Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Have a got a topic of conversation for us today - LUST.

That word just sitting there on the page of my blog makes me slightly uncomfortable. It's as if the four letters posses some kind of bold, memorizing power when I look at them. Like they don't quite sit still. We're talking one of the "7 deadly sins" here, and I want to know what you think about it. Honestly. Authentically.
Anonymously, is fine.

  • Is lust something you ever wrestle with?

  • How would you define lust?

  • Who is most often the target or trigger of lust for you?

  • Are you married or single?
  • What do you think influences one's tendency to lust?

And what I most want to ask you is, how do you handle it when you find yourself wrapped in lust's feel-good trance?

I'll be the first to admit that lusting feels good. It's fun to entertain ... at least until you want to stop, and find it's not so easy to push out of your mind. Suddently, you no longer feel in control of your thoughts. For real, right?

I'm helping my pastor research this topic for an upcoming sermon series, and would love to hear your thoughts, suggestions and questions about LUST in the comments. Last week we had a meeting where we discussed this topic some. I was the only female in the room, and I could tell the guys didn't think this was much of a big problem for women ... but I suspect lust is more of an equal-gender, equal-opportunity tempter than they realize. So I'm hoping you'll at least let me know if you agree or not.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Good choice

Welcome, if you're visiting from my "Good Choice" devotion published today. I always like to make new cyber-friends, so you've made a good choice by stopping by. :)

Note: If you subscribe to these devotions through Proverbs 31 Ministries and you've noticed extra numbers, spaces, small squares, quote marks or other markings within the text that do not belong there, let me apologize and explain. The ministry changed servers a few weeks ago and automated things to pull the devotion from the P31 devotion blog and send it out to subscribers. However, something is clearly amiss in that process, periodically creating extra marks or spaces in the devotion as it sends it out. We're working to solve that, and would appreciate your grace, patience and prayers.

Solomon's writings are some of my favorite in the Bible - I truly love the book of Proverbs. For a period of time several years ago, I read through Proverbs regularly and found it brought me much insight for living. It helped me with my walk with God, with my relationships, with my thoughts and words, with my money and work ethic - basically with everything! It gave me a clear picture of what kinds of things wise people do and what kinds of mistakes foolish people make. That, in turn, affected my choices and actions, and who I chose to hang out with and invest in as well.

Have you ever read through or studied the book of Proverbs? If so I'd love to hear about it. If not, try reading a Proverb a day for the next month or two. There are 31 proverbs total in the book, so that's one short reading for each day of the month (although Feb. only has 28 days). Try it and see what it does for you. As you read, make note of what it teaches you about wise actions and decision-making.

If you want to you can read it online, here's a link to the book of Proverbs in The Message translation. I also like to read it in the New Living Translation or the NIV. In fact, if you do this for a few months in a row, try switching translations from month to month so you're not tempted to gloss over words that seem familiar since you read them last month.

Finally, if you're in a situation right now where you need wisdom from God, ask Him for it today - believing that HE WILL GUIDE YOU. Feel free to post a comment here and I'll join you in praying that you have the mind of Christ in this matter.

To update, I had a great time in Delaware. Loved the women at this church, and God had plans for these women and this retreat. He knew what He wanted to do with and say to them, and it was my pleasure to be along for the ride as their speaker. I had window seats all the way, and uneventful flights. Well, except for the siren that went off in the Philly airport F terminal, followed by the loudspeaker that told us to evacuate the building and to use the stairs and not the elevators. That was a tiny bit stressful. And no, I do not know what it was all about! I forgot to pack my camera so I don't have any pictures to share this time, but the memories and faces are etched upon my mind and heart.

Have a great day, girls!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Plans for Good & a Window Seat

Hi all. My morning routine will be modified somewhat tomorrow since I fly out for a retreat in Delaware on a 7:00 am flight, and y'all know I'm not an early morning person. I may be standing to face the day and pray as I look out a window at the airport ... or perhaps on the plane.

I always book myself into the window seats. What about you - what's your preference? Even though its more convenient to sit on the aisle, the little kid in me never tires of catching glimpses of the clouds and the ground far below. :0)

Here's my verse for the day:

"For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me."

~ Jeremiah 29:11-13

Well, TTFN

(that's "ta ta for now" for those of you who don't speak Tigger)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

AM routines, QTs, and kids

The snow was still here this morning and I looked happily upon it as I prayed. On a recent post where I talked about what my morning routine generally looks like, Peaceloving asked:

"I'm curious, what are your kids doing during this time? Maybe they're old enough that the house can still seem peaceful while they're home? Mine are preschoolers and quiet is just not available when they're awake."

My kids are between the ages of 8 and 12, so they are able to care for themselves and entertain themselves much more so than when they were preschoolers.

I sometimes lay out their clothes the night before, or put their cereal bowls and boxes out the night before to make things go smoother in the mornings, but they can handle those kinds of things by themselves now for the most part. Plus, my husband (a great Dad and a morning person) has always helped heavily with the kids in the mornings before he goes to work.

I remember those preschool years well. I remember hearing people talk about praying for an hour every morning, or doing Precepts Bible studies with daily homework. And I felt like a failure as a Christian because I couldn't manage to do that with two preschoolers at home. I dreamed of being able to do that. Once mine reached school age, however, I chose to homeschool them - so I still didn't have the house or time to myself for a long time.

I just look at it in terms of seasons of life. Right now you may be in a season of caring for a baby/preschooler, and that's simply not going to allow for you to spend hours alone with God having a "Quiet Time." God knows that. Young children need lots of attention and supervision. So be realistic about your expectations, and realize that we at P31 believe motherhood is a high spiritual calling. You are fulfilling your purpose in this season of life by giving those children a solid foundation.

Refresh your soul in God as best you can. For instance, I started keeping a Bible at my kitchen table and I would open it and read while eating my morning cereal - just a few minutes worth of reading until I had to do the next thing. That was my routine at that time. If able, I might read some more later as I ate lunch or had a cup of tea. And yes, my kids or a Barney DVD might be playing in the background as I read.

Don't assume that if you do not have an hour of peace and quiet that it is not worth doing any Bible reading - God's Word is alive and active, and never void, regardless of your circumstances or surroundings!

I'd also play Christian music in the car when we drove places. I wish I'd had a MP3 player when my kids were little; I could've occasionally drowned out Dora the Explorer with some worship songs while still keeping an eye on my kids. I joined a MOPS group, which was a life saver for me. And later I went to a Bible study group that provided childcare. Both of those were at churches other than my own, by the way.

My friend Marybeth Whalen, mother of 6 and a homeschooler, says she learned to use her shower as her prayer place because it was the only time she was alone and couldn't hear the kids! So she prays while taking her shower.

You could do that, or a brief version of my core morning routine. I specifically made it easy enough to do in a few minutes, if that's all I have that day. You can stand in front of your window and pray for just a few seconds. You can even stand there with a baby in your arms. You can chose a devotional book that has short daily entries. Sharon mentioned one that I have and love called Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. It usually takes just a minute to read her entries, but they are powerful.

True, many days I spend more time with the scriptures later in the morning, but that's separate from my fast, flexible "core" morning routine.

I do feel that that we should not compare ourself to others who may be in a different season of life and expect our life or quiet time to look like theirs. Feeling guilty or inadequate is not helpful either - it usually paralyzes us.

I think we look at our favorite Bible teachers - like maybe Beth Moore, or Kay Aurthur, or Joyce Myers - and assume that everyone has to have big long Bible study sessions each day. While we all need to stay plugged into God and His Word and allow Him into our day, we aren't all full-time Bible scholars, or preachers. And we don't all have jobs researching and writing Bible studies. So learn from them, and get inspired by them to delve into the Word for yourself, but also keep this perspective.

Most importantly, resist the temptation to view your children as an obstacle to your spiritual growth - they are a blessing from God and His assignment for you. They can actually be a vehicle to spiritual growth for you in this season of your life.

5SKIS asked if I follow my same morning routine on snow days. Yesterday I did not. Rather than watch Sunrise Earth, I played outside and watched the inaguration. I'm flexible like that. (Course we get a snow day about once every 7 years so maybe if snow came regularly I wouldn't always deem it a "fun day".) Today I eased back into my routine.

Just keep your heart connected to God and His Word daily and stay focused on His plans for you in the season He has you in. That's my approach. This blog is a place for conversation, so feel free to comment, make a different suggestion, or ask another question. : )

Monday, January 19, 2009

What a day

Hey Girls. Today we had snow!!!!!!! That is so rare here. So rare in fact that they cancelled school last night for today (for the potential of less than an inch accumulation) and called for a 2 hour delay tomorrow. So its been a play day for us here. Despite the limited accumulation, we threw some snow balls, caught flakes on our tongues, and the boys even built a snow man. OK, so it was only about 18 " tall, but they loved it just the same.

When not walking in my winter wonderland, or drying hats and gloves in the dryer, I watched the inauguration coverage. What a historic day. I managed to tune in for Rick Warren's prayer, Aretha's singing, and Obama's oath and speech. Later on I tuned in as the new President and his wife walked up Pennsylvania Avenue, waving to the crowd. All I could think was how cold Michelle must be in that skirt, and how her feet must hurt by now in those heels. I wanted her to disappear back into the limo and re-emerge with some sweat pants and tennis shoes on under her dress. :0) I think women everywhere would applaud if she did! She looked beautiful though.

The other thing I did all day was eat. Something about the cold weather makes me hungry all the time. And I'm not talking hungry for almonds or salad. No sirree, I'm taking cravings for things sweet, spicy, or carb-laden. Donuts ... Nachos ... Chocolate-covered Pretzels ... yep, had all of that today.

All in all it was a good day - hope yours was too. I'm also hoping the snow sticks around long enough to be there in the morning when I stand up, look out, and face the day with prayer. G'night dear friends.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Good morning

Happy Weekend. I'm not traveling this weekend, which is a good thing because baby it's cold outside! Today's high is 33 degrees, which may sound toasty to some of you but to me, a southern beach town dweller, it feels like I woke in Norway this morning.

So I have a huge crock pot of veggie soup cooking. I'm doing laundry just to have any heat the dryer might leak. I'm tucked under a blanket in the recliner, treating the warmth from my laptop like a personal bonfire. And I'm sipping a mug of hot organic Caramel Apple flavor roobios tea while burning my Spice, Spice, Baby soy candle. Spicy scents and flavors make me feel warmer.

I'm sure at least one of you is laughing at what a cold weather wimp I am - probably one of my Alaska or Colorado readers. :) That's OK. I can take a little ribbing. I can even handle a little humiliation. It's cold that I can't deal with. You snow bunnies got any tips for staying warm?

Thanks to those who commented on last Friday's post, sharing their morning routines with me. Several of you talk to God first thing, before ever getting out of bed. I really like that idea, however, as I told you I'm not much of a morning person. The moment my eyes open in the morning, I have to force myself up out of the bed before I roll over, and fall back asleep in 4 seconds flat. (That, by the way, is one of my favorite things in the world to do. Falling back asleep I mean, not forcing myself up.)

So, my alarm clock is now on the other side of the room. And it is set to play a happy smooth jazz tune from one of my CDs as my wake up sound. I wash my face and then quickly head downstairs because the warm bed is like a giant magnet... attracting me ... pulling me ...

If its any season but winter, I can exercise in the morning - and once in a while I do - but in the winter, you can forgettabawtit! I really prefer to work out in the afternoon or evening. In fact, I'm at the gym at 9:00 pm at least once a week ... I am rarely there before 9 am.

Once downstairs, I head to the kitchen. My breakfast most days is a Snapple Green Tea (I like the mango flavor, but will drink the regular) and a Zone Perfect bar (chocolate mint or dark chocolate almond). If I eat most anything else for breakfast - cereal, muffins, etc. - it will only make we want to go back to bed. Which I've already established is something I have to work against.

Here is the new twist I've added to my morning this week. Either before or after my breakfast, I open all the blinds and stand in my big bay widow looking out on the sun-risen day. I drink in whatever is there - sunshine, rain, frost. And this is when I pray. I thank God for this day and tell Him I want to walk through every moment of it with Him. I ask Him for my daily bread and to be my portion for that day. I pray whatever else is on my heart - often for my husband, children, etc. It has become a special moment for me to do it while standing and literally facing the day. When the weather is warmer I plan to walk outside to do this.

Then I read from a devotion book and look up any verses in the day's entry. I know many of you use P31 daily online devotions and love them in your mornings. That's great! However, as senior editor of those devotions, I've already read, fine-tooth-combed, and reread every single one of them before they are posted, so they don't serve well as my morning devotional.

From there it depends on what my day holds - I open my laptop and check my Outlook calendar. I may need to jump in the shower to leave the house for something. If not, I may head to my desk and begin writing or working if I have a morning deadline to meet. I will likely check my email. Else I sit at a table or settle into my chair for more Bible study and reading time.

I like to light a candle and/or put Sunrise Earth on the TV when I do Bible reading - have you seen this show from the Discovery Network? Love it. I now have the DVDs, but it also comes on twice a morning where I live. Its just an hour of the sun rising somewhere beautiful in nature with the natural scenic sounds from the location.

So that's what my mornings tend to look like. Got any good devotional books to recommend to me?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

REST winner

Hey Girls, Kate (aka Jottinmama) has won the drawing! And by the way, when I popped over to her blog to let her know, I cracked up at the story she had posted there :

If you really wanted that book, you can find it at Amazon or your local bookstore. You could also ask Kate if she would share the love and send it to you when she's finished with it ... but I'd advise against that as she's clearly not interested in sharing (see her story). Bless her psycho-pregnant heart! (smiles)

I'm off to one of my weekly meetings, and I'll be back later to tell you about my morning routine as promised.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

What's your Sabbath routine?

I've enjoyed hearing about people's morning routines on my last post, and I'm gathering ideas from you - so please keep them coming. I'm revamping mine, then I'll share it with you later this week. So more to come on that.

Meanwhile, let me ask you, what is your Sabbath routine?

If it's to nag your kids to put on something appropriate, fight with your husband on your way out the door, sit through the church service while you think about where you'll eat lunch, then spend your afternoon running errands, and your evening finishing up household chores you didn't yet complete this week - have I've got a gal to introduce you to! Today I'm welcoming Keri Wyatt Kent to visit and tell us about her new book, Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity.

Keri's book is very practical and looks at how we can move from living hectic, hurried lives, to living lives of Sabbath Simplicity. Keri is also the author of Breathe: Creating Space for God in a Hectic Life - a book that I've long liked and remains on my shelf so I can read back through it every so often. Her new book (Rest) picks up where that one left off—offering life-giving guidance for living a sanely paced, God-focused life.

And she's going to be giving away a copy, so keep reading and then post a comment to enter to win!

Keri, welcome. As you know, I've read both Breathe and Rest, and I love this idea of Sabbath Simplicity. Would you explain what that means?

Sabbath, first and foremost, is a gift from our loving God. He invites us to take a day to rest from our labor, so that we might engage in relationship with him and with others. Its purpose is to refresh us physically and spiritually, to celebrate our freedom, to draw us close to God, and yet to remind us that we are not God.

Sabbath Simplicity is a sanely-paced, God-focused life. It’s a lifestyle that includes the practice of Sabbath-keeping, but goes beyond just taking a day off each week. In a way, it’s living out what Jesus told us to do in Matthew 6:33: Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Sabbath Simplicity seeks God first.

I'll bet some of my bloggy friends (not to mention me sometimes) have Sabbath days like the one I described above. What brought you to make your Sabbaths different?

Sundays in my house when I was growing up were mostly a relaxing family day, even though we didn’t call it Sabbath. But when I had my own family, I found myself getting very busy—not just with kids’ stuff but also getting over-involved at church. I tend to have a work-a-holic approach to life.

When the kids were small, God brought a couple of books that mentioned Sabbath across my path. The idea of Sabbath stirred a longing in my soul, which is one way God speaks to us, through our deep desires. So I started, on my own, to set aside my normal work. It was very gradual, and it took my family a while to even notice.

It’s a mysterious practice, in a way, because to “do” it, you have to stop doing. It is simply resting—and yet it brings you into the presence of God. It’s been a profound part of my spiritual journey. And my children know that Sunday is a peaceful day at our house. They also have learned that I am available to play, to listen, to cuddle. It’s given us a day for quality time, and I think it’s helped me be a better parent. It also silently affirms to my children, you are loved, apart from your accomplishments. It is okay to just be.

Yes, and I think that is something God says to us with His gift of the Sabbath. One thing I really like about your approach to Sabbath-keeping is that you take it seriously, yet make it enjoyable. Tell us how you like to spend your Sabbath day beyond attending church?

It depends on the time of year. In summer, I love being outside: gardening, walking the dog, riding my bike, just sitting on the deck reading. Some weekends, we are at my in-laws lake house, and we go sailing, water skiing, or just spend time with extended family.

In winter, my best Sundays include a walk or a workout, and then some time on the couch, drinking coffee and reading (The Sunday tribune or a good book), with a fire in the fireplace and Mozart on the stereo. If I feel creative, I might cook but I always plan ahead enough to have leftovers available for dinner.

Mmmm, sounds so inviting! How can we get to that place of Sabbath Simplicity in our own lives?

The first step is to assess the current pace of your life—what activities have you and the people you live with said yes too. How hurried are you? You can’t figure out your next step, really, until you know where you are starting from. You may have to get very concrete and write down your schedule and look at it. Because your activity level during the week is going to affect your Sabbath.

Second, choose a day that you will keep Sabbath. I recommend Saturday or Sunday, but if you must work on those days, pick a different day. I recommend going from sunset to sunset. The Old Testament Sabbath was from sunset on the 6th day of the week to sunset on the 7th day—although as I explain in detail in the book, their ancient calendars were different from ours.

Third, choose one thing to refrain from, and one thing to engage in. For example, refrain from housework or running errands, and engage instead in reading a spiritually challenging book, or playing with your kids. Start with small steps, and think about building your Sabbath Simplicity life a little at a time, gradually. After a few weeks, add another thing you will refrain from, and another thing you’ll engage in. Pray and listen, let God shape your Sabbath practice. Make your relationship with him the focus. Allow yourself flexibility.

That sounds like a sensible approach to me - although I admit when I read your books I get motivated to dive right into Sabbath-keeping! Keri, I imagine some people may be wondering, "Didn’t Jesus set us free from the law? If so, do we even have to practice Sabbath at all?" What did Jesus say about the Sabbath?

By that argument, it would be okay to kill because we are free from the law. What Jesus set us free from is being saved or in right relationship with God through the law. We’re saved by grace, not by law keeping. So we won’t be saved by Sabbath-keeping, but it is still how God invites us to live.

The ancient Jewish Sabbath had very strict boundaries, but within those boundaries, there was freedom and relationship. The Torah and traditions prohibited what was known as melachah, work that is creative or exercises dominion over your environment. There were 39 specific prohibited tasks, such as reaping, lighting a fire, etc., that correlated to the 39 tasks needed to build the temple.

Jesus, Lord of the Sabbath, gave us a new way of following the ancient law. Jesus reminded us that the law was originally meant to invite us into relationship with God. While the Bible makes it clear that we are saved by grace, and not by the law, God’s law still remains a great way to live—as long as we don’t get legalistic or think keeping certain rules will save us.

Sabbath is important for many reasons, which I cover in the book. But here’s just one key reason: it allows us to experience the unconditional love of God in a physical, tangible way. It’s one thing to say he loves us even when we are not accomplishing or performing. But if we never actually stop performing, how can we experience that unconditional love? It allows us to say yes, with our bodies and our schedules, to Jesus' invitation in Matthew 11:28: “Come to me, you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Sabbath is not so much something you “do” as a gift you receive.

I have a whole chapter in the book that talks about what Jesus said about Sabbath. Researching that chapter was very interesting. I noticed that Jesus often taught by saying “you’ve heard it said…but I say.” For example, he’d say, “you’ve heard it said, don’t commit adultery, but I say, if you look at a woman with lust, you’ve already committed adultery.” But he didn’t use that particular style of teaching regarding Sabbath. But the thing he seemed to get in trouble with the Pharisees and teachers of the law for most was breaking their Sabbath rules. I think that in breaking those rules, he was saying to them, “you’ve heard it said…but I say” with his actions.

He healed on Sabbath, restored relationships, taught and confronted, and defended those choices vigorously. He called us to a new understanding of Sabbath—and clearly stated that legalism is not his way.

I know there are lots of ideas in the book, and I know you've said that you never legislate Sabbath for anyone else in your home, but will you give us -- particularly those of us with families to manage -- a few tips for working this Sabbath Simplicity into our lifestyle?

Substitute whole family activities for individual activities. Going for a bike ride or walk together, attending church, serving in your church or community together—these are ways to keep kids active but not running in different directions. It builds your family’s cohesiveness.

Do the housework together with your family the day before Sabbath to get ready. The day is more restful if the house is clean.

One Jewish tradition is a family meal, which begins with lighting candles, prayer and saying a blessing over your children. Kids love rituals, and prayers of blessing can re-align our hearts.

Some families have a box of toys that only comes out on Sabbath, so that they are special. I have an entire chapter on “playing” which I think is a very important part of Sabbath with small children.

Don’t run errands on Sunday. It’s a nightmare with little kids in tow anyway. Do it another day, and save Sunday for just relaxing with your family. I have very specific suggestions on how to do this in my book.

Thank you, Keri, for calling us to a new understanding of Sabbath. There is lots more great ideas and teaching in the book. Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity provides practical ways to slow down and simplify. It offers the gift of Sabbath, as a lifestyle and a spiritual practice.

Now, if you’d like to be included in a drawing for a free copy of Rest, leave a comment or question below. If you leave a question, Keri will be glad to try to answer it. We’ll select a winner on Wednesday evening (EST).

Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity is available at bookstores everywhere, and on-line. Click here to purchase it from or For more information about Keri Wyatt Kent, visit her website at or

Friday, January 9, 2009

What's your AM routine?

It's said breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I'm coming to believe - and I'm a certified night person - that morning is the most important time of the day. It sets the tone for how I move forward, and what I'm like as I do.

(If my husband is reading this, he just fell out of his chair, no doubt.)

Lots of people start their day with coffee or a shower, and many do morning devotions. But I want to hear how you start your day. Give me specifics. What says, "GOOD morning" to you? What helps you move into your day well? What is your mental/emotional/spiritual breakfast? Do you do things in a specific order? Do you pray a certain prayer each morning? Got a favorite morning devotional book? Do you exercise in the morning, or write out a plan for the day? What helps you shake off the sleep-fog and wake up to life - here today to be fully lived?

Inquiring minds want to know ...

What's your morning routine??

Monday, January 5, 2009

Fresh starts

Happy 2009!

The new year is here, and that indeed makes me a very happy girl.

Two times of the year I simply adore are early January (new years) and early August (back to school - I work in academia and have school age kids). I love them because they feel like a fresh, new start. I believe strongly in fresh, new starts. So does God, by the way.

I get totally jazzed buying new notebooks in August, or virgin-paged journals in January. I get excited as I choose the planners or storage containers which hold for me that sweet promise of more clarity and organization. I revamp my schedule. I deep clean my house. And I look forward eagerly to what God has in store for me in the months ahead.

(This is not my desk, by the way, but one that motivates me to go clean mine.)

Yes, yes, I know I will fail to some degree. I know I won't get every single nook and cranny cleaned and organized. I know I won't follow through 100% with all my new check-lists and schedules. But that's totally OK. I wouldn't dream of not doing it because I know it won't last perfectly. I need the motivation I feel now to get done what it will help me to get done. Besides, I enjoy the giddiness I feel at the prospect of making some improvements and changes.

The way I see it is, if I plan to walk a mile, and only make it half way - well that's a half mile more than I would've walked had I not been motivated enough to get off the couch.
So, are you like me and jazzed about the new year? What do you do to prepare for it? What are you doing to capitalize on this fresh new start?

Or are you the bah-humbug type, rolling your eyes at me through out this post? If you are, that's OK by me ... but then again, now is a great time to make a change to that attitude! ;0)

New Year's Blessings ~ Rachel