Archives for posts with tag: prayer

I don’t like asking for favors. Even small ones. For example: asking a neighbor to get our mail when we’re out of town. Getting the mail is a super easy job. The required amount of activity, deductive reasoning skill and manual labor is quite trivial, but I profusely apologize like I’ve just asked Senora Aurora (next door neighbor) to be the surrogate mother of our next child (that analogy is strictly to illustrate a point! Plus she’s definitely past child-bearing years). Then, when we return and I walk next door to retrieve the collected mail, I am sure to bring four different quick breads, fresh out of the oven, to thank her for the major inconvenience I caused her.

Now, when neighbors ask me to collect their mail? Really, truly no big deal. It is zero percent a hassle. In fact, it’s sometimes nice to have a reason to take a little stroll down the street. I’ve tried to internalize the fact that (hopefully!) my neighbors really, truly feel just as unbothered by little favors as I do so that I can not be afraid to become real friends with them. Because real friendship is built through real life and not just niceties, right? And when I humble myself to be put in a position of debt to my neighbor or friend or family member, usually I am rewarded by their willingness to be equally as vulnerable. Just ask my super awesome neighbor Becky. She fed and watered Frankie the rabbit every day and (in the pouring rain) checked in our chickens multiple times while we were gone over Thanksgiving. She’s one of the sweetest, easy-to-be-friends-with women I know. Now get this. She’s 9 months pregnant. I know. I can see you all shaking your heads. What monster asks their dear neighbor who’s about to pop a baby out to feed their livestock for a week? ME. I’m that monster. I owe her big time and at least 10 quick breads.

Superstar neighbor Miss Becky

Superstar neighbor Miss Becky

My mom and my dad. In my 32 years, I have already drawn out SO many favors from them. Before I ever really realized how much I was taking and even now when I do realize it. When it comes to their willingness to give or extend favor to me, the supply never seems to dry up. Although I know how generous they’ve been with me through my life, I am still never afraid to ask for help. They may be the only two people on this earth whose well of favor I’m not afraid to keep drawing from. Even with my husband Matt, I sometimes still think in terms like this when there’s something I want to ask of him: Ok, when was the last time he went out to play basketball with his friends because there’s a Noonday party I want to go to with my friends. It’s like we think that kindness and generosity are measurable units that we can trade, stockpile, or deplete. And that very well could be true with most humans because many of us are keeping score. NOT GOD. My eyes well up just resting on that truth because He gives and gives and gives generously to all without finding fault.

I stop and pray every time I see a prayer request come through Facebook. This afternoon, there were several prayer requests in a row for major health concerns. By the third or fourth prayer request, I found myself forgetting that God is not keeping score of how many favors I’ve asked of Him. Praying like this: God, I know I’ve just asked for three other miracles, so…well…okay yeah, since I’m overloading You, I’ll be back to pray for this tomorrow when the favor-meter has been recharged. His favor, his love for us, his desire to do good in our lives does not dry up. You can’t ask too many times for too many favors. He can do all that and infinitely more. If I believe (and I do) that He gladly receives my request of Him to heal three people in a row, then why not ask healing for the fourth? I take my own insecurities and misguided conclusions about myself and other people, then I apply them to a God who is just not like me. Praise you, Lord!

I hope I can mature to a place with my people, and surely with my God, where kindness, good, generosity, neighborliness, love, and favor is so abundant in our lives that it passes freely between us, no tabs kept. I pray that we can desire those things with so much fervor that our communities are not so fragmented, fractured, and broken. Thank you to all of you who, like my parents, have let me take more than I have given back without being offended; when you do that, God’s likeness is tangible and precious in your living, breathing example of endless favor.

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New Year's baby Cortland and Aunt Shelly.

New Year’s baby Cortland and Aunt Shelly.

I am a mediocre resolution-maker, but hear this: Not because I’m a bum. One of the things I’m actually quite good at is setting a goal and achieving it. It’s an obsessive quality I have, so it’s not always helpful or healthy. Anyway, the point is that setting a New Year’s resolution doesn’t really make me any more or less inclined to reach a goal. I got 99 problems, but following through ain’t one.

Always appearing on my goals list are the following: Know God more, live more like Christ, read my Bible more, lose weight. So generic, I know. I got to thinking about the lose weight one because, for the first time in forever, it’s not appearing on my list. I started thinking about how I got here – at a place where I don’t want to weigh any less. It happened when I wasn’t obsessing about losing weight. I wasn’t counting calories or working out twice a day. I wasn’t adhering to any fad diet, but my eating habits over the last 3 months looks waaaay different than ever before in my life. Thanks to the wonky thyroid thing I’ve mentioned briefly on here, my definition of healthy eating has only a little to do with calories (to bring you up to speed, I’m trying to use diet changes to naturally stabilize my hypothyroidism and hopefully avoid medication). In short, after doing lots of reading and research, I surmised my best bets were to eliminate soy and wheat (and, thus, every snack, dessert, and good thing); and to add lots more fish and coconut oil.

I’m not here to talk about diet. I want to talk about the God goals. They’re always on my list and, until I’m in glory, they always will be. But I want to go about these goals unlike I have before – do things drastically different. Kind of like with my former “lose weight” goal; it wasn’t until I redefined healthy eating that I got to where I wanted to be. Of course I need to be in the Word. Of course I need to be in communion with Christ. Of course I need to be obedient to my Father. And what does that look like for me? Well, it involves more specificity and action than my generically stated goals allow for.

Know God more: How about, “Seek out people who are very unlike myself in upbringing, religious beliefs, socioeconomic status, race, etc.. Develop real friendships with them. Talk about things that matter. Let our differences challenge me. Be firm, and still tender, and be patient.” Now that’s a goal that will inevitably show me more about God, His creativity, His pursuit of us, and lessons I will never have seen coming.

Live more like Christ: How about, “Resolve the tension you know you have in some of your relationships. Think outside of yourself more so that you can be a better friend. Ask for help when you need it and become a person that people seek out to ask for prayer.”

Read my Bible more: How about, “Day and night, the Word should always be on your lips. Teach it to your children. May Scripture be woven through the thoughts that circle in my mind and may my tongue speak it often in conversation.”

So, new game plan. Know God, live Christ, and read your Bible are all great goals – don’t think your list is lame if you have those. I just need a little more narrative to get me going. I hope you reach your goals for 2014 and, if you need prayer, I’m your girl!

Spoiler alert: God’s purpose prevails.

From Proverbs 19.21: “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

This verse has been sticking in my head a lot lately; to be specific, I’ve been thinking a lot about the difference between plans and purpose. I’ve sought God’s will in my life for as long as I can remember, but it was especially evident in the middle of making an important decision, that my understanding of reaching God’s will was basically decided on a flip of the coin. And then hoping I chose correctly. Should I go to this school or that one? Go Greek or is that lame? Take this job or that one? Marry this person or not? Have a baby or wait? Like it was yesterday, I can remember toiling over the decision of which university I should choose. I prayed and prayed – and was very earnest and serious about seeking God’s will. I choose ACU. Did God breathe a sigh of relief that I rerouted the course of my life towards Texas or was He hoping I’d choose the other front-runner? Or, even worse, was God’s will that I’d choose a school that wasn’t even on my list and I missed my calling altogether?! 

We drive ourselves crazy with these kinds of decisions and I think the answer is much simpler than we make it: SEEK GOD. Before everything else. See, I was in the habit of making plans when I should have been fulfilling purpose. Having purpose is intentional and it’s noble and it builds confidence. Plans are broken or fall through; purpose remains even if the plans don’t work out. And the way we go about understanding our purpose is kind of magical and romantic. We get to know God, we learn His heart, and it shapes the way we see the world. In much the same way a marriage binds two people together in love as companions and partners, we can sync up with God and complete each other’s sentences, so to speak. When we know God so deeply and have come to a place where nothing is more important to us than loving Him, how much more peaceful our decisions about life can be, knowing that we are already in God’s will. It means ACU vs. Lipscomb wasn’t really a big deal, as long as I was seeking to know God more and was glorifying Him while walking out my life.

9 times out of 10, people do what they want to do anyway, right? Sometimes we can get ahead of the tough decisions, but sometimes we end up in situations with a lot of pressure, tension, or heartbreak. We react based on what is existing in our hearts. When we are full of God and our lives show the fruit of a growing, healthy relationship with Him, we don’t freak out over tough decisions or circumstances. We are grounded in purpose, not tied up in plans. Paul gives us this encouragement in Romans 1.2: “Do not conform 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.” 

When he says we’ll be able to approve what God’s will is – it’s incredible to know that I can be so confident and settled into my relationship with God that I can approve what His will is. Someone so small like me, speaking as an authority on something so significant.

I know that where I am in my life right now has been guided by the prayer of people who love me and, more importantly, by a Creator who is crazy about me. I am fortunate. My encouragement today comes from knowing that my purpose is so attainable to me and knowing God’s will for my life is not nearly the puzzle I have always believed it to be. “Seek first His kingdom and His righteous and then all these things will be given to you.” Matthew 6.33