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Christmas Uncluttered Day 8

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12

Today I’m dragging from lack of enthusiasm with our family project. I found myself going to each family member’s room and asking for their items for the “give away” box. Clearly they’re over Christmas Uncluttered. I was even referred to as the “Donation Nazi” (but they all still participated and slowly added their items to the “give away” box).

Once today’s effort was complete, we stood around the overwhelming pile of items while complaints were shot at me about how this project is taking over the kitchen! I proceeded to let everyone know that I would move it to the laundry room before the weekend. Wouldn’t you know, the response was, “How can you do that, the laundry room already looks like this?”

This journey is so eye opening! We want so many things and then when we have them they become distracting, in our way, and causing affliction in our lives. Call me what you wish but I’m certain if we are joyful in our hope of God, patient in affliction from others, and faithful in our prayer life, God will take care of it.

I’m so grateful for Christ’s love and protection.

Merry Christmas!

Paige

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Christmas Uncluttered Day 7

We boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:2(b)-5

Ok, I admit it, this journey of a Christmas Uncluttered is definitely developing perseverance for me. I know our God of hope will pull our family through this journey as he has done many times before. Those who know me can tell you that I’m a ‘getter done’ type of person. If this activity were up to me, I’d shovel the whole house into the driveway and call it a day. BUT I feel that this family activity is better spent as a journey, especially during the season of Christmas.

Our “give away” items have spilled out of the box and onto the floor of our kitchen. We are exploring and discussing outdated items such as flip phones (no offense to those of you who still have one) and trading each other, all while the dog keeps finding his own treasures in the “give away” box and running through the house with them. As I walk through the house picking up stray items, I find myself wanting to fall to the floor and pitch a two-year old fit but I will choose to forego that and instead make a plan B.

Each day I will pray for God to teach me through this journey – perseverance, character, and hope. And along the way, no matter how frustrating, I will boast in the hope of the glory of God!

Merry Christmas to you and yours.
Blessings, Paige

Christmas Uncluttered Day 6

Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30

The “give away” box is already stuffed and overflowing! And my husband is already warning me that this activity is going to take over the kitchen. Clearly I need to find a new storage spot for our give away items. I thought about taking a picture for you but it’s really embarrassing yet quite humbling to see the excess that we have accumulated (I will post a picture eventually), especially when our family has now designated 140 items to give away in just one week!

On one hand, I am so proud of my family for participating in this Christmas activity with me. On the other hand, every where I turn I continue to see excess in our home. The majority of what we have given away is clothes but there are still clothes spilling out of every room – clothes to wash, clothes to fold, clothes to hang up, clothes to go to the dry cleaners, clothes to give away and more. Just seeing all of these clothes is exhausting but I am so thankful that God calls us to go to him for rest for our souls when we are burdened. I keep telling myself that this activity of giving this Christmas season is a good thing! And when it seems overwhelming, I know it is short lived and I am comforted by God along the way.

I hope you too are able to lean into God when you feel overwhelmed or burdened.

Merry Christmas!
Paige

Christmas Uncluttered Day 4

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21

Everyone in our family continues to place items in the “give away” box each day and each day they are more interested in putting items in the box (and some wanting to put more in the box than is requested for the day). In fact, two of our three teens have begun the long process of cleaning their rooms and starting a pile of items to give away each day. I’ve never seen so many clothes!

I started Christmas shopping today and found myself struggling with conviction as it was difficult to make sense of giving away our possessions yet replacing them with new things. Are we defeating the purpose?

Jesus demands, in Matthew 6:19-21, that his disciples give their full allegiance and devotion to God (“Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven”) rather than to the accumulation of wealth (treasures on earth). He gives three reasons for this admonition: (1) material things offer no security, since they are themselves susceptible to destruction. (2) the quality of personal character (the heart) is determined by the object of commitment and devotion (3) the attempt to divide allegiance between God and money is doomed to failure; it can lead only to self-deception and the despising of God.

Christmas is already becoming more meaningful as I consider Jesus’ demands to give all of ourselves and consider – the treasures stored up on earth vs. treasurers stored in heaven.

I pray you too are experiencing a meaningful Christmas and remembering our eternal treasured.!

Blessings,

Paige

Christmas Uncluttered Day 3

The king is pleased with words from righteous lips; he loves those who speak honestly. Proverbs 16:13

The joy of parenting – especially when we see the fruits of our labor! Day 3 was a day of honesty in more than one way from the same teen in our family. Not that others in our family aren’t honest but today was a special day. This morning, on the way to school, he humbly and honestly admits (without my prompting), that he forgot to put his items in the “give away” box last night but will make sure he gets them into the box after school. Gotta love it! How many times have we talked to our kids about the importance of honesty (and many other important character traits critical for excelling in life)? Just like the king, we parents are pleased with words of honesty. And what a blessing to witness when one of our kids “get it.”

Then tonight, as I was searching for my Christmas Uncluttered items, I found myself struggling to depart with a few sentimental accessories. Luckily my humble and honest teen was standing next to me and provided a gentle and honest “No, you shouldn’t wear that…,” followed by a silent look on his face of “…ever!” Before thinking about these items further, I quickly pushed them deep down into the bottom of the “give away” box so that I wouldn’t see them and be tempted to pull them back out. It’s only Day 3 and I’m already a bit anxious to say the least! If I’m sentimental and struggling to give away three items, how will I give away 325? Maybe today’s scripture should have been “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I’m sure I will recall this verse often in order to get through the next 21 days.

I hope you too experience the fruits of parenting and the humble honesty our kids can bring us. Join our family on this journey to a Christmas Uncluttered! Clearly we are beginning to receive as much as we give.

Merry Christmas!

Paige

Christmas Uncluttered Day 2

Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” Psalm 126:2

Hmm, Day 2 was interesting. Items are starting to show up in the “give away” box that one person doesn’t want and another person says, “Wait, I might want that!” What?!? Now we want to trade? On top of that, big brother is trying to donate little sister’s toys! I, on the other hand, am a purger by nature and find myself in need of giving all of my 325 items away today. Waiting, and only giving the correct number of items each day, is helping me to wait with anticipation and remember the reason for the season, the coming of the Christ child.

Just like the captive people of Israel who were permitted to return to their country, we too have been held captive my material possessions. But this family activity is giving our family the opportunity to talk, laugh and play together more often which is showing the great things God has done and is doing for us.

If you are joining us on this journey, I hope you too are experiencing the same.

Merry Christmas!

Paige

Congratulations!

You have completed the 40 Day Prayer Challenge from Mark Batterson’s book, Draw the Circle! I hope this daily devotion over the last 40 days has been helpful to get you into the habit of prayer. More importantly, I hope you are developing a relationship with our awesome God as this is the beginning of a lifetime of watching God at work in your life.

I speak from personal experience when I say, He will answer your prayers! Never give up. Never stop praying as you may only be one day away from your dream, or miracle. Our God is an amazing and mighty God who can and will do more than we could ever ask or imagine.

100% of the prayers you don’t pray won’t get answered. -Mark Batterson

Keep circling!

Prayerfully, Paige

Day 38 Climb the Watchtower

“I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guardpost.” Habakkuk 2:1

In Mark Batterson’s Draw the Circle, he writes, “Watchtowers served a variety of purposes in ancient culture – as built-in defense systems in the walls of ancient cities, as built-in pastures so shepherds could protect their flocks from wild animals, and as built-in vineyards for protection form thieves. Watchmen would climb into their watchtower, station themselves at their guardpost, and scan the horizon for enemy armies or trading caravans. The watchmen were the first to see, and they saw the farthest. So it is with those who pray. Intercessors are watchmen and watchwomen. They see sooner and see farther in the spiritual realm. Why? Because prayer gives us a unique vantage point.

“I wonder if that’s how Elijah felt as he prayed for rain on top of Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18:42). God has just answered an impossible prayer on that very mountain. Elijah defeated the 450 prophets (1 Kings 18:16-39) of Baal in a sudden-death showdown on Mount Carmel. The God who sent fire can certainly send rain, right? That miracle gave Elijah the faith he needed to pray hard. And that is one of the by-products of answered prayer. It gives us the faith to believe God for bigger and better miracles. With each answered prayer, we draw bigger prayer circles. With each act of faithfulness, it increases our faith. With each promise kept, it increases our persistence quotient.

“Geography and spirituality are not unrelated. That’s why the Israelites built memorials in places of spiritual significance. During seasons of repentance, they would often return to those ancient altars to renew their covenant with God.

“I have to believe that David revisited more than once the battlefield where he defeated Goliath. That Abraham made a pilgrimage back to the thicket where God provided a ram. That Peter rowed out to the place on the Sea of Galilee where he walked on water – and it renewed his faith. That Paul built a personal altar on the road to Damascus where God knocked him off his high horse. And that Zacchaeus let his grandkids climb the sycamore-fig tree where he had gotten his first glimpse of Jesus.

“Where we pray is not insignificant. The Israelites pitched the tent of meeting outside the camp for a reason. Jesus prayed on mountains, by water, and in gardens for a reason. We need to find a place where we are free from distraction, where we get good reception, where we can focus, and where our faith is strong.”

As mentioned in previous posts, there is nothing magical about circling something in prayer, whether literal or figurative, but there is something biblical about it. There are times when we have to mark God’s territory; to take a step of faith and pray a perimeter around a promise that God has put in our heart.

Going back to places of spiritual significance can help us find our way forward again. -Mark Batterson

Do you have a place to pray?

Prayerfully, Paige

Day 37 Prayer Contracts

“Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven.” Matthew 18:18

Mark Batterson’s Draw the Circle states, “The word bind has a legal connotation. It means ‘to place a contract on something.’ This is precisely what happens when we pray in the will of God. Our prayers place a contract in the spiritual realm.”

As previously emphasized (see post Day 31 Spell it Out), the purpose of prayer is not to get what you want; the goal of prayer is to discern what God wants, what God wills. But if your prayer is in the will of God, then it is backed by the full authority of the King and His kingdom.

“A.W. Tozer wrote, ‘What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.’ So let me ask the question: When you think about God, what images come to your mind? For most people, I suspect the dominant image is Jesus hanging on a cross. That gruesome cross is the most beautiful picture of what true love looks like. But let me make and observation that may sound a bit sacrilegious. You aren’t praying to a God who is hanging on a cross; Jesus is seated on the throne, and the earth is His footstool. All authority is His. And if you are His, then His authority is yours.

“We grossly underestimate the authority that is ours because we are children of God. And we desperately need a vision like the one Isaiah had (Isaiah 6), who saw the Lord high and lifted up.

“I think Tozer was right when he stated that a low view of God is the cause of a hundred lesser evils and a high view of God is the solution to ten thousand problems. Our biggest problem is our small view of God. God is so much bigger than our biggest problems (see post Day 8 One God-Idea). God is so much better than our best thoughts. He is infinitely wiser and more gracious and powerful than anything we can imagine.”

When we dream big, pray hard and think long, God pushes our limits and stretches our faith. And we steward the miracle by believing God for even bigger and better miracles.

“We tend to view the goal as the goal, but in God’s economy, the process is the goal. It’s not about what we’re doing at all; it’s about who we’re becoming in the process. It’s not about doing great things for God; it’s about God doing great things in us.

“After explaining the binding nature of our prayers, Jesus explains the power of prayer circles. If two of you agree (Matthew 18:19-20) on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or more have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.

“The word bind means ‘to tie together.’ It’s the same word used to describe marriage vows. Just as the two become one flesh, when we agree in prayer, the two become one spirit.

“Something powerful happens when we agree in prayer. Our faith isn’t just added together; it’s multiplied. If we are praying in the will of God and for the glory of God, then agreeing with someone in prayer is like getting our prayer contract notarized.

“Finally, the word bind means ‘to chain.’ There are more than 3,000 promises in Scripture, and according to the apostle Paul, all of them ‘are yes in Christ’ (2 Corinthians 1:20). Our most powerful prayers are chained to the promises of God. Don’t just pray your words all the time; pray the Word of God because His word does not return to Him empty (Isaiah 55:11).

“Chain it to your mind through memorization. Chain it to your heart through meditation. Chain it to your past, present, and future through prayer.”

Agreeing with someone in prayer is like getting your prayer notarized. -Mark Batterson

Are you bound in prayer?

Prayerfully, Paige

Day 35 The Longest Lever

“Do not despise these small beginnings.” Zechariah 4:10

A friend recently came to me saying that she’s been praying during our 40 Day Prayer Challenge but things don’t seem to be getting much better. I know it’s hard to pray and wait on God (see post Day 23 Not Now) but small beginnings is where we must start. And if we continue to pray like the members of the early church (Acts 2), Pentecost can happen anytime, anyplace!

Mark Batterson reminds us of the value of small beginnings, “In Zechariah 4, the Jewish remnant who returned to Israel are getting ready to rebuild the temple. It is an overwhelming undertaking. But the Lord encourages them with these words: ‘Do not despise (Zechariah 4:10) these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s land.’

“The plumb line was an ancient measuring tape. All they had done at this point was measure! That’s it. But God was already rejoicing over them. Like a parent that celebrates a baby’s first step, our heavenly Father rejoices when we take the smallest of steps in the right direction. And those small steps become giant leaps in God’s kingdom. If we do little things, God will do the big things. But we have to do the little things like they are big things.

“We cannot worry about what we cannot do; we have to simply do what we can. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things. And if we do the ordinary, God will add an extra to it.

“Prayer is our plumb line. It’s also the true measure of a person. No one is greater than their prayer life. Our potential is directly proportional to our prayer life. It is the single greatest indicator of our success in any endeavor.

“Archimedes of Syracuse is famous for his quip, ‘Give me a place to stand on, and I will move the earth.’ He was referencing the lever, one of six simple machines identified by Renaissance scientists. A lever amplifies the input force to provide a greater output force. Simply put, the longer the lever, the greater the leverage.

“Let me borrow a simple statement and substitute one word: Give me a place to kneel on, and I will move the earth. In the kingdom of God, humility equals authority. Call it bold humility or humble boldness. That is our lever. If we try to exalt ourselves, God will find a way to humble us. But if we humble ourselves, God will find a way to exalt us. There is no leverage like kneeling in prayer. If we hit our knees in humble prayer, God will extend His mighty hand on our behalf. He will leverage us in ways that are humanly impossible.

“Humility is how we get out of the way of what God wants to do. And if we stay out of God’s way, then there is nothing God cannot do in us and through us.

“There is nothing magical about kneeling, but there is something biblical about it. Posturing our bodies helps us posture our hearts. Bowing our hearts in reverence before God is what really matters.”

If we do the ordinary, God will add an extra to it. -Mark Batterson

Is daily prayer your plumb line?

Prayerfully, Paige

 

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