Speaking of small things...
I think Small Things must be a theme for this season of my life.
I find myself increasingly aware of how much joy is packed into small things - things like laughing with my sons during a late-night jigsaw marathon, holding a sleeping baby, Emily's good bread, warm fuzzy pajamas, conversation over dinner.
I am learning that eating small portions of whatever I want, whenever I'm hungry, is a more effective way to control my weight than adopting a complicated or restrictive food regimen that I'll abandon when the next chocolate craving hits. Same thing with exercise - moving a small amount every day has made a noticeable difference in how I feel. If I can't exercise at Caroline's, I try to take a walk. If I can't take a walk, I try to do a few stretches sometime during the day. If I can't even do that, then, well, there's always tomorrow!
Sometimes, I believe the lie that if I can't do something big, then there's not much point in doing something small or seemingly insignificant. See yesterday's post about that HERE.
What big things would you like to do in the year ahead? Read through the entire Bible? Have a consistent prayer life? Spend meaningful time with your kids? Exercise regularly?
Maybe, like me, you've set big goals for yourself in the past, only to fail repeatedly. So now you feel like there's no point in trying.
Here are a few suggestions from a middle-aged grandma who has failed repeatedly at the above goals....
Reading the entire Bible this year sounds like a great idea, and you get off to a good start with Genesis and Exodus. Then you hit Leviticus. You sit down with a cup of coffee and open your Bible, and you think, "How many more chapters are there about which animal to sacrifice for what kind of sin? Yuck! I don't think I can do this!" Or three of your four kids contract a stomach bug, and you're so busy washing sheets and disinfecting the bathroom that you miss several days of reading - when you finally have a moment to get back to your read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year plan, you are so far behind schedule that you know you'll never catch up. And you give up.
Tip #1: Throw out the reading schedule. Maybe today, you only have time to read a few verses. Next Tuesday, you may read three chapters. If you don't read the entire Bible in a year, THAT'S OKAY. Missing a day is not failure. This is not a race. Just keep reading.
You think you want to be a prayer warrior? "I resolve to get up early every morning to pray daily for my family, my church leaders, friends and people in my community who have particular needs, my children's friends, my local, state, and national government, the teachers and administrators at my local schools, campus ministers at three different universities, missionary teams serving in Japan and Germany, those still unreached with the Gospel, Christians around the world who are being persecuted for their faith, and the enemies of Christ's church. Oh, and the lady who rings up my groceries at Wal-Mart, And the UPS man. And..."
Tip #2: Be deliberate in your prayer life, but don't make prayer into another overwhelming To-Do list. Develop a simple strategy that works for you. In an effort to be more faithful about praying for my church, I taped a list of church families to the kitchen wall. A pink sticky-note tab points to one family - when I pray for a family, I move the marker to the next name on the list. If I miss a day, then I wait to move the marker until I have prayed specifically for that family. My church is small, so I'm able to pray for each family at least once a month - and, by doing so, to pray for church leaders, Sunday school teachers, music ministers, etc. (Hi, Randolphs! Praying for YOU today!)
Also, don't think powerful prayer only happens when you're on your knees for two straight hours just before the sun comes up. Take advantage of small opportunities to pray. Pray when you are in the car. When you wake up in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep. When you are mowing the yard or cooking dinner.
If you have difficulty focusing when you pray, pray out loud. This is a great way to focus your thoughts and prayers, especially when you are taking a walk, riding in the car, weeding the garden, or mowing the yard. (Warning: You might get a few funny looks if you do this when shopping for groceries.)
These small efforts - read the next verse, pray for the next family on the list - will they really amount to significant kingdom work? Rondi Lauterbach notes that spending only 15 minutes a day in Scripture adds up to almost 2 hours a week, 8 hours a month, 90+ hours a year.
Fifteen minutes a day - small investment, big returns. Why not start investing today?
For two encouraging posts on reading through Scripture, check out:
Faithful With Fifteen Minutes - Rondi Lauterbach
How Reading the Whole Bible Changed My Life Forever- by Jennifer Cortez
3 days ago