Prayers on Paper | resources for 2018

Over the past several weeks I’ve been anticipating this turn of the calendar and looking forward to 2018. Around November the Lord really started to move in my heart regarding a few things and I’ve been challenged and convicted and spurred on towards Him and it’s been good. As the Lord has been at work in my life, He’s been at work in the lives of those around me, too. The beginning of December I had several deep conversations with my friend Austin about what the Lord was teaching us, where we were struggling, and how we want to grow in our walks with the Lord. This turned into practical conversations on how we will actively pursue Christ and eventually turned into conversations on how we, as a community of women, can spur each other on in that! We are excited to start a new hashtag on Instagram this year to help us with this.  Here are a few thoughts from Austin as we head into 2018 and then we'll wrap up at the end with some practical tips and ways you can join us! 

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Though we are all different our longing is one in the same- #myprayersonpaper is each of us desiring to encounter Christ by means of scripture memorization and deep rooted prayer in a way that is transformative and produces joy. This sums up Nicole’s and my heart in one statement. Each of our lives are different and each of our lives contain unique challenges and circumstances. But one thing is constant and one thing is the same.

We need more of our Father, we need Jesus. 

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Just as we need air to breathe, food for nourishment, clothes for warmth, even more so, we need Him. “The way we get to know Him is through his Word. The Bible is God’s autobiography. It is written by God, about God, for us. This is not just any book. It is God-breathed and living and has the power to breathe new life into your soul.” -Donna Gaines, Leaving Ordinary 

And our prayers, our prayers hold just as much power and just as much meaning. Our prayers are the conversation we hold with our Creator, the one who gives us grace and has redeemed our souls. As our understanding of scripture cultivates and grows our prayer life is an overflow of that. An understanding of scripture + scripture memorization + fervent prayer is what should be treasured above all else. 

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But in sharing all of this, I find myself failing. I sleep in because I’m tired, or I allow social media to take hold and distract, or I allow the busyness of my day to day life to get all up in the way of the One who I need most. Often times the excuses overtake my thought process and I absolutely stink at participating in cultivating the relationship with Jesus, the one I know is more important. 

When sharing with Nicole a few weeks ago about my past failings in 2017 I also shared with her how much more joyful and hopeful and excited I was to begin 2018. Through my shortcomings and struggles throughout the last year, the faithfulness and steadiness of the Father never wavered. Praise Him. I also shared with Nicole a few of the tools I was planning on utilizing in 2018 and I also wanted to share them with each of you. By no means do our tools have to look the same or be the same, (except for the bible of course, ha!) but Nicole’s and my prayer and hope for #myprayersonpaper is that this will be a place where we can come together and find encouragement while also challenging one another in consistent time in the Word along with pursuing our prayer life by putting our prayers on paper. There is something about journaling our prayers that I feel becomes a tangible place to read the longings of our heart and over time refer back to how Jesus continues to be overwhelmingly faithful. 

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Would you join us? We truly feel as though for us and for you, by the Holy Spirit working in and through our lives and us striving diligently, 2018 is going to be a sweet and life changing year! 

PRACTICAL RESOURCES AND NEXT STEPS

Are you interested in joining us but don't know where to start?  Don't feel overwhelmed by the options that are out there or even the few resources I'll be sharing just a few lines down.  It can be as simple as you having a bible and a spiral notebook.  Use this list and our ideas as just that, ideas!  It's our prayer that through our hashtag, #myprayersonpaper that women around the country (and the globe!) will share what they are doing to spend time with Jesus through bible reading and in prayer and that we can ALL get ideas and encouragement from one another.  What we're doing might not work for you, but maybe someone else has an idea that will aid in helping you dig deeper into your relationship with Christ!

-We are both using a prayer notebook this year.  In the fall of 2016 I did a huge blog post breaking down my prayer notebook (and LOTS of other resources!) so go and read over that for the nitty gritty details of how we are using this notebook.  I'll sum it up in a sentence:  A prayer notebook is a place to record scripture to pray over the people and situations in your life.  With the use of sticky notes and page protectors, you can easily organize your prayers by "category".  (My post from last year explains this fully!)

Here's a list of my categories:

-resources (this is where I have space to put some different print outs) 

-praise 

-my heart  

-tyler  

-campbell

-Crawford

-birth moms (all the cases we learned about- I have their names and babies birthdates so I can continue to pray over their stories) 

-our birth mama

-family  

-friends  

-my influence  

-bible study notes 

-a place to write out prayers  

Here's a list of Austin's categories (connect with her on instagram if you have questions about these!):

-Prayers of exaltation

-my heart

-my husband

-a page for each of her 5 kids

-loved ones:  family

-loved ones:  friends

-birth moms (she's an adoptive and foster mama!)

-the world

-local community

-goals

-a section of notebook paper for writing out prayers

-At the back of our prayer notebooks we both have sections for notebook paper where we can record things as we study scripture and so we can literally write out our prayers.  I used to journal my prayers for years and then got out of the habit of REALLY writing out my prayers so I'm excited to get back into recording my deeper prayers with the Lord!

-We are both using a Well Watered Women Give Me Jesus journal this year for sermon notes.  This was Austin's idea and I'm SO GLAD I'm adopting this, too.  The Give Me Jesus journal is designed to last 90 days as a quiet time journal, but it will be perfect for detailed sermon notes and we will be able to keep an ENTIRE YEAR of notes in one journal.  These journals are beautiful and made incredibly well so I have no doubt it'll last until the end of December.  And then we'll have one journal for a whole year of sermons ready to reference at any given time!

-We are both starting the year reading Donna Gaines book, Leaving Ordinary.  I read it a few years ago and it is AMAZING and she references using a prayer notebook.  If you're interested in this concept, this would be a great book to read over the next few months!

-I am using a Val Marie Paper yearly prayer journal I got for Christmas!  I won't go into too much detail as to how I'm using both the notebook and the prayer journal as they are already out of stock so you'll have to wait until next year to grab one!  However if you have a journal and want to know how I'm working in both the journal or the notebook (or if you're not and just curious! Ha!) leave me a comment below and I'll answer any of your questions!

-Two books Austin is going to re-read this year:  The Power of a Praying Wife and The Best of E.M. Bounds on Prayer

-We both LOVE bible highlighters!  You can get them from the Daily Grace Co. or on amazon

-The Keyword Study Bible and the ESV Study Bible are bibles we both reach for!

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HOW CAN YOU BE INVOLVED WITH US?

As Austin said earlier, it is our prayer and hope that #myprayersonpaper is a place where we can come together and find encouragement while also challenging one another in consistent time in the Word along with pursuing our prayer life by putting our prayers on paper. It's a place to show how you're memorizing scripture, what you're wresting through in the word, how you're making prayer a priority, or simply a place to be vulnerable and share your struggles in these things.  Will you join us?  We would love to journey with you in 2018!

 

Our Christmas Card with Paper Culture

I’m passionate about Christmas cards! I love figuring out which design works best with our photo, stamping and sending them, and receiving them! Call me lame, but I LOVE checkimg the mail! Ha! Checking it in the month of December is extra fun because we usually have a card or two in the box! 

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I am SO EXCITED about our Christmas cards from Paper Culture this year! I was interested in finding a different Christmas card company this year and after a few searches I came across Paper Culture and quickly reached out to them to gush over their card designs! Once I got our fall photos back from Lauren Flowers Photograpy I quickly picked a card and they were here within a week! I went with a gold foil card and the quality is amazing!  

 

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Paper Culture also offered free address printing and I was ALL OVER THAT. I actually ended up picking a design that wasn’t free, but from this year on I’ll never be able to go back to writing my own addresses! Ha! It’s so convenient to be able to stuff and stamp and then put them in the mailbox! I do have a few more I need to write and send today because I didn’t have addresses ready when I ordered, but overall this is a service I WILL take advantage of again! 

 

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Something really neat about Paper Culture is that they use all recycled materials and every order plants a tree! So I was able to “dedicate” a tree through my order so I dedicated it to my babes for our first Christmas as a family of four. :) I love that they are a thoughtful and sustainable company! If you haven’t ordered your cards yet, I think there’s still time for you to get these in before Christmas! You can get 40% off through tomorrow! 

Linking up today with Victoria and Sarah!  

I was sent our Christmas cards for free to review, but all opinions are my own.  

Christmas Day in the Life

I'm so excited to be guest hosting today with Victoria and Sarah for their "It's the most wonderful time of the year" linkup!  Today's prompt is "Christmas day in the life" and I'm thrilled that I get to help host this day.  When I first starting thinking about hosting this day I thought about all the fun activities we could do.  Visit Santa, bake cookies, have friends over, work on crafts, etc.  In transparency, I even started to document us doing some of those things on a day last week, but then I got frazzled and never finished.  I woke up Monday morning and thought "TODAY!  I'll document today!" I had a sink full of dirty dishes, laundry all over my floor, and random baby things on the kitchen island.  I didn't have anything "Christmas-y" planned and GASP my children were going to wake up NOT wearing Christmas pajamas!  Ha!  Yet here I am... hosting a "Christmas" day in the life and, you know what, it was still a sweet and meaningful December day, even though it was a simple day.  In this season it's easy to get caught up in our "to do" or "want to do" lists and even walk away from the holiday season feeling discouraged that we didn't make more "magical" things happen.  I want you to know that it's okay for your days to be simple, it's okay if you don't get to complete that Christmas "bucket list".  What matters are your people.  What matters is spending intentional time loving the people around you, even if that just means turning on the Christmas tree lights and sharing a blanket on the couch.  Don't feel like these December days are any less meaningful if they aren't full of cookie making, santa visits, and hosting holiday parties.  These December days can be meaningful for the simple fact of choosing to love your people... no matter how that may look!  So!  Here's a look at a simple December day in the Cole Household!

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My alarm went off around 5:50 so I got up to make coffee, get my bible and give me Jesus journal out of the car from community group the night before, made cups of coffee for Tyler and I, and then crawled back in bed to have my quiet time!  Tyler and I have been walking through 1,2,3 John with the help of a Jen Wilkin printable bible study and it's been AMAZING and it's really helping me learn how to study scripture for myself! 

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Around 7:15 Campbell and Crawford were up, changed, and comfy with their bottle/sippy cup!  I usually sit right between them and we watch the today show for a little while!  After they finished their bottles they played, I cleaned out the pantry, they had breakfast, and then we went to pickup our walmart grocery order!  If you aren't using the FREE walmart grocery pickup option... YOU SHOULD BE!!! It's a major gift to my life.

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After getting groceries we came home for morning nap, I unloaded groceries, and then worked on sending out some cards to my mini session families!  This year I really wanted to do something to love on my families a little extra, so I hope getting a few prints of their sweet families will be an extra happy this holiday season!

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After morning nap they got up, had a snack, and then we went to get Christmas books at the library!  I LOVE taking them to the library and I hope it's something they grow up loving to do!  We came home with a bag full of fun books to read this month!

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My brother was studying for a nursing school final at the library so we gave him a quick break so that we could go have lunch together!  Also... a certain little boy is in MAJOR need of a haircut! Ha!

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While Campbell and Crawford took their afternoon naps (I LOVE the two nap life while it lasts!!!) I worked on some blogging stuff, read up on Victoria's blog, and had on Harry Potter!  I worked a ton the past couple of months so that I could take December off from photo sessions + editing and it's been so great to have some down time! 

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Crawford was up around 2:30 so we did some things around the house until Campbell got up around 3:30 or so.  They had a snack and we played for a while!  I don't have many photos from the afternoon, but we played, I made tomato-basil soup, Tyler came home, and then my parents came over to play! Tonight it worked out for me to feed them dinner early so we could play with my parents so dinner is to come for us later!  A certain little boy took his VERY FIRST steps!  We have some really sweet videos that I'll cherish forever.  It was a really reflective night for me and I thought a lot about how sweet it is the be their mama.  So many little things really don't matter.  What matters is loving my people.  And I want to love them well! 

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At the end of the night we got them in jams, Crawford got a bottle, Campbell got a sippy of milk, and we read our advent story for the night from our Jesus Storybook Bible!  We love our advent Crew + Co. cards and I know we'll use them for years to come!

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The babes go to bed around 7 and we cozied up on the couch with a bowl of soup and last week's Fixer Upper! Shortly after I helped Tyler with some Christmas lights outside, I worked on my Powersheets, and then we snuggled in bed with an episode of Parks and Recreation before I fell asleep around 9:45 or 10.  I'm SO TIRED by the end of the day! 

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It was a sweet but simple day for our family that made me so thankful for the opportunity to do life with them.  Of course the santa meeting, cookie making, party having days are SO FUN, but I'm learning to soak in these simple days, too.  So grateful for these days with my family! I can't wait to see what a Christmas day in YOUR life looks like!