I've noticed a trend lately when it comes to Bible journaling. People are drawing and coloring in their Bible, purchasing fancy Bible coloring books, or searching online for printable Bible journals.
I'm not saying these things are wrong, but be careful that you do not get swept up into doing these things just because they are trendy or because a blogger somewhere created a printable worksheet for you to fill in, so that must be how you're “supposed” to do Bible journaling.
Bible artwork or spiritual journal worksheets printed from the internet can be helpful if that's truly how you learn and solidify in your heart what God is teaching you.
But you also need to be careful that those things don't end up watering down your spiritual life or becoming a superficial replacement for the Holy Spirit's work in your heart.
I fear that in some cases, Bible journaling becomes a replacement for studying God's Word. I have no problem whatsoever with someone using art as an expression of worship or as a way to meditate on Scripture. Some of the Scripture illustrations I have seen online are absolutely beautiful. But when Bible journaling begins stealing your time from really digging into the Word and studying it in-depth, then it is time to reconsider its worth.
For myself, I do not do Bible journaling because I would get pretty much nothing out of it spiritually. I am not artistically talented whatsoever, and for that reason I don't really enjoy it. If I tried to draw illustrations of the verses in the Bible, I would not be thinking about the verse one bit. I would be concentrating on coloring in the lines, not meditating on whatever verse I was trying to color. If I tried to strengthen my spiritual walk in this way, it would be like eating a package of Oreos and hoping that it would improve my physical health.
Similarly, if I were to print a spiritual journal worksheet from the internet and try to fill it out, the questions on it might not contain whatever the Holy Spirit had been teaching me. I would be doing myself a great disservice by ignoring what he wanted me to meditate on and forcing myself to meditate on something completely different.
In a day when “Bible journaling” seems to be synonymous with creating cute illustrations in your Bible or writing on pre-made worksheets, remember that it doesn't have to be that way — and it shouldn't if it's not truly strengthening your relationship with the Lord.
Rather than spending my time creating colorful illustrations (again, not wrong, just be careful!) I keep a simple spiritual journal with a notebook and pen.
It serves as a record of my walk with the Lord and it helps me delve deeper into God's Word.
To start a spiritual journal, all you need is a notebook and a pen.
Inside, you can write down things like:
Whatever is on your heart, simply write it down! There is not a right way and a wrong way to keep a spiritual journal. (That means that if art is an effective way for you to record your thoughts, go for it!)
When you keep a spiritual journal, you are creating a record of your walk with God.
When he teaches you something through his word, it is much easier to remember it if you write it down.
When he answers specific prayers, you will have a record of his power in your life. Over time, you learn to trust him more because you can remember the goodness and power he has displayed on your behalf in the past.
When you're feeling discouraged, reading your spiritual journal will remind you of all that God has done for you and for your family.
You'll be reminded of spiritual growth and encouraged to continue drawing even closer to God.
And one of the biggest benefits of spiritual journaling I have found in my own life is that it draws out the thoughts I couldn't quite seem to form inside my head. Maybe I've felt uneasy or burdened and didn't quite know why. Writing down what I'm feeling helps me to gain clarity as to what it is that's troubling me. Then I can search the Scriptures and pray more specifically about my problems. Sometimes God gives me the solution right away. The answer is often Scriptures I already knew well, but before I wrote down my thoughts I was unable to see the problem clearly enough to apply them. Sometimes I see a need that I should add to my long-term prayer list and begin praying fervently about it and waiting on God to answer specifically.
Would you like to get into the habit of keeping a spiritual journal? Why not join me for a 7 day challenge? You'll receive daily emails with tips and encouragement for recording your walk with God.
No coloring sheets, no pre-written prompts, no fill-in-the-blanks.
This will be just you and God.
Maybe you've never tried keeping a spiritual journal before. Maybe you've kept one in the past and gotten out of the habit in the midst of life's busyness.Jumpstart your habit by joining the challenge below!
As a member of the Wayfair Homemakers blogging team, I was given the opportunity to share a sponsored post with with a spring cleaning theme. One of the things I know the most about is how to organize a small house (because I live in one!) I hope these organizing tips will help you get your own house spruced up this spring!
We live in a very small house, especially for having 5 children. Though we would love to live somewhere with a little more space, we are content with what God has provided and we enjoy coming up with creative ways to organize a small house. As crowded as it is, I think we have some great solutions that help to maximize our space.
1.Use the space under the bed.
There is a lot of space under the bed, so it's a great place to store things. Some ideas for things you can store under the bed are:
2. Use the walls.
You can find a lot of storage and organization space on your walls! All you need is some strategically placed cabinets. Using the space on your walls frees up floor space and keeps your small home from feeling so crowded.
Our homeschool room has a vintage feel to it, and I would LOVE this cabinet in there!
3. Use baskets and bins.
One of the simplest tips I have learned is to use baskets and bins a lot! It gives you a place for all of those “I need to keep this around, but I don't have a good place to put it” items where they won't be sitting and causing an eyesore.
I use baskets or bins for:
4. Use stackable storage.
If you can stack things, you are multiplying how much you can fit into a space. Now, the BEST way to keep a small house organized is to minimize how much you are trying to fit into it in the first place. Declutter, declutter, declutter. And then declutter some more! BUT…there are still things that we all need to keep, and we have to have a place to put them. Stack it up, and you'll be able to fit more in your space!
5. Sometimes bigger is better.
In our kitchen we used to have a small baker's rack where we kept the microwave and some dishes and what-not. Then my amazing husband custom built me a HUGE cabinet that filled the entire wall. I was fearful that it would make the kitchen feel smaller having that large piece of furniture in there, but I was wrong! Having a floor-to-ceiling piece of furniture made the room feel BIGGER, and of course the big bonus was that I had TONS more storage space too!
We ended up doing the same thing in the bathroom, and even though the room is tiny, the large piece of furniture actually makes the room feel bigger and gives me so much more space to store all of our toiletries and towels.
(The bathroom is so small that I had to go into the hallway to back up far enough to take a picture of the cabinet!)
This cabinet has been the best thing! Mom, dad, and the kids have their separate bins with their toiletries and “hair fixing stuff”. The middle section holds our rolled up towels (when they're clean – ha!) The bottom left cabinet holds the laundry hamper, and the bottom right holds the trash can. It just keeps everything looking so neat and streamlined instead of a chaotic hodge-podge of random articles everywhere.
If you don't have a handy-man husband, or if you'd just rather do things the easy way :), Wayfair has a large selection of cabinets and chests. You should be able to find something there that meets your needs.
If you need more inspiration for organizing a small house, I've created an idea board on Wayfair with all kinds of smart storage solutions that will help maximize the space in your small house.
It is possible to organize a small house! You just need to make sure you reduce what you have to the bare minimum and take advantage of all of the spaces that often go unused.
“Come sit here close to me,” I said as I motioned my daughter to my side and snuggled her up tightly. “Want to tell me what's the matter?”
“I just feel overwhelmed,” she replied, adding a little fling of her arms for emphasis. (Someone's a little bit too much like her mother.) “It just seems like nobody likes me,” she continued. “And I hate having to clean my room all the time. And my brothers are always so mean to me.”
(This is our girl who struggles with big emotions if you couldn't tell.)
“Hmm, let's think about this for a few minutes, shall we?” I encouraged her. “You're sure that nobody likes you? And you really have to clean your room all the time? And your brothers are always mean to you? I bet you could think of someone who likes you. Let's try, shall we? Does mommy like you?”
“Does Daddy like you?”
“Does Grandma like you?”
And thus we continued, adding more and more people to the list.
“And what are some things you've done today besides clean your room?”
“Well, I played the piano some. And I ate my breakfast. And I played with my sister.”
Once again the list of good things began to grow.
“What about your brothers being mean to you? Have they done one nice thing for you today?”
“I can't think of anything.”
“Well, I'll tell you what. Let's get a piece of paper and pen. You carry it with you today, and every time someone does something nice for you, I want you to make a tally mark on your paper. You might be surprised to find out that your brothers are actually nice to you much more often than you realized.”
Now, those may seem like childish emotions to have, and we adults would never be so emotional over such trivial things…or would we?
What about those times when I throw up my hands in frustration because “I can't ever keep this laundry done! Every time I think I'm keeping up with it I find perfectly clean clothes the kids have thrown in the hamper and now have to be rewashed because they were in with the dirty clothes!” (Then I take a big, gasping breath because I just blurted out that really long sentence without even breathing.)
Oh, really? Every time, huh?
Or what about those other times when a child draws on the wall, and I mutter, “I can never have anything nice around here. Everybody ruins everything I own.”
Mmm hmm. You don't have one nice thing in this entire house. Every single thing you own is a rag.
Can you relate? Do your children sound the way mine do? Does your own voice sound the way mine does many times?
Do you know what creates an unhappy, turbulent home life?
It's when the members of that family focus on the negative.
When we allow our thoughts to dwell on every single thing that we don't like, our attitudes become bitter. And pretty soon all of the negative emotions that we are dwelling upon, start to come out. The words we speak to each other start to become critical and nasty. And pretty soon our home is filled with whining and arguing, bickering and badgering.
We can focus on what is true. We can think about good things. We can make a habit of dwelling on the lovely.
The Bible tells us that part of the fruit of the spirit is joy and peace. But in order to be filled with the spirit, we must be filled with the Word of God.
Romans 7:25 tells us that way we do what is right is through the mind. We also find in Romans 12:2 that the way we are transformed into Christ's image is through the renewing of our mind.
I want to cultivate a habit of thinking on things that are true and good. (See also: How to Remain Calm When Your Kids Make You Upset.)
I want that for my family too.
If I want to teach my children to live spirit-filled lives, I must help them create those habits starting right now.
I decided that Philippians 4:8 was going to become our “family verse” for the next while (however long it takes before we all start to see significant growth in this area.)
There's no better guideline for choosing what to set our thoughts upon than a verse that says THINK ON THESE THINGS.
I created this printable wall art of Philippians 4:8 and hung it up in our kitchen so that we would see it and be reminded of it constantly.
(If you'd like your own copy of this scripture art, you can download it immediately using the form below.)
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I hurriedly made my bed this morning, wishing there were more hours in the day.
Just a few minutes earlier, my five year old had asked me if I would teach him how to play the piano. I let out a longing sigh, wishing that it were possible for me to drop everything I was doing and go spend some time at the piano with my boy.
But I knew that wasn’t the thing that needed to be done at the moment.
For every homemaker, there’s a constant question of when to spend one’s time maintaining a clean and pleasant environment and when to forget about the to-do list and give undivided attention to the people who live in that environment.
Unfortunately, after we’ve made our decision, there’s usually a nagging in the back our mind as to whether or not we made the right one. If we spend our time cleaning, we feel guilty for not giving more one-on-one attention to our kids. If we spend our time playing with or reading to the kids, we feel guilty that some of the housework is left undone.
No matter how beautiful and clean one’s house is, and no matter how much loving attention one’s family receives, none of us will ever be a perfect homemaker.
We can make every effort known to man to improve our skills and to manage our time better, but the twenty-four hours allotted to each day will still never be enough to attain perfection in all areas of homemaking.
But as I made my bed this morning, frustrated by those limitations of time, I realized that I actually do know a perfect homemaker.
And that homemaker is not even a woman – not even a human actually. That’s what makes him so perfect.
The perfect homemaker is God.
Right now he is preparing a perfect home for his children.
He is not limited in time or resources. He possesses all the time necessary for maintaining a home of infinite beauty and order, while simultaneously giving his children unlimited love and attention.
I’ll admit that this analogy of God as a homemaker seemed a little cheesy at first, but the more I thought about it, the more encouraged I became in my own role as a homemaker.
I need not succumb to irritation at the limitations of the time-bound, sin-cursed earth on which I live. The impossibility of ever attaining perfection as a homemaker instead makes me turn my attention to my eternal home!
Just think! A home with no dirt on the floor, no legos to step on, and unlimited time to spend with the ones we love!
The reality of imperfect homemaking gives us endless opportunities to focus on the eternal and to teach our children to do the same.
When you are confronted with dirt, disorder, and a clock that moves far too quickly, remember the perfect home that awaits you some day.
Let’s get a fresh perspective of homemaking. Homemaking was never about “doing it all”. Homemaking is about creating an environment where CHRIST is the center of all that is done and said. And what better opportunity to turn the attention of our family onto things above than when we're confronted with reminders that this world is not our home?
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Maybe I'm weird (don't feel a need to voice your opinion on that), but I have a hard time getting to the deeper cleaning in my house.
My husband says it's because I'm a perfectionist (which also happens to be what Flylady says in her book.) You'd never know I'm a perfectionist by looking at my house, but I'm learning that it's probably true.
The reason perfectionists are often messier is because we (okay, I'm owning up to it) don't like to do a job unless we have time to do it perfectly.
The people with really clean houses are the people who are okay with “good enough”. They don't have time to scrub the bathroom top to bottom everyday, so they're okay with wiping out the sink really quickly.
Perfectionists, on the other hand, look around the bathroom and say, “Ugh! It's so dirty in here! I have got to get in here and scrub it!” And then we walk out, waiting to clean anything until we have half an hour free to polish every nook and cranny.
So when it comes to deep cleaning, I have a very hard time ever getting to things like dusting cobwebs, washing windows, or cleaning the oven (actually, let's not even talk about the oven. I don't have any idea when the last time I cleaned the oven was.)
I can't stand to clean the oven when the rest of the kitchen is dirty. But because lots of people live here, and most of us are home all day every day, there are always random dishes to be done. There are always crumbs on the floor that I just swept. So I can't ever do something extra because the regular stuff is never done.
I'm crazy either way. If the regular stuff is not done, I feel crazy. If the bigger stuff sits there and sits there and sits there, taunting me, I feel crazy too.
I love to mow the lawn because it's one thing I can do that actually feels finished when I'm done. When I walk outside, I can actually see that, “Hey! I did something!” I get to enjoy the results of my efforts for at least a week!
So, knowing my propensity toward perfectionism, and knowing just how badly I need that visual sense of accomplishment, I knew I needed more lawn mowing type experiences. I needed to be able to do a job and visually see that it was done, even if it became undone the very second I finished.
One of my Facebook friends recently linked to the Motivated Moms planner, and I took a peek at it. I immediately thought, “Gasp! That's exactly what I need!”
It tells me exactly what to do, every single day of the year, and I get to check the box off and tell myself, “This job is done! Good job!”
Here's what one week looks like:
On the left side, I have all the daily basics. (You know, those things that are never done? Thanks to those handy little check boxes, if I've done them once, they are considered done, and I have visual proof that they're done. )
On the right side, there are a few of the deeper cleaning chores listed for each day. It's enough to get the entire house cleaned from top to bottom every week, and once again, I can see that it's done. So even if my eyes can't enjoy the sight of the actually clean house for very long, I can still enjoy the visual sense of accomplishment by having a record of all the work I've done.
The planner has a paper version as well as an app, so you can use whichever format works better for you. I wanted the paper version because apps like this usually tend to get “lost” in the depths of my phone. I use it for a little bit and then it's “out of sight, out of mind.”
You could technically make something like this yourself for free too, if money is tight. I did when I was first married. I walked through every room in my house and made a list of every single chore that would ever need to be done and how often it needed to be done. Then I took a calendar and wrote down each chore on every single day of the year. If something needed to be done quarterly, I put it on the calendar once every three months, and so forth.
It took a long time, y'all! But it can be done, if that's what you're determined to do.
Over time, as kids came along, things got topsy turvy and that calendar got lost in the shuffle.
But I'm excited to try this system again and see if I can finally get to some of those other jobs that have been bothering me for too long!
I looked around at the kitchen counter that was covered in dirty dishes…again.
“Oh, how I hate waking up to this mess, but I just couldn't keep going last night,” I thought.
My heart rate rose as I glanced into the laundry room and saw the pile of dirty clothes that was growing impossibly large. Chances are that someone would need something in that pile today and I would feel even more frustrated and stressed that I can't even provide a clean pair of socks for my child.
When I am feeling well I work hard to keep the house as clean as I can. I know how stressed a messy house makes me feel, and I know that the stress will only make my health issues worse. But then when I am too weak to get out of bed and the kids are making their own food, they don't do such a great job at cleaning it up. (Okay, that is putting it lightly. It is a horrible mess that no one would ever want to see.)
I have help that comes once a week and that has made a big difference. Even if she doesn't have time to get to the bigger things, she can sweep through and clean up the dishes and laundry so that everyone can breathe again. The deeper cleaning is actually easier for my kids to do on their own anyway. I just give them a wet e-cloth and let them go to town scrubbing floors, walls, doors, and the older ones know how to clean the bathroom as well.
If you live with chronic illness, you know that one of the most frustrating things is not knowing what you'll be able to accomplish on any given day. You never know when you'll be up to housework and when you'll need to be in bed most of the day.
When my blogging buddy Rachel mentioned something about a course she was developing, I was intrigued by the idea because I had not heard of any other resource like it. It's called “Energy Budget: Time Management for the Chronically Ill”. (Insider tip: if you purchase the Conquer Your Clutter bundle, you'll get the energy budget course along with TONS of other time management resources, all for less than half the price of buying the energy budget course alone!)
You see, Rachel knows all about living with chronic illness too, and the frustrations that come with feeling unproductive and chaotic due to lack of a predictable schedule. I thought her idea for a course about how to design a homemaking plan that works for variable levels of physical strength was genius!
If you're walking through a chronic illness and struggling with the feelings of failure that come from not maintaining your home the way you'd like, Rachel's course will be an encouragement.
Now, I'll be the first to admit that taking a course will not make everything all better. You'll still be sick. You'll still wish you could do so much more than you're able to.
But if hiring a full-time maid is not an option (I doubt it is for most of us!), you'll at least have a strategy for using the strength you do have in the ways that will make the biggest impact in your home.
But no matter what:
Do all that you can in the strength of the Lord, asking for his wisdom day by day.
And then rejoice in the Lord, count your blessings, and stop focusing on the things that you wish were different.
Update 1/26/18: Today is the LAST DAY you can get the Conquer Your Clutter bundle before it is removed from the internet. The Energy Budget course has been a favorite with MANY people who purchased the bundle. Get it and 35 other homemaking resources for $29.97 when you purchase the bundle before midnight tonight. CLICK HERE to get yours.