Praying with confidence

1 John 5:13-15 I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God. Now you can know you have life that lasts forever. We are sure that if we ask anything that He wants us to have, He will hear us. If we are sure He hears us when we ask, we can be sure He will give us what we ask for.

Mark 11:24 Because of this, I say to you, whatever you ask for when you pray, have faith that you will receive it. Then you will get it.

So many days recently I have spent searching the scriptures, asking my closest confidants, how do I pray? I struggle with my prayers more now than any other time in my life I think. Am I praying right? Am I praying with great expectation? Am I asking too much of God? Am I trying to do His job by being too specific in asking Him for what I want, for my heart's desire? It can be exhausting. This question. Lord, how do I ask this of You? I am afraid to ask my greatest desire of You because, well, I am afraid You won't give it to me. I am afraid of disappointment. I am afraid of things not going the way I'd like for them to. Don't get me wrong--I know God knows best and I want that, I pray that every day. But, sometimes when I don't know how to pray, I simply stop myself and have to say, "Lord, Your will be done!" Why do I feel like somehow I am not giving it my all when I do that? It is like I almost feel bad for not having a "better" prayer to pray. I am very much aware each day of how precious my time with the Father is. It is our time, my daily conversation that sets the tone of my day. I want to bring Him my best and even at my worst be able to admit to Him in my prayers that I know I can bring Him more, and hopefully by the end of the conversation He has had my best. To each day, I think we can all strive to bring God more of our very best! He deserves it!

Now is the time to worship....

It doesn't matter what you are facing today, just stop and give Him glory! I am amazed how quickly God works in me to re-set my focus each day when in the midst of my worst moments, I take the time to stop, cry out to Him and say,"You are so good, Lord!" Somehow, it puts everything in perspective because immediately my heart is flooded with how blessed we truly are. I don't feel much like doing it lately, but it helps me get focused on what matters most. Nothing we have, nor anything we accomplish in this life will matter except that I am a child of God, He loves me and I get to spend an eternity with Him one day! It is amazing to consider even at my worst moments, when I have shouted and cried out to God in my anger, in my frustration, and yet....He gets me. He understands me. He hurts with me. He knows me. He loves me!!

Ryan and I are going through something fierce, something really crappy, something so difficult that in the midst of it right now it would seem like it couldn't possibly get any worse than it is. Then I read this:

Lamentations 3:28
The Message (MSG)
28-30When life is heavy and hard to take,
go off by yourself. Enter the silence.
Bow in prayer. Don't ask questions:
Wait for hope to appear.
Don't run from trouble. Take it full-face.
The "worst" is never the worst.

Well, a few weeks ago we started to see a bit of light at the end of the tunnel. As we have progressed day to day, tonight we find ourselves experiencing a bit more of that light. There is some hope, we are seeing God at work. We continue to hope and pray for God to move in our lives, and we believe that He is. We are so excited to see what His plan will hold for us in the weeks ahead.

My Shepherd

I am a pitiful sheep. I suppose most sheep are, they aren't very bright animals and they need a lot of care and watching over. We as Christians, walking through this life with so much bombarding us from all directions are no different. How on earth do we make in through a single day without our Shepherd to care for us? Before I go to bed tonight, I find myself reading a familiar psalm that I memorized as a child.

God, my shepherd! I don't need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
you let me catch my breath
and send me in the right direction.

Even when the way goes through
Death Valley,
I'm not afraid
when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd's crook
makes me feel secure.

You serve me a six-course dinner
right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head;
my cup brims with blessing.

Your beauty and love chase after me
every day of my life.
I'm back home in the house of God
for the rest of my life. (Psalm 23, The Message)

Daily my faith will be tested, and I am certain to face trials well beyond what I am facing today. With that in mind, I can close my eyes tonight with a bit more perspective on what God has for me. I know I can trust Him with my life, and I know He will always care for me no matter what life throws my way.

What is it, Lord?

The waiting. It is intense, it is exciting, it is frustrating, it is humbling, it is exactly as He intends for it to be right now, at this very moment in my life. If you've glanced at my blog over the past seven months then you know a little bit about what Ryan and I are going through. God is doing something, we don't know what it is, but we are starting to see glimpses of hope, light at the end of the tunnel. He is working, yes He is! Through my best and my worst moments, I have been clinging to that mantra and it remains embedded in my thought process along with some key scriptures that have pushed us forward on this wilderness road. Something in my devotional stuck yesterday, and so of course, I just have to share it. We are considering God's will, what is it, what does He have for us, what will He do next? What door will He open, and will it unfold into what we see as the next ministry for us? So this thought yesterday, has been etched nearly permanent in my mind.

God's will: It is not a destination, it is a journey.

Don't know how it was worded exactly in my devotional, but that's my take on it. So at almost 40 years old, I have found myself pondering these past months more than any other time in my life, "What is God's will?" I can look back and see points in my life when I was at this place, and there was never a final answer, a point when I could go, "Okay, now my life is set. Now I know exactly what to do, and I don't see how it could get any clearer. Thanks God." How many of us can say we've honestly reached that point? Here's the reality--we aren't ever going to be there. I believe we will reach milestones in our Christian walk, breakthroughs in our faith, achievements in terms of our growth and accomplishments, but we should be living with a restless content. Why? Because the moment we become comfortable with what God has given us, we lose sight of the fact that it never really belonged to us and we need to give back to Him and wholeheartedly say,"No matter how good it gets Lord, my life is Yours! Do Your will and do with me what You will!" Don't get me wrong. I believe we are to be thankful, and live confidently in the life God has given us; the difference is, our focus is on the eternal, things that matter beyond this life. I can't take my money, my possessions, my job, my church, any of it with me when I die. What I can take with me, and what I can say when I stand before my Lord is, "Lord, I did it all for You, I gave my all for You, I am so humbled and grateful for what You did for me that I couldn't keep it to myself! I don't deserve what You have given me, but I am so thankful You chose me!"
If you are in doubt today about where You stand with God, know this:
He loves you and He has forgiven you for whatever you think is keeping you from deserving His grace and mercy. Whatever you did that you think is so big and bad, my God is BIGGER! He has a purpose for you, He has great things for your life and He will work all things for your good! Here's truth:
We know God is working all things together for the good. Romans 8:28 (my paraphrase)

We haven't lost hope and we will not give up. God has an amazing plan and we can't wait to see it unfold. Thank you for continuing to pray for us, to support us, to encourage and love us, and to walk with us. Our hearts are full; we are so incredibly thankful.

I will tell the story

What is your story? What will be your story when you come through what God has put in front of you? Will you choose to persevere? Will you keep putting one foot in front of the other? What will you do when God sets you apart and gives you something, something you think is just too big to handle? Perseverance. I am thinking on that word today, because it is what we need to do in these times of uncertainty. Persevere. Time and time again I find myself saying it in conversations, with Ryan, with family, with friends, those who have chosen to ride this wave with us and see just what God is up to....and hope is beginning to crest just over the horizon. It may just be a glimmer right now, but it is evident in recent days that God is beginning to reveal what is next to us. I was just reading in Genesis 32 about Jacob, his dream in which he wrestled with an angel. He would not give in, he would not let go, he said in v. 26, "I will not let go until you bless me." To that, the angel gave him a new name and told him it was because v. 28 "...you've wrestled with God, and you've come through." These days there have been moments when I have felt like I have been wrestling with God, in my prayers, in my anguish, in my frustration, in my heart break, in my joys and in my sorrows. It has been one wave of emotion after another, and I know not a moment of it was spent alone but with Him. I know He didn't just hear my cries, He has cried with me. Life is not fair, but God is faithful. I am so thankful for how far we have come, and I am so thankful for the moments that lay ahead. I can't wait to see what God is going to do in the days ahead, and I can't wait to share it with you and add to the story that has already been written.

my Ebenezer...

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