Do you ever look at your 1,000-page Bible and think, “Where do I even start?”
We know we’re supposed to study God’s Word, but it’s easy to get bogged down with all the different Bible study methods. Should you do a verse-by-verse study, a character study or study inductively? You could read an Old Testament passage, New Testament passage and a Psalm a day, or there’s always the option to read a chapter of Proverbs everyday.
So many choices leave a girl feeling exhausted before you even crack open the book.
How to maximize your quiet time
I’ve discovered a simple way to de-clutter quiet time: read a chapter a day and pray.
When you maximize your quiet time by minimizing, here’s what happens:
- your focus improves since you’re digesting smaller chunks of scripture
- you retain what you read
- you slow your tempo enough to enjoy God’s word
I was a bit skeptical of the read-a-chapter-a-day-and-pray idea. Do less, learn more? That’s just crazy talk!
But friends, this is exactly what is happening. I added a commentary reading to my quiet time, and would encourage you to do the same, because it’s helped open my eyes to the depth of God’s word.
Listen, if you watch reality TV, flip to the Old Testament instead. I’m reading the book of 1 Samuel and there is intrigue, scandal, suspense, love stories and even a heroine in one account (check out 1 Samuel 25). The reading is so good I’ve had to force myself to stop reading in order to stick to focusing on one chapter a day!
How simplicity leads to depth
When we simplify like this, it clears away the clutter of too many options … and the guilt of avoiding quiet time. We can commit to spending time with God daily because we have a doable plan. Simplicity actually leads to depth.
So, here’s what I want you to do:
– Pick one book of the Bible you’d like to read and commit to making it through that one book by reading one chapter a day.
– After you read, spend time talking to God in prayer and listening.
– As you read, consider these questions:
- What do I learn about God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit through this chapter?
- What is the major theme or takeaway from this chapter?
- How does this chapter contribute to the overall teaching of this book of the Bible?
- What is God trying to teach me through this chapter?
You can do this!
Maximize by minimizing, and you’ll consistently spend time with God.
Kate Hollimon delights in helping women learn their God-given purpose while growing in Christ through the study of scripture. Kate is a speaker and blogger who designed the Live Your Purpose Workshop Live Your Purpose Workshop to help women discover their purpose to glorify God. Kate is married to her husband Matthew of seven years and together they have two kiddos, a boy and a girl, and are in the thick of sippy cups, potty training, temper tantrums and peanut butter and jellies. You can connect with Kate at www.katehollimon.com.
Have you ever been frozen in indecision, wondering what to do next?
Me too. There are so many demand on us, it becomes harder and harder to stay true to our priorities. Sometimes it’s even hard to identify our priorities.
Maybe you ask yourself, what does God really want me to do? Especially when there are so many important needs out there.
If you can relate to that question, you’re not alone. There’s been a shift in society that’s silently affecting our ability to identify what’s most important. As I’ve traced this issue back a few years, the confusion seems to have started with email and accelerated with our cell phones.
Let me back up, and try to explain.
The growing competition on our priorities
Growing up, my family had a house phone. Just one. And it was connected to the wall with a cord. There was no call-waiting beep or answering machine. And of course, no email or texting. So if you wanted to reach me, you kept calling until you got through. Or maybe head to my house and actually knock on my door. Quite frustrating when “someone” spent hours talking to a friend!
Basically, the burden to communicate was on the person with the message to share.
Today the responsibility to communicate has shifted. No longer is it your burden to reach me; all you do is type-type-type a message, hit send and all the responsibility floats through cyberspace and lands firmly on me.
Multiply this by every which way people can reach me, and before I even wake up, I’m behind.
Starting out behind
This shift has silently affected all of us. A typical day starts with checking some sort of communication device to see who might have emailed, posted or texted. Then, before we begin to handle what’s most important to us, our day begins by responding to what’s most important to others.
Without a concerted effort to stop this pull, we are drawn into the day’s rushing current like a tiny raft on a whitewater river. And rather than being proactive, our days are spent in reactive mode.
Sound familiar? If so, you’ve probably also experienced the too-long to-do list that comes with it. After we’ve given the best of our time and energy to others, there’s little left to address God’s priorities for us. Consequently we put-off, delay and procrastinate our priorities.
After years of shortchanging myself and my family, and often dishonoring God, I realized I had things upside down! Things that mattered least replaced things that mattered most in my schedule. And work that would make the greatest impact on my life often fell to the bottom of my lists, then transferred to the next list until I either completed it with a fraction of my ability or abandoned it entirely.
Sometimes it’s nearly impossible to figure out our best work. It sounds so easy to say, “Identify your priorities, and do those first.” However, when we face multiple demands we can often feel helpless. And helplessness can lead us to escape, avoid or try and numb.
Pressing pause and reevaluating priorities
When those feelings start to overtake me and I don’t know what to do, rather than make a self-defeating choice, it’s time to press pause. Sometimes, the best thing to do is nothing … except seek direction and wisdom from the One who knows what our best is.
Given the chance, others will set our priorities for us. Yet God specifically has a calling for each of us that will only come from Him. To discern this, we need wisdom. Without God’s wisdom, we make decisions on facts and feelings. And the fact that I have 100 emails to answer and feel overwhelmed does not mean it’s wise to do so now.
To find wisdom, I need to silence the demands of many, to hear the commands of One.
God is faithful, and His Word promises we can receive wisdom. In fact, it’s a gift from God.
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5)
As my life becomes more interconnected with others, my priorities are harder to identify. There will always be new demands rising to the tops of my to-do list, giving me reasons to delay tackling my own priorities.
There is hope. When we take our tiny raft out of the raging river, and sit on the banks with our Heavenly Father, He will give us wisdom for what to do next. Sometimes it’s answering an email, but it might be something else He has planned for today.
Glynnis Whitwer is a wife, mother of five young adults and executive director of communications for Proverbs 31 Ministries. Her latest book, Taming the To-Do List: How to Choose Your Best Work Every Day, is available through Proverbs 31 Ministries or wherever books are sold. Her next book releases July 4, 2017, and is called Doing Busy Better. Pre-order here. You can connect with Glynnis on her website: GlynnisWhitwer.com.
Right now, I’m experiencing the post Easter hangover that so many of us, with less than perfect families, are experiencing.
• I spent way too much money on Easter baskets no one in my family really liked. (I was tempted to ask them for the candy back, but I resisted.)
• The NINE DOLLARS worth of strawberries I bought on Thursday were rotted when I went to cut them on Sunday.
• When we texted our second oldest “Where are you?” to find out where he was for our 1:00 lunch, his response? “For what?”
Maybe you had some of your own crazy going on:
• Your kids didn’t say thank you for the toys your in-laws brought over.
• You cooked all day Saturday and half of Sunday, and someone had the nerve to ask you why there wasn’t any artichoke dip.
• Your brother got drunk and obnoxious. At EASTER.
If your Easter didn’t go according to plan, let me just remind you of this:
New life isn’t just about eternity. It’s about Mondays too.
Luke 1:78 “A new day will dawn on us from above because our God is loving and merciful.” GWT
We don’t have to leave the new life in God until next Easter. We get to celebrate each and every new day, each and every day.
God loves a do-over.
Go into today with new hope for what God can do.
Go into today forgetting the perfect Easter that every other family had (and by the way, stick with the friends who share about their kids saying a “grown-up word” when there was nothing in their little orange plastic egg. Those are the friends you need for a lifetime.)
Go into today knowing what we celebrated yesterday: a Christ that cherishes you enough to give you everything he had so he could be in relationship with you forever.
What comes to mind when you hear the phrase Scripture memorization? I used to associate that with “Super Christians.”
I’d look at my friends who regularly memorize God’s Word and think:
I’ll never be able to do that.
I’m just not disciplined enough.
I can barely remember my important phone numbers.
I’ll just stick to prayer. I can do that one.
Do any of these thoughts sound familiar? You’re not alone.
A few years ago, motivated by anxiety and desperate reliance on the Lord, I finally gave scripture memorization try. Let me tell you — memorizing Scripture has transformed my spiritual life and relationship with the Lord! I learned by trial and error, but once I settled into a grove, I realized that Scripture memorization was all about a simple three-step process:
1. Choose a line or passage that is MEANINGFUL TO YOU.
Why is it so natural for us to memorize our favorite songs? Because something in the lyrics resonates with us. If you turn on the radio and try to memorize the first song you hear, you’ll probably struggle. In the same way, it will be difficult to memorize a random piece of Scripture. All of God’s Word is precious, but choosing a piece of Scripture that sticks out to you will be most effective for memorizing.
During this difficult season in my life, I found comfort in Psalm 23, so that was the piece I chose to memorize.
2. Write it down with pen and paper.
Okay, call me old school, but there is research behind memory and the physical act of writing something down in your own handwriting. It really does help with the memorization process!
3. Recite chunks of your handwritten passage out loud to yourself.
The key here is repetition and speaking out loud. Again, there is research about memorization and auditory recitation. You only need 5 minutes before bed to recite your passage. Add a little more each night until you’ve memorized the entire scripture, including the reference.
I’m convinced that after your first successful memorization you’ll be hooked! You’ll see that despite the message of the little voice inside your head, you CAN memorize scripture, and you’ll reap the benefits of hiding God’s word in your heart, as it influences your every day life.
Pick a passage that resonates with you and start memorizing tonight!
“You word is a lamp upon my feet, a light on my path.” Psalm 119:105
Kelsee Keitel is a graduate student, writer and speaker, living in Indianapolis, IN, with her newlywed husband. She is passionate about cultivating sisterhood through vulnerability and introducing young women to the freedom and abundance of life in following Christ. When Kelsee is not snuggled up with a book and sipping tea, she can be found experimenting in the kitchen or chatting with her mom.
You can read more about Kelsee’s ministry, Detangled&Free, over at kelseekeitel.com or connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.
I have an overwhelmed heart. It’s not because my calendar is crammed full of responsibilities, social gatherings or obligations though.
I’m overwhelmed with the mundane.
• Overwhelmed with two toddlers who need my attention for what feels like every minute of the day.
• Overwhelmed that the moment all the laundry gets folded and put away it’s time to start all over.
• Overwhelmed by the dishes that never seem to be done. The day-in-and-day-out responsibilities never end.
And it makes me weary.
This is a unique sense of being overwhelmed, one less talked about. But it is a reality for all.
Sometimes I feel guilty for feeling undone by the mundane. I mean, mundane is better than a crisis, right? Of course. Yes.
But our feelings – of being overwhelmed from the day-to-day grind – are still valid. It’s real and a daily struggle for many of us. So what do we do with our beat-down hearts?
Undone by the mundane
We engage our minds to bolster our hearts.
Philippians 4:8 tells us to think on things that are true, lovely, excellent and praiseworthy. So, what if in the middle of unloading the dishwasher for the umpteenth time this week, we think about what is praiseworthy about getting to unload a full dishwasher?
For example, as I’m putting away dishes, I praise Jesus for the simple fact that I have dishes to put away. Also, a dishwasher full of dishes is an indication that we ate well that week and no one is hungry.
Or when I’m folding my kids’ laundry that only seems to multiply, I think about what’s lovely about all of those clothes. My kids have never been in want for clothes that fit. They have warm clothes when it’s cold and cool clothes when it’s hot.
Shifting our mind to think on these things places a new song in our heart. It’s one of gratitude, awareness and renewal. In doing so, gradually the mundane begins to melt away, and you feel overwhelmed in a completely new way. You’re overwhelmed with thankfulness.
This isn’t an easy practice to start, I know. It’s hard when our hearts are tired. But it is worth it, friend!
Pick one mundane activity this week, something you despise even and consider Philippians 4:8 in light of that activity. How can you turn your mind toward things that are true and pure about that activity to bolster your heart?
Try it for one week with one activity, and I promise you will see change in your mundane.
(As for me, I have linens to move from the washer to the dryer. I’m choosing to think about how wonderful it is to have fresh-smelling bed sheets.)
One Small Win: Identify one activity this week you dread and begin thinking about what is pure, lovely or admirable about that activity. Then, pay attention to how God begins changing your heart toward that mundane act!
Kate Hollimon delights in helping women learn their God-given purpose while growing in Christ through the study of scripture. Kate is a speaker and blogger who designed the Live Your Purpose Workshop Live Your Purpose Workshop to help women discover their purpose to glorify God. Kate is married to her husband Matthew of seven years and together they have two kiddos – a boy and a girl – and are in the thick of sippy cups, potty training, temper tantrums and peanut butter and jellies. You can connect with Kate at www.katehollimon.com.
We all struggle with identity—who we are, why we are, and what we have to offer. About the time we start to feel good about ourselves, something happens to leave us fully aware of what we lack. A harsh word. A wounded relationship. A mistake, misstep or failure. Then, in spite of our best efforts to get over it and move on, we end up ‘hoarding’ people and stuff at an effort to make ourselves feel more secure.
When it comes to this epidemic of misplaced identity, few people have earned the right to be heard like my friend Michele Cushatt. Michele knows what it’s like to lose her footing and wonder who she is. But she also know what it’s like to push through the darkness, to cry out to God for mercy, and to discover the miracle of a God who delivers exactly what she needs most of all.
I’m a hoarder. Not in the sense of the reality television show, thank heavens. I can’t watch that horror for even five minutes without developing hives.
No, you will not find piles of junk or garbage or trinkets clogging my house from floor to ceiling. I’m quite the opposite. A neat freak to the core. I like it that way.
But when it comes to food, I tend to stockpile. Perhaps it’s because I’m a foodie at heart. Or maybe it has something to do with the fact that I am the primary chef for a large and chronically hungry family. That means planning and preparing meals takes up a large chunk of each day. Not to mention multiple two-shopping-cart trips to the grocery store.
Helloooooooo, second mortgage.
Or maybe my food hoarding has nothing to do with those things at all. Perhaps, at root, it’s more about fear.
When it comes to food, I like the safety of stocking up. Not that I eat it; I simply need it nearby. Just in case. This urge to guard against hunger only increased after multiple surgeries that compromised my ability to eat normally. I’m afraid of starving without the resources to be fed. Feeding tubes and no food by mouth for months at a time will do that to a girl.
My chronic hunger goes beyond food, however. There’s a soul hunger I find myself equally compulsive to satisfy.
A hunger for approval from those I love.
A longing for meaningful relationships.
A need to know I’m doing a good job and pleasing those I most respect.
A desire for my life to count and to capture the attention of the Creator.
Although the cure for this hunger may not be as obvious as grocery store runs and cooking marathons, the fallout can be far more dangerous.
John 4 tells of a woman who understood starvation of the soul. A Samaritan with a sordid history, she met the Savior one day while drawing water from the community well. What began as a daily chore turned into a life-changing encounter.
“Will you give me a drink?” This was the first thing Jesus said to the woman (John 4:7).
She hesitated, confused by His crossing of gender and racial barriers by speaking to her. He was a Jew, she a Samaritan. Two cultures that mixed as well as oil and water. And yet He had spoken to her, had asked her for a drink. She questioned why:
“You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (v. 9).
He responded in riddle, encouraging her to think beyond the physical well and physical water:
“If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water . . . Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:10, 13–14).
His riddle must have perplexed her as it perplexes me. Living water? Water that never needs to be replenished? Thirst that never comes back? That’s quite a promise.
And yet promise it He did. According to John, the woman had five husbands and was living with a man she wasn’t married to. We don’t know much about her story, but it’s safe to assume she’d been “hoarding” relationships because her heart was desperate to be fed.
I don’t have a history of five husbands, but I know what it’s like to find my filling in lesser places. In my hunger of heart and soul, I’ve been known to compromise what is right and good to find a scrap of attention I desperately needed. The problem is the things I thought would satisfy made me even thirstier than before.
Have you ever been there? Do you know the desperation that can lead you to find satisfaction in a temporary well? And it’s not always other people that pull us from the living water. At times it’s money. Or food. Or success. Or awards. Or the next promotion. Or the drive to be perfect.
We’ve become experts at quenching our thirst with lesser loves. But like addicts who always need a bigger hit, we find nothing ever satisfies.
We need a different kind of well with a different kind of water.
And, thank the Lord in heaven, we have one.
He offers to quench our every thirst and feed our hungry souls, day after day. He is not turned off by our need, nor annoyed by our regular walks to the well of His presence. He knows before we do exactly what our souls crave.
And He promises to dish out a feast that can’t possibly compare to any other fare.
Pulling from her experiences of raising children from trauma, a personal life-threatening illness, and the devastating identity crises that came to her family as a result, Michele creates safe spaces for honest conversations around the tensions between real faith and real life.
The words of Michele’s most recent book—I Am: A 60-day Journey to Knowing Who You Are Because of Who He Is—were penned during her long and grueling recovery from a third diagnosis of cancer during which she was permanently altered physically, emotionally and spiritually. In it, she speaks with raw honesty and hard-earned insight about our current identity epidemic and the reasons why our best self-help and self-esteem tools aren’t enough to heal our deepest wounds.
Michele and the love of her life, Troy, live in the mountains of Colorado with their six children, ages 9 to 24. She enjoys a good novel, a long run, and a kitchen table filled with people. Learn more about Michele at michelecushatt.com.
Description of I Am
From the moment a woman wakes until she falls, exhausted, on her pillow, one question plagues her at every turn:
Am I enough?
The pressure to do more, be more has never been more intense. Online marketing. Self-help books. Movies, magazines and gym memberships. Even church attendance and social media streams have become a means of comparing ourselves to impossible standards. Am I pretty enough? Hip enough? Spiritual enough?
We fear the answer is “No.”
When a brutal bout with cancer changed how she looked, talked, and lived, Michele Cushatt embarked on a soul-deep journey to rediscover herself. The typical self-esteem strategies and positivity plans weren’t enough. Instead, she needed a new foundation, one that wouldn’t prove flimsy when faced with the onslaught of day-to-day life.
With raw personal stories, rock-solid biblical teaching, and radical truths on which to rebuild your life, I Am will help you:
- End the barrage of negative self-talk with an empowering new narrative.
- Refuse to ride the rollercoaster of others’ opinions and start believing what God’s says about you.
- Stop agonizing over past regrets and failures and make peace with God’s sovereign plan for your life.
- Leave insecurity behind as you exchange temporary fixes for an identity established on God’s unchanging affection.
I Am reminds us that our value isn’t found in our talents, achievements, relationships, or appearance. It is instead found in a God who chose us, sent us, and promised to be with us—forever.