What is the ultimate time sucker? Distraction! I am forever fighting this battle and honestly, somedays I win and others look like bloody battlefields of haphazardness. Being distracted is a condition that I think many of us face on a daily basis and one that not only drains our energy but makes our productivity almost non-existent.
I have found that especially in these times when my favorite local coffee shops have thirty minute minimums on tables, and I’m forced to work and write from home, I struggle with keeping my eyes on the prize. Instead, my eyes are flitting all over the place noticing the mounds of laundry, the living room that looks like a “tween bomb” just exploded in it, and the dishes still sitting in the sink from breakfast. What I wish were moments of uninterrupted, focused bliss, I am conversely flying around getting everything half completed and nothing done very well.
This year I am making it my focus to change that. Through trial and error, and prayer, I have found four simple steps that have helped me fight the distraction dragon.
Give your phone a vacation.
We all know that for some of us our phone is our number distractor. Most times, if your phone is anywhere within reaching distance you will grab for it. Half the time, we never really have a reason to grab for it, but we just do. I am SO guilty of this.
Give your phone a vacation. Here is what I mean by that. Simply put it in another room. While you are working in your office, send your phone to the lovely and tropical kitchen for a little R & R. Or maybe it would like some solitary spa time in your bathroom for a few hours. Get the phone away from where you’re working. Case in point, I just got some really cute blue light glasses, and I had the thought that I should share these on my Instagram stories. If my phone hadn’t been on “vacation” in the other room I probably would have picked it up, tried to take some semi-flattering picture of my glasses and then been sucked into the worm hole of Instagram. All writing productivity would have been flushed down the toilet for the next 20 minutes.
Create time blocks.
Time blocking is huge and I highly recommend it. Carving out specific blocks of time to do certain work tasks or things around the house is incredibly helpful. I talk a lot about these and how effective they can be. When you block off time it gives you accountability to stay on task. It also gives you peace knowing that all of those other things on your to-do list are going to get addressed at some point during their allotted time frame. It helps to keep you from running around like a chicken with their head cut off.
Identify a dedicated work space.
Whether you’re working from home or a stay-at-home momma/domestic engineer, having dedicated work space is important. For me, I only work on my Beautycounter business when I’m in my office. And when I’m writing, I sit in my favorite chair in the living room by the fireplace with my cup of tea or gigantic bottle of water. Each place has a different vibe and when I’m in those places my mindset shifts to the specific tasks that need to be done in that location. When I’m writing, I’m not thinking about Beautycounter. When I’m in my office connecting with my team, I’m not focused on what my next blog post is.
This can be as simple as sticking to folding your laundry in the laundry room (if you have space), not on the kitchen table. Because what inevitably happens for me is if I’m folding laundry any place other than the laundry room, I begin to see the messy dog bowl area and I leave my laundry task half done to clean up the kibble. Have your work spaces identified and dedicated. It really helps a ton.
Pray for focus.
Ya’ll. This is the secret sauce. Quick story. A while ago I was walking the dog and praying for God to help me in this area of fighting distraction. When I got back to the house I found a strange, but beautiful sight. One of my daughters was tying up my other daughter in a chair with a ball of yarn. (That was the strange part.) The beautiful part was that the daughter in the chair was reading out loud from her devotional book, You’re God’s Girl! By Wynter Pitts. She “happened” to be reading a chapter that spoke about distraction and she read the verse Proverbs 4:25. It says…
“Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.”
Boom. It hit me like a ton of bricks. Here was another sword in my arsenal that I could use to help me fight distraction. Now, everytime I sit down to a new task I pray out loud and ask God to keep me focused on that task. I say, “Lord, let my eyes look straight ahead and fix my gaze directly before me.” I believe this keeps me from letting my eyes veer off course and from looking at other things that could steal my focus on what is at hand.
Distraction is what I like to call a “soft enemy”. It doesn’t seem particularly harmful compared to all of the other craziness going on around us in this world, however it’s still very real and very dangerous. Distraction keeps us from moving fully and effectively into our purpose and so much progress can be lost if we allow distraction to rule our lives.
It’s a battle I know many of us continually have to fight, but making some easy adjustments in our routine and asking God to keep our eyes on our paths will help kick the distraction dragon to the curb.
Last year at this time the world was anxiously anticipating the dawning of the year, 2020. Not only did it have a nice ring to it, but it just felt like the year that would bring new wonders and the promise of good things to come. In fact, many organizations developed marketing strategies around the numerical play on words, 20/20, creating slogans referring to the optical connotation of seeing things very clearly. The idea of casting vision about our future and making New Year’s resolutions along those lines was heard and seen frequently. And as much as I love a nice, shiny new start to each year, and I’m ALL for casting vision, I have found that beginning the year with a “filter” alongside that vision is so important.
My husband and I have a tradition that every year in the month of December we begin praying and asking God to give us our “words” for the upcoming 12 months. These are literal words that we feel God impresses upon our hearts to act as filters that we look at our lives, and anything we put our hands to, that year. Last December, after praying and asking God for our word filters for 2020 one of the words we felt Him gently impress upon us was “RESET”. We wrote it down in our journals, and I posted it on the back door of our home so that we would see it and be reminded of it everyday as we left the house.
At the time, I thought that this word was a prompting for us to take a look at things in our lives that perhaps needed to be done a little differently. I had no way of knowing that the entire world would be given a big, fat, RESET. I didn’t understand the enormity of that word and what it would mean last December, but now I see how God was giving it to us to use as a filter. A filter that we would eventually sift everything through. Having this filter gave us incredible peace and confidence as we began to walk out what this physical, emotional, and spiritual reset looked like in our own home.
I can’t stress enough the importance of committing your New Year to the Lord, and asking Him for a filter in which you can look at your year through. This may be something you’ve never done before and that’s okay! This year would be a great time to start. It’s simple. It’s as easy as committing to spending regular quiet moments with God and asking Him to impress His truths upon your heart. It’s coupling that with consistent time, even five minutes, of reading the Bible and filling yourself with His wisdom and knowledge.
James 1:5 (AMP) says “If any of you lacks wisdom [to guide him through a decision or circumstance], he is to ask of [our benevolent] God, who gives to everyone generously and without rebuke or blame, and it will be given to him.
After you have spent time seeking this wisdom, then write down whatever you are feeling is being impressed on your heart. It could be one word or a phrase.
The most fun part of this process is looking back on your “word” at the end of the year and seeing how so many things that happened fell into alignment with that filter. It’s incredibly beautiful how God loves us enough to go before us into the New Year. Instead of trying to white-knuckle through that list of New Year’s resolutions, as you binge eat leftover Christmas cookies and write out that unrealistic gym schedule fit for an Olympian, ask the Creator of the Universe to guide you this year. Add a filter to your vision and watch as what you “see” becomes more clear than ever before.
Businesses do it, non-profit organizations do it, universities do it, so why shouldn’t families do it?! I’m talking about creating a vision statement for your family! If this is something you haven’t done yet, I would highly encourage you to do so. Our family created our vision and mission statements, and our core values, and they have become something that filters both how we live as a family and how we parent our children.
We decided to do this years ago when our daughters were young. Some close friends shared with us how they created their family vision statement and the intentionality behind this really impressed us. The idea of living a more intentional life, built on firm foundations, and leading our family with conviction and not leaving it up to happenstance, was very appealing.
We have always been a family that follows God and trusts in His plan for our lives, but up until this point we didn’t make a conscious effort to put the framework of that plan in writing.
Proverbs 16:9 says, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.”
So yes, we know and believe that the Lord will always be the one that establishes the path for our lives, but we also feel that it’s our job to build a solid framework that becomes the scaffolding that God can build on.
I’ll share with you how we created ours, but first let’s start with what a vision statement is. As it relates to a business, a vision statement gives the company it’s direction. It’s where that company would like to see itself in the future and what it aspires to be. The same thought process works for families. Your family vision statement should be a general statement that encompasses what your family is about and what motivates you to be better as a unit.
After a vision statement typically comes a mission statement. This statement differs from the vision statement because it is more specific. A mission statement breaks down the company’s objectives and the approach it will take to reach those objectives.
Lastly, are the core values. Core values are the beliefs of a person or an organization. These are essentially the nuts and bolts of how the organization is going to operate and determine what is right and wrong.
All three of these aspects, the vision statement, mission statement, and core values should be considered and created when you’re doing this for your family. Each one provides more clarity and direction as it relates to having that “filter”, and I can tell you as a parent who is currently raising children through different phases of their life, this is so helpful.
One of the things I loved about including our core values is they give us easy nuggets of truth that we can pull out whenever our girls need a little “behavior check”. For example, when they were still very young it was easy to remind them of one of our core values, “Be kind and love others”, when their actions were showing otherwise. Kids get that. Simple, but powerful.
Creating your vision statement doesn’t have to be a daunting thing. When Andrew and I did it, we simply prayed and asked God to give us His wisdom. Then we got out a notebook and a pen and started jotting down favorite scriptures, and what we envisioned our family values to be. We started to see those values aligning with verses in the Bible so we starred the ones that began standing out to us.
Then we organized them into the three categories of vision, mission, and core values. After a little more massaging and wordsmithing, we were left with what we felt really represented our goals, hopes, and desires for our family.
At the time that we did this, our girls were too young to effectively participate in this process. However, if you have children that are old enough to give feedback and aid in the creation of your family’s core values, then by ALL MEANS include them! This will give them ownership in the process and in the final product.
You may be thinking that this ship has sailed for your family, and that it’s too late to create something like this. Maybe your children are in high school already or even off to college. But, it’s never too late! Remember, establishing these values in writing now can be a legacy that you leave for your children’s children. It could be a family creed that gets passed down through generations. What an incredible gift you can give them!
Your family vision statement should be your own, but I will share ours with you. You are welcome to use whatever you would like if it fits the dreams and framework you would like your family to live by too.
After we finalized each section I asked a graphic designer friend to create a piece that now hangs in our home at the base of our staircase. Every morning as we come downstairs to start our day, this is what we all see and are reminded of…
The Dahl Family
To be the family God desires us to be through faith and obedience.
OUR MISSION STATEMENT
We are a family that intentionally utilizes our unique gifts to give God glory through hospitality, leadership, service and love.
OUR CORE VALUES
Love Jesus with all our heart, soul and strength.
Be kind and love others.
Respect our differences and celebrate our strengths.
How many times do we hold ourselves back because our “head” tells us we’re not smart enough, clever enough, pretty enough, or liked enough? Or maybe your head is on overdrive and you’re over-thinking a situation or making assumptions that aren’t really the case.
A few years ago my husband and I were traveling, and we stopped at a restaurant to have lunch. A large neon sign was affixed on the wall in front of our table and it said, “It’s All In Your Head”. The gravity of this message struck me instantly.
You may not realize this, but there is a battle raging for control of your mind. The enemy wants to have a foothold over your thoughts because he knows that when he can control your thoughts he can control you.
It’s very similar to when a dog trainer uses a gentle leader leash on a dog. This type of harness fits around the animal’s muzzle so the trainer can control the dog’s head. When the head is turned in a certain direction, the animal will move in that direction. The same concept applies to us!
Think about those classic Looney Tune cartoons. If something delicious was baking nearby, the cartoon character’s head would turn toward the wafting smell and the whole body would lift off the ground and float toward in the direction of the aroma’s origin. The same goes for us, but instead of finding a tray of homemade cookies, our negative thoughts can lead us into despair and destruction.
Here’s the good news.
You can regain control of your thoughts and resist the enemy’s schemes. When you start hearing those lies begin creeping into your mind, fight back by swinging your sword. Your sword is the Word of God. Speak TRUTH over yourself, and I mean outloud! Jesus fought back the devil in the desert by speaking truth. We can do it too. Here are some examples of verses you can speak over yourself when you’re fighting the “mind battle.”
Lie: I am inadequate or ugly.
Truth: Ephesians 2:10 “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
Decree (what you say out loud): “I am made in the image of God and I am beautiful! I am created for good works! God has prepared these works for me, and I WILL walk in His plan for my life!
Lie: I am alone. No one loves me and I am unlovable.
Truth: Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you to be a prophet to the nations.”
Zephaniah 3:17 “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”
Decree (what you say out loud): God knew me before I was born and He is with me always. He loves me and delights in me just the way I am. He rejoices over me with singing day and night!
Lie: I am dumb. I will never amount to anything.
Truth: Proverbs 2:6 “For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”
1 Corinthians 2:16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.”
Decree (what you say out loud): I am smart, and the Lord gives me wisdom, knowledge and understanding FREELY! I have the mind of Christ and He is renewing my mind!
Get out of your head and don’t let the enemy or YOURSELF be your biggest roadblock. Flip the script in your mind and believe that you are created for such a time as this! Go rock the life God has given you, and if you start sinking into the abyss of self-doubt, fight back the lies and SPEAK TRUTH!
We clean our face morning and night, but do you think to clean your makeup brushes too? This is such an important step in every clean beauty routine for multiple reasons. It’s a simple thing to do and I will explain the quick step by step process, but first let’s chat about why you need to be adding this to your list of healthy habits.
Most of us women use makeup brushes everyday to apply our foundations and powders, and over time those brushes can get thick with dust, excess makeup, oils, and dead skin cells from our faces. Gross, right?! I know, I’m not painting a very pretty picture of getting glammed up am I? But hang with me for a second.
All of that ickiness I just mentioned is a breeding ground for bacteria, and that bacteria when mixed with those old oils and dead skin cells can clog pores and exacerbate acne issues. It can leave your skin looking dull and lifeless. And even if you have a fantastic skin care routine, if you don’t clean your brushes, that routine will feel like two steps forward and one step back. Any makeup artist will tell you that the best canvas for beautiful makeup is clear skin. So why not do everything you can to keep that canvas looking great!
Brushes, when cleaned regularly, will also last longer and do their job better for you. Brushes are meant to blend the product into your skin evenly, but if they are caked with oils and old makeup they can’t do that effectively. You’re also not getting the benefits of the true color of the product because it’s being subtly mixed with all of the other colors you used in the past.
Are you convinced yet?
It’s easy to keep your brushes looking ship shape and here is a quick step-by-step process to get you started. This is what you will need:
First begin by running your brush under warm water. Then gently massage the bristles with a little bit of gentle shampoo or soap. I like to put a dollop of shampoo in the palm of my hand and swirl the brush in my palm. Continue to massage the bristles and run them under the warm water to rinse out the product. This may need to be repeated a few times until you see your brush is completely clean.
Then, I lightly squeeze the excess water out of the brush with my hand and tap out any remaining water.
This next step is very important. I have found that laying my brushes flat on a clean towel to dry is better than standing them upright in a cup. Certain brushes keep their bristles held into the handle with glue and letting water stand at this junction point weakens the glue and the bristles will potentially fall out over time.
Lastly, once the brushes are completely dry, I fluff the bristles with my fingers and they are good as new!
A good habit to get into is cleaning your brushes once a week. Set a day that is “brush cleaning day” and wash them quickly as you’re getting ready for bed. They will dry overnight and be ready for the next morning!
And a good makeup brush makes ALL the difference when applying your makeup. I love the Beautycounter brushes and didn’t realize how bad my old ones were until I tried these.
I was standing on the Kawarau Bridge on the South Island of New Zealand overlooking the 141 drop to the river gorge below. Strapped to my ankles was a large bungee cord, or essentially a glorified rubberband. My heart was pounding out of my chest and I could faintly hear the water rushing below me. The wind was whipping at my cheeks as the bungee worker began yelling the countdown in a loud booming voice. Three, two, one… All I felt at that moment was….fear.
“What in the heck am I doing?” I thought to myself in these final moments of the countdown. “I’m getting ready to throw myself off this bridge and hope and pray that I don’t go plunging to my death in the icy waters below. Have I lost my mind?” Some would probably say I had, but even though fear was for a moment holding me back from jumping into the abyss, it didn’t win. On that final count of three I jumped.
I jumped because I knew that something was holding onto me, and I trusted that it wouldn’t let me go. I began to free fall, head first, and found myself instinctively shutting my eyes tightly out of fear as the wind whistled past my ears. But then something incredible happened. I began to feel a slight pull on my ankles and my descent began to gradually slow. I felt a tension develop that eventually stopped my rapid fall and that tension started to gracefully bounce my body up and down. I immediately opened my eyes and threw my arms out like wings of a bird. It was the closest sensation to flying I had ever felt. It was a gloriously freeing moment that I will always remember.
I would have never had this experience had I let fear rule in that moment when I was standing on that bridge. Fear. The “False Expectation of something Appearing Real”. Fear has the potential to cripple us and keep us from moving forward into what God has prepared for us.
The Bible has more verses written around the command “DO NOT FEAR” than any other concept. In fact, I was reading the book “If You Want to Get Out of the Water You Have to Get Out of the Boat” by John Ortberg, and he said that there are 366 verses about fear to be exact. One for every day of the year including leap year! Obviously, God knows that fear is the enemy’s most powerful weapon that he has to keep us down for the count.
If God’s people are immobilized with fear, they can’t mobilize for His kingdom.
Isaiah 41:13 says, “For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”
“You shall not fear them, for it is the Lord your God who fights for you.” Deuteronomy 3:22
Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” This one is a direct command for us to not be afraid. Not just a suggestion, but a direct order from our commanding officer, God.
In order to not live in fear you need to trust. Just like I put my trust in that thick bungee cord to keep me from failing, we need to put our trust in Jesus. Trust that He will carry you through whatever storm you are facing. Trust that He will protect you when the waters and the world are raging around you. And trust that if you push past your fear and take that leap, He will catch you and send you on the ride of your life.
Open your eyes, spread your arms, and get ready to fly.
I tell my girls all the time, “Girls, readers are leaders!” Cue the eye roll, and “Yes mom, we know.” They may be sick of me saying it, but I firmly believe this statement, and I have always had a passion for encouraging children to read. Years ago when I lived in Texas, I worked as a second grade teacher. My favorite subject to teach was reading. Watching the light bulb go on when my students started to really get it was so exciting, and I could see a whole new world open up for them.
During my time as a teacher, I fell in love with children’s literature. I was always personally contributing to the library in my classroom, and I made every effort to make reading fun and exciting for my students.
When my teaching days transitioned from the classroom into my home, the love of children’s books didn’t fade. Now I had the opportunity to instill this same love into my daughters. As their reading levels began to grow, I wanted to find books that they could both relate to and that had a positive message.
They began to transition out of picture books and into chapter books which presented the new challenge of finding more book options for them. There are so many wonderful books out there, and the choices are endless. But I wanted to be intentional about finding books that I knew would encourage my girls, grow their faith, and teach them lifelong lessons.
Matthew 6:22 says, “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.”
As a parent, I want to make sure that I am guiding my girls as it relates to what they are seeing and consuming. Especially when they are young, I feel it’s important to guard the gateway of their hearts and minds and be watchful of what influence is being allowed into their lives. Then teaching them to make their own decisions and to discern if something, whether it’s a movie, video game, or a book, is edifying for their spirit is the ultimate goal.
I know from my own experience, finding chapter books that I felt checked these boxes was a bit challenging at first so I thought I would share some that I have found. And just so you know these all got the “Lauren and Katherine stamp of approval”!
The Glimmer Girls Series (faithgirlz by Zonderkids)
This series of four books is written by singer Natalie Grant with Naomi Kinsman and is about three sisters whose mom is a famous recording artist. The books tell of their adventures and how they solve problems using their faith in God. The book titles are London Art Chase, A Dolphin Wish, Miracle in Music City, and Light Up New York.
The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls (Worthy Kids)
This is a series of eight books about siblings, Peter and Mary and their dog, Hank. These three adventurers discover ancient scrolls that transport them back to key moments in biblical history. These books are great because they help bring Bible stories to life for young readers in a way that they can relate to. This series is great for boys or girls!
Riley Mae/The Good News Shoes Series (ZonderKids)
Riley Mae is an action loving girl that becomes a spokesperson for the Swiftwater Shoe Company. Through her many adventures, her faith and trust in God continues to grow! This series has three books, Riley Mae and the Rock Shocker Trek, Riley Mae and the Ready Eddy Rapids, and Riley Mae and the Soul Fire Safari.
Soul Surfer Series (Zonderkids)
Inspired by surfer Bethany Hamilton, this series is about a 14 year old girl who discovers God’s love and guidance while tackling the “waves” life throws at her and her friends. There are four books in this series, Clash, Burned, Storm, and Crunch.
Princess in Camo Series (Zonderkids)
This series of four books is authored by Missy Robertson, one of the stars of the TV show Duck Dynasty. The main character, Allie Carroway, lives in the Louisiana Bayou and struggles with allergies and asthma. Her family has a reality TV show called Carried Away with the Carroways, and she and her friends have many exciting adventures. The four books in the series are Allie’s Bayou Rescue, Running From Reality, Dog Show Disaster, and Finding Cabin Six.
Lena in the Spotlight (Zonderkids)
Lena and her little sisters face challenges of everyday life while trying to realize her dream of being an actress. Throughout this series, Lena relies on her faith to help her navigate life’s tough choices and help her persevere when things get hard.
The Imagination Station (Focus on the Family)
There are multiple books in this series that will keep your reader busy for quite awhile. Cousins Patrick and Beth travel to various lands and times and have incredible adventures. What I love about these books is that they not only teach Biblical lessons, but they also teach about historical events. This is also a great series for boys or girls!
Yes, you heard that right. YOU are a warrior. Is that hard to believe? What? You’re not feeling like you’re channeling Superwoman right now? You’re not flying off to save the world from utter destruction? Are you instead feeling like just getting dinner on the table for the “fam” before 8:00 pm is looking a little iffy? What if I told you that you ARE a warrior and you have a secret weapon that can fight and win major battles everyday? It’s true.
Here’s my secret. Your weapon is prayer. (Crickets)…. Was that a little anticlimactic? Just hang with me for a second. I’m serious. Prayer is your superpower, and you want to be tapping into your superpower on a daily basis.
A few months after I had officially finished my fight with breast cancer (and by “officially” I mean I was done with my chemo treatments and recovering from surgery) I was asked by a friend who owned a local clothing boutique if I would help with her fall photoshoot. She needed a few “models” to wear some of the new looks that came into the store and truthfully, I was the token mom in the bunch. The other girls were beautiful young twenty-somethings that were made for the camera. I was honored that she asked me and was excited to play dress-up, but I felt highly inadequate for the job. I mean really. My hair was just growing back so I had crazy lengths I was trying to manage, my eyebrows and eyelashes were essentially gone, and my reconstructed chest was still feeling a bit wonky. Not exactly checking all the boxes in the “model” department. But I happily agreed because again, I thought it would be fun.
Once I was ready and in my first outfit, the photographer and I went into the alley to start shooting. To say that my confidence had taken a hit due to my previously difficult road and very recent memories of being bald, would be an understatement. But I did my best to loosen up and dig down deep to my previous dance and performance experience for inspiration. As we were shooting I saw the owner of the shop come around the corner and take a couple of pictures of us on her phone. After the day was over, she sent one to me and it stopped me in my tracks.
The picture was of me standing against the alley wall doing a full-on Superwoman pose. My hands were on my hips, my feet firmly planted in a wide stance and the look on my face was one of complete confidence and let’s just say, world dominance. It looked like I was ready to go to war and no one or nothing was going to stop me! (Now, please know that was not how I was feeling inside, whatsoever. I was just praying that my fake eyelashes weren’t going to blow off in the stiff breeze swirling around us.)
But here’s the cool thing. As I looked at that picture I felt the Lord impress upon my heart these words. “Jamie, this is how I see you. You may be weak physically and emotionally at times, but you are strong in Me. You are my warrior.”
Guys, this is how God sees US! And it’s not how strong we are on the outside. It’s about the inner strength we have when we put our faith in Him! When we do that, He gives us the Holy Spirit to help us fight our battles, and He gives us the best weapon to do that with. Prayer!
I love this quote from Charles Spurgeon, a Baptist preacher from the eighteen hundreds.
“True prayer is neither a mere mental exercise nor a vocal performance. It is far deeper than that- it is a spiritual transaction with the Creator of Heaven and Earth.”
Prayer isn’t something you just repeat to check off a box. It’s true communication with your Heavenly Father and because He loves you, you have the ability to move the heart of God! I’ll say that again, YOU can move the heart of God with your prayers. How beautiful is that.
Matthew 18:18-20 says, “Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I am among them.”
You might be thinking, “I don’t know how to pray.”
Well, this is an easy one. You know how to talk, right? That’s all you have to do! Just talk to God like you would a friend. Share your hurts, your fears, your wins and your successes. Tell Him everything! It doesn’t have to be perfect. Just talk.
But when should I pray?
Whenever you want to! (and all the time) I pray when I’m in the shower. I’ll pray when I’m driving in the car. I’ll even pray while I’m walking the dog. It doesn’t matter when you pray, just do it.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Your prayers move the spiritual realms so why wouldn’t you want to use this power God has given you. Does every prayer request turn out the way we want it to? No. That would be like giving our children everything they ever asked for including the pony and the riding stable. Duh. God our Heavenly Father loves us as His children, and He’s not going to give us everything we want, in just the way we want it, because He knows what’s good for us. But He does hear every prayer we pray and He will work all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
Stop walking around with your head hanging low feeling like you can’t make a difference in your world, your family or your marriage. If you believe in Jesus and He is your personal Savior, you have everything inside of you to fight massive battles. Start by praying. Stand up, get into your best Superwoman pose and start letting those words fly.
You ARE a warrior and you SLAY when you PRAY!
THIS is who I am. I am not a dancer, a teacher, a mom, or a cancer survivor. I AM a child of God. Are all of those titles pieces that make up the story of my life? Absolutely. I am proud of every phase that I have experienced and that God has walked me through. I believe that each of these seasons has played a very specific and important role in developing me into the person I am today. Each has been an opportunity to gain wisdom and insight for the next season. I have seen how God uses the spring seasons in our lives to gently grow and mature the seeds He has planted within us. I have also seen how He uses the winter seasons to demonstrate His fierce and unwavering love for us and to teach us to trust in His goodness no matter what we are facing. He will never leave us through those storms because we are His.
I have a strong desire to instill this same identity in my daughters and to equip them with the tools they need to face the identity crisis this world inflicts upon our youth. In searching for the best way to cement this concept into their sweet little hearts, I turned to my always reliable and favorite theological resource, Hobby Lobby. Yes, believe it or not, I found what I was looking for at this craft store that I harbor a slightly unhealthy obsession for. One day around the holidays, I was perusing the aisles trying to decide what farmhouse chic item needed to come home with me and was stopped dead in my tracks by a pretty lettered sign propped on a shelf. It read,
“I am the daughter of a King who is not moved by the world.
My God is with me, and goes before me.
I do not fear because I am His.”
I felt my arm reach out as if being powered by something other than my own strength and watched my hand take this sign off the shelf. I put it in my cart and headed home. I wrapped it up and gave it to my oldest daughter for Christmas that year, and promptly hung it in her room where she would see it every night before she closed her eyes, and every morning when she woke up.
This saying has become what I call our family’s, “I am” statement. We recite this statement in the car going to school in the mornings and pull it out when my daughters are feeling inadequate in any area of their lives. We stress that they don’t need to be moved by the world by peer pressure and that their God is with them always. They do not need to fear the challenges that will come because they belong to a God who hung the stars and set our world in motion. They are His now and forevermore. My hope and prayer is that these words will be rooted in their hearts, and will surface when they need them most. I want them to know their identities are in their Creator, and not their accomplishments. If this statement is a constant truth in their hearts, then it becomes a weapon they can use to fight the lies that the enemy will whisper in their ears, “You are a failure. You are ugly. You aren’t good enough.” Truth trumps lies every time, and when it comes to our identities, it’s no different.
So often my girls get asked the question, “What do you want to BE when you grow up?” They may answer, “I want to be an artist.” Or “I want to be a doctor.” I am guilty of asking them this question myself. However, I have learned that a better question to ask is, “What do you want to DO when you grow up?” God has given us all specific gifts and talents that He desires us to use for His purposes and His kingdom. But, defining our future by what we want to BE is deceiving because it insinuates that our identity is in what we do. I believe our identities are who we are from the minute we put our faith in Jesus Christ, and that identity is a son or daughter of a King. We can aspire to work as a teacher, a lawyer, or a stay-at-home mom, but just as the seasons in nature change, so will these seasons in our lives. The only thing that remains the same throughout the ever-evolving life path we follow is our title as a joint heir with Christ.
Changing seasons are extremely unpredictable. In fact, as I sit at the table in my sunroom writing this, I’m gazing out at my snow-covered yard. You may think, “Oh that sounds lovely. All of that white, beautiful snow must compliment your Christmas decorations so well.” It’s April. Yep. Not just April, but the MIDDLE of April. Five days ago my family and I were riding bikes and skateboarding in shorts. Today I’m looking at snow. It’s the same in our lives. There will be days when everything in your world feels bright and sunny, and then in an instant, a violent storm blows through and everything you know and find comfort in is crashing down around you. The Bible says in John 16:33,
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
We will experience hardship and trial. But through those storms there is a constant and steady truth. You are a son or daughter of a King. You are loved and cared for by the King of all Kings, and He is faithful to provide all you need.
When I excused myself from the rollercoaster of identity seasons and settled into the steady knowledge of who I truly am, I gained a peace that laid a foundation for me to build upon. This foundation is the rock solid wall that I now decorate with the gifts and talents that God has given me. When one of those giftings or professions gets a little cockeyed on the wall, or flat-out falls off and crashes to the floor, I will still be grounded in who I truly am. I now have the confidence to proudly wear my identity name tag that will always and forever read:
Jamie Dahl, The Daughter of a King
This is an excerpt from a chapter that I wrote in the book, “The Identity Effect”, A Collection of Stories by Women Who’ve Discovered Their True Identity in Christ. This book was published by FEW International Publications and can be found on Amazon.com.
I was having some major mom guilt. I was kicking myself all over the place because I felt like I was failing as a mom when it came to teaching my girls scripture. This has been one of those things that I knew I wanted to do, and knew was important, but I just couldn’t wrap my head around an easy and fun way to do it. So I did nothing. Until recently.
I thought I’d share what I did. By the way, it’s working:
I started by making a list of favorite verses. Knowing that I would be challenging the girls to memorize them, I started with shorter ones, or verses that we say around the house a lot. I wanted to set them up for success to keep them motivated when it got a little more challenging.
After I had a list of eight to ten verses, I printed them off, cut them apart, and pasted them onto pretty colored paper. Then I glued magnets on the back so they would stick to the refrigerator. My next job was to get the girls excited about it. I needed to remember that MY attitude is everything! If I acted like it was a chore, then it was going to feel like a chore. I found that if you show your kids that scripture memorization can be fun, then guess what? It’s going to be fun!
Next, I presented my pretty paper verses to the girls and told them that we were all going to participate in a family challenge. Never once did I make this only about them. I explained that “I” wanted to learn more scripture and so did their Dad, and I thought it would be fun if we all did it together!
You know your own kids and what makes them tick. For me, if I involve the whole family and not single them out when it comes to things like this, they seem to be more willing to participate. It’s about creating a culture in your home where everyone is learning and working on growing their faith. When your kids see you do it, they model what they see.
I began by choosing a short scripture that I knew they already had down. (I know, that seems a bit like cheating, but there’s a method to my madness. Keep reading.) I put the verse on the refrigerator and during breakfast I enthusiastically said we were going to start learning it. I spent a maximum of 3 minutes on it. We each said the verse, then said it together, and I tried to make it as fun as possible. Oohh…I may have done a little goofy dance to go along with it. Then I left it alone! The next morning, I brought it up again at breakfast, and we repeated what we did the previous day. Thirty seconds, that was it.
I revisited that verse a few more times, but not everyday. Because they already knew that verse pretty well (my sneaky plan), they felt confident moving onto another one. I really feel that this early success was helpful in the longevity of my plan.
Once we all celebrated that the ENTIRE family had learned it, then I added another one to the fridge. I made sure to keep the first one up to show the progression knowing that as the list grew, so would their confidence in their ability to do this.
Over the course of a few months we continued to memorize more verses. I purposely picked verses that I knew would be helpful to them and might meet them where they were in their lives. For example, knowing that one, or both of them, occasionally get a little freaked out over what might be lurking under the bed, we learned a verse about fear. Then I could strategically pull out one of those verses, in that exact moment, and show them how it could apply to whatever situation they were going through! Score! Real time application, check!
I also began taking longer passages and breaking them up into smaller sections. As we all learned each small chunk, I began putting them together. The girls were amazed that they could recite larger sections of scripture. Again, that feeling of accomplishment and success is what kept them motivated!
Proverbs 6:20-22 says, “My son, keep your father’s command and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. Bind them always on your heart; fasten them around your neck. When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you.”
Psalm 199:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
Give your kids the ammunition they need to fight the battles that will come in their lives. Scripture is the living breathing word of God and will enrich, encourage, and protect them wherever they go.
We as parents would never let them leave the house in the dead of winter without a coat, right? Why would we let them go out into the world without the protection and guidance that God’s word provides.
Helping to bind His words on their hearts is not hard. A little paper, glue, and 30 seconds every now and then over breakfast will give them a lifetime of blessing.
If you’d like to know which scriptures we started with, here is the list:
2. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7
3. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. Philippians 4:8
4. Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6
5. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. I Timothy 1:7 NKJV
6. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6
7. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Colossians 3:20
8. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. Psalm 119:105
9. For I know the plans I have for you, “declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
10. But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31