Prayer- Just One Important Aspect

prayer

Why Pray?  What’s the purpose?

Of course, God wants us to communicate with him so we can have a relationship with him, but doesn’t God already know everything about us, including what we want, already?  Yes, he does.  But do we?  Do we know every depth of our souls?  Do we know all the filth and untruths that need to be cleaned out of our inventory of thoughts and beliefs, or all the unstated wonder and gratitude we possess for all the things He’s given us?

Some people may, but for those who need help, like me, prayer helps us recognize those things.

It forces us to articulate ourselves.  It forces us to be more self aware.  When you pray, you have to tell God what you feel about the issues going on in your personal life and in the world, and what you want and need out of life.  And that is step one of solving any issue: identifying the problem. For example, if you find yourself praying for an end to terrorism, it may make you wonder, “What could I do to end terrorism?”  Then, you can use your intellect and perhaps actually do something to affect change in the world and help to solve the problem.

Remember to thank God for your life!

Philippians 4:6

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.

 

Clean Up

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Clothes.  Everywhere.  6 month pants, newborn socks, 12 month boys shorts, 18 month shirts.


Toys.  Scattered.  Plastic junk from China, hardly ever touched.  A strange looking, singing, waddling cow.  Some of this stuff has only been played with once or twice.  Do we keep it? 


When my husband graciously rearranged furniture in our kids’ bedroom, I necessarily designated myself the head (and only member of) the re-organization department for the aftermath of the task.  As I sat in the middle of the room and looked around me at the scene/eyesore described above, I felt overwhelmed.


I didn’t want to go on.  I didn’t want to finish the job.  And honestly, it didn’t get finished that day.  Nor will it probably ever be completely finished, until my kids move out, and take all their stuff with them.


We’ve been blessed with the generous offerings of many friends and family members and have a plethora of kids’ items- toys, supplies, clothes.  But kids grow out of clothes, quickly.  And they don’t play with all their toys.  And if you don’t keep up with the elimination- whether donating, gifting, or the inevitable trashing of some of them- of the unnecessary items that get built up, you’ll wind up with a mess of a bedroom, that’s bound to start oozing out into the rest of your home.


It’s painful to take the time out to do it, and it’s hard to get rid of the stuff once you do.  But, as always with the law of delayed gratification, you feel much better once you do.  And the place becomes visible evidence, as well, as it looks much better when you’re done.


As I sat cross-legged on the floor, folding clothes and sorting them into piles, I reflected on how great it was for God to give us this metaphorical process we must go through periodically with all our closets and household items, really- not just kids’ items, although they do call for attention on a much more timely basis.  The process reminds us of the same thing we must go through mentally, all through life.


If your mind is cluttered with distractions, and untruths, it has to be cleaned out.


If you’re basing your life on some judgement assigned to you, at any time of life, and that judgement’s not God’s, then your mind has to be freed of that nuisance.


If you’ve been accepting every word, story, opinion, or suggestion you hear, without guarding your soul or protecting it from the widespread idiocy all around you in any way, (much like I allow my house to become full by unwisely accepting material items we don’t really need) then your soul and mind must be swept clean.


With our homes, it’s obvious; we need to clean up to make it more livable and enjoyable.  And the physical nature of the house means it really does not matter in the long run, but our mental states do matter- what you think and believe is how you’ll live your life.  And how you live your life is of the utmost importance; it affects your every moment and every person and creature you encounter, or rather, your life is your every moment and every encounter with every other person and creature.


Make your life a reflection of what’s important to you, instead of letting it reflect a giant distraction or a massive confusion.

Refine your life,

just like we have to refine our children’s rooms and homes to hold what they actually use and need.  It’s not easy, and it’s not instantaneous, rather, it’s more of a way of life.  It’s an attitude.  Constant refinement of the mind, and therefore, your life- it’s a good thing.


Colossians 3:10

And have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

Romans 1:21

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

 

 

Vapor

Great post by The Breeze Site! Enjoy!

Life through God

water-vaporA feeling is like a vapor

The other day I found myself praying and asking God to make me feel His presence because I just haven’t felt like reading my bible or worship Him. But then I realized- Why am I asking God to make me feel Him? Why am I relying on a feeling in order to worship God?

See sometimes we forget that faith is more than a feeling. We base our worship on the feeling that comes with it. But there will be days when you simply won’t “feel” the presence of God but that’s when your faith is crucial because glorifying God does not depend on a feeling, it is about knowing, the Knowledge of the presence of Christ.

Now I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with asking God to help you feel, be aware of His presence; But when communicating with God solely…

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8 Great Things About God

  • aaaWhat I mean by walking with God is having a relationship with him.  This is the underlying theme of the whole bible.  Establishing a great personal relationship with God is a somewhat new goal of mine; I’ve not had an intentional relationship with him at all until recently.  Instead, I thought God constituted of formal religion, and formal religion didn’t make much sense to me.

Here’s why.  There are a lot of people whose religion is a huge part of their identity who solely worship the traditions of the religion, and pay no mind to its teachings in real life.  That’s what I associated with God, and I had no idea what the real truth was, because that was my truth.  I didn’t want to be a hypocrite, so it was good practice for me to stay away from that oh-so-common, deceiving portrayal of Christianity.  I thought God condoned those behaviors because those disobeying him were so flamboyantly adamant that faith was a huge part of their lives.


I can’t tell you how wrong this is. 


If you don’t feel that urge to walk with him, that is, have a personal relationship with him then perhaps you’ve been fed the wrong version of God, too.


 

The truths I’ve learned about the real God only makes me crave more and more of a relationship with him.  To encourage you to get to know him, here’s a list of my favorite things about him so far 🙂


 

1. He makes sense- he’s competent.

John Ritenbaugh from Bibletools.org says:

      “Wisdom in the Bible has the same general meaning as the English word “skill.” In this context, wisdom indicates proficiency, competence, or adeptness at living in such a way to produce the fruits of righteousness.”

So wisdom indicates competence, and the Bible is full of scripture and entire books teaching wisdom.

 

Proverbs 1:7

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.


2. He likes sincerity, not hypocrisy.

 

Matthew 7:5   

You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”

 

 

Matthew 15:7-9  

You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.


3. He craves mercy, not sacrifice.

Don’t do your “Christian” acts resentfully just because you think he wants you to; if you’re going to do them, do so with a cheerful, willing heart.

 

Hosea 6:6

For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.

 


4. He loves when you talk to him.

Or “pray” to him, if ya wannabe all formal about it. Whatever you call it, just know he is delighted to listen to the innermost thoughts of your lovely heart.  He understands.

 

Psalms 145:18

The LORD is near to all them that call on him, to all that call on him in truth.

 


5. He wants to help you.

 

Luke 11: 9-13

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.11“Which of you fathers, if your son asks forf a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”


6. He’s understanding, patient, forgiving, generous, wise, and always there for you.

 

 

Psalm 25:8

 Good and upright is the Lord.


7. He thinks you’re amazing.

 

Song of Solomon 7:1

7 Him: Your feet are so beautiful, perfectly fitted in sandals, noble daughter![ a ] Your sculpted thighs are like jewels, the work of a master hand.


8. He’s the best friend I always wanted, who was there for me the whole time.

 

Revelation 3:20

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

John 15:13

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

Those are attributes I love in people, so how pleasurable it was for me when the Lord revealed that these are all just a teeny tiny part of who he is!  Until then, I was fearful of a scary God, who sought punishment for my pitiful soul.

 


 

It’s been a joy of a ride getting to know more about the Lord and trying to be more like him.  It’s a lifelong job that I know I’ll never master, but will never stop striving for.


 

I could have just reached out and established this relationship at any point in life, but I chose not to, until now.  And now I’ll do anything to bring you and me closer to the God that I know.  Because I know how awesome his power is, and I know where it will lead us.


 

While we’re still here on earth, it may not lead to prosperity, or happiness, or comfort every second of our existence; instead it may call for some scary risks.  But it will undoubtedly lead us to wisdom.  And he’s ever-so-eager to lead us by the hand to it.


 

But he’s not rude 🙂  He won’t push his way in.  He respects your boundaries too much.  As Dr.s Henry Cloud and John Townsend, authors of The Boundaries Books put it,

God respects our boundaries in many ways. First, he leaves work for us to do that only we can do. And he allows us to experience the painful consequences of our behavior so that we will change. He is not willing for any of us to perish and takes no pleasure in our destruction (2 Peter 3:9; Ezek. 18:23), but he wants us to change for our own good and his glory. It hurts him deeply when we don’t. But at the same time, he does not rescue us; he wants us to work it out for our own good. He will not violate our wish to be left alone, although he will plead with us to come back to him.

So you take the first step- don’t make my mistake and sit around.  Invite him in to your life now and have a chat, and tell him hello from me!


 

John 14:6

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

 

This post shared at Tell it to Me Tuesday and What Joy is Mine link parties.

Live Life with Purpose

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Live like you just survived a near death experience.

Okay, maybe not just, because if it just happened, you’d probably still be shaking, terrified.  But imagine if it happened to your a week ago.

That brings clarity.

That quickly sets your priorities.

That makes you realize what matters.

If you knew your last day was coming up soon, what would you do?

Let’s say you’re lucky, and have many more days, and could peek ahead to your last day, in your golden years.  How would you judge your life, if you keep going as you are now?

Is there anything you’d regret?  Anything you wish you’d had the courage to do, but never tried?

Is there anything you want to accomplish, but haven’t set the goal to try it, or started acquiring the necessary information about to figure out how to make it happen?

Realize now what you’d change so that when your last day has arrived, you’re confident that the people you love and admire know how you feel.  You’ve said the things that needed to be said, apologized and forgiven those you’ve trespassed and been trespassed against.  The relationships are going to count in the long run.

And figure out what goals you will achieve, in every area of life, and to what lengths you need to go to to get it.  Success is not a mistake.

Living your life, every aspect of it, on purpose, will bring happiness.

Philippians 4:13

 
I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Watch this amazing video about a near death experience. This post was inspired by it, and has more about reaching your goals.  I’d love to hear your comments about what’s in your heart!

 

This link was shared at the What Joy is Mine and Life of Faith link parties.

How to Escape Apathy and Anxiety, and Turn Your Life into an Art Form

Turn Your Life into an Art Form
Have you ever thought to yourself, “I do not want to be here now.”  Me too.  A lot.

For a lot of us, it becomes a motto for anytime we’re not exactly where we want to be, say, out with friends, or at home, relaxing.  School, work, church- they can all be so dreadful, and cause major tension.

Apathy and anxiety are all too common.  We either waste time, or hate what we’re doing, until we’re where we think need to be.  Then, finally, we can enjoy ourselves.

What a sad way to live, and what a waste of resources to not put our precious talents to good use.  When you live like this, there are good times here and there, fleeting at best, but there is a much happier way to live.

It starts with changing the way you think.

Escape Apathy and Anxiety


What can make the difference?

 The realization that every situation:

1. Has the potential to be awesome,
2. Can teach us a valuable life lesson,
3. Is something to be thankful for.

How do we start to realize this?

Personally, I try to think of it like this: each situation is the situation God has chosen to put before me at each exact moment.

So how could I disagree with God?  How can I say to him, “No, thanks, Buster, that’s just not what I had in mind.”

Maybe God has set an obstacle in front of you to teach you a lesson, just like when we set obstacles in front of our youngsters to teach them lessons, like making them clean up their toys.

We have options: never deal with the problem, and let the consequences pile up, or avoid the problem by running away, to name a couple.  (Perhaps, in God’s eyes, adult versions of toddler tantrums).

Why do we so often choose these?  Why not choose to fix even the tiniest inconveniences, like fixing the sole coming of a sneaker, if it means we’d be happier?

Because it’s the easiest route to go.  It’d be easier for the child to leave his toys out, and it’s easier for us to ignore, or just be annoyed with, the problem.

Only, God wants us to step up and address those problems.

He doesn’t want us to not care about the happenings that are affecting us, or to submit to a victim mentality. You can change your lot in life, if you’ll take the steps to.

He doesn’t want us to be overwhelmed with anxiety when something comes up.  An anxious feeling is fine, if you use it as an indicator that something is wrong and needs to be fixed.  But anxiety is not what you, me, or God wants for you in any long term sense.

Instead, he wants you to develop the skills he’s made available to you, using the brain he’s given you, to work out life’s kinks.

There is a wide array of solutions each problem may call for: perhaps an attitude change, or a small tweak of some sort here and there, is all that’s necessary.  Or maybe you’ll find that you’ve not found, chosen, or yet pursued the path that is your life’s purpose.  No matter how simple or hard your solution is, the important thing is that you identify it, and proceed to act on it.

The most important part of the solution is calling on your relationship with God for guidance.

And if you don’t believe in God, think of your problem as your own personal challenge- a project that’s been brought into your universe just for you to accomplish.

 Ridding your life of apathy and anxiety makes it much easier.

Your Life as an Art Form 


When you realize God is intentionally putting every situation in front of you- no matter what it is- your every move starts to resemble a happy artist creating his masterpiece.

What does this mean?

  • An artist is not forced to make art; never resentfully does he stroke his brush.
  • An artist is completely fulfilled while making art.
  • An artist breathes to make his art, simply elated to work on his masterpieces.
  • An artist has a purpose for every single movement of his brush.

And every task of your life can resemble this artist at his easel.

How?

It comes naturally after you start to imagine God saying things like this to you: “Child, right now, it’s time to do the dishes.  This is part of managing all the things I’ve blessed your household with.”

Or, scarier for me, “It’s time to work on your people skills: you have to be around X group of people, and yes, I know it’s hard for you.  Don’t worry, I’ll be there for you should you need help, if you just call on me.”

You wouldn’t slack off at any situation, no matter how mundane or unappealing they once seemed, would you?

Those very mundane and unappealing jobs turn into exciting challenges, an absolute pleasure of a mission to accept, because they mean you’re becoming who God wants you to be by completing the work he has given you.

CS Lewis talks about this in his book The Screwtape Letters.  He says we’d never be annoyed while listening to a senseless person talk if we’d actually heard God task us with such.  And the same is true with every situation.

Your mouth would never again utter the words, “I do not wanna be here right now!” no matter where you were- school, work, the grocery store, church.

You will do things with pleasure.  Every step you take and every move you make will become those of purpose.  No more dragging your feet, not a single wasted action.

You’re first thought in the morning will become less like, “Good Lord it’s morning,” and more like “Good Morning Lord!”

The horrid dishes that need to be done become a delight to clean because you see that they are gifts from God that deserve the utmost care and attention.

The messes around the house that need tidying up become much easier to tackle when we see them as a mission from the Lord.  And ditto with all the other tasks that we sometimes don’t look forward to, or at least take for granted:  the meals that need cooked, the homework the kids need help with, job duties.

And if we really listen to what God’s telling us, maybe we’re not meant to be filling up our lives with things we find so awful.  Maybe we’re on the wrong path, and God is trying to clue us in.  And when we actually take the time to listen to him, we’ll figure out what would bring us happiness.  And the happiness will come when you’re fulfilling your life’s purpose.

If we do everything with intention, as if God set it in front of us to do, soon our lives will lack the oh-so-common pains of anxiety and apathy, and instead exude of meaning and fine artwork.

An intangible aura of greatness will accompany you wherever you go, and will spread to those around you, making the world a better place, one ripple at a time.  You’ll affect others’ lives more than you’ll ever know.

It takes work.  It takes intention.  And it’s definitely the path less traveled.  But it’s worth it.


Be that person you’d rather be.  It’s possible, and it’s awesome.

Related Scriptures and Article

2 Timothy 1:7 
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
 
Psalms 120:
I call on the LORD in my distress, and he answers me.
 
Jeremiah 29:11
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” 


This post shared at Mama’s Moments Monday.

Free Valentine’s Day bookmarks! Get yours now!

Free Valentine's BookmarksHello friends!  Here is a  FREE Valentine’s day activity for you to enjoy for yourself, or share with your loved ones.  The link below has downloads of ‘love’ themed Bible bookmarks that will help you study God’s word.


 

They can be printed, colored and shared anytime!


 

Click here to find them:  http://www.artandsouls.com/p/coloring-page-bookmarks.html


 

Created and shared by my friend Kelly at Art and Souls art studio.  Thanks, Kelly!

Taking Care of Ourselves

Taking Care of Yourself

I hear a lot of people muse on how difficult it is to take time out for themselves. “I feel so guilty!” or “There’s no time for it!”

 

I agree- it’s hard, but it is direly important to do so, because it ensures there is more of us to offer those around us.

My last post also hit on this, and there are some great resources on this wonderful site here, too: ellenbard.com.

If we aren’t taking care of ourselves first, we have nothing to give away to anyone else.

As Dr. Phil has said, “It’s hard to give away something you don’t have.”

This is true in love, money, you name it; every aspect of life.

First and foremost, we have to take care of ourselves spiritually by loving ourselves, before we can truly love others.

If we aren’t secure in who we are, we may feel the need to cut down anyone we find more secure than we are, even if it’s just in our own heads.

But when we’re fully confident in our own selves, we can be happy with everyone being their own selves too, no matter how awesome they are…. or are not.

And why shouldn’t we be fully confident in ourselves? God made us just the way we should be.

So if we are good enough for him, and lucky enough to be uniquely sculpted by him, how could we not be good enough for ourselves?

And for that matter, how could we not be fully confident in ourselves, just the way we are?

We have to be, out of sheer respect for the mastermind who made us.

Sure, there might be a million things we each need to work on, but as a whole, we are wondrous creatures in the Lord!

And then, when we master that self love, it’s hard not to love others for that very same reason: God made them, too, even if they’re obnoxious, or something that’s sometimes worse, better than you at, say, your job, hobby, business, looks, etc.

It just comes natural, the one stepping stone leads to the next.

Loving ourselves is a big part of taking care of ourselves.

Psalm 139:13-15
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

This concept not only applies to our spirituality.

Think about it folks. How could we ever show our love to someone via giving them a gift financially, if we don’t take care of our own personal finance situation ourselves?

If we’re broke, we cannot help a neighbor who is need of spare change, a spot on their electric bill, or new tires, simply because we have no money ourselves.

But what if we’ve paid attention to our personal finance situation?

What if we’re out of debt, have an emergency fund, and have extra money that is able to be given away?

Wouldn’t it feel awesome?

Wouldn’t it be an amazing feeling to hear someone grumble about filling up their gas tank, and simply be able to fill it up for them?

Or to buy your sibling a car, or your parents a house?

I’d love to be able to spread that kind of cheer to show God’s love, but first, I have to focus on my own personal finance situation more closely.

The same is true with our emotional health.

If one is mentally engaged with any kind of emotional dilemma, then the people around them will get less of them, simply because there is less to offer.

You cannot pay 100% of your attention to anything else, when the majority of your attention is already taken up by another problem.

The problem must be solved first, then your mental energy will be freed up, and you can focus on the next thing that you’re called to focus on.

(This is not to say that legitimate problems don’t come up and we shouldn’t focus on them. God brings issues into our lives and calls us to deal with them and learn from them. And when that happens, perhaps the problem should be the focus of your attention. But just make sure you’re being intentional about it, and not giving attention to matters that are needlessly recurring, or selfish. Know that it’s an issue worth putting your precious mental resources behind; don’t waste them all on mere distractions or futile matters, and then have none left to give away.)

So you see, when we’re focused on our own problems, we can’t give our all to any other individual, no matter how much we love them.

They get a half hearted version of ourselves, but never our fullest that they truly deserve.

Likewise, physically, we cannot give our all if we’re not taking care of ourselves.

We must do all in our control to remain healthy, so we can be active enough to help others out.

1 Corinthians 10:31
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

We are called to do everything for the Lord, including taking care of ourselves.

Birds Preening, and Keeping Ourselves Healthy

Birds Preening, and Keeping Ourselves HealthyDucks, and some other birds, do a special form of grooming called preening.


 

There’s an oil gland on their backs that they peck, and then they spread that oil to the rest of their feathers with their beaks.


 

Oil is hydrophobic, so it keeps the feathers waterproof, preventing water from soaking in, and thereby keeping the duck alive by preventing it from sinking into the water.


 

Preening can take up a lot of time, as ducks must undergo this process several times a day. It looks like quite the process, if you’ve ever witnessed it.


 

Ducklings are completely dependent on their mother. They know only to follow her around for their first 40-60 days, and from her, they’ll learn how to live on their own: things like fishing for food, or, if they’re in a park, begging for bread scraps from innocent passersby.


 

But what would happen if, one day, that mother duck decided that preening was just too much trouble?


 

“I’m worn out! All these little ones to take care of! I’m not preening today,” this hypothetical duck would think.


 

Or maybe there was no selfishness involved at all. “I can’t preen, I have to make sure my ducklings are okay. I’m not taking my eye off them!”


 

Soon the water would soak into her feathers, weighing her down, and she’d slowly sink to the bottom of whatever body of water she calls home- the lake, the river, a toilet.


 

It may not happen immediately after the first time she skipped out, or even after the second, but eventually, she’d be a goner.


 

This would obviously end her life, but it would affect all her little ducklings, too.


 

They’d be up the creek without a paddle.


 

Out of luck.


 

Dunzo.


 

No one to teach them life’s little lessons like different vocal calls, when to swim away from a predator, or to watch over them as they undergo fledging, or flying for the first time.


 

We, as humans, likewise, have to do our own version of preening.


 

We have to know what it is that’s self-sustaining to us- the things that keep us happy and healthy- so that we do those self-specific things, because doing these things, in turn, enable us to give the most of ourselves away.


 

Then, we’re able to teach, by example or otherwise, our own ducklings, and fellow ducks, life’s little lessons.


 

Figure out what it is you have to do that keeps you strong and happy enough to lend part of yourself to those who need you.


 

Speaking from a new mom’s perspective, it could be something as simple as keeping up with showering. But, during normal times for me, it involves working out and praying, but I’m always sure to include other activities I enjoy when I feel like doing them, like taking the time to cook a nice meal.


 

Don’t feel guilty about taking this time to care for yourself, because it enables you to care so much better for others.


 

Instead, thank God for the time he’s given you to do what you love!

 

1 Corinthians 3:17
If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

This article from crosswalk has more interesting insights as well.

This post was shared on Coffee and Conversation.