It's been a while bloggy land! For months now I have wanted to write. I reserved my domain and came back to my home. (with a small change it is now crittyjoy.me!) and then it sat. But for weeks it has been stirring in me I need to write. I miss it. I changed everything back to Critty Joy because that has long been my moniker and it is me. It is CJ who has made the most delightful friends in bloggy land and is so glad to be back!
However I am not the person from a few years ago. Much has changed. My journey is different. I hope to share that here. My story. My struggles and my mess. My triumphs and my joy. And of course randomness. It's not the CJ blog without the random! My passions have changed some. My heart has definitely changed some. And embracing those changes has been important.
I came back as Critty Joy because I met the most delightful people on my journey in this space years ago and I want to come back and make this space my home again. I hope you will join me. I am not sure exactly how things look...I know for now at least a weekly post...and I do have some great bible studies and books to talk about.
I hope you will join me again on my journey. I have missed you so lovelies.
First...an announcement my dear ones...
This is my last post from this internet home...
Critty Joy Blog is moving. THIS is going to be my new home at some point this week. Right no there is nothing really there but soon... Hopefully I will be able to move the RSS feed and get my domain working...and get everything settled during this quiet week of work. I'm on duty for this week so that means lots of time in my apartment with plenty of time to get everything moved and working. :)
I do plan to do a post this week (at my new internet home!) about my oneword for 2012...and my new word for 2013.
And I wanted to wish you a....
There was a slight mix-up and I ended up with something unexpectedly different but here is the lovely thing...all of it is delightful!
I loved opening my box and finding so many gorgeous things.
This gorgeous tablerunner. The color is stunning. A deep red with gold accents on one side and a beautiful linen color with the words Love Came Down on the other. Since I just moved into my apartment a little over a month ago I don't have a dining room table yet...but I cannot wait to use it next year! It will be lovely.
The delightful trio of tealight candle holders are a beautiful frosted glass with the words Brightest hope (my favorite!), Jesus, and Purest Love.
This is the first year I will have my own Christmas tree and I am putting it up this weekend and I am so excited to put the gorgeous Love Came Down ornament on it! It is simple yet means so much.
I think my favorite thing in the box was the Advent tabletop devotional. (and it's only $5.99!) I could not resist flipping through the pages and I teared up several times as I read of His promises fulfilled. The last 2 months have been a beautiful reminder for me as He has fulfilled promises to me. So to have this devotional to look at each day and remember the amazing God we have and the promises He has fulfilled...especially the one that is Jesus. It's a gift.
Isn't Christmas grand.
I received the above products from Dayspring for free in exchange for my honest review. The thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.
Why Hello there dear ones!
I must admit I did not mean to abandon this little ole bloggy but life's been...an adventure as of late.
It's very strange to be so very happy after nine months of really hard things. Some days it scares me to be this happy yet I choose to embrace it and live life fully.
Oh... why so happy?
The job? It's amazing. I love it. I work with some amazing people and am enjoying all aspects of it. It feels like a perfect fit. Just over a month in and I am overwhelmed with the goodness of it all. I wake up excited for work and it's been a long time since I felt that way (years!).
Having my own place is also fabulous. I am enjoying making it a home each small step at a time. (saving money for things like a dining room table are a dream come true!). It already feels like home and I know in the coming months it will become even more my own space that reflects who I am.
There is a guy. Who is pretty amazing and he makes my life so much more fun. He is good at getting me out of my comfort zone and he's wonderfully sweet to me.
Life is lovely.
I feel like this quote has been the beauty of my life lately. This year has been about giving up dreams and gaining new ones... it's been about hoping when things felt so hopeless. It's been about choosing joy on the hard days. It's been full of choosing trust and even on the most frustrating days.
A year of dare...that has turned out to be more than I could have ever imagined.
I am so grateful for the gift that has been this year...the beauty that has come from ashes and the hope that has sprung forth in the most unusual of ways.
I am not sure what this blog will look like for a while...as I try to navigate my new chapter of life.
I will still be around on facebook and twitter as I try to figure out what this space will become. Know that I think of y'all often dear ones!
My hope is that each of you are well... what has been going on with YOU lately?
When I asked for guest posts I asked for written prayers...and my dear friend Kristen wrote one that made me cry... I am thrilled to share it with you today as we get ready to close out this series. I hope and pray that it blesses you as much as it blessed me.
I prayed for you today.
You. The one doing hard things. The one stepping out in faith. The one who perhaps left her job to follow hard after Him, or who said no when she wanted so desperately to say yes, or who signed on the dotted line out of obedience without knowing just where the provision will come from, or the one who is packing her bags for a new terrifying adventure.
I prayed first for love. For a Christ-like love to fill you up and spill over into the lives of those around you. For a love that extends grace to enemies, mercy instead of vengeance to the mean girls talking behind your back, and hope in the place of tired words. I prayed that wherever you are going right now - wherever the hard things are that you are headed toward or are in the midst of - I prayed that right there, in the messy place of those very things - your love would not fail. That it would keep going, it would be patient and kind. A non-record keeping kind of love, one that will delight in truth revealed. A love that will continue to trust on the hard days.
I prayed second for integrity. Not just any integrity. A sustained integrity. An integrity that can stand up and take on fire-breathing-dragon stuff. For an integrity infused with excellence - one that walks the straight path on cold, snowy days instead of taking the shortcut. An integrity that remembers to live worthy of the calling even in the privacy of your own place, in the quiet of your car, in the office after hours, before the fridge at one in the morning. I prayed for the long days coming, the days when you wonder if God really is a God of love or if He really just likes to leave His people to fend for themselves. For those specific days, I prayed for integrity of heart for you. For a quiet trust that gets on the floor, on its knees, and is honest before the God who called the stars into being. He can take the honesty. I promise. Speak up, but speak humbly.
I prayed finally for joy. I don’t know what life is demanding of you right now or just what it is trying to take. But two things I do know: The Word of the Lord? It brings joy to the heart. (Ps.19:8) Go on, roll your eyes. Get it out of your system. Look up at your ceiling fan and shake your fist at me. You’ve heard this all before and what good does it do you when rent is due tomorrow by noon?! Through tears I tell you, I have had rent due by noon. And when I sold my last piece of jewelry to make the deadline it was not the money that brought me joy. It was the Word spoken straight to my heart by my God through the Psalms, and the life of Daniel, and compassion of Jesus to the young rich man that brought joy (the kind that sings you to sleep as you cry) to my heart.
The second thing I know about joy is this: Sometimes to get to it, we have to sow some tears. (Psalm 126:5) So, today, I prayed that through your tears gardens of joy would be planted. That when your former joy is restored to you, it would be so lavish, so organic, so bountiful, you would have no choice but to track down a timbrel or a harp and learn how to use the darn things so that you can dance and make music as you wildly praise His name. (Psalm 149:3)
For you, today, my prayers are filled with petitions of love, integrity, and joy. The kind of treasures that last when it seems everything else has disappeared. May you loosen your grip on the temporal and begin to hold on for dear life to the Eternal. May friends and family rally around you and offer you their hands and feet. May this chapter of your life reveal to you more than just the conflict of your story. May it reveal to you the Hero as well.
And may you, one day very soon, find that He has granted all your requests... even if in a way you had never, ever expected.
To all these things, in the mighty name of King Jesus, I whisper,
You can find Kristen at ExemplifyOnline.com helping others uncover organic faith. Through quarterly Bible studies and regular spotlight shows that focus on the call of the Church, it is Kristen’s hope to equip & inspire women to live out their love for Christ with purposed action. You can find her podcast on iTunes or at Exemplify.
Praying Constantly: The why and how.
Why should we pray constantly? Isn't praying each morning and evening more than enough?
Pray without ceasing. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
In the first letter to the Thessalonians Paul makes it quite clear. He instructs them not to pray each Sunday or even everyday but constantly.
With all prayer and supplications, pray at every opportunity in the Spirit, To that end, be watchful with all perseverance and supplication for all the holy one. (Ephesians 6:18)
Then again in his letter to the Ephesians Paul instructs them to pray at every oportunity.
These two simple verses show us that we are really called to pray constantly.
Now comes the hard part. How in the world are we supposed to pray constantly. We have a million other things to do during the day. It seems like all we can do to set aside a few minutes each morning for prayer. Praying constantly really does not sound possible.
Praying constantly does not mean siting in a church all day or sacraficing all of our other responsibilities. I feel that the process of praying constantly has two parts, praying with our actions and quick prayers throughout the day.
Mother Teresa can give us a lot of guidence about praying with our actions.
“Prayer in action is love, love in action is service.” (Mother Teresa)
“Prayer does not demand that we interrupt our work, but that we continue working as if it were a prayer.” (Mother Teresa)
If our actions made out of love and dedicated to the Lord they are a prayer. Something as simple as doing the dishes can be a prayer when it is done out of love for my family who will use the dishes. I can either complain about this chore and resent the fact that we don't have a dishwasher or I can rejoice in the opportunity to serve my family. I can either rush through my lesson planing or I can I take pride in my work, dedicate it to the Lord and create a great lesson out of love for my students. With all of our daily actions we can choose to turn them into a prayer or have them just be another burden on our lives.
Another way that we can pray constantly is by saying quick silent prayers at various point throughout the day. This can be as simple as saying a quick prayer when you pass an accident on the highway or saying a quick prayer of thanksgiving when you pull into your driveway each evening. While these may only last a few seconds, I feel they are instrumental in keeping me connected to the Lord throughout my busy day.
Some practical tips for praying constantly:
-Pray every time you get into your car for a safe trip.
-After you have a conversation with a friend, coworker, family member, of complete stranger say a quick prayer for that person.
-Make praying before all meals a habit. We eat a lot throughout the day so this will remind us to talk to the Lord a lot throughout the day.
-Smile at someone, say an extra thank you, give a complement, bring a little joy into someone's day.
-As soon as you realize you are frustrated with something (ex. lost on the highway, can't find your keys, burnt dinner) say a quick prayer for your frustration.
-Act out of love. If you are going to do or say something that is not out of love don't.
It is hard. It is very easy to go though our busy day and not think about the Lord even once. It takes practice, lots of practice. There are times when I realize that I have not prayed all day (or even all week). But you can't give up. Just ask the Lord for help and keep trying. It is hard but it will become easier with time. The more we pray the more praying becomes a regular part of our day.
Every Sunday I am opening up CJB for prayer requests. (and praises! If you have a praise please share!)
Just leave a comment and as a community I want us to pray for one another this coming week.
I think it's a beautiful thing.
(If you want to leave an anonymous request just use the email address email@example.com and your initial.)
I'm upstairs in the study, the room tucked around our bedroom. My husband? He's downstairs on the couch, playing a video game with his friends online.
It's just a typical Friday night.
But, it's nearing 10:00pm and I am tired. Why not just shut off the computer and cuddle with the pillow that beckons me to sleep after this long day?
Because, friends, it's time to pray.
For those of you who do not know this part of my story, my husband struggles with a porn addiction. He's recovering, yes, but he still needs lots of support and help. Me sneaking off to bed, longing for the cool sheets right now, is not an option. It's not part of the plan, at least, not yet.
First, I must go downstairs.
I wait a few moments for him to finish up the current battle. He tells his friends to hold on and then he takes my hands. We bow our heads. I pray:
Father God, I thank you that we have access to You at all times. I thank you that You promise to be with us every moment of every day. Lord, I pray that You would pour out your Spirit upon Craig this night. I pray that You would send a hedge of fire to protect him from temptation. I pray that in this moment, he would put on the armor You have give him in which to prepare for the real battle -- the battle for his soul. I pray that if temptation comes his way this night when he is finished with his game that You would send Your angels to help him overcome. I pray that you would give him the strength to simply turn off the television and come to bed. Amen.
It's taken a long time for me to get to this point to trust in the power of prayer. Instead of praying, I was much more into controlling. And worrying.
I wonder, Do you ever put more trust in your feelings of control than in God?
I did. I'd stay up late to monitor him. I'd check his browser history after he got off his computer. I'd ask him several times a day if he had his quiet time or read his bible or if he was struggling with temptation.
It was an exhausting process. On top of already nagging him and following him and micromanaging him about porn, being exhausted led to nagging him about other mundane issues simply because my filter was gone. I had no good graces left.
Through many years and a lot of tears and conversations, I've learned to pray instead of outwardly trying to control my husband. But it was through this process of learning how to really pray pray for Craig that I learned something deeper --
I can be controlling while I'm praying. I can take ownership of things that are not mine while I'm praying. I can ask God to do many things and yet still cling to my own agenda while I'm praying.
And so I've learned that prayer can be exhausting, too, if I'm not laying what I'm praying about at His feet. Jesus tells me that His yoke is easy, His burden is light (Matthew 11:30) and while I can tell you that there is nothing light and easy about carrying around your spouse's porn addiction, I can also tell you that it was a burden I shouldn't have been carrying around in the first place.
Just as I could not physically pick up my husband and carry him around all day, I can not spiritually throw his porn addiction on my back and lug it around even if I'm praying.
"Give all your worries and your cares to God, for He cares about you." (1 Peter 5:7) If I pray and give only words, God will still care about me, but I have not opened up the space for God to care for me. But if I give him the worries, the anxieties, the fear, I give Him the opportunity to give me freedom from exhaustion, from control, from feeling like I have to parent my husband.
Oftentimes, I find myself praying to get something and I forget that there is much to give in prayer. But, oh, how He transforms my offerings into greater gifts that I could imagine.
A blog series. October 2011.
To read the series visit my In the Becoming page.