Books/Entertainment, Spiritual Walk

Book Review: Draw the Circle

For the past few months, I’ve been including Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge by Mark Batterson in my daily devotions. It is a must-read for anyone who has a dream, a request, or a concern that they want to bring before the Lord. It taught me some valuable insight and provided challenges that made me think, and prayer, differently than I had before.

I started in 2017 with a “read through the Bible” plan on Bible.com called the Solid Life “Whole Bible” Reading Plan. I start off my devotional time with reading and recording in my prayer journal any verses that stand out or speak to me. After that, I would read one of the prayer challenges, then journal on the topic and listen to what God had to say about it. It’s become a very big part of my prayer life to not only bring my concerns to God, but to literally ask God what He has to say to me. It’s at that time, when I’ve been fully concentrating on God, that I allow myself to just listen and write down anything I’m feeling. I’ll admit, He hasn’t answered every one of my questions, but I’ve received true insight during those times and I thank Him for the promises he has given me.

Draw the Circle made listening to God a daily task, and while I cannot say that I am confident that everything I write down in my prayer journal is truly from Him, I’ve been learning how to discern. Day 1, page one started off with a bang: “And when you pray to God regularly, irregular things happen on a regular basis.”

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Health, Life

Why I’m Eating a Vegan Diet

For the past year, I’ve been working on losing the 25lbs I put on after my wedding. Yes, you read that right: 25lbs on my already chubby frame. On January 1, 2017, I was the heaviest I have ever been in my life. I liked to fake affection and refer to it as my “happy weight”: I married the guy I’ve had a crush on since I was 5, we both have good, stable jobs, and we’re saving for a house. It’s easy to joke and talk about how happy we are, but when I’m truly honest, I know it wasn’t happiness that started my downward spiral.

A month after our wedding in 2015, my husband and I were visiting London for an international congress that our church organization was hosting. There were members from all over the world, and it was truly an amazing time of sight-seeing, meeting fellow believers from around the world, and experiencing the meetings.

After my husband left London to go back to our home in Brooklyn and his job, I was headed to a friend’s wedding in Northern Ireland. I was sitting in a hotel room the day before my flight when my husband texted me.

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Life, Spiritual Walk

How to Find a Mentor

It was October 2016 and I was preparing for a conference that my department was hosting that month. My coworker and I were talking about last-minute details, specifically an area I was in charge of in the main hall with programs and resources for the delegates provided from our department and the main speakers of the event.

“One of the speakers wants to share a few resources. Could you print them and make sure they are available to everyone?”

Of course I said yes, so I proceeded to print out 400 copies each. And when I saw what the first resource said, I was irritated.

The speaker was discussing mentorship, and I still didn’t know what to do about a spiritual mentor in my own life.

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Health, Life, Spiritual Walk

Why I Gave Up Television

(But only for a week!)

Earlier this year, I was preparing for the Lenten season and I had an clear conviction of what I was supposed to give up for 40 days: television. Now, I’m not talking about just live TV–I’m talking network television, Hulu, Netflix, Optimum online, AMC.

I was beginning to notice a trend in myself: get home from work at 4:15PM, turn on Channel 2 and watch Judge Judy until 5. Keep the news on and listen/peek at the TV while I made dinner. Watch TV through dinner, then depending on whether or not my husband was home would determine which shows were next. We watch Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune on weeknights, so the news stays on until they start at 7. If he isn’t home, at 6:30 or so I usually lay down on the couch, with my big fluffy blanket, and watch Hulu.

Rarely would I concentrate on my writing, blogging, or just read a book. Even rarer would I want to get up to clean the kitchen, or go to the gym to work out, nevermind try to workout at home. Once I was on the couch, comfy and happy, I only had the energy for that, and maybe some Facebook or Pinterest while I watched.

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Life, Spiritual Walk, Writing

Stuck in the Circle

It’s taken me two months to write this post, and I’ll tell you why: I have been stuck in the lies and circle of self-doubt and comparison. If you’re being honest with yourself, you may know exactly what I’m talking about.

I started this blog with a clear message from God–words like “safe space,” counseling, young women, and love all came at a moment of complete clarity where I knew this was a project He wanted me to invest in. It’s been almost one year since I heard that message while chatting with one of the special guests at a media conference I attended for work. The conference was supposed to be a learning experience for my social media position, but ended up speaking specifically to me about my place as a writer.

But once I started, fear set in. Who am I to say I am a writer when everything I’ve submitted this past year has been rejected? Who am I to say I’m a writer when I let so much time pass between blog posts? Who am I to say I’m a writer when the only steady gig I’ve had has been the Young Salvationist magazine, which still has connotations of being a “lame” teen magazine that The Salvation Army is “required” to publish.

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Life, Spiritual Walk

A Time of Preparation

The summer can be a time of relaxation: kid’s are out of school, days are longer, the weather is nicer. On the Sundays my husband and I have been able to go to our home church, the pews have been mostly empty (which I attribute to summer camps and vacation, not a general godlessness with the warm weather). I was watching a Jim Gaffigan comedy special and he summed it up perfectly: we spend all fall, winter, and spring in our hometowns, only to leave them and travel elsewhere when we finally have weather at home to enjoy.

Well, for my husband and I, this summer has been anything but relaxing. We’ve had a constant stream of what are we preparing for next? First, it was our jobs, and the large event that is commissioning in The Salvation Army. Once that weekend was over, it was getting ready to be guests at a music camp in New Jersey. We’ve now been back from that for a little over a week, and next Thursday we leave for Camp Meetings in Old Orchard Beach, ME. As soon as we return, we go our separate ways, with my husband working and teaching at another music camp and myself going to visit my parents and then going to a prayer ministry training in PA.

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Life, Spiritual Walk

In the Details

I have eight unfinished blog posts sitting in my draft folder, waiting for me to flush out why it was I felt the topics were important in the first place. Over the past month, I would start one, get a few sentences in, and ask myself what the point was. Why did I feel compelled to write about a particular subject? I kept getting hung up, stuck, uncertain about how to proceed.

I know that what was truly holding me back was that this topic has been on the forefront of my mind and I had to get it out before I could move on to anything else.

In the current season of my life, my prayer list is full of some pretty heavy prayer requests and concerns. They involve big things for myself and for my husband: prayers for the direction of my career, for our family, for my husband’s career, for our future house hunting, just to name a few. I feel like there are so many things that are just up in the air and we don’t have a clear direction of who/what/where/when, etc.

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Life, Spiritual Walk

Read through the Bible in 2017

I’m embarrassed to write this, but I am 25-years-old, have been a Christian since I re-accepted Jesus into my heart at 11, and I have never taken the time to read through the entire Bible.

I’m embarrassed to admit it because there have been many times that I tried, and failed. I became a Senior Soldier in The Salvation Army at 14 (which means I became a member of the Church). That was the first year I tried. I began in the Old Testament, concerned that if I didn’t read it through in order, I wouldn’t understand everything in the New Testament. I think that was my first problem. That try, I got through most of Exodus before I finally gave up.

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Life, Spiritual Walk, Writing

After “Wait and See”

“So do not be afraid. I am with you. Do not be terrified. I am your God. I will make you strong and help you. My powerful right hand will take good care of you. I will always do what is right.” –Isaiah 41:10 (NIRV)

So, it’s been a few days, and I completed the “Wait and See” reading plan that I spoke about in a previous blog post. To say that God answered my prayers in the time we spent together during this devotional almost seems to make light of the time we spent together. I have no doubt of the things He told me, and know exactly how to proceed in the matter that I took to Him in prayer. I can’t say that I have ever felt so strongly about knowing the course of action that God has wanted me to take, and it has taken a huge weight off of my mind. Was this outcome based on the reading plan I chose? Not at all. God knew that my heart was truly searching his will in this matter, and I know He used this plan to help speak to me.

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Life, Spiritual Walk

Wait and See

“Here is something I am still sure of. I will see the Lord’s goodness while I’m still alive.  Wait for the Lord. Be strong and don’t lose hope. Wait for the Lord.”

–Psalm 27:13-14 (NIRV)

 

Last month when I was writing the column for the January issue of the Young Salvationist, I stumbled across a section on Bible.com that I had never seen before. The theme for the issue was Everyday Saint, and as I was brainstorming ideas to help the young adult readers be “everyday saints.” So as part of one of my sections, I started looking up Bible reading plans. That’s when I found the entire section on plans here.

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