Five Ways to Grow Spiritually this Summer

This is from my newest article at RELEVANT. You can read the entire article here!

5 Ways to Grow Spiritually This Summer

With summer in full swing, it’s easy to get into the rhythm of letting the days slip by without much intentionality. The sun shines longer, we play harder and many of us take extra days off of work. But while we may want to let go of some stressors during the summer, one thing we don’t want to let go of is our spiritual growth.

Here are five ways to keep growing spiritually during the summer months:

1.) Get Outside!
With nicer weather comes great opportunity to experience God’s beauty in creation and let it shape our prayers and our worship. Take a prayer walk around your neighborhood, asking God to give you His heart for your city and the people there—and let the sights and sounds of where you live inspire your prayers. Or go on a hike and take your Bible with you and read Psalm 19 or Psalm 8 out loud, thanking God for how He’s created the earth and given you life. Swim in the ocean (or the pool!) and break to read John 7:37-39, considering the living water that Christ gives to us that sustains our very spirit.

Don't let your faith slide this summer. Five ways to grow with God right now! #faith #summer Click To Tweet

2.) Make the Effort to Get to Church.
I know, I know. With summer travel, vacations and holidays, it’s easy to blow off church on the weekends. But even if you’re traveling, find a church in town you can attend on Sunday. It’s a wonderful way to continue to growing in relationship with God, to get to know other believers and to experience church in a new way. God’s people are worshipping all over the world—go ahead and join them, wherever you are!

Read the rest of the article–including mixing up your Bible-reading routine and serving in a new way–here, at RELEVANT!

Still Waiting by Ann Swindell

When Our Dreams Fail Us: The Gift of Elusive Satisfaction

This is the start of my newest piece for RELEVANT magazine. You can read the whole of the article here!

If you had asked me, ten years ago, what it would take for me to reach my dreams, I probably would have said what a lot of writers say: I wanted a book deal, the ability to write for publications that I love, and the chance to make a living as a writer.

When Our Dreams Fail Us at www.annswindell.com

I was just starting out a decade ago, and those things seemed light-years away. I was sending articles into the black hole of the internet, pitching book proposals that never saw the light of day, and making zero dollars as a writer. I could imagine no higher satisfaction than seeing my name on the cover of a book and making real money doing what I loved. In the meantime, my lack of satisfaction with my then-current situation led me to pursue further schooling, more writing opportunities, and a job in the publishing industry.

God made us with insatiable dreams that can’t be satisfied by worldly success. Click To Tweet

Fast-forward to today. I’m living the dream I wanted so much: I have a book deal, the opportunity to write for publications I respect, and the freedom to write and teach others about writing as my full-time gig. But you know what?

I’m still not satisfied.

I got what I wanted. I reached my dreams. But none of these things have brought me deep satisfaction. Instead, I now have other goals as a writer, new things that I want to achieve.

This is a bell that’s ringing throughout our generation. Even when we achieve what we dreamed about, we’re not fully satisfied. We’re always off to pursue the next dream, the next opportunity.

Even when we achieve what we dreamed about, we’re not fully satisfied. Click To Tweet

Is something wrong with us when our dreams don’t fulfill us in the way we hoped they would? When they don’t satisfy us in the way we imagined they could?

No. Satisfaction is an elusive rabbit to chase; it shouldn’t surprise us that we struggle to be satisfied.

You can read the rest of the article here, at RELEVANT!

 

And, if you’re a fellow writer, don’t miss out–registration for Writing with Grace, the online writing course that I teach, opens on July 11! Join me over at www.WritingwithGrace.com to sign up for details and an exclusive coupon code!

 

 

Creating Friendships that Last

The Secret to Creating Friendships that Last www.annswindell.com

This is the start of my newest piece for RELEVANT Magazine.
You can read the article here.

In a world bloated with quick fixes, instant gratification and social media profiles, it can be hard to know how to build—and keep—lasting friendships. And while we may want to portray a particular side of ourselves online, the truth is that we need friends who know us here and now, in the middle of our mess and our daily routines. And we need to be those types of friends, too.

The secret to these kinds of friendships is actually pretty simple: You just have to show up.

The secret to the best kind of #friendship? Keep showing up. Click To Tweet

The Scriptures calls us to draw near to Christ and to draw near to one another: “let us draw near [to Christ] with a true heart in full assurance of faith,” and “let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:22, 24-25). As people of faith, we are called to live so that we are encouraging those around us toward love and good deeds. I think this comes most obviously and importantly through deep, meaningful friendship.

Here’s how to start—and build—friendships where we spur one another on to godly lives and where we reflect God’s love to one another:

Show Up With a Meal.

A friend doesn’t have to be sick to need a meal. A new baby doesn’t have to be born, and it doesn’t have to be a holiday. Many times, we need a friend to care for us—spiritually and practically—in the midst of our everyday lives when things just feel like a little too much to handle. I’ve taken meals to friends who are emotionally overwhelmed, to friends who have sick kids and to friends who just need a break from adulting. If you don’t cook: Take a pizza. Breaking bread together—sharing meals—is something that marked the early church, and it’s not hard to understand why. Sharing a meal together feeds both the body and the soul. It’s not hard—it just takes intentionality.

We all need friends who give us a break from adulting. Click To Tweet

Show Up With Prayer.

Hanging out and talking, watching a game together, laughing together—these are good gifts of friendship. But being friends who follow Jesus also offers us the rich opportunity to pray not only for but with one another. I’ve found that my times of prayer with friends have been some of the deepest and most steadying parts of our friendship.

Can it be awkward, especially if you’ve never prayed together? Sure. But it can also crack open the opportunity for deeper relationship and trust. Maybe you can’t help your friend practically, with her need or with his struggle. But you can pray with your friend, right there, asking God to meet that need and provide grace in the struggle. If you don’t know what to pray, consider getting a copy of The Book of Common Prayer and praying a liturgical prayer together. It doesn’t have to be fancy. But when two or three of us get together in the name of Jesus, He’s there with us (Matthew 18:19-20). When we pray, He hears us, and moves on our behalf.

Read about other ways to show up here, at RELEVANT.

4 Ways to Practice Sabbath This Year… (or, 4 Ways to Be More Thankful)

4 Ways to Be More Thankful This Year at www.annswindell.com
This is the start of my newest piece for RELEVANT Magazine.
You can read the full article here.

Many of us have just finished a busy year, full of work, obligations, relationships, and opportunities.

These things are good and meaningful, and we wouldn’t want to live our lives without them. But a lot of us are also intensely busy much more than we should be. We assume that we should be busy or that a busy life is inevitable.

But while there will always be seasons of our lives that are necessarily more demanding than others, they should be just that—seasons that come and go, not indefinite periods of time.

Why?  Because chronic busyness can inhibit our ability to live attentively, and attentiveness is one of the clearest ways we have to acknowledge and encounter God’s presence in our daily lives. When we’re too busy to slow down, it becomes very easy to miss what God is doing in the regular, hum-drum monotony of our lives. And really, that’s the only place we can actually encounter God: here and now, today.

Chronic busyness can inhibit our ability to live attentively and encounter God's presence in our… Click To Tweet

Here are four ways to slow down and pay attention to God’s work in the middle of our normal lives—ways that can strengthen our faith in God’s goodness and love every day.

Pay Attention to What You Have

If you’re like me, then you assume you’re thankful for what you have. But when I actually make the time to slow down and think about what I have—and then speak my gratitude out loud, in prayer or praise, I often find myself overwhelmed with what God has given to me.

Yes, I am thankful for the heat in our apartment. Yes, I am thankful for the gas in my car. Yes, I am thankful for the water that runs like a river from my sink. Yes, I am thankful for eyes that see and for glasses that help me. Yes, I am thankful for my work and my family. Yes, I am thankful for a salvation I could never earn, a Love I can never outrun. Yes, yes, yes.

I am thankful for a salvation I could never earn, a Love I can never outrun. Click To Tweet

Paying attention to all I have—already—turns my heart toward Jesus in thankfulness. I may not have all I want, but I have so much more than I deserve, all because of God’s love and mercy to me. Paying attention helps me encounter Him afresh.

Read the rest of the article here, at RELEVANT!