6 Ways to Pray for Your Prodigal

6 Ways to Pray for Your Prodigal

Years ago, a close friend of mine abandoned her faith, her family, and her friends…including me. It hurt deeply that she could so easily cast aside all that she once held dear. I missed her terribly - or, at least, I missed the person she once had been. I prayed daily for for a very long time afterward, hoping that the Lord would draw her back to Himself.

But I have to admit that, over time, I got more lax with how frequently I prayed for her. I don’t know if I finally lost all hope or just got busy, but I found myself only praying for her only occasionally instead of multiple times each day.

Last week, however, I ran across online photos of her current life, and all the frustration and anguish came rushing back. I was heartbroken all over again at her lifestyle choices. I had to wonder if she really was as happy as those photos seemed to indicate. Having an online presence myself, I know how incomplete a handful of social media images is when depicting someone’s life.

I sighed and was about to close my computer tab when I felt the Holy Spirit gently whisper to my aching heart.

“Her story isn’t finished yet,” He reminded me.

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The One Question Every Christian Wife Must Ask Herself

The One Question Every Christian Wife Must Ask Herself

How do you feel about submission in marriage? Is it something you think about a lot, or is it a topic you rarely devote any brain cells to?

Honestly, it usually makes me cringe. Not because I don’t think it’s good or Biblical - I definitely trust that if God commanded it, He had a very good reason for doing so. But I see it so misunderstood, so misquoted, and so misused that it makes my head spin.

Just last week, I read yet another blog post on this very topic. But instead of groaning my way through the author’s mis-application of Biblical submission, I had an “a-ha” moment. Because, for the first time, I was finally able to put my finger on something that had escaped me until I read that post.

I’ve long noticed an undercurrent in most of the stuff I read about wives submitting to their husbands, but it was so subtle that I hadn’t ever been able to pinpoint it before. After reading last week’s post, however, I now know exactly what it is that bothers me so deeply when many people try to explain Biblical submission.

And it led me to ask myself a question that every Christian wife must ask herself:

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4 Ways to Spur On One Another to Love and Good Works

4 Ways to Spur On One Another to Love and Good Works

“How do I motivate myself to fall in love with God’s Word? And how to I inspire other believers to do the same?”

These are the questions that have been swirling around in my brain lately. Because I’m realizing a few things:

I don’t wake up with a passion for studying Scripture. Sure, I dutifully sit down most mornings for Bible study, and by the time I’m done, I’ve learned so much and am very grateful that I jumped in even though I didn’t wake up hungering for God’s Word. But how do I motivate myself to desire Bible study before I begin? And how do I encourage others to experience the same?

When I was talking with a friend about this very issue, she gently reminded me, “We need to spur on one another to love and good works.” (Don’t you just love how Scripture answers all of our questions like that? I do!)

So, how do we go about spurring on one another to those good works? After studying for a bit, I’ve found at least 4 ways to do just that.

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Is Your Good the Enemy of Your Best?

Is Your Good the Enemy of Your Best?

As I looked over my to-do list Easter Sunday morning, I was overwhelmed. Between preparing something for our church breakfast, ensuring that the spark plugs had church-appropriate attire on, and practicing for the various special music selections, I was pretty frazzled by the time I sat down to listen to the sermon. And since I still had congregational playing at the end of the service, I still didn’t feel much like relaxing.

(For the record, I pretty much failed at my preparations anyway: my breakfast coffee cake was underbaked; D somehow made it to church in a Star Wars t-shirt instead of his tie; and I completely forgot to get the pianist hymnal out of the pulpit before the start of the service.)

As I sat there half-listening and half thinking through the rest of the song service, I felt the Holy Spirit tugging at my heart.

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Why and How to Write Out the Gospel In Your Own Words

Why and How to Write Out the Gospel In Your Own Words

Have you ever written out the Gospel in your own words?

I have to admit that, until last week, I hadn’t ever done this exercise. While I’ve written out my testimony before, I’d never even considered jotting down the story of the Good News as I would share it with others.

But my Bible study group challenged me to try this exercise, so I completed the assignment. And oh my, was I amazed by the wealth of spiritual truths I learned during the process!

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Why the Gospel Is Vital to Easter

Why the Gospel Is Vital to Easter

At first, I wasn’t sure what about that statement bothered me, but I knew immediately that something about it was incorrect.

And then it hit me.

Christianity didn’t start with Jesus’ coming to Earth around 4 BC (the date typically assigned to His birth).

No, Christianity is as old as the Earth itself, founded by God from the very beginning.

The Gospel has been woven through the pages of history, etched on mankind’s heart by a loving Heavenly Father (see Revelation 13:8; Ecclesiastes 3:11). And understanding the Gospel is pivotal to understanding the Easter season and everything it celebrates.

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4 Ways to Make Budgeting Less Painful

4 Ways to Make Budgeting Less Painful

Budgeting.

Does the thought of routinely tracking your income and expenses make you cringe?

I’m a little unusual in that I LOVE budgeting, at least most of the time! My dad always posted our family’s monthly budget on the refrigerator (much to my mom’s chagrin) where we could all see at a glance how we were doing. Even though my mom frantically flipped over the budget when company came over so that the whole world wasn’t privy to our spending habits, having that budget front and center taught me the importance of “knowing your flocks and herds” and the value that budgeting brought to our family.

And so, when Jon and I got married, I started keeping a detailed budget. For years, I dutifully kept track of our expenses. Some months were pretty hard, as the outgo quickly outpaced the income, but I always knew right where we stood financially even if the situation wasn’t pretty.

A couple of years ago, however, I got really burned out on budgeting, largely due to the frustration of always struggling to make ends meet. Although I haphazardly budgeted, many months I actually didn’t finish tallying our expenditures.

Eventually, though, I realized that half-hearted budgeting attempts weren’t doing us any favors, so I resumed filling out my spreadsheets every month. But I found some fantastic shortcuts that took most of the pain out of budgeting!

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4 Truths You Need to Know When God Breaks Your Heart

4 Truths You Need to Know When God Breaks Your Heart

It comes out of the blue. We’ll be merrily floating along, school in a good rhythm, excitement on the horizon, and…BAM. Diabetes rears its ugly head. Most days, it’s barely a blip on the radar (a true testament to God’s goodness, because in those early days just after diagnosis, I wasn’t at all sure things would ever feel “normal” again). Most days, diabetes is just a few blood sugar checks, possibly hunting for a misplaced blood sugar meter, and counting carbs for meals.

But then a virus will hit and send my diabetic spark plug into a tailspin, or his insulin pump will stop working, or things will get wildly out of control for no apparent reason.

And in those hard moments, I’m reminded all over again that God has chosen not to heal. That He’s found more glory in leaving Turbo as he is instead of healing him. That living with diabetes instead of being healed from it is what’s currently best for all of us.

At times, it even feels like God is breaking my heart.

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9 Things To Pick Up Instead of Your Cell Phone

9 Things To Pick Up Instead of Your Cell Phone

Do you often find yourself picking up your phone whenever you have a few seconds free? I know I do. Whether I’m hoping someone has emailed me or am simply wanting to scroll through my Instagram feed (the one social media platform I still have for personal use), all too often, I find myself wasting minutes on my phone when I could be doing something far more valuable with my time.

One of my goals this year is to better manage how I spend my days. We don’t know how many minutes we’re allotted, and the last thing I want to do is to waste mine staring at a phone screen! With that in mind, I made a list of things I could do instead of turning to my phone. And I wanted to share it here on the blog in case anyone else needs a bit of help in this area, too.

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The FASTEST Way To Uproot Discontentment

The FASTEST Way To Uproot Discontentment

While there’s nothing wrong with dreaming by itself, inevitably, I get carried away with my wishful thinking, and I begin to covet that which I don’t have. When I start to develop discontentment with my current situation, that’s when sin sets in.

Truthfully, there are moments when I’d rather wallow in my pity instead of chasing discontentment to the curb. It almost feels nice to fuss about my lack of space! And that’s exactly why I need to root out the seeds of dissatisfaction immediately: so that they don’t take deeper root and grow into resentment or bitterness.

I’ve found the absolute FASTEST way to uproot discontentment:

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A Different Approach to Choosing One Word For the Year

A Different Approach to Choosing One Word For the Year

Do you like the concept of choosing a single word to guide your coming year? In theory, I love the concept, but in reality, it’s never really worked well for me. Between choosing words that were ill-fitting or ill-defined to having curve balls thrown our way, my word-of-the-year track record hasn’t been too stellar!

But something happened recently that gave me a completely different approach to choosing one word for the year, an approach which might work well for you, too, if you’ve also been struggling with the one-word concept.

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My BEST Advice To My Younger Self

My BEST Advice To My Younger Self

Today’s my birthday! I was really looking forward to the start of a fresh year, and then my youngest spark plug came down with a stomach bug…before the previous flu we were recovering from had even fully left our house. Spending the day with a fussy little one was definitely NOT the way I had planned on celebrating.

While I would give almost anything for him to feel better (and for this not to spread to anyone else!), I started thinking about how dearly I tend to hold onto my plans and how devastated I often am when things go awry. Although I’m a little more flexible now than I was a decade ago, going with the flow is still a daily struggle for me.

And that got me thinking about the things I wish I had learned sooner in life. In fact, there’s quite a bit of advice that I would have loved to gleaned before now. So, instead of visiting my extended family as I’d originally hoped, instead, today, I’m sharing my best advice to my younger self.

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Why I'm Taking A Second Look At Mommy Guilt (Part 3)

Why I'm Taking A Second Look At Mommy Guilt (Part 3)

"My life wasn't meant to look like this!"

I've thought that to myself many times during the past six years. On a couple of occasions, I even ventured to helpfully inform God about His apparent mistake. (Perhaps He needed some honest feedback in order to give me the enjoyable life I felt I deserved, considering all the hard work I'd done for Him?)

In my enthusiastic planning for motherhood, my thinking had been binary. There were two parenting paths I could take: returning to work part-time or caring for our kids full-time. Chronic illness? It was never part of the equation; it didn't even exist as a category in my thinking!

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4 Reasons to Have Hope When You're Hurting This Holiday Season

4 Reasons to Have Hope When You're Hurting This Holiday Season

I love the holidays with all those picture-perfect moments and photo-worthy family gatherings. I love thinking about and planning for the fun activities and festive meals we’ll participate in. Most of all, I love savoring the birth of the Savior - Christmas is such a wonderful time to reflect and think about all that Jesus did on my behalf.

But maybe you’re not eager for the holidays this year because you’re hurting. Maybe a recent loss - or a loss associated with either Thanksgiving or Christmas - has dampened your joy, and you’re not really sure how to feel happy when, inside, you’re still suffering deeply.

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Wash His Feet, Day 31: Become A Student of Your Marriage

Wash His Feet, Day 31:  Become A Student of Your Marriage

Friends, we’ve come a long way in this “wash his feet” challenge! From praying for our husbands to telling them we love them, we’ve covered numerous ways to bless them. Some assignments were easier than others; many will take a lifetime to perfect. But each one had the sole purpose of blessing our husbands in the Lord.

Let’s look back over this challenge. Note what worked and what didn’t. Which things most blessed your husband, and which ones flopped? Which ones made the greatest impact? Observe your relationship with your husband. Where are you strong? Where are your weak points? What can you do to improve?

Today, become a student of your marriage. Take what you’ve learned from this challenge and apply it. Completing these assignments won’t do you much good if you don’t learn from and grow by them!

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Wash His Feet, Day 30: Tell Him You Love Him

Wash His Feet, Day 30:  Tell Him You Love Him

Some years ago, when Jon was working nights, going to school during the day, and finances were incredibly tight, he grabbed me out of the blue and hugged me.

“Man, I love you so much!” he said as he embraced me.

I hadn’t realized until he said those words just how much I needed to hear them. We’d basically been ships passing in the night, it seemed at the time, and hadn’t been able to see one another for more than just a few minutes here and there. We hadn’t been able to connect as much as I had wanted, but that one phrase was exactly what I had needed at that moment.

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Wash His Feet, Day 29: Embrace Him

Wash His Feet, Day 29:  Embrace Him

Confession: I’m not a touchy-feely sort of person. (I’m sure that’s no surprise since I’ve shared before about how introverted I am and how I really, really need my personal space.) Sure, I give friends and relatives a quick squeeze hello, but that’s about the extent of my tolerance for physical touch.

And I guess it’s a good thing I’m that way, because Jon’s not overly demonstrative, either, especially out in public. Seriously, trying to hold hands with him - which I actually wouldn’t mind on occasion - is a near impossibility. It’s just not his thing!

But when it’s just the two of us, we actually do cuddle on the couch, and we both enjoy it (unless I’m cold and grab my blanket, at which point he sits as far away from me as possible since his CSF leak makes him run hot all the time).

So, even though no one would accuse us of being the overly-romantic, lovey-dovey types, we do both occasionally appreciate the gift of physical touch. And I have a feeling a lot of people are like us, where even if it’s not their greatest enjoyment, they do need it once in a while.

With that in mind, today’s assignment is to embrace your husband.

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Wash His Feet, Day 28: Write Him A Love Note

Wash His Feet, Day 28:  Write Him A Love Note

While gift giving may not be my specialty, writing is one of my favorite activities ever. Whether it’s creating a hand-written note or typing out my thoughts here on the blog, I’m happiest when I’m putting down thoughts on (sometimes digital) paper!

Jon and I used to exchange notes in college all the time. And I kept them all! I have three or four shoe boxes full of them. We loved passing notes to one another between classes or via campus mail. It was a simple and fun activity that we could afford.

Sadly, as the busyness of marriage and parenting has encroached on our time, we’ve almost completely abandoned this once-enjoyed expression of affection.

Today, I want to change that! Our assignment is to write him a love note.

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Wash His Feet, Day 27: Give Him A Gift

Wash His Feet, Day 27:  Give Him A Gift

My sister is one of the best gift givers I know. She can pick up on and remember subtle clues people give off about their likes and hobbies and has a knack for turning those interests into a perfect gift at Christmastime.

Me, on the other hand? I’m terrible at giving gifts. I never know what to get for people, and making it even worse is the fact that I really don’t care for shopping. Going into a store to find a gift, especially when I don’t even know what, exactly, I’m after is not my idea of a good time.

Whether you’re an expert gift giver like my sister or your gift-giving skills are more like mine, today, why not give your husband a small gift?

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Wash His Feet, Day 26: Spend Time With Him

Wash His Feet, Day 26:  Spend Time With Him

Who do you most love spending time with? What lengths do you go to in order to be able to spend time with that person? Before Jon and I were married, I lived almost 40 minutes north of him, but nearly every day, he’d drive up after work to see me. I don’t want to think about the time he spent driving or the cost in gas that it took to come visit, but I loved that he was willing to put in time, effort, and expense to spend time together!

Once we’re married, it’s all too easy to forget to spend time with our spouses. Caring for the kids, keeping house, jobs, and so many other things often derail us from spending quality time with our husbands. And while each of these can be a good thing, they should never prevent us from spending time with the man we married.

So, today’s assignment is to carve out time to spend with your husband.

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