Four Ways to Throw an Awesome Pity Party

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

{Affiliate Links Used.}

A normal Sunday with no REAL drama left me filled with angst. My schedule wasn't working out the way I had hoped. People wanted things from me I couldn't provide at that moment. Past hurts sprang up unexpectedly. I was feeling lonely, left out, and unloved. So I took a walk thinking some exercise would quell the waves thrashing about in my soul. However, if you know me, it only takes a short walk around the block of negative thinking for me to dive head first into an ocean of depression. I am susceptible to it. I have to be totally careful in my thought life to not spiral downward. By the time, I was done with my walk I  realized I had been the creator and hostess of my own pity party.  So, in case you too ever want to throw yourself an awesome gathering of  negativity here's how to get started:

Focus on your less-than-perfect circumstances. Look for how things have gone poorly. Life isn't perfect. If you could, you would change your circumstances. You can't, however. Hence, let the party planning commence.

Focus on what you don't have. One of the quickest ways to feel sorry for yourself? List what you don't have in life. The position you wanted. The admiration you didn't get. The love that passed you by. The money that slipped through your fingers. Make a list...not a guest list of people you hope will show, but a list of what DIDN'T show up in your life.

Be impatient. Patience is a virtue we rarely enjoy displaying. We want EVERYTHING fixed now. We want perfection. Never mind that if we would just wait things out many of them would fall into place. Impatience breeds pity and negativity so be sure that it is a part of the festivities.

Watch others' lives. All you have to do is look to all that others have and are. Be sure to focus on the benefits they have that your DON'T. They lived charmed lives without the pain you have to go through, right? They are better looking, richer, nicer, and more successful. Check out their Facebook wall...proof that they have it better than you do! Whatever you do, make sure you invite them to your party! You'll be glad they came!

As I finished my walk, I realized how shallow and self-focused I had been. The heartache I was feeling came from my negative thought patterns not from the reality of a bad life. I had taken my eyes off all the good in my life in order to feel sorry for myself. It was time to go back home, open up my gratitude journal, write down all those blessings, and put a damper on my pity party with thankfulness.

How about you? Each day we have a choice...throw a party or walk away from it...

I think I am going to take a walk...this time to focus on all the good in my life.

Four Benefits of Scripture Writing

Sunday, July 24, 2016

{Affiliate links used.}

The day after Christmas I made a crazy commitment. I decided I would write out the entire book of Psalms. As I write this post, I am nearing the end of my journey through this massive book. {Actually, by the time this publishes, I will be done!} I have to say this simple discipline of hand copying the Scriptures has totally changed my perspective on the value of pulling out a pen and journal, opening up a Bible, and then writing. Here's a look at the unexpected benefits...

  • Handwriting forces you to slow down. I have to admit I am a speed reader and tend to skip over information from time to time as I read. When you hand copy a passage you don't get that option. You must slow down which makes you focus on what you are writing. You can read something and quickly forget it, but when you write it out you are more likely to remember it.

  • Writing out His word makes you see the details. I have seen so many details in the Psalms that I have simply missed when I read through the book. For example, about halfway through I realized that I could recognize a psalm written by David without actually looking at who wrote it. His topics are distinctive as well as his style. I would never have been able to pick up on the subtleties without writing all the psalms out.

  • Writing Scripture helps you interact with His Word. As I wrote, verses, words, and concepts would jump out at me. If they did, I would take the time to highlight those verses in my journaling Bible and journal about them. Certain passage became priceless to Psalm 27 (simply because my life relates to so much of what is written in that particular psalm). I don't normally have that type of experience when I just read.

  • Hand copying His Word keeps you devoted to Him. Believe it or not, there is actually verses about this concept in Deuteronomy! It keeps us focused on God. "And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests. And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left..." Deut. 17:18-20

So what are you waiting for? See below for some tips to get started writing His Word.

Tips for Copying Scripture:
  • Buy a journal. Having all your copying in one little book keeps things organized. I love 
  • these journals because they lay flat! Easier to write in.
  • Be consistent. Even if you don't write out a bunch of verses, it is wise to make a habit of doing a little each day.
  • Re-read after you write. I make myself read what I have written for the day. If I am in the middle of the chapter I will start at the beginning of it and read up to what I have written. Or when I finish a chapter I will go back and read all the verses from it. It helps give a big picture to what I just wrote down.
  • Don't stress it. This isn't about getting quickly to the end of the chapter or book. At least that is what I tell myself all the time. (Remember, I am the one that likes to race through tasks.) It is about letting God's Word soak into your soul. Slow down. Take your time.

An Audience of One {Think On These Things}

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

{Affiliate links used.}

I have a confession to make. I never needed to take People-Pleasing 101. I am a master at it. The class on fear of man? I aced it. And the one entitled "How to be a Doormat in Three Easy Steps" was a breeze. You see I have a terrible problem. I fear people and try whatever it takes to get into their good graces. I bend over backwards to do what they ask. I acquiesce to what others want before I will think of what I want. Am I selfless? Hardly. I am all about protecting myself and keep me safe and secure. You see people-pleasing isn't about's all about me having a good reputation, being loved and adored, and most importantly, being protected from the ugliness that is "man".

Until one day I failed. You see people-pleasing is a farce. You can NEVER please them all. You can NEVER totally be safe with others. There is only one Safety Net hung and strung up over a cross. There is only One to please. He is the the only audience we need to connect with. People will eventually become disappointed in us. They will endeavor to become our judges. However, there is only one Judge.

This month let's look at how we only have an audience of One, Christ Himself. Our aim should be to please Him not the masses around us. So pull out your journals or your journaling Bibles and let's "Think on These Things." 

You can download the file here.

If you would like all the Think on These Things verses or want to know more about it, click here.

During the month I try to post my thoughts on the verses on Instagram. If you would like to follow me you can find me here. Also, if you are posting your own thoughts there please use the hashtag #thinkonthesethings. I would love to read how God speaks to you!!

There are many ways you can use these verses. You can read and meditate on them. You can write them out as you meditate on them. You can read them and then write about them in a journal or journaling Bible. Here are some of the items I use...

A single column journaling Bible...

ESV Single Column Journaling Bible (TruTone, Chestnut, Leaves Design)
ESV Single Column Journaling Bible (Black)
ESV Single Column Journaling Bible (Brown, Flap with Strap)

Some highlighters {These are my absolute favorites!}...

Eco Highlighter Pencils - Set of 5 Colors

Black pens...

Black Ink Pen Set

I love these journals that lay flat...easier to write in!
Studio Oh! Deconstructed Journals

Upcoming Christian Reads

Monday, July 18, 2016

{Affiliate links used.}

Fall is my favorite season. I am actually not sure why as it is the precursor to winter. I live in a cold climate with snow on the ground for about seven to eight months out of the year. You would think I would not look favorably on autumn. But I do.

This fall I am looking forward to several books coming out from authors I admire...Beth Moore, Ann Voskamp, and Lysa TerKeurst. Let's take a brief look at the books (which I have already pre-ordered!):

Ann's book on gratitude, One Thousand Gifts, was life-changing for me. A few years before the book came out I was following her blog and had started my own gratitude list. That list has continued to grow as each morning I sit down to write a circumstance or two for which I am thankful. I have never been the same as gratitude has totally changed my perspective and helped in the healing of a broken past. Her new book, The Broken Way, comes out in October. I can't wait! I have lived with and fought against brokenness much of my adult life. I am eager to see what she has to say on the subject as I know that Ann's own life has been filled with heartache.

I recently saw that Beth Moore has a new book coming out with a surprising twist. It is FICTION! I have loved doing Beth's Bible studies over the years, but the fact that she has written a novel surprises me. The Undoing of Saint Silvanus tells the story of a woman, Jillian Slater, who has to go back to New Orleans to bury her father. When she arrives she realizes that things are not as they seem which leads her into the lives of the saints and sinners who were a part of Saint Silvanus. It is a novel of a family with a broken history in which God intervenes. From reading the description it sounds like a mystery novel...can't wait!

Finally, there is Lysa TerKeurst's new book, Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely . I absolutely loved Lysa's book, Unglued, which by the way I think EVERY WOMAN should read at least once. Her advice on dealing with raw emotions is practical and insightful so I am assuming Uninvited will be in the same vein. Beside, the title could have been the headline for my life! I have known the deep sting of rejection from those that were supposed to love me, and I have fought hard to "lived loved" regardless of how others have treated me.

So here is the schedule of when these books come out:

Uninvited- Early August
The Undoing of Saint Silvanus- Mid-September
The Broken Way-End of October

Happy Reading!

Bible Stories from the Heart

Saturday, July 16, 2016

{Affiliate links used.}

Art and Scripture. I love the combination. There is something about creating that helps us to slow down, and slowing down is a great way to spend time in God's Word. I tend to be the type of person you would call Type A when it comes to tasks. I have my list and like to get it done and move on as quick as I can, but when it comes to a relationship with God it is better to soak in my time with Him. A few years back, I went through some devastating experiences that left me feeling unloved and lost. At the time, I came to the conclusion that I needed to be reassured of His love and to slow down and soak it in through His Word and my time with Him. I recently came across Bible Stories from the Heart which combines art, Scripture, and the goal of teaching others to understand the deep love God has for us. Just what I had been aspiring to in my own life!

So let's take a look at how Bible Stories from the Heart is set up. Each week of the each study (there are currently five total) you are provided with a passage of Scripture, focus words that are defined, historical background on the verses, and a "connection to us" section with devotional thoughts. Then you are provided with a coloring page with some of  the Scripture you are working on and a page to do a SOAP reflection activity. Finally, there are discussion questions.

Here's an example of one of the coloring pages from the Nature Walk Study. All the artwork in the studies is created by Nicole Plymesser Nelson. There are larger and small versions of the coloring pages...the larger ones you can just go ahead and color...the smaller ones you can copy into a faith journal or war binder and decorate them there. {Read more about my faith journal here.} All the rest of the material is created by the author of these studies, Leslie Eaton. Leslie runs a Facebook group that you can find here where women from all over come together to do the studies. I am participating in the upcoming study, Nature Walk, which starts July 25th. Would you like to join us? Then hop on over to the Facebook Page.

All of the studies are available either at Amazon in print form or in a downloadable form from the Bible Stories from the Heart website. Here are the links for all the studies:

Devotions  (Download) (Amazon)
Exodus  (Download) (Amazon)
Draw in Nearer (Download) (Amazon)
New Beginnings (Download) (Amazon)
Nature Walk (Download) (Amazon)

I can't wait to dive in deeper through the Nature Walk study! If you love coloring and/or art and want to grow deeper in your relationship with Christ, consider doing one of the books from Bible Stories from the Heart!

Faith Journals

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

{Affiliate Links used.}

Journals everywhere. It's the story of my life...a journal for my gratitude list, my monthly prayer list in another, Scripture writing in a third. Every morning I would pull out my pile of journals and my journaling Bible for my quiet time. I have wanted for a long time to have just one journal, but the problem was if I separated the journal into different sections then one section (like my Scripture writing) would fill up before one of the other sections. I wasn't sure how to solve that problem until I started following Hope. Dream. Journal. and noticed that Allycia had something called a traveler's notebook. What's a traveler's notebook? It is a cover in which you can insert several different notebooks. I immediately liked this idea, because I could have all my notebooks TOGETHER! And yet, they wouldn't all be in the same journal. So for example, when I fill up the notebook with my gratitude list I can change it out for a new one.

Here is the cover I am using. It is handmade by Karee from SunshineNBliss on Etsy. She was great to work with to get exactly what I wanted. Take a peek at what she offers as there are a plethora of patterns to choose from.

Above, you can see some of my notebooks (inserts). These are Kraft Moleskine Cahier Notebooks. I decorated them on the outside by stamping and embossing them. I have four inserts: Scripture writing, Prayers, Gratitude list, and Quotes.

In the Scripture writing section I write out the verses for the plan I create each month, Think On These Things. Sometimes I also do verse mapping with the passages. Basically, verse mapping is writing out the verses and writing down the definitions of the words that jump out at you. Then at the end, I write out my thoughts on the verses. Here is an example: 

In the Prayer insert, I have my monthly schedule of people I pray for. Here is what it looked like before I added the names: 

So there are thirty-one entries...for every day of the month (or at least a lot of the months). I put my husband's name on day one. My two sons' names fill day two and three. The other number slots are filled with the names of family, friends, students I teach, and even my "enemies" (See this post about praying for your "enemies"). So if today is the 8th...I look to see who is on line eight and I make sure I pray for him/her throughout the day. This isn't to say that, for example, I only pray for my husband on the first of the month! It is however, a system to make sure I am covering in prayer those people who are important in my life. The rest of the insert is for writing down prayers and prayer requests.

Finally, I have my gratitude list in which every day or so I list those things I am thankful for. The last insert is where I write down quotes from books I have read and sermons I have listened to. Because this system is fluid, you can create a traveler's notebook with the inserts you would want and use. Here is a list of ideas:

  • Scripture writing
  • Prayers (Can list answers to prayers also)
  • Gratitude
  • Book Quotes
  • Sermon Notes
  • Letters to God
  • Verse Mapping
  • Special Songs (lyrics that have spoken to you)
  • Verses by Topic (forgiveness, faith, anger, worry, etc.)
  • Insights (What you learned through the month)
  • Hopes/Dreams for you and your family (Things to speak over your/their lives)
  • Scripture Memory (List of verses you are memorizing)
  • Word of the Year (If you pick a Word of the Year, you can write about it in an insert)
  • Scripture Art
  • Confessions
  • Praise
  • Soap Pages

Other resources:

Bullet Journals and Prayers

Monday, July 11, 2016

{Affiliate Links Used.}

Last year I set up a simple system of praying for others on a regular basis. I have been loving this system, because it makes me consistent in praying for those in my life who are important to me. Here are some ideas of who can be on the list...

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Co-workers
  • Enemies (See this post.)
  • Church Leaders
  • Government Leaders
  • Teachers
  • Acquaintances 
Basically, every day I pray for one person (sometimes two if they are connected) according to my list. So for example, every month on the first I pray for my husband (not that he doesn't get prayed for at other times, but I concentrate on him on this day). Every tenth of the month I pray for_______(fill in the blank). You get the idea. 

Recently, I decided to transfer my my prayer list to my bullet journal! (Don't know what a bullet journal is? See the end of this post.) I set up a grid (see above) on several pages. You need enough "boxes" for thirty-one days. I then labeled the days and decorated the pages with Expressions Magic Tape. Finally, I labeled each box with a name or two. There is enough space in each box to add notes or special prayer concerns for each person. Each morning during my quiet time I look at the correct date to know who to pray for throughout the day. This simple system has helped me be more consistent with my prayers for others!

So what is a bullet journal? It is a like a day planner on steroids! It is totally personalized to fit your needs! See this post on how to get started. All you need is a journal, like this one, and some pens (these are my favorites). If you are looking to get organized, a bullet journal is the way to go!