Category: Prayer

An Introduction to Scripture Doodling

Over the past couple years I’ve become convinced that coloring, doodling, journaling, and drawing can all be helpful ways to connect with God. It’s easy for us non-artist types to shrug off these methods because we’re not that good at drawing. Or it feels too much like playing. Or ain’t nobody got time for that.

But, I think it’s often for these very reasons that we ought to just give it a try.

A couple years ago, I found myself locked into a particular way of connecting with God. Read. Pray. Music. Read. Pray. Music.

I needed something different. Something to engage a different part of my brain. So I began coloring.

I’ll admit that I gravitate towards coloring more than doodling, mostly because I’m good at it. I can color inside the lines. I’m decent at choosing colors. There’s an obvious finish line. Doodling, on the other hand, makes me a bit uncomfortable because I’m not always sure what to draw.

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Scripture Doodle is a half-way house for those of us stuck in between the “I really want to try this” and “Man, I stink at drawing and have no idea what to do with a blank piece of paper.”

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How to Connect with God: Praying Through Art

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I’ve always thought of myself as a total head person. Feelings are fine and all, but experiencing God through my mind and my thoughts is where it’s at for me. Learning something new about God sends my heart singing. Understanding a passage of Scripture in a deeper way leads me to worship.

Despite this tendency, I’ve been exploring how to connect with God in other ways. One of these ways is praying through art.

It can be challenging for me to just sit and pray. My mind wanders and then my heart disengages, I begin to wonder if I’m praying the right things or with the right motive. While my heart is praying, my mind is critiquing.

Is what you just asked God theologically sound?
What are you assuming about God right now?
Is what you just said actually harmful to your understanding of God and/or others?
Aren’t you being a bit judgmental?
Are you treating God like the Creator of the heavens and earth, or like genie in a bottle?

I’ve found a few ways to keep my tendency to overthink things at bay.

  1. I use liturgical prayers, helping me to focus in on my heart’s attitude towards God instead of debating word choice.
  2. I journal my prayers, allowing my mind to slow down and focus.
  3. I color or use prayer prompts to keep my mind half busy, allowing my heart to engage in a different way.

One book I’ve been using recently is Gratitude: A Prayer and Praise Coloring Journal. It’s a beautiful collection of prayer prompts that guides my heart towards love, thinking of others, and gratitude. Every now and then, I’ll gather my colored pencils, turn on some music, and pray through one of the prompts. Here are a couple of my favorites so far:

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“Engage in gratefulness by meditating on Psalm 138:1 while writing it repeatedly in the space below.”

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“Journal about how this Scripture verse gives you hope, or draw illustrations to express what these words mean to you.”

 

What do you do to help you connect wholeheartedly with God?

 

Sacred Spaces

17 sacred spaces

 

The place you work matters.

Whenever we travel, I’m reminded of this. Typically I work at a desktop that I absolutely love. It’s tucked into a corner of our main living area. I have a little light. My papers are scattered all over the desk. My desktop is overcrowded with icons. It’s perfect.

When we travel, I work on Jake’s laptop. His laptop used to be my laptop, so you would think working on it would be like riding a bike, right?

Wrong. I feel slow and inefficient. It takes me nearly twice as long to get anything done.

There’s something significant about the place I work that allows me to dig in and get into my zone quickly.

While new experiences and beautiful places can give us a burst of creativity and openness, the long, hard work of everyday sustainability works best in familiar places. 

For me, my intentional practices of spiritual formation work similarly. While I definitely enjoy the 2 day conference that takes me outside my comfort zone, or the retreat that gives me space to breathe and listen– I’m always ready to come home to my sacred space.

Sacred spaces can be actual places. In college, my sacred space was the Panera on Providence, in the right corner table in the back room. It’s the space I would go to get “alone” without interruptions.

Sacred spaces can also be a space’s ambiance. One of my friends lights a candle when she’s ready to settle in to a time of reading and prayer. It reminds her of God’s presence with her.

Sometimes a sacred space has to do with a set of songs, a particular Bible, or a season of the year. Fall is my favorite season of the year, and it’s always the season I feel most connected with God. It holds memories of life-changing retreats and a rhythm of fresh renewal of spiritual practices.

 

What are the sacred spaces in your life?

 

Pray as You Go

Day 5: Pray As You Go

I must admit: long, focused prayer isn’t really my strong suite. I have some friends who are true prayer warriors and it’s something I really admire. To be able to quiet and focus and listen for a long period of time achieves saint-like status in my book. I would love to be in that place someday :).

Right now, my personality and season of life lends itself more to the “go as you pray” prayer style.  (more…)

Prayers for our Children

With the school year just around the corner, the Graham Blanchard Mom Mentors are sharing some of the things we’re praying for our kiddos as they embark on new adventures.

Here’s what I’ve been praying for….

As three of my four kids head off to elementary school this month, my prayer for them remains the same as it has been all summer, that they would know how high and deep and wide God’s love is for them.

We desperately desire for them to fully know that when God created them, He made no mistakes.  We pray that they would know, deep in their bones, they are deeply loved by the God of the universe. We pray every day that through our actions, words, and attitudes, the kids would see the love of God shine through. We pray that our sometimes too-impatient attitudes and unthoughtful words would pale in the light of their knowledge of God’s great love for them.

I pray that they would know their identity and their worth as they interact with their peers, both good influences and bad influences. I pray that as they interact with teachers, the kids would know their identity and worthiness is not wrapped up in their ability to perform in the classroom.  And finally, I pray this understanding of how much they are loved will overflow out of their lives into the lives of those around them.

Check out some of the other moms are praying and maybe take a minute to share what you’re praying for your littles!

 

 

Practicing the Spiritual Disciplines with Kids (+Free Printable)

Spiritual disciplines are fantastic and frightening.

They are fantastic because they are often a really great way to help me connect with God. Whether it be through prayer, reading the Scriptures, practicing generosity, journaling, walking a labyrinth, WHATEVER, these are places and times when I’m being intentional about slowing down and focusing on what God is doing around me and inside of me. It’s a time for me to listen and/or to enter into the Kingdom of God living that I might not naturally do on my own.

Spiritual disciplines are also frightening because when I engage in them, I’m giving up control. While I can decide when and what to do, I can’t decide what God’s going to say, how He’s going to move, or even if I’m going to sense His presence at all. Especially at the beginning, it’s sometimes frightening to be vulnerable, even when it’s with our Abba.

When I became a parent, I settled it in my mind that I would help my kids practice developmentally appropriate spiritual disciplines early. By practicing and learning how to connect with God on their own, I’m hoping that these disciplines will give space for God to create markers in their faith where the kids “know that they know they have heard from God.”

A good friend of mine is the teaching pastor at Catalyst Community Church in Rowlett, Texas, and he recently invited me to help make a spiritual disciplines guide for kids. What can we do as parents to help our kids practice the disciplines? 

Spiritual Disciplines with Kids

The result of this collaborative project is this helpful sheet that we’re sharing with you. Feel free to download it, print it, share it, whatever!

 

What is a Spiritual Director?

It was about this time last year when I began searching out a spiritual director.

I had first heard about a”spiritual director” while reading Sensible Shoes: A Story about the Spiritual Journey by Sharon Garlough Brown. The book is about 4 women who end up at a spiritual retreat center together. While they are all really different, they are all learning some incredible things from one another as they seek God. It’s a fictional story of friendship and healing, but it also weaves in various spiritual formation practices along the way (a marriage of fiction and non-fiction- my new favorite genre!).  The woman who leads the workshops at the retreat center is a spiritual director. After I read the book, I thought, wow, I’d really love to talk to that workshop leader. Too bad she’s JUST PRETEND. 🙂

I soon began researching spiritual directors around my city, and found websites for a few different ones, but none really felt like what I was looking for.

I finally ended up finding a spiritual director through my local church. I was nearly sure they would have no idea what I was talking about when I sent off an email to a woman on staff, asking her if she had ever heard of spiritual directors and if so, did she have any spiritual director recommendations. I was surprised when I received an email back within 24 hours saying that indeed, she knew exactly what I was talking about (she said that some of the staff members meet/have met with them), that she knew several, and that she’d be happy to connect me with one who she thought I’d really like. Well there you go. Evangelical Christianity knows about spiritual directors. Why in the world had I never heard of them before?

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Spiritual directors are often described as spiritual midwives. Sometimes we go through seasons where we sense that something is going on deep within our souls, but we aren’t sure what. Sometimes life is shifting (season of life, geographical location, new career, etc.) and we need to talk out what’s going on in our relationship with God because of it. Sometimes our faith feels funny or uncomfortable or shifting, and we’re not sure what’s going on inside of us or how we can relate to God in this new way. Sometimes we feel like God is really far away and even with all our best efforts of connecting with God (doing all those things that have always worked in the past – Scripture reading, prayer, journaling) nothing is happening. It’s during these times that meeting with a spiritual director may be a really good idea. They walk alongside us, helping to “birth” whatever it is that God is already doing within us. When in labor and delivery, the midwife isn’t actually making anything happen. The laboring momma is doing all of the work. But, the midwife is there to help the momma focus, to give her tips on how to read her body and to recognize what needs to or will be happening next. In the same way, the spiritual director is helping us to read what’s going on inside of our souls, recognize the movement of God, and help us focus on what God is doing.

Spiritual directors are not counselors because they aren’t trying to help remedy a psychological issue or solve a personal or interpersonal problem. They aren’t mentors because they don’t have the day-to-day, life-on-life relationship with us. Instead, they are mature Christians who are gifted in discernment and trained in spiritual formation and who help people discern where God is moving in their life.

In our sessions this year, I’ve been working on understanding how God has wired me and how that affects how I approach God, along with my expectations of what my relationship with God “should” look like. It’s been really healthy and freeing. A lot of “aha!” moments :).

If you want to learn more, or think this might be something of interest to you, I’d recommend reading up on it a little more so that you know what to expect (and not to expect), what to look for in a spiritual director, and some places you may be able to find one.

  • Christianity Today- God Your ‘Spiritual Director’ Yet? : Great overview, the history of spiritual direction, and some recommended resources.
  • Kathy Escobar gives this great visual of the spiritual journey. Once I learned about this, my eyes opened wide, I began to nod and I said, “I see.” I hit the wall and had a hard time figuring out what to do next because I didn’t understand what was going on. Spiritual direction really helps if you get “stuck” in any of these transitions.
  • The ESDA is a great place to start for those who are from an evangelical tradition. I’d also recommend asking your local church leadership.
  • IVP has a whole list of books related to this area. I don’t think you can really go wrong with the books they put out!

Feel free to email me any questions you may have and I’d be happy to do my best to assist in any way!

Anaya’s Dedication Prayer

Anaya just turned 9 months and we just today finalized her dedication prayer and verse. Obviously she’s the fourth kid. Poor kid will probably never have a scrapbook. 🙂

Here’s what we came up with!

Our prayer for you, Anaya, is that the creator of all would through you shift the eyes of the broken toward the beauty of the Trinity and the ears of the hopeless toward the One who answers so that they may find their true selves.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” – Ephesians 4:32-5:2

In case you’re interested, here’s the other kids’ prayers and verses.