her” (Luke 10:42).

What’s the all-important “one thing” to which Jesus refers? Time spent in His presence listening to His voice.

I’ve been involved in career ministry for more than 25 years, and I’m still trying to master the one thing. My human bent wants to focus more on the OTHER thing—service.

In the process, I treat Jesus like a second-class citizen:

“Sorry! I’ll meet with You tomorrow, okay? Right now I need to work on my book about intimacy with You. You know all about deadlines, right?”

I suspect I’m not alone in my struggle to keep first things first.

In his book Secrets of the Vine, Bruce Wilkinson admits that, as a spiritual leader, he’d “become an expert at serving God, but somehow remained a novice at being His friend.”

The process happened slowly, unnoticed, as Wilkinson gained more competence in doing ministry.

  • Activity done for Jesus eventually replaced time spent with Jesus.
  • Listening to the voices of those pressuring him to do and be more replaced listening to the voice of the Shepherd.

Wilkinson lost his joy and his passion for Christ.

Change came when the truth dawned on him: “God didn’t want me to do more for Him. He wanted me to be more with Him.”

Spending time building relationship with Jesus—that’s the one thing that truly matters.

The depth of our intimacy with Him determines everything about us, including how we spend time and money, how we treat others, how we respond to disappointment and suffering, and whether or not our lives bear fruit.

So, in the midst of crazy busy lives, how do we give the “one thing” the priority it deserves?

Here are three practical suggestions:

1. Rise Early.

As a mom with three young kids, I realized that enjoying regular quiet time with Jesus meant rising early. Waiting until later guaranteed other tasks would take precedence. So, I asked God to wake me when He wanted to meet with me.

Without using an alarm clock, I woke bright-eyed at 5 o’clock the next morning and every morning afterwards.

A quiet house void of distractions provided the ideal environment to focus on the Word. I anticipated sweet fellowship, and God never let me down.

Perhaps you already have a well-established routine in the Word. If not, ask God to show you when He wants to meet. He’ll answer your prayer, I promise.

2. Pray Continually.

Invite Jesus into every part of your day, beginning the moment you wake—“Good morning, Lord. What wonderful things do You have planned for us today?”

Share joys and disappointments with Him, but invite Him into the mundane too.

I cleaned other people’s houses for several years. Someone asked me, “How can you tolerate doing brain-dead work?”

The question shocked me: I’d never considered my work in such terms. I prayed for my family as I scrubbed, and mundane became an act of worship.

3. Seek Silence.

The busyness and noise clamoring for our attention distract us from intimacy with Christ. Solitude and silence promote it because they free us to focus and listen.

Turn off the phone and ignore your computer for a few minutes each week (each day, if you have that luxury).

Sit in silence before the Lord with no agenda except to hear His voice.

Ask Him to speak to you and expect Him to answer. Journal what He says.

Only one thing really matters. Nothing feeds our soul like intimacy with Jesus.

What’s one action you can take to deepen your friendship with Him beginning today?

Grace Fox is a career missionary, international speaker, and author of nine books. She’s on the writing team for First 5, a daily Bible study app produced by Proverbs 31 Ministries. For more information about Grace, visit her website and blog.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Marr Creative at Lightstock.

 

Tuesday
Apr232019

Hope When It Hurts

I've read a lot of articles about hope lately, and many of them were "fluff," but Shonda Savage Whitworth's article is deep truth, because it comes from a deep rooting in the Word of God. In this Biblical Thinking UPGRADE, she encourages us to seek true hope when we hurt.

"My dreams for my family’s future shattered when my oldest son was sentenced to prison," Shonda says.

"His conviction demolished the good mother image I erected in my mind. With this image decimated, my emotions spiraled into a dark abyss."

I (Dawn) know several families with incarcerated children, and they all deal with tough issues, some struggling everyday with hope.

Shonda continues . . .

After my son began his life in state prison, my life of being held captive by guilt, shame, and condemnation started. Despair enveloped me like a heavy fog keeping the light from shining in my life.

We read in Proverbs:

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12, NLT).

The anguish gave way to hopelessness, and I was diagnosed “situational adjustment disorder,” which is a classification of anxiety and depression.

My personal life stalled while the world around me moved forward.

While the life I had and the future I expected dissipated, I knew I could not remain stuck in the sorrow. My family needed me to be present in their lives.

This realization allowed a ray of sunshine to peek through the fog of despair and I encouraged myself in the Lord, just as David did when he was greatly distressed. 

Here are three ways I found hope when it hurt.

1. Praising God

In my pain, I played worship music and sang along to praise the Lord. Many times, the words to the worship songs triggered tears, so I just cried out, “No matter what, You are God.”

Dr. John G. Mitchell wrote, “To give thanks when you don’t feel like it is not hypocrisy; it’s obedience.”

Hebrews 13:15 tells us, Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name” (NKJV).

There are times when giving thanks out of obedience is a sacrifice, but the reward is worth it.

Through worship, my focus turned to the Lord and off of my circumstances. As a result, new hope poured into my spirit.

2. Meditating on the Word

A colleague told me, “Shonda, be sure you put your hope in God because man will fail you.” In hindsight, I realized that I put my hope in the attorney and the justice system instead of God.

To pull myself out of the darkness, I read the Bible daily and Scriptures about hope popped up. As I meditated on the word, I learned hope in God is our expectation in what He can do, not what I can do or what any other person does.

Then I came across Zechariah 9:12:

“Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you” (NIV).

At that moment,

I chose to be a prisoner of hope instead of a prisoner of despair.

As a prisoner of hope, I released my expectations of man and the system and placed my confidence in the Lord.

3. Praying

Before the tragic events unfolded that led to my son’s imprisonment, my prayer was “Lord, I ask You to hedge him in so he cannot follow his own path” (based on Hosea 2:6).

I believed my prodigal son would find his way home. Instead, he went to prison.

During the months leading up to the trial, I prayed for my son’s freedom. After his conviction, my hope dissolved and my desire to pray evaporated.

As I meditated on Scriptures, Jesus taught the disciples to pray, “Your will be done” (Matthew 6:10) And Jesus prayed, “nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42).

My prayers were the opposite, so I began to pray like Jesus taught and modeled. As a result, my perspective changed.

I now see how prison saved my son’s life—both in the eternal and in the natural.

In my hurt, I found hope as I offered up the sacrifice of praise, meditated on the Word of God daily, and prayed God’s will.

Through these daily disciplines,

  • the fog of despair lifted,
  • my good mother image has been replaced with knowing who I am in Christ,
  • and my life is moving forward filled with joy and peace as I know God, my source of hope.

If you’ve lost hope due to hurtful circumstances in your life, my prayer for you is from Romans 15:13:

“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit” (NLT).

Are you struggling with hope today? Which of these three ways to find hope when you hurt is missing or lacking in your life? How can you change that today?

Shonda Savage Whitworth is the founder and president of Fortress of Hope Ministries, Inc., giving hope to those with incarcerated family members. She is a speaker and author who connects with her audiences through her transparent testimony of personal tribulations and triumphs in Christ. Her book, Appeal to the Courts of Heaven: Prayers for Prisoners and Prison Families, is scheduled to release in the fall of 2019. You can read more about Shonda’s unexpected prison family journey on her blog

Graphic adapted, courtesy ofLechenie Narkomanii at Pixabay.