13 Ways to Stay Godly During College

This post is important. It’s important to me because each and every part of the list comes from something I’ve experienced firsthand, and I want to use that to help other current or soon-to-be college students. So, if you’re in that season of life, and you want more tips for remaining pleasing to God, this is for you! If you’re not in college, but still want to make the most of someone else’s experiences, then read away. 🙂

I’m not quite two years out of college, but I can say that what I learned during my college years was and is still valuable. College is a great time for learning on many levels because it’s when you’re thrown out into unfamiliar territory, let loose, and figuratively told to run as fast as you can. There are plenty of awesome tips for surviving college on a secular level, but I’m not here for that.

I’ve always learned best hands-on, through trial and error (a lot of error). I learn well from seeing results from my particular situation, but I’m also hesitant to get started without sound advice. Keep in mind, I moved away from home for college, so this is where my experience comes from, although I believe it can be applied even if you stay home. some of the tips might even prove useful for those not in college — I still use them. While, I don’t claim to know it all or be perfectly wise, I have learned a lot in just the past five years, and I think my experiences can be helpful.

Without further ado, and in no particular order (minus number 1), here are 13 ways you can stay or become more Christ-like while you’re in college.

1 | Remember who God is

Ecclesiastes 12:1

“Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth,
Before the difficult days come,
And the years draw near when you say,
‘I have no pleasure in them’:”

God is your Creator and your sustainer. He gives you life and blesses you more than you realize. Remember His goodness and His severity, and submit to Him. You can’t put God on the back-burner and say, “Oh, well I’ll just get through college and then get serious about my life.” No, no. It doesn’t work that way, and it will catch up with you sooner or later. Future-self will thank past-self if you take God seriously during some of the most trying years of your life (especially if you go away from home). Take my word for it!

2 | Remember who you are

1 Peter 2:9-10

 “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.”

For as long as I can remember, my dad said this to my brother and I when he dropped us off at school. It didn’t matter how late we were running or what dramatic event went down that morning, he didn’t forget to tell us to remember who we were, even before we really understood what he meant. Shortly after I set up my little apartment bedroom, I wrote this on a piece of paper, stuck it in the frame of my full-length mirror, and it stayed there until I moved. It was the best reminder of both my dad and the fact that I am a child of God, wearing Christ’s name, and I need to act like it. We all need to act like it, which can be hard to remember during those crazy changes you experience in college.

 3 | Make solid friends

I’m not sure I can stress how important this is. Of course, you should be making an effort to find solid friends at every stage of your life, but in college, it’s especially crucial. 1 Corinthians 15:33 says, “Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits.'” Just as much as evil company corrupts good habits, good company encourages good habits. I had awesome friends before I went to college, but after I got there, I found that there are so many more Godly people in the world that I could learn from and serve through being friends with them. In Auburn, I attended worship with the University church of Christ, where there were probably around 100 college students when I got there, most of whom were completely fired up to jump in and serve God. It was refreshing and incredibly encouraging to worship on Sundays and Wednesdays partly because I had good Christian friends who wanted to help me get to heaven.

4 | Go to church

Speaking of church — GO! Make the effort to go every single time your congregation assembles. Go to as many “extracurriculars” as you can without burning out and being worthless (I’ve been there). And genuinely put your heart into it. There are four reasons for this:

1 | God deserves your worship.

Psalm 145:3

“Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
And His greatness is unsearchable.”

 

2 | You get to take time out of the most ridiculous schedule you’ve ever had to worship God.

3 | You’ll encourage the other Christians who see that you want to be there among your ridiculous schedule.

4 | You’ll encourage yourself.

God created the church for a reason. We aren’t supposed to be alone in our faith and our journey to heaven — He wants Christians to be able to collectively worship Him and each Christian to be encouraged whenever possible. So, take advantage of the opportunities your local church provides you with to worship, and make sure you know when they’re offering extra Bible studies or gospel meetings/singings (when a group of Christians gets together to study, hear a sermon, or sing praises together — this is what I grew up calling them).

Hebrews 10:24-25

“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”

5 | Take every opportunity to do good

1 Kings 15:5 says that David did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all the days of his life. It’s a good example of a humility and following God no matter what season of life you’re in. This would include doing good for others.

Galatians 6:10

 “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

If you’re in a college town, chances are you have several opportunities to serve in your church and in the community. Even if you’re not in a college town, you should be able to find opportunities, even if they don’t just fall into your lap. Where I went to church, we had opportunities to teach classes, clean the building, and visit elderly and sick people. We had a campus Bible study called Truth Seekers (still going on if you’re in the area and want to check it out here), and we had every opportunity to invite classmates to study with us and learn more about the Word. Take all of these opportunities! Take advantage of the open doors in front of you whether it’s within your local church or on campus. I will say that I didn’t take near as many opportunities as I should have, and I wish I had.

6 | Listen to people who have been there

Hint hint 😉 Just kidding, but seriously. Listen to the people who have been in your shoes — the ones who have just graduated and the ones who graduated 30 years ago. They’ll all have valuable insight, and you won’t regret taking their advice. Find someone you look up to or a mentor and go to them when you need it. Chances are they’re more than willing to encourage you. Pay attention in sermons and Bible studies — the people leading those have most likely studied hard and have experience in the area; they may be able to offer insight that you’ve never noticed or thought of before, and that’s a blessing. As I said above, the church is here for a reason; the Bible gives instructions for older people to teach and encourage the younger, for Christians to admonish one another. On the flip side of that, you have to be willing to take that encouragement, even if it mean you’ll be corrected.

7 | Read the Bible

The Bible is your guide to get through life; it contains everything you need to be and stay Godly during college. I’ve been stressing this constantly in my recent Armor of God series because it’s that important. God gave us the Bible to learn from, be comforted by, examine ourselves through, and obey. Use that to your advantage. College is the prime time to learn how to examine yourself through God’s lens and start making a solid effort to fix  heart problems and mend any soul holes you’ve made on your way there. It’s a huge transition time, when you’re likely re-evaluating parts of your life or at least learning to ask questions to make your faith your own. Once you get into the real world (college isn’t quite real yet), you’ll want to be grounded and have yourself in check. Make sure you’re taking time out of your day, not just fitting it in, to read the Bible and read it for profit.

8 | Pray, pray, pray

My parents taught me how to pray and the importance of prayer when I was little. But, when I got to college, and had more responsibility than I thought I could handle, I really learned how to put those prayer lessons into practice. I learned to pray whenever and wherever. If you’re sad, pray. If you’re happy, pray. If you’re angry, pray. Whatever you’re feeling, at whatever time of the day or night, talk to God about it. Sacrificing even more beloved sleep to go to God in prayer is more than worth it. This was one of my first blog posts; I wrote about putting trust in God through actions and prayer because I was learning how beautiful life is when you totally surrender your life for Jesus. (Related post from Blair Blogs here about writing down prayers and keeping track of how they’re answered)

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

9 | Talk to your parents and take their advice

Your parents aren’t stupid. Honoring your parents doesn’t stop just because you’ve graduated from high school (see Matthew 15:4). Most of them have been in your shoes, and they want the very best for their children, especially if they’re Christ-minded people. When they give you advice — even if your mom texts you to tell you it’s going to rain that day — just take it. Seriously. Take it, and thank them. And don’t forget to text or call them every so often! It does you as much good as it does them to take some time out to talk to your parents; they’ll likely have encouraging words and advice for you that you hadn’t thought of yourself. College is a great time to develop a solid relationship with your parents and put their teaching into action. Remember that you’ll always need your parents (they’re also gifts from God), and that they helped you get to where you are today.

10 | Listen to hymns

Colossians 3:2 – “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”

One year, because I was feeling a strange mixture of discouraged and encouraged to be better, I decided that for a set amount of time, I can’t remember if it was a week or a month, but I was only going to listen to hymns/spiritual songs unless I couldn’t control what music was on. Let me tell you something: that was one of the most encouraging weeks/months I’ve had, simply because of the music I was listening to! I don’t think most people, including myself, realize that the music we listen to can have such a big impact on our attitudes and Godliness. All I did was cut out mainstream music for a short time, and I was more uplifted and motivated than I had been in a long time. (Fun fact: that was also the year I started my blog.) Now, I’m not saying that you can’t listen to mainstream music if it’s not ungodly, but just try cutting it out for a period of time and pay attention to the results.

 11 | Choose to be content

Happiness is a choice (related post here). Contentment is a choice. And I think they’re tied together. There’s a great peace that comes with being content with joy in Christ. Sometimes they’re both hard choices in college when you think you have to add up to everyone around you (girls, especially). But you don’t! The only person you have to please is God, and if a person or group is purposefully excluding you, chances are you picked the wrong group to hang out with in the first place (see number 3). Don’t let your situation turn you away from focus on God. Take a note from Paul, and choose to be happy in whatever state you’re in. I chose to be unhappy in several situations, and now I know that my life, and others’ lives, would have been a million times easier if I had just made up my mind to get over it and be OK.

1 Timothy 6:6

“Now godliness with contentment is great gain.”

Philippians 4:11

“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:”

12 | Don’t let yourself feel lonely

Related to the previous point, loneliness can lead to bitterness, and bitterness can “make you a crazy person” (Larry Rouse, the preacher at University church of Christ). Do not let yourself get to that point. Sometimes it’s more likely to happen, especially if you move away and feel like nobody knows you, understands you, or wants to make an effort to. To keep yourself from feeling this way, be friendly and make friends; sometimes getting away from loneliness takes effort on your part instead of waiting around for other people to notice. If you start feeling lonely and bitter, talk to someone within the church and let them know that you’re struggling. In my experience, no one actually knew I was having a hard time, and once I spoke up, they jumped on the chance to encourage and befriend me! Sometimes it really just takes some effort to reach out, and being surrounded by faithful Christians makes it that much easier. Keep in mind that you’re new to them, too, and because they don’t know you yet, they won’t always be able to tell that you’re feeling anything other than normal. Besides, you always have God, and you can pray to Him for comfort and guidance — see number 8.

13 | Keep a journal

Not everybody likes to write or a keep journals, but if you do, this one is for you! I’ve off-and-on kept journals for a lot of my life, and I love to take notes. So, when I was in college, I kept a journal of sorts — I used a notebook given to me by a sweet friend, and I basically wrote stream-of-consciousness style most nights right before bed. I struggled with staying positive because change isn’t always exciting for me, so I often wrote about my blessings and Bible verses or portions of hymns that were on my mind, and sometimes I just doodled my feelings away (whether good or bad!). When I wrote out my blessings, I was able to go to sleep a little more at peace and with a better perspective of my life state. This is especially helpful if you deal with worry and anxiety. You could keep a prayer journal, write about your day, write about your fears, whatever it is, but try to keep it faith-focused and see if your perspective becomes more Godly.

// Your time in college can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life if you make it that way! Make sure you always keep a consciousness of God and act according to His will, and everything else will fall into place (Romans 8:28).

Galatians 5:22-25

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”

Related post: Home of the Soul


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Thank you for reading! I hope you’re always encouraged to be like Christ and learn more about God’s word when you’re on my blog. If you want to see more like this, feel free follow me on Instagram and Pinterest. For thoughts and questions, comment directly below or click the Contact Me tab (here) to send an email! Have a blessed day.🙂

 

The Sword of the Spirit + Prayer

“Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints…” (Ephesians 6:14-18)

What is the Sword of the Spirit?

Swords were offensive weapons used in battle. They have a long, double-sided blade and a sturdy handle. Roman swords were similar to the swords we know and have seen, but their points were further sharpened in order to puncture sturdy armor and defeat the enemy (source).

Verse 17 plainly states that the sword of the Spirit is the word of God, and it’s the only weapon that Paul mentions in the armor of God — everything else is simply for defense.

Hebrews 4:12

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

The Hebrews writer gives us a visual of just how powerful God’s word (our spiritual sword) is — it’s even sharper than any two-edged sword. It can pierce something much more significant than armor, and that’s the division of soul & spirit and joints & marrow. Because God’s word is a discerner of our thoughts and intentions, it can divide even the smallest and closest-knit parts of us. It can divide what we want and what’s right, us from our family and friends, and even churches, all based on what God says is right. God’s word is the authority for everything we do, and following it will bring change if we follow it accurately. And that Godly change is what we need to defeat the Enemy.

Why do we need it?

We need the sword of the Spirit for several reasons, besides the fact that God has said we do.

Through His word, God created the world, through the Word (His Son) He brought salvation, and through Him (the Word, because He and Christ are one), we have a standard and find our authority — see John 1 and 2 Timothy 3.

God’s word is truth. I wrote about the Belt of Truth a few weeks ago, and I said:

“Truth is needed to combat the lies of the world which come from Satan himself. As I mentioned in the preface to this series, the devil walks around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). Any lies the world tells us are planted by him; Satan is the influence of evil and he will stop at nothing to make sure he succeeds.  He may use a relationship, social or entertainment activity, or temptation we have (probably all of the above!) to pinpoint our weaknesses and attack us where we think we’re strong. He will be successful if we don’t know and gird ourselves with the truth.”

This is why we need the sword of the Spirit. With it we’ll have the truth and be able to fight back against Satan.

We already have everything we need to defend ourselves against the devil (belt, breastplate, shoes, shield, and helmet), but the spiritual war is always active, and we have to participate. God has given us everything we need to know in His word! The word of God should be our only weapon, and He expects us to know it, understand it, and use it. In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he says that all scripture is from God and that with it, we’ll be complete and thoroughly equipped. 

2 Timothy 3:16-17

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

His word is the standard for every area of our lives. We can have all of the defensive mechanisms we need, but in order to win, we must know God’s word.

God’s word is also the seed for growing other Christians (Luke 8). If we want to bring other people to Christ, we have to go to God’s word and present that to them. If they have good, ready hearts, they’ll receive it and see its power.

How do we use it?

Read it

The first thing we do with God’s word is simply read it (or even listen to it being read) so we can know it and come to an understanding of it.

Pray about it

I don’t think I do this near enough, but it’s important to ask God for wisdom and understanding in reading His word. If we ask Him for this, I truly believe it will be granted — because He wants all people to understand it and be closer to Him (Matthew 7:7; 1 John 5:14; 2 Peter 3:9)!

Understand and appreciate it

Understanding God’s word is what leads to a stronger appreciation of it and the tools to continue in the truth. After we read it and pray for understanding, the next step is to try our best to understand what God is telling us. If we don’t understand at first, we need to keep reading, praying, and making a solid effort to understand it, because eventually we will (it won’t always come overnight or even over a day).

Grow in it

Growing is always, always necessary. It doesn’t matter how young or old we are, we have to keep growing in His word, and growing into the fullness of God — being complete in Him (Ephesians 3). Growing is why understanding is so necessary; we’ll remain stagnant if we don’t understand what God is telling us.

Teach it

When we understand it, even just part of it, we have a story worth telling. We now have the tools we need to teach others and shine our lights to the dark world so that more people turn their hearts to Him. Sometimes what stops us is thinking that we have to be scholarly experts before we can share it — (although it can be helpful) that’s just not the case. If we know the gospel and we’ve been impacted by that, we have a responsibility to share it. If we know a little more than that, we have a responsibility to share that as well. We share what we know, and grow in it together.

Rejoice in it

Psalm 119:162-163

“I rejoice at Your word
As one who finds great treasure.
I hate and abhor lying,
But I love Your law.”

Psalm 19:7-10

“The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
Yea, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.”

The Psalms are full of songs about rejoicing in the Lord, loving His word, and desiring His law. They’re great examples of the attitudes we should have, especially among trial. God’s word is designed to be wanted and rejoiced in. We’ll see much better results in our spiritual lives if we focus on rejoicing instead of always wondering why God tells us to do what we do.

Prayer

Verse 18 says, “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints…” Two things really stick out to me in this verse:

-Being prayerful (for ourselves and other saints)

-Being watchful

The Bible says to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:16). Our relationship with God is a two-way street; He’s already given us His word, so we have to do our part and continue communication with Him. Prayer is how that’s done, and it should be done all the time, in every situation, before every decision, and for everyone.

We are to pray for fellow Christians. Supplication means “the act of communicating with a deity (especially as a petition or in adoration or contrition or thanksgiving); a prayer asking God’s help as part of a religious service; a humble request for help from someone in authority” (source). I’ve even seen it described as begging. So we’re to be humbly and urgently petitioning to God about our brothers and sisters in Christ. Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” The church is a unit that works together to encourage and fight with each other.

When fighting in a battle, soldiers have to be watching at all times for someone to turn the corner or sneak up behind them. My family and I watched Saving Private Ryan after Thanksgiving (which I don’t recommend watching without some kind of filter service, like VidAngel), and in several scenes, people died because they weren’t paying attention, ready to defend themselves or fight back — some were cowards and some just dropped their guard, leading to fatality. They have to be ready for any situation, which means having their minds and weapons ready. It’s no different in the spiritual war. Christians need to be ever-conscious of Satan’s sneaky techniques and random attacks because most times they’ll show up when we least expect it. If we’re not ready, we’ll lose our footing and give in to temptation, sometimes fatally. Along with wearing God’s armor, we have to use our hearts and minds and pray to Him, knowing that He delivers us; we don’t deliver ourselves.

This takes perseverance! Perseverance is a big theme throughout the Bible because being a Christian isn’t meant to be easy. Keeping God’s commandments in the Old Testament certainly wasn’t easy. Following His word and bending to His will isn’t always easy today, but it’s doable because of Christ’s sacrifice and God’s help. But if we persevere with the deliverance of God and the help of our brothers and sisters, we’ll be able to see the true Light at the end of the tunnel and make our way to heaven.

//

Throughout this series, I’ve loved watching all of the parts of armor work together. At times it’s been challenging because they intertwine so tightly, but I think that’s how it’s meant to be. If we lose one part of armor, we’ll lose it all. Everything in God’s armor is important and necessary to being a faithful Christian.


This wraps up my Armor of God series. Thank you to everyone who read all the way through, commented, shared, and supported me! I hope these posts have been beneficial. 

Related: Preface: Armor of God + Resisting the Devil ; (related posts here and here) // The Belt of Truth // It’s Not About Us // The Breastplate of Righteousness // The Shoes of the Gospel of Peace // The Shield of Faith // The Greatest Commands: Pt 4 from Through My Lens // The Helmet of Salvation

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Thank you for reading! I hope you’re always encouraged to be like Christ and learn more about God’s word when you’re on my blog. If you want to see more like this, feel free follow me on Instagram and Pinterest. For thoughts and questions, comment directly below or click the Contact Me tab (here) to send an email! Have a blessed day.🙂

The Shoes of the Gospel of Peace

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace…” Ephesians 6:14-15

What are the shoes of the gospel of peace?

Roman armor footware consisted of heavy-soled, sandal-like shoes. Ironically, they looked similar to what girls wear now for fashion, gladiator sandals, but they were obviously sturdier, and had closed toes. Soldiers wore these specific shoes for support, protection, and health of the feet. They were used as the foundation of the rest of the armor, giving the soldier “firm footing” (source 1 for armor + source 2 for armor).

The English Standard version of this passage says, “and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.” What we’re really putting on is readiness and preparation for battle which are given to us by our shoes, the gospel of peace. 1 Peter 3:15 says:

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;”

What gives us this readiness is the good news of Christ — the gospel. The good news is that Christ came! He came and sacrificed Himself on the cross for you and me and our brothers, sisters, friends, acquaintances, enemies, and anyone else who is (or isn’t!) in our lives because we were all sinners. He then rose from the dead after three days of being in the tomb. He lived, died, and rose so that all people would have the opportunity to be saved. There is a Kingdom of God in heaven that’s coming for all those who heed this news and are saved. That is the gospel of peace, and praise God for it! (see the whole New Testament and this page).

Shoes help our feet stay safe when we’re walking, running, or in this case, fighting in a war. These gospel shoes are going to support and protect us (save us) from being lost in battle. They’re the foundation for every other part of armor we wear.

Why do we need them?

 1 | They protect us

If we wear the spiritual shoes, we’ll be protected from losing our souls among the violence of the spiritual war. They’ll give us “firm footing” so that we can stand against the devil and his adversaries without wavering. Having and living out the gospel keeps our minds focused on the goal and watch for imminent danger.

2 Corinthians 4:9-10

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.”

 2 | They keep us healthy

Roman soldiers’ shoes were designed in a way that would prevent blisters and other foot ailments that inevitably hindered the soldiers while they fought. The gospel is a foundation that can’t be moved or harmed. With the gospel as our foundation, we can avoid a weak, crumbling foundation; not only will the gospel not hinder our fighting, it also won’t let our fighting be hindered through spiritual blisters or diseases if we focus on it.

1 Corinthians 3:11-13

“For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.”

Philippians 4:13

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

3 | They save us

Just as in the story of the Philippian jailer and his family in Acts 16:25-31, the gospel also gives us the knowledge that we have a way to come to repentance and be in the presence of God when our time on earth is over. With the knowledge of the good news, we can take the necessary steps toward salvation and a life in Christ — because if we didn’t first know of Christ and His sacrifice, we wouldn’t know that or why we need saving. Once we have salvation, we can truly know Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:1-2

Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.”

How do we use them?

First of all, we need to be proactive when we learn the gospel, before we even put on the shoes. That means believing it, understanding it, being baptized for the remission of sins, salvation, and working toward being a faithful servant of God & follower of Christ. If we don’t do this first, we will in no way be prepared with the gospel — because we don’t have the gospel in our hearts! (If you haven’t heard of some of these things or want to know more about it, or even if you disagree, that’s why I’m here! I’d love for you to ask me about it.) 

Once we do these things, we can push forward into the battlefield with our shoes on.

1 | Have an ever-present consciousness of the gospel

We need to be constantly thinking about what Christ did for us and living for that. After all, our souls depend on it even though we didn’t deserve it. So, as we’re following Christ, we must always remember that we don’t save ourselves. Christ does. This is what will keep our foundations firm and protect us from Satan’s lies.

2 | Spread it to others

If we have this firm foundation, surely we want other people to have it too. We need to be telling our fellow humans about this good news! This comes from a heart of love. If we love both Christ and others we won’t hide our new shoes. 😉  We’ll wear them and show them off, and we’ll want other people to have something that keeps us this safe and healthy. Because we know that God and Christ love us that much, we should follow their example and love others the same.

Mark 10:45

“The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Romans 5:8

“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

3 | Live like Christ

Jesus Christ was and is the perfect example of a godly life — the gospel is truly all about Him! As always, the best way we can both live out the gospel, spread it to others, and live faithfully is to live as Jesus would live. This comes from having a conciousness of the gospel; if we’re always concentrated on the gospel, we’ll live more like Christ every day. It’s what Christians are called to do, and what will magnify our walk with Him.


This is part three of my 6-part Armor of God series. I’ll post one installment each week, with the Sword of the Spirit and Prayer combined (it should wrap up around Thanksgiving).

Related: Preface: Armor of God + Resisting the Devil ; (related posts here and here) // The Belt of Truth // It’s Not About Us // The Breastplate of Righteousness

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Thank you for reading! I hope you’re always encouraged to be like Christ and learn more about God’s word when you’re on my blog. If you want to see more like this, feel free follow me on Instagram and Pinterest. For thoughts and questions, comment directly below or click the Contact Me tab (here) to send an email! Have a blessed day.🙂

The Breastplate of Righteousness

“Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness,” (Ephesians 6:14)

What is the breastplate of righteousness?

According to Merriam-Webster, a breastplate is a piece of metal that covers a person’s chest and was part of the protective clothing that soldiers wore in the past. Although it’s only called a breastplate, implying protection of the chest area, was more like a torso covering. It would have been large, covering both the front and back of the torso so that the soldier would be protected from attacks on either side. The breastplate would have been very important because the heart is located inside the chest. If the enemy were to successfully aim for your heart, you probably would have died immediately.

It translates well spiritually; if the enemy (Satan) is going to attack us, one of the first parts he’s going to aim for is the figurative heart because that’s where our loyalties come from. One of the ways we can guard our hearts is by wearing the breastplate of righteousness.

 Luke 6:45

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

If you’re righteous, according to secular definitions, you are “acting in accord with divine or moral law; free from guilt or sin; morally right or justifiable” (source). These defintions align well with the Biblical definition. God is righteous. In both the Old and New Testaments, God is revered as righteous. Because He’s righteous, He should be our ultimate source of defining the word. God is holy, pure, just, completely free of sin, faithful, loving, and longsuffering, among other things. Because all of these things describe God, they also describe righteousness. Each Of God’s characteristics leads to being in accord with moral law, free from guilt or sin, and morally right or justifiable.

So, if we wear a figurative breastplate of righteousness into battle, we’re wearing a torso-protecting piece of armor made of everything that aligns with God’s moral law or truth. (See my post, The Belt of Truth.) This means that we, ourselves, will be aligned with the truth, full of righteousness. It will protect us from everything that’s opposed to God’s Word, even though we’re targets.

Why do we need it?

Psalm 18:20

The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness;
According to the cleanness of my hands
He has recompensed me.

God rewards the righteous. This is apparent in every Bible story of a righteous person. If you read Hebrews 11, you’ll find what many people like to call the Hall of Faith. Throughout Hebrews 11, verses begin with “By faith Noah…” or “By faith Abraham…” Each person listed in the Hall of Faith was rewarded because of their faith in God. This faith they had inevitably led to righteousness.

Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Diligently seeking God is involved in being righteous — being free from guilt and sin, morally right and justifiable. Because we can’t be any of these things without seeking God. Some of these people received longer lives, prosperity, and children, and all of them will receive the “heavenly country” (11:13-16). We can look forward to this if we also dwell in righteousness. We may not be blessed with all of the earthly things we desire now, but the point of living in righteousness is 1) to glorify God, and 2) to live forever with Him in heaven. That will be the ultimate reward.

As I mentioned earlier, Satan will try to attack our hearts because that’s where our loyalties come from. Everything we say and do comes from our hearts — that means that what we set our minds on, we’ll inevitably do. We choose in our hearts who we will love and serve, and if we don’t have the protective shell of righteousness surrounding our hearts, we’re going to be in huge, spiritual trouble.

How do we use it?

1 | Devote ourselves to God

The idea of devotion is to be fully committed to a person or thing. Your loyalty will not waver toward what’s unnecessary when you’re devoted to someone or something, you tend to adhere to their values. When Christians are baptized into Christ, they put away former ungodly and unrighteous conduct, and put on the “new man,” which was even created in righteousness (Ephesians 4). We repent — we make a dedicated change and fully devote ourselves to God. This means constantly praying, reading His word, and acting on it. If we truly love God, we’ll be devoted to Him and only Him.

Luke 10:27

So he answered and said, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’”

2 | Pay attention to what’s right and wrong

“Without God, there’s no virtue because there’s no prompting of the conscience.” -Ronald Reagan

In order to be righteous, we have to know what’s right and wrong according to God. And to do that, we have to read His word every day. We have to fully rely on His inspired word to give us the standard for how we act and think because without Him, we think we can do what we want, when we want, and how we want it! God has given us everything we need to know in order to be faithful servants of His.

It seems the world’s standards of right and wrong are found on an individual basis, give or take major issues. But God’s standards always remain the same, and God’s way is perfect, so we have to pay attention to what He says.

3 | Strive to be like Christ

In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul says, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” Paul was constantly looking to Jesus’ example because he knew that was the only way to be truly righteous.

Jesus is the ultimate example of moral character. I say this in so many of my posts because it’s really what should define a Christian. A Christian is someone who follows Christ and is completely devoted to Him in word and in deed. When we follow someone in this sense we tend to adhere to that person’s way of life; it’s just part of worshiping, idolizing, and revering someone. And if righteousness is going to flow from this type of following, then we’re going to have to choose to follow Christ and only Christ, in turn being like Him.

4 | Keep our guard up

If you were on the battlefield, would you even think about taking off your breastplate? Absolutely not. Because the minute you take that off is the minute you’re fatally hit. Well, God’s war is going on 24/7. Satan is always watching, and he’s always ready to attack. Friends, we can’t afford to spiritually relax. We can’t afford to say, “Today, I’m going to take a break from all this fighting and thinking and praying.” We just can’t. Because the minute we take let our guard down is the minute Satan has us; that’s when he starts to win over our souls.

Proverbs 4:23

Keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life.

 

*Note: None of these things are meant to be harsh, but I want them to encourage us (myself included) to remember that not only is Satan always attacking, but also that God is more powerful.

And with Him we can conquer.

Matthew 19:26

“But Jesus looked at them and said to them, ‘With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'”


This is part two of my 6-part Armor of God series. I’ll post one installment each week, with the Sword of the Spirit and Prayer combined (it should wrap up around Thanksgiving).

Related: Preface: Armor of God + Resisting the Devil ; (related posts here and here) // The Belt of Truth // It’s Not About Us

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Thank you for reading! I hope you’re always encouraged to be like Christ and learn more about God’s word when you’re on my blog. If you want to see more like this, feel free follow me on Instagram and Pinterest. For thoughts and questions, comment directly below or click the Contact Me tab (here) to send an email! Have a blessed day.🙂

The Armor of God + Resisting the Devil

This post is the preface to my series about the full armor of God.


Resisting the devil is a constant, 24/7, never-ending spiritual fight. We have to protect ourselves against the many different strategies the devil uses because he’s constantly seeking to tear us away from God. He’ll use relationships, entertainment, social activities, and any temptation we have in our lives to rip us out of the hands of God. He seeks to keep any and all people — Christians or not — away from God and heaven, and it’s up to us to make sure we don’t let any of those things get in the way of our relationship with God.

So, we have to put on spiritual armor — something the Bible calls the armor of God, found in Ephesians 6. Each piece of armor is listed individually, some of which have a short explanation.

Ephesians 6:10-12

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the hosts of the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”

One of the great things about the armor of God is that it’s of God, and all good and pefect things come from God. So we know that if we have everything listed, we’ll be able to defend ourselves from the devil. Ephesians 6:10 says that we are to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might; this is before the passage dives into the description of the armor. So, even though we need to be fully prepared to fight this war, God first makes sure we know that we won’t be alone. Of course, since this is a spiritual battle, Paul uses some figurative language, but the things the armor represents are fully legitimate.

Putting on the whole armor to be able to withstand evil is repeated in both verse 10 and verse 13, bracketing an explanation of the type of war we’re fighting. We need every piece of armor to be able to fight successfully. The full armor includes:

  • Belt: Truth
  • Breastplate: Righteousness
  • Shoes: Gospel of peace
  • Shield: Faith 
  • Helmet: Salvation
  • Sword: The Spirit (the word of God)
  • A bonus is prayer. We are to wear all of this as we pray with perseverance and supplication for all the saints. Because, remember, we aren’t alone.

Ephesians 6:14-18

“Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—”

 

// Usually this is a topic we hear about in kids’ classes because it’s written in a way that they understand, but since it’s so important to Christians (and it’s just part of the Bible), I’d like to do a study about it. Over the course of the next several weeks, I plan to address each piece of armor, including what they are, why they’re needed, and how to use them. It will be a 6-part series (with the sword and prayer included in one post). So, if you want to know more about this armor and how you can use it to resist the devil, look for one post each week!


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Thank you for reading! I hope you’re always encouraged to be like Christ and learn more about God’s word when you’re on my blog. If you want to see more like this, feel free follow me on Instagram and Pinterest. For thoughts and questions, comment directly below or click the Contact Me tab (here) to send an email! Have a blessed day.🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Be Productive If You Stay At Home

Being a stay-at-home or work-at-home wife isn’t about Netflix binging or nap taking. A big challenge for stay/work-at-home wives or really anyone who does the majority of work inside her own home is how to stay productive. It can be easy to spend the majority of your time on the couch, watching TV or doing whatever it is that interests you more than actually working. People often ask me if I’m finding things to do or if I’m keeping myself busy or sometimes if I get bored. Usually, I answer yes, yes, and no. But, I don’t aim to have a schedule that’s filled every minute of every day; I don’t view that as a healthy, productive schedule.

It’s easier than you think to find thing to do within the home, and in my case, I prefer and enjoy being at home over a conventional job. I’ve written a post in the past about why I’m a stay-at-home wife (post here), how I got my dream job (here) and today I want to share how I follow through.

This is my motivation for staying productive:

Proverbs 31:27

She watches over the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.

(And all of Proverbs 31.)

Colossians 3:23

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.

1 // Pray

You can never pray too much. We know from the Proverbs and various New Testament verses that God isn’t pleased by laziness and idleness; we are supposed to work and completely fulfill our God-given roles in order to live and prosper. He always wants to help you if you ask according to His will (1 John 5:14-15). Pray for God to help you stay motivated, productive, and that you’ll know what you need to do throughout the day. Pray that you’ll find plenty to do and have patience to deal with the unexpected as you work through your day.

2 // Establish a Schedule

Working at home is going to require a more strict schedule because of the environment you’re in. Because you’re surrounded by couches and fluffy chairs and pillows and beds, it can be so easy to just turn on the TV and get comfortable! So I use my Simplified Planner (post on how I do that here) and I establish myself a constant daily schedule. Depending on the size of your house, these things could take a substantial amount of time: Monday-Saturday I do one big cleaning task, plus at least one load of laundry (adapted from cleanmama.net), and I’m working on establishing a blogging schedule. Sunday is reserved for worship, relaxing with my husband, and preparing myself for the next week.  A couple days a week, there’s an extra task, like grocery shopping and a ladies’ morning Bible study, and I study my Bible alone one or two times a day.

Aside from my big tasks, there’s always something I can find to do; I can take my dog for a walk, prep for tonight or tomorrow’s dinner, something can always be organized or cleaned and put back in its place.

3 // Get Some Exercise

I take a few short walks throughout the day because I have a dog, and I like to do around twenty minutes of yoga when I can. An option for someone who doesn’t walk a dog would be to start with or pause your day to do some kind of physical activity. If you feel yourself getting sleepy, wanting to quit and sit down, you could take a walk or a jog, do some stretches, or even head to the gym for a set amount of time, then get back to your task. (It’s also energizing just to get up, get a drink of water, and walk around your house for a few minutes!) Now, I do take breaks, but when I find myself slipping into quitting mode, it’s always helpful to get back up and move around. Getting exercise regularly will help you stay energized and increase fatigue, as well as keep you healthy throughout your life (source). Taking care of yourself will pay off in every other aspect of your life.

4 // Eliminate Distractions

Trying to do more than one thing at once is not only unproductive, it’s bad for your mental/brain health (source). If there’s something that’s been standing in the way of your ability to get things done, eliminate it. For me that can be the TV or the apps on my phone. I often keep the TV on during the day for noise, and I usually have my phone close by. So if I see that one of these things is getting in the way, I’ll either turn off the TV completely or change it to a Pandora station or podcast, and I’ll put my phone in another room so that I’m not tempted to sit down and scroll. Figure out what it is that distracts you and make the necessary changes so that they no longer get in the way.

5 // Keep a Clean House

This is a little bit circular, BUT, if you keep a clean (or at least clutter-free) house you’ll likely be more motivated to stay busy around the house. One study showed that people who live with more clutter are susceptible to more stress, anxiety, depression, and joylessness. Another study showed that people who keep their homes clean experience a boost in their mental health as well as some physical health benefits (source). So, even though cleaning is probably one of the things you’re trying to stay motivated to do, just think about all of the benefits you and your house will have once it’s clean and stays clean (related blog post here from another blogger).

6 // Make a Reasonable To-Do List

“We are too busy (or lazy or intimidated) to prioritize, so we may never be getting anything important done. We are too busy to be effective.”

-Corey Kohn (source)

Aim for productive, not busy. Nothing makes me want to ignore a to-do list more than when it’s packed completely full — I just get overwhelmed. Try to remember that you only have 24 hours in a day and make a reasonable to-do list — God gave us plenty of hours in the day, we just have to choose how to use them effectively. Pick the most important things to get done that day and prioritize down from there (read The Difference Between Being Busy and Getting Things Done). My to-do list usually consists of Bible study, walk Widget, my big cleaning task for the day, laundry, and make dinner. When other things come up, they’re prioritized from there by importance and time. I never pack my day so full that I can’t sit down for a minute. Depending on your lifestyle, your list might look different, but I highly suggest taking a minute to evaluate what’s important to accomplish during any given day and stop glorifying busyness (related post here).


Related: Why I’m a Stay-at-Home Wife / Because I Need Routine / Full, But Not Busy on BlairBlogs.com / Multitasking Damages Your Brain and Career, New Studies Suggest on Forbes.com

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Thank you for reading! I hope you’re always encouraged to be like Christ and learn more about God’s word when you’re on my blog. If you want to see more like this, feel free follow me on Instagram and Pinterest. Have a blessed day.🙂

Reading Your Bible For Profit

The Bible is a guide for your soul, so it’s meant to be studied, not skimmed. How you read your Bible is as important as actually reading the Bible. In order to gain more knowledge and understanding of God’s word, you have to read it and understand it, right? That’s how learning works with any topic. You go to school to learn, but in order to learn you have to put in the effort on your own time and study the presented material. It is possible to sit down and read your Bible — just your Bible — and gain that precious knowledge that only comes from God. But it takes effort, and it takes time.

Two key words here: effort and time

Psalm 119:103

“How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”

Effort

The effort you put into reading your Bible directly correlates with what you gain from your study. There are no boring subjects, only boring teachers. This is something my husband and I hear regularly where we attend worship services. The Bible isn’t boring, and it is relevant — you just have to read with intention and read for profit (something else we hear regularly, by the way). Effort also requires focus on what you’re reading, Who inspired it, and how you can use it to better your walk with Christ. Go into your reading time with an attitude of positivity and perseverance, determining to learn from what you read and apply it to your life. If you don’t understand something you’re reading, stop and take the time to read it again and ask someone else who might understand.

Time

Because of the effort required to study the Bible, you’ll need to allot time for it. Notice I said “allot time,” meaning to give or distribute time to, as opposed to doing it if you have time. For most of my life, I’ve been told to plan my life around God, not God around my life, and this is something I take seriously. God deserves the best of our time, not the leftovers. Depending on your reading style, you might read five chapters during your time slot or you might only read one; what’s important is that you’re reading to understand. The amount of time you put into your Bible study is important for your soul and it’s important to God, so always make sure to spend time in the Word.

2 Timothy 2:15

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

When you realize how much you’re gaining and how much you can learn about God by reading for profit, you’ll want to read more!

But, keep in mind that reading the Bible isn’t something to be added to a list just so you can check it off at the end of the day. You’re supposed to love and crave this spiritual food. It’s the nourishment your soul needs every day, every hour, and every second to fight in this world. God has provided us with everything we need to know in order to be faithful Christians.

Profit: advantage, benefit (not monetary gain)

This profit you’re gaining isn’t just more knowledge; it’s biblical knowledge that will sustain you as you apply it to your everyday life. We all need to read for the benefit of our own souls and the souls around us. The benefit we’ll be gaining is a closer relationship with God, our brothers and sisters, and eventually a place in heaven with God and our Savior.

2 Timothy 3:16

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness…”

2 Peter 1:3

“…as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue…”


Related: I recently watched a video from Project Virtue with 6 helpful and straightforward tips for studying your Bible. Go check that out here if you’re interested in enhancing your Bible study or if you just don’t know where to start!

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***Thanks for reading! If you’re interested, follow me on Instagram, and Pinterest for more like this.***

How I Use My Simplified Planner

I’ve been using my Simplified Planner for almost a year now, and I LOVE it. It’s helped me sort out my thoughts and plans and lists and generally just kept me more sane than I was before I had it. (By the way, her 2017 planners just debuted, so check them out!) I’ve thought about writing this post several times, and now that I really do have a set way that I use the planner, I decided now is a good time — especially if there’s anyone reading who’s considering purchasing one for 2017 or even for the academic year!

My Planner

I have the Daily version in Happy Stripe. The Daily Simplified Planner has a full calendar spread on the first two pages of each month, and two days per opening throughout the month. There are time slots from 6am to 9pm down the left of each day page, an empty to-do list to the right, dinner for the night on the bottom left and a section for extra notes on the bottom right. Every planner has monthly tabs on the sides of the pages and a sturdy pocket in the front that I use for lists, receipts, coupons, etc. — you’ll see them poking out of the top of my planner throughout the post.

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The beauty when I got it last December

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I’ve smudged the gold foil over time 😦

How I Used It

How I use my planner isn’t complicated or drawn-out; I don’t even use stickers because they seem to defeat the purpose of simplicity and take up too much time to use for my liking.

There are two ways I’ve used my planner that have been successful throughout the year. When I first got my planner, I tried using a pencil (just in case I messed up), and then I was just getting eraser smudges all over it, and I don’t keep many pencils on hand. And let’s be real, I just don’t like pencils. So that just didn’t work well for me.

Second, I tried color coding with these amazing pens. I mainly used light blue, lavender, pink, fuchsia, orange, and occasionally red — all depending on the tasks I had to do that day. I loved this because I could easily separate the tasks from each other and visually prioritize them if they weren’t written in order of priority already. It worked well for me until I started losing pens or leaving them in my car so that I couldn’t get to the color I needed when I needed it, and like the stickers, it took up a little too much time — it looked pretty, though!

When I was using these pens, I was thoroughly planning my day by time (as in, if I needed to clean the bathroom, it was in the time slot at 11am or whenever I decided I needed to do it the next day). I was completely filling the planner pages, and that quickly became overwhelming. This may work for people who can stick to a timed schedule like that, but sometimes I prefer to change up when I do a task, so it didn’t quite cut it for me.

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How I Use it Now

I really use my planner interactively; I use everything that’s printed in the planner to my advantage — which I’ve done since I first got the planner. For example, there are quotes at the top right of each page, and if I see that those quotes are going to be an encouragement or even a good mantra, I’ll bubble it or put a star next to it or highlight it (anything to draw attention to it). I also use the checklists next to “Sunday,” and the slot that says, “write a happy memory from this week.” They help me to live each week intentionally.

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I don’t know, I was just really excited about the taco salad that week. And I don’t think I stuck to those meals.

I’ve switched to using whatever black pen I deemed as my favorite at any point in time. 😉 Right now it’s a ballpoint click pen with a clip and a blue, white, and purple paisley pattern on it. I no longer color code, and I only write what’s necessary or what I think is important to make sure I remember throughout the day — sometimes I even write tasks that aren’t my favorite, but they feel more concrete in my planner (so that way I have to them, right?!) Although I don’t use stickers, I do occasionally put a sticky note wherever I need extra room to write, but don’t want to take up space in my planner in case something changes.

Usually on Saturdays or Sundays, I go through and write out tasks and meetings for the week, plus I meal plan in the dinner slot. I try to keep the time slots fairly open in case something comes up that I absolutely have to attend. There are usually one or two tasks in the morning, one around noon, and depending on the day, one or two in the evening. Then, I’ll fill in my to-do list section with whatever else I need to get done but don’t necessarily have a time constraint as long as they’re done that day.

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My notes section is mainly used for birthdays, important dates, or something I don’t want to forget but isn’t a task. I’ve used it for phone numbers if I need to call someone that day or even something I don’t want to forget at the grocery store (which can also go in the dinner slot).

And that full-spread calendar at the front? I use it, too. I put birthdays, holidays, my husband’s off-work days, football games if it’s football season, and vacations there all where I can see it over the span of a month. I don’t use it as much as the daily pages, but when I need to visualize how much time I have left in the month or until a particular day, the calendar is so, so helpful.

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I have fun with my planner! I used to get completely bent out of shape if I had to mark something out or rewrite it on the next page or misspelled something in the planner until I realized that that’s just life. I’ll have to scratch things out and make changes, and Emily Ley says it perfectly when she gives herself and anyone using the Simplified Planner “a standard of grace, not perfection.”

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This is inside the back cover.

Because not every page of our lives are going to be picture-perfect, neither are our planners. 🙂

 

9 Ways to Be a Careful Listener

Everyone in this world has a different personality, and with those different personalities come their own tendencies, strengths, and struggles; they all have their own skills. Being able to listen to others – really listen to what they’re saying – is one of these skills, and it’s one of the most important skills to master if we’re going to communicate well and show care for each other.

It’s always helpful to know how you can better yourself in terms of listening because many relationships are contingent on this kind of communication. Romans 12:15-16 says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.” So, in order to be followers of Christ we need to know how to listen to other people, and bear their burdens and their joys. I’m no communication expert, but through both my experience listening and being listened to, I can give you a few tips.

1 | Listen to understand, not to respond.

I’m sure you’ve all heard this one before, but it’s always helpful to remember when you’re conversing with another person. Many times our minds have a tendency to jump ahead to what we can say back. Sometimes we’re just letting the sound of our friend’s voice bounce back and forth in our heads among what we want for lunch or plan to do later, or whatever else we think about. And that’s where the problem comes in: we’re still not truly listening; we’re only hearing so that we can start talking again. So, we need to remind ourselves to listen to understand.

2 | Get to know the speaker.

By “get to know,” I don’t necessarily mean become best friends with the speaker (although that would be helpful, too 😉 ), I mean learn her personality, and find out the basics about her life and situation. Learn likes, dislikes, passions, and try to gain insight on her perspective before or during the conversation because it will not only help you become a closer friend to that person, it will help you understand where she’s coming from when she’s talking to you.

3 | Look at her when she’s talking.

Simple eye contact can help when you’re trying to listen and understand. You can read your friend’s facial expressions better, might be able to pay more attention, and you can focus on who’s speaking. All of this will enrich the conversation.

4 | Put yourself in her shoes.

Now that you understand more about the person you’re talking to, you have an opportunity to put yourself in her shoes. Especially if you already have trouble paying attention, it could be helpful picture yourself in your friend’s situation. Really put yourself in his or her shoes and try to understand from that perspective. Try not to think of it from your own viewpoint because your understanding of the situation based on any number of variables might not be strong enough to understand.

5 | If you don’t understand, ask.

This one is huge. It’s a little hurtful when you’re trying to talk to someone about your life or something that happened during the day (big or small), and they just pretend they know what you’re talking about just for the sake of conversation. So, don’t be that person; never just say, “yeah” or “gotcha” if you really don’t “got them” – it’s annoying and makes you seem uncaring and uninterested. If you’re not quite sure what your friend is talking about or don’t understand something she just said – all you have to do is ask! I’m sure she won’t mind repeating it if that’s the case. It will go a long way for the conversation, and you might even learn something new.

6 | Don’t let your mind wander.

This may seem obvious, but it’s so important to realize that we’re in control of our own minds. We have the ability to pay attention to something if we need to and want to. If someone is talking to you, do the best you can not to let your mind wander. Like I mentioned in number one, it can be very easy to let your mind trail off to what you’re going to eat for lunch or your to-do list – but it doesn’t have to. Focus on all or one of the tips above and focus on the person across from you.

7 | Eliminate all distractions.

Technological distractions are probably the biggest distraction for bad listeners. Put away your phone, your iPad, your laptop; turn off the TV, and even music if you have to. We don’t always realize it, but most of the time we can’t actually multi-task. While it may be easy for you to listen to music while you study or read, it could be that the TV or radio can distract you from your friend because you’re waiting to hear your favorite song or see what happens to the character on a show. But we all have to realize that those things aren’t as important as the person you’re sitting next to or across from, and most of the time, it’s fiction. As far as phones, iPads, and laptops – it’s plain unfriendly and rude to hold a screen in front of your face while someone is trying to have a face-to-face conversation with you. I’ve certainly been guilty of this (I’m sure most people have), and it’s extremely harmful to relationships if we’re texting another or scrolling through Instagram while trying to have a conversation. That’s not multi-tasking; it’s just not paying attention.

8 | Remember that person is a soul.

It’s helpful to me to remember that the person I’m listening to is a soul. She’s a soul in need of love, encouragement, advice,  or care, and she wants my friendship, or she most likely wouldn’t be talking to me. You never know how much that one conversation could encourage her, so make the most of it. If you can help even one soul by simply listening to them, then that’s absolutely worth your time and attention.

9 | Follow up.

Don’t let that one conversation be the last one. If your friend was telling you about a problem she’s been dealing with or sharing something personal, it might be a good idea to follow up with her. You could send her a card, text, email, or call her and ask her how she’s doing or if there are any new developments. This isn’t nosy; it just shows her that you care and that you were listening, especially if she came to you first. I like to do this, and it’s always encouraging when someone does it for me. Sometimes it can be difficult to do, but it’s worth it if you’re able and have her contact information.

Galatians 6:2

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfull the law of Christ.

 

// These 9 things always help me! You may not need them all, but even doing one of these things could greatly improve your communication and relationship with another person. And that’s always worth it. If you have any more to add, feel free to comment below! 🙂