I’ve recently read two great books that brought up the same idea: praying over your to-do list.
As a working mom with a young child, my to-do list can often be my end-all-be-all. It ends up being the motivation for SO much of my day…and my happiness. I feel successful when I work through that thing, and overwhelmed when I just can’t get enough done. In a way, it becomes my idol.
I loved Karen Ehman’s advice from Keep It Shut:
“To pray your to-do list, find a few moments to be alone and quiet. Ask God to bring to mind all that you must accomplish that day…then briefly pray through each item on the list.”
And Matthew Perman gives some great thoughts on why we should pray our to-do list in What’s Best Next:
“We have an amazing privilege as Christians to integrate our planning with prayer. Prayer is essential for our planning, because God is the one who ultimately makes our plans effective."
To be honest, I have never given much thought to praying over my to-do list…but, when I read about it in both of these books, it was like the “ah ha” moment I needed to really change the trajectory of my weeks and days.
Since I’ve started praying my to-do list, I find myself:
• Less stressed about accomplishing things, as I’ve already laid the things before the One in charge
• More willing to let things go; when praying for certain things, I realize how trivial they really are
• Finding more time to be intentional in my day to day, as I realize that my to-do list rarely includes serving others
• A feeling of a greater purpose to my individual days - it doesn’t always feel like a race against the to-do list; now, I find myself more in tune with my greater goal of serving Jesus in the tasks
I would definitely recommend giving it a try - praying over my to-do list has been truly life-giving these past few weeks.
Have you ever prayed over your to-do list? How has it affected you?
I have a best friend that is unbelievably talented. We all think our best friends are pretty amazing, but let’s be honest, mine really takes the cake.
Jennifer and I met at summer camp in 3rd grade and have been best buds ever since. She has always been an inspiration to me, but now lives her life being an inspiration to others.
After college, Jennifer hiked the Appalachian Trail for the first time and really caught the hiking bug. Now a few years later, she holds the record for the fastest hike on the Appalachian Trail; was named a National Geographic Adventure of the Year; has been featured in The New York Times, on the CBS Early Show, Fox and Friends, and more; and has written two excellent books about her hiking experiences.
So yeah, she’s pretty legit…and I like to brag on her just a little.
She wrote a blog post this week that really hit home with me. Using hiking as an analogy, she explains that much like you must have a “pack shakedown” before starting on a long hiking adventure, we also need a “life shakedown” at times, to let go of so much we hold so tight.
I can think of so many things I hold so tight right now: my time (and protecting it), money, my appearance of being a good mom and having it all together, and especially...certain responsibilities that I just won’t pass off to others or ask others for help.
One of my favorite things Jennifer encourages us to do is to “share the load with other people” - I’m bad at this. In wanting to appear to have it all together, I often hold tight to things.
In Matthew Perman’s book What’s Best Next, he talks about delegating work, but I think it applies to more than work. He says, “our main aim in delegating is not simply to make our own lives better and free up our time. It is also to build up the other person…true productivity is about doing good for others."
In my life shakedown, what if I was able to let things go and bring others alongside me? Instead of fearing whether people will view me as incompetent, what if I saw partnering with others as a way to truly love them, giving them the opportunity to excel in a new task while also feeling a great sense of joy as they serve me well?
Asking for help is hard, but I think Jennifer really hits it on the head - we all need a life shakedown, and part of the shakedown is our opportunity to have others come alongside us to help carry the load…whether you are raising a child, completing a project at work, going through a tough life circumstance, needing a friend, or even just walking down a hiking trail.
In what areas do you need a life shakedown? In what areas could you let go a little and ask for help?
A few months ago, I listened to a wonderful podcast by Jamie Ivey, where she was talking with one of my favorite authors Gloria Furman. (She wrote Treasuring Christ when Your Hands are Full - which was one of my top 10 favorite reads from 2014). During the podcast, Gloria quoted a Jonathan Edwards prayer, in which he asked God to “stamp eternity on [his] eyeballs."
This prayer has really stuck with me over the past few months, and I can’t help but praying it often. The idea of seeing everything in my day-to-day through this eternity perspective would be life changing. What would it mean to me if I had eternity stamped on my eyeballs?
I think I would care a lot less about the terribly slow driver who is texting instead of driving, because instead of getting frustrated, I would understand that I frustrate God in so many of the same ways, and He is so very gracious with me.
I think I would care a lot less about my child behaving perfectly in church, because instead of expecting perfection, I would understand that I often fidget and get antsy when I am having to sit still before the Lord.
I think I would care a lot less about knocking my to-do list out of the park, because instead of having to accomplish tasks in order to feel worthy, I would understand that I could do so many things (or so few things), and God would still love me just the same.
I think I would care a lot less about earning so much money and saving so much money for the future, because instead of safekeeping my money out of fear, I would understand that all that I have is from the Lord and it is just laughable to assume that I can control what is the Lord’s to begin with.
I want to stamp eternity on my eyeballs today and tomorrow and next week. I want to look through the lens of eternity, and have that perspective, when I view anything and everything in my life. I want to let so much go…just give it up…and see Jesus before me.
How would stamping eternity on your eyeballs affect your day to day?
Another great month of some great reads. Make sure to check out past months reads on the Books page.
Favorite Books Read this Month:
Being Mortal by Atul Gwande: Wow - wasn’t sure what to expect when you pick up a book about “dying,” but was this a good read. An amazing, eye-opening telling of what care is like for those that age and are dying. I loved this.
Warden and the Wolf King by Andrew Peterson: Final book in the Wingfeather series, this was so very good. If you like Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, you’ll love this. And, a great dose of the Gospel that is so clear - I can’t help relating to his descriptions of the darkness in all of us, and how hard it is to choose the dark versus the light. I am so sad this series is over…I will be reading again, for sure!!
Fringe Hours by Jessica N. Turner: If you have a hard time making time for yourself, whether you are a mom or if you are a busy working professional, this is a great read on making yourself a priority, in order to be able to love others well. Some great tips I am putting into practice.
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford: I had heard about this book over and over; so glad to finally pick it up! I love historical fiction, and this did not disappoint. I didn’t know much about what America was like during WW2 for those of Asian decent - really shocking.
Manage Your Day to Day by Jocelyn K. Glei: A quick read with really applicable advice on maximizing your work time each day through simple changes to your schedule.
Keep It Shut by Karen Ehman: One of my favorites of the month by far - I was not sure what to expect on this one, but some really great advice. I can always use some help on keeping my mouth shut! Highly recommend.
Cress by Marissa Meyer: I wasn’t disappointed with the 3rd book in the Lunar Chronicles…I’m surprised how much I am loving this series. Excited for the 4th book to come out this fall.
Adventures of Johnny Bunko by Daniel H. Pink: I’d never read a book classified as “Manga,” but after my dad shared this business book with me, I was really impressed. An incredibly interesting way to present some business thoughts and ideas - fun to read, for sure.
Lizzy and Jane by Katherine Reay: After reading Dear Mr. Knightley, I couldn’t wait to jump into this one. Easy and fun read with great truth about families, distance, and cancer…but not depressing! Different than my normal “genre” but so fun.
Chasing Francis by Ian Morgan Cron: I love a good historical read, and this book was just fun. Telling the story of a man rediscovering his faith by learning more about the life and ministry of Francis of Assisi, it made for an easy way to really learn more. Very good.
Missing You by Harlan Coben: Listened to this one on audiobook and very glad that I did. Just needed a great suspenseful mystery. Found myself driving on and on so I could keep listening!
Jesus Hearted Woman by Jodi Detrick: A longer Christian read, but some really good advice for anyone in Christian ministry (which isn’t everyone??) - would be good for people, even if you aren’t necessarily in a “leadership” role.
And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini: I have loved all of his books, and this was no exception. Kind of sad but also very hopeful. A good read that gets you thinking.
Also read this month:
• Earnest Hemmingway On Writing by Larry W. Phillips - Thoughts from Hemingway on how to write
• Daily Rituals by Mason Currey - Going through quite a few individuals, telling of their “daily rituals” in how they are able to schedule work during a typical day
• The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho - a favorite for many, definitely enjoyable; just not what I expected!
What have you been reading this month?
I just love Easter and everything about Easter. It feels like such a fresh start - a new beginning, a feeling of rejuvenation and rebirth. And, what a great time of year to take a good look at how your year is going and what is ahead.
I know I made many goals in January, and I have been working hard on my Daily Ritual (I’ve loved doing this!). But, I have let so many things slip, so many things that are very important to me. Easter feels like a great time to start again, give myself grace, and refocus on what is important in my life.
If you are looking for a new start in your prayer life this Easter season, I am sharing a coupon code on our Instagram account today, so head over to snag it. Committing to pray for your husband over the next 6 months is such a great way to start fresh, praying scripture for your husband and drawing near to God this spring.
Happy upcoming Easter and happy coupon-code-day from Glowing Local!
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!
I started Glowing Local back in October for many reasons…one of those stemming from a desire for our family to be more generous. A few months ago, I talked about how Glowing Local gives a portion of its profits to Mocha Club, helping to fund Orphan Care work in Kauma, Malawai.
In addition to Mocha Club, Glowing Local also supports the Harvest Hope Food Bank located in South Carolina. I really wanted to be able to give back to our local community, and this organization does so much for people in our city.
Harvest Hope is about feeding the hungry…and man, oh man, there are so many hungry people in our city. Harvest Hope serves as a Food Bank, allowing organizations to purchase food at a huge discount to then freely serve to hungry people across the city (organizations like soup kitchens, churches, etc.) Harvest Hope also runs an Emergency Food Pantry, allowing individuals to freely shop for food once a month so to be able to feed their families.
I was connected with an amazing woman Jane Daniel of the Greenville branch of Harvest Hope back in October of this past year, and she really helped explain the hunger situation in our city. She described it by saying that the “face of hunger is changing” - many of us think of the homeless as those that need food (and they do!), but according to Jane, many families frequenting the Emergency Food Pantry are people like you and me who have just fallen on hard times. Due to something like a job loss or death in the family, many parents are working multiple jobs to make ends meet, often leaving a grandparent to watch over the children while parents work long shifts. Jane described so many of these people as proud people who are just trying to get back on their feet.
In our city of Greenville, I don’t often really think about the hungry…its just not something that crosses my mind unless I make the effort to think about it. But, just down the street from where I live, there are children whose only meal that day is at school; these same children save half of this meal to share with family later that night, as there won’t be many more food.
I am beyond proud that YOU are making a difference in people’s lives through your support of Glowing Local. Thank you for buying a journal…and then in turn, helping to supply food for those in great need.
To find out more about Harvest Hope, make sure to visit their website. If you are local and looking for a great organization to get involved with, I’d highly recommend Harvest Hope. Let me know if you want me to connect you with the great people over there!