Topics to consider this week: perfectionism, comparison, doubting yourself/God, inconsistency, overwhelm, anxiety/fear, purposelessness, defeat, secret-keeping, obsessive thoughts

Day 1- Devotion

Devotional- Are you doing these things?

As we dive into the nitty gritty of our faith and begin to explore the tapestry of our minds- how it handles our faith and our lives- I'd like to lay out some very basic groundwork. Most of what I'm about to say, you've heard it before. As Solomon wisely said, "There's nothing new under the sun." But, I want it to be different for us all this time. I want us to truly, deeply reflect on EACH "task" I am about to outline, and simply ask ourselves (and ask God!)- am I doing this

I think that as we all grow in Christ, we run into areas of our lives- of our sanctification- that we've basically "glossed over". We think it's either unnecessary, doesn't pertain to us, not something that we "need", or something we may have tackled in the past and moved on from. I've personally found, time and time again, that even when I've established a good habit, it's easy to fall out of it. I've also found myself revisiting past hurts, falling into old habits, creating new bad habits, and more. 

Our enemy is a roaring lion, my friend. He is ready, willing, and seeking to devour us at any time. Matthew 7:13-14 says that we are to:

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to LIFE, and only a few find it." 

This isn't about hell-fire and brimstone, but about the path to TRUE, vibrant LIFE that Christ came and laid down his life for us to have. It's about an abundant life. It takes diligence, self-control, faithfulness, and perseverance to get on and REMAIN on this narrow path that promises overflowing LIFE. There are many, many detours, bumps, distractions, and landmines along the way.

Here are a few suggestion to focus on and pray over this week. They are not solely specific to our minds, but specific to creating an environment for healthy thinking and healthy faith in general. This is a great opportunity for deep reflection and making a decision to change areas that you've been avoiding or struggling with.

Let's ask ourselves these questions (journaling the answers is super helpful!): 

  1. Am I spending DAILY time in God's word, no matter how little, and no matter WHAT? Make this a no excuses zone. I created a live video in the Facebook group that you can visit from last week, but I also added it to this page below. This isn't "light listening"- but it's passionate, honest, and grounded in Truth.

  2. Am I praying without ceasing? Don't forget to use practical tools like printables, apps (I love First5), phone alarms, temporary tattoos, etc to prompt continuous seeking of God's presence. Yes, our faith is about our spirit, but that doesn't mean that using our bodies and physical tools in a practical way isn't for the spiritual parts of our lives as well.

  3. Have I invited God into every area of my life? One practical idea is to make a list of every area of your life and invite him into every detail in every area. This isn't a "daily task"- to cover every person, place, thing, or event in your life in prayer every single day. But when you get intentional about praying, you can see God move mountains in many areas of your life when you're remembering to pay attention and pray over everything. We need not pray incessantly over every detail, time and again. God doesn't forget. But prayer journaling (here's a free, printable journal) is incredibly helpful in not just remembering to ask (which is so key) but in remembering all that God has already done.  

  4. Have I let go of control? Am I truly, deeply TRUSTING God to be who he says he is and do what he says he will do? Seek God's total will in all areas of your life. Literally open your hands, lift them to the Lord, and ask him to take it ALL. Imagine your every fear, your every concern, your every trial floating up to him, onto his shoulders, where they already belong. Whether you're grasping for control in a relationship (or the ending of a relationship), with your child, with your finances, or with your health, TRUST HIM. Yes- we can usually make something happen if we white-knuckle and grit our teeth hard enough. We can usually survive. But that is NOT the life Christ has died for you to have. Christ came for you to have a joy-spilling life, not an air-sucking one. 

  5. Have I forgiven to the extent that I have been forgiven? This is a hard-knock, gut-punching topic for most of us. It needs it's own post. The short story is that we ALL sin and fall short of the glory of God. And we are ALL forgiven, without our own doing, because of Christ. Yes- even that person for THAT THING (even that) can be forgiven by the perfect God of the universe if he/she lays down at the foot of the cross. There is no shortage of conviction in God's word when it comes to our Christian duty to forgive. While eternal forgiveness is available to all who trust in Christ, it is our duty to forgive ALL who wrong us. God does not put any waivers or exceptions to his requirement to how often (and to what extent) we are to forgive.. "Then Peter came to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith to him, I say not unto thee, until seven times; but until seventy times seven." (Matthew 18:21-22)  It is not possible for us to “love others as yourself” and NOT forgive them. (see Matthew 5)

  6. Have I asked God to change my heart, reveal my sin, and use my life? I'm going to leave this to scripture alone: "Create in my a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me." (Psalm 51:10) "Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (Psalm 139:23-24) "You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask." (James 4:2) 

  7. Have I submitted my will to God? Have I submitted to my husband and other authorities over me? Submission is a word that made my blood boil for years, until God took me to task over it. I've written at length about it HERE with some good resources as well that completely changed my perception of Biblical submission (specifically in marriage). I STILL fight this to this day. This is probably the great area of personal sin for me right now- so my only encouragement is to obey God and keep praying for a full and complete change of heart alongside me.  

  8. Am I actively seeking to memorize scripture? "Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads." (Deut 11:18) God is faithful to provide us with a living word to advise us in every area of our lives. He has equipped us with his word that we may be able to defend our hearts and minds and bodies against the flaming arrows of our enemy. His Word gives live, restores, rescues, breaks strongholds, overcomes, and can never be destroyed. It is GIFT. There's really no specific way to memorize scripture other than to just do it- Writing it down is the most helpful technique that I've found (over and over again). I also have a TON of pretty printables in my resource library that you can post within your home and tattoos to put "on your foreheads!" A word-washed life is a life changed. 

I fervently pray and hope that you will join me in taking some seriously reflective time this week to truly seek God's will. Our MAIN challenge point for this week will be #1- Spend DAILY time with God. Make sure to check out the video (especially the second half of it) for a word about that. 

Day 3- Video

Video -

Day 3 of Week 2 is here! Let’s take about 20 minutes and talk about what brings YOU joy? Yes! We are seeking JOY IN THE LORD! But sometimes the path out of frustration, worried thoughts, or overwhelm is getting back to the basics and asking- what is it that brings ME JOY? Sometimes- we may not even know anymore! Blessings!

Day 5: Devotion

Devotional- Doer of the Word

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.  For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.  But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God. John 3:19‭-‬21 ESV

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. James 1:22

I often find myself in a situation where I know what I ought to do... But have no inclination to actually do that thing. It's often the case that doing what I ought is a whole lot harder than doing as I feel. I am too often ruled over by my emotions rather than faithfulness.

What I WANT to do and what God would have me do are more frequently NOT in alignment than I would like to admit. 

In those times, there's a choice to make. I have to DECIDE what I will DO. Will I do what honors God (the WORD) and... 

  • Get up and confront my child's sinful behavior (rather than continuing to scroll Facebook) 

  • Make the phone call to apologize for a misunderstanding (rather than letting it ride and pretending like it didn't happen) 

  • Say yes to my husband (rather than being exhausted and “touched out” for the day) 

  • Fold the laundry that's grown into a mountain (rather than letting my family take twice as long to find what they need) 

As I grow in Christ, I come to the realization that about 99.9% of my faith is the daily choosing of Jesus and the daily ACTS of living like He is my choice. It means doing the hard thing, the frustrating thing, the uncomfortable thing....because walking away from "evil works" (or a lack of work) is never going to be easy.

But also, there will never be true, abiding, lavish joy outside of the presence of light- outside of doing the Word. 

So, Mama, let's let our works be clearly seen to have been carried out by God. Let's walk away from being ruled by feelings and instead be ruled over by righteousness. Let's choose the portion that's filled with joy, blessing, and goodness. 

Join me today in choosing:

1. Active connection with our children- laying the phone down and choosing to be present with them, in good behavior and bad. 

2. To say yes to our husbands, despite feeling very “no”.

3. To make that one phone call to speak truth and light into a dark situation. 

4. One area in our lives that we know is outside of "the light" and commit to bringing it back toward God. 

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One of my favorite lists of books (Book for the Joyful Mama) that I’ve previously curated can be found right here. The following books are books that I have read and found to be extremely encouraging and transformational in helping me to better understand and TRUST the nature of God AND order my thoughts in a way that is more reflective of the nature of Christ.