Author: Courtney

What We’re Loving in September

What We’re Loving in September

So I’m a little behind, but did you know it’s September?  It really feels like yesterday was Easter.  And, in case you weren’t aware, tomorrow is Christmas.  Anyone else feel that way?  Sometimes life moves a little too quickly for my liking.  Earlier this week, I was doing some organizing and rearranging in my office.  I came across my prayer journal from last year.  I took a quick peek.  First, God is good.  He is faithful.  He answers prayers … and sometimes in ways we never would have even thought to dream about.  He redeems all things.

 

Second, I was reminded of my word for 2018.  Intentional.  I started reflecting on my year so far.  Have I been intentional?  Yes and no.  My life took a turn that I wasn’t expecting.  But as I said, God is faithful.  He knew.  And I praise Him for that.  It threw me a bit, and I had to really lean into Him to figure out what “intentional” looked like in this new season of life.  Here’s what He told me.  It looks like hospitality.  Biblical hospitality.  Huh, that was a new one for me.  Side note, did you know that this blog was originally called “Faith for the Littles?”  It’s been very interesting to see how God works and moves things.  Sometimes with a door slammed shut.  Sometimes with a slow, gradual whisper of direction.

 

So with all that said, I thought it would be fun to share some of the things we’re loving right now!  These are things that I’ve found help me to stop and be intentional in enjoying this new season.  They’re things that help me to be intentional in the time I spend with those around me.  They’re things that help me be intentional in growing closer to Jesus.

 

I’ve got four categories for you, and three things in each category.  September is all about apples to me… specifically, apples and cinnamon.  I’ve got some fun apple ideas and recipes for you, along with books, products, and links to some recent favorite posts in the blogosphere.  So here goes!   Things we’re loving in September!

 

*This post contains affiliate links.  By clicking and purchasing from a link, I receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you.  It helps me run this blog.  I appreciate each and every time you choose to use one of these links!

 

September brings about a shift in seasons. For this mom, it's a new season of life as well. Stop by and see what we're loving as we take steps toward being intentional in this new season!

Apples, Apples, Everywhere

Apple Chips ~ I’ll be honest, I’ve never been a huge chip person.  If I can dip them in queso or sausage dip, I’ll take it.  Otherwise, I’d rather have a veggie.  Apple chips, on the other hand, I’ll eat far more than my fair share.  I came across this recipe and it’s on my list of things to make this weekend!  *In related news, carrot and zucchini chips are also on my list for this fall.

 

Apple Gouda Grilled Cheese ~ Yes, please!  I love a good grilled cheese.  We have a cute little place here that sells “gourmet grilled cheese.”  It’s simply delicious.  This sandwich would be a fun way to make my own at home!  I love apples when they’re still warm from cooking.  Pair this with a yummy soup and you’ve got a perfect lunch for a chilly day!

 

This apple tablescape ~ I like my table to be pleasing to the eye, but I definitely do NOT want to spend hours or tons of money making it happen.  We love to have people around our tables, but it’s not for the decorations.  It’s for the people in the chairs.  This table setting is so simple, yet so inviting!  Loving the apple cider in the mason jars!

 

 

Products I Love

Santorini Board Game ~ Want a quick date night or are you having a friend over?  This game is quick and only needs two players!  It’s fun for adults, but is simple enough to be played by children.  It has a few different modes of play to adapt the challenge level.  Set out a meat and cheese tray, and you’ve got a themed night ready to go!

 

Flair Pens ~ This might seem like a silly thing to add, but I use these pens every single day!  If you’ve seen my Instagram stories, you may have noticed that these are what I’m using for the #dwellingin1John writing plan.  They come in different sets, some smaller and some bigger.  For me, I know that I want *all* the colors, so I say grab the big one!

My Fearless Faith Planner ~ I know that so many people prefer their digital planning.  Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer my paper and pencil (or my Flair Pen and washi tape) planners!  This planner has the horizontal layout, which is so much easier for my eyes to read.  Each month has a divider page that reminds me to refocus my eyes and my heart on Jesus.  Such a great reminder as I begin a new month!

 

Books to Read

The Best Yes ~ I cannot say enough about this book by Lysa TerKeurst.  It completely changed the way I view decision-making.  For every decision we make, there are three answers: No, Yes, and the Best Yes.  While there are many good things we can do, not all of them are God things.  Are we saving our “yes” answers for the things that are a “yes” to God?


 

Redeeming Love ~ Written by Francine Rivers, this fiction novel will give you a new outlook on what Christ’s love looks like.  Set in the Gold Dust era, it retells the story of Hosea.  From a story standpoint, it’s a great intertwining of Biblical characters in a modern historical fiction.  From a heart standpoint, it’s a beautiful reminder of what sacrificial, Agape love looks like in our lives.

 

Armor of God ~ I am a HUGE Priscilla Shirer fan.  This particular study took my prayer life to a much deeper level.  It changed the way I look at conflict in my relationships.  It changed the way I approach trials, whether big or small.  When we approach this world as a battlefield, with a very real (yet sometimes hidden and sneaky) enemy, it changes the way we see the people and situations around us.  Those people are not our enemy.  But we have a battle plan, with a Leader than cannot be defeated.

 

Links I Love

How to Choose a Bible ~ My friend, Laura-Jane Barber is one of the most amazing human beings I know.  Our friendship story is one that could have only been written by God.  In this post, she talks about how to pick the best Bible translation.  With one simple question, she tells you exactly how to find the right translation for you!  If you’re looking for your first Bible, or maybe you’re ready to try a new translation, hop over to this post!

 

Homemaking Foundations Podcast ~  I’m loving this podcast right now!  Jamie Balmet blogs over at Young Wife’s Guide and she’s amazing.  Specifically, check out episode #5!  It’s all about Biblical hospitality… what it is, what it isn’t.  I felt so encouraged and more equipped to serve those around me.  So many times I think we equate hospitality with dinner parties, or having company come spend the weekend.  Jamie talks about what Biblical hospitality is, and how it’s truly a ministry.

 

How to Host a Blanket-Making Party ~ Stay with me on this one.  Have you heard of Project Linus?  They are a fantastic organization that gives blankets to children in need.  Sometimes it’s a financial need, but other times it’s an emotional need.  Stop by this post to see how one mom encouraged her daughter to serve others by gathering with friends and making blankets.  With winter right around the corner, this fall season would be a great chance to encourage your kiddos to host their own gathering!

 

Thanks for letting me share!  I hope you find them as fun as I do!  Let me know if you try anything.  I’d love to know what you think!  Also, stop by the Gather & Dwell Facebook Group and connect with us!

 


 

 

Living in God’s Loving Truth {A 30-Day Reading Plan in 1 John}

Living in God’s Loving Truth {A 30-Day Reading Plan in 1 John}

Friends, I first want to say that I have been blown away by your response to the writing plans so far.  I am simply beyond thrilled that you are enjoying them and finding that God is speaking to you through them!  If you haven’t joined the Gather & Dwell Facebook group, be sure to hop over there and get connected!  We have a fantastic group of ladies who are encouraging each other as we dwell at the feet of Jesus.

 

It seems like the fall season is the busiest time of year.  Anyone else?  School starts back up, lots of extracurricular activities, the holiday season, and the FOOD that seems to take over our counters and tables!  It’s easy to get pulled and distracted from our biggest priorities.  I pray that during this season, we will be able to pause and truly *dwell* in Him.  Breathe.  Rest.

 

As we enter this busy season, I don’t want to lose sight of the person who matters most.  I want my eyes firmly fixed on Jesus.  I want to be intentional about lingering in the Word a little longer each day.  So with that, I have something a little different for you for the next few months.  I’m so excited!

 

During this busy fall season, take time to linger with Jesus.  Join us in this 30-day reading plan through 1 John!

 

For the month of September, instead of doing a topical writing plan, I’m giving you a textual reading plan.  We’re going to be reading through the book of 1 John… slowly and intentionally.  We’re going to linger and truly soak it in.  Just as with the writing plans, there are no set rules.  Do what works for you!

 

We’ll be reading through the entire book, a few verses at a time.  Each day, there will be a handful of verses to linger in.  Ask God how He wants to speak to you.  You may be surprised where He takes you!

 

Here are some ideas for each day’s reading.  Again, do what works for YOU!  Time spent in God’s Word is never wasted.  There is no right or wrong way to do this.

*simply read the verses and journal a few thoughts

*pick a single verse from the day’s reading to break down and study deeper

*write the entire passage using a color-coding strategy such as this one from Women Living Well

*pair it with a commentary (I recommend this one)

*draw a picture

*simply read it and highlight a line or two in your Bible

*create a digital image and post on social media (use hashtag #dwellingin1john)

*share your take-aways in the Facebook group

*anything else God lays on your heart!

 

During this busy fall season, take time to linger with Jesus.  Join us in this 30-day reading plan through 1 John!

 

I am so excited for this month!  Fall is my absolute FAVORITE time of year and 1 John has been on my heart for quite some time.  I can’t wait to see how God moves in us!

 

Announcement time!  Starting October 1st, we are launching our first ever devotional study!  Stay tuned for a post coming soon with more information!  Woohoo!  You are NOT going to want to miss this!

 


 

Are You Living on Mission Through Biblical Hospitality?

Are You Living on Mission Through Biblical Hospitality?

This post may contain affiliate links.  For more details, see my disclosure policy.

 

When it comes to my family, there are lots of times that I consider myself to be “on a mission.”  I’m often on a mission to get some task accomplished, to teach something, to help with something, or to make something happen.  I am intentional about completing a series of steps to do whatever that “something” takes.

 

Recently, I was on a mission to redo my boys’ bathroom.  It serves as both their bathroom, but also the main bathroom downstairs where guests would go.  I wanted to organize their drawers, clean their bath toys, and do some redecorating.  I wanted something fun for the boys, but also grown-up enough for guests.  Has anyone else had this dilemma?

 

I spent time every single day emptying drawers, tossing the junk, bleaching bath toys, sorting into bins.  I searched countless stores to find the right shower curtain, matching wall decor, and new hardware.  I’m still searching for the right lampshade.  When all is said and done, I will be able to stand back and say, “Mission accomplished.”

 

But in the big picture, is my front bathroom the most important mission?  Of course not.  Jesus has given us a much greater mission.  When He spoke to the disciples and gave them The Great Commission, did you hear it as your personal mission?  Did it light a fire under you to go do Kingdom work?  Are you living on a mission?

 

For many of us, we will never find ourselves on some grand stage preaching to a crowd.  We may never write a fantastic Christian living book that finds its way on thousands of shelves.  More than likely, we won’t find our pictures on an album cover.  But you know what we will do?  We will offer a helping hand to the new neighbor.  We’ll give our phone number to the mom down the street who could use a babysitter every now and then.  We will bless a family who recently experienced a loss by putting dinner on their table.  We may not serve thousands of people, but we will serve those within our reach.

 

The Great Commission wasn't intended for the clergy or the "professional" religious leaders. It was for the everyday people... for you and for me. Are you living on mission through Biblical hospitality?

 

When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.  Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.  Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  ~ Matthew 28:17-20

 

The Great Commission wasn’t intended for the clergy or the “professional” religious leaders. It was for the everyday people… for you and for me. Are you living on mission through Biblical hospitality?

 

Let’s break that down a bit.  Sometimes hospitality is inviting a group into your home for a full meal.  Sometimes it’s having people spend the night in your guest room.  Sometimes it’s serving a family outside your home.  But sometimes, it’s simply having one more cup of coffee, one more conversation, and planting the seed for one more life lived for the Kingdom.

 

When they saw Him they worshiped Him; but some doubted.  Y’all, these were real people.  Jesus called everyday people like you and me.  Fishermen, tax collectors, doctors… people, with real lives.  And if we’re honest, don’t we all have doubts on some level?  I know that I love Jesus with everything that I am, but there are times that I don’t understand.  There are times that the enemy’s lies creep in and I start questioning everything I know.  The original Greek word goes back to “hesitate.”  Yep… I know I’ve hesitated.  Hesitated to take that step.  Hesitated to call that neighbor.  Hesitated to serve that person.

 

All authority on heaven and earth has been given to Me.  We know that were are absolutely powerless without Christ.  I mean, goodness, how many times do we try to convince ourselves that we have to do *all the things* on our own?  It’s pretty ridiculous, if we’re honest.  When we are extending an invitation to another human being, our only responsibility is to say “come and see.”  It’s an invitation… not a command, not a forced hand… just open arms and an invitation to sit and have coffee.  It is NOT our responsibility to save every single person we come in contact with.  That would be impossible.  God does the work.  We just bring the message.

 

Therefore go and make disciples.  Did you notice that word “go?”  That’s a definite call to action.  When we go, we take the initiative.  We move past those hesitations and doubts.  We make that first phone call, take the first step across the street.  We go with a heart of worship.  It’s living on mission and being intentional about inviting people into our homes and lives.  It’s welcoming others into our circle.  It’s initiating conversations that create real relationships.  When we create that authentic community, we open it up to becoming disciples together… to learning and growing as we follow Jesus.

 

Of all nations.  Confession time.  How many of you have scurried inside and closed your garage door so you didn’t have to talk to *that* neighbor.  How many of you have skipped that grocery store aisle because you didn’t like the look of someone already there?  Have you changed up a guest list because if you invite one person, then you *have* to invite that other one … and you really didn’t want them there?  Cut a conversation short because you didn’t want people to think there were actually friends with that person?  I think we’ve all been there in some capacity.  I know I have.  But y’all, Jesus was clear.  Love God, love people.  All people.  No ifs, ands or buts about it.  So strike up a conversation.  Let that neighbor pause in your driveway.  Invite the people.

 

Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  This is when those seeds begin to bloom.  We go from seeking to finding.  It’s the first step toward a personal relationship with Jesus.  I don’t remember where I heard it, but I’ve often repeated the saying, “Make it easier for the next Christian that comes behind you.”  While we may never know, on this side of heaven, how people were impacted by our hospitality, the reality is that people ARE being impacted.  That one cup of coffee matters.  That one conversation matters.  It may stir something inside their heart that grows with the next conversation they have.  If the people around me know that I claim to follow Jesus, but they see me being closed off and uninviting, how am I impacting their opinion of Christians as a whole?  Romans 10:14-15 says, “How, then, can they call on the One they have not believed in?  And how can they believe in the One of whom they have not heard?  And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?  And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?  As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!'”  My friends, we have been sent.  You have a mission.

 

And teaching them to obey everything I commanded you.  When we engage in authentic community, we are doing life together.  We are learning and growing deeper in relationship with each other and with Jesus.  These relationships begin to move from casual acquaintances to relationships rooted in something much deeper.  As iron sharpens iron, so one friend sharpens another.  Proverbs 27:17  Most than likely, as we’re doing life together, we’re not just talking about what God’s Word tells us, we’re encouraging each other to live it out.  We’re not just reading what the Bible says, we’re obeying it.  We are actively following Jesus.  We’re confessing our sins to each other, we’re praying for each other.  We’re lifting each other up and offering encouragement.  We’re loving each other, and living on mission to continue inviting into our circles.

 

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.  If I may offer you a bit of encouragement today… Jesus authorized YOU to be His messenger.  He picked YOU to extend the invitation to that person.  If we’re living on mission, we want to look back and say, “mission accomplished.”  If Jesus authorized me to be the messenger on His mission, I certainly want Him to look at me and say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

 

It’s not just The Great Commission… it’s YOUR mission.  So my friends, let’s live on mission through our hospitality.  One more cup of coffee.  One more conversation.  One more life.

 

Join us in the Gather & Dwell Facebook group as we encourage each other!

 


Does your pride keep you from loving well?

Does your pride keep you from loving well?

Oh, pride.   The word in itself has so many different meanings.  We take pride in our country.  We pride ourselves on our accomplishments.  I’m proud of my children when they meet their goals.  I’m proud of the hard work I put into that project.  I’m too proud to admit that I let my children’s behavior dictate my feelings toward them sometimes.  I was too proud to admit I was wrong in an argument with my husband.  My pride keeps me from humbling myself and letting God work in my heart.

 

While feeling proud of hard work or an accomplish may seem innocent enough, I have found that many times I let that feeling of being proud turn into arrogant pride.  I took credit for the things that God accomplished.  You see, I now know good and well that I would never have been able to accomplish some of the things I have without Him.

 

Is your pride keeping you from loving others well? Jump into this 30-day Scripture writing plan and let God do His refining work in your heart!

 

My career has been a perfect example of this.  Several years ago, I taught middle school English.  I was a good teacher.  I knew it.  My data proved it.  I received the affirmations from my students and my administration.  Other teachers were sent to my classroom to see how they should be running their classrooms.  Oh gracious me… I found myself in such a heaping pile of pride that I couldn’t see straight.  I can see now how much damage and hurt I caused the teachers around me.  My friends.  I was absolutely not giving God credit for the great things happening in my classroom.  Sure, I acknowledged that He gave me gifts as a teacher, but it was MY doing that increased those students scores.  It was MY doing that the administration applauded my accomplishments.  Those other teachers should be doing things MY way.

 

Thankfully, God has done some bigtime work in changing my heart.  And if I’m brutally honest, it hurt.  I was humbled…. rather, my pride humiliated me.  True humility came later.  And it’s still an area where I’m still being refined.

 

In Luke 18:9-14, we read the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector.

Then, Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness ans scorned everyone else: “Two men went to the Temple to pray.  One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector.  The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank You, God, that I am not like other people – cheaters, sinners, adulterers.  I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give You a tenth of my income.’ 

But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed.  Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

 

Oh how I’ve been that Pharisee.  How I’ve judged and exalted myself above others.  By the grace of God, I can see how He’s working in me.  I hate my pride.  I pray regularly for Him to continue to humble my heart so I can love those around me.  I’m so thankful that God is a redeeming and faithful God.

Is your pride keeping you from loving others well?  Jump into this 30-day Scripture writing plan and let God do His refining work in your heart!

Starting on August 1, I challenge each of you to work through this Scripture-writing plan over pride.  I pray that God will move mountains to remove these hearts of stone that we hold on to.  I pray that we will humble ourselves to see where our pride has damaged relationships.  I pray that we will see where where we can love instead of judge.

 

Please join us.  I’ll be posting over in our Gather & Dwell Facebook group.  We’ll continue the conversation, pray for each other, and encourage each other as God does His refining and redeeming work in our hearts.  I’m so excited to see where He leads us through this next month!

 


 

 

 

20 Psalms for Your Prayer Time

20 Psalms for Your Prayer Time

Happy Thursday!  I’ve received a few messages that some of you are waiting on the Write the Word plan for July.  First, I’d like to say that I am beyond thrilled that you all are enjoying those and that they are blessing you.  They are so fun to write and I love spending that intentional time each morning with the Lord.  I’m glad they are serving you in that same way!  With that being said, the next plan will be published at the end of this month, for a start date of August 1.  For the month of July, I have something else for each of you!

 

A few years ago, a sweet friend of mine made prayer rings for each lady in our small group.  They were simple rings of index cards that she tabbed with each category of prayer.  Many of us use the ACTS model of prayer, so she included Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication.  Each of us used these rings in our own way, and they were such an incredible impact for our prayer lives.

 

In my prayer ring, I wrote verses for each of the categories.  As I’m in my prayer time, I would pray through a verse or two from each category as I added my own prayers.  I found that praying a verse first helped focus my mind on what exactly it was that I was praying.  I mean, let’s be honest… our minds tend to wander as we pray (at least mine does).  Side note: I’ve been of the mindset that we should not let ourselves feel guilty or shame over a wandering mind.  Often, those are the very things that we should be handing over to God in prayer instead of dwelling on it ourselves.

 

So today I’m starting you off with your own set of verses!  I’m giving you five Psalms for each category.  If you create your own prayer rings, I would encourage you to add to this list as you pray.  As you come across a verse that you love, jot it down and pray over it!  Also, if you would like to share the verses you find, please use #praytheword and we can all bless each other!

 

Looking to be more intentional in your prayer time? #PraytheWord with these Psalms each morning!

 

 

A ~ Adoration 

During a time of adoration, praise God for who He is.  This is not about you, but all about Him.  As I’m praying these, I love to listen to hymns or a favorite worship song.

 

Psalm 52:9 ~ I will praise You forever for what You have done.  In the presence of Your faithful people, I will put my hope in Your name, for it is good.

 

Psalm 63:5 ~ You satisfy me as with rich food; my mouth with praise You with joyful lips.

 

Psalm 139:13-14 ~ For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made.  Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well.

 

Psalm 96:1 ~ Sing a new song to the Lord; sing to the Lord, all the earth.  Sing to Yahweh, praise His name; proclaim His salvation from day to day.

 

Psalm 135:3 ~ Praise Yahweh, for Yahweh is good; sing praise to His name, for it is delightful.

 

C ~ Confession

During a time of confession, get humble and be real about where you have fallen short.  I have a series of questions that I ask myself to really dig deep.

 

Psalm 51:10-12 ~ God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Do not banish me from Your presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore the joy of Your salvation to me and give me a willing spirit.

 

Psalm 32:5 ~ Then I acknowledged my sin to You and did not conceal my iniquity.  I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and You took away the guilt of my sin.

 

Psalm 19:12 ~ Who perceives his unintentional sin?  Cleanse me from my hidden faults.

 

Psalm 25:11 ~ Because of Your name, Yahweh, forgive my sin, for it is great.

 

Psalm 69:5 ~ God, You know my foolishness, and my guilty acts are not hidden from You.

 

T ~ Thanksgiving

During a time of thanksgiving, give sincere thanks for His goodness.  His blessings are abundant, and we should be living with grateful hearts.  There is always, always, always something to be thankful for!

 

Psalm 100:4-5 ~ Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise.  Give thanks to Him and praise His name.  For Yahweh is good, and His love is eternal; His faithfulness endures through all generations.

 

Psalm 69:30 ~ I will praise God’s name with song and exalt Him with thanksgiving.

 

Psalm 75:1 ~ We give thanks to You, God; we give thanks to You, for Your name is near.  People tell about Your wonderful works.

 

Psalm 79:13 ~ Then we, Your people, the sheep of Your pasture, will thank You forever; we will declare Your praise to generation after generation.

 

Psalm 9:1-2 ~ I will thank Yahweh with all my heart; I will declare all Your wonderful works.  I will rejoice and boast about You; I will sing about Your name, Most High.

 

S ~ Supplication

During a time of supplication, ask God to give you His desires.  Seek His plan and purpose for Your life.  Go boldly before His throne and ask for what you need.  Remember that He already knows what we want, before we even ask… so pray without hesitation!

 

Psalm 5:3 ~ At daybreak, Lord, You hear my voice; at daybreak I plead my case to You and watch expectantly.

 

Psalm 34:4 ~ I sought the Lord and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears.

 

Psalm 6:9 ~ The Lord has heard my plea for help; the Lord accepts my prayer.

 

Psalm 119:169-170 ~ Let my cry reach You, Lord; give me understanding according to Your word. Let my plea reach You; rescue me according to Your promise.

 

Psalm 95:6 ~ Come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.

 

Throughout various seasons of life, I’ve found that my prayer life and daily time with the Lord looks different in each season.  There was a season when I was able to spend over an hour each morning in silence and solitude.  If I’m honest, I’m not in that same season now.  My quiet time isn’t always so quiet… and sometimes it’s broken up throughout the day.  But one thing remains the same… intentional time spent with the Lord is never wasted.  Praying the Word is something that sparks a deeper, more genuine prayer.  When I go through the intentional acts of worship, confessing my sin, and thanking Him, I find that my time of supplication isn’t as “drive through order” as it has been in the past.  My prayers are no longer just a wish list, but a desperate seeking of Him… and seeking to align my heart with His.

 

I pray that these verses bless you and spark something new in your prayer life.  Please share your #PrayTheWord and #WriteTheWord journals!  Also, if you haven’t joined the Gather & Dwell Facebook group, be sure to come join the conversation!


Why Should We Gather?

Why Should We Gather?

Happy first day of summer!  This warmer weather has me thinking about all of the backyard barbecues, family dinners, impromptu swimming parties down at the pool… all the gatherings.  I can smell the grill now!

 

One of my biggest prayers for our family is that we would be an inviting family.  I want our house to be filled with people gathering in the kitchen or around the grill… seated at the table and sharing a meal.  I want our boys to grow up hearing stories from all different kinds of people.  I want them to know that we are a family that loves ALL people, and that we love to share in their stories.

 

But you know, I don’t want it to just be about food.  While I love to eat, gathering is about so much more.   In fact, Scripture has a lot to say about gathering … both as a body of believers, and as human beings.

 

Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple complex, and broke bread from house to house.  They ate their food with a joyful and humble attitude, praising God and having favor with all the people.  And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved.  ~ Acts 2:46-47

 

Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. ~ Galatians 6:2

 

How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! ~ Psalm 133:1

 

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching. ~ Hebrews 10:24-25

 

What then is the conclusion, brothers?  Whenever you come together each one has a psalm, a teaching, a revelation, another language, or an interpretation.  All things must be done for edification.  ~ 1 Corinthians 14:26

 

Gathering together is Biblical for so many reasons….

*We honor God when we act in unity as one body of believers.

*We encourage each other toward good as we do Kingdom work.

*We praise Him with our thanks for His goodness.

*We support each other as we carry the load together.

*We create a larger body as we each bring our own skills, stories, and gifts to the table.

 

What's so important about gathering together?  What should it look like in a media-filled society with so many walls and barriers?

 

When we gather together, we are opening our homes, our hearts, our lives to each other.  In this social media driven society, sitting across the table from each other is almost a foreign concept.  Our garage doors stay closed and porch lights stay off.  How many of us have intentionally rushed inside to avoid being caught by *that* neighbor?

 

What would happen if we started inviting instead of shutting?  What would happen if we listened instead of avoided?  What would happen if we poured coffee instead of judgment?   The answer isn’t scary.  Stories would be shared.  Food would be eaten.   Friendships would be formed.  Seeds of the Gospel would be planted.

 

My friends, I want to be a family that plants seeds.  I want to be part of a community of women that encourages their families to do the same.  Will you join me in that mission?

 

The Gather & Dwell Facebook group is officially live.  I would LOVE for you to join us.  We will share simple tools for gathering around the table with your family.  We will share ideas for gathering with your neighbors and friends.  We will share resources for dwelling in His Word as we intentionally grow as daughters of the King.  Let’s gather together as we live on mission!

 

Are you ready?  If so, hop on over to Gather & Dwell and let’s connect!  I can’t wait to chat over coffee!

 

 

30 Verses to Abide in Christ

30 Verses to Abide in Christ

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Oh… it’s a beautiful day!  I’m sitting in my office with all of the blinds open.  My boys and I set some plants out on the back patio to get some sunlight.  My dog is laying outside basking in the warmth.  On days like today, it’s easy to just rest in His peace.

 

Other days… not so much.  One of the things that God has really been speaking into me lately is the idea of abiding in Him.  Not rushing His plans.  Not trying to check Bible studies off my list.  Not rushing through this season in anticipation of the next.  He’s asking me to remain in Him.

 

Dwell in His presence during this 30-day Scripture-writing plan over abiding in Christ.

 

Sometimes I know the teacher in me wants to read all the books.  I want to learn all the history.  I want to study all the things.  In this season, though, I’m hearing Him loud and clear.  I am to pause.  I am to linger a little longer in my quiet time.  I am to listen attentively to His Words.  I am to dwell in His presence.

 

Revelation 3:14 says, “‘The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Originator of God’s creations says: I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of My mouth.'”  Yikes!

 

I most definitely do NOT want to be lukewarm.  I remember a song from my middle school youth group years.  I can’t remember most of the lyrics, but I remember the tune and words of two lines.  “I don’t want to be a casual Christian.  I don’t want to live a lukewarm life.”

 

As I’m transitioning into a season of being more present for my family, I’m longing to draw nearer to Him.  As I’m folding laundry and reading picture books… as I’m cooking dinner and gathering around the table… I’m longing to poke and prod that glowing ember in my soul until it becomes a roaring fire.

 

As we are often pulled in many directions during this day-to-day life, I encourage you to pause.   This 30-day Scripture-writing plan is designed to encourage you to linger over His Words, His commands, His love… and to dwell in His presence long after you’ve closed your Bible, gotten up from the table, and are right in the middle of the chaos of the day.  It’s designed to remind you to abide in Him.

 

Dwell in His presence during this 30-day Scripture-writing plan over abiding in Christ.

 

I’m starting today.  Join me on Instagram and use the hashtag #AbideInHim!  Also, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Bloglovin to never miss a post!

 

 

Menu Plan Monday {May 28, 2018}

Menu Plan Monday {May 28, 2018}

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Whew… I don’t know about your family, but for us, the month of May is exhausting!   The school year is coming to a close and that means wrapping everything up and trying to finalize things.  In particular, we are switching school districts this year, so we have an added level of finality and new beginnings.  Exciting, but exhausting.

 

There are some weeks when I plan a menu that I feel like it’s just … okay.  There’s nothing too exciting.  This week, however, I’m looking forward to the meals I’ve planned.  Knowing that I’ll have a little longer to linger in the kitchen during the days allows me to plan different meals than I can on rushed, busy nights.  It’s also getting HOT here in Texas, which means we need to squeeze in a few more patio dinners and dig into some summertime dishes!

 

Here’s what’s on the menu for this week!

Join us around the table for dinner this week!

 

Monday

Mushroom Bacon Quiche

(Can Opener Gourmet)

Warm Goat Cheese Salad

(Trader Joe’s Vegetarian)

Tuesday

Teriyaki Chicken

Carrots Glazed in Ginger-Lime Butter

(Can Opener Gourmet)

Fried Rice

Wednesday

Tomatillo Sauce Over Baked Potatoes

(Forks Over Knives Family)

Black Beans & Corn

Thursday

Taco Night!

Friday

Chicken Croissants

Green Beans

Saturday

Family Dinner Out

Snacks & Extras

Fabulous French Toast ~ First Day of Summer Vacay Breakfast

(Peas and Thank You)

Lemon Rosemary Roasted Chickpeas ~ munchy snack

(Peas and Thank You)

 

We’re linking up at I’m an Organizing Junkie’s Menu Plan Monday, so stop by over there to check out all of the menus!

 

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Our Summer Study {Breakfast with the Bible}

Our Summer Study {Breakfast with the Bible}

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Whew!  It’s the weekend!  I don’t know about you, but this week has definitely got me looking forward to summer!  I’m ready for the pause.  The months of April and May seem to stretch and pull our family in different directions.  I’m looking forward to the chance to breathe and to spend some intentional time connecting as a family.

 

While I’m looking forward to the next few months, I’ve also spent some time reflecting on the past school year.  I’ve watched my boys grow and mature over the past several months.  I’ve watched their friendships go through hills and valleys.  I’ve watched how the changes in this season of life affected them.  I’ve picked up on a few key areas where I’d like to be intentional in shepherding each of them.

 

During this season, I’m excited for the lazy mornings that allow us to spend a little more time gathered around the table.  I’m excited for the conversations that are able to flow and happen naturally… and not interrupted every few minutes with a reminder to pack a lunch, find their shoes, grab their backpacks.

 

Each summer, we spend our breakfast time in something that we call “Breakfast with the Bible.”  During the school year, we tend to find shorter devotionals or stories that are read before bed.  I enjoy those devotionals, and we’ve found a rhythm that has really been great this year.  But during the summer, we get to dig into a more detailed study.  My oldest especially will get to see the difference between a devotional and a full study.  We’ll get to spend more time with our Bibles open and pouring over passages.  I can’t wait.

 

Sit around the table with us as we chat about our summer Bible study selections ... for preschoolers all the way through adults!

 

I’m excited today to be able to share with you our final selections for this summer’s Breakfast with the Bible.  I always get asked what exactly we DO during this time.  It’s nothing super fancy, but here it is!

 

As I’m preparing breakfast, I turn on some sort of worship music.  Last year, we listened to a lot of Cedarmont Kids.  So many of these songs take me back to my childhood and the boys love the modern sound.  The music is a signal that I’m ready for them to come to the kitchen.

 

This year, because each boy will have his own study, we’ll do a bit of flip-flopping.  After we’re all at the table, I’ll start with Buddy Boy’s story.  For his particular Bible time, we’ll be using the Love & Kindness Bible Stories board book.  There are nine different devotions/stories, so we’ll focus on one each week.  We’ll read the story daily and then practice the memory verse.  I’m also planning to incorporate some object lessons and crafts into his time.  Other days, he’ll simply color from a Bible stories coloring book while Little Man and I work through his study.

 

 

Little Man and I will be working through a second Discover 4 Yourself study.  The first one we did, Lord, Teach me to Pray, was excellent.  I’m excited to work through this next one now that he’s a little older.  We’ll be doing Boy, Have I Got Problems.  I’ve noticed this year that self-control seems to be an “area of refinement” for him.  As I previewed this study, I found some excellent examples that directly related to situations I’ve seen him struggle with this year.  This particular study lines up well with the kindness stories in Buddy Boy’s devotional.  Because Little Man is older, I’ll be able to get him started, and then just sit alongside him as he works through the activities.  With both boys, I look forward to the conversations we’ll be able to have about this topic.

 

 

As for me, my Bible time will come a little later (or earlier, depending on the day).  I generally love the quiet and stillness of the early morning hours.  However, my youngest gets up pretty early, so he tends to wake up as soon as he hears movement.  This is real life.  I’m in a season that those perfect early mornings may not happen that often.  I’ll just embrace it.

 

I digress.  For my own time with the Lord, I’ve really been hearing Him ask me to just “dwell” in Him.  I have a stack of studies that I’ve started, but can’t seem to finish.  For this summer, I have said no to all of those studies.  I’ve given myself grace for not finishing them, and I know I’ll return to them when the season is right.  For the month of June, the Scripture-writing plan will be over the word “abide.”  I’ve been drawn to this idea of just resting and remaining in Him.  I’ll be doing this in two ways … well, hopefully more, but two intentional and “listable” ways.  I’ll be reading Sacred Rhythms as one of my non-fiction books in June (more on my nerdy bookish ways in another post).  It’s about practicing the spiritual disciplines of silence and solitude.  My dad gave it to me a few years ago, but I have yet to read it.  God must have known that I’d need it in a season like this.

 

As I work through the Scripture-writing plan, I will be using the Inspire Journaling Bible.  I simply love the idea of creative journaling as a method of dwelling in His Word.  I am definitely NOT an artist, so this will be an exercise in relinquishing my need to have Pinterest-worthy journals.  This will also be an exercise in listening for His voice.  I’ve stepped away from my women’s groups and the pre-written studies for this season as I fully pause and let Him steer me where He needs me to go.  I’m considering it a sort of spiritual retreat.  This is new for me.  I’m generally a very Type A, love my outlines and color-coding, let me go hunt for all the correct answers kind of girl.  I feel very certain that God has asked me to stop and listen for a change.

 

So there you have it!  I cannot wait to see how God grows our faith as we step into this new season … of life and of weather!  What will you be studying this summer?

 

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An Object Lesson on Joy

An Object Lesson on Joy

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Happy Wednesday, friends!  It’s a beautiful day here in Texas and I am just filled with joy!  This lesson was one of my absolute favorites! The object lesson was so super simple, but it has so much potential as our kiddos start to think more deeply about these concepts.  As we were going through this series of object lessons, we would read the page from Pups of the Spirit for the specific fruit of the day. For joy, the book related it to being happy and having a positive attitude. We took it one step further.

 

Finding true joy can only come from a cup filled with Christ.  See how one mom encouraged her children to find the meaning of true joy.

JOY ~ I will be okay with what I have.

Our verse for joy was Psalm 118:24.

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

For our conversation, I just jumped right into our object lesson. For this particular lesson, you’ll need a glass, enough marbles to fill it, a water dropper (or spoon, straw, whatever you want to use), and probably a plate or towel.

 

 

I placed the empty glass on the plate and asked Little Man to start naming things that make him happy.  He said things like Minecraft, our puppies, playing Legos, pancakes, pizza, dessert, video games, etc.  Each time he said something, I poured a dropper-full of water into the glass.  “Those things can make us really happy, huh?  They’re really fun!  But look at the glass.  Is it full?”  No.  The water never reached the top.

 

 

Then I asked him to start telling me things that God gave us and things that bring us closer to Jesus.  He said things like family, the sunshine, going to church, reading our Bibles, singing songs.  Each time he said something, I dropped a marble into the water.  “Wow!  Look at how full the glass is!  What do you think is going to happen?”

 

 

We finished the lesson by reciting Galatians 5:22-23 and dropping a marble as we said each word. “But the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.”  “Look!  The water just overflowed out of the glass!  God fills us with joy just like that!  When we find our joy in Jesus, we will overflow and can spread that joy to others!”

Now, Little Man and I did not do this next part, but it could potentially be really powerful if you had a child who was old enough to comprehend it.  If you filled the glass with water with all the “happy things,” it could overflow.  Let it hang out on the counter for a week or so.  The water will evaporate.  When we fill ourselves with happiness from this world, we will never be fully satisfied.  It won’t last.  That happiness will evaporate just like the water and we’ll have to keep refilling ourselves.  The next week, fill it with marbles.  They obviously won’t evaporate.  When we fill ourselves with joy found in the Lord, it’s not easily lost.

Just as we did with our love lesson, we ended by praying over our verse using the ACTS model.

“Jesus, it’s so amazing that You can fill us with joy when things like video games and toys can’t.  I’m sorry that I don’t always choose joy.  I’m sorry that I didn’t choose joy when I got upset about _____.  Please forgive me.  Thank you for waking us up today!  Thank you for giving us the sun and the rain.  Help me to remember that I can be joyful and rejoice in You even when I am sad or upset.  Amen.”

I went off to clean up breakfast and he worked on a craft.  He would randomly think of something else that would fit into one of the two categories … happiness or joy.  He’d mention it and we’d decide which category it fit in.

So, I really loved the object lesson for joy.  I think there is so much potential for deep thinking and the teacher in me just loves that!  But it’s also so true.  Throughout the week, I found myself asking Little Man, “Are you choosing joy right now?”  In one specific moment, he reminded me that little ears are always listening and learning.  God’s really cool like that and uses our kids to humble us regularly.  I had an incident this week that just really upset me.  I was running my mouth to my husband (“I can’t believe she said that!  What kind of friend is she?”) and just being pretty ugly.  Well, Little Man overheard me and very politely reminded me that I should be choosing joy.  Yes, kid, I should.  I don’t need to seek approval from friends, coworkers, or anyone else on this earth.  I find my joy in Christ.  Thanks for the reminder, Little Man.  I think I’ll go refresh myself on some verses from the Gospel, Not Gossip plan.

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