Prayer People!

Prayer People!

Encouragement

IMG_20150502_185424848_HDRI sought the Lord, and he answered me;     
he delivered me from all my fears.
~Psalm 34:4

I have a big problem. I think it’s probably a common problem mothers have, but maybe I’m assuming? You’ll have to let me know.

My problem is I’m a human doing. I’m a doer. I do. I see a problem, and my brain starts churning up ideas on what I could do to fix the problem, help, encourage, etc, etc, etc… Then I start moving with all the ideas I have bouncing around in my head. And that’s all ok, but usually not that great. I can end up over worked, tired, mistaken in what I assumed was the right thing to do, and often frustrated.

Because sometimes people don’t want a solution, they just want to be listened to.

And sometimes my understanding of right is totally and completely off.

And because I’m not God (praise Jesus!), I cannot solve all the world’s problems (nor is God asking me to).

So for the hundredth time in just the past month, I had the feeling that I would be better off simply banging my head against a desk rather than trying to solve all the problems around me. And these beautiful words popped out of my mouth:

Maybe when these situations arise I should stop asking ‘what can I do?’ and start with ‘how can I pray?’.

I was so startled by that comment. I took a moment to look around and wonder who had said that. Because surely that was not me speaking, but the Holy Spirit. It was the solution to all the problems I have been juggling for over a month. My problem boiled down to me taking things out of God’s hands and trying to micromanage them all on my own.

Just who in the world do I think I am?????????

My pattern to date has been: dive in full throttle and try and fix everything myself, exhaust all possible solutions as well as myself and anyone who comes within a 3 ft radius of myself, and when I’m at my wit’s end, pray and let God do what He could have just done from the start.

You know the definition of insanity- I’ve been living it!!!

So new pattern for life: start with prayer, wait and listen, then move forward. After a few steps, stop and pray again. Repeat. Seriously, this is so simple it’s ridiculous that it took me [I’m not telling you how many] years to figure this out!

Prayer people!

Always start with prayer!

The end.

Drop the mic.

~Lindsay

Lord Jesus, you have solutions and answers waiting for us. You already have a plan, we don’t need to make one up, we just need to partner with you. And your work is not heavy or burdensome! Forgive us for when we have run ahead of You, or dragged our feet behind You because we haven’t been heeding your plan, but only thinking within our own limited understandings of how the world should be. Help us Lord, to lead with prayer. I know you are good and gentle and that your answers will always be kind and good. In every situation, let us look first to You and trust in You. In Jesus name, Amen!

 

Attention Moms!

Attention Moms!

Encouragement Inspiration

But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love. ~Ephesians 4:15-16

IMG_20160403_160308748_HDRHey moms, it’s time someone sucked it up and told you the cold hard truth:

YOU. ARE. AWESOME!!!!!

Please go ahead and print the last three words in large type font, then hang them in every room of your house. Please. Because here’s the deal- your children are listening to your self talk. When you were talking about that extra baby weight you’re still carrying around, your daughter was listening. When you said you were no good at making new friends, your son heard that. When you said you can’t cook well, drive well, keep up with all the latest trends- the kids were listening. When you called yourself a ‘freak,’ they heard that too. And even worse, they probably believed it.

Now do me a favor- I want you to think of your bestie. You know that lovely woman you wish you were having coffee with right now? Tell me three strengths of hers. Go ahead. List ‘em off. Done? Great. Now tell me three strengths of yours… ?

[crickets chirping]

I have seen in my friend circles the ability to praise each other to the skies, but a complete inability to come up with even one strength about ourselves.

I am the same. I see all my friends’ strengths. I am blown away. I always think, Why can’t I be more like her? I’m even inspired – to be a better mom, wife, woman, worker. These women-friends of mine really have it all together! But here is the big secret- that amazing friend, she’s not hanging out with you out of pity. She’s thinking the same thing about you. You inspire her in the same way.

So here is your homework (yes, a blogger is giving you homework): you go ask that friend, sister, mom, random woman at church- “What strengths do you think I have?” In fact, ask more than one friend- and then write them down. Put them on your nightstand, reflect on them, pray about them! And if the woman you ask pauses and thinks about it, that’s good– because they are thinking deeply about the question. (I know if there is a pause, some of you are gonna be all ‘Oh no! She couldn’t think of anything!’ No, no, no. No more of that kind of thinking! I mean it. I will come and write Ms. Awesome on your forehead in permanent marker!)

We all have strengths- different strengths, and we all have weaknesses. But we need to take time to focus on our strengths. To let our children see our confidence. To let our children see what that looks like, how you live it out. To be an example for them. We really need to let our daughters gain some self-confidence about how they look. So I am begging you- enough with the fat comments. You aren’t 16 anymore. The freshman 15, it’s just real life. No one can be a bouncy teenager forever. We age, we sag in certain areas, but oh my gosh are we better for the years- we are better at life, better at forgiveness, better at blessing others, better at handling awkward situations (…sorta…?), better at applying makeup, better at driving- the list could go on forever. Do you really want to go back to middle school and do it all over again? Do you????

Don’t covet that friend’s strengths, cultivate your own strengths.

I always have to comment about the other side of the horse. This is not a call to puff yourself up with false pride (though I seriously doubt that will be an issue for most of you). Nor is this an excuse to not work on your weaknesses. We are ever growing, changing, and working our way towards Jesus. This is just a reminder to not focus on those weaknesses 24/7.

So go ahead, flex those muscles you have in hospitality, administration, kindness, listening, humor, learning, teaching, nurturing, etc, etc, etc… Be confident in who you are in Christ. Be confident in the woman God has made you, and even more in the woman He is making you into. And speak forth those things over yourself, and over your children. So that as you step out into the world, you are walking in love, confidence, and as someone who builds others (including yourself) up in the body, and in love.

Lord, thank you for the gifts you have sewn into my life. Please bless me to be more and more the woman you have created me to be. Open my eyes to the talents you have given me, my husband, and children. Help me to speak forth your blessing over our family and to proclaim your truths over each one of us. Help us to grab hold of You and your good things. In Jesus name, Amen!

~Lindsay

Lessons From a 10-Year-Old

Lessons From a 10-Year-Old

Daily Notes Encouragement

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefor I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. ~2 Corinthians 12:9-10

another example of something I didn't think would work, but my husband was like, "Sure! Give it a try!"
another example of something I didn’t think would work, but my husband was like, “Sure! Give it a try!”

It’s Thanksgiving, so let me tell you what I am thankful for- I am thankful that we serve and trust in a God who is still speaking to us if we just take the time to notice.

A few weeks ago we were visiting family, and my beautiful ten-year-old niece took my two littles into the kitchen and made cookies with them. It was a totally new experience for my children. NOT because they’ve never ‘made cookies’ before, but because they had never made cookies before. When I make cookies with my kids I tend to take over. It’s easier if I crack the eggs. It’s less mess if I measure the flour. When they make cookies with me, they are basically waiting for the chocolate chips to come out so they can sneak a few. Otherwise they are just observers. And here is my niece, letting them measure. Letting them each have their own whisk to mix with, because sharing is hard. There was a mess, and there were extra dishes- but my children actually made the cookies.

I observed this and felt a small nudge. There was something for me to learn here…

Then a week later my husband was making eggs and my daughter said she wanted to make eggs too. And again, I watched someone else let her do the things I would not have allowed- only because I didn’t want the extra hassle, the extra mess. Not that I thought that way. My thought was simply it’s just easier if I do it. But my husband took the time to explain how to crack an egg, and then he handed it to her and stepped back. And crazy thing happened- she made eggs!

Again that small nudge. And now my wheels are turning, and I’m thinking about how I need to let my kids try new things…

So then I pick up my devotional and it talks about the importance of letting our kids fail. Because that is real life. In life they are going to fail! And how are we hindering them, and even hurting them, when we have never allowed them to fail in a safe and loving environment!

And I put my devotional down and just laughed. How can you not laugh when God repeatedly underlines a topic for you? Because I had just read a quote on social media that if you fail at something it means you’re trying. And my eldest son had asked me about a quote from a famous inventor who said, “Well now I know 49 ways that doesn’t work.” And he wanted clarification about what that might mean. There had been a theme in my life, and as the topic of the flip side of failure was repeatedly highlighted for me, I heard that quiet voice speaking gentle correction to my heart.

We have our own hens, and this happens sometimes...
We have our own hens, and this happens sometimes…

Failure is important! It teaches us to get up and try again- perseverance people!! I’m sure I could go on and on about the flip side of failure, about how we can teach our children through it. But I need to go make some peanut butter bars for Turkey Day. Correction! My daughter needs to make some peanut butter bars!

Thank you, Lord, that you speak through Children. That you are still speaking to us today. That you have your eye on us, and you are mindful of us. I love that You continue to teach us and bring us from glory to glory! Help us to notice the things you are saying. Help us to open our hearts to really hear Your Voice. And protect us Lord from going astray. I ask especially that you would open our eyes to where we might think we are doing the ‘right’ thing, but we in fact are missing the mark. Thank you for always being good and gentle with us. In Jesus name, Amen!

~Lindsay

Ha ha!

Ha ha!

Children Encouragement From the Authors

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. ~Philippians 4:8

mom-downloaded-oct-10-174october-10-124When my eldest was only two he started saying, “Ha ha!” in response to adults giving him direction. Not laughing, but in a snarky kind of sing-song voice, “Ha ha!”

I would say, “Time to go to bed.” And he would turn to look at me and say, “Ha ha!”

“Do not throw that toy!” And he may or may not have thrown the toy, but he would look at me, and with more sass than an entire class of middle school girls, he would say, “Ha ha!”

It got to be too much! I was just dumbfounded- where or where did he learn such language? Who taught him to be such a stinker!? I think I bemoaned the situation for a good week. My husband heard all about it. My mother heard all about it. Anyone within a five mile radius of me heard all about my poor baby and this new ‘trick’ he’d learned that was surely going to be the death of me. Two-year-olds should not have that much sass. They just shouldn’t! Dimples, rolly thighs, waddling runs, giggles, and lisps- yes! Those they can have, and in abundance! But sassiness? Absolutely not!

It was a few days into this whole production, when I was driving with my mom. My dad, driving in another car, calls to inform us of his ETA. I realize we are going to beat him to the destination and in a sing-song-snarky-kind-of voice I said, “Ha ha!” And I froze. And my mom’s head slowly turned until she was looking directly at me and she said, “It was YOU! You taught him to say it!!”

And I realized it was me. I taught that precious little rolly polly toddler to say “Ha ha!” in a super sassy voice. I had bemoaned the loss of his innocence, but it had been me leading the way!

And how true that remains to this day! I say things without thinking, things that seem fine for a grown adult to say. And then those same words pop out of their little mouths and I am just horrified! They are like little mirrors that reflect back to us the wrongness of what we have said or done! They tattle on us to strangers! Telling the clerk at the grocery store how many cups of coffee we have had today, or if we maybe were speeding a little bit on the way to get milk!

And these are just the little things!

Thankfully I had the “ha ha” experience with my first child when he was only two. My husband and I reflected a lot on that lesson over the years. We realized that our children listened to us. Whether we really thought they were paying any attention or not. And our words affect how they perceive the world around them. If we are negative in talking about something or someone, they would simply follow our lead. Their perception of the world, our neighbors, or even a friend could be drastically affected by things that my husband and I said.

I quote the verse at the top of this page a lot to my children; especially when we get stuck in complaining or worrying. Or I tell them “Worrying is like running around during a flood with a fire extinguisher. It keeps you busy, but doesn’t help much.” *

All this to say- one of the best ways to protect your child’s innocence is to monitor the words of your mouth. And oh that mouth! We have been warned about it. (James 3) And even more, this is an issue of our hearts. Our hearts should be turned towards God, and filled with God. Because then we will really be speaking wonders into our children’s lives, and into their hearts.

For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. ~Luke 6:45

Lord God, thank you that you came down to us. Thank you that you sent your Holy Spirit to dwell in our hearts. Forgive us for being sassy, snarky, grumpy, worrisome, or down right cross. Turn our hearts again towards You, help us to search out your Word and your Truth. Fill our hearts up to overflowing with your love and peace, and please bless us to pour out that love and peace into our children’s lives! In Jesus Name, Amen!

~Lindsay

*I was told this was a C.S. Lewis quote? I can’t find the reference, but you can validate it on google if you really want.

 

 

This Moment

This Moment

Encouragement

While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” he said. “Don’t bother the teacher anymore.” ~Luke 8:49

Simg_20161011_160202o I recently read this story from Luke 8 to my kids. The story is in the midst of a very busy chapter. In Luke 8, Jesus tells the parable of the sower, and the lamp on the stand. Then he gets a visit from his mother and brothers, after that he calms the storm on the lake (no big deal), and heals a demon-possessed man. And still Luke 8 is NOT finished yet.

Do you begin to get the sense of what Jesus’ ministry was like at this point in the story?

When I read the last story in Luke 8, I had to pause. It’s the story of a father, desperate to save his daughter. I’m a mother; I can sympathize with those feelings. So this father runs to get Jesus, and they are trying to hurry back to his house before it is too late. And meanwhile the crowds are crushing Jesus. They want some of this Jesus too. I’m sure if I was that father, I would be shoving back and (probably) yelling for people to get out of the way. I can almost feel his anxiety, his desire to hurry- hurry!

And then Jesus stops and is like, “Someone touched me.” And all the disciples (and I’m sure this father too) are like, “Of course someone touched you! You’re in a huge crowd of people and they are pressing up against you!”

Now at this point in the story, I have always focused on the woman who believed that if she could just touch the hem of Jesus’ robe, she would be healed. The woman who was not supposed to be in the midst of that crowd- if she was bleeding (for 12 years) she had been “unclean” for twelve years. Unable to attend church, to be in society, to be touched… Yet she risks all just to touch Jesus.

That’s a great story of faith.

However, this time while I read the story, I remembered the father. Standing there, probably fidgeting with anxiety and worry. I hate to say it, but if my child was next to death’s door, I would not have cared at all about some random woman in the street. I would have probably thrown Jesus over my shoulder at this point and started running.

But in all the anxiety and worry, in the business and the crowd, Jesus is not anxious. Jesus is not rushed, or panicked. Instead Jesus makes time for the moment he is in. He probably got up extra early that morning and had spent time with God. And more than anything, during his time with God, he had probably been filled up with all those good things that come from God- peace, joy, love, and (dare I say it) PATIENCE! Jesus did not need to rush to the next thing, he did not have to rush to the rescue- because he fully trusted in God, and God’s timing, and God’s plan.

For the first time, as I read this story, I heard the words in Luke 8:49, and felt my heart break along with that father’s heart. “Your daughter is dead. Don’t bother the teacher anymore.” What hopelessness the world can bring us. What utter defeat. What heartbreak.

And what is Jesus’ response to these words that must have shattered that father’s heart?

“Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

If I were the father in this story, I wonder how I would have reacted? Would I have been angry at the crowd? At the sick woman? At Jesus for not hurrying, for not meeting my time table? Or would those words have caused those shattered pieces of my heart to start to join together again? Would the look in Jesus’ eyes have filled me anew with hope?

This story hit me because of the business. I confess- I’ve been sucked in yet again! We are told to run, run, run! Strive harder, do better, be more! Almost daily I feel the old lie creeping in: You aren’t enough! And I become afraid that those words are true. That I am not enough, that I am unworthy. And so I run around trying to prove myself worth. I worry, and I work, and I worry, and I become so busy…

And Jesus says, “Don’t be afraid; just believe”

img_20161022_133800And, of course, since this is Jesus we’re talking about- that little girl lives. She lives! He raises the dead to life! And I think this story might be hard for parents with sick children. But I hope you can let Jesus’ words raise your heart back to life. There is no fear in Christ. There is love, hope, joy, and peace! And yes, His answers to our prayers don’t always look like what we think is best. But we do not need to believe the lies, we do not need to be afraid, and we do not need to run on ahead in our own strength- striving to prove we are able or worthy.

I want to be more like Jesus in about a million and two ways, but this story highlights for me the need to be in this moment. This moment. It will not come again. I have this day with my children as they are. They are growing and changing. The world around us is always changing, but we have one constant hope that we can hold on to. One rock that we can cling to. One life preserving raft that will not sink or fail.

We can believe in Jesus. And then we can be brave.*

Lord, sorry for believing the lies of this world. Sorry that I have not trusted in your love, in your ability to see me. Help me to turn my eyes again back to You. Increase my faith, like the woman who was willing to risk all just to touch your robe. Bless me to be the kind of parent who enjoys this moment I have with my children. And bless and protect our family, point our feet towards you and help us to walk forward bravely and in faith. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

~Lindsay

*when I looked up an antonym for afraid, I was given the word brave. So if the opposite of being afraid, is being brave- if, when we believe in Jesus, we were to become brave– what would that look like?

 

 

Empty Handed

Empty Handed

Encouragement Inspiration

to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
~Isaiah 61:3

IMG_20160821_122753I went camping this weekend with two very dear friends. I know I am blessed when it comes to friends. So very, very blessed. I wrote about it in a post way back when, but I was reminded of it again this weekend. To be with people who love you just as you are is a priceless and unmatchable gift. To be with people who are willing to sing and dance with you when you reach the highest part of your hike*… well, that’s just icing on the cake.

These girls love me, and oh do they love God. So it is always great to get their ideas and feedback on life. To have their added wisdom and insight.

This weekend I was able to talk about an old issue that had recently popped back up in my life. Someone had hurt me, and it seemed like I still hadn’t fully forgiven them. Here I am, years later, and I was still upset. Still hurt. Still mad. And one of my lovely ladies asked me what would God give me, if I chose to forgive. And I had a mental stumbling block. Mostly I just don’t want people to think that they can negotiate with God. As in “If I do this good thing, then I can negotiate something worldly from God” kind of thinking. (I hope that makes sense, but I don’t want to camp out on this thought, so that’s all I will say.)

IMG_20160820_201921I was thinking about what she said, and what unforgiveness looks like. And in my mind I saw myself with my fists tightly clenched and pulled in close to my body. I realized that at times we might choose to cling tightly to fear, anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness. When we do this, our hands are full. We can’t grab on to things like peace, when we are holding so tightly to these other things. But when we start to say “I forgive” and “I trust You, Lord,” then we start to release fear, anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness. As we slowly unclench our hands, and we find our hands suddenly open and empty- when we stand empty handed before God, that is when He can start to put His Gifts into our hands, and we can start to receive the things He has planned for us.

I’m not saying forgiveness is easy, not by a long shot. Neither can you always do it the first time around (case in point: me). Sometimes it is an active process of letting go, an active process of returning our grievances to God a second, third, fourth (or more) time. An active process of choosing not to desire what might seem right or fair. It’s hard. Really hard. And it might even leave you feeling empty handed at times. But being empty handed before the one who spoke you into being- that’s not a bad thing. Sometimes that can be the beginning of everything.

May the Lord bless you to realize your own areas of unforgiveness. May the Lord help you to release the old feelings that you have clung to, and give you the strength and support you need to press on. May the Lord God bring healing and restoration to your hearts as you open up to Him about your struggles. May the Lord place into your open and empty hands His peace that surpasses all understanding. And may God bless you with friends who love you right where you are, who can speak life and truth into you life. In Jesus strong and mighty name, Amen.

~Lindsay

*Totally serious. I hang out with ladies who sing praise music on mountaintops. (Well, at least the biggest hill we can find in the vicinity)**

**We also play on jungle gyms and debate when middle age starts…? Is this the part where I hashtag a number in the 20-somethings and say 4eva?

IMG_20160821_080939

The Journey

The Journey

Children Encouragement From the Authors

Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story ~Psalm 107:2

I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting. Mostly in my own head. I mean, I could share my ideas with those around me… but they’re all under the age of 10. They don’t get my jokes, let alone my contemplative thoughts.

Well, that’s probably selling them short. So maybe I should share more with them… but that’s a blog post for another day.

In my last post, I mentioned that our youngest had started having seizures. So life’s been a little wild and chaotic for a bit. A little scary. A week or two before his first seizure, I actually said to my husband, “We got it really good.” And he nodded, we were driving somewhere and he was distracted. “No, really,” I continued. “We got it reaaaaally good. I don’t like those sermons where people warn you that hard times come to us all. And I don’t want to predict that over us, but I feel like we aren’t appreciating the everyday mundane. We don’t know how good we really have it, because it’s been so good for so long.”

And then yeah, stuff happened, and we were just thankful that we were still a family of five. The first seizure was awful. I had the thought that I might lose a child right before my eyes and there was nothing I could do about it.

So check out this little guy:

IMG_20160802_105547366

You know where I found him? Right here:

IMG_20160802_104855380

This is the headwaters of the Mississippi River. That little guy had been just hanging out in Lake Itasca- all in all a pretty calm lake. Life must have been a little mundane, but good. Then he somehow got through those rocks there. You can see them in the picture. Not a big deal for my kids who were climbing over them and getting soaked, heedless of their mother’s entreaties to keep their clothes dry. But for a little guy who fits in the palm of a child’s hand, those rocks must have been shocking compared to his life in Lake Itasca. And then I thought about what was ahead of him. He was going to keep floating down this river, towards the Gulf of Mexico. The realist in me thought he’d never make it. And another part of me wondered if I shouldn’t try and take him back to the lake and find a safe place for him, where he wouldn’t end up in the river again.

But as I sat and stared at that little guy, I began to think we had a little bit in common. I’d recently survived some rapids. Things have calmed down again for me, but I really don’t know what my future holds. I can’t even begin to imagine all that will happen. Sure I have plans for the future, but God has shown me time and again that my plans are small potatoes compared to his.

And then I remembered, again, the one thing that always calms me down. God is the same as he was yesterday, and as he will be tomorrow. He is good. His plans are good. He is merciful. And He does not give us more than we can handle.

So I put that little guy back in the river. Well, more accurately, I made a little boy put him back in the river. We were at the point where I foresaw that little guy coming home in someone’s pocket. So I did the mom thing where you use their middle name, and then I watched that little snail-thing lazily float away. And instead of sharing all my inner musings with my children, who probably would have been astounded, I laughed quietly at myself and returned to the age old tradition of mothers everywhere- nagging. Because who wants to drive home with a wet bum?

But all this to say, the journey is not always smooth or easy. But we are held in hands far stronger and wiser than that little boy’s. Wherever you are in the journey, you can trust in that.

Lord thank you that you see me, and you know me. You know right where I am at, and you know where I am going. You do not forsake us, but come after us time and again. Thank you for being so much better than I could ever imagine. Thank you that you are still in charge, even when it doesn’t seem possible. And I praise you for your wonderful creation- that mighty river that starts out so small and peaceful, that little snail I held in my hand, those wonderful babies you have given me. Thank you for all of that, and so much more. Everyday, more and more, help me to look around and to see your hand at work. In Jesus name, Amen!

~Lindsay

*I see that there are run-on sentences in this blog post. Don’t worry, I see it. But writing how I talk is really hard grammatically. I’m a math major. With a lot to say. Writing is hard. The end.

 

A Child’s Faith

A Child’s Faith

Children Encouragement

Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” ~Mark 10:14-15

Who wouldn't want this ninja praying for them?
Who wouldn’t want this ninja praying for them?

Childlike faith. What is that even? I think as an adult it is too easy to forget what childlike anything is. Let alone childlike faith.

So a quick story for you. Recently an adult asked my son to pray for her. She had a pretty big prayer request. Kind of a more adult prayer request.* Not inappropriate or anything, but it was a serious issue. When I think of my children praying, I think of my youngest saying, “Thank you, God, for horsies, dolphins, ponies, and unicorns. Amen.” (Seriously, this is his daily prayer.) What I don’t think about them praying for is those deeper burdens that we face as adults. The kind of prayer requests that for some reason feel ‘heavy’ to me. Something in me wants to shield them from those things. From ‘adulthood.’ From life.

So, right after this friend shares her prayer request with my eldest, my three children and I pile into the car to leave. And before we’re even to the end of the driveway, my son says to me, “She wants us to pray for her.” He then proceeds to share the prayer request with the rest of us. And now all of my children and I know the burden that has fallen on this friend of ours. And I think, wow I don’t know that I would have told little children about that… But I don’t want to let this slip by, so I said, “Let’s make sure to pray for her right now!” And we did. Right there in the car on the way home, we prayed. The rest of the drive home is talking about prayer, how I like to pray right away if someone asks me to pray for them (mostly so I don’t forget**), how we can keep praying for that person, how God knows what this person is going through, how God answers all of our prayers (but not always how we planned), and some talk about the actual prayer request… It was one of those conversations with children where I was not sure how much of what I was saying was really being heard and understood. But we made a good attempt. I patted myself on the back. Job well done Mama!

Now to dinner. My husband asks my daughter to say the prayer at dinner. She thanks God for the food and then reiterates the prayer request. Which was when I realized, not job well done, Mama! I had already moved on, I had figured my kids had too. Meanwhile my husband’s eyes had popped wide open and he was giving me a confused and questioning look across the dinner table (clearly communicating through silent parent lingo: What in the world happened today?). When she finished praying my youngest piped up, he wanted to pray too. So he says, “Thank you, God, for horsies,dolphins, ponies and unicorns. And…” then he prays for this woman too. I’m eating dinner thinking how her simple prayer request has now been lifted up to God three times. How my kids were taking this friend’s prayer request more seriously than I was. How important it was to them that they had been asked to pray. They weren’t going to just let this issue slip their mind after one prayer. And it didn’t stop there! Since then my children have been adding her to their nightly prayers, and adding to the blessing they’re asking for her. It seems like each time they pray, they boldly ask for a little bit more. With simple faith in their God, they are asking for big things. As an adult, I’m thinking, “Is that even possible?” And suddenly I begin to understand what childlike faith is. It’s trusting God to be God. It’s trusting that He can do anything He wants to. It’s not worrying about the details and what is possible or even probable. It’s simple, and it’s beautiful.

Now back to the idea that a prayer request would feel ‘heavy’ to me. Just who in the world do I think I am!? I am not God. My job in a prayer request is not to solve the problem, or answer the prayer. My job is simply to light up a neon billboard and point it at that person (whom God is already looking at), and say, “Hey! Here! You are needed and wanted here! Come and be here!” That’s it. Seeing my children pray for this person, has really opened my eyes to how simple prayer requests can be. I just keep pointing God over to that person, and I wait for His answer. I don’t have to do anything. (Well… other than pray, of course.)

All this to say, don’t undersell your children!! Their prayers are just as effective (if not more so). Watching my kids pray for this woman, has been like water on dry land for my prayer life. If they can pray like that, believe like that, and keep coming to God with expectation, then I can too. And to this friend of ours who asked a young boy for prayer- you better buckle your seat belt and put on a helmet. God is coming for you in a B.I.G. way, Girly. I don’t know what He will do with all these prayers, but it is going to rock your world.

Lphone july to oct 2014 134

Thank you, God, that you hear us. Thank you God for the reminder of what childlike faith can look like. You don’t need us to understand everything about this world. You don’t even need us to understand half of it. We just need to come to You with our needs and open our hearts to the work You are doing. I again ask for your blessing over this friend, and what she is going through. I ask that you would move in even mightier ways than we could ever imagine! And Lord, for all of us, help us to open up our hearts to you like children. Thank you for calling us your children. In Jesus name, Amen!

~Lindsay

*Just a small disclaimer here. For anonymity, I didn’t list the person or her prayer request. I don’t have permission to share it here. BUT it was not a topic that children couldn’t handle. Of course there are prayers that we don’t give to children. Topics that they aren’t emotionally ready for. But it is okay to let our kids know there is suffering in the world. It is okay to trust them with harder topics. I was totally fine with this friend sharing her struggles with my children. It was just that I would not have thought to share these kind of struggles with my children. Mostly because I would think ‘what can they do about it.’ And that is just the point- we cannot do anything. BUT GOD CAN.

**yes, yes, I’m a terrible option for your prayer requests. I forget.

 

 

Rabbit’s Foot

Rabbit’s Foot

Encouragement From the Authors

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
     because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
   and provide for those who grieve in Zion—

to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.
~Isaiah 61:1-3

You want to talk about walking up a mountain the hard way...
You want to talk about walking up a mountain the hard way…

Here is something I have found to be true about God- He does not leave us alone. He will not leave us alone. He cannot seem to help reaching out to us. This might sound delightful, to have a God who cares so much about us that He will not leave us alone. If being alone is lonely and not fun, then having God in your corner is great! You’ve always got a friend! And it is great. God loves you, God wants to be with you- hallelujah!

The flip side of all this is… He is also a parent. And just like I can’t leave my children alone to try and discover the rights and wrongs of their actions, neither can God the Father leave me alone.

I heard this somewhere, and often repeat it:

If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.

Today I am talking about the fact that this can’t-leave-you-alone-God keeps working on me. I had some definite plans on what the next few years of my life would look like. They seemed sensical to me. And possibly they were on the easy-to-achieve side of things. But I really saw the future ahead all lined up nice and neat… but God, He had a different plan. You can find lots of “but God”s in the Bible. Lots. And if you think back, I’m sure you can find plenty in your life.

So I am (once again) thrust out of my comfort zone and into new and uncharted territory. I think of it as growing-pains. I worry that maybe I have a bit too much on my plate this time. I begin to think I might not have what it takes. But (even though it’s hard to really grasp that I am an adult*) I have some years behind me now. And when I look back at those years, time and time again I see that God really does bring the best out of every situation. Even when I’ve thought “WHAT IS GOD THINKING!!” When I trust in Him, and lean on His mercy and grace- that’s when I see really amazing fruit in my life. In my own strength I often stumble and fall, but His grace is unending and unfailing. All too often I treat God like a lucky charm- like those rabbit’s foots that were so popular back in elementary school. I keep thinking that if I pray just the right prayer, then everything will go my way. But that’s not what is best for me. God is not content with just the good, He wants the best for us. Our good plans (even our best plans) are peanuts compared to the awesome future God is planning for us.

We live in a forested area of snow and ice. So when you take a trip to the desert and go on a hike... the last thing you expect to find is beauty in God's creation. The desert is supposed to be dead, hot, and not fun to walk in. But in the dead of winter it's breathtaking and amazing. Proof that God is soooooo much more creative and brilliant than yours truly.
We live in a forested area of snow and ice. So when you take a trip to the desert and go on a hike… the last thing you expect to find is beauty in God’s creation. The desert is supposed to be dead, hot, and not fun to walk in. But in the dead of winter it’s breathtaking and amazing. Proof that God is soooooo much more creative and brilliant than yours truly.

If you are standing in one of those situations where everything seems upside down and backwards of what you were expecting. If you are (like me) waving a despondent goodbye to your plans for the future, I have good news for you! You can trust in Him who made you. Not to make light of the horrific things that can happen in life, but just to know- you have a God who cannot leave you alone. He will come after you again and again, He will bring fruit out of misery. Beauty out of ashes. Joy for mourning, and praise out of your despair. Somehow. Somehow He does that. It’s what makes him good, awesome, amazing. It’s what makes him God! You might not see that fruit for years, and if that’s the case I’m truly sorry. But maybe you can take a step back right now and begin to realize, “Oh… I see. He has a better plan. It’s better than my plan. This might be hard, but in the long run, I can see- this could be the making of me.”

So thank you, Lord! You do not leave us. You are working in our lives. You have plans we can’t even fathom. Plans to build us into the people you created us to be. Plans to bring Your Kingdom here to earth. Plans for good. Plans for hope. Plans for love! We are sorry that we cannot always trust in Your Plans. We are so sorry that we often fall to anxiety and fear. Renew our hearts to trust in You and to chase after You. In these times of confusion, sorrow, fear, and anxiety- help us to turn our faces fully towards You. I ask for friends and other believers who will come along side us and confirm the work that You are doing in us. Thank you Jesus! Amen.

~Lindsay

*I tend to think of adults as my parents’ generation. I forget to categorize myself in the adult group… just from time to time.

three saguaro cactuses?
three saguaro cactuses?
Good Grief, Charlie Brown!

Good Grief, Charlie Brown!

Encouragement

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Romans 12:15

Aug 21 154I love that verse. Love it. Because it calls us into a deep relationship with those around us. If we are with friends or family who are rejoicing, our hearts should rejoice with them! We are not bystanders who simply observe the joy of our loved ones. We are active participants in their joy! And likewise, we mourn with them. When their hearts break, our hearts break too.

I have a theory about our culture. We only want people to be happy. Which is probably a good thing- wanting others to be happy, but we do so at the cost of ignoring other emotions. We pretend we are happy, when we are not. I see it all the time; sort of a hurry-up-and-get-over-it mentality. Or we compare our hurts to others. If someone has experienced something worse than us, then we really can’t complain, can we?

But the truth is our hurt is not lessened by someone experiencing a greater hurt. To me, Romans 12:15 says it is okay to be sad, and for others to comfort us by being sad with us. It is okay to be sad. It is okay to grieve. We are comforted when someone comes along side us and says, “My heart is breaking with yours.” I heard a woman once talking about the pain of losing a child. She said, “I had to face into my grief.” And that was the moment I realized, I run away from those harder emotions. But they don’t go away, they chase after me. I have to learn to “face into them” and then I can deal with my hurt and truly start to heal. Especially if I open up my heart to the Healer.

I’ve seen the ones I love hurting and realized we each have different coping mechanisms. We process grief and hurt differently. I know a few who need the time and space to talk. They need to be asked, “How are you doing?” They feel comforted when we check in with them. I know others who want time to process their emotions alone and only open up when they are ready. So it is okay to just ask, “What can I do for you?”

I heard a story once about a young man in college whose mother had passed away. At her funeral, a friend asked, “What can I do for you?” The young man said, “Sit in the front row and cry.” So his friend did. Is it just me, or is that a beautiful story? I think that must have been a beautiful friendship. To have a friend who would cry with you over the loss of your mother.

And as we learn to experience our grief, to “face into it,” God can come into our hearts and our relationships. He can do more than we can imagine. He is making all things new*, and can use even the most awful experiences for good. We can trust Him. So I encourage you to let those around feel their emotions, and to feel those emotions along with them. And also, not to let those happy moments slip by uncelebrated. I hope you can reach out to those around you and rejoice with them whenever possible.

Lord, thank you for your word. Thank you for the encouragement you send through your word, and especially for the hope we find in your word. Bless us to have wisdom to reach out to those around us and rejoice with them when they are happy, or mourn with them when they are grieved. Bless our efforts, and speak to our hearts as well as the hearts of those we love. We trust that you are truly making all things new. We believe that you will wipe away all our tears, and that someday we will stand before You and there will be great celebrating. Thank you, Lord. Amen.

~Lindsay

*He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” ~Revelations 21:5

**I don’t have appropriate ‘mourning’ pictures. So I went with mountain pictures… because mountain and mourn start with the same sound? No. I really don’t have a good reason.***

***This post was too serious for me, so I had to throw in a lame joke at the end. I apologize.

This guy is rejoicing after sneaking a snack out of our hiking backpack.
This guy is rejoicing after sneaking a snack out of our hiking backpack.