Tag Archives: family

Be Inspired! Conversation with Julia Roller (part 2)

Be inspired! I’m excited to launch a special focus in June featuring interviews with Christian women whose stories, thoughts, ideas, and choices inspire me—and will inspire you—to love more deeply, to seek God more passionately, and to live more abundantly.

be inspired
To kick things off, we’re continuing the conversation with Julia Roller about motherhood and the spiritual life. (Click here to read part 1 – you’ll love it!). Julia’s new book Mom Seeks God honestly depicts the ups and downs—and the hidden beauties—of her journey as a mom toward experiencing God in new and different ways.

At the end of this post, read how you can easily enter a drawing to win a free signed copy of Mom Seeks God as well as a free, signed copy of my Bible study guide Awaken Your Soul!

Here’s part 2 of our conversation.

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Your book Mom Seeks God chronicles your experiences with different spiritual disciplines & practices and how they fit (or sometimes don’t) with the reality of motherhood. How has your faith-life (practices, etc.) grown and changed as a result of being a mom? What practices or disciplines seem to “work” best for you in this stage of life?

Julia Roller lowres

My faith life has changed in many ways, most of them for the better. I find that I see God more easily these days, in my children as they grow and learn, in my husband, in those around me. I feel less pressure to get everything right and more of a feeling of confidence that God can make beautiful things out of my broken and imperfect efforts.

 

The disciplines that are most dear to me right now are some of the disciplines of abstinence (of taking away rather than adding): simplicity, silence, fasting (from all kinds of things in addition to food). One of the overall things I realized after that year was that I was trying so hard to DO MORE. In order to be a better parent, to be a stronger Christian, I thought I had to add more stuff to my list—more activities, more books, more prayer, more time. No wonder I felt so exhausted all the time!

It surprised me how much I benefited from and felt close to God through the disciplines that involved doing less. As I was able to turn things off (in the practice of silence), give something up in order to increase my focus on God (fasting) and try to do one thing at a time (simplicity), I found that I was able to open up some space in my life to slow down and listen for God’s voice.

Mom Seeks God jacketWhat practices or disciplines might you recommend for other moms to try–especially those who may be new to the idea of spiritual disciplines?

Prayer is always a great place to begin. I think we often put prayer off—to a time when we have more time, when we have quiet, when we can really focus. For moms, that time may never come! I am a big fan of praying short prayers in the moment. When I tell someone I’m going to pray for them, I do it right then. When I find myself in a moment of frustration or anger, I try to take time out to pray right then. This gets easier with practice. I also encourage moms to look for that time of day that can be the best time for them to have a consistent daily time with God. For me it’s at night before bedtime; I know for many other moms, the early morning works best. I love the idea of coming before God when I am at my best and since I am a night owl, for me that time is at night, when I can reflect on my day and look forward to the next one.
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A Blessed Collision — Mom Seeks God (part 1)

Friends, to wrap up our “Be Mom” focus in May and to launch into our “Be Inspired” series for June, I’m excited to introduce you to my friend Julia Roller. She’s recently written a great new book looking at two of my very favorite topics: that blessed collision between motherhood and spiritual disciples. It’s called Mom Seeks God. Join me for a two-part conversation with Julia about the spiritual side of motherhood.

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Julia, can you tell my readers a bit about yourself?

Julia Roller lowresMy husband, Ryan and I have two boys, ages 4 and 7, and live in San Diego, where we are often busy driving to (seemingly) every soccer and baseball practice and game in town. I love reading so much that I do it while I’m cooking (which is probably why I almost invariably burn the garlic bread). I often wish I were more crafty, but alas, I use Pinterest mainly to find quotes about reading and new ways to trick my children into eating vegetables.

I love the title of your new book, Mom Seeks God, because it sort of describes my everyday life. Can you tell readers more about your book? What motivated you to write it?

You receive a lot of warnings about life after becoming a mom—you’ll be so tired, so covered in spit-up that you won’t even care that you may never lose the baby weight, etc.—but no one ever warned me that becoming a mom might lead to a time of spiritual dryness. As much as the incredible love I felt for my new baby taught me about the inexhaustible nature of God’s love for us, I also struggled to feel connected with God after becoming a mom because my new life seemed to leave little time for prayer and Bible study the way I had practiced it before. Mom Seeks God is the story of my journey to figure out how to reconnect with God in the middle of the busy life of a mom with small children.Mom Seeks God jacket

Yes, I totally get that. The same experiences led me to write a book too! Like you, initially, as a new mom, I found my spiritual desires sort of colliding with the reality of motherhood. The practices I wanted to do didn’t seem to fit with my reality. What are some of the specific struggles or spiritual challenges you faced as a new mom? Continue reading

Be Mom Series

Mom! Mom! MOM!!!!!!!!!!!

This is a sound I often hear. Let me be honest: My gut-instinct response is often irritation  because whoever is yelling my name is probably in trouble (danger), creating trouble (messes, experiments, etc.) , or is about to get in trouble (for summoning me as if I were a maid or butler).

But the truth is, I’m deeply grateful to have this moniker. And, behind all the exhaustion and stress and work and irritation of motherhood, I need this reminder of my gratitude. This job, this privilege, this name is a blessing.

be mom seriesAnd so, this month, I’m excited to invite you to join me for a new series: be mom.

We’ll look together at how we can be more proactive as parents in taking on this great privilege of momhood.

We’ll consider how parenting both challenges and enriches our spiritual lives.

We’ll think about how we have the power to foster an environment within our homes that can profoundly shape our kids and strengthen our relationships.

AND we’ll have fun sharing great, creative ideas.

Join me . . . be mom.

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An important caveat. I hesitated in choosing this topic because I know some of you, dear readers, are not mothers. You may, in fact, long to be a mom — and this may be a painful topic for you. So please know that you, too, are welcome in this conversation. You, too, are a mother to the younger people you know and love — nieces, nephews, students, neighbor kids. I hope that this series still feels welcoming and inviting to you — a place where you can engage with ideas and find encouragement. 

While the theme this month is on motherhood, the broader focus of this blog is spiritual encouragement for all readers. We are each more than the roles and labels that attempt to define us. My hope is that we all can find nourishment here as we each, on our own journey, draw closer to being — being ourselves, being with God, being true and whole and loved.

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For the Kids: Never, Ever Alone

My book Faith-Filled Moments is a collection of all sorts of ways parents can use games, recipes, outdoor experiences, crafts, science experiments, and more to help your child connect with God and love him more.

Faith-Filled.Moments.coverSo in the spirit of our theme be presentI want to share an idea you can do with your kids that’s similar to the activities in Faith-Filled Moments. (If you like this, you’ll love the 80+ unique moments that you’ll only find in the book!)

Never, Ever Alone

Use the card game Old Maid to help your child understand that she always has a partner in life: God.

Supplies: children’s deck of Old Maid playing cards

Experience

The classic card game Old Maid can be played by kids as young as 3 or 4 years old…and it’s lots of fun! The basic idea of the game is to find a matching partner for each of your cards; there will always be one card left over at the end of the game—the Old Maid—and she doesn’t have a partner. (See the printed rules on your card deck for specific play instructions.)

Connection

In this game, each card has a partner, but the Old Maid is left alone. A very simple an obvious spiritual point can be made using this game: We are never like the Old Maid…we are never, ever alone! Share with your children the crucial truth that, when we have a relationship with Jesus, he is always with us. We are never alone in life; we always have a partner. You might say something like, “Even during times when you may feel lonely, you actually aren’t alone. God is with you!” You may want to share Jesus’ promise in Matthew 28:20, “Surely I am with you always.”

Also, take the opportunity to make this real to your child by calling attention to the present moment. Continue reading

Surprise! God is present.

Awhile back, I got to do an interview with pastor and author Adele Calhoun for Today’s Christian Woman. My conversation with her was so personally encouraging, and one thing she said really stuck with me: “Consider the biblical story itself and the wide variety of ways people experienced God and got to know God: Abram heard God’s voice, Jacob dreamed of angels ascending and descending, Moses saw a burning bush, Balaam heard God speak through a donkey, Samson felt God’s strength, Elijah heard God in a whisper on a mountain, Isaiah saw God high and lifted up, Daniel had dreams, Mary talked with an angel, and on and on. The Bible itself is a catalogue of people’s diverse and unique experiences with God.”

paintbrushesHow do you experience God and connect with God’s presence? What does it uniquely look like for you to be present with God?

Clearly, Bible study is a critical way to come to know and understand God and who God is. This is the starting place. We also connect with God emotionally, spiritually, and even intellectually in practices like prayer and worship. These are the “essential vitamins,” per se, of the Christian life.

But there are also some ways we can be present with God that surprise us. For example, we can connect with God through creative expression—art, poetry, music, and even casual doodling can be intentionally transformed into a Christ-centered experience as we ponder the beauty of God’s world or mull over truths in awareness of God’s presence with us. Continue reading

22 Ways to Be (a Little More) Present

Be present.

What can this actually look like? How can we be more present to God (who is always, ever present with us)? How can we, in general, be present to our lives—to our experiences, to our loved ones, to our work and our world?

Here’s a list of 22 ideas, but a big, giant caveat on such lists: No one person can do all of these things at once! And I’m not suggesting that you do – because I certainly don’t (and can’t). Peruse a list like this with your soul listening to the Holy Spirit. What one thing might you want to focus on? Or what new idea springs to your mind as you consider this? Go with it.

paints Live a little more.

• Make it a goal to laugh more today! Laugh and smile with someone you love.

• Pause from busyness to enjoy beauty: nature, music, art, ideas. Just 5 minutes can transform your mindset for the rest of the day.

• Immerse yourself in a creative endeavor: Cook a meal with gusto, write a letter to a friend (on actual paper), scrawl out a drawing, sing your heart out in the shower.

• Enjoy your work. Value the tasks or employment God has put on your plate today, be it housework, office work, or whatever. Find meaning it in – sacredness – and find joy in utilizing your skills and efforts to get a job well done.

• Move a little more. Get that heart pumping. Use that body God has given you. Exercise (and try to enjoy it).

• Pause to be grateful for your life. Say thank you. Say it again. And again.

Love a little more. Continue reading

10 Little Ways to Wake Up

Pray more. Worship more. Read Scripture more. Yeah . . . you got those. These are often the spiritual “prescription” we receive when we know our spirit needs a boost. And these are right on. These are essential vitamins we need for our souls’  well-being! But in addition to these basics, God invites us into something other than just “do more” . . . than just a to-do list that always says you aren’t doing enough. Here are 10 little ways you can wake up your soul . . . peruse, pick 1 or 2, let your mind wander to pick your own.R U Awake

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1. Take 5 minutes to list (or speak aloud) things you’re grateful for. Praise God for them all!

2. Hug or kiss someone you really love. Consider how this human relationship provides a glimpse into intimacy with God.

 3. Hunt for nature’s beauties. God is the very essence of beauty! (Too cold outside? Look out your window with a mission to notice beauties you often over look. Or peruse online nature images instead.)

 4. Laugh out loud. Dwell in some delightful or silly memories or watch a funny movie. God is the ultimate source of joy . . . our own chuckles remind us of a deeper joy we experience in God.

 5.  Continue reading

Christmas Break . . .

red berriesAhhh… it’s Christmas. Yes, it is STILL Christmas… the whole 12 days of celebration!

If you’ve got kids (or grandkids), check out (or share) this FREE article I wrote for Today’s Christian Woman: a Christmas Break Survival Guide.

And pause to consider . . . what are your New Year’s resolutions? How will 2014 be a year of spiritual growth for you? Check back in here during January for encouragement to revitalize your spiritual walk.

Oh, the Joy!

Advent — our season of awaiting — is drawing to a close. This is the week of the joy, of the celebration, of the coming of our Lord.

color lightsOf light peeping through, shining in, blazing forth.

The illumination that helps us see.

That helps us see rightly our world, our selves, our hope.

Take a moment to breathe deeply and contemplate the beautiful truth of the Incarnation. Consider this rendering from The Message:

The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;
 
the darkness couldn’t put it out.
 
. . . The Life-Light was the real thing:
 
Every person entering Life
 
he brings into Light.
 
He was in the world,
 
the world was there through him,
 
and yet the world didn’t even notice.
 
He came to his own people,
 
but they didn’t want him.
 
But whoever did want him,
 
who believed he was who he claimed
 
and would do what he said,
 
He made to be their true selves,
 
their child-of-God selves.
 
. . . The Word became flesh and blood,
 
and moved into the neighborhood.
 
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
 
the one-of-a-kind glory,
 
like Father, like Son,
 
Generous inside and out,
 
true from start to finish.
 (John 1:5, 9-13)
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The Christmas Gospel (Go After It!)

Last year I had the great privilege of interviewing author and professor Patty Kirk about her great Advent/Christmas book. Here we revisit our conversation — I’m sure it will encourage you as much as it blessed me!

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(From December 2012)

One extra-special part of Advent for me is the reading: The time I return to well-worn favorite books that come out just this time of year, such as Madeleine L’Engle’s books, poems, and Christmas stories or Walter Wangerin Jr.’s  Preparing For Jesus. I’m especially excited this year because I have a NEW Advent book to dwell in: The Gospel of Christmas by Patty Kirk (InterVarsity Press). Patty, a professor and author, was gracious enough to share her thoughts about Advent with me and with you, my readers.

Patty, welcome! Please tell my readers a bit about yourself.

PattyKirkI grew up believing in God but lost track of him in my teens -— along with most other comforting certainties — and spent the next decades roaming the world seeking I didn’t know what. I made an unhappy atheist, envious of those I encountered who somehow managed not only to believe in but to depend on the promises of an invisible, inaudible, intangible being. Eventually, I regained a sense of God’s existence and attention, but the one thing that connects my believing years — as a child and later in adulthood — with those intervening years of atheism was the excitement and, paradoxically, the longing that filled me during the Christmas season. Ever since my return to faith, I have written out of this longing every Advent, and this book is what I wrote.

Our culture is so Christmas-consumerism-crazy right now, that it can be difficult to create space in our lives — and in our hearts — for Advent. Are there spiritual practices, traditions, or habits that help you foster the Advent spirit in your life during this often hectic season?

gospel of christmasSo, for me, Advent means that period of longing and excitement that overcomes us at Christmas. The longing for something more, yes -— for meaning or certainty or quiet or, as you say, “space” in our lives and hearts for God.

But Advent is also that very hectic jolliness: the gathering of families, children’s eagerness for presents, the shopping and card-writing and tree-decking and worrying we won’t get it all done, what I like to call the jingle-belling of the Christmas season. During Advent, I consciously re-visit my old sad longing for the Bible’s promises to be true and simultaneously latch onto the hectic celebration of those promises’ fulfillment. Continue reading