Cold Prayers

I’ve had a couple people check in on me, and in actuality I was not ok. I scattered my family in a few different directions last night with my frustrations. I wouldn’t have wanted to be around me either. I try every year, but it never fails. As soon as the temperature drops, my fight or flight response is to fight. I mean, since I can’t get on a flight to Key West.

Here in North Alabama the temperature dropped with very little leeway. I had been out hiking without a jacket just 2 days before with my family. I spent the long Thanksgiving weekend so very thankful for my family, friends, church, job and the list goes on. There was no good reason for me to be so prickly.

Did I mention that it was only 35 degrees all day? With snow showers? Oh, and the heater broke in my car. The heater. In my car. Broke.

I need to pause right here and try to explain to you how being cold for me isn’t just an inconvenience. It makes me angry to be cold. Angry, tense and irritable. I just can’t relax at all.

My poor family.

So, to have my heater broken in my car on the very first day of what looks like could be a brutal #2020ish Winter…I was not in a good place. I had a mini melt-down. No pun intended. The heater wasn’t my only issue. Miscommunication with my husband, Cyber Monday customer service mix-ups, forgetting dance class, closing the school system in the middle of the day throwing me off my Monday game, not-so-great news from my doctor. And my heater.

Dinner was late, because let’s be real here. Dinner is always late when days go awry. It’s a bad day code I’m sure. Dinner must be late when you’re tired and hangry.

Anyway. I groveled for forgiveness from my very merciful and understanding family. I don’t deserve them. They know me and my weaknesses and love me in spite of them. That’s true love, y’all.

So, I went to bed, said my prayers and tried to sleep. And in case you are just tuning in with me you need to know I struggle with that too. Sleeping. But it was gracious to me also.

Until about 3:30am.

I’m gonna say that it was stomach pain that woke me up, because it was. But since I’m a believer I’m gonna know it was how God chose to get me up this morning. Because I was fine, except that I couldn’t go back to sleep. And you know that Christmas song, “Mary Did You Know?”. Well, it was stuck on a loop inside my head. Honestly, I’ve not ever really been a fan of it because, yes! She knew! Good grief, an angel came to tell her directly that she would be the mother of the Son of God. That’s kinda the whole story line. But I decided that if I couldn’t get the song out of my head that maybe God was trying to tell me something. So, I crept out of bed, scooted my baby dog out of my chair and snuggled in to read Luke and the story of Jesus’ birth.

I am always struck by Mary’s faith in the story. She doesn’t waiver at all. She asks “How can this happen, since I am a virgin?” But she doesn’t doubt. There’s a difference between curiosity and doubt. Mary just says, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be so.” And then she goes off to fulfill God’s eternal salvation plan. What remarkable faith!

Stay with me here because I promise this gets pretty cool.

There I am. It’s dark and like 5:00am. And I just want faith like that. I mean this year has been nothing short of ridiculous. And I am pretty sure that if an angel came to me today I would question the validity and maybe look for hidden fake-news cameras. We haven’t been able to rely on very much this year at all. It seems like every time I make plans they change. People are sick and dying. People are losing their jobs and livelihoods. No one trusts anyone else. It’s not hard to find conspiracy around every corner. We question everything we are told. And, did I mention it’s cold outside and my heater broke? I felt like I just needed a life line.

“So, Lord could you at least just fix my heater? I’m not asking much, but I am asking in faith that you will fix it.” It didn’t seem like a big request considering all the other issues. Surely this one would be easier to resolve than a global pandemic.

I went back to bed and failed to sleep until my alarm went off at 6:30. Sunlight revealed that my car had been covered in frost overnight. My phone told me it was 26*. So, I got moving knowing I would need extra time to scrape my windshield since my defrost function went out the window with my broken heater. I got dressed and went out to my car to start it. At least I could warm up the engine.

Y’all. My Father hears the small requests and cares for His children. Even when they have been grumpy and have lost faith. I reached in to turn the key in the ignition and “Whoosh!” My heater sprang to life as if it had never died!!

AND.

AND.

AND!

The lyrics poured out of my favorite station that I had left on the radio, “That’s what faith can do…” (Kutless) How amazing is that?!

I yelled, “You are SO BEAUTIFUL LORD!!” Then proceeded to jump up and down in my driveway like a toddler at Christmas!!

Because He is so beautiful and He is so faithful. He is the provider of every good thing and He delights in delighting us. What other God has the best timing and can answer prayers with so much precision and detail?

It may not have been a message from an angel to tell me immaculate news, but I know without any doubt it was a message from Jesus that He is still there, listening to every prayer. Every little prayer in faith. Disappointments, frustrations, illness, despair, cyber attacks; He’s got all of it. He doesn’t always answer tangibly, but He always answers.

 

How have you experienced God’s answered prayers? Let me know in the comments.

 

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How Hitting The Snooze Button Can Change The Way You Pray

I woke up this morning, and it was raining. Again. Instead of cursing, I decided to ignore my alarm for a few more moments. I rolled over with grand delusions of not oversleeping and lied to myself about being able to wake up willingly in precisely 9 minutes.

Stop it. It could happen.

But, you’re right. I need to polish my skills.

I overslept. But no matter. My Senior can drive my Freshman to school. I can afford to lose a few minutes.

Except when I go to wake my Senior she tells me she’s sick. Again.

I begin to feel like the amount of rain is directly correlated to the amount of sickness we have had at our house this season, which is a lot.

And let me just say right here that it doesn’t matter how old your baby gets, it still affects your whole life when she’s sick. You ache to be able to make it better. You pray it’s short-lived. You block out thoughts of Coronavirus and try to keep calm.

And then you realize that now you are not only running late, you also have to drive your Freshman to school and you start to mentally recalculate your morning routine.

Finish putting on make-up. Make lunch. Dry hair. Pack my bag (don’t forget anything), and head out the door.

Unanswered texts. Miscommunications. Over communications.

Event planning. Birthday planning.

Worry over scholarships. Worry over finances.

Worry I am not enough.

I wasn’t having a bad morning, but it was all the little things nagging at me that made it all seem so big. It made me feel invisible and overwhelmed. I began to feel nothing short of desperate for time alone with Jesus. I really should not have hit that snooze button and opened my Bible instead.

So, I did what every normal person would do. I found an empty closet at work, locked myself inside it, sat down on I’m-not-sure-what, held my hands out and asked to receive whatever God was trying to give me today. He’s so gracious, Y’all. Because he gave me 1 John 5:14, which for all you YouVersion followers is the verse of the day.

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.

I felt like I had so many things to ask for and I felt guilty just giving God my laundry list of requests. I was lacking the confidence to approach God.

<Sigh>

“God…I need…” I couldn’t go any further. I was stuck there in the dark.

And then the gentle Spiritual nudge came;

“I need my daughter to be sick, so that I can know what it will be like to thank You for her healing.

I need the disappointments,  so that I can find joy in You alone.

I need strain in my finances, so that I can be content only in You and Your abundance.

I need to feel invisible, so that I can be seen by You.

I need to be overwhelmed, so that I can realize that You are enough.

I need this day that isn’t going my way to help me understand that everything is going according to Your plan.

Help me to lean on that, Lord. Help me!”

I left the closet with a much clearer vision for the day’s mission. I was still weary and I still encountered a few bumps along the way. But I know that verse was placed before me today to remind me that God hears me. Even on those days when all I can do is pray a list of my needs.

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The Hard Assignments {Soaring on Wings}

The Lord gave me an unexpected assignment this year. That’s usually how He deals with me. Unexpectedly. I have trouble paying attention. So really, it’s not His fault! If I could just keep my eyes focused on Him maybe I could see things He’s tossing my way more clearly. But this was a pretty big assignment, and I didn’t see it coming at all. Those are the ones that are usually the most rewarding. The ones where he kinda just drops something in my lap so I don’t really have that much time to think about it so I don’t really have the time to be disobedient. Believe me, I really wanted to be disobedient on this one. Or at least I did after I had said yes!

I hate flying and the Lord is sending me to Asia. For those who didn’t make an A in geography class, that’s across the ocean. So, unless I am going to take 3 weeks on a cruise ship (I’d definitely say yes to that!) to get there, I gotta fly. In an airplane. For 24 hours. That’s 24 hours in an enclosed space sitting upright among strangers…over the ocean.

The thought of that alone has improved my prayer life exponentially. Did I mention that I hate flying?

I’ve been getting pretty anxious about it and trying not to think about it and honestly asking God to find a way to get me there without having to fly at all. I want to avoid the jet-lag and inevitable exhaustion that comes with getting no sleep on a plane. Again, that cruise ship sounds really nice. Or maybe he has the wrong girl. I always think he has the wrong girl when it comes to my assignments. Truth be told, I’d much rather spend my days playing games with toddlers or reading poetry. But that isn’t the calling on my life. I know it. Doesn’t mean I don’t try to deny it. But let’s face it, doing God’s work should scare us sometimes. That’s exactly how we learn to lean on him for provision, safety, trust and comfort among other things.

So, I’m a week out from boarding this plane and I have yet to find my way out of having to fly for 2 days. I am honestly, quite anxious. I started reading the Bible chronologically at the beginning of this year. Or maybe it was the middle of last year. I have done a pretty poor job of keeping up with it, so it could have even been 2 years ago.

I picked it back up this evening in what has been several futile attempts to calm my nerves lately. Just going through the motions, really. Come on. You’ve been there too.

So there I am reading in Isaiah 40. I’ve read it dozens of times before in my life. I’ve even used it to encourage others. But because God’s Word is alive, it still speaks at exactly the right time. The same words we read 2 years ago can mean something different today. My God told me that I will soar on wings like eagles–on an airplane. He will renew my strength throughout my journey. He’s already waiting for me in the skies and waiting for me when I reach my destination.  What a privilege! I will walk among the people He has sent me to serve and not grow faint.

I love when He speaks to me through Scripture. How has God used His Word to speak to you lately? Drop me a comment and let’s talk about it.

But those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31

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Grace {How Lamenting Helped Me Find It}

I’ve been crying a lot today. I haven’t cried in a really long time. But, I’ve been crying a lot today. Nothing tragic has happened. No one has hurt my feelings. I’ve just been crying.

When I told my husband of my emotionally bad day, he didn’t really blink. I don’t have them often, and I pray this one is also temporary. He said, “Well, you’re a girl so… sometimes you just need to cry.”

He’s right. Sometimes I do.

I guess it just caught me off guard, because like I said nothing is really wrong. It’s all the little things that added up to one really big thing and the waters finally burst through the flood gates. Little things like feeling inadequate on how I handled a situation. Or some things that I left undone or didn’t follow through. And goodness if I could just learn that comparing myself to others is nothing but a malicious game the enemy likes to drag me to, make me sit in the stands and cheer for.  I can never win that game.

So I cried. I cried and lamented. Which, by the way, is different than complaining. Lamenting is expressing your grief and sorrow. Complaining is expressing your annoyance with something.

God encourages us to lament to him on days like today. Days when you just can’t stop crying and you don’t know why. He knows why. But He loves the intimacy you share with Him when you pour out your heart. He’s jealous for your time and expression and is very patient when you finally choose to take a moment to grieve.

I had grown faint from crying. Breathless and weak. It’s when I paused to float on the river of my tears that God whispered.

“Grace.”

I struggle so much with feeling inadequate. “God, I’m not good enough! I’ll never be good enough for you!”

“Child, Grace!”

Like a warm rushing wind it flowed through me. The reminder that His grace is always sufficient and I don’t have to be. I forget this way too much!

So, I picked myself up off the floor. Wiped my tears and started moving again. I started breathing again. My lament turned to worship and my sorrow to a tear-stained joy.

It’s not been my best day. But, I needed the cry. I needed the gentle reminders.

And I cannot survive with grace.

 

Hear my prayer, Lord;
    let my cry for help come to you.
Do not hide your face from me
    when I am in distress.
Turn your ear to me;
    when I call, answer me quickly. Psalm 102

 

 

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Unforgettable: When God Writes The Story

wordoftheyear2018

I love words. I’m the girl who sits and reads the dictionary during her leisure time.  Yes, the paper copy. When I hear a new word, I almost always look it up and practice saying it over and over again.  Sometimes, as with a popular song, I will get a word stuck in my head. The poetry of it is melodious to me. I know. I’m weird.

It should be of no surprise then, that God uses words to mold me into who He wants me to be. As if He is allowing me a sneak peek into the grand story He’s writing for my life, these words hold a theme of what He will allow and walk me through.

The concept of choosing just one word to meditate on for an entire year is not new, but I still love it. I begin to pray about it around November (looking forward to a new year anyone?) and begin to reflect on what God brought me through with the word he gave me previously. I’ve been given “intentional” and “trust” the last two years. Both of those words proved to refine me in ways I didn’t plan.

I thought “Intentional”  would remind me to be a better friend. You know, be intentional about how I spent my time with others and invest in those I cared about. Turned out God wrote that word on my heart because he wanted me to be more intentional about the time I spent with Him! I could not have survived a broken heart without all the time I spent in the Word and praying. Intentionally seeking my one true love. Jesus.

Trust. This year my husband spent 10 days in 2 different hospitals with a traumatic injury that almost took the use of his arm. The days and weeks and now months after the injury have been nothing short of a challenge. Learning to live with the pain, the limited use of his arm and the lingering question on whether the dead bone used to replace the one he lost will ever ‘come alive’ or not, all of that takes a whole lot of trust in a God who has our best interests at heart.

This year I also began a new full-time director position in children’s ministry at our church. The stretch marks and bruises from that alone have left me questioning what God has gotten me into. And I realize it’s all part of that tiny little word He wrote for me. Trust.

Since the last two years of my life have been so challenging, I hesitate to choose another word. But I realize that the words God uses to write my story allows me to focus more on a reason for the challenges and not just wallow in the suffering. And since I tend to be a carefree spirit and want to do things my way, I know that God has given me this word for 2018:

Discipline.

It really doesn’t sound like a fun word at all.  God will even back me up on that one;

No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. Hebrews 12:11

Not enjoyable. Sounds like just the kind of year everyone wishes for! While the work and discipline may not be easy, afterward comes the peaceful harvest.

Being disciplined with my money yields a more secure future for my family and sharing wealth with those who need it more than me.

Being disciplined in my time with the Lord nourishes my soul to better be able to minister to those around me.

Being disciplined with the food I put on the table provides a healthier life for my family and loved ones.

Being disciplined with my time leaves me more time to do the things I love to do, like write, read and spending time with my family.

Discipline is not enjoyable, and to be honest I wish my word was different for 2018. But I am also looking forward to what the fruits of that labor will be.

“Intentional” helped me better understand the characteristics of God.

“Trust” helped me better understand that he is always there, even on my darkest days.

Who knows what ‘discipline’ will teach me this year. I won’t know until a year from now. But it is guaranteed that if I continue to let God write the words, the story will be unforgettable.

 

What word has God given you for 2018? I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or shoot me an email.

 

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Details: When God Gives You A Pickle

Distraction. We all struggle with it.  So many things demand our attention every day. Work. Kids. Relationships. Some of us are involved in so many activities there just doesn’t seem to be time for work, kids and relationships. Our devices intended to make our lives easier sometimes are the most distracting things in our lives.

Have you ever felt that way?

I am certain that God never intended for us to live like this. God never wants us to get so bogged down with so much that we can’t pay attention to the little things.

God pays attention to the little things.

I am reading chronologically through the Bible. Some of the Old Testament books are not very good bedtime stories. I find my thoughts drifting off and wishing for an easier read. When I got into Exodus and God is giving all the instructions on how He wanted the Temple built and the dimensions of the Ark of the Covenant, I literally stopped, groaned and said aloud:

“Why do all of these details matter?”

And God answered, “Because details matter to Me.”

Now, it’s not every day that God answers me right back, but it’s not unusual when I take the time to dig into His word. It is so important to get to know my Heavenly Father and His character. That’s only possible by reading His autobiography, the Bible.

So, I wasn’t surprised that He answered me so clearly and I wasn’t surprised with His answer. But, it’s had me thinking ever since.

God is in the Details.

The other day I was driving to lunch with a friend of mine. Thinking ahead to the menu I said out loud to her, “I want a pickle.”  It seems random. I know. But she went with it and agreed that I should have one with my lunch.

We arrived at the busy restaurant, found our table and briefly looked over the menu. The sandwich I settled on came with a pickle. When the waitress brought it to me, wouldn’t you know that sweet, benevolent detail-oriented God of ours brought me two pickles!

I truly do not believe that was a coincidence. It was a small detail to remind me He’s listening to my heart’s desire.

Last Spring, my husband was in a traumatic accident where he cut off his left elbow.  We waited in the hospital for over a week for doctor’s to detemine what should be done. Finally, it was decided that my husband would need a cadaver’s elbow to save his arm. Of course, all that was available in the entire country were left elbows.  Exactly the detail we needed!

Notice The Details

I think that God wrote all of those details in the Old Testament because He wants us to know that He cares about the details. If God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow then His detail-loving character hasn’t changed.

And He wants us to notice.

He wants us to notice the extra pickle or the fact that He provided the exact missing piece. He wants us to notice the little things He does for us so that we will trust Him with the bigger things.

How to Notice the Details

It’s easy to see God when He heals a friend of cancer or provides at the very last minute the funds you didn’t think would be there. God is still in the business of showing off, and I love that.

But, maybe you find it difficult to see Him in the details.

One way to see Him every day is to realize that He’s there. Every. Day. He’s what set this whole cosmos in motion, after all. If He can do that, He can put an extra pickle on a plate.  Begin to notice the beauty around you. Put down the phone and listen to your children laugh. Look out the window and marvel at all the tiny things set in motion before you in that very instance. Breathe in creation.

Another way to realize God’s love for details is to realize His desire to satisfy yours. An extra pickle isn’t a coincidence if you know your Father knows you wanted one.  He’s a good Father, and He promises that if you ask it will be given to you. Luke 11:9  That includes pickles.

Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Luke 11:11

But the best way I know to understand and begin to notice the details around you is to spend time with Your Father.  Dig into His word and learn about His character. Make a point every day to learn something new.  You notice things about others when you spend more time with them. That includes your Heavenly Father. Find a quiet place and pray. Talk to Him throughout the day and make sure you thank Him each night. When you take the time to be still and get away from your distractions, it’s easier to know that He is God.

Knowing God means recognizing His subtle reminders that He’s got not only your biggest worries, but also your detailed desires in mind.

 

I’d love to hear from you. What are some ways God has shown off to you through the details? Join the discussion in the comments below this post.

 

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Hope Among The Mess

I took this picture not knowing the meaning it would hold for me less than 24 hours later.  It’s a picture of my 12-year-old’s daughter’s room. As is.

Can you just see her life in there?

One glance at the picture and you can see who she is.  She’s a free spirit. A lover of pink. A dreamer of Paris.

She’s also a mess.  That’s why I took the picture.  I took it to remind myself that one day she’ll grow up and move out and she’ll take the whole messy pink bundle of girlish charms with her. Her laughter. Her smile. Her joy. It will all grow up and move out on me one day. And I want to remember it all.

As is.

I chose not to fuss at her this time for the way her room looks, but she fussed at me for taking the picture. She fusses at me for a lot of things these days. She is twelve after all.

The next day I learned that someone else’s child was shot and killed at her church in Texas. Dozens more were killed simply by doing what my family does more than once a week–going to church.

I am so thankful to still have that ‘one day’ to look forward to.

Anytime tragedy strikes it causes us to reevaluate our lives a bit. Do your loved ones know that you love them? I mean, really? Have you done enough to teach and mold your children? Has your life made a difference to those around you? Are your priorities in line?

Perhaps tragedy makes you feel angry or frustrated.  Maybe it causes you to spring into action to help those who are directly affected by what happened. Or maybe it happens so often that you have become desensitized to it. I know that has been my reaction many times, I am almost ashamed to admit it.

Somehow, this one hit home for me. I’ve lost track of the number of disasters and unspeakable acts of violence this year alone.  But the news of innocent children murdered sitting next to their mothers? It’s too much. It’s too raw.

So, I look back at the picture I snapped the night before. I can practically breathe in the fragrance of my daughter. I can almost see her sitting there at her vanity doing her hair. And I can’t help but wonder if tragedy is around the corner for me too.

However, my peace lies within the knowledge that my child knows Jesus. She teaches me about Him a lot when she doesn’t even mean to. Does she stumble sometimes? Yes. Does she have a lot more to learn? Yes. I pray protection over my children every single day.

I know that God can allow some horrible trials to strengthen His people. None of us are immune to tragedy, but my child is immune to death.

This is what gets me through horrible news stories. The promise of eternal life for those that know Jesus like my child.

I’m not saying that people shouldn’t mourn over this tragedy or losing someone they love. It’s not even my child and I have wept. I’m saying that there is hope. Hope for grieving parents and a grieving congregation. Hope for a town that suddenly finds itself thrust into the national spotlight and making a mark in history for all the wrong reasons. There’s hope for a nation that just can’t seem to heal before another tragedy strikes.

You’ll find that hope nestled in the random picture I took of my daughter’s messy room. It’s sitting on her dresser. Do you see it? It’s a Bible. Between the two pink covers lies every answer to every problem you’ll ever face. It’s comfort. It’s hope. And it’s sitting in the midst of the mess we’ve made, just waiting for us to return to its promises.

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My Journey To The Other Side Of Heartbreak {See Ya 2016!}

 

2016, I’m over you!

Typically, I couldn’t care less about a calendar year and don’t anticipate much a new one. But this year, I feel like I should ceremoniously rip December from my desk calendar and prominently place January 2017 where everyone can see it’s shiny newness.

Poor 2016. It’s not your fault.

It’s just that I walked through a whole lot of hurt with a whole lot of my favorite people. Including myself. The sudden and mysterious death of a parent. The death of an old friend. Divorce. The break-off of an engagement. Serious injury. Financial strain. And my personal experience of losing a very close decades-old friendship that I thought would last a lifetime.

Maybe you were dealt a similar hand this year and you can relate.

Hurt.

I could easily feel helpless walking through all of that. And I did. I still do, sometimes. But looking back I can see who I was in January 2016 and who God has stretched and molded me into using all of those trials. If 2016 has anything going for it it’s that I learned more than I ever have about leaning into Jesus for my healing, guidance and strength. I am humbled beyond measure by His mercy and grace and I am learning to set aside the idols that get in the way of His will for my life.

I have been beaten down, bruised and broken.  But never abandoned. Even in the midst of all the hurt I never felt my Savior let go of me. Even on the days when my grief was crippling, I learned to focus on the One who was calling to me among the crashing waves. Every day is a new lesson in remembering to clothe myself in the full armor of God, but trusting Him to be the one to fight my battles.

One word to change my life for 2017

2016 was the toughest year for me emotionally that I can remember. But I wouldn’t trade it in for anything.  I know when I am under fire it’s because I am being refined like metal. All my impurities will melt away transforming me into something more precious.  I am promised an abundant life in Christ and it is in Him that I choose to stay.

Perhaps you are one of many people who will choose a word to guide you through a new year.  I chose ‘intentional’ for my word in 2016. I had a much different idea of the word at the beginning of the year! I thought it would help me build intentional relationships with others. Instead, I found myself being intentional with my prayers, my quiet time, my thoughts and putting on that armor every. Single. Day. Or trying to.

I didn’t give much thought to my word for 2017, but I didn’t need to. God promises that he will work all things for my good and bless my abundant life. Heartbreak is never easy and no one asks for it, but sometimes God allows us to walk through it for the ‘soul’ purpose of getting to know Him better and learning to trust Him more.

That is why my word for 2017 is TRUST

Trust that He will never leave me nor forsake me. (Deuteronomy 31:6)

Trust that He will deliver His promise for good. (Romans 8:28)

Trust that His dreams for me are way better than anything I could imagine for myself. (Ephesians 3:20)

Trust Him to heal me and to restore me. (Psalm 147:3)

Trust that the journey He brought me through in 2016 has prepared me for His plan in 2017 and beyond. (Jeremiah 29:11)

I never thought I’d be thankful for my heartbreak or that I would ever be able to turn my hurt into praise. Still, some days are easier than others.  But it’s because of those promises in Scripture that I am able to find hope. In good times and in bad. So, while I know my journey isn’t over (I am still breathing after all), and I know that the year is long, I can feel the Lord’s strength within me and that still small voice cheering me on through His sustaining power in 2017!

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Peace {How I Found It With A Wish}

I lost an eyelash this morning.  Not really a big deal. But I lost an eyelash this morning and it taught me a huge lesson on what really matters.

My husband and I have been pretty diligent about staying out of debt for the last 7 years.  We worked really hard to pay off student and car loans and credit cards.  It took us a good while to get there, but when we did it was very liberating  and we were able to begin saving for emergencies.

We’ve had our share of car breakdowns, vet bills, and home repairs.  Anyone living in the free world experiences these things. But God always provides. Always.

This year though we’ve had a rough go. Our entire air conditioning unit needed to be replaced earlier this Summer giving us a huge $6,000 hit to our emergency fund. We reluctantly paid it but we were thankful not to go into debt and to have cool air. Southern summers are brutal, y’all. (Oh, how I love them!)

We slowly began to rebuild our emergency fund from it’s crippling blow, but life seems to want to beat us up a bit more. Both girls needed braces at the same time. The same. Time!

My oldest started high school along with musical theater and choir and dance and fees, fees, fees!

My husband needs to have surgery within the next few months. If you’ve been living in America the last several years, no doubt you are aware that even if you have insurance your medical bills are nothing short of ridiculous. I could go on since this is my blog and I can.  But I won’t.

Also, because of the extreme drought in the Southeast, my house is slowly settling it’s way into the ground and beginning to crumble around my ears. Just say the words “Foundation Repair” and you see dollar signs flash before your eyes. Go ahead. Say them. Right? Dollar signs!

Last weekend both of our cars, BOTH of our cars died on the same day.  One is still sitting dead in my driveway.

It’s all a bit overwhelming.

So, we pray. And we plan. And we pick up the things that God has put in our path and try to count it all joy.

We look for ways and anticipate how He will provide for us. We give it all over to the one who gave us our home, our kids and our health in the first place and let Him manage it all.

That’s where you find peace.  And you know you have it when you have moments like when you lose an eyelash.

You know you’re supposed to make a wish when you lose one, right? You make a wish and as with your birthday candles you blow it away.

Well, I don’t believe in wishes.  I believe in prayer.

So this morning when I lost my eyelash, as I often do, I paused to think about what I should pray for. I was in front of my mirror so I just looked at my reflection and smiled.

Hmmm… Should I pray away my trials? Should I pray for money to fall from the sky?

But I truly didn’t feel like I should waste my ‘wish’ on those material things.

So, I dug around deep inside my soul to find my purest desire. I drew in my breath and prayed.

“I pray for my children to grow up to know Christ.”

I surprised myself, honestly. It was in that moment when I realized I don’t really need money. Or health. Or even a house.

I need the assurance of spending an eternity with the ones I love the most.  I need to know that when they grow up and have trials of their own they will know they should lean on Christ the way my husband and I have tried to these last few months. I need to know that they are taken care of even in those times when I fail to do so.

Only the saving knowledge of Christ can provide any of that. Along with the peace He so lovingly provides during life’s most difficult trials. And all we have to do to get that peace is pray, trust and wait for Him to send the provisions He has already promised.

 

How has God provided for you during your difficult times? What did you learn from it?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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The Power of Prayer

Let me start by saying that I know this will sound like I think I got it goin’ on. I know. But that is exactly why I have to tell you about it. Sometimes the things that seem the craziest are the very stories we keep to ourselves. And that is the very moment when the enemy wins.  When we don’t share our ‘God winks’, we stiffle the glory that God deserves. The glory that makes those moments even possible.

It hasn’t rained here in my sweet-home Alabama town in many weeks.  We are in a burn ban drought emergency situation.  That is a bit unusual for this neck of the woods.  My house has settled so badly that there is a very large crack in our foundation that will need some serious attention.  Many homes in our neighborhood are experiencing the same thing.

My husband and I were talking about the situation last night and as we were getting ready to go to sleep I said aloud,

“I wish it would rain.”

That’s when the Spirit reminded me that wishing and praying are two totally different things.  One works. The other doesn’t.

I realized I had not prayed about the situation at all.  Not even once had I asked God for rain. So I took a moment and silently prayed for some rain.

Amen.

This is the part where you might think that I am a bit full of myself.  At the very least you might label me a Jesus freak, but I am ok with that one!

I was in the bathroom getting ready for church this morning when my husband came in to tell me that it was raining. Rain was not in the forecast for days! Zero percent chance!

Unless of course you prayed for some rain. Because God is in the business of answering prayers.

Now, it didn’t rain for hours and it wasn’t a gully washer. It was just enough for people to notice, puddle up and for me to be           awe-inspired by my God while He taught me a lesson about prayer. Which is exactly His point!

Have farmers been praying for rain for weeks? No doubt!

Are their prayers being unanswered? No.

I’m here to tell you that God still answers prayers every single day. Prayers for health and healing. Prayers for mended relationships and healthier finances. Prayers for your children to grow up and thrive. He answers each one, every single one, for our good and for His glory in His time.

I don’t know why He is allowing a drought in my region.  I don’t know what He is accomplishing through it.  But I do know it’s for the good of all who know Him.  And He’s teaching us all something through it if we will just pray and listen.

I also know that as crazy as His immediate response to my simple prayer for rain sounds, if I keep silent on my glimpse of His provision today and how He answered my prayer, and how He hears even me. Sinful, hurting, disobedient little me, the lesson He is trying to teach me about prayer will be lost and His glory won’t shine.

So, thank you, Lord for hearing my prayer and for sending the rains to replenish the earth.

“If you believe, you will recieve whatever you ask for in prayer.” Matthew 21:22

How has God shown you He’s listening lately? I’d love to hear from you. Comment below if you’d like to share.

 

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