Have a lovely weekend.

that's pretty ace

One week down. I'm working to get my feet under me as I start seminary, and posts might be a little scarce around here for a week or two. I'll be back! Itching to get writing to you guys again.

In the meantime, here are some links for you:

Psst... the September newsletter goes out tomorrow and it has a special treat in it for you! Not signed up? Just fill out the form in the sidebar. You'll get the newsletter in your inbox at 1:00 tomorrow!

9 Benefits of Praying in Community

9 Benefits of Praying in Community

A few months back, I read a really wonderful article on John Piper's website about the profits of praying with other brothers and sisters in Christ. Many of his points were ones I've found to be incredibly true in my own life – since starting the dinner club, a few of us have become accountability partners and we meet weekly to pray for one another and be invested in each others' lives. The prayer I've seen move in that group is so different than the prayer I've experienced on my own. The bond we're forming in that is continuing to keep our friendships centered on Christ and not ourselves. And when I'm going through seasons where I'm finding it hard to pray on my own (like now), it's often their prayers on my behalf that bring the communication with God that I need when I can't do it on my own. 

To be honest, prayer is one of the hardest aspects of our walk as a Christian. It's safe to say the majority of us will always feel that our prayer life is "lacking." But isn't it true that the greatest things in life are never easy? When I think of praying on my own versus praying with a group, I'm personally more inclined to pick praying alone. There's too many extra anxieties associated to praying with others, plus, if I commit to praying on my own I don't have to worry about "getting it right" – or even doing it at all. I have no one really keeping me accountable (unless I'm forcing myself to write out my prayers as documentation). But all of the reasons I'm hesitant to pray in a group are so obviously fears that are keeping me from the Lord. So, let's be brave. 

I thought Piper's article was a little theology heavy, so I took his points and made them a little more accessible and added my own experiences to them as well...

1. There's power in numbers.

Matthew 18:19-20 states, "Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them." Though there's much mystery in this text (We'll get what we ask for? Does that mean what it literally means?), the overall message is that when we gather and agree, it is pleasing to God. When we gather in His name, seeking Him and doing our best to cast aside our selfish motives, He promises that He is there with us in that. His power is affirmed when we gather together in His name.

2. Multiplied joy.

What if I prayed on my own toward some end – maybe for finding a place to live in Austin. I could research on my own, pray about it, go out and actively look, be discouraged, pray about it, have something work out, then pray praise about it. This is good. But how quickly do I forget? What if instead, I presented my need to my friends and we prayed together that I would find a place. I would instantly feel supported. I would research, update them, and know they're praying for me when we're not together. I would go look – tell them I'm discouraged. We could hop on a call and pray together. I find a place – I let them know we're successful! They would be so excited, and we could pray praise together over this. 

Then, when I'm fretting about the next "big worry" of my life three months later, how sweet would it be for me to be able to turn to these friends and have them remind me of all the ways God has provided before? And especially in truly difficult situations where we're not sure what will happen... and we all see how the Lord provides. It strengthens not just my own faith, but theirs as well. It's not just that I have joy in Christ, but they do as well. 

3. Greater glory.

God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. When we give thanks to God, we honor Him – and this creates deep gratitude. 2 Corinthians 1:11 says, “You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.” Praying together not only adds power to the request, but also gets others involved – bringing more glory to the Giver when he answers.

4. Fruitful ministry and mission.

In his letters, Paul called upon so many churches to pray for him – he could've easily done this himself, and I'm sure he did. But he knew asking others to pray for him would increase the fruit created in his ministry. And don't think of ministry as just "ministry!" What that simply means is how we live our lives to create disciples – and that can happen in anything we do. Prayer increases the opportunity not just for this to happen, but for us to clearly see it happen in our lives.

5. Unity among believers.

Praying together is one of the most powerful things we can do to cultivate unity with and among our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. There is a unity given to us as Christians when we come together centered on Him and not on ourselves (see point 1) and that unity is strengthened as we "do life" together. Acts 1:14 says it was "with one accord" that the first Christians "were devoting themselves to prayer." They did it together and supported each other in being devoted to their prayer lives. We are given "the unity of the Spirit" as a body of believers, and yet we are "eager to maintain" it (Ephesians 4:3). So, praying together effects both the unity we share in Christ among ourselves, and effects that unity to become deeper and richer. It is both a sign that unity already exists among us as brothers and sisters (God has given us that gift, thank goodness!), and is also a catalyst for more of it. 

6. Answers we might not get otherwise.

James 5:14–16 (and many other passages of Scripture) implies that there are some answers to prayer we just wouldn't get without involving others in our prayer:

"Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working."

God means for some answers to prayer to wait for others to join with us in the plea. Whoa. Like I noted in the intro to this post, we often pray alone for our personal needs – and God is pleased to answer. But sometimes, His means include others, such as the leaders of the church, our community or small group brothers and sisters, or just the humble prayer of a fellow sinner made righteous in Christ.

7. To learn and grow in our prayers.

The best way to learn to pray is to pray with others... especially those who have had their prayers shaped by Scripture. Listen for people in your life who's prayers draw you personally into more communion with Christ. Listen to how they approach God, the types of things they thank him for and/or ask him for, and how they keep others petitions and praises in mind when you're praying together. And even beyond the things we can study and be conscious of in someone else's prayers, know that we’re being shaped in profound ways for good when we join our hearts with others in prayer.

8. To know each other.

One of the best ways to get to know a fellow believer is to pray together. It's in prayer – in the conscious presence of God – that we’re most likely to let our walls down. We hear others’ hearts in prayer in a way we can't anywhere else.

When we pray together, not only do we reveal what most captures our hearts and what we truly value, but as we pray together, says Jack Miller in Tim Keller's book on prayer, “You can tell if a person is really on speaking terms with God”.

9. To know Jesus more.


This is by far the greatest benefit. When we pray together, in Jesus's name, we grow to know Jesus better. With our personal limited vision, perspective, and experience, there are aspects of Christ we’ll see with more clarity when we're with others. Our own experiences and personalities emphasize some features of His glory and make us blind to others. And so Tim Keller observes, “By praying with friends, you will be able to hear and see facets of Jesus that you have not yet perceived”.

The point of prayer is not getting things from God – but getting God. This benefit alone outweighs the rest and will be a motivator that consistently provides.

Do you have people in your life that you pray with? What does praying with people look like in your life?

Have a sweet weekend.

that's pretty ace

It's our first weekend in Austin! We're looking forward to exploring more of our new city... and prepping for my first day of school on Monday. I can't believe it's actually here! What are y'all up to this weekend?

+ here are some links for you: 


My favorite puppy products

Our sweet friends are getting a puppy soon (hooray!) and they asked me what our favorite things are that we've gotten for Penny. I sent them a list of a few things, and remembered how much we've bought in the seven months we've had Penny that ended up never getting used. Having a beagle-schnauzer (hound/terrier) mix can be tricky! These may not all apply to your pup, but they've been tried-and-true in our household... their our go-to's! 

Our favorite puppy products - that's pretty ace

1. For collars, we got ours from Up Country – they have durable collars which also happen to be insanely cute. It's hard for me not to buy two more... or ten.

2. As far as treats go, Penny loves her Kong. I know she's not the only pup out there who does! You don't have to use the Kong treats for stuffing – Penny's favorite is peanut butter, but this site is one of many that details several concoctions to stuff your pup's Kong with. It's a "special occasion" treat in our house because it's so indulgent. We toss it in the dishwasher to clean it.

3. We've found the best deals for pet meds on Amazon. Having Prime gets us free two-day shipping, which is great when your pup needs more of something quick!

4. When we visited Austin this summer, we took advantage of DogVacay to get a sitter. We loved the service and I was especially impressed with their app. We heart Stacey!

5. For whatever reason, so many dogs I know are obsessed with this loofa toy. Penny isn't that into toys, but this is one she will happily fetch and munch on. I think it's something about the stuffing.

6. We've had great success with Earthbath's all natural shampoo on Penny's skin. She doesn't shed, so dirt and grime builds up easily and irritates her skin. She's also had a run-in with fleas and this (plus proper medicine) has really helped her out.

7. Lastly, we purchased the Kurgo Quantum leash specifically for running, but it has so many impressive features. It can be used six ways, including to walk multiple dogs.

I haven't been asked to (or paid to) talk about any of these items – they're all things that we love and use regularly in our home and I pray they're useful to you and your pup as well :) 

Our Trip to Florida

Our trip to Seaside - that's pretty ace

Two weeks ago, we took a family trip to visit one of our favorite towns – Seaside, FL. Chris and I were married there two years ago, and it was such a sweet treat to get to go back to visit. My family has been coming to Seaside since I was a little girl (I have pictures as a toddler walking through town!), so it is dear to our hearts in more ways than one. I'll give you a little peek into how life slows down in Seaside... 

Our trip to Seaside - that's pretty ace

We nearly always drive to Florida – the twelve hour drive isn't too bad whether done in one day or split into two, and by driving, we can bring several bikes and all of our favorite beach supplies, like chairs and coolers. This year, we split the drive there into two days, spending a night in New Orleans. Chris has a clerkship coming up where he will have to visit New Orleans several times throughout the year for meetings, so we were excited to explore a town we will soon be seeing a lot of. Naturally, beignets and chickory coffee were had!

Our trip to Seaside - that's pretty ace
Our trip to Seaside - that's pretty ace
Our trip to Seaside - that's pretty ace
Our trip to Seaside - that's pretty ace

After getting our fill of classic New Orleans breakfast items, we hit the road and finished up our drive to Florida. We rented a house in Watercolor, which is a little community that wraps around Seaside. Both Seaside, Watercolor, and the adjoining communities (Seagrove, Rosemary, Watersound, and Grayton to name a few) all reside on or off of the main 30A coastal highway, and are filled with vacation rental homes. Our house in Watercolor was less than a mile's walk to the beach, and had a main house with three bedrooms and an apartment above the garage. The two were attached by a screened-in porch, which is where we spent the majority of our time. Chris and I stayed in the apartment, which had the cutest kitchen... those appliances! The homeowners obviously had fun with this one. 

Our trip to Seaside - that's pretty ace
Our trip to Seaside - that's pretty ace

The fridge was just my size :) The bedroom was so sweet as well, and we had great storage space. Though the bed was filled with sand by the end of the week, I don't think I've ever slept so soundly. 

Our trip to Seaside - that's pretty ace
Our trip to Seaside - that's pretty ace
Our trip to Seaside - that's pretty ace

The town of Seaside is filled with delicious places to eat. Amavida coffee and Modica Market were our breakfast hits (try a giant waffle or chicken biscuit!). My favorite thing, however, is the sandy floors in every store. You can't forget you're right by the beach. 

Our trip to Seaside - that's pretty ace

A big hit for us this year was traveling with teenagers! My siblings are ten years younger, and between them, their friends, and my cousins, we had quite the rowdy group. It was great to get to join in on the fun... like card games, inside jokes, sing-a-longs, and wresting. Yes, that is a giant inflatable Smarties. We also loved having a few extra strapping young men to help carry items to the beach! Speaking of which... 

Our trip to Seaside - that's pretty ace
Our trip to Seaside - that's pretty ace

Our setup was a good one. Nearly every day, we would enjoy a leisurely breakfast then pack up lunches, drinks, games, and books to read and head out to the sand. We had a large group of friends staying in nearby Grayton, and we would head out to the semi-circle of chairs to nap, read, and catch up on life. I was introduced to the game Can Jam (so fun! and ridiculous.) and we took turns splashing around in the waves. As always during southern summers, it was insanely hot, but the ocean offered us strong winds to keep us cool. We were thankful for the breeze and semi-rough waves perfect for boogie boarding. 

Our trip to Seaside - that's pretty ace
Our trip to Seaside - that's pretty ace

My sister, being in-the-know, brought her very cool Instax camera to the beach one day. We took turns taking pictures and shaking our photos until they came out. It was a nice switch from the typical digital photos on our phones to have something tangible to take home. Such a great little treat!

Our trip to Seaside - that's pretty ace

In the evenings, we'd pile up in a few cars and head out for something fun to eat. This year, we tried a few new places, including The Hub – a "food truck" style set-up without the actual trucks. There are several small places to order at the counter, then picnic tables and cozy chairs scattered throughout a lawn in the middle. There was live music and even bean bag chairs (a huge hit with the kids), and we had such a great time. Love these sweet sunburned smiles from Chris and my little cousin (they both had a birthday during our week at the beach! What a sweet celebration). 

Our trip to Seaside - that's pretty ace

We always treasure our time on 30A, but this year was especially memorable as we looked to moving the weekend after we got back. It was nice to have some time away with Chris after being (finally!) done with the bar exams, and good to be with family before we moved. Now we're ready to have adventures in our new city!