3 Habits that Will Re-energize Your Spiritual Life

Instinctively I reached for my contact solution, withdrawing my hand quickly after realizing I had no need for it. It had been months since I wore contact lens, but the habit had become so ingrained I struggled to shake it.

Habits are like that, they hold on tight, making us work to shake them off. Sometimes that’s annoying, but if we’re intentional, we can use the tenacity of habits to grow in many areas, including spiritually. [←Tweet this.]

3-habits-re-energize-spiritual-walk

Some say spiritual practices are not very meaningful if they’re just done out of habit, and to an extent I agree. To do something over and over without a specific purpose will do little to further your personal growth. But a habit with a purpose is a formidable fertilizer. [←Tweet this.]

And any habit formed in an attempt to strengthen and focus our faith holds the highest purpose. The way I see it, who couldn’t use a spiritual “shot in the arm”?

Spiritual Habits

So here’s 3 habits that will re-energize your spiritual walk:

  1. Get in the Bible daily
  2. Memorize Scripture
  3. Pray spontaneously

These three practices may seem like simple ideas, but they take perseverance and planning to implement. Outside encouragement doesn’t hurt either. 

Get in the Bible Daily

Getting in the Bible daily can take on different forms. Some like listening to an audio Bible; others read an online Bible, still others (like me) prefer to read their Bible from their favorite print edition.

In addition to the many different ways Scripture can be consumed, how the content is consumed varies as well. Bible reading plans abound, from chronological to topical to historical to straight through. 

Find one that interests you and begin reading … today.  

Memorize Scripture

Just as being in the Word daily can take on many different forms, so can memorizing Scripture. Verses can be chosen in any number of ways, including being based on topic, ease of learning, best-known, most impactful, or randomly. Memorization can be done via hard copy, mobile apps, and Web-based tools. 

The important thing with Scripture memorization is not to bite off too much at once. Take smaller nibbles and gain some success early on. 

Pray Spontaneously

Praying spontaneously may seem intuitive at first glance, but many of us have grown up more comfortable with memorized prayers. We never cultivated the art of conversing with God though out our day. 

Learning this single practice has revolutionized my relationship with the Lord. It has taken my faith to a deeper, richer level.

One Word 2015

Grow Deeper

Habits play an important role in growing spiritually, often being a catalyst to walking more intimately with the Lord.

Now is a good time to form a new one.

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8)

Reflections: Which of the 3 spiritual habits I listed have you formed? What new habit would you like to develop? (According to an article in the Huffington Post, it takes more than 2 months to form a new habit, so don’t give up too soon!)

This is a post in my Growth series. For the next 3 Mondays, we’ll explore in more depth how to develop each of these 3 habits, tackling one habit each week. Don’t miss out on learning about even one of these transforming habits: Sign up to receive my emails automatically in your inbox.

And I’m excited to begin another year recording blessings. Since beginning over 3 years ago, I’ve counted more than 3,500 gifts in Ann Voskamp’s Joy Dare! What a blessing! So here we go in 2015: #3555–3575, read my entire list by clicking here.

  • My Internet connection limping through my web conference; New accountability on several levels–it’s amazingly freeing; Finding new space to work uninterrupted (relatively speaking)
  • Pleasantly startled by a rabbit in the early morning; Cats playing under my feet cheered me during an unwanted task; Crock pot meals!
  • Gorgeous snow scene that met me in the morning; Rach’s hilarious attempt at mimicking my “You-should-have-listened” throat clearing; Received a free commentary on John
  • Eagle blending in with the snowy pines; Sister shopping with my sweet sister-in-law; A night and partial day to spend with my dear mother-in-law to help her understand her new laptop
  • Welcomed home with love after an overnight absence; Crescent moon winking at me; New jammies!
  • Sweet photos and memories to hold onto when loved ones go Home to Jesus; Hugs to dry the tears; Snowman-building time!
  • Skyping with both college boys; Having supper preparation be a team effort; Office desk and chair cleaned off…again (Now I can actually see my desk top AND sit down to work!)

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

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Posted in Growth, Memorization, One Thousand (or more) Gifts

Your Groanings Are Heard #shortburstsofencouragement

short bursts of encouragement

My weary body screamed for rest, but here in front of me sat my son, recently back from his first semester of college. He wanted to talk into the early morning hours; I wanted to sleep.  But there was no way I was going to pass up this opportunity to connect.

My son wanted my time and insight. He wanted to be with me.

He would get his wish.

I want to be there for my children, to hear their dreams, celebrate their accomplishments, support them through their failures, and help them process their decisions. No matter how many times they come, I want to be there.

Most parents do.

The Bigger Picture

I believe God as our Father wants to be there for us too. Yet sometimes I question if He hears me. If He wants to listen again to my request, my plea.

Maybe I’m asking too late or too early. Too loudly or too quietly. Too often or not enough.

But Scripture assures us, as the perfect Father, God is always “all ears.” He promises to always be there for His children.

And when we don’t know how to word it, the spirit intercedes for us. Asking on behalf of our groanings.

So groan on if you must, my friends.

God’s there. He hears. He’s answering. [←Tweet this]

But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. Micah 7:7

Reflections: When is it most difficult for you to “feel” like God is listening to your prayers: during good times, in the midst of suffering, or among those endless periods of mundane dailiness?

I hope you enjoy this beautiful song I recently discovered by Mandy Lining. Find more of Mandy’s songs at her website here or on YouTube here.  

Oh, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind you that today is the last day to respond to my Reader’s Survey (click here) and be entered to win a copy of Ann Voskamp’s photo book, Selections from One Thousand Gifts: Finding Joy in What Really Matters.

 Ann Voskamp - One Thousand Gifts - Gift Book image
 

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

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Posted in Faith, Hope, Short Bursts of Encouragement

When Not Making Sense Is the Best Thing

Surrender: We can't find our life by planning it.

I thought I became a scientist because I loved biology and nature and studying the living.

But recently I realized it was more than that. I became a scientist because I like everything to make sense, to have its place, to work together in a certain way to get a certain result.

But life isn’t like that, is it?

Our days aren’t wrapped up in nice neat packages. Everything doesn’t have a perfect place. Not everything happens the way we think it should. Circumstances get in the way.

Life’s unexpected happenings muddy our ideals of

  • marrying the perfect spouse,
  • giving birth to just the right number of children,
  • raising said children in the perfect home environment of consistent love and encouragement,
  • having jobs we love and adequate finances,
  • and even handling any obstacles that pop up with grace and poise.

These are the ABCs of the life I had planned. Maybe the one you had planned too.

But life threw me a curve ball in the form of miscarriages and a child who is teaching me that less is more.

And life no longer worked the way it should. It quit making sense.

Yet a startling thing happened. When I could no longer figure it out, when nothing any longer made sense, when I quit trying to make it conform to my plan, then my life took on a far richer meaning. [←Tweet this.]

When I was willing to surrender my life, I gained it.

I gave up my ideals of what life on earth should look like for a far more lofty goal of serving the Creator. I left behind my understanding for His.

I gave myself to the majestic One I can never figure out (the Three-in-One). I said yes to the sovereign One who does’t always make human sense (the least is the greatest?). I surrendered to the mysterious One who can’t be proven by the scientific method (raised from the dead!).

No matter how hard we try, we can’t find our life by planning it. [←Tweet this.]

That might be the scientific way, but it’s not God’s way for us. Our lives are kept in His hands, in His heart.

So when we surrender ourselves and give up our plans to the Lord, that’s when we find our life.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 

Reflections: When did you realize your life wasn’t going to go as you had planned? When did you realize that was for the best and surrendered your will? If you haven’t yet, what is stopping you? 

A bit of housekeeping. In an effort to serve you better, I am moving my #shortburstsofencouragement to Fridays to kick off your weekend on an encouraging note (I promise to do a better job at keeping them short!). Mondays and Wednesdays will be my normal posts. So in response to your preferences coming in from my reader’s survey (by the way, there’s still time to give me feedback), only two regular-sized posts a week, with one wee one to carry you to Monday. 

I’m happy to link up with Holley Gerth for Coffee for Your Heart and Suzie Eller for #livefree Thursday and this week’s prompt, #selfie. To be filled with encouragement; just click on one or both of the images below. 

LiveFreeBadge

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

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Posted in Faith, trust

Walk In the Goodness of God, Even When Bad Things Happen

Many things happen in our day-to-day lives. As we perceive them, some are good, some are bad, some seem to be neutral.

As I profess faith, I claim to trust the Lord, to trust His goodness for my life in all of the above. Yet do I demonstrate it?

walk-in-goodness-of-god-

 

I say God is good. Yet when something outside my preference happens, I get angry or sulk or mutter under my breath.

Why? If God is always good, then He will work in and through this undesirable situation for my good. [←Tweet this.]

Bad Days?

If God is always good, then why do we say we have bad days? There will be days when bad things happen, but with God, good things come from bad and there is always grace present. 

So if God is good, can a day ever be wholly bad? 

After all, every day God’s mercies are new (Lamentations 3:22-23). (What a comforting verse!)

Every day we get a redo, a new start.  Every day is redeemed when offered as a sacrifice to God.

Good God, Good Gifts

So I must ask, and I must challenge myself (after all my one word for 2015 is Growth): Do I demonstrate my faith in a good God in all circumstances?

Not just when the car starts.

Not just when my spouse and I agree in financial decisions or parenting issues.

Not just when my health is strong.

Not just when I have a roof over my head, plentiful food and clothes, a car (or two) to drive, and at least one vacation every year.

Do I demonstrate my faith in the difficult times as well as the easy? Do I praise God and walk as one with hope during bad times as well as good?

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

As Christians, we are confessing we trust Him. We trust that there is good even when things look bad. 

So may we walk in God’s goodness, not just when the storm lifts, but through each and every drop of rain as well. [←Tweet this.]

I pray for the grace to do just that. 

Because the Father is good, and He can do nothing but give good gifts to His children.

So whatever circumstance you find yourself in, open your eyes to see the goodness of God in His good gifts, and give thanks for His often missed grace when bad things happen.

It is there.

What man among you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! Matthew 7:9-11

Reflections: How do you remind yourself to walk in the goodness of God, even when your circumstances are less than ideal? 

One Word 2015

And I’m excited to begin another year recording blessings. Since beginning over 3 years ago, I’ve counted more than 3,500 gifts in Ann Voskamp’s Joy Dare! What a blessing! So here we go in 2015: #3534–3554, read my entire list by clicking here.

  • Working alone at home–affords me many perks, including allowing me to spontaneously praise God whenever I want; Great first meeting of my collaboration mastermind group; Supper of thrown-together leftovers
  • Chickadee greeting me from outside my living room window; Christmas decor at home put away; Snuggling on the floor with my favorite girl while listening to worship music
  • Familiar ticking of our kitchen clock; A long but very worthwhile school meeting (IEP) for Rachel; Memorized verse 1 of my Psalm 27 memorization exercise
  • Daniel safe in Washington DC; Rachel independently stringing together four meaningful words with her communication device; Watching Joey’s first-ever basketball game
  • Wrapping up in my favorite sweatshirt; The amazing staff and administration of Camp Courageous ; Beginning my solo retreat
  • Full day of prayer, reflection, & planning; Quick healing of the tongue–because I often lack patience when drinking hot tea; Blessing of our private retreat–who ever thought a barn could be such a wonderful destination
  • The gorgeous pictures God paints for our pleasure; Inspirational & educational podcasts for solo drives; Getting Rach home from another great experience at Camp Courageous

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

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Posted in Daily Living, God's attributes, One Thousand (or more) Gifts

How Can I Encourage You? 2015 Reader’s Survey & Thank You Giveaway

“We will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:17-18

There are many Scripture passages that address the importance of community and encouraging one another. God obviously knew we’d need others to keep us focused on Him in and through all the circumstances of life.

Life is messy. There are setbacks, hardships, pain, and sorrow. But there are also joy, love, peace, and excitement. And throughout all of life flows the beauty of an unquenchable hope. A hope that comes only from the Savior, Jesus Christ.

If you’ve been following me for even a short time, you know that I love to encourage others in the hope of Christ.

I love to encourage you

The Lord has a purpose and a plan for each of us. Right now I believe He wants me to pour out inspiration and love to you.

Encourage one another.

How Can I Encourage You?

However in order to do that, I need to know what you need from me. With what issues are you struggling? In what areas do you need the most encouragement? What pulls you down? What is your messy?

Sooo, to gather all that info, I’m conducting another survey (my last one was in December 2013). My 2015 Reader’s Survey is only 10 questions long and is super easy to complete.

Please help me encourage you in your area(s) of deepest need. [←Tweet this.]

Take a few minutes to complete this survey, leave a comment in my comment box that you did so, and be entered in to win Ann Voskamp’s Selections from One Thousand Gifts: Finding Joy in What Really Matters

Ann Voskamp - One Thousand Gifts - Gift Book image

One winner will be randomly drawn from all who took the survey and commented. It’s my way of saying thank you for giving me a little of your time.

You have through next Friday, January 23, to complete the survey and be entered for the drawing. Oh, and the survey is completely anonymous; I won’t know who said what, so please be brutally honest. :)

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

Thank you! Feel free to share the survey with anyone who would like a little extra boost of encouragement. 

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

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Posted in Survey, Web site

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Thanks for stopping!

Hello, I'm Julie, an imperfect wife and mother of four. Life in this broken world is not always easy. Yet, joy can be found in each day through the grace and mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I find it's easy for our day's BLESSINGS to get lost in its HAPPENINGS. But God's "mercies never end" (Lamentations 3:22) and His "grace is sufficient" (2 Corinthians 10:9).

May the posts and pages on this site offer you a measure of peace and encouragement.

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“Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.” — C.T. Studd

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