Category Archives: Prayer

Happy 100 Day!!!


Happy 100th Day of Cultivate 2018! Today concludes our summer reading of Melanie Shankle’s devotional, Everyday Holy! I hope you have managed to make a little time each day to spend just a few moments centering your mind and spirit in God’s word and Melanie’s signature commentary on it!

Day 100 from Eveyday Holy
That right there, that Esther 4:14? That’s my LIFE verse, people. (Well, it one of them, anyway… 😉 ) I even have it hanging in my office!

Esther 4-14

That verse, and the story of Esther in general, remind me that our life and our prayers, and the decisions and actions born OUT of them, are so very important. Every minute of every day you spend here on Earth has purpose and meaning far beyond what your sweet brain can comprehend. Don’t waste you time wishing things away or living in moments that have already passed. Stay here – in the present and DO YOUR THING. Even if (maybe even BECAUSE) it’s hard, and scary, and lonely. Something always depends on you doing YOUR thing, love bugs.
It’s been a good, good summer here in my house and I pray the same can be said about yours. I know it seems like we were a little quiet around here, with fewer posts than normal and not as many social media posts. That’s because we have been SO VERY BUSY behind the scenes and have big things to announce this fall! We’re growing and evolving and planning and EVERYTHING! And couldn’t be more excited about what’s in store for us and for YOU! But more on that later this week…! (I love a good cliffhanger, don’t you?!)
For now, let me congratulate you on 100 days of cultivating your FAITH by investing your time and energy in scripture even if just a few moments each day. God DELIGHTS when you spend time with Him, sweet friends. Well done!
One thing that’s been running around in my head lately is that powerful F word: FAITH. (Sheesh, move your mind up people, what did you think I meant?!) It occurs to me we might mix up various definitions of that word and it can get in our way of knowing and believing in our amazing God. There is a big difference between Faith (with an uppercase F) and faith (with a lowercase F). This summer, we’ve been hopefully cultivating the uppercase kind! What’s the difference? Let’s start with this definition from Hebrews:


The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this Faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. Hebrews 11:1, The Message


In other words, uppercase Faith is based on HOPE. Not wishful thinking, but hope. Uppercase Faith is BELIEF in something good and holy and sacred that is bigger than you. And by the way, the miracles we witness everyday from flowers blooming, seasons changing, medical healings, and teenagers actually putting away their laundry without being asked are the evidence that backs up this Faith!


Lowercase faith is based on our human-sized belief, which cannot comprehend the bigness, vastness, etc. of the God we profess to know. Therefore, lowercase faith is constrained by our own human experiences (and lack thereof) and we fill in the gaps with our own limited understanding and data points to make sense of things. Lowercase faith isn’t a bad thing, it just relies on our wishes. But uppercase Faith? It relies on BELIEF that transcends understanding.
And, you guys, I want to assure you that uppercase Faith does exist in you and in me. How do I know? Because you and I pray to a good, good God. If we didn’t have Faith, we’d only be making wish lists like those we made at Christmas when we wrote letters to Santa, only to forget later what we had asked for or settle for something we didn’t want in the first place. Prayer sticks with us and we don’t stop believing with HOPE that God will answer our prayers (of course, in His time and within His will…but that’s a sermon for another day!).


This summer, I have cultivated and grown in upper case Faith, and I hope you have, too! I pray you’ve seen Him in so many ways over the last 100 days that encourage you to keep going back to His word and to sit at His feet on a consistent basis. Every good thing starts small and needs tending. So keep the Faith, sister friends, and cultivate it!


Thank you for going on this journey with us this summer. And if you like surprises, come back on Thursday for a few FUN announcements to get your Fall FAITH going!!!


Peace, love, and SO MUCH JOY!



Dear Anxiety, You’re Not Welcome Here


Anxiety is hard wired into our brains and our physical body chemistry – think “flight or fight”.  Plainly put, when doled out properly, anxiety keeps us alive.

But somewhere along the line, for many, many, many of us, this security system of ours has become like a panic button that goes off all too often at a very high “volume”.

Here are two definitions of anxiety from Merriam Webster:

(1) : apprehensive uneasiness or nervousness usually over an impending or anticipated ill : a state of being anxious

(2) medical : an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physical signs (such as tension, sweating, and increased pulse rate), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it

According to Max Lucado (from his book, Anxious for Nothing), the United States is the most chronically anxious nation in the world.  Fifty percent of adults over the age of 25 report seeing a doctor at least once in the past year for an anxiety related symptom. And (this one just about breaks my heart-open into a gazillion pieces):  seventy-five percent of school aged kids report experiencing anxiety on a regular basis.

Why?  Well, Lucado theorizes it all has to do with rapid changes.  We have experienced more change in this generation than any generation in the last 300 years.  Everything from technology, to travel, to instant access to anything and just about everything in between.  All good things, intentionally speaking, of course.  But they’ve come alongside our regular anxieties of daily living to sort of wallop us with daily exposure to fear.

Anxiety causes a HOST of physical problems. It can be as benign as a stress headache or queasy stomach or as quality of life altering like high blood pressure, ulcers, immune and autoimmune issues.

The effects on the mind can be equally as debilitating from panic and phobias, to depression, addictions, etc.

But how does anxiety mess or harm with us spiritually? It causes us doubt the sovereignty of God and turns us inward to rely on our own devices, attempting to take back control of things that were never meant to be our responsibility.

Lysa Terkeurst, in Unglued says this, however: “Feelings are indicators, not dictators.”  And what she means by that is that our emotions and the feelings that come from them are like  flags being waved that say, “Hey you!  Something is going on that needs attention.”  Emotions come from a gut feeling. Nine times out of ten, we do not need to spontaneously react from the gut feeling.  Instead,  we need to create a plan of action that should come from the mind, after some prayer and listening to God.

This is possible, girls! Listen to our Power Pack Scripture this week:

2 tim 1 7 card

I particularly LOVE the New King James Version on this one because it’s the perfect counter to the lie of anxiety. It gives us the confidence to look anxiety in the face and say, “God didn’t put you here so get the heck out.”

Then, we start arming ourselves with other power-packed TRUTH to help us in the battle.

You know how much I love Bible trivia, so here are a couple fun facts for you:

  • Directives regarding fear show up a whopping 366 times in the NIV; second only to LOVE (551), and just above gratitude/thanksgiving (340).
  • Philippians 4:4-8 is the most read passage in the Bible on a Kindle
  • Philippians 4:6 is the most underlined sentence on kindle

Now, I’m not so naïve to think it takes one prayer, one moment of clarity with God about it, and your circumstance changes and you never have anxiety again. If you look at the most anxious and emotionally charged story about Jesus in the Bible, it’s when He is praying in the Gethsemane.  Scripture tells us he didn’t just pray once about what was going to happen, you guys.  He went to His knees about it three times.  This thing we have with anxiety, sister, it’s an ongoing battle.

I whole heartedly agree with Beth Moore when she says that we have no bigger battle in our life-long, day-to-day living than our battle with anxiety.

But the first thing I want us to remember as we start digging deep into this topic is that we can rest in the truth of 2 Timothy 1:7 and Philippians 4:4-8. God has given us a freedom plan from freaking out.

In these next couple weeks, there is another sweet piece of scripture you’re going to want to lean in on:

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.  I Peter 5:7, NIV

Cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7, NKJV

I wanted you to hear it in two versions. The NIV calls it out for what it is, right?  ANXIETY.  But the cool revelation about it comes  from digging down into the Greek lexicon from the NKJV.

Twice in that verse the word “cares” is used. The second use of it comes from a word that means tender loving-kindness and care, as in the type one receives from a parent.

The first “care” is translated from the Greek word, merimna, which means “anything that brings disruption and destruction to the personality and the mind.” That’s the level of anxiety He is asking us to cast upon Him. ANYTHING.  ALL THINGS.  Big, small, and everything.  Cast it ALL upon Him.

Next week, we’re diving into HOW that all looks, practically, in our daily lives.  It IS possible, sweet friends, to kick our Worry Bully to the curb and live with peace in our hearts!

Pope Francis Quote

May God bless you and remind you that your  are POWERFUL, FULL OF LOVE, and have a SOUND MIND!  For this week’s homework, click here.  For this week’s awesome extras, click here!

Peace, love, and JOY!


PS – If anxiety is affecting your daily life in negative ways, I encourage you to reach out to a professional to help you navigate effective and positive ways of dealing with it.  This could include a doctor, a therapist, a counselor, a pastor, etc.  If your anxiety or ANYTHING else ever brings you to a place where you are considering harming yourself or someone else, PLEASE TELL SOMEONE IMMEDIATELY and seek emergency assistance.  I’m praying for you.

You do you. I’ll do me.


If there is ONE thing I can say about practicing spiritual disciplines it’s this:  it’s personal.

Even though we’re all reading the same study (Enjoying Jesus) and following along with the same series here (Come Closer), we are all getting something different out of it.

That’s the beauty of such a wonderfully creative God.  We are each unique.  We each respond to the vast aspects of His holy character and His call on our lives differently.

And while I know study and meditation may not necessary sound amazingly exciting on the surface, these two disciplines we are covering this week  are my jam.  They are my entire heart toward God wrapped up in one luscious package.  They are the love language in which God speaks to my heart and the voice with which I hear Him most clearly. There is NOTHING I love more than some good, solid alone time with my Bible, a pen, my journal, and GOD.  As a matter of fact, I even told all the sister friends this week that if Tim were ever to ask them what the perfect gift would be for me, they now know they are supposed to say:  “A weekend away at a shwanky hotel tucked away with cozy pah-jeejees (aka pajamas), Prosecco, Perrier, and a Bible.”  Well, and maybe this handsome devil, as long as someone was willing to walk him for me.

Big Boy Pic from Taylir

I’m a simpleton at heart, aren’t I?  😉

The point is, I LOVE these two disciplines and if you aren’t sure about them yet, I’m hoping to convert you today!

We read and study scripture to get to know the sound of God’s voice and heart. We get to know the things that matter to Him, to His heart, and we also get to know the things He doesn’t like.  It’s not so much knowledge for the sake of knowledge (although there really isn’t anything wrong with that unless we use that knowledge in order to be a know-it-all or to somehow distort the teaching of it).  But it’s more about getting to know what’s important to God because that information beings us closer to Him.

Think about it.  In your best relationships, you know what is important to the other person, right?  So it makes sense that we should know what’s important to God!  He reveals His character to us through His Word – His Living Word.

In other words, “study”, in and of itself, answers the questions of what does God say, what does God like, what does God want us to do.

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.   Deuteronomy 11:18-19, NIV

Meditation, which of course goes hand-in-hand with study, answers the question of what does God want this information to mean personally for me? So while study could stand alone without meditation, meditation would be difficult to be independent of study because it’s hard to think about something you don’t know about!

So in order to get the most out of scripture, we should be doing both.

One of the videos for this week’s chapter has Julie talking about how meditation allows her time to dwell with a specific portion of scripture. I love that, especially if we put that in context with how we defined “dwell” a few weeks ago as in “pitching a tent with”.  So when we meditate, we are sitting down and hanging out with God and His word for a little while and letting Him speak to the importance of that piece of wisdom to us.

There are tons of different formulas to studying a piece of scripture. But the first thing we should do before we even begin the study piece of this is to come quietly before God and ask that He guides our study.  We ask that He would be with us and help us to get a little bit of wisdom out of what we are reading.  We surrender our own agenda or preconceived ideas that might be lurking in our hearts and minds, and just ask the Holy Spirit to guide our reading.

And then, I think it comes down to personal choice in how you decide to study. I found this graphic on Pinterest this weekend and think it’s just brilliant.

what to do with your Bible

I already put one in each of my Bibles, I love it so much!  Basically, study is a way for us to answer the question for ourselves:  “What does this say and how can I make this as easy as possible for me to understand.  You all should know yourself well enough at this point to know how you learn best.  Maybe you’re a memorizer or maybe you are a list maker.  Maybe you are artsy or a journal-er.  Whatever your preferred method of learning something, do that.  And don’t rush through it.  It’s not a race, it’s an exercise, a practice, a discipline.

As you first start out, you might find it difficult to decide what passage to study. You can always think about your favorite Bible stories or verses and start there.  Maybe there is something particular on your mind and heart that day and so you can use your Bible index or Concordance to look up a few verses that speak to that topic until you find one that seems to really resonate.

You can use a devotional or the gospel of the day or anything like that to get you started.  You can use any of the verses we’ve looked up so far in this study.  The key is to pick something digestible in one sitting.  In other words, a few verses or a short chapter – not an entire book.  Read it and play around with it for a bit. You will know God nudging  you to it if it piques your interest, makes you want to ask a question about it, or if you want to sort of insert yourself into the story.  Stay with the study piece until you get it.  Take it with you throughout your day, your week, etc.  Maybe read it a couple times a day.  Share the facts of the story with someone else (even if it’s me – I’m always up for some good Bible stories!).

Once you are able to close your Bible and sort of factually retell the “story” or verses you’ve been studying, you’re ready to move on to meditation!

Meditation basically answers the questions of “What does God want me to know about Him through these words and what is He calling me to do about it?”

Now. Just like study, there are a bazillion ways you can go about this.  You should’ve tried out one method in our book on day 2 with Psalm 1, which I hope was a good experience for you.  Maybe it feels weird at first, but it is insightful, right?

And AGAIN, the first thing to do is always invite the Holy Spirit to guide you through the process!  Otherwise, it’s just you deciding what YOU think about it, not what God wants to reveal to you!

I personally have used a method called Lectio Divina (which is Latin for Divine Reading), which is a contemplative sort of prayer meditation that originates from the Benedictines I think dating back to the 6th century.  And sort of like the Ignatian Daily Examen, it can be morphed a bit to suit your needs.  Here’s a graphic that explain it more clearly than I probably can in words!  If you want more info on this, just Google it!

Lectio Divina

The most important piece of this dynamic duo of study + meditation is this:  quiet your mind and ask God to guide you.  He never turns down an authentic, intimate invitation like that, girls.  And be patient with yourselves.  We are a society of BUSY BUSY BUSY.  And these disciples we are learning about and trying are all about QUALITY TIME spent in pursuit of drawing closer to God.  It’s counterintuitive to our nature.  But the payoff is well worth the time and effort!

Following along with our Come Closer study?!  Make sure you’re up to date with all the reading so far (you should be finished reading through Week 3 in the Enjoying Jesus Book).  This week, I encourage everyone to find two or three verses and attempt to study AND meditate on them!  We will be back here on the blog in two weeks (we are using next week to have extra study and meditation time!).  Get ready for the next two disciplines  (one of which is my LEAST fave…fasting 😉 ).

Here’s a great link to our fifth song by The Afters.  I LOVE it!

May God’s peace, love, and JOY infuse you FULLY this week!

So much love,



Thy Will Be Done (for reals.)


Oh my GIRLS!  There is so so so much that we still need to discuss and digest about prayer.  Like, how and why Daniel was so good at it and how he did it.  Like, what is the secret power (if any…) to the prosperity prayer of Jabez.  Why did Job keep the faith in the face of unanswered prayer after unanswered prayer?  What was Jonah thinking when God wouldn’t let up on His will for Nineveh and Jonah’s part in it?! And..and…and…!

BUT… it occurs to me that the title of our study book is Enjoying Jesus.  Not Enjoying Daniel, or Jabez, or Jonah, or Job.  It’s Enjoying JESUS.  So why don’t we spend our time today looking at Him?

Revive Matt 1128-30

I love it! LOVE it!  So much richness in three little verses.  But right now, there is one key phrase I want you to focus on:

Watch. How. I. Do. It.

It’s little but it’s mighty.  In other words, Jesus is simply saying, “WATCH ME”.

In everything He came here to do, in all His holiness and goodness, He acted as the ultimate role model didn’t He? And from today forward in this study, we will be looking at how Jesus, Himself, practiced each of these disciplines.

First of all, through the gospels, Jesus is in constant contact with the Father. Communicating = Prayer.  Prayer was not only important to Jesus, but something He treated as a priority.

Second, when the disciples asked Him how to pray, it’s one of those rare times that He doesn’t answer them with a story or a parable.  He just straight up answers them with solid teaching on HOW TO PRAY.

I’m going to park myself right here for a bit while you look up these two nuggets: Luke 11:1-4;  and Matthew 6:7-13.

(Those might sound just a wee bit familiar to you if you’ve spent even a millisecond in a church at any point in your life 🙂 !)

If we look at those two passages, we see exactly how Jesus would like us to pray, and it basically encompasses a lot of the “types” of prayers we talked about last week and wrote for homework!

Sister friends, it’s pretty simple: we acknowledge God; submit our will to His (okay, this one is WAY easier said than done…); ask Him to meet our needs, ask for forgiveness when we don’t get it right (and for Him to teach us how to let others off the hook when they screw up – because, guess what?  They are human too).  We pray that He would protect us and the people we love and keep us from harm.  And we end by praising Him for His awesomeness!

That’s how we pray.

Our friend, Margaret Feinberg, says this about prayer:

“Speaking + Listening + Waiting = Prayer”

(She’s pretty smart, isn’t she?!)

Oh but  that waiting part; that’s hard. At least it is for me, because I can fall into the pit of a pity party if I’m not careful.  “God didn’t hear me.  I must not have prayed hard enough or had enough people praying with me or He’s mad at me or just doesn’t care enough to answer me.”

It’s all fine and good when things worked out as we would have them, right? But what about when we think He hasn’t answered us, or even worse, when it seems as if He says “NO WAY, JOSE!”?

Well, let’s just open back up to Matthew chapter 6 for a sec. I’m going to re-read just the second half of verse 10 for you here:

“May your will be done on earth as it is done in heaven.”

Your will. Meaning God’s will.

In other words, “Help me to step out of the way and let You do Your thing; regardless of how You work it out. Your will, Lord.  Not the millions of options I’ve set at your feet waiting for You, God, to pick one of them. Your option. Your will be done. Not mine.”


(You might want to cue the “Mic Drop” here because this is where it gets super for reals.)

Jesus uses this phrase again – “Your will be done” much later in Matthew in the garden of Gethsemane : “He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, ‘My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want Your will to be done, not mine’.” (Matt 26:39)

He says it again just three verses later: “Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, ‘My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, Your will be done’.” (Matt 26:42)

Let’s be clear here. Jesus is God.  He knew what was going to happen so He knew the suffering was coming.  Yet twice He prayed, “Your will be done”.  I don’t claim to know what Jesus was thinking in these moments.  But I’m asking you to just think on it for sec.  I don’t know if I’m right here or not, but I don’t think Jesus prayed those words for His benefit, or even for the benefit of the sleeping disciples; I think He said the words for ours.  Maybe a part of the reason He said those very words is so we could “WATCH HOW HE DOES IT” even in the face of death.

Thy will be done.

Now. I know firsthand how confusing this piece of prayer life with God can seem because that level of utter surrender could put us at 180 degrees at odds with our desire to believe we have a good, good Father.  AND a Savior in Jesus who will rescue us and all those we love from pain and suffering.  And yet we continue to experience things that are difficult, full of pain, and could even be perceived as cruel.

But then, this:

Jer 29 11

This, sweet friends, is the very essence of faith. Can we, when everything is stacked against us and we know that we know that we know we have a God that could swoop down and save us in a millisecond, yet He does not (at least in that moment), can we still claim that He is for us and not against us, and has good and prosperous plans in mind for us here on Earth?

Thy will be done.

“For we know that in all things God works together with those who love Him and have been called to His purpose to bring about what is good.” Romans 8:28

I love that verse because it serves as a comforting reminder that regardless of what it looks like in terms of our current circumstances, He’s “on it” because we love Him and we’ve been called to walk with Him. He’s working the good already into it even when we don’t feel it.

But you wanna know something REAL? Sometimes even Romans 8:28 doesn’t alter the feelings and emotions that accompany the disappointment that something we so madly have prayed for isn’t going to come our way now – or maybe ever – in the earthly realm.  But I hope it gives you the faith and the strength to keep praying because where you are at any given moment (and the circumstances surrounding it) are purposeful to God, even if excruciatingly painful.   He reveals Himself to us in the waiting, pulls us closer, answering our heart’s biggest desire, which is to be walking in alignment with Him and His will.

So this week, I encourage you to keep up with the prayers we started last week! And let’s add another line to the prayer we are building together this series:

“Lord, help me hear You today.

Thank you for loving me.

I know you have good plans for me; Thy. Will. Be. Done.”

Whew.  Thank you, God, that it’s Your  will and not mine.  For reals.

If you are following our Come Closer study online with us, please read the last three days of Chapter 2 in Enjoying Jesus.  We’ll be back here next week talking about CONFESSION!  I know, you’re already jumping up and down in excitement 😉 !

Check out this week’s song, “Loving My Jesus” by Casting Crowns!

Praying that God’s peace, love, and JOY infuse you FULLY this week, sister friends!  A JESUS BATH BOMB, SISTERS!!!!  😉



Barely Breathing (the Power of Prayer)


Psalm 116-2

Do you pray? I ask because it’s as important as anything else we do in our relationship with God.

Prayer, as a practice, is inherently built into all of the remaining disciplines (practices!) in our study book, Enjoying Jesus.  The practice of prayer is literally woven into everything we do when it comes to our spiritual life because basically, at the core of it, prayer is any form of communication with God.  That’s the basic definition of it:  prayer  = talking with God about what we are doing, feeling, experiencing, hoping for, not hoping for, etc.

The end.

Just kidding. I have a bit more to say on the subject… 😉

First, let’s agree that prayer is different than “wishing” because prayer is more than just asking for something. If all we are doing with our prayer life is asking for things, then we are simply creating a wish list and treating God like Santa Claus.  Don’t get me wrong.  He wants us to share our desires and our needs with Him; of course He does!  And those prayers of petition (a.k.a. asking for the things we need) are a vital and healthy part of prayer. But they are just one of many different kinds of prayer in which we can engage.

Here’s what prayer really is, sister friends. This is what author John Orberg says and I LOVE IT:  “Among all the other work prayer does, prayer is most importantly the knitting together of the human heart with the heart of God.”

Our hearts woven together with His. SWOON!!!!

We, as Christians, have a real-life relationship with a real-life God. There’s really no other way to say it.  So let me say it again, girls:  We are in a relationship with God.  Even more than that, and I know it sounds weird and maybe a little awkward to say this, but we are in a love relationship with Him.  I’m not talking romantic love.  But I am talking this crazy kind of love that doesn’t exist anywhere else.

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. Psalm 139:7-10

That’s some pretty big love right there. And this love of His is all encompassing because we can’t get away from it!

Runaway bunny

(Ahem…The Runaway Bunny, anyone??!! I cry even looking at the cover of that one!)


“Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching.  My Father will love them and we will come to them and make our home with them.” John 14:23, NIV

That phrase there: “make our home”?  That’s translated from a Greek phrase that means to “pitch a tent”.  So, in Jesus’ own words, through our obedience, through our hearing of His words, He chooses to make space in each of our individual “worlds” and pop a squat.

And He’s not going anywhere. Regardless of how our world is spinning, how messy it gets, and even if we choose to ignore the tepee He pitched in the middle of it all.  He’s saying, “I’m not going anywhere, girl. So come closer, have a seat, and let’s talk.”

He’s not asking for long, drawn out rehearsed prayers. But hey, if that’s your thing, go for it. However, if you just want to say, “This day stinks.”  That’s cool with Him, too.  If you want to say, “That is the prettiest sunset I’ve ever seen.”  He’ll sit back and watch it with you.  No matter how big or small your thoughts seem to you, He wants to hear about it and share IN it with you.

Girls, if it matters to you, it matters to God. Big, small, or somewhere in between.

Let me say that again: If it matters to you, it matters to God.

Prayer is our way of getting thoughts up and out so we can make space for what He has to say about it in return.  And trust me.  You’re gonna want to know what He thinks.

Prayer can be done in many different ways. We have traditional, memorized prayers that have been passed down to us through our families and churches. These are things like grace before a meal, versions of creeds we say at church, the Our Father/Lord’s Prayer, the Hail Mary and rosary sequences.  These are prayers  because they are words we speak to God.  It’s okay that we’ve been taught and possibly even memorized them – as long as we remember they have MEANING.

We also have prayers from the heart, spoken within our own private space. These prayers can take the form of worship (telling God how great we believe He is); petition (asking for things we need spiritually and otherwise); intercession (praying for the needs of others); thanksgiving and gratitude (thanking God for providing for our needs and for the good things that happen to ourselves and others), and praise (answered prayer, expression of our love for God, etc.).  We even have laments, which are passionate prayers expressing our pain and disappointment, these prayers are “real talk” about our honest feelings of our current situations and circumstances.

Next week, we’ll talk about practical ideas on incorporating prayer into your life “for reals”.  We will also talk about how to deal with it when prayer answers are delayed or answered in a way we didn’t expect.

Between now and then, though, I want you to take some time and try writing 5-6 prayers of your own:

  1. Prayer of worship (praising God for His goodness – check out Psalms 103-107 for some awesome thoughts on the greatness of God)
  2. Prayer of petition (asking for something you personally need)
  3. Prayer of intercession (praying for the needs of someone else)
  4. Prayer of thanksgiving (gratitude for something great that day you didn’t expect or even think to pray about)
  5. Prayer of Praise (answered prayer, expression of your love for God)
  6. Prayer of Lament (honest feelings of pain and disappointment – even if directed at God – He can take it, girls.)

All of the prayers you record can be ones we’ve been taught or memorized, or they can be of our own wording, or even a combo of both. No prayer is a wrong prayer because God wants us communicating with Him.  Why?  Because His love, His grace, and His mercy meet us (AND CHANGE US) when we pray.

This week, let’s add another intention to our list! Last week, we started our intentions with, “Lord help me hear you today.”  How about we add this one for our current week:  “Jesus, thank you for loving me.”  It’s almost like we are building ourselves a perfect prayer, isn’t it?  Sounds like a pretty good idea, right?! 😉

Take some time this week to check out our song for this week called Hills and Valleys by Tauren Wells! It’s my “go to” anthem on  “those days”…!

See you back here next week as we finish up our discussion and practice of prayer!

May peace find you fully today!




Who is Your Most Delightful Friend?


If I were you best friend, I’d probably know loads and loads about you. I would see you at your best, at your worst, and in all the in-betweens (and still love you anyway…)!  If I were you best friend, I bet I’d have your phone number memorized (or have you at the top of the list of my speed dial list!). I’d look forward to our time together and think of you when we were apart.  I’d make spending time with you a priority; I’d want my loved ones to know you and adore you like I do; I’d know the things you cannot stand and also know what you live for.  In short, my connection with you would be sister-friend-soul-level-deep; it would be a delight in my life and yours.

zepahniah 3-17

For the Lord your God is living among you. … He will take delight in you with gladness.  With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.

Zephaniah 3:17, NLT

(Photo and Artwork:  Courtesy Tammy Miller, 2016)

That’s the kind of joyous love and holy delight God has for YOU.  He’s happy you are here!  He smiles when you get up in the morning and He sings joy over you throughout the day!  He watches over your comings and goings and He wants to be number one on your speed dial list.

How do we nurture this delightful friendship? Communication, as is it in so many things, is the key.

In his 17th century book on prayer, Practicing the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence said that the key to friendship with God isn’t necessarily changing what you do, but instead, it’s changing your attitude about what you are doing.  His advice is to pray shorter prayers throughout the day, instead of one long session.  He called these short and succinct prayers, “Breath Prayers” that are easily remembered and honor God.  What does that look like in practice?  Like this:

This is my mom. And she is delightful!

Delightful Momma

Isn’t that just the best?! She delights in just about everything she does.  In fact, “That’s delightful!” is probably her most often used phrase; and let me tell you, she means it when she says it!  I love observing my mom around other people so I can just sort of sit back and watch her do her thing.  She truly gifted with gobs of joy in her spirit and it cracks me up to see her treat everyone around her with that same giddiness of delight!

When we were together last summer, we were standing in this crowded and hot grocery line and even the best of us were coming a little unglued. But my mom?  Nah.  She just breezed through the waiting humming a tune and making up funny stories to get our minds off the delay.  And as we got up to the cashier, who asked the obligatory “How was your shopping experience?”, my mom smiled and said, “It was delightful!”  And off we went.

In that moment, I thought, “Holy cow, this woman is Kook-a-doodle! There was nothing delightful about our hot and bothered experience!” But you know what I realized?  She saw the whole thing through an entirely different lens.  How does she do that?  She chooses a lifestyle of worship.  Like Brother Lawrence, she meditates on the delightful things instead of worrying the day away or ruminating on the negative.

Her “breath prayer” is a simple, “This is delightful, Lord!”,  combining praise and worship in one sweet little package. And it packs a powerful punch of gratitude right along with it!

This week, as we continue to read and reflect on A Purpose Driven Life, let’s all develop a few of our own breath prayers.  Ones we can quickly pull out throughout the day to stay in the holy delight of God’s friendship. Start with “It’s delightful, Lord”, if you want to!  As we begin to change our attitude and remind ourselves of the importance of worship, we’ll fall deeper in love with our God and grow closer to understanding our purpose!

This week, read days 8-14 in the main book. Try to answer a few of the “Questions to Consider” listed at the end of each day!  Tackle Week 3 in your Inspiration Book, which includes that most delightful scripture up at the top from Zephaniah, and this great quote from Nancy Alder:

Inspire Week 3

Finally, enjoy this sweet anthem from Colton Dixon, “Through All of It, reminding us that God is always with us! Have a blessed week, sweet friends.

Peace, love, and JOY!


Up Next Week:  We’re All in This Together (no, I’m not talking about High School Musical…;) )

simpl.if.I – Always Pray! (Summer Series Week 2!)


You’re Abe Froman – The ‘Sausage King of Chicago’?”

Sound familiar?! (I’m SO giggling right now!)

It’s actually a line from one of my favorite movies called Ferris Bueller’s Day Off!  But if it isn’t one of yours,  I’ll spare you from having to sit there reading all my favorite one-liners (sorry, I couldn’t help myself with the Abe Froman thing…)!

If you’ve seen it, though, I think you’ll agree that the line and scene that is probably the most memorable (and most often quoted!) is the one where a teacher is standing in front of the classroom taking attendance. In that monotone voice that we all think our teachers had, he just keeps repeating, “Bueller?  Bueller?  Bueller?” with no idea that no one is listening to him, and oblivious to what he’s even saying anymore.

(C’mon – are you giggling yet? Please say yes!) 😉

I was just thinking about that goofy movie this morning as I spent some time in prayer.  And  – much to my chagrin – I realized that sometimes I act just like that tuned-out teacher when it comes to talking with God.

Because if I’m not careful, I begin to think that movie scene is an accurate representation of God’s attention to me.   I talk and talk and talk to God and mistakenly feel like He isn’t listening because I’m not getting the attention or reaction I “expect”.  So eventually, I just stop paying attention to what I’m saying and praying.  Ugh…

I can be a little self-centered that way.  How about you?

But scripture (Truth) tells us something different.  Truth knows better than to believe prayer is just a bunch of words that evaporate into thin air once spoken.

Truth reminds us that prayer is conversation with God, and has supernatural power and implications!  That’s why our beloved Paul encourages us to pray without ceasing:

Always Pray 1 Thess 5-17

When we earnestly pray to God, we grow in our relationship with Him. We spend time talking with Him, learning about Him, sharing our life with Him.  That’s the miracle of the vertical growth of prayer.

When we honestly pray with others, we grow with them, learn about them, share our life AND OUR GOD with them.  That’s the  miracle that comes from the horizontal growth of prayer.

The more we pray, the more in tune we become to God’s beautiful voice and His sovereign and holy will for this earth.

The more we pray, the more in tune we become to the needs of those around us.

The more we pray, the more joyful we can be in celebration and praise when those needs have been beautifully and perfectly met by God.

Here’s the bottom line on prayer, sweet things:  Every word we speak (aloud, in our heads, subconsciously, even as yet unformed…) is heard by our Father.  He listens.  And He speaks back.  Maybe not audibly, but through so many different ways – He speaks.  So when we choose to keep praying, even when we don’t see evidence of being heard, we’ve basically chosen to be in constant contact with the One who loves us most!


Psalm 116-2


Oh please, please, please don’t give up praying, my dears!  Always pray!  He is bending down, always, to hear you.  He cares for whatever is on your mind.  He IS paying attention and He loves you enough to answer.

Practical Application: (simpl.if.I’ed steps you can take to deepen the meaning of this lesson in your life):

1.  Find and display our second simpl.if.I mantra/scripture card:  Always Pray!  If you cannot find it or need to print one up, click here and you’ll find a link to the cards!

2.  Click here to read Paul’s words to the church in Thessalonica.  The link gives you a little more context into our verse for the week!

3.  Pray!  Spend time conversing with God every day this week.  Give Him your thoughts, cares, worries, praises, and joy.  And then give Him time to speak!  Record some ways you see Him speaking to you – through friends, events, music, nature, your spirit, AND in scripture.  He’s just waiting for you to slow down enough to “hear” Him!

4.  Sit back and watch this beautiful music video!  Goodness me, you’ll be so glad you did!  😉

If you are reading before amen by Max Lucado with us, go ahead and read Chapter 1:  “The Pocket Prayer”!  It’s a quick, but powerful, take on Max’s ideas of what’s important in prayer and how to break it down to basics!  If you’re feeling really motivated (!), you can also complete the Study Guide for Chapter One at the back of the book!  It gives even more great insight into how prayer can change your life!

Thanks for following along with us this summer for simpl.if.I!  For more info on this series, click here!  We are so glad you are with us!

Peace, love, and JOY!


Up Next Week:  simpl.if.I week 3:  Pay Attention!



How to Weave a Blanket Out of Prayers


When my daughter, Ella, was a newborn, a dear friend of mine gifted us with a beautiful blanket which she, herself, wove by hand on this massive, amazing wooden loom. It’s one of the most heartfelt gifts Ella received from anyone as a baby.

Weaving prayers with text

This precious friend of mine, Charlotte, said that with every strand of yarn she wove into that blanket, she would say a blessing for Elle over something that she prayed would come to pass in her life on earth, from her health and physical development, to her future career, marriage, and her own family.  It took Char two months to weave it, so she said a lot of blessings for my sweet girl, and I’m so honored that she took that time to do it.

Prayer has the power to prepare a way for the future, to speak life and Truth into situations that have yet to happen – even yet to be dreamed of.  It’s that amazing?  It also has the power to loosen the binds that tie us to our pasts.

This week, I’m finishing up my very first attempt at a Novena.  I’m learning so very much, experientially, about the power of layered and woven prayer.

Listen to my favorite line in the closing prayer of this novena:

“Mary, Mother to whom God entrusted the undoing of the knots in the lives of his children, I entrust into your hands the ribbon of my life.”

Whoa.  I love that.

I’m learning how, through honest dialogue with the Lord, I can begin to bend my will back to God’s and impact the future and soothe the past.

Psalm 119 36

Like my friend, Char, and her loom work, we have the ability to weave and layer prayers into the lives of others, not only for this current moment and season of someone’s life, but also over their past – asking that God would undo those knots in the ribbon of their lives and dissolve the knot the way a massage loosens a tight muscle.  And, I’m feeling, for the first time, that I can move forward in time and pray layers of hope into events and circumstances that will likely come to pass.

For instance, I can already be praying for Ella’s future husband and her children.  I can pray for our family’s generations to come to live out Micah 6:8.  To pray that they would believe Jeremiah 29:11;  that they would boldly pray as we are instructed in James 1.

I can, with confidence, pray into the very real and near future for moments of hope, healing, and relief of the grief that is sure to come for a dear friend whose husband is dying of cancer.  I can rely on the supernatural power of prayer to be waiting there for her when she needs it most.

I’m beginning to sense how I can effectively weave in and deposit moments of grace into the lives of those for whom I pray .  I’m discovering how to live confidently, knowing the precious “deposit” of my prayers has been placed there for such a time as “that“. To know that the supernatural fibers of God’s grace and mercy will be waiting there for moments of hurt, doubt, fear, and pain.  To live with confident joy that I’ve done my part in ensuring that there will be moments of great rejoicing and blessing for my beloveds, my people, both this side of heaven and beyond, even when I’m not present.  To chase down the events that are to still come, and place fingerprints of prayer into them, trusting in the supernatural power that prayer surely brings with it.

Let’s be clear.  I’m not suggesting that we are creating a “mental movie” or photo shoot of how we think things should look or be in the future, although I love the idea of positive visualization!  Instead, I’m emphatically telling you that prayer gives us the chance to honestly partner with God to literally place love and care and hope and compassion into future moments of great joy – AND in moments to come that may be filled with great sorrow or desperation.

Our prayers cover and wrap people and situations in a sort of blanket of prayer that is heartfelt and powerful.

Forward (and backward!) prayer allows us to follow our decisions through and create Best Yes choices for ourselves and support those of our loved ones. It deepens the integrity of our prayers to where we can honestly speak what we desire for ourselves and those for whom we deeply care and weave it together with God’s will for all of us.  It provides opportunities for us to exercise faith, trust, and reliance on God.

Ribbon Prayer

One of our guiding verses for this series is Matthew 9:29, “Become what you believe”.  Weave your prayers with those of Jesus and let Him open your eyes to the possibilities of that precious piece of scripture!

“Oh the wonder of God brings forth things we couldn’t think of, didn’t know to ask for, and would hardly believe could be possible.  His wonder is my assurance.”  Lysa TerKeurst, The Best Yes

Following along with our GracePace series and The Best Yes?!  Here’s your homework for the week!

  1. Click here and take a look at  video #3 in the GracePace online Bible study series!  This week, we delve into Moses-Sized Meltdowns and the power of delegating!
  2. Complete your desired level of homework in The Best Yes Study Guide for Session 2!
  3. Read chapters 7-9 in the main book, The Best Yes.
  4. Write out one of the Proverbs listed on page 71 of The Best Yes Study Guide.
  5. Check out our song of the week this week,  “Here for a Reason” by Ashes Remain!

We Are the Inmates Running the Asylum (and how gratitude graciously lets us off the hook)


“The inmates are running the asylum!”

Have you heard that one before? It basically means that the least qualified and most incompetent people are in charge.

Um, yeah. Not such a good idea…

We humans are sort of insanely egocentric, aren’t we? I mean, we can really convince ourselves that all the good that comes our way is the result of our own effort and deservedness, while all the bad that happens to us is simply the fault of someone else (yes, even God). We love pointing fingers…while simultaneously patting ourselves on the back.

I include my own self in that mix, by the way. I’m totally guilty of the same behavior. The second something goes wrong, I can easily shake my fist at God and say, “What were you thinking? This isn’t what I had in mind! This situation belongs to someone else – I don’t deserve it!”

Then again, when something fantastic comes my way, I can also be quite quick to say, “Look at me! Look what I did! It’s all about me!” with little (if any) praise being sent up to my Father in Heaven who surely is the One who blessed me with the gift.

At the end of the day, this level of egocentricity just leads us to comparison, criticism, and discontentedness.

Dissatisfaction with the life and circumstances we’ve been given, added to our human tendencies toward jealousy and envy (not to mention dealing the realities of living in an imperfect world) can easily lead us into a good, long pity party.

I don’t want to run that insanely pride-filled asylum anymore, do you? It’s too tiring to remember all the lies that go with it.

The remedy to this egocentric life of pride is gratitude.

Gratitude, in all situations, leads us to love, joy, and humble satisfaction because – by immersing ourselves in thanksgiving – we eliminate the temptation to compare and criticize.

Placing our focus on the Creator and getting it off the “creation” helps to develop awe, reverence, and THANKFULNESS!

Romans 9 20

I don’t need to compare; to wish my life was the same as someone else’s. I ALSO don’t need to be criticizing the life I’ve got! Does the thing that is created look at the creator and say, “This isn’t good enough. I want it to be bigger and better! I want to have more, to be different…”?

Who am I to tell God He didn’t get it quite right, that His timing is off, or that what He has created and given me just isn’t how I envisioned my life to be?

I’m not the one who willed this world into being. I don’t tell the sun where to come up in the morning and again where to set at night. I do not have the first clue how to command armies of angels. (See Job , chapters 38-42, for this amazing “schooling” from God about who actually rules the Universe – spoiler alert: it isn’t us…!)

Job 42 1

Let’s move toward an attitude of gratitude together. Let’s give the glory back to the one who gave it to us in the first place, no matter what that glory looks like through our human eyes. Let’s build on our reverence for God, by adding intentional gratitude to it!

“Eucharisteo – thanksgiving – always precedes the miracle.” Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Miracles

If we learn to live with gratitude, the miracle of grace begins to seep into every corner of our lives and transforms our discontent into joy and peace. It melts pride into humility. It clothes insecurity with the merciful confidence of Christ. It takes that frenetic “need to control” feeling out of our hands, and places it back into the only Capable Hands that it ever belonged – God’s.

Sweet, fellow “inmates”, this earthly life we are living can often feel insane. I know. But let’s spend some serious time being grateful that what we’ve been given is seriously good, and that the “Someone” in charge is way better for the job than us!

Oooo, I need to pray:

Father, I am so glad and grateful that you are in control. I am sorry for those times when I try so hard to take the reins of my life away from you and then mess it all up. I am so grateful that You have it covered, that nothing surprises You, and that Your grace and mercy are infinite in abundance. I need it, Lord, and I need You. Thank you, Father, for your love, Your kindness, Your blessing, and Your covering. Help me remain grateful that, regardless of my circumstances, You call me Yours. Forgive me when I neglect to see the beauty and blessings around me and I pray you would bring them to my mind when my pride and complaining get in the way. I love you. In the gracious name of Jesus, Amen.

Let’s end today with a beautiful song about putting our pride aside, and giving the glory to God.  Here’s the JJ Weeks Band – “Let Them See You”:

(I hope you enjoyed this re-blog, edited slightly from the one that originally posted here on February 27, 2014!)

Have a blessed Thanksgiving, my dears.

Peace, love, and JOY!


Up Next Week:  The Butterfly Effect!

This is EXACTLY how much I love you… (what every daughter needs to hear from her momma)


hand holding

To My Gorgeous Girl,

I know what you’re thinking. “A letter from Mom?” Don’t groan, or roll your eyes, sister. You might  like to hear what I have to say.

I DO get your reluctance to read this, though. You’re almost 14. You start high school next year and the world is truly beginning to open wide with possibilities for you!  You want to fly a little, don’t you? The last thing you want or think you need is a letter from me with opinions and advice, right?

But humor me, will you? I have some thoughts on the miracle that you are that you might just want to hear now, and maybe even tuck away for another day.

Here it goes…

I know sometimes you look around and see girls you think are smarter, prettier, funnier, or more popular than you believe yourself to be. But here is the honest to goodness truth:

YOU ARE GORGEOUS. Inside and out. You have an awesome sense of humor and make me laugh all the time (in a good way, of course!). You have more smarts up in that beautiful head of yours than you give yourself credit for. People honestly like you and are drawn to your kindness, goodness, and compassion. (And, BTW, I’m not the only one who thinks so.)

Now.  I’m going to let you in on a little secret about those other girls you’ve been looking at: they feel the exact same way you do. It’s true. Right now, their minds are running wild, just like yours, wondering if there’s food stuck in their teeth, if their outfit is cool enough to fit in without sticking out, if the boy in the second row of math class has noticed them, if their butt looks too big in those jeans, and what YOU (yes, YOU) think of them, too.

Here’s the BIG NEWS you may not know: You are ALL a part of something crazy big, something amazing, and something completely and beautifully orchestrated by God.

It’s called “life”.

In this life, the world needs you to become just exactly who God created you to be. To turn your back on that, or to act without the authenticity of who you are, will only lead you to unhappiness and leave you feeling empty and wanting something more.

I only know this from personal experience, my sweet girl.

And while I have your attention for a moment, I’d love to share a couple tips for living this life that I’ve happened to pick up along the way:

  1. Be God’s girl. Remember how much He loves you and never forget to thank Him for all the blessings He places in your life. Act like He’d want you to act.  Make Him a proud papa, honey, and you can’t go wrong.
  2. Don’t stoop to the level of people around you who hurt you or hurt others. The “low road” is quite literally beneath you. Maintain your dignity by remembering who (and whose) you are.
  3. As tempting as revenge is (and as fun as it might be to imagine), keep the Golden Rule tattooed on your brain! It’s as simple as this: Treat others the way YOU want to be treated. Let God take care of the judging and the consequences. He’s got it all under control and He doesn’t miss a thing. End of story.
  4. Notice the people around you and encourage them with your smile, your words, and your behavior. Laugh with friends when they are happy; cry with them when they are sad. Bring them a treat when they are discouraged or sick. Hug them when they need it, and back off when they need distance. Forgive them when they’re sorry. And, you know what?  Even forgive them when they act like they’re not sorry! Forgiveness is a gift God gives you to share. Your true friends will return the favor, my beautiful girl. You can count on it.
  5. Stay away from the things you know are bad and wrong. While we will all slip and fall sometime or another (and maybe even more than once…;) ), stick to what you know is right and you’ll be just fine. (And, um, as a side note here, you should probably be aware that I always pray that you will get caught the very first time you try something outside the realm of what I’d deem “acceptable behavior”. And you KNOW I’m a pretty powerful prayer and know lots of other ones, too, that I’m not afraid to call in for the cause. I’m just saying… 😉 … !)
  6. Stick up for those who are less able and/or less fortunate than you (and by that I mean ALL of God’s creatures!) Everyone needs a hero now and again. You have a gorgeously strong heart of compassion; don’t neglect it. The more you use it, the more others will see God through you. Be “that” girl – you know, the one people can count on as being fair and kind. Surprise people with your goodness, Elle Belle, and you will be rewarded beyond what your mind can even imagine.
  7. Lead by example, but don’t be bossy. Nobody likes a “know it all”. Let others feel important by listening well. Respond by using your intellect and lots of encouraging guidance. Never make anyone feel stupid.
  8. Be yourself. No one can “fake it” forever. It makes you too tired to try and you’ll find you won’t be able to keep it up. Besides, you were created by a glorious and perfect God…so what does that make you???!!!
  9. Life can get hard from time to time. Don’t let yourself get burned out. Take care of your body by resting when you are tired, eating (nutritiously!) when you are hungry, drinking (again, nutritiously…) when you are thirsty, exercising your body and your mind regularly, and praying all the time.   Seek help whenever you need it; never be afraid to ask for it! Important decisions require prayer, expert advice, and your own brain power. You can do it – no matter what “it” is! Relying on God in the tough times grows your faith and your spiritual endurance. He is always with you.
  10. Finally, Ellie Bean, remember that people – good, honest people –  are to be celebrated, not just tolerated, even when they don’t agree with you. God put you here for such a time and place as this, so use this time wisely, joyfully, and in celebration of the life you’ve been given. Life is a great, crazy gift of a ride from God, girl. Stay on His road and it will take you to places you haven’t even had a chance to dream of yet. I can’t wait to see where it takes you.

I love you so much, girlie-cue. I will always be here for you, no matter what. And more importantly, so will God.  These next few years will have plenty of great times and a few challenging ones, too, so let’s just keep talking, okay?

In the words of Bob the Tomato, don’t ever forget: “God made you special and He loves you very much”. 😉

Thanks for listening, baby girl.

Oh.  And remember how you used to always ask me how much I loved you?  Well, my answer remains the same, love bug:

Momma loves every single millimeter of you

to the moon and back…

infinity times infinity times.

Yep.  THAT is how much I love you.




I based this letter to Elle on a blueprint of Paul’s advice for living a righteous life from the book of Romans, Chapter 12!  Click here to read Romans 12 and see if you might just find yourself motivated to write one to someone YOU love!

And speaking of Romans, if you are following along with us in Seeing the Big Picture:  The Book of Romans, you can click here for your homework for this week and a link to our song for this week, “Fix My Eyes” by For King and Country!

Enjoy your week, sweet friends!  See you back here next Thursday for our last section of Romans!  (Can you even believe it?!)

Peace, love, and OODLES of joy!



Up Next Week:  Wrapping it All Up!