Let’s take a moment to celebrate January and the return to regular routines

January, we welcome you.

Even with your freezing temperatures and your howling winds and your snow drifts, we’re super excited to see you on the calendar once again. We’ve had all we can take of merry making.

Here’s our new backyard. I wish you could feel the 10 degree air, as that gives it a very nice Michigan touch. We haven’t seen the grass since Christmas Eve.

I’ve seen one universal thought on my social media feeds this last week: “WHEN WILL YOU SHORT PEOPLE BE RETURNING TO SCHOOL, pray tell?”

I’ve seen mothers hiding under the basement stairs to find a moment of peace (click here— it’s worth the time), I’ve seen fathers as far as the UK begging school to begin again, and innumerable posts from people snuggled up in their homes with their children because the snow outside is up to their armpits. For days and days.

Listen, I enjoy sleeping in as much as anyone else on the planet, but I also am ready for our regular routine that keeps the wheels from falling off our family bus.

School? Yes, please. Even though this requires me to alight from my resting chamber at 5:30 each morning, I am ready.

Regularly scheduled evening events? Bring them on, baby.

Teenagers who have structure to their days and homework for their nights? Amen and amen.

Captain Kitty approves of the new house, mostly because he’s allowed inside again. (There’s no carpet for him to destroy with his bodily fluids.) He has, so far, not abused our trust.

As if the holidays weren’t enough, we moved into our new house in early December. This means it took us two weeks to locate our underwear and a decent knife, which really threw us off. (Just kidding. We kept careful track of all underthings and sharp objects.) And then there was a retreat that I chaperoned and the kids attended. And then, and then….

It’s time to get back to normal, is all I’m saying.

The Christmas decorations came down the first of January and the kids are just finishing up the last of their wild Winter Break activities. Audrey’s sleeping off a lock-in (God bless the adults who stayed up all night with those kids) and Caleb will be returning from a sleepover soon. And then tomorrow we do nothing but prepare for the grueling, delightful, terrible, perfect week of school that awaits us.

It’s going to be brutal.

But so, so necessary.

Here’s everyone’s favorite place in the house. We haven’t been brave enough to try the fireplace yet, but maybe we will soon?

I don’t know about you, but my spiritual life thrives under the ordinary routine of regular life. When I know I have twenty minutes here to read the Bible, and fifteen minutes there to pray, God and I really have time to communicate. Then I also have regular time to write, to arrange my thoughts, and to ask God which of those thoughts will benefit you, the reader.

That’s my writing goal for 2018– to prayerfully seek what will meet your needs. I’m boldly asking God for insight on what he needs me to write because you (and I!) need to hear it. I’m so excited about what this year has in store for us all!

But none of this stuff happens when I’m in the middle of moving/partying/Christmas cookie eating/hosting parties for fifteen.

All of this happens with routine, schedules, and time to think.

Here’s a quote from my new book, which comes out in late February:

Jesus could have done a lot of things, but he chose to pray. It was that person-to-person connection with the Father he needed more than anything else. (I Could Use a Nap and a Million Dollars, pg. 88).

It’s not possible for us to use Jesus’s example for every part of our daily lives. For example, the Lord did not have to carpool five children to hockey practice three nights a week, or fold twelve loads of laundry on a Saturday, or scrub mildew off the tub. But this, this we can do.

Now that the holiday chaos has passed and our regular routines are starting back up, we can make sure to include the time we need to pray and spend direct time with the Heavenly Father.

This could be the greatest year yet, if only we put the right things first.

Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray. Later Simon and the others went out to find him. When they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you” (Mark 1:35-37, NLT).





Pray A to Z: a book to help us pray like we promise we will

pray-with-purposeWhen a friend reveals a terrible thing going on in her life, we might respond with a hug and “Oh, how hard. I’ll pray for you.”

And then we forget.

We watch the news and our retinas are burned out by the horrible things we see broadcast and we think I should pray about that more.

But we get distracted.

The church emails the really long and detailed prayer list and our eyes glaze over immediately, completely unprepared to pray for Mr. Stone’s prostate surgery on Thursday.


I’m just not.

Guilt ensues.

We feel guilty about how we don’t actually pray for our friends, family, and community enough, but we have no idea of how to fit that into our lives.

We want to worship and focus on God’s mighty attributes, but the children and the piles of laundry are so much louder than God most days.

Guess what. Someone saw this need coming and they wrote a book for us, and then a copy was thoughtfully provided for us for free here on the blog. It’s called Pray A to Z (***affiliate link) and Amelia Rhodes understands our messy, crazy lives. Her organized brain has categorized our concerns so we can actually pray like we want to do.

pray-a-to-z-coverFrom A (adoption, abuse, Almighty…) to P (pregnancies, Pain, Promise Keeper) to Z (zest, Zion, zeal), we can read through the simple, quick entries to direct our thoughts outward to God, seeking him.

Let’s take a peek inside Pray A to Z

Of course I turned first to the Finances entry, because that’s how my brain works. I loved how this section fits in exactly with what we talk about on this blog all the time:

Father, forgive me for where I have allowed the love of money to creep into my life. Help me remember to put my trust in You, not in a bank account, in possessions, or in what money can do for me. Let my security rest in You, not my stuff. Help me learn to be content with what I have, and not always be searching for the next great thing. Grow my desire to use money to serve You and Your kingdom… (p. 54).

I love prayers that are written out, simply because they gather my thoughts and intentions and express them so beautifully. This book is a gentle way to keep me on track and focused on the right things when I pray, instead of running my brain around like an anxious chicken.

Amelia Rhodes
Amelia Rhodes

Win a copy!

If you’d like to be more prayerful, more worshipful, and more competent to discuss Mr. Smith’s prostate with the Lord (just kidding, there’s no Prostate chapter), this book is exactly what you need. You can click the icon below to be entered into a contest to win a copy for yourself!

Pray A to Z Amelia Rhodes
Amelia Rhodes is fabulous, and I know you’ll love to get to know her. You can find her at her website, ameliarhodes.comFollowing God into the Unknown is my favorite series on her blog, and you can read all about how her family believed God was calling them to downsize and move to a new house. It’s a story of faith, contentment, and rejection of modern culture’s expectations. You’re going to love it; check it out!

A Prayer for the Stress

Dear Father.

a prayer for the stressI don’t even know where to begin. It’s all attacking me, dear Lord.

Hear me as I pray, O Lord.
Be merciful and answer me!
My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.”
And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.” (Psalm 26:7-8, NLT)

So here I am, to talk with you. But first I need to gather my wits and my thoughts. Are you sure you even want me like this? Maybe I should get my life together first and then come find you.

I’m sure you’d like me better if I wasn’t such a dramatic mess at the moment. If my laundry was folded and my career was on track and my kids knew how to write a proper thank you note. Maybe then I’d be more presentable.

But then I read,

Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. (Psalm 37:7)

And I remember that maybe it’s not about me getting my stuff together first. Maybe it’s about being still.

Maybe it’s about your presence.

Maybe it’s absolutely about waiting patiently for you to act. Not me.

You’ve led your people for thousands of years– through deserts, across the sea, and around the world. Why do I forget and assume you can’t take care of my life?

Be my rock of safety, where I can always hide. (Psalm 71:3)
Search for the Lord and for his strength; continually seek him. Remember the wonders he has performed, his miracles, and the rulings he has given. (Psalm 105:4-5)

I don’t know how to handle the current messes in my life, Lord. Not my parenting, my marriage, my finances, nor my career– nothing is truly under my control.

And that bothers me more than it should.

My lack of control bothers me like a thousand fire ants climbing up my pajamas while I try to sleep.

I love the Lord because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy.
Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath! (Psalm 116:1-2)

I know I’m a control freak, Father, and I know that causes about 97% of my stress. But please bend down to listen to me anyway.

Help me remember that the stress only lessens when my mind is in the right place. When my attitude is completely focused on trusting you and being thankful for your presence, I can breathe again.

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock. (Isaiah 26:3-4)

Remind me of those who have gone before, who accomplished great things because they were focused on one thing–your glory. May you glorify yourself through my life.

Lord, you will grant us peace; all we have accomplished is really from you. (Isaiah 26:12)

May you give me a proper perspective about all this stuff swirling around in my head. None of it is permanent. You are permanent. You are eternal.

And I am forever grateful for you,





How to Pray for a Crazy Person

Before we begin, I need to clarify one important detail. When I refer in the following paragraphs to “crazy people” I do not speak of actual mental illness. Mental illness is a serious and complicated issue, and I would never address it flippantly.

BUT I do I feel confident addressing the other side of crazy. Those people whom we love, but cannot understand what is going through their mind. We don’t understand what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, or why they won’t knock it off. We may putter around our house, full of conversations in our head about how we would address them given the right circumstances. We’d set them straight, and show them the light.

So they are acting crazy, and in turn are making us crazy. The full cycle of craziness, if you will.

We have a few options. We can indeed point out all their problems, but I think we all know how this is going to turn out. Crazy people are often completely blinded by their own perspective, so talking to them is like talking to a cat on methamphetamines. Everyone leaves feeling even more disturbed.

We can ignore the craziness and go on with our lives, but we all know that we wouldn’t be bothered by the bizarro behavior if we could ignore it. Many of us have tried, but the problems start to blow up in our own faces and not just their own crazy face. They start “bumping into our happy,” as Lysa Terkeurst says.

So, if we can’t talk about it without making it worse, and we can’t ignore it, what can we do? We can pray about it. Some of you are now gripping your computer and shouting, “I HAVE been praying about it! For years! And they’re still nuts!”

Well, I can’t argue with you there. Sometimes we pray for years and we don’t see any change. But often this could be because (I hesitate to make you more irritable about the situation, but…) we’ve been praying from our own blinded perspective. God answers prayers that glorify Himself, not prayers that desperate people shout to get their own way. I know this because I’ve shouted many a desperate and selfish prayer, and they always fall flat.

So I present to you a prayer directly from Philippians 1:9-11, because praying directly from Scripture is some of the most powerful praying you can do. This prayer lifts up our screwy friends or relatives and then asks for God to do amazing things in their lives, things beyond just fixing our irritations. We ask God to bring glory to Himself in the situation, and we get ourselves out of the way. (In all fairness I should point out that Paul offered up this prayer for people who weren’t making him crazy. But we can still apply this to the topic at hand.)

how to pray for a crazy person

Every human is blind, but God is all-seeing. I’m going to try to remember that the next time I want to grab someone by the ears and shake them a little bit.

Just a little bit of shaking is okay, right? Not enough for brain damage or anything.