why we trust

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
    for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,

    for to you I entrust my life.

Psalm 143:8 (a psalm of David)

The Christian life is a life of uncertainty. We always seem to find ourselves looking up, asking God to show us which way to go.

The Christian life is a life of certainty. We may not know which way to go, but we know who to ask.

Today, like many days, I was struck by how many things I don’t know. On a broader level, I was struck by the general ignorance of those around me. Earlier, I was walking through the city when a man attempted to give me spiritual advice. He spoke very fast and I just kept thinking–how do I explain to this man that his paths to God will only lead him to dead ends? How do I tell the world to stop seeking spiritual advancement and start seeking God Himself? What do I know, anyway?

I know quite a few things, to be fair, though I am horribly human like the rest of us. As Isaiah prophesied:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.

There comes a point where we must know why we trust God, or we will stop trusting Him. God will continue to do things we don’t understand, in ways we don’t necessarily agree with. People will continue to be stupid (or simply misled). We must know that God is still faithful. We must know that God is alive and at work in His Creation. That He has not abandoned us, and He never will.

Do you trust God?
     Why or why not?

With this in mind, read Psalm 143 and Isaiah 55 (both in their entirety).

Consider: David waited for the dawn to bring news of God’s unfailing love for him. Isaiah 55 points to the fulfillment of God’s “faithful love promised to David” (v. 3). In case you didn’t notice, it’s pretty amazing.

If you answered ‘no’ or ‘maybe’ to the first question above, ask God right now to show you His faithfulness in your life. Continue this prayer each morning (maybe write it on a slip of paper on your bedside table) and dare to hope that God would show Himself to you. 2 Timothy 2:13 says: if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself. You may want to read some scripture while you’re at it. 😉

If you answered ‘yes,’ take this time to meditate on God’s faithfulness in your life. Pray about something you’ve been anxious about lately, and allow God this opportunity to give you peace.

I’m excited to talk about trusting God on a more personal note soon. For now, I’m going to read Isaiah 55 and be happy. Wooooooo.

You will go out in joy
    and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
    will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
    will clap their hands.
 Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
    and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
    for an everlasting sign,

    that will endure forever.”

Isaiah 55:12-13

Pinterest and the Proverbs 31 woman

Like most people I know, I made fun of Pinterest before discovering its usefulness. After all, if you’re going to spend a few hours on the internet, Pinterest wouldn’t be the worst choice. Most times I scroll through my feed, I learn something new.

Still, Pinterest has demonstrated a unique ability to make women feel inadequate. Let’s consider what would happen if I accepted the manicured reality that Pinterest serves me each time I log in. I’d be under the impression that most other women spend their days sporting buoyant curls and cute heels while chasing after absurdly fashionable children, stopping on occasion to bake a peanut butter truffle cheesecake or build an authentic farmhouse table. And don’t even get me started on those weddings…

While musing on the mythical creature that is The Pinterest Wife, Proverbs 31 came to my mind. Perhaps the most referenced passage when seeking to understand biblical womanhood, Proverbs 31:10-31 is a piece of poetry dwelling on the attributes of “a wife of noble character.” I remember reading this passage in college, and even though the first line points to the woman’s inner self, I imagined her much as I now imagine The Pinterest Wife – a woman who can do everything, whose identity seems suspiciously tied to her status as wife and mother.

Today, I want us to shift our focus. I want us to consider what it really means to be a free and fabulous woman. And I think Proverbs 31 can help guide us there. Read the following, but do not focus on what the woman does. Instead, ask yourself: what is in this woman’s heart as she goes about her day?

A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
 Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
 She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
 She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
 She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.
 She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
 She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
 In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
 She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.
 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
 She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
 She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.
 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
 She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
 She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Proverbs 31:10-31

Here, I see a woman who works hard because her heart is full of love and hope. Love for her husband and children, yes, but also for the unwanted and oppressed. Hope because she knows God and reveres Him enough to also trust Him with her future. She does not waste her time with things that don’t matter (though we must remember that as an Israelite, she would have honored the Sabbath and taken time to rest). This woman has servants and yet seeks to serve them herself. She has callused hands, sore feet, stretch marks – but most importantly, love for someone beyond herself.

Consider the poem’s concluding verses: “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised….”

What are you seeking? Can it be sustained? Take a few minutes to journal about your motivations when you use Pinterest (or read Cosmo, etc.). Yes, we all know the difference between Pinterest photos and messy reality, but just as we laugh at these mythical women, we must ask ourselves how such images of “perfection” really influence us. When you dream of your future self, what do you notice about her? How she looks?…how her house looks?…or how she honors God?

Now let’s try something. Go to Pinterest. (Or your women’s website of choice.) As you scroll through the pretty photos, mom blogs, and cat memes, talk with God. Pray that He would be with you and guiding your thoughts as you consume social media. This is my prayer for us – that in the middle of a generation who seeks to find gratification through social media, we would instead seek God’s purpose. May we go about this week with charm, poise, and beauty, all the while counting these as nothing when set beside the love of God.

With love and hope,
Sarah​

social media detox, part 2

Today we’ll continue exploring how social media shapes our lives.  A verse to get us started, from one of Paul’s letters to Christians in Corinth:

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. 1 Corinthians 6:12 

Paul is discussing sexual immorality here, though in doing so, he has gifted us with a great principle to apply in all areas of our lives. Something doesn’t have to be sexual or taboo in order to have an unhealthy influence over us. Rather, our culture’s acceptance of frequent media use makes it all too easy to stare at our phones all day while ignoring opportunities for in-person relationships.

A great way to test your dependence on something is to give it up for a while. Ever try fasting? You quickly learn how much your life revolves around food. Other times, we may choose to fast from something and find we never really needed it at all.

Take a few minutes to consider the following:

– If you were to delete all your social media accounts tomorrow, what would you miss most? Be as specific as you can.

– Have you spent significant time away from social media in the past 6 months? If not, what might it look like for you to fast from facebook, Instagram, etc. this week?

While many of us use social media thoughtfully and responsibly, I’d venture to say that few of us find it deeply fulfilling. We each have our reasons for using it, but we are frustrated by our growing dependence on it. We know it isn’t evil – but is it beneficial?

This week, we’ll search for the balance between cutting all ties to social media (though this is an option) and allowing it to master us (which is not an option). If you care to join me, here’s what your week might look like:

Monday – Fast from social media. Turn off notifications on your phone, or delete apps you don’t need (the facebook app is a great example – you can just use your browser in the future). Pick something to do whenever you feel the nudge to see what everyone else is up to online. Pray for a friend, think about what you’ll make for dinner, or contemplate the miracle of existence. At the end of the day, take a few minutes to journal about your experience.

Tuesday – If you found yourself struggling yesterday, consider fasting a few more days to more deeply understand your dependence on social media. Use this as an opportunity to address problems you may have been ignoring, whether social anxiety or a need for validation. Be honest with yourself and what steps you can take toward freedom. It could be as simple as grabbing coffee with a friend and asking for accountability. Or it could mean deleting your facebook. Pray about it.

If you did just fine without your news feed, congrats. But if you’re like me, you may still want to set boundaries to keep yourself from investing too much time online. Check out the tips at the end of this post.

Wednesday – Set up a Skype or phone date with a faraway friend. Or ask for their address and write a letter!

Thursday – Check your community newspaper or website for events this weekend. Make a habit of this, since empty weekends can be a recipe for Netflix binge-watching and way too much time on the internet. 

Friday / Saturday – Finally, consider these tips to keep social media from taking over your life:

1) Log out of your accounts on all devices and delete your password history. Pick a specific time or day of the week for checking social media intentionally, not brainlessly.

2) Change your password to something really obnoxious to type in. For every 1 time this is annoying, there will be 10 times you find something better to do.

3) Let your friends and family know you’ll be online less often so that they know to text, call, or email if they want to reach you.

4) When you are browsing facebook or twitter, start unfollowing people if their posts don’t mean much to you. Start following people or pages that post interesting articles or encouraging messages instead.

Next week, we’ll be talking about Pinterest, self worth, and what it means to be a woman – oh my! 😉

social media detox, part 1

Lately, my husband has been joking that I broke my facebook account.

It all started with a conversation with a friend about the prospect of deleting all forms of social media and living purely as our non-digital selves. It seemed radical, a small protest against our social networks. Did we dare demand that our friends relate with us in phone calls and personal visits? I wasn’t quite ready to take the leap, so I compromised by unfollowing almost all of my facebook friends. (Unfriending seemed mean, and I liked the idea of occasionally browsing old friends’ profiles even if I didn’t need to see daily photos of them eating french fries or sipping fancy lattes.) I left only posts from friends I had intentions of spending real time with in the future.

Turns out, facebook wasn’t designed for such a minimalist news feed. Most of my close friends post sparingly, so the site’s algorithm has resorted to posts liked by friends of friends of friends. Bleeeeehhh.

Grumblings aside, I achieved something by making my facebook feed so boring. By denying myself the voyeuristic pleasure of scrolling through the adventures and offspring of former acquaintances, I was forced to find other ways to occupy my restless brain. I started thinking about how to create space for the people I care about most or want to get to know better. I thought about how I could use those 5-minute lulls in my day to read The Economist or send a friend an encouraging text.

​When we start thinking in terms of real relationships, it becomes easier to use social media in a healthy way. We see it as a tool for building community rather than a distraction to make ourselves feel better.

As I’ve been reflecting on my use of social media, this verse came to mind:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. Hebrews 12:1a

No, I don’t think social media is sinful – but it is a great venue for sin. In this next series of devotionals, we’ll be having an honest conversation with God about the way we use social media. We’ll confess our mixed motives, our insecurities, and pray that God would use our digital lives to further His Kingdom rather than hampering it. As a start, take a few minutes to consider the following:

-How does my time on social media help me?

-On the other hand, how does social media hinder me? What are some ways I allow it to “entangle” my life?

-Do I see the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, self control, etc.) in myself when I use social media?

​We’ll discuss some practical ways to create boundaries on our social media use next week. For now, begin thinking critically about your online habits. Become aware of the emotions that lead you toward mindless scrolling, and challenge yourself to turn your brain on in the face of endless news feeds. Most of all, take time to share your thoughts with God before you share them with the entire world. He might just teach you something. 😉

the commandments according to Jesus

Jesus makes it clear that if we love him, we will obey him. Not a blind, fearful obedience, but an obedience that flows naturally out of love and trust for someone we know. If we trust God, we listen to him. Today, we’ll continue loving God by pausing to hear his commands.

Psalm 1:1-3
Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither–
whatever they do prospers.

When we realize that commandments are gifts rather than burdens, we can better understand the beauty of Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount. Found in Matthew’s gospel, ch. 5-7, this teaching of Jesus plunges us deep below the surface of the ten commandments given to Moses. Go ahead and take some minutes to read the full sermon.

Ask the following questions, and take what time you have to meditate on this central teaching of Jesus.

1. What themes do you see in Jesus’s reiteration of the ten commandments? In other words, what does Jesus communicate that wasn’t already said to Moses generations ago?

2. Why do you think Jesus felt the need to give this teaching to us?

3. Many people would hear the strict standards for holiness found in the sermon and think obedience was impossible — that Jesus was contradicting himself by offering grace to sinners and yet calling his followers to be so radically moral. What do you know about Jesus that allows you to reconcile his grace with such convicting teachings?

If you’re having a hard time with that last one, schedule a couple hours this week to read one of the gospel accounts. Highlight or sticky note the passages that help you understand Jesus more.

Best wishes for a lovely week. May you find lots of chocolate and lots of Jesus.

reflecting on the commandments

In the gospel of John chapter 14, Jesus says:

“If you love me, keep my commands.” (verse 15)

and

“Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” (verse 23)

I thought we could spend some time today reflecting on the commandments God gives His people in Exodus 20. God, having formed a nation meant to reveal His goodness and holiness to the world, sets out ten foundational rules for Israel to live by. If we want to love God by following His teaching, now would be a good time to listen up.

Exodus 20:1-21
And God spoke all these words:

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

“You shall have no other gods before me.

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

“You shall not murder.

“You shall not commit adultery.

“You shall not steal.

“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.”

Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.”

The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.

_____

Our goal for today is to simply think on these commandments and how we can love God by following them. Some questions to get you started:

What are your favorite commandments? (Yes, it’s okay to have favorites!) What are two commandments you struggle to live out?

Why do you think God chose these rules in particular? What is He trying to promote or preserve with these boundaries?

Notice that the Israelites respond in fear to God’s presence. “But do not have God speak to us or we will die.” Yet in John 14 and 15 (remember last week?), Jesus promises the Holy Spirit as a comforter and strengthening guide. How does Jesus’s sacrifice change the way we approach God?

We often thank God for His presence but forget to thank Him for the commandments that draw us closer into communion with Him. Today or tomorrow, find a nice sheet of paper and write out the commandments. Hang them in your home in a place you see everyday. Congratulations, you’ve just participated in an ancient Jewish tradition! May God bless you with His presence and commandments this week. 🙂

time to change – lessons from john 14-15


​“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

I’ve been thinking about this verse as I take baby steps toward a deeper devotional life. Each day I have paused my routine long enough to read a few chapters and pray, I’ve noticed God shaping my life according to His word. I think about things I wouldn’t think of otherwise, and I am reminded that just as I can stop moving long enough to read scripture, I can pause my self-focused thoughts long enough to appreciate the people God has placed in my life.

Scripture changes us. Prayer changes us. The Holy Spirit changes us, especially when we pause to listen to Him.

Today I read John chapters 14 and 15. Grab your Bible or pull up Bible Gateway and listen as Jesus offers words of comfort to His followers. Take note of how Jesus speaks of: love, the commandments, and the Holy Spirit (or Advocate).

What encouragements are offered to Jesus’s followers?

What challenges does Jesus give us?

Notice that Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit in both chapters. What is the relationship between God’s spirit, loving others, loving God, and obeying the commandments? Draw a diagram, if you wish.

Today, the Holy Spirit is teaching me that no level of knowledge can replace time abiding with Him. When we quiet our own thoughts, God’s spirit reminds us how we can seek Him and His Kingdom above all else. He gives us the strength to obey His commandments, and the humility to admit that God’s Law is offered to us in love, as an invitation into relationship with our Creator.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:12-13

I’m excited for us to reflect on God’s commandments more in the coming weeks. In the meantime, let yourself get distracted from your distractions.

Stop, read, listen. Don’t forget to take time today for God to change you.

reconnecting with beauty

One of my favorite books of all time is C. S. Lewis’s The Abolition of Man. A tiny volume of 100 or so pages, it explores the concept of morality in a simple but thought-provoking way. Lewis begins by distinguishing two philosophies: one that describes beauty as a subjective, human feeling, and another that defines beauty as an inherent quality that can be observed by humans but is not dependent us. That is to say, whether an ancient, mossy tree in a forest is still pretty if no one is around to see it, or whether a person is beautiful regardless of what people think of him or her.
​Just go read it. You’ll think it’s great or you’ll think I’m crazy. But back to the point…

Christian belief is based on the principle that God creates what is beautiful and good. And as God’s creation, we long for beauty. We seek it out to the point that we hop on 15-hour flights, we climb mountains till our calves burn and our knees tremble–just to grasp it for a little while. While God calls His creation “very good” in Genesis, we look around us and agree, yes, it is very, very good! Celebrating beauty is in our DNA.

Because beauty is determined by God rather than humans, we sometimes neglect to see all that is out there. It is easy to recognize the beauty in a sunset. It is harder to see beauty when it’s the middle of winter, you’re fighting a cold, and you can’t remember the last time you saw green grass. That’s about how I feel today, stuck in bed with only a bottle of Nyquil to comfort me, while the world outside becomes an eternal winter. (Okay, it’s not that bad. But you get the idea.)

Today’s devotional is about waking up so we can reconnect with beauty, even during the more uninspired seasons of life. Take a few moments to read, re-read, and meditate on the following verses.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
    or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;
 or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
    or let the fish in the sea inform you.
 Which of all these does not know
    that the hand of the Lord has done this?
 In his hand is the life of every creature
    and the breath of all mankind.”
                                      
Job 11:7-10

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

                                      Psalm 139:13-15

Our Creator has given us intricate bodies, air in our lungs, and a world to explore. Now let’s consider some ways to acknowledge His artistry more each day.

Get Outside
Beauty in nature is the easiest for most of us to recognize and thank God for. This week, make a point to walk somewhere when you would normally drive. You’ll save gas while giving God an opportunity to show you something new. I was recently walking home from yoga in the snow, feeling my sweat slowly freeze to my clothing (gross, right?), when I heard singing coming from the church near my house. While I was trying to guess what language it was, I noticed a wall of giant icicles along the building’s side, lit up by the stained glass windows. It was like nothing I’d ever seen or heard, and I would have missed out if I just sped by in my car!

Thank God for Your Body
Our culture talks a lot these days about embracing your true self and the body God gave you. I think that’s great! Let’s go deeper, though. When you glance in the mirror and think dang, I look good today, take a moment to thank God for giving you your favorite features, whether that’s your eyes, smile, or…other things. 😉

Affirm Others
When we give genuine compliments to one another, we’re not only training ourselves to see beauty in others, but helping others see what is good and beautiful in themselves. It can be scary to “put yourself out there,” especially if you don’t know the person well. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you and give you courage. Many of us fail to recognize our own inner and outer beauty, which is why God uses us to remind each other. 🙂

a devotional for the reluctant

I’ll be the first to say it. Devotionals can be, well…boring.

There was a time in my life, the first few years after becoming a Christian, when I read the Bible for the first time and took every class I could find, reading every Christian book that came my way. My brain was full and happy. Then, something interesting happened.

Part of it was lack of discipline as the excitement of new faith wore off. Part of it was the maturity and knowledge I’d gained in those years, which slowly transformed my reaction to certain spiritual writings from:

Wait, WHAT? No way! Brilliant!
to
Well, um, duh.

I suppose this is how many church kids feel when they face the challenge of making their faith their own. Even though my faith has always been “my own,” I found myself in recent years sitting in front of a Bible and a short stack of devotional guides thinking, why is this so boring?

Let me say for the record: God is not boring. The Creator of the universe is alive and well and doesn’t need people to make Him more interesting. The problem was me, in my little bubble of short-sightedness, not wanting to explore life with God if it meant taking time away from my “more exciting” life.

Still, the feeling was real. This feeling that everything was going along just the same as it ever was, that it was foolish to think spending time with God would grant me a grand insight into life I didn’t have already. That sounds so arrogant, right? For someone who believes in God to say a few years of study has granted them all the wisdom God has to offer. And I thought: there has to be a better way to get through this than opening the Bible at random each day and forcing myself to read. (Something I’ve done a lot this year, with mixed results).

It seemed fitting to start my new series of devotionals with the truth—that my biggest struggle in life right now is to learn from God’s word each day. I have a feeling some of you can relate, which is why I made this first devotional:

A Devotional for People Who Avoid Spending Time with God

Wahoo! Here we go…

1. Take a few minutes to meditate on the following verses:

Joshua 1:7-9 (God speaking to Joshua)
“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

2 Timothy 3:14-17 (Paul writing to Timothy, a younger leader in the early church)
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

James 1:22-25 (James writing to early followers of Christ)
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

2. Time to write! (Don’t worry, you can just make a list if you’re a bit journal-phobic like me.) Write down some ways that interacting with scripture helps you in your everyday life. Also list a few consequences or dangers of putting off time with God. You probably already know these, but it’s good to be specific as it leads to better reflection and equally-specific ways we can apply scripture to our lives.

Last, think of some reasons you might be avoiding devotional times. Do you dislike being alone? Are you hanging on to something you’re afraid God will ask you to abandon? Write these out, too.

3. Ask God for help. It’s surprisingly easy to forget to pray when we’re trying really hard to achieve something.

If you want to get practical (and please do), schedule a time and set an alarm each day to remind yourself to take time alone with God. Choose a time when you can realistically sit down and have some space. Depending on how complicated your life and schedule are, this may take some concerted effort. You’ll have to decide if it is worth it. Take some time to journal about that, too. And don’t forget to ask for advice from others in the same boat.

Did you make it? Congrats! Now here’s to many more God times as we learn to ignore that nagging voice who tells us we have better things to do.

new year, new directions

I’ve been thinking lately about my little piece of the internet here at 8 oz. coffee. When I started blogging last year, I shared about ways I try to care for the earth in my everyday life. Green living is something I care deeply about, so it was easy to think up a short list of topics and start writing.

Still, I remembered my goal of pushing women’s blogging beyond the household, into that deep, meaningful space that addresses the soul rather than the state of one’s kitchen. I still wanted to do that — I just wasn’t sure how to make the transition.

And so here I am, using 2016 as my own personal segue into something new. I’ll still be writing about my attempts at zero waste and uncluttered living, and I’ll also be sharing my musings on faith and what it means to live as an empowered woman in a confusing world. To bring God into the conversation, I’ll be writing a lot of this in the form of a Christian devotional, which is ironic because I typically dislike devotionals (especially women’s devotionals, haha…more on that later). It’s all a grand experiment, but that’s the beauty of creation. You don’t know what’s inside you until you give yourself a blank page and permission to make mistakes.

Here we go. 😉