GIVEAWAY: The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson & PrayerWithPurpose

I have read a lot of books on prayer through the years. I am passionate about prayer- I see the POWER of prayer every day. It blows my mind that the Creator of the Universe would allow us to change the course of HIStory through our prayers. He allows us to be a part of the action! I am finishing up the Beth Moore study on "Breath" right now and she discussed "The Valley of Dry Bones" from Ezekiel 37 (you must read it if you haven't) and it just thrills me that God Almighty would allow man (Ezekiel in this case) to be a part of the action. He could have resurrected those bones himself- with a snap...but He allowed Ezekiel to witness and have access to the power and wonder of God. I love that He lets us in on the action....I want more insight, more access, more of the Spirit, more wisdom...more time with Him! 

I recently started reading The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson- it has revolutionized my prayer life. This book sort of sums up all of my favorite things in all of the other books on prayer that I have read. When I was pregnant with my girls I wrote PrayerWithPurpose: 90 Days of Prayer for your Unborn Child for this very reason (I just didn't know that I was praying "circles"). I wanted to cover every spiritual and physical desire for my babies in prayer. When they were born, I did not want to stop "circling" them, so I wrote PrayerWithPurpose: Passionate Prayers for Children. When I read The Circle Maker, it gave me such confirmation that The Lord has already answered so many of those prayers for our family and gave me renewed endurance to continue praying and praising Him for what He will do in the future. I love when Mark Batterson says, "Bold prayers honor God, and God honors bold prayers. God isn't offended by your biggest dreams or boldest prayers. He is offended by anything less. If your prayers aren't impossible to you, they are insulting to God. Why? Because they don't require divine intervention. But ask God to part the Red Sea or make the sun stand still or float an iron axhead, and God is moved to omnipotent action. There is nothing God loves more than keeping promises, answering prayers, performing miracles, and fulfilling dreams. That is who He is. That is what He does." (The Circle Maker p.15). Hebrews 4:16 tells us to "come boldly to the throne of our gracious God", this book really encouraged me to be bold with the Lord and The Spirit convicted me that what I though was humility before the Lord, was really a lack of faith. I was just sort of going about my prayer time with the attitude of "Lord just do whatever you want and I am in" and throughout the Bible it shows that He wants us to ask him, He wants to engage us, He wants to give us access, He wants to hear from us! 
SO, I am going to give away SEVEN copies (because 7 IS the perfect number) of The Circle Maker AND SEVEN copies of PrayerWithPurpose: Passionate Prayers for Children for your summer reading/journaling (so 14 winners total). I want you all to be ignited to pray bold prayers with me! So share the giveaway and I can't wait to send them out to you! If you don't win- please get the book- you will love it! 


Week Two: The Simple Series

WEEK TWO: Simplify Time
by Jenica McMaster of www.delightfulmomstuff.com 

How many times have we heard “you have to be selfish with your time?” What I am suggesting today, in this world of “too busy,” is that we DON’T need to be selfish with our time. We need to be intentional with our time. There are way too many opportunities to be busy and I believe it is a daily struggle to fight the “busy” and be intentional with how we spend EACH day! But selfish? I do not see anything in scripture to tell me I need to live a life where “time” belongs to me. The thing about being a mom is that we don’t only have to fight “the busy” for ourselves, we have to fight it for our kids and spouses as well. In my family of 5, it doesn’t take very many individual commitments to make our family feel like chaos. I constantly need to evaluate our schedule and choose where we will invest our time and what needs to be cut from the schedule. The definition of invest is to “devote (one’s time, effort, or energy) to a particular undertaking with the expectation of a worthwhile result.” In our home that “worthwhile result” should bear fruit (Galatians 5:22-25) and if it doesn’t, it needs to be declined. 

Here are eight questions to ask yourself before making a commitment with your time: 
  1. Does it line up with the will of God according to the scriptures? 
  2. Am I striving to please God or man? 
  3. Am I saying “yes” out of fear that the person who asked would be angry?  
  4. Will it bear fruit? 
  5. Does it utilize my gifts and talents? 
  6. Is the motivation love and service or guilt and fear? (DO NOT say “yes” out of a place of guilt- that would be a sign that #1 is not in line- guilt is not from God)
  7. What sacrifice will my family and I have to make in order to keep this commitment? 
  8. Is this a commitment I am able to keep? (We need to make sure we practice and teach our children that when we make commitments, we keep them.)

For this week in The Simple Series we are not asking you to eliminate anything from your schedule. Instead, we will evaluate how we are investing our time, so that we might simplify and focus on the things that matter most! 

SUNDAY: Service- Take this day and focus on where you are serving. Scrub your list with the questions above. Is there something you need to step away from? Is there somewhere you need to engage? If you are not currently serving, identify one place where you can use your gifts and talents for the glory of God and His people (Ephesians 6:7). We are meant to serve others. Churches are literally desperate for people to serve in all areas. It is great for your kids to see you serve and serve along side you. 

MONDAY: Priorities- Make a list of your top 3-5 priorities. Have your spouse and children (if they are old enough) make a list as well. This list could be focused on short-term, long term or seasonal priorities. How can we arrange our time to invest more in these priorities? What can be eliminated from the schedule to focus on these priorities?

TUESDAY: People- Who am I investing my time with? We must be filled up in order to pour out! Am I encouraging others? If not, call or send a note to someone to encourage them today. Be intentional about investing in others. Is there someone who I need to set healthy boundaries with? Is there a relationship I need to make a greater investment in? Am I making a greater investment in people online than the people who are flesh that God has placed around me in this season? This might also mean reconciliation, who do I need to free my mind and spirit from? Has someone hurt me and that is preventing me from making an investment in other people? Live in the freedom of forgiveness, do not let the bondage of unforgiveness steal your energy, joy and time. 

WEDNESDAY: Passion- Identify 1-2 things that you are passionate about (a hobby, career, studying the word, etc..) and be intentional about setting apart time to pursue that passion. What is on your schedule that is robbing you from your passion? (could time on technology be robbing you from something?) This applies to our kids as well. maybe their 15 activities need to be simplified to just two that they are really passionate about. Maybe they need to turn the technology off and discover what it is they are truly passionate about! Let’s not force the passion on our kids, let God instill that in their bones! Finally, if our husbands have a passion for something outside of work, lets give them guilt-free opportunities to schedule those things. 

THURSDAY: Peace- Schedule a quiet time today. Maybe this requires a babysitter, maybe this requires a child swap with another mom, maybe this means heading to a coffee shop or a quiet place when your husband gets home from work. I have to force myself out of the house sometimes in order to have some peace with the Lord. When I am home I look around and see tasks (or a “task” is barking at me!). I am always filled up when I take the time to get quiet and listen to what the Lord desires for me. It is NOT selfish to carve out peaceful time, it is necessary! 

FRIDAY: Family Life- Evaluate your household- is there healthy balance? Is it a kid-focused home? If so, how is your marriage? Is it an activity-focused home? If so, how is your peace and energy level? Is it a social-focused home? If so, how is the quality time pouring into your kids and spouse? Is it a task-driven home? If so, how is the fun, the relaxation, the creativity going? Take this time and evaluate what you can add or remove from your schedule to find more time to invest in your family! 

SATURDAY: Maintenance- take this time to focus on the investment we are making on personal maintenance! Am I living a healthy lifestyle? (eating healthy foods, exercising, going to the doctor, dental appointments, checking out the moles and lumps that come with age!) Do I feel good about my whole self? Not according to the world’s standards, but to God’s standards? Am I self-absorbed or have I completely let myself go? God “fearfully and wonderfully” made YOU. His desire is for you to be confident in who you are and to take care of the temporary temple he gave you. 1 Corinthians 6:19 says “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” Evaluate how you are maintaining your temple on the inside and outside. You do not need to look like the Hollywood stars to be beautiful. You need to maintain yourself in a way that you feel confident and beautiful and someone who is proud to say “I am the daughter of the King of the Universe and He does not make mistakes.” 

I pray that this week will allow you to reevaluate and adjust how you spend your time. It is a battle to fight the “busy” and not to just fill the time- but to take each day and invest our time with the “expectation of a worthwhile result”!!! 


15 DELIGHTFUL Summer Essentials

Now that we live in Scottsdale, AZ I feel like I am an expert on summer products...because it is never NOT summer here! If you follow me on Instagram you might already know about a few of these- because I am passionate about them! Here you go...

1. S'Well Bottle- This gorgeous bottle comes in all different sizes, colors and textures. It keeps liquid cold for 24 hours and hot for 12! The stainless steel bottle also makes my water taste better- AND my girls love drinking out of them! I was at the zoo in 102 degree heat with my bottle, then I put it in the car and it was in there for the next 6 hours...and I still had ice cubes when I got it out! It is totally worth the cost!
2. Chloe & Isabel Bracelet - I wear this this bracelet all of the time! It is a lovely pop of color and goes with everything- dressy or casual!
3. Fresh: Sugar lip SPF 15: This is great for your summer lips, it has SPF 15, it plumps, it nourishes, it smells yummy, it is free from all of the "yucky stuff" and it lasts forever (unless your 3 year old gets ahold of it- mine is obsessed). Clear Lip Treatment or Tinted Lip Treatment
4. Coconut Oil I use Coconut Oil for everything- but I am loving it for eye makeup removal. My eye makeup is always hard to remove- and it gets it off and I think it has made my lashes stronger/longer. I rub it over my eyes (and usually my whole face) then put my face soap all over- without water (you know, the whole oil and water situation doesn't work) then I use a wash cloth and wash off my whole face. It is delightful!
5. Jo Malone Orange Blossom I know I have mentioned this before- it smells so fresh and light for summer! (TIP: If you go to the Jo Malone counter ask for a sample- or many samples, their sample bottles are little spray bottles and you can travel with them or keep them in your purse- they are fabulous!)
6. Stella & Dot Necklace I find myself wearing these long necklaces all of the time, I ADORE this one!
7. Cold Brew Coffee : I have been making my own Cold Brew coffee. The difference between "iced coffee" and "cold brew" is that iced coffee is hot coffee poured over ice and leaves you with watery/weak cold coffee. Cold brew just includes using cold water and ground coffee- you let it sit overnight or longer to "brew" and you have a yummy, smooth, strong cup of cold coffee. This recipe makes a concentrate so it lasts longer and takes up less space in the fridge. My non-iced coffee-drinking-husband is obsessed with the cold brew- it is seriously amazing! Here are a few products needed to make your own cold brew: Large Mason JarsFine Mesh Strainer, Cheesecloth, Ground Coffee (dark roast is best)
8. Summer Nails: Don't Bossa Nova Me Around this is my new favorite neutral- it sort of looks like silly putty!
9. Laura Mercier Baked Bronzer and Bronzing Gel - I have listed these before- seriously the perfect bronze. I don't love self tanner- it never looks right on me and I hate the smell- but these two products help even out a tan or give a glow when I need one. They last forever- the price per use is nothing! :)
10.  Trina Turk Cover-up: We go to the pool so much that I finally invested in a cover-up that I LOVE. These Trina Turk cover-ups are so great because they are flattering and they dry quickly.
11. Pants: I am OBSESSED with my new Baldwin Malibu Pants- they are such a great fit and can be worn casual or dressy. The material is not too thick but thick enough to hold up and not get saggy.
12. Mint/Lime Water: My new favorite thing to have around is fresh mint- I have a little mint plant and I love using it! I have been putting fresh mint and lime in a jar of water and serving it- it is so refreshing and so yummy!
13. Eyes: Caviar Stick in Copper by Laura Mercier- you know I love the caviar sticks, they are a no-brainer- you swipe them on and you are done. Copper is my favorite color of all of them! (my go-to Christina gets the credit for discovering these!!)
14. Striped Placemats: I entertain so much at my house and these are so great to have- they wipe clean and look good with any color theme I am going for- and they are CHEAP!
15. EOS Shave Cream- this is the best stuff for shaving- my legs are not dry or nicked when I am done shaving- I see a huge difference between this and the other brands. And...the bottle is pretty and it smells yummy...bonus!


The Simple Series: Simplify Technology

I am excited to share Week One of The Simple Series with you! This week, Brooke from http://apffeladay.com is challenging us to simplify Technology! Good luck!

The first thing I look at when I wake up and the last thing I check before bed, my phone. I have the tv on if I am home simply because I like the noise of it. Being a blogger, the computer screen is in front of me at least six hours in a day. If I am doing something unique or new, I spend more time figuring out the right picture to post than I do just simply enjoying it.

Not only has technology permeated almost every area in my life, I feel dependent on it. Like a drug. Do you ever feel naked or incomplete if you leave your phone at home? I do. And lets be honest, it is kind of pathetic.

I am not living in the dark believing we could live how we do without technology. Technology is not just incredible, it is necessary. But, too much of a good thing is never a good thing...in fact, it can be entirely detrimental. What does it effect? Our marriages, our children, our relationships, our experiences, ourselves.

It has been said over and over, the most important part of a relationship is communication. Well, when we rely on emojis to convey a message or spend a date night at the movie theatre, how can we expect our relationships to thrive...or even survive for that matter?

We eye those kids with iPads at a restaurant, looking at our sweet innocent baby thinking that would never be the case for us, and then we proceed to pull out our phones to document the whole night...newsflash, Instagram does not care how colorful your sushi rolls are. We want the world to see what we are experiencing, yet we aren't really experiencing it. We are staring at a screen.

So how about instead of depending on technology, we become intentional about simplifying. Allowing technology to be a tool, not a crutch. The amount of space we allow for technology to take up in our life has to change.

Now, more than ever, we need simplicity. Life seems to get crazier by the second and without intentional change, chaos will seem normal and our relationships will be exhausted. We need a detox. A little break to inspire new perspective on how technology effects our life. Untitled design
I know simplifying the technology is just one step, but it is a crucial one for sure.

This challenge will be insanely hard for me. As I mentioned before, I rely on either my phone, my computer, or my tv almost every moment of every day. But, I could not be more excited to simplify the technology in our lives.

Each day a new challenge, a new way to better the relationship we have with technology.

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