Category Archives: Relationships

My Daily Bread

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Every morning I begin my day with my quiet time. I rise about 5 am, start the coffee pot and get my stack of books from the shelf and spend about an hour reading, writing, and praying before I start my busy day.  I am so grateful to my mom who modeled this practice for me daily as I grew up.  However, I think some people are confused about what devotions include, so I’d like to share my practice so that it may be helpful.

I have a notebook where I write down the things I glean from my study each day.  Often I begin my quiet time by jotting down the date and the pressing concerns of the day using phrases.  Sometimes this takes the form of a prayer or a letter that begins “Dear Lord,” but sometimes I’m not that lucid and my thoughts are scattered.

I recently purchased the tiny diary One Line a Day. This unique journal only has enough space to jot down a sentence or two about the day’s events.  Below it are spaces for the next four years of the same date, so as time goes on I can see where I’ve been and what I’ve been thinking each year. Lately, I’ve been jotting down the summary of the previous day before I begin my quiet time.

A staple of mine is a book that is literally falling apart. It has no cover and the last pages are falling out. I use them as book marks. It is a much-loved copy of Streams in the Desert that originally belonged to my dad.  I think I inherited it when my parents moved to New York. This devotion always has a verse and some thoughts that give great encouragement. I read this every day. I keep my Bible by my side and often look up verses that are referenced in a selection.

I love books of prayer by Stormie Omartian.  I just read through Lead me, Holy Spirit so I started reading through The Power of a Praying Woman again. I always underline important phrases that speak to the situation I am facing, and I date the book as I read through the prayer. I have even written my own prayers into the blank pages.  I often would close a Bible study class with a copy of these prayers.

Another every day resource is the In Touch magazine produced by Charles Stanley’s ministry.  Each monthly booklet has articles on a specific theme and then daily devotions.  I always read the Bible verses, underline important thoughts in the lesson and try to apply the principles.

I have decided to attend a writer’s conference this summer, so I am reading a few devotionals for writers.  Write His Answer is very helpful as it truly is a devotional directed at writers.  She includes Bible references to study and some questions for deeper thought.  It is a great encouragement. The other book is For the Write Reason by Marybeth Whalen. In this book, various writers associated with Proverbs 31 Ministries share their writing experiences and advice.  Each article is followed by a devotional on the same topic written by Marybeth.

I picked up a free book while visiting my parent’s church on Mother’s Day. It Takes So Little to be Above Average by FLorence Littauer is a real gem.  The book gives little snippets of how to improve oneself in all kinds of areas. I really enjoyed a selection about pruning that I read last week.

The amazing thing is the way the Holy Spirit speaks as I study the word and seek to apply what I learn.  This morning, I was reading through the various books that I have mentioned, in no particular order.  I wrote down “Seek First His Kingdom” as the main idea from a selection.  As I continued to read, the words “Seek first the kingdom of God and all the other needful things shall be added unto thee” were part of a second selection.  I wrote it down again.  In the final selection, “Seek first the kingdom of God” was there again. So, all morning as I prepared for work, then in the car on the way to work I tried to meditate on this and examine myself to see where I need to put Christ first.

I am a little bit stressed right now with a busy work schedule; my husband has applied for a job with better hours, the kids are busy with activities, friends, and plans for the summer. I am trying to cast my cares on the Lord and look to him for direction instead of ordering him around to work things out the way I’d like.

Starting my day with God and His word is the only way I can manage my busy life.  In the evening I read the One-year Bible right before I go to bed.

I highly recommend all these resources, and I hope that this gives you an idea of how anyone can begin to spend time with God.

R.E.A.C.H. Your Potential in Christ

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As a busy Christian woman, I juggle many priorities.  I am a wife, mother of teenagers, a teacher, a writer, and friend.  As I manage my busy days, I have to keep my values in mind so that I am not sidetracked from the ministries God has for me.  The book of Philippians has always been meaningful to me, and for my years my guiding verse has been Philippians 3:12-14, “I do not mean that I am already as God wants me to be. I have not yet reached that goal, but I continue trying to reach it and to make it mine. Christ wants me to do that, which is the reason he made me his. Brothers and sisters, I know that I have not yet reached that goal, but there is one thing I always do. Forgetting the past and straining toward what is ahead, I keep trying to reach the goal and get the prize for which God called me through Christ to the life above.” (NCV)

I have used the word R.E.A.C.H. as an acronym to prioritize my busy life.  The areas I try to cultivate daily are Relationships, Exercise, Adjustment, Creativity, and Home Management.  I believe these areas have great value for everyone.

R-Relationships.  The most important relationship in my life must be with God.  I am so grateful that my parents modeled a godly life for me.  The most consistent memory I have of my mother is of waking up and walking through the living room to see her on the couch with her Bible and prayer list, meeting with the Lord for daily morning devotions.  This is a habit I cultivate in my life today.  Jesus is my faithful friend, and I spend time in prayer and Bible reading daily.  The next relationship is my marriage.  My husband and I have been married for almost 17 years and we have to continue to develop ways to connect.  He works nights and weekends, and I get up at five a.m. and work during the day, so sometimes our communication gets weak. We need to prioritize time together as a couple. Finally, my relationships extend to friends and family.  God has blessed me with a variety of women of all ages and walks of life.  While I have friendships with women at work and in the community, my closest friendships must be with Christian women who encourage me to live for Christ.

E-Exercise.  It is important for everyone to exercise and eat right to keep up with the demands of a busy schedule.  The Bible tells us, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20) I believe walking is the best exercise for everyone.  It is free, low-impact and can be done anywhere. I love exercise because it helps me to release stress after working with teenagers all day. It improves mood and helps to manage weight.  It sets a great example for our children to have healthy habits.

A-Adjustment.  Every day we need to adjust to situations that arise.  Some adjustments are short-term.  Paul reminds us in our theme verse to forget the past and strain toward what is ahead.   Daily confessing my sin helps me to start fresh each day.  If I have spoken harshly to my husband, was sloppy in my housework, or too tired to exercise, I can confess my shortcoming and move on.  God’s word says, “his compassions never fail, they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:23) Other adjustments are long term.  Grief from the loss of a loved one, recovery from surgery, a long separation followed by divorce, a change caused by a new job or school year require an extra measure of God’s grace as we move and learn through a difficult season. During these seasons, the routine of Bible study, prayer, and exercise coupled with the support of friends and family help us to cope.

C-Creativity.  God himself is a creator, and I believe we are like Christ when we express ourselves creatively.  I encourage you to take the time you do have to express your God-given talent.  Some ladies are beautiful homemakers, creating a warm and beautiful haven. Others are wonderful cooks.  My mother cross-stitches baby and wedding samplers for the family to celebrate each life.  My grandmother has sewn clothing for herself and her family.  My son loves to play guitar, and my daughter sings.  In Exodus, the Lord told Moses to appoint Bezalel and Oholiab to create the Tent of Meeting. “I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability, and knowledge in all kinds of crafts.” (Exodus 31: 3)  Like these men, we can use our creativity not only to express ourselves, but to bless others and to glorify God.

H-Home Management.  Home management is an area where I struggle the most.  I blame my creativity for the piles of stuff and unfinished projects that I have lying around.  However, I know I need to be a good steward of the home and resources that I have.  We are all familiar with the Biblical standard of the housewife found in Proverbs 31: 27, “She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.” The best solution I have for clutter is to get rid of stuff.  Now that my children are teenagers, they no longer use the toys they have accumulated over the years.  They spend their time and money on activities and sports, clothing and electronics.  However, their old stuffed animals and toys still take up room in the closets and floors of our home.  When our homes are cluttered, our effectiveness is stalled. I have lost many bills and important papers because I pile them instead of filing them.  There are many important resources to help us manage our homes.  I am following the Fly Lady and using her systems to get my home straightened.  Again, when our homes are a beautiful oasis we can invite others to visit and bless them with hospitality, showing them God’s love.

REACH-ing my potential in Christ is a daily effort, but I believe it helps me to focus my priorities and serve the Lord most effectively.  I hope that you can adopt these principles in your life.