Tag Archives: prayer

Soul Searching

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“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified…” 1 Thessalonians 4:3

I’ve taken a temporary hiatus in part because life feels crazy at the moment, and in other part because I felt like I was misappropriating my time. That being said, I’ve reevaluated things, and I’m back, at least for this post. ūüėČ

I was really trying to do some soul-searching; figure out what I want to go to school to study, what I want to do as a career, how I’m going to pay for my education, etc. What I found out was that in spending so much effort thinking about the what-if’s and how’s and why’s, and when’s that I took my sight off of deepening my faith and in my morning devotions had just been going through the motions. So, I took a break from everything I felt was distracting me, and I set aside some time to really think on things. I came up with a few conclusions:

1.) God indeed has a will for me, and it is His intent that I discover what His will is for my life.

2.) In order to see God’s will, one has to be in close fellowship with God; I like the illustration of walking in pitch-black darkness, with only a lighter to lead the way- the closer to the light, the more you can see.

3.) My focus should forever be on the Lord and His teachings because that is my ultimate purpose- to serve and worship God, not to go to the right college, or get the right job, or have all kinds of money. My purpose is to be a servant of God and to His people during my time here on this earth. It is God’s will that I be sanctified, or set apart and dedicated to the Lord, not living consumed by the things and desires of the world.

It was made clear to me when I did this soul-searching that my priorities had slid out-of-order and I was trying to pile my goals on a stack of uncertainties. Imagine a large stack of books teetering as you try to carry them to the shelf; the stack goes up past your head and you can’t see where you’re going, all the while the stack of books sways unsteadily as you attempt to move forward. What happens then when you meet an obstacle you didn’t see coming because of the precarious book stack? You trip, fall, and books go everywhere. I decided to put down the books and discard the few that were blocking my vision. So I picked up THE book, God’s Word, the Bible and I started to read. God’s will is for me to be a servant to the least, to throw away my pride, anxiety, and selfish ambition and focus solely on Him. That is the ONLY way to learn and follow God’s will; to learn and follow God’s teachings. Then the Holy Spirit will reveal the Lord’s truths through scripture and study.

Would you all like to know what happened after my big, epiphany of letting go of the unnecessary and focusing in on God? I’ll tell you what happened…

I had been completely preoccupied with finding a way to pay for my schooling which I would like to start back to in January. Anyway, I had been filling out financial aid forms, surfing scholarship websites and looking for grants of any kind for which I qualified. Finally, I had enough of the exasperation of searching for “free money” for school and I just turned to God. I prayed, “Lord, I don’t know what you have in mind for me, but I’d really like to. I desire to further my education and get a good job. I know my motives tend to slip toward monetary and earthly things and I pray that you’ll guide my intentions and keep them pure. God, I’m tired of searching and coming up empty and I’m ready to let go, and trust that you’ll provide a way. Even if your answer is ‘Not now,’ or ‘Not this way,’ I will be content with your answer because I know that your way is always the best way. Lead me, God, and take this burden away from me. Amen”

Later that week, I was called for an interview with the county school board for a position as a substitute teacher. I had almost completely given up on that as a valid option seeing as how I had taken the class in July, and school has been in session for almost three months now. That only goes to show you that God’s timing is not the same as my timing and that when it’s the proper time, His plan will unfold.

As I sit and ponder the situation and my upcoming interview, I still wonder things like, “will this position pay enough to cover the costs of my tuition?’ or ‘Will I be able to handle the demands of the job AND the demands of school?’ and ‘If I have the opportunity to work full-time, should I take it and postpone my schooling until I’ve managed to save some more money and go back to school with my husband after he gets out of the corps?’ Following God’s will doesn’t mean you will stop having questions. If anything, closer proximity to the Lord has only raised more questions in my mind. Now that I know this, what comes next? But I think that’s the way God made us, so that we’d be continuously seeking HIS wisdom, and HIS insight, and HIS will because HE is the only one who can answer our plethora of unending questions.

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A Change

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A Change

Have you ever had that moment when you are fully aware of the Holy Spirit speaking to you, but you’re not sure what it means?

Yesterday at church our preacher spoke about Mark chapter 8 and the distinct shift Jesus made in going from preaching to all people about salvation to specifically teaching his disciples about who He is. Pastor George asked the question, “Have you ever made a decision that makes a life-changing shift in your relationship with God?”

Pastor George went on to reference Mark 8:34. He said that Jesus taking up his cross, to him, represented Jesus obeying God’s will for Him to die for the salvation of all mankind; that the “cross” is to know and follow God’s will. What is God’s will for me? God knows what He wants me to do, so I have to ask Him.

What is it I’m doing, and what is my “cross”? Pastor George left us with the thought that we should discover God’s will, and act upon it; that we should seek a change, or a shift, similar to that in Mark’s gospel.

Well, I woke up this morning and turned on the TV. It was on the Today Show, and the first thing I heard as I turned on the television and the picture came in to focus was, “Make a change; Change something…” and then it went to commercial break.

Then I read my devotion and it centered around Romans chapters 9-12, and that we should live sacrificial lives in response to the grace God has already given us, using our spiritual gifts to serve the Church… Then I read Romans 12:2, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is– his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

I hear you, Lord! I hear you, but I don’t understand what you’re trying to say! I feel like Samuel! I keep hearing God speak, but I don’t know what it means! What am I supposed to change? Which aspect of my life requires a shift in a different direction? How am I not using my spiritual gifts that I SHOULD be?

I don’t know. I know that there has to be something that needs to be renewed or shifted or changed, but I don’t know what that something is. I’ll wait. I’ll ask God to continue speaking to me through any means he chooses… I’ve been doing tons of things differently today in an effort to stumble across the thing(s) that needs shifting… I’ve done a different yoga series, I ate a different breakfast from my usual, I unconsciously wrote the check for our water bill differently… I want to know and understand… Pray that God will show me and open my heart and mind to be receptive to His message. Word of God, speak! and let my ears hear!

Doggie Prayers

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Doggie Prayers

“A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal…” Proverbs 12:10

I have a very – using¬†the word ‘very’¬†liberally – sick doggie. ūüė¶

Three mornings in a row Anna has had accidents in her crate, and can’t seem to control her bowels throughout the day. I’ve handled dog messes before, but for whatever reason, this time it’s hitting me harder. I look at Anna and see that she is in discomfort, and it breaks my heart. I’ve been doing the standard care for bowel issues; pick up the food for 24 hours, liquids all day, gradually ween the animal back to solid food via rice, boiled chicken/ground beef, low fat, low sodium… She ate a little bit of rice this morning, but she isn’t her usual self.

For those of you who think I’m a psychopath for being so concerned and caring for my little Anna Beth, let me share with you a few of my memories of her:

 

 

 

 

 

Those are only a few of my fond memories of Frisbee, “tennis ball hockey,” and her first romp in the snow… Anna has been a lifesaver, of sorts. When Mitch and I first got married, we moved into an apartment with another couple, who happen to be our best friends, and Mitch was without a family pet for the first time in his life. He got depressed, we started bickering over little things, and he just wasn’t happy… Every time we would go back over to his parent’s house, he would play with their Aussie Shepherd, Copper and he was himself again. I decided we needed a dog; Mitch needed that companionship. He needed that unconditional love and bond that only comes from man’s best friend.

I started scouring every classified section in all the news papers I could find. We did endless research on what breed, size, and energy level would be best for us and our lifestyle. About that time, we saw an ad in the paper for 6 border collie pups about an hour away from us in Missouri. I called the number and asked about the pups and we arranged a time to go down and meet them, and gauge their personalities. I was unable to go, but Mitch and my mother-in-law went down and looked at all the little fuzzies.

I’ve always considered Mitch to be somewhat of an animal whisperer, because he is able to connect with animals that generally hate everyone (for example, his parent’s sunshine conure who abhors me…) He tells me that when they pulled up to the address given by the breeder, there were at least 8 adult border collies chasing in circles around the house after their leader, who was holding a tennis ball. The puppies were in a kennel, sleeping in two separate piles. It was the middle of July, so it was blazing hot, but there was one puppy sitting apart from the piles who were sleeping in the shade: our little Anna. She was alert and focused in on Mitch as she sat between her brothers and sisters. Mitch knew instantly that she was the one.

When I got home from work late that night, I fell in love with her sweet little face! HOW COULD YOU NOT!? she was our baby! I loved the way Mitch just lit up when she would play with him. I loved how he spent the nights sleeping beside her crate so she wouldn’t cry, and how while I was getting ready for work in the mornings, she would sneak up on to the bed and they would snuggle. Ever since we got Anna, she has been a huge part of our lives, especially Mitch’s. He has a special bond with her.

When Mitch went away to boot camp, Anna was devastated.

Anna, the day Mitch left for Pendleton

She literally sat in the corner and cried for days on end. I just wasn’t the same as her daddy, and she missed him; we both missed him. Anna is very emotionally sensitive and she picks up on our emotions. I started to really bond with her while Mitch was gone. We were sad together, we went hiking together, we played frisbee, we went on runs, we took drives. We did almost everything together! She was there for me in a comforting way that I can’t explain. I couldn’t be sad because she needed me. Anna depended on me to take care of her, and I honestly believe that having something dependent upon me for their health and well-being really forced me to choose faith and hope over depression and sadness.

I think about what our lives would be like without her, and it brings me to tears. We love Anna! She is our first baby girl! She keeps us strong and joyful! She comforts us when we are sad. She comes up and licks my face when I’m crying as if to say, “I’ll get rid of those tears for you, mommy.” She KNOWS us, and she loves us.

That is why seeing her in such discomfort and sickness hurts me. I don’t have children of my own, but I do have Anna, and she and Cyd are my baby girls.

Anna and Cyd both have veterinary appointments tomorrow, but I would appreciate your prayers that she holds out until tomorrow; that Anna will be able to sleep and drink so that she doesn’t become more sick. I felt a little silly this morning as I prayed for her, because yes, she is just a dog. But then I found Proverbs 12:10… Anna isn’t just a dog. She is MY dog, and I love her. If you can get over the “silliness” of praying for a doggie, I would greatly appreciate your thoughts and prayers for my baby girl. ūüôā

Powerful Prayer

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“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

How wonderful is it when you can tangibly experience the power of prayer and God’s Holy presence working in your life?? I say it’s pretty amazing. First, I’d like to point out that I’ve reached the point in my life where I can now navigate my hard copy Bible- yes, I mean actual leather bound book with paper pages- faster than I can the Bible application on my android. I don’t know whether to be excited that I know the scripture that well, or upset at my lack of interest in technological advancement… either way, I have some incredible stories to tell.

So as I’ve been writing since April, my husband and I decided to purchase a home- our first- and we finally were able to close on it last week! Praise God! That’s some incredible news that has been a long time coming, for sure. But, that’s not the best news. The best news started out as some awful and gut-wrenching news…

…I was going through the last stages of preparing for closing on the house. Because we purchased from the owner without using a realtor or realty service, we- the buyers- were responsible for all of the closing costs. Well to make a long story slightly shorter, I was checking my email like a fiend, waiting for the final HUD, or statement of closing costs so that we would know how much money we were responsible for at the time of closing. Our date was set for Friday morning, and it wasn’t until Thursday evening I got the email that said our closing costs came to a total of over $4,000, because I had not yet paid the insurance premium. I swallowed my tongue a little… T0 a couple who has only been married and on their own for 2-ish years, that was a SIZABLE chunk of change, and most of our bank account. Guess what I did after I read that email? For those of you who guessed panic and cry, you are correct. After THAT, I began to pray. I prayed with tears in my eyes. I texted, called, emailed all our closest friends and had them start praying too… We prayed and thanked God for allowing us to find the perfect home and be able to live in it 4 months prior to closing so we weren’t homeless. We prayed for God to handle the financial situation, as we had asked Him from the beginning of the whole process.¬† We prayed, and prayed, and prayed. [1 Thes. 5:16-18]

After I paid the insurance premiums out-of-pocket, the closing cost rounded out to just about $3,000… Thursday evening passed with more prayer, and more reading of scripture to ease my worrisome mind. Friday morning came. With a rock in my stomach, Mitch and I gathered our thoughts and prayers and went to get the money orders made out before closing that morning. We walked in to walmart and stood in the line. Just as our turn in line came, I got an email notification on my phone. Out of habit more than anything else, I checked it immediately. I couldn’t believe my eyes, and I felt like my body was about to perform every function it knew how right there not the least of which was wetting my pants with joy and surprise. It was the FINAL revision of the HUD, and it was over $800 less than the amount we were about to verbalize to the cashier who was waiting to print up our money orders! HOLY COW!!!!!!!!!!!

I couldn’t believe it! I started to cry and got all flustered. Our prayers had been answered! God had made sure we had enough money in our account to cover closing costs, as well as allow us to eat for the rest of the month! It was at that moment I realized the value of good Christian friends and family who will pray for your needs. It wasn’t¬†until later that I marveled at how God didn’t increase our wealth, He simply made what we already had to be enough. That was what really touched my spirit. The words of Philippians 4:19 echoed in my mind as well as the words from a song that goes something like, “…His grace is enough for me…” Hallelujah! How true that is! God’s word is alive and thriving people! It is relevant! It touches my life every day. If this isn’t proof, then I don’t know what is.

With this whole little “financial miracle” as I like to call it still fresh in my mind, I pondered a devotional I read this morning. It brought up Psalm 90:15, and how the closer we walk to the light, the more clearly¬†we can see what is around us. Amen to that. Those times when I feel so lost and out of control are always the times in which I’ve gone days without any devotional time, or prayer. And I’m discovering more and more that I AM growing in spirit and in faith because where I used to have to slide back into depression to feel God pulling me close to¬†Him,¬† I can now sense that I’m chosing God more often than not, and I’m chosing prayer where I used to choose worry, anxiety or fear. I read somewhere that¬†fear is simply lack of faith. What I’ve learned is that either I believe God is who the Bible says¬†He is; who He’s proven Himself to be in my life, or I don’t. There isn’t a halfway. And the more I look at where I have been, the more I understand where I am now, and the more I want to continue to grow closer to the Lord every day for the rest of my life. My faith is¬†stronger, my marriage is better, my friendships are more genuine, and my life is overall more joyful than ever before. The reason Christianity has survived¬†for over 2,000 years is because it is¬†the truth; the ONLY truth. If I¬†ever I was shaky¬†in my faith¬†in God’s provision, I’m more¬†firm in¬†believing that¬†He’ll sustain me than I ever have been.¬† I hope this experience is an inspiration to you who read this to draw close to God through reading his word and heart-felt, sincere prayer and praise to God the Father.

In His Time

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“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.” Psalm 62:5

I’ve been exploring God’s timing recently. Let me tell you, for someone like me who likes to know the who, what, when, where, and why of everything, it’s been a challenge to let go of that mentality of what am I going to DO, and grabbing on to the concept of trusting that when God is ready and when he sees that I am ready, ____________ will happen.

I always use words like, “funny,” “ironic,” or “interesting” when I see two pieces of God’s puzzle come together, when it’s not happenstance or chance at all, but rather the fate that God has designed according to his meticulous and masterful plan. So instead, I’ll say it was masterful, in speaking to my father this morning, how he also brought up the subject of God’s perfect timing in the midst of my embracing it, over my timing. Without going in to too much unnecessary detail, Dad is coming to realize that there are things out in this world that may have been right under our noses for years and years, yet we simply never encountered them until God was ready for us to do so; until God knew we were ready to do so.

I believe my struggles to rest in not knowing and having patience and contentment in every situation is directly related to my inability to relax and be comforted in the knowledge that God already knows exactly what I need out of life, and when I will need it. I also believe that God has put people in my life to help drive that point home. A corny way I’ve thought of putting my new-found wisdom is this: It’s not about keeping up with the Jones-es, it’s about keeping up in my relationship with God; constantly seeking His presence and wisdom through His word, and through prayer. THAT is the only thing that is able to satisfy my anxious heart and give rest to my spirit.

The truth is, we make mistakes that sometimes lead to bigger mistakes or disappointments, or heartache, or despair. But God is always present and active in the lives of His children and we need only seek his guidance and presence for them to be found. Every day (now that I look back on the past month, or week) I can see a pattern of God presenting me with situations in which I have a choice in how to react, specifically in reference to His timing and my journey toward a peaceful, gentle, and contented spirit. And every day this week, I have met each instance differently, and inconsistently, to the point that when I stepped back from my situation to make an assessment of my reactions, I was incredibly disappointed to see how often I met them with failure. And here I thought I was doing so well… This only proves that I’m still a work in progress, and that God isn’t giving up on me. I’ll continue to be faced with these challenging and spiritually stressful or frustrating situations until I consistently choose reliance on God’s perfect timing and contentment in whatever situation I may face.

The clarity of my life only comes when I reflect upon it through Christ. So that, if nothing else, is what I would like to communicate to all of you today. Take a moment to really sit down and pray to God about your struggles and ask the Lord to reveal Himself and His plan to you so that you may follow His paths for your life, rather than you own, that you might experience the fullness and joy of a life in which you daily choose Christ. I’ve recently noticed that when I look for, find, and pray a piece of scripture that sort of encapsulates my current life situation, my prayers seem more complete and my spirit feels more fulfilled than when I sit and ramble on and on and on trying to pray something eloquent on my own. Lately, my prayer has been this:

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.” [Psalm 139:23-24] Amen.

Calm Before the Storm

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“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry parched land where there is no water.” Psalm 63:1

Today is Friday, which means it’s the last weekend of calm before the chaos starts back up this fall. Am I going to miss the calm? Most definitely. Will the challenges I face this fall be rewarding? One can only hope.

I was reading today and discovered something interesting about myself… I am (or used to be) one of those people who always said, “Well, I guess all I can do is pray” as if that were my last resort. I found that rather than carry unnecessary burdens like I almost always do, I could just pray and be done with it! How incredibly, mind-numbingly simple is that? Call on God, and He lifts your burdens. I always seem to struggle with my life’s challenges for as long as I can, until I’m breaking under the pressures of each of my commitments to Church, marriage, family and friends. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

God showed me this morning that by just taking a moment to lay it all out before Him in prayer, I can continue to have calm while the world around me experiences the storm. Funny, I never really get scared of literal storms. I think it goes back to when I was younger… I was at a basketball practice with my Aunt Cat where she attended college. On the way to the college, the sky was looking ominous and dark and as most young girls would be, I was a little… nervous. Anyway, I took a peek out a window in the lobby and noticed the sky was pretty scary looking so I just ducked into a hallway and prayed that the storm would pass us over and that we wouldn’t get a tornado. Shortly after I prayed, I peeked outside again, and the sky looked like it had never even thought of raining. Now maybe twelve years have caused me to remember the event in a more exaggerated way. Who knows? What I do know is that even when I was at my darkest point in life, I always remembered that one instance of prayer that God answered for me, and I think that sliver of hope is what kept me from doing anything stupid when I was in one of my dips of depression.

God hears and answers our prayers. I haven’t feared a literal storm since I was perhaps eight years old. I’m an adult now, and God is reaching me more than I ever thought he could, so why choose fear, when I can choose God’s¬†peace? All it takes is for me to seek God in prayer; maybe an entire thirty seconds out of my day, to just sit and feel connected to God, and bare my anxieties and my concerns, my needs, my wants, my fears to the One who can banish all the bad and make something beautiful, and leave me with a peace that passes understanding. Amen to that.

Light of the World

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“She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.” Proverbs 31:18

Something has been weighing heavily on my heart. We are supposed to be the “light of the world.” ¬†In a world full of darkness, my lamp is not supposed to “go out at night.” Again, in Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus tells us that we are supposed to let our light shine before men. And again, in Matthew 25:1-13, Jesus uses the metaphor of the oil lamps of the prepared staying lit all night, because they were prepared though they did not know the day or the hour. ¬†I’ve been wanting so badly to share my experiences with Christ and last night something amazing happened…

For some reason, it’s really difficult for me to talk to my husband about my faith. I don’t understand why; I can talk easily to any one else in my family about it, especially my brother-in-law. But for some reason or another, It’s always been difficult for me to have faith discussions with my husband. Anyway, I had been praying for weeks for God to give me an opportunity; to make it easier to talk with my husband about where we both are in our walk with Christ, and to be able to figure out how I can help him grow closer to God. Last night, God used a weakness, a temptation to open the doors to His Word. The more time I spend reading and studying, and meditating on the Bible each day, the more I am able to recognize God working in my life. And as I was sitting on the couch last night, listening to my husband talk to me about his faith, with tears in our eyes, all I could think was, “Thank you God, you’ve done it in a way that I would never have imagined.”

When it’s time for bed, I always turn off the lamp, pray, steal a good-night kiss, and then drift off to sleep. Last night, for the first time in my marriage of almost 2 years, I was able to pray out loud. I prayed for my husband, I prayed for our friends, I prayed that God would give us strength, guidance and wisdom as we went about our daily lives; I prayed that the Marines around Mitch would not have an influence on him, but rather that he have an influence on them; that they would be able to see more of Christ in him, than himself in him. As I prayed, I marveled at how God had opened that door for me. I didn’t feel embarrassed, or shy, or nervous… I just held my husband’s hand, and I prayed. And I slept better last night than I ever have.

And the thing that has been heavy on my heart is the lack of involvement I have with other Christians, and more than that, people who don’t know God, but to whom I could show God’s love. And I had the idea this morning (or rather God’s been planting seeds of thought all night) to start a small group Bible study. Honestly, not many of Mitch’s marine friends strike me as willing to participate, but I bet you I could get them to come over for a free hot meal one night a week. Plus it would be a great way to meet them, and have a time of fellowship without it being at one of the seemingly thousands of bars/strip clubs in the Jacksonville area…(which I would not have frequented anyway)

I just feel like I have so much to share with the people around me and it’s not like I have anything keeping me from doing it. Nothing but apprehension, and as far as that goes,

13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. ‘Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.’ 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
1 Peter 3:13-16

(I just found out my husband reads my blog! awesome! I love you babe.)