How Protestant Prayer Beads Are Saving My Prayer Life

Make your own prayer beads

I didn’t realize until recently that Protestant prayer beads actually exist, but now they’re helping me grow my prayer life for the first time in a long time. The stresses of the day paraded through my brain. I could see each and every unmade decision, each possibility, each worry taking shape behind my closed eyelids. My body wanted sleep but my brain wouldn’t let me go there.  “God please…” I thought, then the worries reached their bony fingers back into my brain and snatched away the prayer.  I reached over to my end table, hand patting around in the dark. There they were. My fingers closed around the cool string of beads and I clutched them to my chest.  They were new to me, these prayer beads. For my whole life I had believed that using a tool to help me pray was an unholy cheat. Something used only by … Read More

Engaging God With All 5 Senses (Plus One Bonus Sense!)

How to connect with God using your senses

Engaging God with all 5 senses can truly help our faith grow. Historically the evangelical church has shied away from using senses (aside from auditory), but perhaps there is something to be learned from more ancient traditions. It comes every year: cinnamon-scented air, delicious desserts eaten without regrets, knitted sweaters snuggling our upper bodies in warmth, bright lights twinkling from eavestroughs, familiar songs being played in every building. What did those sensory images just evoke in you? Joy? Warmth? Excitement? I think the reason we love Christmas so much has something to do with the sensory experiences we enjoy every year, and that those sensory experiences have become traditions. Worship through the senses For the ancient Jews, the sense of smell was a key part of tradition of worship. The familiar scents evoked thoughts of God’s holiness, love and redemption. In fact, there was a very special incense blend that … Read More

How To Love God With All Your Mind

How to love God with all your mind by studying the Bible

Learning how to love God with all your mind can be a powerful tool toward connecting with God!   Hunched over my Bible, I sat on the floor in the hallway of the physics building during my first year of university. It may not have been the most effective place for quiet time with God, but it was sunny and, since class was in session, only the occasional student walked past. I was struggling with the purpose of the first covenant that God made with the Israelites: why did he even bother with it, seeing as they abandoned him on a bi-weekly basis and he had the whole plan with Jesus in the works anyway…?? I don’t even remember what verses I was reading at the time, but a heartbeat later I was shocked into an understanding of God’s purposes that I hadn’t had before, and it was thrilling. I … Read More

How To Share the Gospel With a Child (and have them actually remember it!)

sharing the gospel with kids

Do you know how the share the Gospel with a child in the easiest way possible? With colors! You may have seen something called “the wordless book” or made beaded bracelets with the colors in Sunday School.  The colors are usually presented in this order: Black: Our sinRed: Jesus’ sacrifice for our sinWhite: Our new purityGreen: New growth in ChristYellow: For the hope of heaven But most of the color-presentations are missing something essential. They are missing God’s motivation. As a story-writer, I know that every character must be properly motivated. His/her actions have to have a reason, because that’s how things work in real life. We don’t do random things. Even if they may APPEAR random, they always have a reason. (Whether or not the reason is sane is another story altogether.) When we start our gospel presentations with sin, we have a motivation problem. Why on earth would … Read More

What is Ash Wednesday?

Ash cross for Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday was not part of my upbringing, but a few years ago I had a hunch that there was something deeply meaningful about Ash Wednesday, but because it kept sneaking up on me, I never had time to figure it out in time. You are reading this, now, so I assume you have a hunch that there’s something about Ash Wednesday too. Maybe, just maybe it might help you connect with God in a way that has been dry for a long time. If you are dissatisfied (mildly or extremely) with cultural Christianity, with the way it angrily denounces the culture while standing on the backs of the bleeding innocent, I invite you to join me on this journey. If you feel like something’s not quite aligned in your relationship with God and you need a spiritual chiropractic treatment, I invite you to join me. If you struggle with … Read More

The Ultimate Guide To Celebrating Lent

Lent for all Christians

I first heard of Lent waaaay back when I was about 20. That first year, I decided I wanted to try to give up something for Lent: sugar. That was SO hard. And to be honest, I didn’t really understand why I was doing it.  Since then, I’ve learned a bit more about Lent. If you’re unfamiliar with it, here are a few myths and truths: Myth #1: Lent is for Catholics.  Truth: Lent is observed by Catholics and Protestants. Lent is an ancient practice that began long before “Catholic” and “Protestant” were labels used by Christians. Myth #2: Lent is 40 days long.  Truth: It’s actually 46 days! Those extra 6 days are Sundays, when tradition says that you can break your fast. Myth #3: Lent is about fasting. Truth: Well, that one was partly true, but Lent isn’t just about giving up something.  There are 3 traditional Lenten activities: prayer fasting almsgiving What … Read More

Turn Your Worries Into Worship With These 2 Incredible Playlists

woman praying through her worries

Use these two playlists to help you turn your worries into worship, and your fears into prayers. The evening dragged on and a familiar feeling made itself at home in the pit of my stomach. My fiancee had left hours ago, and he hadn’t yet checked in at his destination. Wind whipped up the snowflakes that tumbled from the sky, and images of his car in a snow-filled ditch whipped around in my mind.  Kneeling on the pink carpet in my childhood bedroom, I cried out to God, pleading for a phone call to let me know he was safe. As my worries turned into prayers , God gave me something better than a phone call – he gave me peace. Somehow, I knew that God would care for both of us no matter what happened that night.  What happened there? Prayer doesn’t always lead to peace, because God is … Read More

12 Scriptures For Anxiety And Depression (with printable)

mother and daughter praying scripture over anxiety and worry

Use these 12 Scriptures for anxiety and depression to grow in Godly courage against your worries and fears. “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8 NIV That’s quite a graphic image, isn’t it? I’m not a big fan of roaring lions prowling around me and my family, looking for someone to devour. But let’s not forget the rest of this passage… “Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” 1 Peter 5:9 NIV The truth is that there are lies and enemies lurking at the edges of our lives, looking for the way in. We often let in those lies by accident, not recognizing them as un-true until we have been devoured by anxiety and depression. The best way to resist and … Read More

How to Fight Anxiety With Gratitude

how to fight anxiety

How to fight anxiety using this powerful skill. A blast of cold air came in with my son as he stomped in the door. He dumped his backpack and jacket on the floor. When I reminded him where they belonged, he glared at me and snarled a reply. At my rebuke, he began to sob.  It’s not easy to tuck an angry, sobbing child into your arms, but I did so anyway, making him cry all the harder.  I guided him to the couch. We sat together. He cried, and I summoned up all the patience I could muster while also putting mentally putting together my supper meal plan. “What’s going on?” I asked, when the sobs had simmered down a bit.  Still sniffling, he choked out his response.  There had been a fight on the playground, and a friendship had been declared to be over. Just like that. “I’m … Read More

The Secret Ingredient In Habit Change

Welcome back to The Power of Simple Habits! In the first lesson I taught about how habits are stored in our brains, as well as the three parts of a habit: the cue, the routine, and the reward. Even though habits are usually formed automatically by a brain trying to save space, we can intentionally create new habits, and we can change old habits. In the previous lessons I shared the brain science behind creating a brand new habit, which we applied to family breakfast time. We also talked about how to change an old habit like a child’s bedtime. But sometimes it’s just too hard to start a new habit, or too daunting to think about changing an entire bedtime routine, which is why we look for keystone habits that initiate great change in our families.  Full series: The Power of Simple Spiritual Habits Starting a Brand New Habit … Read More