Spanx Your Mind


how to train your thoughts

Today I’m honored to introduce a guest post from Jeanie Shaw, of JeaniesJourneys.com—or as I like to call her, “Jeanie the Hilarious and Wise.” Jeanie is not only the mother of one of my dearest lifelong friends, but over the years she has become my friend too. Several times a year, Jeanie and I nearly kill ourselves together, working to usher her new books into the world—and somehow, we always have fun almost-dying at the hands of grammar and formatting. I know you’ll enjoy Jeanie’s words of wisdom as much as I do: 

Spanx Your Mind

Have you ever tried to put on Spanx (aka . . . a girdle)?

Spanx don’t just slide on quickly. It takes a bit of fight to get that tight, slippery garment into place so that it can do its job of tucking . . . “things” . . . in. I just tried it, and yes, it’s as difficult as I remember.

how to have godly thoughts

While getting our skin inside of Spanx can be a daunting task, containing our thoughts so they are pleasing to God can be an even greater battle.

Too often our plans to begin each day with Bible reading and prayer can be hijacked by stray thoughts and worries of all kinds. Our minds may further drift to all the “to dos” that cry out to be done. Even while we pray, our thoughts (or am I the only one?) can drift to places we never intended to visit. We may find ourselves planning our shopping list or our next blog before we say “amen.” We then catch ourselves and reel the thoughts back in, wondering how we managed to wander there in the first place.

As I read the Scriptures I am reminded of my need to prepare my mind for action instead of letting it just “flap in the breeze.” The old King James Version of 1 Peter 1:13 paints a vivid picture of one fighting to put a “spiritual girdle” around their brains. Our word for girdle comes from the root “gird.”

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. (1 Peter 1:13–16 KJV)

The New International Version says:

Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

Colossians 3:1–2 gives us a similar charge:

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.


Want more posts like this? Click here to sign up for the quarterly Lizzy Life newsletter, with more ideas for wrestling Christ into the chaos of daily life. You’ll receive a free download: Seven two-minute family devotions to do with your kids! 


I must determine to have a spiritual mind that thinks more and more like Jesus. This involves putting a “spiritual girdle” around my thoughts. This includes “setting” my mind and heart rather than allowing them to roam aimlessly and carelessly. Even when I do manage to get that girdle around my thoughts, the “muffin tops” of my mind can still try to spill out. When that happens, I must tuck them in once again. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

If we begin each day spiritually preparing our minds for action and setting our minds on things above we will be available to be used by God—and will be much more keenly aware of his presence and power within us. This is only possible through Bible study, prayer, the power of God’s Spirit, and encouragement from spiritual relationships.

When we take our thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ (as described in 2 Corinthians 10:5) we can overcome the fears, insecurities, doubts and sins that desire to creep into our thoughts. When we gird up our minds for action we will learn to live self-controlled and holy lives. When we set our minds on things above we can then be filled with a peace that passes human understanding, a purpose for which we are ready to live and die, a hope that doesn’t fade, and a joy that continually wells from within.

As you prepare for this day, don’t forget to put a spiritual girdle around your thoughts. Spanx your mind. God will be pleased that you did . . . and so will you.


Jeanie Shaw headshot

Jeanie Shaw has served in the full-time ministry for forty-two years, working alongside her husband, Wyndham. For eight years Jeanie served as a vice president of HOPE worldwide. She has taught workshops and classes on marriage, parenting, loss, and leadership in numerous countries. She has four grown children, seven grandchildren, and two dogs. Her books include Jacob’s Journey, My Morning Cup, Understanding Goose, There’s a Turkey at Your Door, Fruity Tunes and the Adventures of Rotten Apple, Prime Rib, Spiritual Leadership for Women, and An Aging Grace. Find her online at JeaniesJourneys.com, and on Facebook.


If you liked this post, you will also enjoy: 

Outshine the Dark

Marriage Advice from a Two-Year-Old

“I’m a Big Kid, No Wait I’m a Baby” Syndrome

Everything You Need for Lice and Godliness

Want to share this post? Thank you! Share here:


5 Simple Ways to Bring God into Your New Year


family devotion ideas for the new year

I’ll be honest: I’m not a big new year’s resolution girl. I find the idea of making a list of commitments for an entire year daunting. Perfectionist that I am, new year’s resolutions feel like an invitation to fail and feel guilty, all year long. (I know, I’m kind of dramatic. I’m working on it.)

But new starts and fresh attitudes for the new year? That I like. Drawing closer to God in the new year, and having a more spiritual focus? That I get excited about.

So now, instead of making new year’s resolutions, I view January as a time for re-charging my personal life and my walk with God, and for jump-starting our family’s spiritual life. January provides a fantastic opportunity to redirect our family’s focus outward and upward after the self-focus of the holidays.

Here are 5 simple ideas for helping your family jump-start your new year spiritually. Whether you’re married with no kids, or up to your ears in sippy cups, or spending your whole life chauffeuring teenagers around town, these ideas can help you kick off your new year with fresh focus and with God as the center.

Look back on the old year together.

We’re quick to look to the future, but what about the great things that have already happened? Spend an evening remembering the blessings and answered prayers from last year. Write them down and spend time praising God for what he has already given. If you made a prayer list last January, bring it out and look at it again. Can you cross some prayers off your list? God loves it when we remember his gifts and come back to praise him.

Start a new year prayer tradition. 

Every January, we take our kids out to the beach for a new year prayer. Once we convince the kids that making sand angels is NOT the same thing as making snow angels, and will involve hours of hair-washing to get the sand out, we spend a few minutes shivering in the sand, talking about our hopes for the year. Each of us describes one thing we plan to ask God for in the coming year. And then we all pray together and take home a sea shell to commemorate the prayer. At home, we write our prayers on the shells. Simple, fun, and frigid!

godly family traditions

Come up with an “impossible prayer” list. 

“Impossible prayers” are things that seem impossible from a human perspective, but that our amazing God can do if we are bold enough to ask. Sit down as a family and come up with a list of things you all hope God will do this year—the crazier the better! Write them down where you’ll all see them, and commit to pray your impossible prayers all year as a family. Then sit back and watch what God does for you. (Want to read our family’s so-amazing-it-sounds-like-we-made-it-up “impossible prayer” miracle story? Click here.)


Want more posts like this? Sign up for my monthly parenting newsletter, with more tips to help you build your family God’s way! 


Pick a theme scripture for the year. 

Choose a scripture that represents what you want your year to look and feel like spiritually, and revisit that scripture often as a family. Memorize it. Write it on the fridge and on the calendar. Remind each other of it frequently. Bring it up in family prayers and devotional times all year long. You can either pick one scripture for your whole family, or each person can choose their own.

Pick a theme word for the year. 

What one word describes the focus you want to have in the coming year? Faith? Discipline? Kindness? Patience? Renewal? Selflessness? Vision? Generosity? Pick one, and make it your theme word! Find a scripture or scriptures that relate to the concept, and study them on your own and as a family. You can choose one word for the whole family, or let each family member pick their own word.

 

I wish you and your family a fantastic beginning to the new year, a year full of faith and joy and spiritual growth. A year rich in love and lasting memories. A year embracing the messiness of life, remaining faithful through the unexpected twists, and having the wisdom to find joy in imperfection and small blessings.

Want to share this post? Thank you! Share buttons are at the bottom of the post.


If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy:

Two-Minute Devotions

13 “Back-to-School” Scriptures for Kids 

When Being a Grown-Up Means You’re Still Growing Up

13 Confidence-Building Scriptures for Kids and Teens

Bringing God into School Days


Share this post: 


13 Readings to Help You Find the Thanksgiving Spirit


13 readings to help you be thankful

Image courtesy of Pixabay

In honor of Thanksgiving, I’m honored to share with you thirteen fantastic articles from blogger friends, all about gratitude. If you haven’t caught the Thanksgiving spirit yet, these will do the trick. Some readings are devotion–style, with scriptures to meditate on; others are essays to get you thinking; a few give practical tips for cultivating a spirit of gratitude in your family life; all will inspire you to feel (and live) thankful! Read one a day, or splurge, Thanksgiving–style, and read several at once—this is the best kind of feast, one that lets you go back for seconds and thirds, without getting a stomachache!

Bringing Gratitude into Your Daily Life as a Parent

71 Ways to Show Gratitude to Family, Friends, and Strangers by Lauren Cormier (Oh, Honestly). I absolutely love this list of fun, practical ideas for ways to show gratitude—things like giving lots of hugs, or doing a chore no one else wants to do. Lauren writes, “By living life in a way that constantly looks for ways to improve the lives of others, we are showing gratitude.” Read the article here

Today’s Lesson from a Grateful Mom by Traci Rhoades (Traces of Faith). Track writes about slowing down the hectic mom-life pace, and choosing gratitude along the way: “When we force things to slow down, things get better… Because the years we have together are gifts. Memories in the making every day.” Read the article here

4 Tips to Teach Your Children Gratitude by Lauren Cormier (for MissHumblebee). This is an insightful take on getting to kids’ hearts, raising grateful kids, not entitled ones. And guess where it starts? “Model gratitude. This may be the most important tip of all since our children learn what they see.” Read the article here

Gratitude Turns Who We Are into Enough, by Meredith Ethington (Perfection Pending). Encouraging thoughts for moms who never feel like enough, who think, “I yell sometimes, and a good mom would never do that… I want peace and quiet at the end of the day instead of loud laughter and kids running through the house wild and happy. Good mothers don’t think like that. But this mother does.” Read the article here

Devotional Thoughts on Gratitude

Which Letter Is Yours? by Jeanie Shaw (My Morning Cup). This is a hilarious rewrite of the letter Paul wrote to the Philippians. He had every reason to complain, and yet he chose joy. But what if he hadn’t? “Nobody really cares about me…everyone is just thinking about themselves. Well, except maybe Timothy and now he’ll likely go to you and then you will ‘need’ him.  Sheez…what else do you want?” Read the article here

One Thing to Be Thankful for (that’s Not Based on Your Circumstances), by Ellie Fulton (Gumption). Ellie writes about the wondrous reminder that God is always at work in the details of our lives, to bring us to him: “God worked in the very details, every day, of these twenty souls. And I was reminded—it is not just those twenty people. God has worked in the very details, every day, of my life since before I was born…and he keeps doing it…” Read the article here

Giving Thanks, by Debbie Williams (Blogger Loves the King). Debbie writes a simple reminder to live (and thank God) intentionally every day, not just on Thanksgiving Day: “We may not be able to change our circumstances, but we CAN change our attitudes to attitudes of gratitude.” Read the article here

How to Have a Real Thanksgiving This Year, by Stephanie Robertson (Barnabas Lane). Seeking a true Thanksgiving, the kind that begins in your heart and not with your fork: “Heaven forbid we put more preparation into the meal we eat or the way we eat it on Thanksgiving than the way we really experience and really have Thanksgiving.” Read the article here

Monday Thankfulness: Simplicity, by Destin Wells (Arrows of Content). Destin writes about finding joy in life’s simple, daily blessings: “We don’t have much, but we have everything we need. We aren’t wealthy in terms of money, but anytime I spend a weekend doing simple things with the ones I love, I feel like the richest person in the world.” Read the article here

Looking for family devotion ideas? I’ve written a couple of devotion ideas to teach gratitude to kids: A Fun Family Devotion to Teach Kids Gratitude, and A Fun Way to Teach Gratitude to Kids of All Ages.

Gratitude During Hard Times

Choose Gratitude, by Sarah Philpott (All–American Mom). I loved this reminder that gratitude is a choice, even we’re struggling, or suffering, or grieving: “Anchor your soul in gratitude for what the Lord has done.  You might not be rescued from the storm, but you can look around for the beauty in the midst of the upheaval…in the midst of the tempest choose to cherish.” Read the article here. (Sarah blogs about miscarriage and pregnancy loss, so if you or a friend is going through this, Sarah’s blog is a great resource.)

Giving Thanks: Not the Usual Suspects, by Bonnie Lyn Smith (Espressos of Faith). This Thanksgiving, we’re all wondering, how do we find gratitude in the midst of so much fresh pain and terror in the world? What does it really mean to pray for our enemies? Bonnie writes, “…Good rises up in horrifying circumstances, and I have the privilege to pray for change and sometimes to participate in it… I cannot be as self-focused when I am willing to pray back the dark.” Read the article here.

You Are Alive! Savor It, by Christine Carter (The Mom Cafe). If you battle depression during the holidays, this post will encourage you, helping you find ways to savor life even when it’s hard, or you’re not up for the daily grind: “Despite those hard days, those trying trials, those sometimes suffocating sacrifices we endure just to get through the day, we are aliveWe haven’t been taken from this world, just yet.” Read the article here.  

This Is Living, by Jennie Goutet (A Lady in France). Jennie lives in Paris, and had a birthday in the midst of the recent tragedy—and yet she found joy and light in the midst of heartbreak: “Outside it’s dark and it feels like the night is only getting darker. It feels like the heavens are weeping over the tragedies without cease. But we, my friends, are lit from within.” Read the article here


Want more parenting tips and devotion ideas? Sign up for my monthly parenting newsletter, and you’ll receive a free download with seven two-minute devotions to do around the breakfast table with kids!


If you enjoyed these readings, you might also enjoy: 

A Fun Family Devotion to Teach Kids Gratitude

10 Ways to Encourage Kids to Open Up

13 Scriptures to Help Siblings Get Along

These Days of Small Things

When Being a Grown-up Means You’re Still Growing Up

Share this post with a friend: 


When Kids Know God Better than We Do


helping children know God @lizzylit

 

“God paint trees, Mommy.”

My two-year-old beams up at me, pointing a chubby finger at the thick trees shading our front lawn.

Her word choice surprises a laugh out of me. “You know what? You’re right! God did paint those trees.”

I swirl the word paint around inside, exploring the delightful image of God the great Artist, paintbrush in hand, painting trees—a touch of green, a knot in wood, a crooked limb.

But my daughter is not done expounding. Her finger sweeps the yard. “God paint wow-ee.”

“Yes, and the flowers too.” A fragment of scripture flits across my mind: Lift up your eyes . . . who created all these?

Again the little finger searches, points. “God paint grass. Pink grass.”

I laugh, not bothering to correct her colors when she’s in the middle of a theological epiphany. “Oh yes, God painted the grass!”

She tips her honey-and-sunshine curls back, squinting up. “God paint sky. Clouds. Sun. Moon.” She casts me a smug grin as if to say, Aren’t you impressed that I know so many “sky” words?

“Oh, yes, you’re right. God painted all of those things,” I say. “Aren’t they beautiful?” I glance up at puffy clouds drifting on a sea of blue. The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Hazel eyes dancing, my daughter flings her hands out wide, the grand finale: “God paint me!”

I am struck speechless. I catch her up in my arms and bury my face in her sweet baby-soap smell.

She pushes me back and insists: “God paint me! Mommy tummy!” Pudgy fists pressed against my chest, round eyes locked on mine, she awaits my response.

At last I find my voice. “Oh, yes, darling, God painted you in Mommy’s tummy.”

She snuggles in and squeezes tight.

Even now her words echo inside me, a gorgeous refrain: God painted me. Such profound insight, from one so young, so fresh from heaven. God made us, yes, but more than that: he painted us.

I can just picture it: The great Artist takes up his paintbrush, selects his canvas, lays out his paints—a thousand hues of possibility—and ponders: What to create today? Oh, I know! Humming happily to himself, he dips his brush in paint and begins with just a single stroke: conception. Another stroke, a pause for inspiration—she’s taking shape now. A dab here, a curve there. He stops, debating: What color eyes to give? He mixes shades—a hint of green, a streak of caramel, a few golden flecks—there. Just right. He chuckles to himself, picturing those perfect eyes lit with wonder the first time they see a rainbow, a dandelion, a puppy. Now for the hair. He thinks for a moment, tapping his brush against his lip. I’ll borrow a little curl from her grandfather, a touch of auburn from her great-great-grandmother, a cowlick from her mother . . . oh, yes. Beautiful. On and on he paints—fingers, toes, crooked nose (because as any great artist knows, it’s the imperfections that make it perfect)—and when he is finished, he steps back, eyes shining. Even more beautiful than I imagined, he thinks. Oh, yes. This is good. She is very, very good. In the corner, he signs his name.

 

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

(Psalm 139:13–16)

Want to share this article? Thank you! Share buttons are at the bottom of the post. 

helping kids know God @lizzylit


Watch the first video in the new LizzyLife YouTube channel: Building Family God’s Way!


If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy:

On Pinkeye, Lice, and Love

A Letter to My Child About Your Unfinished Baby Book

27 Moments that Stop a Mother’s Heart

Before you leave, don’t forget to sign up for my monthly parenting newsletter. Recent newsletter topics have included 5 Ways to Help Siblings Become Friends and 6 Simple Ways to Teach Kids to Walk with God. As a welcome gift, you’ll receive a free download: 7 Two-Minute Devotions to Do Around the Breakfast Table with Kids!

Share this post: 


13 Things that Rock About Being Kid-Free at the BRMCWC


In case you’re wondering, the BRMCWC is the oh-so-amazing Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers’ Conference. And clearly, I am here without my four delightful children. (Stands up. Takes a bow. Sends husband and mother-in-law virtual flowers and chocolate and sleep.) Much as I adore and miss my children every minute, I am very happy to go on missing them for the duration of the conference, for these 13 glorious reasons, which I imagine every Writer Mom at this conference is also secretly celebrating:

1. Four full nights of uninterrupted sleep. Four! Nights! (Somewhere deep in my subconscious, I suspect this was one of my main reasons for attending a writing conference. Drive 400 miles for four full nights’ guaranteed sleep? YES.)
2. Getting to worship all the way through a song set without being forced out of the room by an adorable toddler who has an impressive talent for emitting eardrum-shattering shrieks.
3. Two words: white pants. Three more words: no jelly fingerprints.
4. Talking to wonderful new writer friends, using multisyllabic words that have nothing to do with the potty or smashed bananas.
5. Getting to use a hair straightener like a normal person . . . without wrestling with the cord the whole time, trying to keep it away from curious toddler fingers.
6. Using an iron and ironing board without the heart-stopping fear that a child will come running into the room unexpectedly and scar themselves (or Mommy) for life.
7. Hearing Alton Gansky say, “When an accountant looks out a window, he’s daydreaming; when a writer looks out a window, he’s working.” Laughing and nodding alongside four hundred other people who understand exactly what that means.
8. Admiring mountain views, breathing mountain air, savoring the sound of silence.
9. Taking a shower, getting dressed, putting on makeup, doing something to my hair besides yanking it into a ponytail . . . and doing all of these activities in a single span of time, without stopping to mop up spilled milk, remove a splinter, or resolve a sibling squabble. I have not done these things without interruption for, oh, eight years.
10. Staying up ridiculously late talking books and God, just because we can.
11. Four days without dishes and laundry? Call me Lady Mary.
12. Hearing Brian Bird say, “We gotta stop clamoring against the darkness and start lighting some candles.” Trying not to levitate out of my seat.
13. Filling up on inspiration, ideas, and conviction so I can go home and write a better world for those four precious people who I actually do miss with all my heart—jelly fingerprints, milk spills, sibling squabbles and all.