Tag Archives | Brené Brown

Love and the Power of Prayer

I hope God is speaking to you in powerful ways through this collection of voices; I know He’s speaking to me. Today Leigha Balchus is leading us into Part II of the Contenders of the Faith series: Jude’s instructions to pray in the Spirit. Leigha is fluent in the language of prayer, because prayer has been foundational in her personal story. Her words invite us to notice this hidden yet significant element of our faith.

If you missed any of the previous posts, you can read from the beginning of the series, right here.

Part 2

Love and the Power of Prayer by Leigha Balchus

But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. (Jude 1:20)

As I sat in the prayer circle waiting my turn, I could feel my heart racing, my palms getting sweaty. I desperately tried to gather my thoughts.  What would I say? Everyone else’s prayers sounded so eloquent, so perfect.  I didn’t know any scripture to quote.  What if I froze and couldn’t find any words at all?  I’d look like a fool.  I felt like a total fraud.  Everything in me wanted to run away and hide.  I loved Jesus with all my heart, but what kind of Christian was I if I didn’t know how to pray out loud?  I felt ashamed and embarrassed. Have you ever been there?  If so, you are not alone.

We are often intimidated by prayer, both corporate and private, because it requires vulnerability and the world tells us that to be vulnerable is to be weak.  However, author and researcher, Brené Brown, has discovered through her research that the opposite is true.  Being vulnerable actually takes great courage, and with great risk comes great reward.  In her book Daring Greatly, she shares that “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity.  It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity.  If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.”

If we want to grow spiritually and strengthen our prayer life, we must be willing to be vulnerable, not just with our peers but with God, and even ourselves.  When we are vulnerable before God, it makes our hearts open to receive his love, and when we receive his love, our faith grows.  There are no magic words and no script to follow when we pray. He simply wants us to come to him, hearts wide open.

He already knows our burdens, but the free will he offers us means that he allows us the choice of whether to bring them to him or not.  God isn’t so much interested in our words TO him as he is in our hearts TOWARD him.  I love how R.K. Hughes puts it in Ephesians: the mystery of the body of Christ, “Prayer is not so much the articulation of words as the posture of heart.”

Praying in the Spirit

When we are filled up with the love of God, when we are rooted and grounded in his love and when we believe that we are indeed the apple of his eye (Zechariah 2:8), the power of the Holy Spirit is unleashed in us.  In fact, in the book of Ephesians, just a few chapters before Paul talks about putting on the full armor of God, he prays these words over the Ephesians.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:16-19)

Paul prayed these words because he understood that when we grasp how much God loves us, our eyes are opened to the power that dwells within us as believers in Christ, thus enabling us to pray in the Holy Spirit.  It was important for the Ephesians to know this because it is through the power of the Holy Spirit in prayer that we unlock the power of all the other pieces of our spiritual armor (Ephesians 6:10-17).

In her bible study, The Armor of God, Priscilla Shirer says this about it, “Prayer is the mechanism that brings down the power of heaven into your experience.  It is the divinely authorized method that activates your spiritual armor and makes it effective.” Therefore, it is prayer that is our most effective weapon on the spiritual battlefield, so we must never believe the lie that our prayers are not good enough or that they won’t make a difference.  They make a huge difference!

We all go through times in our lives when we struggle to have faith and to believe in God’s love for us, but it’s in those times that, just as Paul prayed for the Ephesians, we too, can ask God to open our eyes to the power of the Holy Spirit within us and give us the strength to grasp the depth of his love for us.

If prayer is an area in which you’d like to grow stronger in your spiritual walk, I encourage you to begin each day praying Ephesians 3:16-19 over yourself and your loved ones, and watch God move in mighty ways!  The more we practice the discipline of prayer and the more we fill ourselves with God’s Word, the more comfortable praying becomes.  Yes, even when it’s our turn in the prayer circle!

Here’s an example of the verses from Ephesians turned into a personal prayer:

Dear God, I pray that out of your glorious riches you may strengthen me with power through your Spirit in my inner being, so that Christ may dwell in my heart through faith.  And I pray that I may have power to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that I may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:16-19) In Jesus’ name, Amen.

May you go forth and be blessed and always remember that “greater is HE who is in you than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)

About Leigha

About LeighaLeigha Balchus is a wife of 18 years and mom to two amazing kids.  She is head-over-heels for Jesus and, for the past decade, has followed Him on a great adventure filled with many joys and much sorrow.  It is through this journey, when so many times God was all she had to cling to, that she has become so passionate about prayer and the power of His Word.

Leigha is a teacher turned stay-at-home mom who recently decided to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming an entrepreneur as a Distributor for SeneGence International.

In her spare time, she loves to cook, read and, most recently, play with make-up because, in the words of C. S. Lewis, “You’re never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream.”

Final thoughts…

What is God confirming or clearing up for you in regards to prayer? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. This Wednesday (over on my Facebook page), I want to talk about how understanding the Spirit’s role in our lives can recharge our prayer lives as we contend of the faith.

When you subscribe to carried by love and leave a comment on any of the posts written by my guest bloggers, you’ll automatically be entered to win a copy of Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin. I’ll announce the winner of the giveaway at the end of the series.

Grab your free download of Jude1:20-21 here.

If you missed any of the videos from this series, you can tune in here:

[New Series] Intro: FAITH

Part I: IDENTITY

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Three Ways Our Comfort Zones Deprive Us

I grab the stack of mail and mindlessly work my way through bills, ads, and junk.

My slow cooker is handling dinner, so I snag this tiny window of quiet to thumb through the pages of this month’s Pottery Barn catalog.

Somewhere between exquisite bed pillows propped on velvety sheets and rooms that suggest someone has momentarily stepped out, I discover something I’ve been missing in this magazine that boasts of comfort and sophistication.

People.

Families, dogs, real-life people who aren’t just a blurred afterthought.

As I zero in on expressions and imagine personalities, I wonder where these faces have been all this time. On my visual stroll through stunning spaces, I start to see how my own comfort zone has deprived me.

Maintaining our comfort zones means control but no authenticity, safety but no passion, perfection but no connection.

After a little research, I learn that Pottery Barn redesigned their catalog to include humans in 2001, but all the photos with people were edited out of the final draft. I’m sure I know why.

The people who occupy space in my living room are messy and loud. Daily evidence of their presence includes dirty socks left on the floor, last night’s snack wrapper (plus some bonus crumbs), Cheerios between couch cushions, and the six-year-old’s latest LEGO creation that the two-year-old will surely find and destroy.

People offer perspective for a home magazine like Pottery Barn. A purposely placed human can help show the actual size of furniture, but this successful company has avoided using them over the years because people pose inevitable risks. A person is just one more element that can cause a customer to react.

I chuckle at the boy eating Oreos on the light gray couch. On a different page this same boy stands on the edge of a sectional with a baseball in hand. I feel as if I might know the woman in her kitchen making dinner. I wonder what she’s cooking, how many she’ll be feeding, and whether she ever uses a crock pot like me. But then I remember she’s not real.

Until now, Pottery Barn has played it safe by displaying picture perfect scenes void of real life. But we’re really no different.

We like our comfort zones because we like our control, but control deprives us of authenticity.

My youngest is as fierce as they come. Ever since she rolled in my belly to the sound of worship music on Sunday mornings, we knew God made her to live life out loud. Since the day she arrived, this pint-sized member of our family has displayed the entire range of emotion with the volume cranked all the way up.

Brené Brown talks a lot about how numbing our negative emotions results in numbing the positive ones too. Any counselor will tell you that the freedom in forgiveness is claimed by wading through the anger and acknowledging the hurt.

When my girl’s angry, there is no holding back. When she’s happy, you can’t hold back your own delight. God has a plan for her animated personality. I don’t wish away the kicking screaming fits because I’d never want to erase the smiles she elicits.

We buy the lie that our comfort zones will keep us safe, but they deprive us of passion.

When I circle back to Pottery Barn’s stance on the liability of using human subjects, I think about critics I’d rather avoid. If I was mapping out people in my life like emotions in my heart, then my critics would be down on the far end with all the negative emotions. But what about the other end? Whose names would I write there? Who in my life brings joy into my day?

People like you.

I love connecting with readers I’ve never met in person and hearing that you too struggle with this thing called life, but I would never get to hear your stories if I didn’t believe God’s plan in sharing my own. And sometimes, my feet stretch far and wide across that imaginary comfort zone boundary. But it’s worth it every time.

God has only ever asked me to share publicly what He’s already healed within me privately, but it’s still difficult. Vulnerability is never easy, because it shatters the allure of a perfect image. From negative emotion to negative feedback, we spend our energy trying to bypass the very stuff that makes us human… and very alive!

We believe that our comfort zones will help us achieve perfection, but they deprive us of connection.

So how do we take bold strides to cross the lines our safe zones have kept us frozen behind? We look to the One who left His throne for our sake. Jesus came to us as a helpless newborn. Vulnerable in every way. He endured the hatred and slander and abuse of the critics and took on sin and shame and rejection… for us.

Jesus experienced every human emotion during His thirty-three years on earth. Up and down the continuum in both directions. He left heaven knowing full well what crossing that boundary would cost Him. In His eyes, we were worth it.

I’ve tried my hardest to live the abundant life from within my tidy comfort zone, and it just doesn’t work like that. We can’t have connection without vulnerability, passion without pain, and authenticity without surrender.

We can’t have abundant life without death.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3)

Let’s ditch our comfort zones today, because haven’t they hindered us long enough? We only find passion, connection, and authenticity outside of the lines of safety, perfection, and control.  In this world, we’re going to have our fair share of trouble, but Jesus has overcome the world.

 

Join me over on Emily’s Freeman link up for more What We Learned This Spring….

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What I’m Reading and Gifting This Season

What I'm Reading and Gifting This Season

I accidentally left two paperbacks on the bedside table of the hotel room my husband and I stayed in after a recent gala downtown.

At home, after I discovered the books hadn’t made it to my bag, my husband called the hotel. An answering service picked up, then rerouted his call to the voice mailbox of a woman in charge of lost and found.

These weren’t just any couple of books. I had covered one of them in notes and asterisks and lots and lots of my own words, and I only had one more chapter left to read. Someone loaned me the other one, and she raved about it when she placed it in my hands. I planned to start that one next.

My loving husband, who does not share my obsession with books, tried (ever so politely) to convince me that my books sat in a trash pile somewhere collecting dust. He kept saying, “Kelly, they always toss things of little or no value.” I cringed with every repetition, while he shrugged his shoulders as if this news should not be devastating.

How did I end up married to a man who thinks paperback books hold no value?

He left a message, and to my relief, the woman called back the next day. She found the books and said she would hold them until we could come pick them up. During the time between the message he left and her call back, I thought about who might’ve found those books.

All this led me to reevaluate what makes books so valuable.

Nothing compares to opening a freshly printed, brand new book. The smell is invigorating, but the possibility of discovering something new is what drives my love of reading. There is something even more precious about receiving a book from a friend or loved one who tells you, “I knew you’d love this one.”

When it’s a book they’ve already read, marked up, and highlighted, it’s a whole new experience. For this reason, I’ve started to gift my books. Yes, books I’ve read. Books with notes in the margins. Books I’ve packed with me on a hotel excursion or trip to the beach. I wrap them with a simple strand of string and slip on a tag with a hand-written note.

What I'm Reading (and Gifting) This Season

Passing along a good read is gift-giving at its finest.

Gifting your books is the perfect way to spread some love this Christmas season, and it couldn’t be more simple. Scour your own shelves at home. Get creative on how you wrap those goodies—gift bags, boxes, or pretty ribbon you’ve got laying around. The possibilities are endless!

As always, here are seven good reads for winter…

{Christian Living}

None Like Him by Jen Wilkin

I’ve been reading this as a devotional. Jen Wilkin takes ten attributes of God and beautifully disassembles each one in a way that draws us deeper into the heart of God.

{Creativity}

Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

To dare greatly is to show up and let our whole selves be seen. This is a must read for all leaders, educators, parents, and everyone who wants to lead a courageous, whole-hearted life.

{Spiritual Growth}

The Listening Life by Adam McHugh

Listening is one of God’s greatest gifts because it provides the precious assurance that we are not alone. Adam McHugh carefully and eloquently describes how being a listener is being a servant, someone Jesus is to each of us.

{Discipleship / Spiritual Growth}

Shattered Dreams by Larry Crabb

Larry Crabb presents an “invitation to taste and see that the Lord is good even when the bottom falls out of your life.” He implores readers to recognize how God uses the pain of shattered dreams to help us discover our desire for Him.

{Marriage}

What Did You Expect? By Paul David Tripp

I wish I had read this convicting and heart-wrenching book fourteen years ago when I was twenty-one and marrying my true love. The message in this book has helped change my perspective towards marriage and the many ways in which God wishes to redeem it.

{Historical Fiction}

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

When I finished the last page, I wanted to turn back to the first and start all over again. This story made me reevaluate what I call strong and what I call weak. I learned that true strength isn’t found in what others see, but in seeing what others don’t.

{Current Events / Middle East}

They Say We Are Infidels by Mindy Belz

This riveting collection of stories about those suffering persecution at the hands of ISIS realigned my view of the universal church. The church operates first as a family, and these stories demonstrate this in the most costly and sacrificial way.

What I'm Reading: Winter Edition

Thanks for showing up here every few months and proving that the stories that connect us together are priceless treasures waiting to be shared with those around us. Be sure to check out my new page, GOOD READS, for all my absolute favorites.  

Kelly

 

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What I’m Reading: Summer Edition

carriedbylove.com/summer-reading

I have a thing for old-fashioned books – you know, the ones with pages that actually turn. I love the feeling I get when I open to the very first page, and I love savoring the last words of a story that has transported me to a different place and time.

I scribble thoughts in the margin that I don’t ever want to forget, and I dog-ear important pages I want to come back and read again. But, my absolute favorite part of reading is passing books I love on to someone else. Today I’m sharing four books, three of which were passed on to me by people I love and respect.

Rising Strong by Brené Brown 

I was amazed at how much Brené Brown’s message resonated with me. Her relatable style is engaging, and though her findings are strictly research based, many of them are actually biblical. Rising Strong is all about having the courage to get back up after a fall.

Our brains are wired for story, so when we have gaps in our understanding, our brains fill in those gaps with a story, whether the information is true or not. Brené talks about confronting these stories we’ve made up in our heads.

Satan lies in such subtle ways, and sometimes it’s hard to recognize that we’ve believed a lie until the story has gotten away from us. Rising Strong is about taking responsibility for our stories. This book taught me the importance of paying attention to what I’m thinking, feeling, and believing especially when all I want to do is dismiss, deny, or hide.

You can listen to Brené Brown share more about Rising Strong in this interview.

TLS #124: How to Compassionately Set Boundaries in Relationships with Brené Brown

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes 

Me Before You is about life and love and the hope it requires to move past shattered dreams. It’s about losing control and deciding what defines us. It’s about asking ourselves whether it’s possible to protect our own hearts from breaking. It’s about coming to terms with the vows we make and the lies we believe.

I couldn’t read a page of this book without thinking about a dear friend who suffered a similar spinal cord injury from a car accident at the age of 15. Throughout Me Before You, I was enraged and also heartbroken, but I found it to be a very thought-provoking read. I love stories that make me reflect on what I believe and why I believe it.

My belief in Jesus has changed every other belief I hold.

Our decisions in life are wrapped up in what we live for. The pursuit of contentment is the heartbeat that pulses throughout this entire book. Me Before You was a good reminder to continuing sharing with the world how true contentment can only be found in a relationship with Jesus.

This book gave me a renewed passion not to use my opinions to try and change people’s minds, but to use my life to point to Jesus, the only One able to change people’s hearts.

 

Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds by Jen Wilkin 

I read this book a while ago, but a conversation with my daughter led me to read it again. When I was not satisfied with my best response to her question about a well known bible story, I realized that it was a passage of scripture I needed to relearn. As I began to search for clarity for my daughter’s sake, I found myself reaching for Women of the Word.

Jen Wilkin has helped me understand how the Bible is, first and foremost, a book about God, not a book about me. Women of the Word will change the way you view the Bible, challenge you in gracious ways, and give you courage to seek God with all of your heart and mind and soul.

If you are interested in reading along with me and live in the West Houston area, I will be leading a book discussion this month at my church. Email or message me for more details. I’d love to connect with you in person!

 

The White Umbrella: Walking with Survivors of Sex Trafficking by Mary Frances Bowley 

Mary Frances Bowley, the founder and president of Wellspring Living, has carefully and beautifully strung together delicate stories from women who have been victims of sex trafficking. Each story will unravel you in a heart-breaking, but necessary, way.

The color white represents purity, and the umbrella represents protection against the storm. The White Umbrella provides a profound picture of our willingness to stand shoulder to shoulder with survivors of sex trafficking. We all have a place in this fight. If you don’t know where you fit in, reading this book is a perfect place to start.

I love this quote: “You see, it isn’t about what you do or all the excitement of joining a compelling cause. It really is about you and God. He is the ultimate Restorer, and His work never fades… Walking with survivors of sexual abuse and trafficking is a messy and complicated opportunity. But how beautiful is it that God has given us His white umbrella of love so that we can spread it over someone in the storm. When we do that, they too can experience the love, protection, and care that Christ longs to give us all.”

I am not the same after reading this book. My eyes have been opened, and God is answering my “what now?” prayer.

carriedbylove.com/summer-reading

What are you reading this summer? Leave a comment… I’d love to hear from you!

Kelly

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