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Praying the Word with Life Lived Beautifully

Posted on March 23, 2015 by Sarah Brown | 0 Comments

Praying scripture is a big deal to me…and I can’t recommend it enough. It is the basis for how I designed the Praying for your Husband journal and the way I pray in my own life. I wrote about How to Pray Scripture a few months ago, explaining how I “put the Word to work.” Since reading Prayer, by Timothy Keller, I have also been using his suggestion of praying through the Psalms - it has been extremely helpful and insightful in my prayer life.

One of the women I admire most online is Gretchen of Life Lived Beautifully. Her blog is probably one of my favorite things, and not a week goes by that I don’t add one of her posts to my favorite blog posts on Pinterest. She is so laser-focused on Jesus, pointing to the Lord in everything she shares. What an inspiration!

(picture from Life Lived Beautifully)

Gretchen shared an oustanding post last week as part of her Well Watered Women series on Praying the Word. It has some great background into why praying God’s Word is so important, and also many suggestions on how to approach prayer time with the Lord. I especially loved her reminder on prayer being a posture, opening our hands as a “physical reminder to…let go of all the things I hold onto and to let God take control.” Words of wisdom right there.

At the end of the post, she lists some great resources…I’ve used her Give Me Jesus journal for quite some time…HIGHLY recommend it. I also enjoy Val Woerner’s prayer journal. And, who can’t love the Praying for you Husband journal too? :)

If you’re looking for some inspiration on praying God’s word, make sure to check out Gretchen’s post…wonderful words from a wise friend!

Posted in Journal, Prayer, Praying for Your Husband Journal, Resources

The Lies We Tell Ourselves

Posted on January 12, 2015 by Sarah Brown | 2 Comments

In the 5th grade, when I was packing for summer camp, I threw in some Sunday dresses I didn’t care about getting dirty. They were old, some I hadn’t worn in a while, but in my head, I figured it was camp, so why did it matter.

When our first Sunday arrived, and I pulled out a dress with hand stitching and a huge collar, I remember being mortified. The other girls had cute acid-wash jean skirts and matching scrunchies. It was the first time I remember feeling WAY out. I wanted clothes that made me feel cool and popular, as my appearance was not cutting it.

I’ve been telling myself lies every since.

You need to be perfect.
You’ll never be as good as her.
You can’t ever get your act together.
You’ll never be able to overcome that sin.
You have to be funny for people to like you.

I am constantly talking to myself in my head. Constantly telling myself things, evaluating situations, and weighing myself against the odds. My mind is a constant story, being written each day by the words I tell myself and the words I believe.

But so much of the story I am writing is just not true.

These lies are like thin ice, ready to sink me at a moment’s notice. Ready to give way when I lean on them too hard. 

A few years ago, I noticed I was listening to these lies more and more, so I grabbed a small blank journal and decided I needed a different story. I was sick of the words going through my head, and I needed some truth to combat these lies.

On each page of this new journal, I wrote a different lie I believed, and then underneath it, I wrote a real Truth from God’s word.  

On my page that said, “you can’t get it all together,” I wrote, “And he is before all things and in him all things hold together.” (Col. 1:17). On the page that said, “I can never overcome this sin,” I instead wrote, “For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Col. 3:3).

Over the years the pages filled and the lies changed, depending on what I was going through. There are many days when the lies still win out. Instagram and Pinterest help speak the lies loud and clear. But, there are also the days when I find myself speaking a new story into my days, Truth over the lies, hope over the vast monologue of not-good-enough.

I highly recommend taking the time to write down the lies you tell yourself, and then finding Scripture to speak truth into your life. If you don’t know if something is a lie, ask a good friend (I have done this countless times!) Here is a list you can print to get started…I have this list stuck in my Bible for easy access (click on it to print PDF).

How can you speak Truth to yourself today? What lies do you believe?

*Many different authors I have had the privilege of reading have talked about this great idea…Annie Downs in Perfectly Unique, Kate Conner in Enough, and most recently Lara Casey in Make it Happen. Great books to further read about finding your worth and truth in God.

Posted in Lies and Truth, Praying Scripture, Resources, Start Fresh

Essentialism and the 90% Rule in the Christian Life

Posted on December 17, 2014 by Sarah Brown | 0 Comments

My husband commits to things with extreme fervor. These interests vary in topic: woodworking, the European skull mount for a deer head, leather working, bee survival…the list goes on an on. One unfortunate period of time he was consumed with researching black holes, which caused many nights of marital stress, for I threatened to move out of our house if I heard one more sentence that involved the words “cosmos” and “gravity collapse.” Another period of research into making ammunition has most definitely secured our names on some government watch-lists of renegade individuals.

But, I have much respect for my husband’s commitment to research something in such detail.

And, I think it is often what I am missing in my pursuit of the Lord.

Greg McKeown, in his excellent business book Essentialism, talks about the need for business-minded people to figure out what is essential to them, and eliminate the rest. He gives the example of the 90 percent rule. For every task you undertake, give it a rating of importance from 0 to 100. If the rating is lower than 90, "automatically change the rating to 0 and reject it.” 

McKeown propels you to think: What is essential? Eliminate everything else.

What if I posed this question to my personal life, to the way I pursued the Lord? How would the 90 percent rule affect my daily life?

I want my Essentialist question, my 90 percent rule to be that in everything I do, I will pursue God with my whole-heart, looking to nothing else for fulfillment.

Everything else? Eliminate it.

It gets me thinking of things that quickly find ways of mattering to me, of becoming so very essential:

• Mothering - how I am balancing; the ways others perceive it

• Social media - appearing a certain way

• Striving to be perfect, to look perfect in so many areas

• Meeting deadlines - placed on myself or from others

• Looking like I can handle everything, like I am the one who has it all together

These are a few of the many things that take such a firm hold of my time, my thought life, the way I decide things, and then react. 

But, none of them stand up to my full-on pursuit of the Lord. These different areas become so essential, but are based on myself or how others perceive me. All of these would rate below a 90 on my importance scale, and by McKeown’s standards, I must eliminate them.

But, how do you do this? How do I focus on my Essential thing, when the daily grind and continued expectations constantly pull me away?

McKeown encourages that instead of asking, "What do I have to give up?” to instead ask, “What do I want to go big on?

And, there are so many things I want to go big on:

• Coming to Jesus daily, spending intentional time with Him

• Praying through any business work; laying it at His feet

• Striving to be full of grace, by forgiving myself more often when I mess up

• Being thankful; magnifying God by speaking words of thankfulness to Him

And maybe that’s where it begins - taking the small steps today to decide what I want to go big on…eliminating the rest. Taking time today to ask myself, “is what I am thinking about pointing me towards the Lord, or do I need to eliminate it?” 

I want the Essentialist activity of my life to be a full-fledged, head-forward, un-wavering pursuit of Jesus. A daily life that questions all thoughts and decisions in relation to my Essential question. A life that researches, studies, obsesses, and talks about my greatest interest - bringing glory to God with my life.

Have you read Greg Mckeown’s Essentialism?  What would be your Essential question?

 

Posted in Books, Resources

How to Pray Scripture

Posted on December 03, 2014 by Sarah Brown | 0 Comments

Prayer is a mystery to me. My mind goes in continual circles of, “God is my friend and I’ll just chat with him,” to “this is really overwhelming and I have no idea what to say!” The mix of talking to Him about everything and having reverent awe of Him seem to war out in my prayer life.

My perfectionist personality also wants to align my prayers in a nice check-list order, working through an acronym, balancing the friend vs. holy aspects of God equally, so I can mark off a prewritten list of prayer to-dos in an orderly fashion. A nice, neat, check-able way of praying. 

And as this internal perfectionism rages in my brain, I think I often forget what is right there in front of me - God’s Word. I forget about the power that I have available to me. I try to figure out many different ways "to pray correctly”, when God’s spoken Word is printed clearly for me to use every time I sit down to pray. 

As Paul Miller says in A Praying Life, I have the ability to “put the Word to work,” to use His already pre-printed, God-ordained, spoken Word as a way to genuinely pray.

So how do I “put the Word to work”?  Here’s an example of how I pray Scripture using the Praying for your Husband journal:

A few weeks ago, I was working through the Workplace week of prayer in the journal.  One of the verses listed to pray over my husband is Psalm 91:51: When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.

I read the verse, and then change it into a prayer for my husband:

Dear Lord, may my husband call to you as his rescuer when he feels drudgery in his work. Be with him in days of trouble, in days that feel like they will never end. This week especially, help him to find honor in you, even when phone calls from certain customers make him feel dejected. Answer him Lord, that you will draw near and be real. Amen.

So, I essentially turn a Scripture verse into a prayer for my husband, "putting the Word to work."

When Brooke McGlothlin was trying to figure out how to pray for her sons, she says, “the only logical place I knew to turn was to the Bible. If the Bible is God’s Word…it seemed logical to pray God’s Word back to Him, asking him to accomplish it” in the lives of those we pray over.

Praying scripture is powerful. It is not only God’s Word put to work, but it also keeps me from praying my agenda, fitting prayer into my perfectionism, and making prayer something I must “do right”, instead of something I do out of love.

I want prayer to be a way I am glowing love into those dear to me, those in my local community, my local story.

Do you pray Scripture?  If so, any pointers or tips on how it has helped you?

 

Posted in Praying for Your Husband Journal, Praying Scripture, Resources

How to Use your Praying for Your Husband journal

Posted on November 24, 2014 by Sarah Brown | 0 Comments

Our new Praying for your Husband journal launched last week - it’s been an exciting week over here! 

I want the Praying for Your Husband journal to be something that draws you to Jesus, that points you to his character, and that puts you on a mission of praying daily (and obsessively!) for your husband.  I don’t want it to be something that becomes overwhelming, or that you use for a week and then sits on a shelf, or that you tear to pieces and use to start a fire in the upcoming cold months because you just don’t know how to use it.

So, here are the ways I use my Praying for Your Husband journal:

1. Start each week with prayer. I usually do this on Sunday afternoon or Monday morning when I am doing my quiet time. Each week has a specific topic you will be praying about (such as Work, Prayer Life, Eternal Perspective, etc.). I see what overall theme I am going to be praying over my husband that week, and I just ask God to show me what he wants me to pray, to teach me how to pray for that overall theme, and to really move in my husband’s life that week.

2. Read over the Scripture verses and the Ideas of Things to Pray For.  There are 2 pre-printed sections in the journal - a list of Scriptures (one for each day of the week) and a list of Things to Pray For. I do a big read through of all the Scripture pertaining to that week, and I usually put a star next to any verses that really stand out. I read over the Ideas of Things to Pray For section as well, and underline, star, or highlight ones that jump out at me.

3. Write in Specific Needs for the week. There is a blank section for you to write down specific needs for the week. I write down anything I want to pray for my husband…some of the things pertain to the overall theme I am praying for, and some are just things I know he has going on (i.e. project a work, leading his bible study’s discussion time, upcoming visit with family).

4. Use the Journal each day during your Quiet Time to pray for your husband. The journal is set up so you have a different verse to pray each day. When I use my journal, I use the scripture as a basis to formulate my prayers. I then pray some of the Ideas of Things to Pray For, asking God to formulate these qualities in his life. I end by praying for the Specific Needs, asking God to work in these areas in my husband’s life. 

5. Write out a prayer for your husband.  There is a final section each week to write out your own prayer for your husband. I usually do this at the end of the week, a kind of summary prayer of the main things I have been praying; however, you can do this at the beginning of the week too, and use it as a guide for your prayer time all week long.

6. Add any answered prayers to the God Working section at the back of the journal. As I see God answer prayers, I make sure to record them in the God Working portion at the end of the journal.  I go back through my journal about once every month, reading over all the prayer requests from each week, to see what new answers God has miraculously done.

Feel like too much?  Don’t get overwhelmed. The journal is a guide to point you to Jesus and draw your heart closer to him in prayer. If it overwhelms you, or becomes too much, just choose one bible verse and focus on that all week, instead of feeling like you are getting behind.

Have any tips you’d share with others about using your Praying for Your Husband journal?  Share below!

Posted in Journal, Praying for Your Husband Journal, Resources

Seeing Christ During the Advent Season

Posted on November 12, 2014 by Sarah Brown | 0 Comments

Advent. Defined as the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event. The time for us, as Christians, to wait expectant for the arrival of the MOST notable person, thing, and event. But, also a time of the year demanding the most of my time, my emotions, and myself.

The Advent season always comes as a challenge to me, kicking off the busiest month of the year by instead choosing to slow down and see the gift before me. To focus on the magnificent story woven throughout Scripture, and seeing the promises fulfilled through Christ’s birth.

This season offers a multitude of great resources to point us to Christ…great books and devotionals, cool calendars, great online communities. But, I love what Erin of Home with Boys said on Twitter yesterday:

So, yes, these resources below are wonderful. But, simple is better. The best thing we can do with the Advent season approaching is to just read the Bible, as we wait with expectation for the arrival of the MOST notable person, the fulfillment of our hopes, and the event proclaimed from the beginning of Scripture.

With reading scripture, if you are also looking for some great Advent resources, it is time to snag them before the season begins. Here are some I have used and recommend:

Devotionals:

• She Reads Truth Advent Study Pack - awesome study pack from a wonderful online community of women
• Naptime Diaries Advent Devotional - beautiful way to walk through Scripture in a devotional format
• The Greatest Gift - used this last year and cannot wait to read it again
• Unwrapping the Greatest Gift - great family devotional with wonderful pictures

      Decorations:

      If you’re looking for some great holiday calendars or decorations that really point towards the meaning of Christmas, I love these ideas:

      • Cradle to Cross Wreath - this sits on our table during the Advent season as we count down the days until Christ’s birth
      •This (pricey!) felt version from the Lullaby Loft is amazing as you move through the Christmas story each day
      • All you crafty types (not me!) might love making this nativity scene from Ginger Snap Crafts
      • These Jesse tree advent ornaments from RedFern Felt are beautiful
      • A simple and elegant wooden nativity set from Charlie’s Woodshop

            As the Advent season approaches, may it turn your heart to the Lord, as you wait expectant for the MOST notable event of the season.

            What Advent resources do you use to focus on Christ during Christmas? Any suggestions?

            Posted in Advent, Resources