Life Updates

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In life we go through many seasons.

Although every journey is different one thing that remains true is that each season has its own ups and downs. For the past several weeks I’ve experienced some of the highest points I can remember, but they’ve been coupled with times of trial. I’ve started new personal projects that thrust me from my comfort zone, and unfortunately, it’s stolen my small supply of energy.

I’ve also been carrying around a weight on my shoulders. For the longest time I tried to ignore the issue because it seemed easier than dealing with it. I tried everything I could to distract myself. I used exercise as a distraction. I listened more and talked less. I used television to fill my free time so that I didn’t have to write. All of this because writing made me vulnerable. The words I write come from my heart, but my heart aches and I am afraid to let it bleed on the page.

Someone I love very dearly is sick. Actually two people. There. I said it.

Over the past seven months my family has been under attack. Cancer snuck its way into the bodies of two people I love very much. It hurts to watch them fight. It hurts to see the messages and to hear the news. It hurts that in a time when we all need one another, that the illness keeps us apart.

Nothing can prepare you for this road, and I feel so helpless. I like to be in control. I like having answers and knowing outcomes. Just like everyone, I like to pray and see results.

So please forgive my absence. Many people tell me how encouraging my posts are, but I have days when being positive doesn’t feel honest.

There are times I rejoice over good news. Recently there have been tears of joy as things seem to be turning around, but as I tread this rocky ground I’ve struggled to find my footing. I’ve tried to keep my eyes on Jesus, but there are days when my strength is weak.

One thing I am sure of despite the battle is that God is good. Just because situations stink and the skies seem cloudy doesn’t change the fact that I trust Him. I know His plans are good and I rely on His strength everyday. I pray for God to lead the doctors. I pray for God to bind up the wounds and heal the sick. I pray for blessings. I pray for miracles. I pray that good will come from all this pain.

Thanks for letting me be honest with you today. Sickness is an ugly thing that can destroy healthy people and spirits. Please join me in prayer for my family, and know that I am praying for you and yours as well.

The Ameri Brit Mom

 

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Five Minute Friday: Quiet

This week the topic for the Five Minute Friday link-up post is Quiet. What is a link-up? Essentially a link-up is when you join other bloggers and write on a similar topic. You share your blog posts with one another and begin conversations via a host site. You can head over to Kate Motaung’s page to check out other entries from inspired bloggers. Here’s my five minutes of uninterrupted, unedited writing on this week’s topic:

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Being quiet is difficult. When I set time aside in my busy schedule to pray I find that I’m often the one dictating the agenda. Eager to get things off my chest or burdened with a heavy heart I come to God with all these questions, but don’t quiet myself for long enough to hear a response. No wonder I feel like sometimes my prayers go unheard. It’s not that God isn’t listening rather it is me who is not doing the listening. You can’t hear an answer when you are talking over it.

Today my challenge to you (and myself) is to take a few minutes and be quiet. Write down or speak your requests to God and then wait. This can be uncomfortable I know. In our chaotic world silence can be awkward. Trust me, any glimpse of quiet that accidentally happens in a high school classroom is always thwarted by that one student who shouts out, “awkward silence.” But, today don’t be afraid of the silence. Embrace the quiet. Listen to the whisper of God. Unload your heart and let him heal your spirit.

James 1:19-My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry

 

The Ameri Brit Mom

Benefits of Keeping a Prayer Journal (Repost)

A crucial part of my blogging routine every day involves taking a look at the content of other blogs to which I subscribe. I brew a perfectly crafted mug of coffee from my Keurig and sit down on my comfy couch to scroll through the new posts in my WordPress Reader and e-mail from the blogs that I visit and enjoy the most. Oftentimes this process inspires me when it comes to topics for my own posts and also I am motivated by the success of other bloggers.

In the right-hand margin of my page you can find some of the posts that I like which is updated daily when I read through the new posts for the day. I’ve decided to begin featuring some of those posts here on my page every couple of weeks. There are so many talented writers and gifted artists out there. This is an opportunity for my subscribers, followers, and friends to hear from the people who inspire me by reposting those articles that I’ve found informative and worthwhile.

Today my repost is an article by Rachel Wojo called Benefits of Keeping a Prayer Journal.

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Rachel Wojnarowski is a Christian author who inspires me daily through her blog posts about choosing God everyday. Recently her blog has been centered around anxiety and worry which has really helped me through my own personal journey. The post I am featuring, however, deals with keeping a prayer journal and the benefits of doing so. If you are someone who is already in the habit of keeping a list of prayers this post offers some strategies to make it more meaningful. If you do not currently have a prayer journal of your own this article makes a strong argument for creating and keeping one.

In the past, I have done well to write down my own prayers. It’s helped me to keep focused on my particular requests and provided a means for recording when God has answered prayer. However, in the past few months I’ve found that my prayer journaling has lacked depth. Here and there I may jot down a thought or an idea I don’t want to forget, but I’ve not written much beyond that. This article has motivated me to not only write my requests and prayers with more focus, but has also given me new ideas to revitalize the journaling that I already do.

Please click over to Rachel’s page and take a look at this article.

How Do I Pray?

The following is a devotional that I wrote as a sample piece for my church writing team. As I was writing this I felt that I should share it with my followers on here as well. Keep in mind as you read that the intended audience is new Christians and believers, however, I feel that a lot of the principles apply to seasoned Christians as well. Fundamentals are so easily forgotten sometimes and we can all use a reminder about things that we’ve complicated on our own. Let me know what you think!

When I was growing up I learned the art of repetition. I grew up in a home where we blessed our food at every meal and most evenings recited bed time prayers. From a young age I learned when to say “Amen” and practiced the technique of dramatic pause for emphasis. Being the oldest of three children I was often called upon to recite a memorized line of gratitude. But somewhere along the line the regurgitated prayer lost its luster. What should have been a heart felt prayer and offering of thanksgiving had become a chore. I found myself saying all of the “right” words, but my heart was not in it. On the outside I was a prodigy making those around me proud of my recall of numerous prayers, but on the inside the last thing I was focused on was God. I was thinking more about the food I was about to devour and less about the One who gives us all things. I had lost the genuine aspect to my prayer and faith.

One day my wise father finally realized that I was rushing through the lines and my heart just wasn’t in it. That was the end of the story for me and recited prayers. He took me aside and told me that a prayer that is not genuine is of no worth to God. Although I learned some great habits from these prayers like how to pray regularly I had come to a point in my life where I recognized that prayer isn’t just about thanking God for food; prayer is a lifestyle.

A lot of us misinterpret the purpose of prayer as I did. It’s not an obligation; it is a privilege. We have a continual line of communication with God. We don’t enter that connection via specific words, but rather through faith. Don’t worry about what to say because if you have accepted Jesus into your heart the Holy Spirit lives within you and will communicate the longings of your heart to God. (Romans 8:26-27)

God isn’t sitting there with a checklist waiting for you to say all the right things. He’s just waiting for you to recognize that he’s always there and able to do whatever we ask in His Name. So how should we be praying?

1. We should pray what’s on our hearts, but even more than that we should pray for God’s will. Yes, it would be awesome to get that raise at work or to see your grandmother miraculously healed, but as a believer our focus should also be that if it is God’s will that he allow these things to happen. There are a lot of thing s in life that in the moment seem favorable to us, but God sees the whole picture and has a plan that is far greater than what we can imagine. So do not get discouraged if you pray and God doesn’t answer your prayers in the way you are expecting. It is alright to pray for things we want, but our first prayer should be that God have His will in our lives.

2. Prayers should be continual. “Amen” is a word so many of us get hung up on. We use it to mean “the end” as a conclusion to many of our prayers, but if we were to pray as obedient followers our entire lives would be a constant prayer and the need for a conclusion would be obsolete. A prayer can be a simple word of thanksgiving after narrowly missing a car swerving in traffic or a quick plea for help before a big test. Prayers don’t need to reflect the dinner table format. The Spirit within you will speak on your behalf to God. A prayer can be a thought, a word, or a whisper.

As you begin your journey with Christ don’t let your fears of saying the right thing keep you from communicating with God. He sees your heart and knows your desires and He wants for you to be authentic with Him no matter what that looks or sounds like. King David gives us many beautiful examples of prayers in the book of Psalms. I particularly love the verse Psalm 86:7, “When I am in distress, I call to you, because you answer me.” Keep your life focused on God continually and have faith that His plan for your life is better than anything you can do for yourself.

Journaling

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I am a writer at heart. I’ve always been a writer. I prefer paper and pencil myself, but really any medium works. I grew up crafting stories about fictional characters or taking historic events and bringing them to life via short stories. Learning comes to me best when I take a pencil to paper and jot down the ideas I am absorbing. For that reason and a few other preferential reasons I have taken to my own method of journaling over the past several years.

I use journaling as a form of documenting my own spiritual walk. My journals contain musings, scriptures, prayers, struggles, and conversations. Lately I’ve been going through a few different devotionals. One that is really challenging me and my outlook on life and myself is The Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer. Recently a friend introduced me to the online female community at She Reads Truth (www.shereadstruth.com) which is also an excellent devotional source that is written for women by women and includes a lot of relatable items for the average woman. She Reads Truth also includes cute sayings or memory verses at the end of each study that appeal to the creative side of many of the followers. Here is one of many of their awesome quotes:

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My favorite author for female Bible Studies, however, is Beth Moore. She has so much insight into scripture and does a great job showing readers how to apply the Bible to our lives. She keeps me in check. I love it.

Anyway, journaling has become a ROCK for me. I rarely leave home without my journal and since I have a Bible App on my phone (She Reads Truth) I also always have the Bible on my person (although like with writing I’m pretty old school and still prefer my physical Bible over my virtual one).

When I was younger I was taught a really easy way to remember to study the Bible. This method is what I use most days when it comes to my own personal study and journaling. This method is called the “SOAP” method. This is what this Bible Study method looks like.

S= Scripture. Start by focusing on a piece of scripture. Sometimes it’s the scripture at the beginning of a devotion, or it could be a book you are going through on your own or with a small group. After you read the scripture through once put the main ideas you got from the reading into your own words so it is easy to understand and remember.

O=Observations. The next step in studying scripture is to observe not only what the text is saying but how it relates to the bigger picture of scripture. You should look for answers to the 4 W’s and an H questions. (who? what? when? why? how?) In order to make accurate observations of scripture you will need to consult a devotion, concordance, Bible dictionary, or other Bible reference materials. There are several online resources as well.

A=Application. I always try to pick out one or two ideas I can apply to my life and create a short mission for myself based on that section of scripture. This part of Bible study is so important. It is great to make observations and learn, but what good is growing in knowledge if you have no application of that knowledge?

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1:22

P= After completing the first three steps in Bible study it is time to pray. You should always begin any study time with prayer for guidance from the Holy Spirit. (I guess I should have prefaced with that), but it is also super imperative to end your study time with discussion with God. I feel that sometimes this particular time doesn’t require a written prayer. Sometimes what God requires from us is silence and waiting. This is kind of a case by case thing so I can’t tell you what your prayer should look like. Just listen to God and let him DO WORK!

Here is an example of a Bible Study I did recently. This is from the first chapter of Hebrews. I purchased the reading supplements from She Reads Truth, so I cannot share any of that content, but I can recommend that any of you ladies out there looking for a good Bible Study resource download the App “She Reads Truth”. The app is free, but many of the Bible Studies cost a couple of bucks to download. I still recommend it. It’s great stuff 🙂

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So pull up a comfy seat. Grab a cute journal, a Bible, and fun pen and begin your journey with God and SOAP. (Oh, and did I mention I always love to have a warm cup of coffee as a companion to any Bible study I partake in)

Happy journaling 🙂