Can you tell that I am focused on energy lately? Just as I have sought out ways to jump start my productivity, I am interested in energizing my prayer time.
I use the Prayer Lists app from iTunes to organize my prayers. I divide our extended family and concerns (health, salvation, etc.) into days so my prayers are more manageable. But lately my list has still seemed long. Getting through it has been almost as challenging as tackling my task list.
I believe that the key to powering up prayer time can be found in Philippians 4:6:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
The phrase “with thanksgiving” is set apart, giving it special emphasis. I have tried to implement this many times in the past. I have started prayer time with praise and thanksgiving. Sometimes I felt like I was buttering God up so He would be more likely to give me what I want. Sometimes I have been in such distress that I have struggled to identify what I am thankful for. Know the feeling?
This week I had an aha moment that started my prayer time on a whole new and more powerful path. What if I thanked God for something related to each item on my prayer list, rather than having a separate time of giving thanks, I wondered. Rather than thanking God for being faithful, a healer, and for my home, family, health, and more, I would read the name of a friend who was undergoing cancer treatment, for example. Before asking for her healing, strength, and comfort, I thanked God for keeping her alive to this day, against all the odds. I thanked Him for her faith. I thanked Him for the medical care He has provided. THEN I made my request on her behalf. I took thanksgiving one step further. I thanked God in advance for answering my prayer in a way that would glorify Him and would be for my friend’s good. There is no question that this is exactly what God will do. Hallelujah!
Previously, I would get through my prayer list feeling overwhelmed and defeated. So many things are going wrong today. So many people are hurting. So many have rejected God. It was positively depressing. But giving thanks in each individual request gives me the opposite perspective. I see how much God has already done in even the most challenging of circumstances. And I come to believe that He will do even more.
So right now I am thanking God for the Internet, that I took typing in high school, and that He has led your to read these words. Now I am asking Him to move you to pray so you might be blessed. Finally, I am thanking Him that He will bring glory to His name through you, friend. Amen.
If I may have the privilege of adding you to my prayer list, email me at melphd at aol dot com.
The problem is that our rebel can mistake any item on a to-do list as a rule. It can be perceived as a should, a have to, or a must which will really get our rebel's goat. My inner rebel seems to like doing anything BUT what is on a to-do list. That's why using something like The Now Habit where you schedule your leisure time can be very effective.
But if you have a really hardcore rebel like I do, you perceive doing something like scheduling your leisure time as a should, a have to, or a must and you don't want to do that either. Fortunately, there's a very simple solution: consider putting a question mark behind tasks that are likely to rankle your rebel.
Let's say your spouse has asked you to organize and clean a specific room or area of your home. (You're already in trouble, aren't you?) Instead of commanding your inner rebel to get busy on that tomorrow by noting:
Clean out spare bedroom
Notice the psychological difference the question mark makes:
Clean out spare bedroom?
The first is like an order from a drill sergeant, whereas the second is a suggestion from a sheepish subordinate. You still might not do it, but I would argue that you're MORE LIKELY to do it with the addition of a question mark.
I've mentioned before that I love Goodtodo because it's like every task has a question mark behind it. I can quickly and easily send tasks to alternate dates. Recently, I've created an Optional category as well. Adding tasks to that category is also like finishing them with the very respectful question mark.
Would you like to try using a question mark to help you GTD? 🙂
If you've ever Googled for reviews on health products, you've probably had the same frustrating experience I've had. You come up with page after page of sites that repeat the same staged review. Companies buy sites and throw up blogs or comparisons of products that suggest their gizmo "really works."
Today I found an excellent site I suggest you bookmark: Health Hound. Henry gives you the low down on the latest weight loss products and more with the added benefit of reading what hundreds, who have tried what you're interested in, have to say about it. I love how Henry keeps hammering away with truth, even when it isn't what we want to hear. Sounds a lot like someone else I know. His advice is free, too.
John 8:32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
There is no meal plan, software program, or appliance that will cook for us, but that doesn't mean that these things don't help us get busy in the kitchen.
As you can imagine, every recipe in my house gets doubled. At least. Facing a giant bowl of batter to be made into individual cookies or muffins used to really drag me down. That's before I got the scoop. I am a big fan of Pampered Chef products because they are such high quality and completely practical. Unlike the vegetable decorating kit I once bought, my Pampered Chef products get used over and over again.
I have never enjoyed getting messy. Thus, I do not garden. My husband does. And my least favorite part of baking is the gooey fingers I get from sliding dough off a spoon or dribbling batter on its way to the muffin pan. The two sizes of scoops I purchased from PC make the mess a thing of the past. Not only that, but I get done baking so much faster. Yay! The large scoop is perfect for making big breakfast cookies pictured above (I sub Rice Krispies and chocolate chips and they're PERFECT) and for filling muffin tins. Pairing my scoop with my new habit of preparing breakfast and dinner together means we are starting the day with happy tummies.
What other kitchen tools make it easier for you to want to get cooking?
My kids usually come through our side door and take their shoes off. When reading The House That Cleans Itself, I was inspired to find a real life solution for dealing with the kids’ shoes. I had tried a narrow shoe organizer in this space (it’s a very small area) and it didn’t work. The shoes weren’t put away and the organizer took up too much precious space. This inexpensive solution of hanging a shoe organizer on the wall, while not working completely (the kids don’t put their shoes in it when they walk in), does make picking up shoes a very quick affair without sacrificing space. I installed the key hanging/cork board long ago and it helps keep the keys in one place. Unless my husband takes my keys and leaves them on the curio. Or in his jacket. Or his pants. Or if I forget and leave them clipped to my purse. Anyway, you get the idea.
My Simplify101 class inspired me to consider what to do with kids’ papers. While I don’t have nearly the paperwork that families with kids in traditional schools have, I do have papers. In fact, I was ready to tear my hair out when my second son kept complaining that I hadn’t given him his memory verses from church. I HAD given them to him, twice in fact, but he kept misplacing them. The problem is that while each child has a school box for books in the basement, they don’t have a good place for papers. Furthermore, I had no place to put important papers that needed to go out the door with family members. I would often leave registration forms for my husband to take with him on the kitchen counter, hoping they wouldn’t be moved in the meantime. Invariably I would get a phone call, “Where is the ____ form?”
I know. The wallpaper desperately needs updating, but that’s a project for another day. The solution to my problem was to buy a magazine rack from Amazon. I got out my trusty label maker and made a slot for everyone, including a combined one for mom and dad. While I am not so foolish as to think anyone will put important papers in their slot on the way in, I do think it can remind them to take them on the way out. Right now, the kids’ reading club records for church are in their slots and my son’s registration forms for an upcoming mission trip are there, too. When I find these important papers, I know right where to put them and if I’m gone, I am betting the kids will figure out where to look. These magazine racks come in all different sizes and configurations. Would one of them work for you?
A year ago, my oldest son started asking for his own room. Well, with five other siblings requiring bedrooms, that wasn’t possible. But I did think it was possible to give him his own office.
We built this large closet for toys in our basement eleven years ago. Originally it had wire shelving, but the shelves kept tearing out of the wall. They weren’t designed to store all the toy bins we stacked on them. The other problem was my inability to lock these doors to keep every tiny toy from being flung around the room without supervision.
My second attempt at taming my toy closet was to remove all the toys and shelving. Toys were moved to an unfinished storage room that could be locked. I purchased four tables inexpensively from Office Depot and stored linens, ski clothes, jujitsu clothes, and hand-me-downs in the closet. This arrangement worked better than the previous system. The only thing that was taken out consistently was blankets for the kids’ fort building.
It seemed like the perfect room for my son’s office. I moved some of the items stored there, put his computer, a lamp, and bulletin board in it and expected him to be happy. He wasn’t. The kids and my husband were constantly in his office getting blankets and jackets and leaving toys. (I will leave it to you to figure out who was getting what). My son told me he didn’t have enough room to work. Buying him a nice chair didn’t solve the problem. Eventually it became a dumping ground for his stuff.
The Simplify101 class motivated me to try again. I got rid of a van full of stuff from my large storage area and the kids’ rooms (with their help). I will show you the results of those projects soon! I also cleaned out a nearby closet. These decluttering sessions gave me the room I needed to store everything that didn’t belong in an office. I removed two of the tables, which will be great to have accessible for entertaining and our homeschool co-op.
In my large storage area, I found some wall words we inherited from my late father-in-law when he sold his condo. The phrase was appropriate for my son’s love of education and future aspirations: Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. I put it up, set up his printer, and cleaned. The room looked great, but the ceiling tile was damaged from a long ago toilet overflow. The plastic pieces that once held wire shelving were also still in place.
Still mindful that this is organizing WITH kids, my husband taught my son how to putty, sand, and paint over the holes left by the hardware. He also replaced a ceiling tile. Unfortunately, the paint my husband thought was from the basement wasn’t. It IS, however, a basement office where perfection isn’t required. The final piece was a painting from HomeGoods that my son loved. He is enamored with city life. Apparently he has good taste because a woman at the HG checkout was very disappointed I was taking the only painting like it from the store!
He tells me he LOVES his office now. I took this picture of him and realized that the orange cube, although something I had on hand, was a no-go. What a great way to be objective about your space: take pictures! I replaced it with another plastic book shelf from Office Depot and everyone is happy that my teen has his own room at last.