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Making a “Place” in your Life for Prayer


By monthly contributor Ann Dunagan of Harvest Ministry

Imagine if someone gave you a brand-new living room set. The pieces of furniture are so much better than you could have imagined, or dreamed. The set is absolutely perfect for your family. The colors. The style. The look. Wow. It’s so much better than that old worn-out set that should have gone years ago.

But imagine bringing that new living room set home . . . and leaving it outside.

You know it needs to come in. You want to bring it in.
But you just aren’t willing to take the time to rearrange your living room.

You don’t want to “bother” with getting rid of the old set.
It’s such a job to get everything moved around.

Making a “place” for God’s gift of prayer . . .

As Christians, we have been given a tremendous gift. God has extended a special invitation for us to spend time with Him on a regular basis; but sometimes, we aren’t willing to take the time to “rearrange” our lives to fit this time with Him into our comfortable old routine.

A simple way to begin a new daily habit for time with the Lord is to find a “place” for it.

Just like we would need to rearrange our furniture to fit a new couch set into our home, we need to rearrange our life (and be willing to get rid of old habits and time-fillers) to make room for prayer.

A new lifestyle of daily prayer will require consistent desire and discipline, but it’s wonderful to know that God will help you to make necessary changes. He is so willing and desiring to give us His strength and His help. As you rely on Him (even for this daily God-empowered discipline and self-control), your time with the Lord can eventually become a highlight of your day and a strength of your life.

In a spiritually-healthy family, our prayer-life can include praying with others at church, praying together as a family, and/or praying (or “interceding”) for the needs of others and for the world.

Yet, nothing is more spiritually beneficial for families than a lifestyle of personal prayer.

Do your kids “see” you spending time with God?

As Christians, we tell our kids that it’s good to pray. Perhaps we pray before mealtime. Perhaps we pray for our kids at night (during those special times when we remember to tuck in our little ones before they fall asleep).

Yet how many of us, as moms, are a bit lacking in our own daily personal prayer lives? As we develop our own personal relationship with God through our own regular time with the Lord, the cooperate effect on the family and on others is powerful. We get more of God’s heart and perspective and we begin to follow His day-by-day leading.

One effective “strategy” to begin to establish a new habit of daily prayer is to literally make a physical “place” in your home as a little prayer spot. It can serve as your reminder to come and spend time, even just a moment, with the Lord.

If time with God is something you want in your life, be encouraged. If you don’t measure up to the expectations of others (or of yourself), don’t give up. It can be difficult with babies and kiddos, but it’s not impossible. Just make a few strategic steps and start moving forward. Even a few minutes a day to set your heart and mind on the Lord is powerful. With God’s help, YOU CAN DO THIS!!!

As parents, one of the greatest ways to instill in your kids the foundation of life-impacting faith is for your kids to actually “see” you reading your Bible, (on a regular everyday basis, not just at church), and for your kids to “see” you taking time to pray by yourself.

Establish a special “place” in your home for PRAYER

  • perhaps a comfy chair in a spare bedroom
  • perhaps in your home office
  • perhaps on the couch in your living room
  • perhaps on a trail outside your house or a quiet walk around your neighborhood

If you haven’t been taking the time to consistently pray on a regular basis, it’s helpful to “round up” a few quiet-time accessories or “spiritual” items and to have them set aside and waiting for you in your designated new quiet-time place.

Here are a few suggestions for helpful “QUIET TIME” items:

  • your own Bible (with a marker to remember where you are reading)
  • a daily Bible-reading chart
  • a journal or notebook, with a pen and a highlighter
  • a devotional or “meaty” spiritual book (to challenge your walk with Christ)
  • a world map, and missionary newsletters
  • a CD with quiet worship music
  • possibly even items for holy communion (with wafers, a cup, and grape juice) for a personal communion time (see I Corinthians 11) perhaps on a daily, weekly, biweekly, or monthly basis, to remember the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice

Remember to be flexible . . . and walk with God throughout each day!

Along with consistency in prayer, it’s important to be flexible. In the life of every family, there will be different seasons and changing schedules. What works today may not work tomorrow; yet even so, we need to faithfully guard our time with God. If what you’re doing right now, concerning your personal daily prayer life, is working, by all means keep it up; but if it’s not working, please ask for God’s help and His grace (along with His unlimited creative ideas) to make a change!

Living a life of prayer is simply walking and talking with God. It’s vital to acknowledge God’s presence right beside you and with you all throughout each day.

As individuals, and as families, we can welcome the presence of God’s Spirit into every dimension of our lives. God cares about everything (whether little or big, silly or significant, everyday or eternal), and we can welcome His presence into every decision and every activity. In our families and in our daily communication with God, there should not be a barrier between what is “holy” and what is “common”; instead, God desires for every dimension of our lives (at home, at school, at church, at work, and even at play) to be lived in constant fellowship with Him.

We need to get that “special couch set” (our daily time with the Lord) into our main living room. Some of our old furniture might have to go. Some of our old decorations and clutter might not “match” with the quality of this new look. But the new pieces are so perfect; and we want that new couch set TO FIT!

“Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased,
that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray . . .
Luke 11:1

Helpful Prayer Guides:

31 Days of Praying for your Children
31 Days of Praying for your Husband
31 Days of Praying for your Pastor
Operation World 

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Ways to Bless My Kids

A recent food art snack at our house - rice cake, peanut butter, banana, raisins, and fruit leather

How can I be intentional on a daily basis to invest quality time down on my knees just investing in my kids? This has been the question on my heart and mind lately. I so easily get distracted with the to-do lists and miss out on special moments with my kids. The Lord recently led me to compile a simple list of different activities that we could do together apart from school, reading times, outside play, etc. I wanted to title this “Ways to Bless My Kids” because they are simple ways to show our sweet kiddos that we love and care for them and want to be together with them – one of the greatest means of blessing their little souls, as they just want to be with us. I printed out this list and taped it to my refrigerator, so that each day my kids could pick out a special activity to do with mommy for that day. We just pick one a day and it takes less than 15 minutes usually, but it brings such delight to their sweet little faces.

Sing and/or act out a favorite book (going on a bear hunt, wheels on the bus, etc)
Take a walk with just one child
Look at old photos and tell stories (especially when mommy and daddy were growing up)
Have a tea party
Paint fingernails (keep some safe natural fingernail polish on hand)
Build a fort (gather all the pillows and excess blankets around your house and make a fun fort – hours of fun! Snuggle up inside and read stories together)
Read stories in a creative place (let them pick a new special spot – under a tree, in the car, under the table, etc)
Give a massage (get out some lotion and massage them all over while you sing a favorite song)
Dance together to music – do fingerplays to music (the Wee Sing Fingerplay CD is wonderful for this)
Cook something special in the kitchen together (Get a fun children’s cookbook to have on hand for them to pick out something special to make. Share it with a neighbor or friend as a way to bless others together.)
Have a tickling fest or pillow fight
Make food art with a snack 
Color together (Get out the coloring books and crayons and make some beautiful creations!)
Do an art project
Get outside and find something new in nature to explore
(tons of fun simple ideas for outdoor fun and exploration in – 15 Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Outside and Connect with Your Kids)
Build an obstacle course 

Let them pick one of these activities every day and enjoy every minute of it! And remember the simple things can bring the greatest blessings: stopping and giving them a hug and kiss multiple times throughout the day, or just giving them your full attention when they want to tell you something.

What other simple ideas can you add to my list?

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Summer Bucket List – Family Fun for All Seasons

What fun activities do you have planned for the Summer? This week I made a list of family fun activities we could do throughout the upcoming summer months and jotted tentative dates on the calendar for each of these events. Things will likely come up and we will adjust as necessary, but making a simple plan will help encourage and guide us to more intentional moments of investing in our family in the warm days ahead. We like to include specific service opportunities to our list that will encourage us to reach out and bless those around us. I also found this wonderful resource offered by a church in Texas, for helping create intentional family activities and Biblical discussions with your kids. I added many of the ideas to our plans:

Check out the Village Church’s free Summer Family Fun Activity Book for some great ideas for intentional family living this summer.

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The Blessing of My Husband

My husband and I celebrated six years of marriage this week.

It has been a beautiful and yet stretching six years. Three adorable babies. Two homes, a new business, started a blog (which very rapidly become a family ministry since my hubby is web manager and my biggest cheer leader!), my husband became worship director and deacon in our church, and so much more. I have been blessed to enjoy the trials and joys of life along side my very best friend.

I am so thankful for my husband.

This man that I am privileged to serve the Lord alongside is passionate about serving others. He loves playing with his kids and leading them in family devotions so patiently and graciously even when they are wiggly and struggle sitting still. He prays for them many a night before bed time, singing the Doxology over them as he kisses them goodnight. He takes them on walks regularly one on one to be able to invest quality time with them. He plays wrestling games, builds forts, and reads stories to them inside. He faithfully takes me on dates every other week and gives me multiple hugs, kisses, and “I love you’s” throughout every passing day. He loves opening our home in hospitality and can make a mean hamburger or steak on the barbecue. He’s supportive of all my crazy new adventures in the kitchen and around our house. He keeps my blog going and solves every problem. He is the most committed husband imaginable. I am confident in my heart that he would die before ever leaving me. And all of this amidst working 12+ hour days. But to be perfectly honest…many of these practices have only started in the last six months, since God started changing my own heart from focusing on demanding to be served to serving.

I’ll be the first to tell you he’s not perfect. He has a tendency to leave his clothes everywhere. He rarely makes it to the dinner table on time. He’s likely never vacuumed a floor or cleaned a toilet in our home since the day we were married. He is a bit infrequent on buying me flowers or sending me a mushy love note. His love for computers and technology leads to splurges on all sorts of little gadgets. These are the little things that used to drive me crazy. These were the little annoyances that would easily build a wall of bitterness in my heart. It would build up over time only to come out in a truckload of tears and desperation that got me nowhere. It all depends upon what you choose to focus on.

When my husband first quit his job earlier this year and started on this new business endeavor I fought tooth and nail against his commitment to work overtime, nights and weekends to get the business launched. I wanted “our” time together. I pressed and nagged him on the importance of balancing his priorities. I honestly was often teary eyed as he went off to his office. Ultimately, I did not support him very well. And I could sense very quickly the impact this made on him. He was more gloomy, discouraged, and depressed as a result. He pulled back rather than pressed into our relationship.

It was when God graciously opened my eyes to see the beautiful potential that a woman has to influence her husband to accomplish great things for God, and when I learned that I had the power in my hand to build him up or tear him down, that I began to see things differently. A wife can be the greatest good or the greatest destruction to her man. Her nagging and discontentment can be the ruin of any marriage. I needed to focus on changing my own heart first rather than focusing on all his shortcomings. I needed to start taking my eyes off of what he was not doing and start thanking him for all that he was doing.

When I started seeking to serve my hubby instead of demanding to be served, that God has transformed our marriage into the most glorious of unions. It was when I started getting creative every week in thinking of some way to bless him through a love note, text message, word of encouragement, or small act of service instead of just waiting for him to express it to me, that our love has blossomed and deepened in greater ways then I would have ever imagined. I wiped down his BBQ one week, or washed his car another, or simply brought in the trash cans from the curb on another day. I bought some special new sexy undergarments, or his favorite candy bar or snack. He is easy to serve. He’s not picky. Most guys aren’t. I don’t have any excuse not to show this man that he means the world to me. I’m reminded of the bible verse…”Where your treasure is…there your heart will be also.” (Matt. 6:21) It applies to marriage just as much as to money. If I invest my time and energy into this man, my heart will follow…and the love and sparks will stay alive!

When I started expressing my thankfulness for every simple thing he did to contribute, for the small things of simply taking out the trash, watching the kids for an hour or two while I did errands, or praising him for the hard work he was doing on the lawn, that he has started to take more initiative to get involved in our family in ways I never dreamed possible (as described above). He started initiating in leading family devotions, and praying over the kiddos before bedtime.

I’d watch him tending the lawn, and get frustrated that he was spending too much time out there instead of being with his family. Then the light came on…this is therapeutic for him. He finds it restful. It gives him a little more exercise and fresh air. Why not get out there with him? I am not a fan of gardening, but I could tell my husband really did desire our lawn to look nice, so I decided to get out and get dirty. I started weeding and getting my hands dirty. And you know what? I’m really enjoying it and my hubby is quite proud of my work…especially when visitors take notice. ;)

I love this man more deeply than words can express. And you know what…this week he surprised me with my favorite chai beverage concentrate and a bouquet of my favorite lilies. He has been starting to express his appreciation more faithfully for all the little things I do. I think it’s working. ;)

I’m married to a steady man, cautious, thoughtful, smart, servant-hearted. He may not become a CEO, president, or great philosopher or teacher…but he is the head of our home and he does an incredible job being there to lead and love me when I step back and encourage him in his manliness and leadership. He still has all the shortcomings I mentioned above, but I’m learning to see that picking up his clothes after him is one little way that I can serve him, one little way to be his helpmeet.

I’m praising God for my man. He loves me just the way I am. He doesn’t care that three pregnancies has taken its toll on my physical body. He actually thinks they make me more beautiful.

How can you thank the Lord for your hubby today? How can you express thankfulness to your man in a practical way this week? Make a list of 10 things you admire about your husband (or those 10 things you loved about him before you got married) and use it as a reference point every time you get frustrated. It’s never too late. Get down on your knees. Pray for grace and creativity to love your man. Sure…he’s undeserving. But so are we. You and I are desperately undeserving of the beautiful grace and forgiveness that Jesus Christ purchased on our behalf on the cross. Let’s embrace it and let God shine beautifully through our marriages as we seek to show love and affirm the man that God has given us.

I’m looking forward to many more years to come…

Photos taken by my lovely sister, Christa Taylor. If you live in the Portland metro area and you are in need of some photography services, please check her out!
Comments { 92 }

Spring Bucket List – Family Fun for the Seasons

A glimpse of spring at our house shown above includes reading stories in the sunshine on our front doorstep with green smoothies in hand and bare feet romping around the lawn. Any time we get a glimpse of sunshine we bring it all outdoors. One of my goals this month has been to compile a seasonal list of fun doable family activities that we would encourage family togetherness throughout the seasons. I have been inspired in various lists around the web, but wanted to adapt for our own season of life and to what’s also available in our area. I need simple and easy activities that we can do together to build our family and encourage a heart of service as well. My list includes various giving opportunities that are relavant to the season as well to keep our focus on being a blessing to a needy world around us.

Check out this fun colorful Spring bucket list printable to help get you started.

What are your favorite family activities for Spring?

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The Hidden Power of Family Prayer

By monthly contributor, Ann Dunagan of Harvest Ministry

Do you sometimes feel inadequate in prayer? Do you often struggle with praying together with your spouse or children? Do you perhaps wonder, since it’s so difficult, if praying together is even worth it?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you are a PERFECT candidate (for one reason and one reason only) to pray effectively with your family:

You can rely totally on the Cross of Jesus Christ!

If you are a Christian, you have likely heard how important is is to pray together as a husband and wife, or together as family unit . . . but have you often wondered why this is often so difficult and humbling? Or maybe you’ve honestly wondered if your prayers, and the simple prayers of your far-from-perfect family, can really make a difference?

It’s actually that very gut-level of honesty within a family, and our knowledge of each others’ inadequacies, that makes praying together so powerful.

You can’t be fake when praying with your family; you have to rely on God’s forgiveness and His righteousness through the Cross of Jesus Christ.

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Praying Together as a Christian Family

If we could comprehend, deep in our spirits, the true power of prayer, we would all pray more–and the difference would radically impact our lives and the lives of those around us.

James 5:16 tells us, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”

We want our prayers to be effective, but what does it mean to stand “righteous” before God? It’s totally standing and relying on Jesus Christ and HIS righteousness, not coming to God based on our own “good works” or efforts!

As a family, we’re very aware of our differences and our faults. We’ve all sinned, and we need to acknowledge that no one of earth can stand blameless before our perfect, holy, and awesome God. No matter how good we try to be, our own works are nothing but filthy rags in His sight (see Isaiah 64:6). To pray effectively as a family, we need to grasp the importance of the “fear of the Lord.”

We need to realize how powerful and mighty He is.

Our Self-efforts are like Filthy Rags . . .

Teach Your Kids about Prayer with Filthy Rags:
The next time you come across an extremely dirty rag in your house, use it an opportunity to share an important lesson with your kids. We may think our own self-efforts help us earn “Brownie points” with God. But, to Him, our human works are as worthless as stinky rags. If we try to earn favor with God–instead of trusting in Jesus–it’s like collecting yucky rags. The more they pile up, the more they stink and mildew.

But we are all like an unclean thing,
And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags;
We all fade as a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind,
Have taken us away.

Isaiah 64:6

 3 more family prayer ideas:

Take a Prayer-Walk:
As you walk around your neighborhood, take time to quietly praying for each neighbor, and seek God for ideas on how your family can be a light for Jesus.

Make a Poster:
Have your children make a “Ten Most Wanted” list or poster. Have them think of ten people who need Jesus. These can be relatives, neighbors, famous people, or the man who works at the convenience store. Use this list or poster to remind you to pray for these people to come to know the Lord.

Use a Map:
Put a small world map on your refrigerator, and use this area to display newsletters from missionaries you support, along with current international news updates. Pray regularly as a family, perhaps around the dinner table, for specific world needs and for people you know who need the Lord.

The power of family prayer is relying on Christ’s righteousness!

In prayer, each of us must come to God in an attitude of total surrender and humility, keeping our hearts clean and open before Him. Through the cleansing sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, every mom and dad, and boy and girl, can pray as a “righteous man” before God. Because of Christ’s forgiveness and righteousness, even your family can come before God with boldness and authority to effectively intercede on behalf of others.

 

So, what do YOU think about family prayer?

Is praying together as a family (as a husband and wife, or with your kids) a spiritual priority in your family? Has praying together been a delight . . . or a struggle and a challenge . . . and can you share any specific reasons why? Have you had any specific moments of encouragement  (or a key or idea that has helped YOUR FAMILY to pray together with more effectiveness)? Or do you have a story, or a “testimony,” of a time when a specific family prayer was answered?

I would LOVE to hear your thoughts . . .

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Take Time to Live Intentionally

Over the last month I have become lethargic. This season has been full with my husband launching a new business, with periods of insomnia and multiple sicknesses. I have been in survival mode. I have stopped doing any planning, journaling, or seeking to simply evaluate where I am going. Aimless walking is the feeling stirring in my soul. I felt lost. I’m running haphazardly. I am thankful for the grace that God supplies for these seasons, but also for the grace he provides to guide me out of the forest again and onto the straight and narrow path before me.

Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom. (Psalms 90:12)”

My time is certainly limited with my calling to nurture my three little ones, but I want to make each moment count. This life is precious and short. I want to be faithful with the gifts God has given me to be used to impart life in my home and extending out from my doorstep. I want to bring life to every relationship entrusted to my care – my husband, children, and the brothers and sisters and needy around me. Investing intentionally in my relationships is what I am called to do. I want to live for Jesus. And we have a faithful guide, the Holy Spirit, who promises to walk before us. Through prayer, He directs us as to the most effective use of our time. He is faithful to inspire us.

I want to balance my time so my family gets the meat and not the scraps of my time and energy. I want to take simple practical steps to build up, encourage, and strengthen these relationships. How can I spend quality time with each of my little ones? How can I encourage my hubby? I’m not trying to take on a boatload of projects…I’m just praying weekly about one way to bless each of these precious lives. One simple action. One doable act. I am certainly not limited to one…but I feel a greater chance of accomplishing any if I start with one and then let the juices flow to inspire more.

I want to think each day how I can bless another today. An email of love to my hubby. Getting down and dirty with my kids. A simple text message with a verse or word of encouragement to a friend just to let her know she is in my thoughts. A small handwritten card with truth to inspire a weary soul. A simple pot of soup to nourish a needy family. A bouquet of flowers from my garden to bless a sister. I want to write words of truth.

We need focused time…It might be a weekly planning retreat or just an hour or two before the week begins on a Sunday evening to think, pray, and plan. Designate a specific time when you could intentionally plan for your week.

Taking a few minutes on a daily or weekly basis can redeem many a wasted hour. You may not get to every dream on your list, but that’s okay. We are not striving for perfection, but God glorifying intentionality in the grace that He supplies. This last week I took a chunk of time on a Friday afternoon to sit down and just prayerfully think. The results?

This week has been filled with sweet intentional moments…visiting a dear friend in the hospital while her son goes through surgery, taking a walk one-on-one with my little guy and talking about trucks and wind in the trees, surprising hubby with his favorite treats, planting flowers in the garden with my kiddos, acting out “The Wheels on the Bus” around the yard, and reading books in the front yard enjoying a beautiful sunny day. Scattering God’s love to those entrusted to my care. It does not have to be extravagant. It just needs a little love. I want to savor each moment that I have been given and live it to its fullest. I feel blessed to be His hands and feet and I just can’t stop…

Free printable: My Weekly Intentional Living Plan. 8 simple questions to evaluate at the start of each week in helping to grow in Christ-likeness and living a generous intentional life in each priority relationship in your life.

Here’s some further inspiration to get you started:
15 Little Ways to Bless Your Husband

12 Ways to Love Your Husband Without Saying A Word
Take the 30 Day Husband Encouragement Challenge
Reaching Out to the World from Your Doorstep
100 Ways to be Kind to Your Child
100 Ways to Have Fun with Your Kids
100 Ways for Your Family to Make a Difference

My favorite quote that inspires me again and again in this call to be intentional in the short life I am living:

Only one life,
T’will soon be past.
Only what’s done
For Christ will last.

“So I keep stopping and loving one person at a time. Because this is my call as a Christian. I can do only what one woman can do, but I will do what I can. Daily, the Jesus who wrecked my life enables me to do so much more than I ever thought possible.” – Katie Davis, Kisses From Katie

Photo Credit

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Remembering the Gift of Marriage

Written by contributing writer, Daniele at Domestic Serenity.

I’m not sure exactly what possessed us to take on the project – usually engaged couples have lists to tackle, details to attend to.

We were no different. All the same, bypassing dozens – hundreds? – of possible wedding songs available, we decided a few short weeks before wedding day to write our own song :: music, words, the whole thing. See what I mean by possessed?

To our credit, we’re both musicians with a creative knack for words. Teaching wedding singers our latest invention, everything went beautifully without a hitch.

We titled the song “Gift from God”.

***

Marriage is a Gift

It’s fairly safe to say as Christian women, we understand marriage was designed by God to be a good thing, a gift. No one argues that point. Yet sometimes, the ‘all-we-ever-wanted’ grows into a cross we must grudgingly bear.

What’s happening to us? This gift we dreamt about and prayed for cannot become what we grow to despise. To pretend that all is roses is hypocrisy; the combining of two personalities, perspectives (not to mention our past) is tricky business and no, it doesn’t always go well. We can and should receive help in those seasons.

But, we can get into trouble when forgetting this principle of God’s: marriage is a gift. God’s perfect idea in our imperfect hands, but an incredible union still.

Our Husbands are a Gift

In a marriage conference once, the speaker asked each spouse to draw a line down a sheet of paper. On one side, we were to write five of our spouse’s weaknesses. I did as asked, assuming we’d write five of our own on the opposite side. There’s was a twist.

“Now, write five of the weaknesses you’d like them to have.”

What? Everyone was stumped, the speaker dove in and made his point. Our spouse has blind spots, personality quirks, annoyances and tendencies towards mistakes — they have weaknesses, they are human. Expecting they never display those is completely unrealistic!

And while we may wish they didn’t do ‘such-and-such’, it’s helpful to remember they are going to be weak in some area. I remember smiling and thinking it’s easier to stick with what I knew! But we are not without hope, we can design them by prayer :: asking the Holy Spirit to shape and mold their hearts, to encourage and uplift them (instead of trying to play Holy Spirit ourselves…ahem).

Even in his mistakes, my spouse is a gift from God.

We are a Gift Together

Here’s the meat of what I’d like to encourage today:

You + Your Spouse = Shaking the World for God

God didn’t just design marriage to be a lovey-dovey relationship where husband and wife are simply all into each other (though this is really nice, right?). He intended we also impact the world around us.

Why did He bring you two together? Two sets of gifts, of different talents and abilities, of various passions and ideas? To shake heaven and earth as one! To move mountains, to further His plan of redeeming a lost world, to expanded the kingdom of God together!

But, we get distracted – doubting God’s plan for our lives, questioning if He really means what He said. Satan takes advantage, filling our hearts with thoughts leading us to words, actions we know are wrong. It worked in the beginning, and that simple plan still stumps husbands and wives today.

It’s happened to me; it’s happened to you.

Again, we are not without hope. We can lift our eyes towards a greater vision and purpose instead of grumbling about him not picking up clothes or attacking the to-do list. Yes, the everyday matters…

..but the eternal matters so much more.

***

My husband and I recently celebrated 16 years since crazily writing out our wedding song. Humming our tune throughout anniversary day, I prayed for grace to remember this always:

Marriage is a gift, my husband is a gift – and together? We’re gonna shake this world for Christ’s name.

I believe the same for you.

{photo credits}

Comments { 14 }

Raising Samuels

Eli helping Samuel to learn to hear God's voice

From Contributing Writer, Trina Holden

Learning to hear God’s voice is a life-long journey. I want to give my kids an early start by teaching them they can learn to listen while they’re young. Here’s how we’re cultivating a listening ear in our home…

Read the story of Samuel {A Lot!}

I want my son to understand that God really does talk to 5 year old boys! He’s had the concept quite cemented in his mind through the story of Samuel, which we’ve read over and over in every version of the Bible we have.

Our favorite is the one in the Rhyme Bible Storybook. My kids love the rhythm of poetry so we read it over and over until they could recite it with me.

“When it happened again, Old Eli knew,

And he told the boy what he should do:

‘Listen, for God is speaking to you!’”

Teach Them That All Good Things Come From God

James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights”. This verse is key to helping us discern whether something we hear is from God. Is it good? Teach your children that we can’t take the credit for any of the good that comes out of us. Once they realize that the source of a bright idea or a kind thought is actually God’s Spirit, it can help them tune in to His voice.

The other day, when I got home from running errands, I reached for the screen door and found the wind had slammed it so hard it was jammed shut. No amount of yanking would budge it. I had a little moment of panic. The kids were cold and hungry — I needed to get them inside. Jesse (5) had the idea to try the back door.

“Thanks, boy, but it’s probably locked.” I quickly dialed my husband to ask “What to do?”

Undaunted, my boy ran around the corner of the house and, to our surprise, turned the handle and proudly announced to his mommy, “I got it! It’s open!”

We trooped gratefully inside for lunch. Later that day, Jesse said, out of the blue, “Mom, I think that was GOD for me to think to use the back door!”

I agreed that, yes, good ideas come from God.

Live It Out In Front of Them

Share openly with your children what God is working in your own heart. They may not grasp the concepts, but they will get the main idea – that one CAN have dialog with the Father.

One day I realized that the words I thought were over their head were still having an impact. Jesse said to me, “Mom, God talked to me today.”

“Yeah? What did He say?”

“Same thing He told you, Mom! ‘Be patient and keep on keepin’ on’!”

Thank you, Father!

More Ideas For Raising Samuels:

  • If you children are old enough, encourage them to keep a little prayer journal where they write a prayer to God and then jot down anything they hear in return.
  • If they are too young to write, let them dictate what they hear after you read a little scripture, or lead them to draw a picture.
  • Remind them that the quiet time in their bed alone as they fall asleep is a great time to talk with God.

“Allow the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God”. Mark 10:14

As you lead your children, your own heart will be encouraged when you witness their childlike faith.

How are you cultivating your children’s faith? What has worked for your family? I’m always looking for more ideas!

Photo Credit

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Praying for the World Around Our Dinner Table

The Lord has been doing a stirring in my heart about the importance of prayer. It is a discipline that is easily slipped under the table. I want to be intentional about teaching my children how to pray. I want them to grow up with a heart and love for others. I want them to be aware of the great battle for the gospel that is taking place outside our doorstep. I want them to care for the lost. How can this be done?

I stumbled upon an idea on Pinterest a few months back about putting together a prayer pail. It has been the best thing we have found to help cultivate a heart and love for prayer in our family.

Basically, you take large craft sticks (the wider popsicle sticks), and write the names of individuals, countries, ministries, neighbors, and whoever or whatever the Lord might lay on your heart to begin praying for on a regular basis. We decorated a cute mug and labeled it with stickers as our “prayer pail.”

Some of the people we have included:

Grandparents, Relatives
Leadership in our church
Our City
Our President
Our neighborhood
Sick friends or family
Members in our community group
Our sponsored children
Non-Christian friends we are seeking to show the love of Christ to
Other charity organizations we give to: Pregnancy Resource Center, Orphan home in India, Wycliffe Bible Translators, etc
Persecuted Church around the World
Human Trafficking
Ministries in our church

Then, every night around the dinner table, each family member takes a craft stick and prays for the listed person/ministry. For our littlest members, my husband and I will pray and have our child repeat after us, so that they can grow in understanding how to pray. Both our children absolutely love this routine. Every night they will faithfully remind us to pick a stick! And without doubt, they are eager to pray. It is the sweetest thing. We have no excuse. It helps keep us accountable and faithful in praying for the needs of others around us. Our eyes are being opened to see that there is greater needs beyond our own. And as we seek God’s face together, I am confident that God is going to do mighty things! There is power in prayer.

The prayer of a righteous man avails much!

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