Friday, January 23, 2015

The Sweetness of the Early Hours

I love the early mornings.  And I mean really early.  I am usually up between 4:00 and 5:00 a.m., although I am drifting in and out of sleep.  These days the lyrics of Francesca Battistelli's When the Crazy Kicks In are running through my mind when I am trying to wake up.  "Come meet me in this moment, before it all begins, these plates start to spin, the crazy kicks in..."  More often than not, it is really hard to accept that invitation.  

In The Power of Positive Praying, John Bisagno outlines how Jesus prayed.  He noted specifically how Jesus prayed in the morning.  

“'And  in  the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed' (Mark 1:35 kjv).

'Those  that  seek  me  early  shall  find  me.' (Prov.  8:17  kjv)

Following His example, you will find the sweetness of the early hours to be the best. When He is first in your day, you will be first in His. Jesus was our model and teacher in prayer. By His life and His lips our Lord’s constant fellowship with the Father pointed to the necessity of ours. If He must pray, how much more must we, and that with all our hearts.

Jesus didn’t pray merely as an example to us. For thirty- three years, He lived as a man, tempted in all points like as are we. He prayed because He had to pray. He prayed because He must. If the Son of God prioritized prayer, how much more must we? And His prayers were answered as will be ours, if like Him we pray in His will, in His Word, and in faith.

For that’s the power of positive praying."

I think it is time to start accepting that morning invitation!

Friday, January 9, 2015

48 Days to the Work You Love

As many are wrapping up holiday vacations, I am sure there are more than a few of us who are quietly dreading going back to work.  Whether it is a mean co-worker or boss or work that is generally unfulfilling, there is nothing harder than spending eight hours a day at a place you do not want to be.  I think it is timely that B&H Publishing recently released an update to Dan Miller's 48 Days to the Work You Love.  This book is a call to action to working professionals to not give up on finding a fulfilling job. Miller lays this out beautifully in the introduction. 

"This book will address 'who do you want to be' as the starting
point for 'what do you want to do.' The more you know yourself
the more confidence you can have about doing work that fits you.
And the more you know about yourself, the more you recognize
the freedom you have in choosing work that is meaningful, purposeful, and profitable."

I feel like I know myself pretty well and have many ideas about things I would like to do that I would find more interesting.  A lot of those "dreams" feel out of reach because, to be honest, there are bills that need to be paid.  Apparently, I'm not the first person to make this excuse. 

"For many people, work has become nothing more than a paycheck and benefits. It is an accepted stance to hate our jobs and to belittle the boss and the company, while patting ourselves on the back for being 'responsible providers' for ourselves and families. Give up your freedom and you’ll have two cars in the garage, a fine house, a nice vacation once a year, and you will no longer have to suffer the agony of choice."

Luckily, there is hope for us.  

"Each of us, no matter what age we are or what kind of work we’re doing now, can learn to bring the same excitement to our work that we experienced as a child at play. I believe each of us can pursue work that is a reflection of our best selves—a true application of our calling in life."

"For many of you, 48 Days to the Work You Love will present a process of waking up the dreams, passions, and visions you had as a child. For many people, the mergers, downsizing, firing, forced retirement, and other forms of unexpected change in the workplace in the last few years have served as a clarion wake-up call for dreams that had gone dormant. Many people were given the opportunity to take a fresh look at 'Who am I and why am I here?'  The moment you express a desire for something more than repetitive, meaningless work, something more than simply punching the clock, the moment you realize that meaningful, purposeful, and profitable work really is a possibility, you’ve already taken an important step toward reawakening the dreams and passions you may have had as a child. All of a sudden, complacency and 'comfortable misery' become intolerable. The idea of putting your calling on the shelf becomes intolerable. Not only do we have the opportunity, we have the responsibility to spend our working hours in work that will elevate us to our highest calling and transform the world around us."

If you have decided you are willing to take the leap, Miller guides you through how you can search for the next opportunity.
"48 Days to the Work You Love outlines a new process of looking at what you are going to be when you grow up. How has God uniquely gifted you in (1) Skills and Abilities, (2) Personality Tendencies, and (3) Values, Dreams, and Passions? From these areas you will see clear patterns from which to make career and job decisions. These patterns create a compass, providing a sense of continuity in the midst of inevitable job changes and workplace unpredictability. Looking inward provides 85 percent of the process of finding proper direction; 15 percent is the application to career choices."

As I have grown older and realized how much I can excel in some jobs and fail in others, I realize the crux of Miller's key argument.  

"Work is not a curse of God but one of the benefits of living on this earth. Finding the work you love is not a self-serving goal; it is a required component of fulfilling your true calling."

If you are feeling unfulfilled at work, Miller's process may be the jump start you need to pursuing your next career move.  

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Freefall to Fly

Like many of you, I spend most of my days running from one obligation to the next.  This makes it so difficult to fellowship as much as I would like.  One thing I have long hoped to do is start a Bible study group.  Unfortunately, I could never pull it together with so many hectic schedules to coordinate.  

I am so excited about Lifeway's new Freefall to Fly online Bible Study with Rebekah Lyons.  Hopefully this will be a new medium for folks like me to still engage in fellowship and Bible Study even when life makes it feel like it is impossible.  I know nothing should ever take the place of in person fellowship, but I think this will be another great avenue to bring the gospel and community to so many people.  Will you join me?

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Books to Give to Her

Looking for the perfect holiday gift for the special women in your life?  If they are readers, there are a number of great books out there to consider giving.  I especially love devotionals which feel like they give a new gift every time you open them up.  Have any favorite books you've read recently?  Please share them in the comments!
The Resolution for Women

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Expected One

The Expected One
Today marks the beginning of Advent, or the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.  There are so many beautiful and fun calendars out there to help countdown to December 25.  Unfortunately, the true meaning of Advent can get a little lost in the midst of celebrating the worldly "Christmas."  Don't get me wrong, I love eating that little piece of chocolate from the Trader Joe's 24 Chocolate Days Till Christmas Advent calendar just as much as the next person, but, as always, it is so important to keep things in perspective. 

In The Expected One: Anticipating All of Jesus in the Advent, Scott James "brings to light the many promises of Christ--from birth to ascension--that demonstrate His love for us during the Advent season."  The daily devotions highlight scripture that promise His coming, birth, life, death, resurrection and eternal reign.  There are also "Review & Reflect" questions that are great to consider alone or with your family.  This is an excellent guide to help us stop and think about the true meaning of the season.  As always, you can enjoy it on your lunch break at work.  Or, since it is designed with children in mind, take a little time everyday to slow down, gather as a family, and study the day's passage.  You might even consider enjoying it with the treats from the chocolate Advent calendar! 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Praying for Children

The world is fraught with danger, particularly for children.  Everywhere we turn there is potential harm.  Parents must be vigilant about guarding children from pretty much everything, and more importantly preparing them to enter the world on their own.  For example, it is not enough to try to protect them from degrading music, we must also carefully explain the dangers in the lifestyle promoted by the music so that hopefully when they get old enough to make decisions on their own, some of what we said will stick.  For me, this can be exhausting.  Virtually all of my conversations with friends or family end with a plea to pray for the little ones in my life.

A Parents Book of Prayers
A number of Christian authors have written extensively on praying for children.  A Parent's Book of Prayers by Tony Woods is a day-by-day devotional that "provides parents with meaningful prayers to God for their children's faith, struggles, direction and future." In The Power of a Praying Parent, Stormie Omartian uses her own experience as a parent to guide others on praying for their child's safety, character development, adolescence, peer pressure, school experiences, friends and relationship with God.  The Love Dare for Parents, which is based on the popular The Love Dare series of books, is a 40-day devotional that gives parents challenges to help them "understand, practice, and communicate Christ-like love to their children."  How to pray for children is featured prominently in the book.

Luckily, we do not have to get fancy with our prayer requests.  I know God hears the quiet "please watch over my son today."  But, if you are interested in getting more guidance on how to pray over your children and children in your life, I highly recommend one of these titles!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

For Such a Time as This

I love the Book of Esther.  When I think of Esther, I think of patience, faithfulness, courage and diplomacy.  She used all of these traits to ultimately save her people.  She waited patiently on God, but when the time was right, showed great courage to fulfill His plan for her.  This is a difficult model to follow in today's world where we often feel we must "make things happen" in order to succeed.  When we fall short as students, spouses or parents, our self-esteem takes such a blow.  Its a difficult time to be a young girl or woman trying to find your way. 
For Such a Time as ThisThat is why I love author Angie Smith's new children's book for young girls entitled, For Such a Time as This. This Bible storybook brings to life forty stories of Biblical heroines like Esther, Mary Magdalene and Gomer with easy-to-read text and beautiful illustrations.  There are also summaries at the end of each story that "highlight the attribute of God to be learned and offer thoughtful reflections for both parent and child to takeaway."

I love the reflections in Esther's story.  Angie writes:

"Because of God's great power, we don't need to worry about our own weakness. When we step out in faith, choosing to believe that God is working through us instead of depending on us, we are free to live a life of courage. We don't have to be afraid that we aren't strong enough to do something or that we aren't big enough to take on challenges. Of course, we aren't strong or big when compared to God, but He is the One who carries our destinies.  When we think we can't do something alone, it isn't weakness; it's realizing the truth. God is in charge, and trust me, that's exactly how we should want it to be."

There are so many other lovely reflections for young girls like this in the book.  I pray that every young girl and woman I know will receive them into their heart...and believe!