Monday, November 18, 2013

Blessings Box Etc.

Last week I wrote about journaling and shared some prompts that I like to use to help me keep track of the blessings in my life (which all come from the Lord!). If you missed that post you can read it here.

But the Bible gives us several good reasons to keep track of God's blessings (besides just doing it for our own benefit). 

Joshua 4:20-24 (emphasis mine)
20 And those twelve stones, which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal.21 And he said to the people of Israel, When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, 24 so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.”[a]

In verse 21 it says that keeping these kinds of records is for the benefit of our children. 

In verse 24 it says that keeping these kinds of records is for the benefit of all the peoples of the earth.

And also in verse 24 it says that it is for our own benefit - that we may fear the Lord our God forever.

So, last week I talked about journaling and how that is for our own personal benefit. As promised, here are a couple of ways to record God's blessings that will benefit your children (either your own, or ones you teach, work with, mentor, etc.) as well as all the peoples of the earth!

Blessings Box:

Things you'll need:
1. A box 
2. Index cards
3. A pen

What to do:
Put a stack of index cards in the box. Once a month, pull out a card (or multiple cards) and write the month and year on one side. Flip the card over and write an answered prayer or blessing. Put card back in box. Once a year or so open the box simply for the purpose of reading through the index cards you've filled out. As the months and years go by keep all the index cards in the box - don't throw any away! Over time you'll have a wonderful collection of answered prayers that can help remind you (and others) of God's provision in your life.

Variations/Ideas:
- Instead of index cards you can use nice stationary.
- You can use anything from a shoe box to a beautiful wooden box
- You can get way more organized than me and keep all the cards from a given year in a labeled envelope
- When you write the blessing - you could also include what characteristic of God this blessing displays (example: "We were able to buy a new car!" - God is our provider)
- I've also heard of people placing actual objects in the box that are reminders of God's provision. If possible try to keep a written record of what each object means so that if the box is passed down to a future generation no one will be confused!

Prayer Chain:

Things you'll need:
1. Strips of paper (more fun for kids if they are colored!)
2. Pen
3. Stapler or Tape or Glue
4. Envelope or box

What to do:
This is a particularly good activity to do with younger kids (pre-school through Junior High) who would greatly benefit from a visual of God's power in their life. Whenever the child has a prayer request have him (or you can help) write the request on a strip of paper and place the paper in a designated envelope or box. When that request is answered have them remove the paper from the envelope and attach the paper to the prayer chain (think of the red and green paper chains we all used to make at Christmas time). This activity works really well in a one-year time frame (otherwise the chains will get out of control long!) - which makes it great to use in classroom settings!

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I hope this encourages someone! If you have another idea you want to share please leave a comment!

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And just in case you are worried that this whole husband-quit-his-job-thing is causing us to sob uncontrollably into our pillows...


See! We're smiling! Because God has already started to open wonderful doors for us and we know that this experience is going to lead to many full index cards in our blessings box! 

Happy Monday!
-The Pampered Bird



Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Let's Pretend...

Let's pretend that you are 8 months pregnant.

Go ahead and put a pillow behind your back so you can get more comfortable.

Oh, you're still not comfortable?

Well that's because you're 8 months pregnant - and no one is comfortable when they are 8 months pregnant.

Ok, so you're 8 months pregnant with a precious baby girl. Let's pretend you also are raising a precocious toddler named Rufflebum.

Now let's pretend - just for the sake of pretending - that on a peaceful Monday morning you receive this text from Mr. San Antonio:

"I just quit."

You wrack your brain for what your husband could have quit...

His gym membership? No... our gym went bankrupt and shut down a few months ago.
His legal magazine? No... that's not worth texting me about.
Smoking? No... he doesn't smoke, so he wouldn't be quitting that.
His job? No... it's his job. He needs a job. Oh ____! He quit his job.

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Now, I know we are just pretending, but just in case you ever find yourself in that situation - here are my tips:

1. Do not go into labor.
2. Do not text back in all caps: "WHAT THE ___ ARE YOU THINKING?"
3. Do not run out and apply for unemployment.
4. Do not turn off all the lights in your house in an attempt to decrease that month's electric bill.
5. Do not call the local homeless shelter and ask if they have room at the inn.

1. Do take deep breathes and count to a very high number before responding.
2. Do text back in lower case letters: "please call when you have a moment."
3. Do consider the fact that your husband is a lawyer and can work from anywhere so long as he has some clients willing to go with him.
4. Do be thankful that you can pay this month's bills even with the lights turned on.
5. Do quickly transform your soon-to-be-nursery into a temporary office and pray a more permanent office appears before your baby does.

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Also remember that you have access to cheap labor: 


And cheap entertainment:


And most importantly, remind yourself that your husband is doing what he believes is best for you and your family. Trust him. Let him be a man and take a risk and figure things out.

We're just pretending here anyway.... right?

Love,
The Pampered Bird


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Journaling - Some Ideas

As promised I am going to share a few thoughts on journaling for those who are interested.

As a heads up - there are no cute Rufflebum pictures, and no funny Rufflebum stories in this post. So if that's all you are here for - feel free to stop reading and check in another day.

If you're wondering what on earth I could possibly have to say about anything not Rufflebum related... then stick around.

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So... onto journaling.

I have found journaling to be a wonderful way to record God's blessings in my life. It is a way to keep track of the things weighing on my heart, and follow along as God addresses those things in His own perfect way.

I talked to some friends this past weekend about their experiences with journaling. For all those who had started journaling at one point but given up and stopped there was a common theme:

Their journaling had been all about them.

And I've been there too. For a long time my journals were basically grown up diaries. Places where I lamented how hard my life was, went on and on and on about boy drama, and attempted to spell out my life purpose on paper.

But eventually I got bored with writing about myself. I realized my life was actually full of really good things. And it just didn't feel as cathartic to complain into my "journal" any more.

And that's when I changed how I used my journal.

Oh, I had always written my prayers out in my journal. But my prayers went from being focused on me - to being focused on God.

And when you're writing about God there is no end to what you can say.

Here are the top 3 prompts I now use when journaling (in order of most time consuming to least time consuming):

1. Write out a prayer using the ACTS model.

  • A: Adoration - I start by making a list of God's characteristics that come to mind (Provider, Protector, Redeemer, Friend, Father, Creator, etc.)
  • C: Confession - Then I write out exactly where my heart is that day (stressed, judgmental, fearful, etc.) and ask God to meet me where I'm at.
  • T: Thanksgiving - I make a list of things I am thankful for that day (sometimes this includes specific answers to prayer I've received, sometimes it's for basic things like clean water and my family)
  • S: Supplication - Then I write out the things weighing on my mind and heart (these are my requests to God that I'm hoping will one day get moved to the Thanksgiving list)
2. Use a verse from the Bible as a starting point.
  • Pick a verse (or several) that you've come across lately (maybe from a church, or a devotional book, or a Bible study you're doing).
  • Look at the verse(s) and pick out specific characteristics of God that you see revealed in them.
  • Then spend time thanking God for how he has demonstrated those characteristics in your life recently

3. Make a thankful list.
  • At the end of the day (or once a week, or whatever you have time for) make a quick list of specific things that happened that day that you are thankful for.
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The purpose in all three of the above journaling prompts is to help you create a personal database of God's faithfulness in your life. Your journal becomes less about you and more about the character of God revealed personally in your life. 

It is something you can look back at whenever you are going through a difficult time to help encourage yourself and remind yourself that God is an active part of your life and will never leave nor forsake you. 

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I will write another post soon on some family friendly activities you can do to commemorate God's faithfulness. 

And in the mean time be on the look out for a post titled "What not to do when you are 8 months pregnant and your husband texts you 'hey babe, I just quit my job!'"

Love,
The Pampered Bird

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