2016 Goals in Review: Prayer

The primary goal in my “relationship with God” category was to “cultivate confident dependence on God by establishing a vibrant prayer life”. I resolved to do this by 1) establishing daily times of prayer, 2) establishing a method for recording prayer requests and answers to prayer, 3) experimenting with prayer “styles”, and 4) reading books on prayer.

I was helped along greatly in this goal by our Tuesday morning women’s Bible study, which happened to be going through D.A. Carson’s Praying with Paul during the spring semester. Having my “public” Bible study and teaching correspond with my current spiritual goals kept me focused and provided both tips and accountability. For example, my Bible study discussion leader mentioned the “PrayerMate” app, which I looked up and found to be helpful for objective 2, which was “to establish a method for recording prayer requests and answers to prayer.” Also, although I wasn’t required to, I read Carson’s book (rather than just the discussion guide) along with our study – allowing me to complete just one book on prayer this year (objective 4).*

So Tuesday Connection helped me with objectives 2 and 4 – but what about objectives 1 and 3?

I never did end up doing anything with objective 3, unless you count using Paul’s prayers as a model for prayer. I didn’t do any prayer walking or praying published prayers or following specific formats (Adoration – Confession – Thanksgiving – Supplication, for example). It just didn’t seem to fit this year. And that’s just fine.

Objective 1, to “establish daily times of prayer”, got off to a good start. I resolved to pray consistently with Tirzah Mae before our meals and snacks and before her bedtime, to pray during my personal time in the word, and to pray while doing dishes. At the beginning of the year, Tirzah Mae and I were eating 3 meals and 2 snacks daily (pregnancy while breastfeeding is a doozy!), affording me plenty of opportunity to pray. Dishes were a convenient “peg” to hang prayer on – they’re something I have to do daily and they’re a rather mindless activity, which allows me plenty of opportunity to pray.

But then Tirzah Mae got older and started “helping” with dishes. What was once a relatively solitary and mindless activity (for me) became a busy activity, requiring all sorts of brain work as I attempt to keep Tirzah Mae from dumping all the dishwater on the floor or from putting dirty dishes in my rinse water or from transferring muck from the dirty dishes onto the clean dishes drip drying in the drying rack. That prayer time, where I had been making most of my petitions and praying over the requests (recorded in PrayerMate), disappeared. It took me most of the second half of the year to find a new rhythm – and this year I’m picking up my intercessory prayer during my after-breakfast and after-lunch cleaning times (Tirzah Mae only helps with segments, allowing a little more time for prayer!)

So what is the state of my goal to “cultivate confident dependence on God by establishing a vibrant prayer life?” I certainly wouldn’t say that my prayer life is vibrant at this point. But I also wouldn’t say that all has been lost. Establishing the habit of prayer (even though part of it, daily petitions and intercession, fell by the wayside for a significant portion of the year) has indeed served to help me cultivate confident dependence of God.

One of the reasons I chose prayer as my spiritual goal for the year was because I was noticing in myself a significant tendency towards self-reliance. I felt that I could do things on my own – and, when I couldn’t, I despaired. That wasn’t what I wanted though. I wanted, and still want, to live a life of dependence on God – a life that recognizes my need for Him and hopes in Him. Last year’s focus on prayer has helped in that. Where once I went to my phone to text my husband in despair or to Facebook to write a frustrated post or where I once gritted my teeth and cleaned the house/parented/pounded out the letter/whatever with a bad attitude, I find myself more and more turning to God, breathing those little Nehemiah prayers “So I prayed to the God of heaven.” (Nehemiah 2:4b ESV).

By the grace of God, this was a good goal – with a good outcome. I pray God would help me continue to grow – both in dependence and in prayer.

*While D.A. Carson’s Praying with Paul was the only book on prayer I completed last year, I did read about half of Spurgeon on Prayer and Spiritual Warfare and was greatly encouraged by Spurgeon’s reflections.

Green Goals

In my list of homemaking goals, under the subheading “Garden” lies goal #7:

“Mow a lawn with an old-style mower”

I am happy to say that today, I turned the text of Goal #7 gray…and wrote after it “DA: April 30, 2011”

Date of Accomplishment: April 30, 2011.

Because today, I went to my local Menards and bought myself a lawnmower.

Old-Style Push Lawn Mower

I came home and assembled my lawnmower; then I mowed my front and side lawns.

So I’ve checked something off my list–but even more excitingly, I am now the owner of an old-style push lawn mower.

Which means I can mow my lawn the green way–any time I want!

I’m ecstatic.

(I’m also eager to see if my theory holds true that mowing with a manual mower is more allergy-friendly because it doesn’t kick grass particles quite so high into the air….I’ll keep you posted.)

Which reminds me of a little Jeopardy-style question I thought up in the tub a few days ago.

Answer: 510 nanometers
Question: What is “Green Energy”?

Epic Project: 4.5 Years

I’m a sucker for epic projects.

And I’m not exaggerating.

of unusually great size or extent
Trying to read every book in her local library is a project of epic proportions

Yes, I definitely go for epic projects.

I’m four-and-a-half years into this one–and probably not even one tenth of one percent done. (Purely a guess, I have no idea how massive this project is. I don’t know how big my library’s collection is–and I don’t know how fast it’s growing either.)

But I am moving towards my goal, reading with unabashed abandon.

Library Item Use in Past 4.5 Years

Per Year Per Month Per Week Per Day
Total items 550 45.8 10.6 1.5
Total books 468.7 39.1 9.0 1.3
Books (excluding children’s picture books) 200.7 16.7 3.9 .6

Notes on Each Category of Books

Items over 4.5 years Items in last 6 months Notes:
Juvenile Picture Books 756 160 Authors “Babcock” through “Bartoletti”. Reviews found under the category Reading My Library
Juvenile First Readers 49 0 I have not read a juvenile first reader since September 9, 2009
Juvenile Chapter Books 79 0 I have not read a juvenile chapter book since October 22, 2009
Juvenile Fiction 243 5
Juvenile Nonfiction 76 8 I’ve read more juvenile nonfiction in the past 6 months than I did in the year prior.
Adult Fiction 323 26
Adult Nonfiction 523 20 I’m reading nonfiction at less than half the rate of last year. Then again, last year was my year for “exercising my mind towards the things of God”
Videos/DVDs 137 12 About two per month, not bad for someone who really doesn’t DO movies.
Cassette Tapes/Compact Discs 227 70 More than I listened to in the entire year prior-It’s amazing what a commute can do for your listening practices.
Periodicals 57 0 Although I’m going to add another in the next 6 months, since I found the quilt I’ll be making for my little nephew in a quilting periodical!

So there you have it–4.5 years into an epic project (and still going strong!)

Tie-Dye Faith: A Metaphor

Tie-dye can be a frightening proposition.

Folding fabric, dying sections, waiting hours before you can see how it’ll turn out.

It’s no wonder the girls were so wary. It’s no wonder they felt more comfortable free-hand drawing their designs.

Freehand dyed shirt

Tie-dye takes faith–seeing the finished product in your mind’s eye even when what you’re looking at has little in common with your intended result.

I believed in tie-dye and started using the technique from the get go.


Because I’d read a book of instruction. I’d seen illustrations of how to fold and what the finished result was supposed to look like. I’d had a friend show me his finished product and describe how he’d gotten it.

The girls hadn’t seen this yet. They didn’t have the evidence I’d seen to support my faith.

They were skeptical.

They’d stick with what they could see.

I forged on in faith, evangelizing my little brood liberally. “How about you try a real tie-dye on this next one?”

They made slow steps–little scrunches tied here and there. Still mostly sight.

But as they saw me walking out my faith, as I continually brought my book and its illustrations to their minds, they started to believe my witness.

Tie-dyed pants, in progress

They chose to act on their fledgling belief.

They folded, dyed, and left their shirts–still folded and tied–with me.

When I rinsed out their shirts, seeing the first fruits of their faith, I was in awe.

Bullseye Tie-Dyed shirt

My own faith strengthened, I determined to tie-dye even more, to convert more to tie-dying.

And so their faith and mine mutually strengthened one another.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
~Hebrews 11:1

Snapshot: Tie-Dye Party

I can officially check one more item off my list.

I’ve thrown a tie-dye party.

Girls at Tie-Dye Party

It was just four of us–Esie, Krystal, myself, and Taylor (left to right in the photo above)–but we had a blast!

We made ourselves custom smocks out of trash bags, we folded and drew on and dyed our shirts (and my pants and skirt), we laughed over the unfortunate placement of a certain bit of yellow dye and the new-tire smell of the black vat of dye.

And we drank tie-dyed Koolaid.

Tie-dyed Koolaid

Here’s to accomplishing goals–and to getting to know some great girls!

Snapshot: Baking Baklava

If you’ve ever read my lists of life goals, you know that I have a lot I’d like to do. (And I’ve truncated the list for the web.)

It just so happens that one of those items was “Make baklava from scratch”.

And it just so happens that once upon a time Seth was reading my list of goals and saw that one. He sent me a quick e-mail to say that he had a great recipe and if I was interested he could send it to me.

I said sure.

Well, all sorts of things get in the way of such intentions and for whatever reason, Seth didn’t send me the recipe–and I didn’t really think about it.

Then it was the day before my New Year’s Eve party and I was coming up blank on ideas of what to make as a sweet snack.

And, lo and behold, I found an e-mail from Seth in my inbox, with recipe attached!


Part of the process


The “leftovers”

He was right–his recipe is fantastic. You should probably all go over to Collateral Bloggage and hound him for a copy.

Thanks, Seth, for helping me meet a goal–and providing a fantastic sweet for our New Year’s party!