To-do lists and Eternal Lists

Didn’t we already learn this?

I often found myself thinking this in my undergrad years at Hope College. I was training to become a teacher, though I loved my classes and found them wonderfully challenging it took me awhile to realize that repetition was a vital part of the learning process.

Repetition is actually the key mastering something–Papa God knows this well.  I am thankful He is a gracious and patient teacher who is willing to speak the same lessons to my heart over and over.

One of these lessons my heart needs on (almost constant) repeat is guarding myself from busy days that are full but empty of anything of eternal value. Yesterday, as I got Beckett up from his afternoon nap, my pre-dinner to-do list was running through my mind.  But, I was weary (being nearly 30 weeks pregnant can do that to you) and he was awake, but still sleepy.  So, we snuggled for awhile, and as I lay on my bed with him curled up beside me I started to feel guilty thinking of what I should be accomplishing.

And, at that moment, our patient teacher spoke to my heart–make a list.

Make a list?

Make a new list; not a to-do list–let my Spirit show you the list of what you did today that counts for eternity.

So, with the help of the Holy Spirit, I made a list on my phone–and, the things I didn’t accomplish mattered a lot less, and the eternal perspective from yesterday, I pray, will help me today.

Maybe my list will help you see that setting aside the busyness is okay; maybe it will show you that you really accomplished so much this week when you look with the right perspective.

Yesterday’s list: listened (without my phone in my view) to Charlotte tell me about preschool, read books with my littles when asked to, let Beckett walk rather than ride in a cart when we ran errands to Costco & Carters–held his hand, let him move slowly, did Charlotte’s hair this morning how she wanted it styled (not how I wanted it), snuggled with Beckett after naptime, held Audrey’s hand all the way home from school and listened to the stories of her day, made simple meal for my family.

Does the list surprise you?  It might not seem like things of eternal weight, but the Holy Spirit continues to show me that nurturing real, quiet, deep relationships with my children opens their hearts to the parent who they cannot see, Father God.

Mommas, keep at it–let the Holy Spirit show you how beautifully weighty those moments of books, and listening, and holding hands are.


Prayer Changes EVERYthing

Mommas, usually I come to you with stories of what God is teaching me through the chaotic, humbling, beautifully messy days of raising arrows. Today, I come to you with more of a practical post in an area in which I’ve been growing: prayer.

I still have much to learn and I have a stack of books on prayer yet to read next to my Bible. My grandmother was an incredible prayer warrior, and though my mom has always been very faithful and faith-filled in prayer, recently, she has become a very mighty intercessory prayer warrior. I come from women of prayer, and I feel I am just getting my feet wet in the glorious rushing river of prayer.

But, I imagine many of you mommas are like me–you don’t have hours of quiet to pray; but, you desire to be a faithful prayer warrior especially for your people. So, today, I share with you a few practical ways to become a more faithful woman of prayer–they won’t all be new to you, but I hope you find at least something in this list that equips you this morning to pray for your people–because, mommas, prayer changes everything.

  1. Snag moments: During the week, I wake up early to take advantage of the dark & quiet before my people are awake; I spend time in the Bible and in prayer.  But, prayer doesn’t have to be contained to my time sitting with my Bible in my lap while everyone in the house is sleeping.  I am becoming more intentional about snagging moments to talk to Papa God–pray while you chop veggies, pray while you drive and listen to that Veggietales CD again, pray for your people as you fold their laundry.
  2. Ease up: Accept that something is better than nothing.  If you cannot give 20 minutes in prayer, don’t write off the five minutes you can give.  Give what you can, and give it entirely and watch God’s presence invade your five minutes.
  3. Pray smarter not longer: Mark always tells me to work smarter not harder; I’d like to argue we can apply this to prayer.  I do not deny there are times when we need to spend long chunks of time in prayer; however, sometimes I have 15-20 minutes and because of my wandering mind I only get out 4 minutes of prayer. I have found a few tools which really help me to focus my mind and my prayers.
    1. The Secret Power of Speaking God’s Word by Joyce Meyer has scriptural prayers on a variety of subjects.
    2. The Power of  a Praying Parent by Stormie Omartian is an excellent book filled with scriptural prayers on specific subjects that apply to your children; I promise you will love this one and find it gives you new ways to pray for your kids.
    3. The Power of  Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian is the same format as the one mentioned above, but it is for praying for your man — don’t forget to cover your man in prayer; blessing flows from the head down!

Let’s snag those moments knowing that something is better than nothing, and become women who cover our people in prayer.

Stop Looking Over There!

Avoiding Serious Damage

Once during a high school spring break, I was feeling particularly good about my hairstyle as we headed out of the condo and  to the rental mini-van.  A pretty strong wind was whipping over my right shoulder through the parking lot–in true teenage fashion, I was pretty concerned that my perfect hair wouldn’t make it to the restaurant.  Since, I couldn’t stop the wind, or control from which direction it was coming, I decided my best option was to put my face right into the wind. My thinking was that the wind blowing my hair straight back rather than sideways would be less damaging (I was 17 okay?).  You may be thinking that there isn’t anything too terrible about this plan.  Let me insert one additional detail.  While I ran in one direction, my face was turned in another.  My plan worked until I ran into a cement parking block full force.  The impact sent me sailing through the air with a hard landing on hot asphalt.

I guess it is good I was only 17 because other than scraped knees and bruised pride, I was okay; and, my hair even looked okay.

Looking in the wrong direction can cause some serious damage.

I have been spending a lot of time, in the last few weeks, running while looking in the wrong direction–looking either at fear or looking at what I felt my proper response, as a Christ-follower, to the fear should be. The unknowns of the upcoming delivery of our baby boy, Ryker have been an excellent tool for the enemy to stir up fear.

I have spent enough time in the Word and under the mentorship of my Holy Spirit filled parents to know not to let fear run unchecked in my heart and mind.  So, as the waves of fear came, I began battling them with scripture I’d buried in my heart as a child such as,

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7)

When the fear didn’t subside instantly or only subsided for a matter of hours, my response was to keep after it. It was as if some of the rooms of my heart and mind had fear scattered about–like the crumbs of food you’d find in my kitchen and the dust in my living room. Try as I might, with my broom of scripture and telling myself that God’s plan is good (whether I like it or not), I could not get those rooms entirely swept out. And, I became so focused on the specks of fear still scattered about and my inability to sweep them out entirely or permanently that I was just as focused on the fear as I had been when the wave of fear first washed over me.

“Stop looking at the fear.” I so clearly felt God whisper in my heart–He revealed to me that the enemy was just being sneakier, but he was still being successful in getting me to look in the wrong direction.  Though, I thought I was spiritual as I tried to sweep the fear away, the enemy knew I was still looking at the fear. As God spoke to my heart, while I stood at the kitchen counter chopping broccoli, I could imagine Him tenderly using His hand to lift my chin and eyes to Him.

Stop looking at the fear; when it resurfaces, just look at me.

Mommas, this has been an incredible game changer for me — the fear is not entirely gone, but when I feel it vying for my attention, I fix my eyes on my Father.  I fix them on Him by audibly declaring who He is and thanking Him for His provision (the evidence is everywhere), and I don’t even give my fear the chance to be talked about.

Can I encourage you to check which direction you’re looking as you run your race.  Looking in the wrong direction can cause some serious damage, mommas.  Whether it is anxiety, fear, frustration, temptations, stop looking at it and look at Him.