Breaking Busy

Somehow life has hit me out of nowhere. I have justified skipping a shower here and there and working in my comfy clothes all day and well into the night because there is just too much to do. Then there is the thought of cleaning, meal planning, working out and taking care of my basic well being that just sucks the life out me. You too? Or is it just me?

I thought it was normal to go day to day knowing what healthy behaviors are and ignoring them so I could wear the busy badge of honor everyone seems to brag about. But author Alli Worthington has identified this in her new book Breaking Busy as a sign of capacity overload and suggest that I need to do more than just identify the problem.

 “Breaking busy is about more than identifying the things in our life that suck the life out of us. We must also identify what gives us life, what recharges us and restores our capacity.

Am I the only reassured by the reminder that it is ok to set time aside to feel like a human, and that it is ok and not to fill that time with things we say yes to just so we don’t feel like we are letting someone down? Alli reminds us that it’s not only ok to have some quiet times,  it is critical.

“But if we don’t have times of quiet in our lives, we’ll miss hearing what to say yes to and what to say no to.”

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So if you feel as though your life is a mess (like me) and you want to break the cycle of busyness, pick up a copy of Breaking Busy at http://bit.ly/NoMoreCrazy. Or you can enter to win a copy of Breaking Busy from me by leaving a comment. Alli will have you laughing alongside her as she shares how she discovered that she needed to break busy.

“In life when we admit what messes we really are, God can finally mold us, like clay in the potter’s hand, into what he created us to be and who we are meant to be in Him.”

 

http://bit.ly/NoMoreCrazy

http://bit.ly/NoMoreCrazy

*Disclaimer: I gave my honest opinion of Breaking Busy in exchange for a copy of this book plus a book bundle from Zondervan. Don’t worry, I got the better end of the deal!

Empowerment

Sometimes I will start a Facebook post and realize that it is much too long for a social media update and that it must be time for an overdue blog post. That’s the case today.

A while back I went to a conference for Christian business owners. I felt like a total imposter rubbing shoulders with a handful of millionaires. (Really we could say hundreds-of-millions-of-dollars-aires). Whereas I fall into the multi-dollars category. Big difference. Huge.

Not to worry, I was not the only person there that fell into the latter category.

Fortunately, I can talk to just about anybody and I talked to just about everybody there. What’s cool about these types of conferences is that sometimes you don’t know who you are talking to until you get their card and the truth comes out.

But what has really been simmering in my mind is something that three different people said to me on different occasions throughout that day. Empowering. It came in as, “That’s empowering stuff.” “You are empowering.” “Wow. Empowering. You will go beyond where I have.” This is baffling to me. I am just a regular person.

Even though it has been a little while since the conference my mind keeps drifting to these conversations and I wonder what they meant. So I did what I always tend to do when I need to figure something out. I turned to my good friend Google. Yet, most of what I found in there all focused on self-power. This did not seem like the right answer.

Thinking that I would figure it out later I decided to pick up and read a book that I have been wanting to read for a while (because I love the author and she is one of my faves!). Halfway paying attention to what Liz Curtis Higgs is trying to teach me and halfway pondering the whole empowering comments God comes through with an answer.

It can only be God’s orchestration. There is no way that Liz could have known that what she wrote (probably a year ago) would answer my question today in my exact placement of her book. Here’s what Liz shares:

“Boldness is really about God, then, and not about us. Rather than a personality trait, it’s an attribute of the Holy Spirit. If God resides in us and works through us, His love will pour from us like living water. His forgives our pasts, He empowers our present, and He holds our future in His mighty hands. ‘Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. (2 Corinthians 3:112)'”

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I guess the fellow attendees were saying that the could see The Holy Spirit in me. I am cool with that.

How about you, what does the word empower mean to you?

 

Dancing Through Life

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Dancing Through Life: Steps of Courage and Conviction is a recap of Candace Cameron Bure’s time on Dancing with the Stars (a show I daydream about being on – don’t judge!). Basically it is an inside scoop of what goes on behind the scenes of the show and how Candace used her faith to dance through to the finale.

While on-screen Candace may have appeared confident, but at heart she is a people pleaser and most of the time was worried about making people happy. Whether it was her dance partner, family, friends or fans, she wanted to make sure she did well in their eyes.

Sometimes when we get worked up on things like people pleasing, our emotions go haywire and get out of whack. It is in times like these that we miss the whispers of Jesus, so He may send His messages to us through other people. I like to think He does this when we think He is not listening to us.

Candace experienced this phenomenon while she struggled with the fear of man during season 18 on Dancing with the Stars. By being a star competitor Candace fulfilled a longstanding dream of hers and did so with her faith convictions in hand. Each week while on the show, she strived to stand firm in her faith. But the haters be hatin’ and judged her every move. I am not only talking about the professional judges Len, Bruno, and Carrie Ann who kept track of the moves on the dance floor.

Once Candace made the courageous decision to share with the millions of watchers that she is a Christian, people from supposedly the same team began to scrutinize every step she took. From the beginning, there was an outpour of negative comments about Candace on social media. On top of the negativity, compounded with the stress of strenuous dances Candace was also worked up over what to wear during Disney week.

Disney week is supposed to be fun and magical, but Candace was worried about her Ariel costume being too risqué and contradictory to how she feels a woman of faith should portray herself. Jesus shares with us in the Bible not to worry about what to wear. But when Satan is working overtime it is hard to let those words get to our hearts. So Jesus used a message from Candace’s mom to dissolve the worry people pleasing, help her overcome her fear of man, and let go of the image of perfection.

“Honey, I keep praying about this for you, and what I keep hearing the Lord say to me is: Would you feel comfortable if Jesus were sitting in the audience watching you? If so, there is no embarrassment or shame for you in any way wearing that costume, then you wear it and that’s it. Don’t think another thing about it.”

Hmm… I like that. If you would feel comfortable wearing something in front of Jesus, then you shouldn’t worry about it. That message could have saved me so much time in front of the mirror when conflicted about what to wear.

So, God used a message from Candace’s mom to release her from the fear of what others might think, but in actuality that message is for so many of us, too. It’s neat to consider that her mom could have shrugged off the impression God put in her heart and not delivered that message, yet chose to follow God’s urging. Candace’s life verse may just belong to her mom too.

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this” Esther 4:14 (NIV)

To find other interesting tidbits about Candace Cameron Bure you can click the link below and purchase a copy of Dancing Through Life: Steps of Courage and Conviction. You maybe like me and find several things throughout the book that you have in common with Candace. I even found something in common with her in the appendix. The appendix! I discovered in there that we both felt the gospel move from our heads to our hearts when we studied It’s Tough Being a Woman by Beth Moore.

http://www.amazon.com/Dancing-Through-Life-Courage-Conviction/dp/1433686945/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1440516699&sr=1-1&keywords=dancing+through+life

Keep it Simple

Many years ago, I had a math teacher who taught me about the KISS principle. The Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) principle was used to help me, and my classmates, remember to simplify the equations we worked on. I have since forgotten many of the formulas that I learned in this class, but for some reason the Keep It Simple Stupid phrase stuck with me. And now I have found a new way to use this concept.

Since school let out over a month ago I have had a hard time with what to do with my boys. We go out and have fun from time to time, but we have not done anything super special. Because of the lack of summer excitement, I have been comparing myself to other mothers who have done so much with their children already, and this makes me feel like I am failing (which stresses-me-out!).

With so much filling our calendar (that isn’t always summer break kind of stuff) I don’t even remember exactly when I had this thought, but one afternoon I sought advice from The Lord on what to do to make our summer special because I was: 1. overwhelmed by the thought of summer activity planning, & 2. I was/am tired.

As petty as my personal conflict was, it still wore me down. It was a big burden on my heart. I felt like I had disappointed my children by not doing something grand this summer. What better time to reflect on Matthew 11:28-29 than when we are overwhelmed with anything.

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

After I went to The Lord in prayer with the burden that laid heavy on my heart, the words of my math teacher from long ago came drifting back to mind, “Keep It Simple Stupid.” An aha moment happened as I reflected on the words: Keep. It. Simple.

Perhaps The Lord is reminding me the advice that my math teacher offered long ago because I am looking for a solution to the equation of how to raise my children, balance it all, and still create fun summer memories. I am just supposed to apply the principle in a different manner than the way I was originally taught.

Keep it simple does not mean keeping up with the Jones’ and fill every minute of the day with extravagant activities. (Sigh of relief) Keep it simple does not mean stressing over what we have not done, but helping my children learn to be grateful for what we have done. (wipe the sweat of my brow) Keep it simple does mean making sure my boys know I love them (no matter what we do).

So with new peace within me our simple summer is just that. Simple. We are spending time together. We are working. We are taking care of business. That’s about it, and I am ok with it.

Has your summer been filled with fun so far? Or are you like me and have to keep it simple this year?

This post can also be seen at author Kelly O’Dell Stanley’s page http://wp.me/p4I0HY-Uo or www.prayingupsidedown.com

When You Want to be Her by Carey Scott

When You Want to be Her

Carrie Scott

Carey Scott

We’ve all seen that woman who always looks beautiful.

… even if she’s just worked out.

… even if she just rolled out of bed.

… even if she has 5 kids.

even if she has a full-time job.

…even if she’s been crying.

And we’ve thought to ourselves, “How can I compete with that?”

Especially because we try to look our best — except in morning drop-off line at school — and still can’t compete with her.

It’s frustrating.

And it not only triggers those insecurities that tangle us up, but it can also awaken the not-so-nice girl in each of us.

We think things like:

~ She may be pretty, but I bet she isn’t very friendly.

~ Her legs might be long and toned, but I bet she can’t cook to save her life.

~ Her complexion is flawless, but I bet she’s not a very attentive mom.

Sometimes we secretly hope something in her perfect world would go wrong so she’d seem more mortal. And so we place a microscope on her life looking for something to criticize…

…just so we feel better about ourselves.

Yuck, yuck, and yuck.

Don’t you ever wonder why?

… Why it’s so hard to cheer another woman on?

As if life isn’t difficult enough, we find ourselves sick with envy and struggling to appreciate the blessings and giftings of other women.

We feel threatened. We feel inferior. We feel like we can’t measure up.

But friends… why are we trying to?

When God created YOU, He did so on purpose and with great creativity. He decided what color your eyes and hair would be. He chose your body type. He decided when you’d show up on the Kingdom calendar and what family you’d grow up in. He filled you with interests and talents, and the personality to bring them to life.

God didn’t design YOU like anyone else.

On purpose.

And you know what? He made her with the same thoughtfulness. He gave her qualities that are specifically unique to her.

Also on purpose.

And because of that, you’re not qualified to handle the challenges and blessings that come with her life. Just as she isn’t equipped to handle those in your life.

When you get all knotted up in that nasty trap of comparison, your self-esteem will tangle because you’ll be left feeling like you just don’t measure up.

But you weren’t meant to, because you weren’t created to be her.

You were created to be you.

To read more posts like this visit: http://www.CareyScottTalks.com/

Untangled

Over time the insecurities in our heart become a tangled mess. And sometimes one single act can be tangled in our heart forever. I know I have some tangles. Do you?

Untangled

In her book Untangled Carey Scott encourages us to allow God to untangle our heart by sharing how He has Untangled hers. Carey talks about deep issues that have stemmed from a single act when she was four, to things like trying to place self-value in social media numbers.

Some of my favorite things about Untangled are thoughts that Carey has that are similar to mine. Many I don’t have the courage to share, but maybe someday I will. But here are a few:

“If I couldn’t trust men, how could I trust God? Where was he when evil came my way? What kind of God would let such things happen to a child?”

It’s sad, but I have been tangled up with the same questions at one time or another. Though, just as God has answered Carey, He has answered me too.

“I’ve never felt beautiful. Never. The scale, the tape measure, and the image in the mirror that didn’t match up to the magazine images in my mind all conspired to make me feel downright ugly.”

At times I have felt beautiful, but many times I am caught up in this tangle. Especially after two c-sections and a hysterectomy, my body is no where near the images that are splashed all over magazine covers, tv, and the internet. It is hard to feel comfortable in my own skin when I do not measure up. “Father, I am ready for You to Untangle this one!”

There are several other quotes within Untangled that hit really close to home, but the last one I will share is:

“And God exposed it so he could heal it.”

Aha. So that’s why He does that… I thought this might resonate with some of you too.

Carey is real. There is no phony-bologna drama queen here, and I love that about her. I love her honesty and the courage she mustered up to be so vulnerable in this book. Carey talks about everything from feeling like a failure as a mom (I can relate), loving overpriced Starbuck’s drinks (me too), being hurt by friends or hurting friends (check), being a warrior (Carey, maybe we can talk about where to get the best armor?), trusting God (like my life depends on it), being mad at God (silence) (better known as the cold shoulder) (it doesn’t work), success (oh yeah), failure (I’ve had my fair share), jealousy (that’s not fair!) and much, much more.

Thank you, Carey, for opening your heart to God, and allowing Him to Untangle it so that you could encourage so many of us to do the same.

If you would like to purchase a copy of Untangled you can copy and paste or click this link: http://www.amazon.com/Untangled-Loosen-Knots-insecurity-Your/dp/0800726596/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&le=UTF8&qid=1433393989&sr=1-1&keywords=untangled

Jesus Turned the World Upside Down- Kelly O’Dell Stanley

Kelly O’Dell Stanley

I don’t know about you, but my favorite way to pray is upside down.

I’m in good company. Jesus constantly surprised his followers—and critics—with His unexpected answers. Jesus always challenged the status quo. He looked beyond the surface and wasn’t afraid to flip things around.

One Sunday morning when my son, Bobby, was six, he left our pew and walked straight to the front of the church, up the steps onto the platform, right in the middle of our worship. Pastor Nathan was sitting in a chair off to the side, putting the finishing touches on his sermon notes. Bobby circled around the worship leader, ignored the musicians, and climbed into the seat next to Nathan. With a sigh, he leaned back and then scooted to the edge of the chair. The big smile and hug Nathan gave him weren’t a surprise—Nathan had taught all the children that they were always welcome to come up front. That day, as I watched through tears, I finally understood the beauty of having direct access to God. Knowing that He welcomes me, and you, with joy. No matter who’s watching.

This must be what Jesus meant when He spoke to the adults who tried to shoo the children out of the way.

“Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” Luke 18:16-17

Jesus broke with convention and offered all that He had to those who had nothing. No qualifications required. No secret handshake. All we need to approach Him is the confidence that He will not stop us.

And His upside-down answers didn’t stop there.

“Whoever is least among you is the greatest.” Luke 9:48

In God’s world, the blessings come from serving rather than being served. From loving, rather than just being loved. From being welcomed by the Master, even if no one else thinks we belong.

In the Bible, the Pharisees didn’t hide their good deeds but took pride in their public displays. Jesus chastised them.

Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. Matthew 6:1

Jesus flip-flopped public faith for private, emphasizing that what’s in a person’s heart is more important than a person’s actions, and reminding us that God’s reward system isn’t the same as this world’s.

The best way to follow Jesus is by embracing the unexpected. By opening our minds to surprising new ways to see Him.

But it’s not always easy. God is the Master of Creativity, the original Artist, and He rarely responds in the ways we expect. He may ask you to forgive, even if you are the one who is wronged. He may ask you to become the wife your husband needs, rather than turning your husband into the man you always dreamed of. He may not save your job, but He might give you the time you’ve always needed to learn more about Him, or free your schedule to finish the renovations on your kitchen. He might not deliver you from poverty but instead teach you how to budget, balance, and take care of what He’s provided. Or He may show you that even if you have very little, when you can find ways to give what you do have, you will feel wealthy.

Praying upside down can be a literal flip-flop of your prayer (like when I prayed for the unknown woman who would eventually buy my house, rather than praying that I would sell the house) or any type of prayer that is unconventional, unexpected, or unusual. The power isn’t in the asking or dependent on your ability to find a creative way to ask—it’s in the creative and surprising ways in which God answers.

In Luke 22:42, Jesus prayed, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (kjv). Nevertheless is a powerful word you rarely hear these days. When included in prayer it means that even if nothing make sense to us yet, even if we don’t know what to expect, we want the best that God has. We’re acknowledging that, even 2,000 years later, Jesus continues to provide a fresh approach. When we pray upside down, we’re looking at our situations from a different point of view—His—and saying, “I may not always understand—nevertheless, I’m willing. Turn me upside down, if that’s what You want.”

Because if that’s His point of view—oh, what a view that must be.

Kelly O'Dell Stanley

Kelly O’Dell Stanley

BIO: Kelly O’Dell Stanley is a graphic designer, writer, and author of the new book, Praying Upside Down, which releases May 1. With more than two decades of experience in advertising, three kids ranging from 21 to 14, and a husband of 24 years, she’s learned to look at life in unconventional ways—sometimes even upside down. Full of doubt and full of faith, she constantly seeks new ways to see what’s happening all around her. Subscribe to her blog (www.prayingupsidedown.com) to download her free ebook, Praying in Full Color, along with this month’s prayer prompt calendar to jump-start your prayer life.

Purchase links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Praying-Upside-Down-Experience-Transform/dp/1414389833/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1425915376&sr=8-1&keywords=praying+upside+down

Barnes & Noble:
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/praying-upside-down-kelly-odell-stanley/1120849183?ean=9781414389837
Also available at christianbooks.com, Lifeway, Books-a-Million, Parable, and others

Social media links:
Facebook author page: www.facebook.com/KellyODellStanley
Twitter @kellyostanley
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/kellyostanley/

 

 

Kelly O’Dell Stanley Interview

Kelly O’Dell Stanley’s book Praying Upside Down released Friday May 1st. With this in mind Kelly would like to Be My Guest and talk a little bit about her new book.

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Kelly O'Dell Stanley

Kelly O’Dell Stanley

 

Stephanie: In Praying Upside Down you mentioned that writing is an outlet for you. When and how did you realize that writing was more than an outlet and that you needed to write Praying Upside Down? 

Kelly: To simplify a long and not-all-that-exciting story, what happened is this. After journaling for years, I started writing short essays to fill space in the weekly church bulletin (which I designed). Eventually I found the courage to quit claiming that they were written by “Anonymous” and put my name under them. An acquaintance who had published a memoir invited me to audit the senior-level college course on memoir writing she taught at a local college. She saw promise and encouraged me to apply for some MFA programs. That didn’t fit with my life at the time, though (I had young kids and ran my own full-time design business), so I decided to skip the program and just keep writing instead. I had been attending the Midwest Writers Workshop for a couple of years, and through that I connected with some editors and was able to publish some articles.

But one year I started praying before I went that God would not let me leave that year’s workshop without having a plan. I loved to write—and it was a powerful spiritual practice for me. I’d felt as though I’d been in a season of preparation, but I just felt that it was time to start moving forward, whatever that would mean. By the time I left the three-day workshop, my mind wouldn’t stop spinning. I’d once had an idea for a short gift-type book called Praying Upside Down. It was a very short explanation of what drawing upside down is, and then had some Bible verses to support why we should pray, along with cute, colorful pictures of kids hanging upside down. But as I drove the two hours home that night, I realized the concept was so much wider than that, and that it encompassed my entire spiritual life, my whole faith story. And that everything I knew about art also related to prayer.

So at that point I got serious and started working on it.

Me: I think anytime you can look back and see how God has worked in our past is exciting.

 

Me: In chapter 7 the topic is point of view. One of the memories you shared leading up to a change of perspective in this chapter is about you when you were a teenager and a guy named Rich. Somehow while you two were at a party, you guys were unintentionally alone together. During the period of time when no one was around Rich was verbally abusive and had you trembling with fear. Only by the grace of God the others returned (including your date who had left you behind) to the party before any physical actions were acted out on you.

Many years later Rich was at a church service you regularly attended. To say you were shocked maybe an understatement. Initially when you saw him there you felt that he intruded in your safe zone. You hoped he would not recognize you. Did he? Did you guys speak to one another that night?

Kelly: He did not seem to recognize me—which isn’t all that surprising because he was pretty messed up that night many years ago. But seeing him caused me to reflect back and see how much my life had changed in that time. And made me realize that focusing on myself and my short-lived fears was pretty selfish. As I said in the book, I later came to know the woman he used to be married to, and my personal experience was nothing compared to what she lived with day in and day out. It helped me to pray for her and gave me new-found empathy. But eventually, as I processed it as an adult, it caused me to realize that I had to accept what had happened and forgive him—and forgive myself for putting myself in a questionable environment to begin with. I’ve seen him a handful of times but had minimal interaction. To be fair, both of our lives are different now. And I can see now that he wasn’t specifically terrorizing me—I just happened to be the unlucky person who was left there with him. Really, it comes down to this: he has ties to some people I really care about, and they know about his past (just not as it relates to me). Their connection to him doesn’t change the way I feel about them, and I can be polite. Seeing him, too, is a reminder that God forgives and changes all of us. And that God’s grace covers all.

 

Me: In one of the Prayer Palettes discussions the topic is Sherry. In the midst of her struggle with ongoing medical treatments for a chronic condition, she developed a profound way to see how many prayers are answered. She simply wrote down her prayers and then would go back through with a highlighter to mark each answered prayer. This is something that was later called “I Got a Yellow” in your guys’ Bible Study.
I have got to know how Sherry is doing, and do you still highlight your answered prayers?

Kelly: Sherry is an amazing woman. In the years since that story, she has had two different times when she had serious accidents and was not expected to live. And yet she comes through every time. She’s broken her back. Stopped breathing. And through it all, she gives the glory to God. She always leans on Him and points people to Him, even in the middle of serious medical issues. She’s such an inspiration to everyone who knows her.

I’ll confess. I haven’t highlighted answered prayers for a while. Our church had a prayer group with a pretty large group of women, and it was extremely powerful to have a roomful of women writing down their prayers and rejoicing over their answers. And to see the book fill with yellow. When schedules got in the way of the group meeting regularly, I stopped doing that for myself. It’s a powerful practice and one I know I will use again, but for now, I seem to be in a phase of writing out my prayer needs in much greater detail, sort of recording all the nuances of a situation so I can go back and see God’s fingerprints all over it later. As a result, I’ve gotten away from this a little bit. But my journal is still full of answered prayers. They’re just not all colored yellow anymore!

Occasionally, though, someone will still stand up at church and say they got a yellow!

 

Me: If a reader was to walk away with only one piece of wisdom from Praying Upside Down what do you hope it would be?

Kelly: Can I give two answers? 🙂 One is that all prayer is good, so don’t beat yourself up. Just pray. God wants to hear from you. I believe that thoroughly and completely. The other (still closely related to that) is that God is faithful even when we are not. He forgives us when we fail. He wants us to come back to Him, even if we have to start fresh every day, or several times a day. And that our failings don’t matter because HE is the One with all power. Prayer gets its power, not from me, but from the One we pray to. (I guess that last line sums it all up, but it’s all what I hope people will come away with.)

 

Me: With so much excitement and success surrounding Praying Upside Down do you think you will write another book? If so, is it in the works?

Kelly: Absolutely! And sort of :-). I have ideas and I’ve put together another proposal. But it’s all kind of predicated on how well this concept is received. All along I believed I would write many books, and that the artistic perspective would be the common denominator. Now I’m sensing that maybe it will be prayer. (Although I can never look at anything in any other way besides as an artist, so that will never go away, nor do I want it to.) I am realizing that maybe I don’t get to be the one to decide! I’m kind of feeling my way forward right now, waiting to sense the right direction, keeping my eyes open to watch for clues. I’m trying hard not to let my human nature take over and make these decisions, which is sometimes a struggle. But, truly, I want to be where God wants me to be, and I’m trying hard to simply listen and be prepared. (And I certainly hope you’re right about there being excitement surrounding my book!)

Thank you Kelly, for taking the time to talk with me about Praying Upside Down, and for offering so many new perspectives on how to approach prayer. I look forward to your guest post tomorrow!

Praying Upside Down

From the moment I heard about Praying Upside Down by Kelly O’Dell Stanley I knew I had to get my hands on the book. But guess what! Not only did I receive an advance copy of the book, I also had the privilege of interviewing Kelly, which I will share tomorrow. PLUS she will Be My Guest here on The Princess Disciple in two days!

Now if I can set my excitement aside for a moment, I might be able to share a little bit about Kelly and her new book…

Kelly O’Dell Stanley is an artist & author who used her artistry throughout Praying Upside Down to help transform the way we think about and approach prayer. It’s an absolutely genius concept. For example take a look at the cover:

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A similiar image is used in chapter six. Kelly uses the profile of faces/goblet photo to highlight this point (and others).

“If we look closely, we may see more than what first met the eye. Often, though, we see only what we expect-when drawing, when questioning, when praying. Our preconceived ideas get in the way, hindering accuracy, clarity, and spiritual growth-limiting how much of the truth we are able to see.”

This is a pretty neat concept. Kelly uses different art techniques and learning styles to create eye opening ways to connect with our Father in prayer. She basically offers a different perspective, which I know I need from time-to-time.

One of my favorite things about Praying Upside Down is the wisdom that Kelly shares throughout the book. It’s wisdom that comes from gut wrenching heartache that has been slowly healed by the Almighty. I recognized this when Kelly put into words the conundrum she and I have both experienced. Which is, losing our moms to cancer and eventually growing closer to our Heavenly Father. But I could never quite explain it as she does.

“I now understood the conundrum of Christian grief-that in order to draw close to the one you lost, you must draw close to the One who allowed her to die. But from that moment on, I felt a stirring of faith.”

It’s the stirring of faith that reminds me of several other points Kelly makes. Like it is ok to be productive but not at the expense of our time in prayer (Kelly mentions this on page 181). Or that I should dare to, “Let go of the idea of having to pray in straight lines, you’re asking God to show you a new reality-His. By not limiting your discovery to what you imagine or assume to be true, you will cut through prejudices and assumptions and judgements. Look objectively at your motives. Since you cannot hide the truth from God, it’s better to face your doubts and ask the tough questions.”

Praying Upside Down is such a special book. You won’t be disappointed if you pick up a copy. Mine is full of highlights and underlines and side comments and… Oh yeah, highlights remind me of one my favorite ideas that Kelly offers in a handy-dandy section called Prayer Palette. In one of the Prayer Palettes Kelly shares the story of a friend of hers who wrote down her prayers. I know writing down our prayers is not a new concept. However, going back through your written prayers and highlighting all the answered prayers is (at least to me!). So many times God answers our prayers, and we are oblivious to the fact. He doesn’t always answer them the way we want them to be, but highlighting answered prayers is an excellent way to go back and see how God is working in our lives.

I am ready to start highlighting, how about you?

I truly enjoyed Praying Upside Down, and think you will too!

 

In the Lions’ Den

Last Thursday I was all fired up over something that knocked me off my rocker. I was lied to. I really don’t like liars. None the less, it was by a major corporation. If you know me, you know it is the principle of the matter that really got to me.

Here’s what went down. I had an appointment scheduled in the morning with the rest of my day set up around it. This appointment was full of promises, and it was supposed to make life easier. All of this was for one low price and at 8am.

At 8:30 no one was here yet, so I gave the company that promised me the world a call. I couldn’t seem to find anyone that knew what was going on. The customer service department didn’t know if someone was going to be come to my house, or if they were going to work their magic remotely.

Hours went by of getting the run around. With each minute that passed, I was filled with more frustration. I had counted on the promise that was made to me, only to have so much of my day wasted by waiting around and sitting on hold with nothing to show for it. Finally, when I was at my wits ends, I was transferred to the loyalty department where I was told that everything I had been promised was a lie.

Come to find out, what I would be charged for the service I signed up for is a significant amount more than what I was initially told. The only logical thing I could think of at this point was cancel my service. There was no way that I was going to pay more than what I agreed to.

I don’t know what irked me more, the lie that the sales rep told me or that the customer service reps would say, “Hang on just one sec,” and then come back on the line 25 minutes later (no joke). I had let this lie consume me and my day.

For some reason, all throughout this ordeal I had a desire to read my Bible. Multiple times I thought I should take a moment and go read my Bible. But it wasn’t until everything was settled, 5 hours later, that I sat down to read.

At the time I was in the book of Daniel. My thoughts were something like, how in the world is Daniel going to offer a solution to the shame I felt for allowing myself to get so worked up over something so petty? Anyhow, when I opened up my Bible to read where I had left off, it was at the story of Daniel in the Lions’ Den. My thoughts continued on… I have read this story many timesIt is not relevant.

But I was faithful, and studied the familiar words once more.

So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, ‘May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!’ A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed.” (Daniel 6:16-17)

(c) Walker Art Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

This was nothing new to me. I knew that Daniel was shut in with a bunch of lions. What did this have to do with my frustration? Why, God, do you want me to read this story today?  He answered me after I read this:

“My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me…” (Daniel 6:22)

 

In a small whisper I heard, “My child, you are in the lions’ den, but I am with you.”

Oh.

So that’s how it is relevant to the insanity that I that experienced that day, and am experiencing right now. Every struggle I faced and am facing is a lion, but the lions can’t hurt me because God is with me.

It amazes me (that in the midst of something as small my frustration over something so petty) that God reminds me of His presence in a new way.

Do you feel like you are in the lions’ den too? How so? I would love to hear how you can relate to being in the lions’ den.