RSS

Tag Archives: prayer

Forced to Rest

It’s no real secret that I am tired all the time. Literally. I wake up tired and with a headache and that’s how it is all day long. I’m learning to be content with that. But what most people don’t know is that I have a really hard time resting. I can’t remember the last time I took a nap. My friends tell me all the time, “Oh honey, why don’t you just go curl up with a blanket and take a nap?” And I will smile and say that sounds like a wonderful idea. Because it really does.

I’m on three strong medications that CAUSE sleepiness and wear me out but the one also has a side effect of insomnia that really works. No naps for me. Sad day. I have been known to be so tired that I tell my friends I wish they would just knock me out so my body could get some rest!

Which actually brings me to the point of this post. (Don’t worry, I was getting there.) A month or so ago, I was in a Sunday School class on prayer. And it was a wonderful class. One of the lessons was on praying Scripture and we were talking about Psalm 23. As an example, my teacher asked if someone would be willing to pray that passage and an older lady at my church volunteered.

But as she prayed, something new struck me. Verse 2: “He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.”

Hmmm¬†makes me? Like forces me to lie down, to rest? If I’m honest, there have been many times in my life when I don’t want to rest. When I get so crazy busy and I have seen God slow me down. And if I’m totally honest, I didn’t like it. I wanted to do things my way at my speed. But now that physical rest is SO desirable and out of reach for me, I recognize the importance of it.

But of even greater importance is spiritual rest. Verse 3: “He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”

Whenever I read this I’m reminded of how utterly thankful I am for soul-restoration! How when I’m worn out and tired, my SOUL can still be at rest because of Jesus Christ! How when I can’t find the energy to do anything, somehow I find energy in talking about my Savior and his incredible love! What a thing to praise the Lord for.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on October 10, 2018 in blessing

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A House of Prayer

I had a new revelation at church this week. Cue the flashing lights and trumpets! Everyone leans forward in their chairs! Because, as we all know, everyone wants to learn about new stuff! But what I actually mean is, God did NOT reveal something other than his Word to me, he revealed something about his Word as it relates to my life. Sorry to disappoint. ūüôā

Anyway, the past few weeks, I have felt really BUSY at church. My brain has felt scattered and cluttered, filled with things I need to do while I’m there. I usually walk to church and on that short walk, my mind starts coming up with people I need to talk to when I’m at church and I start planning how I’m going to fit it all in. For instance, this Sunday alone, I had 4 people I needed to talk to about different ministry things, I needed to connect with the other Young Adult leader about some things, I’m the secretary of a committee and needed to confirm a meeting for this Wednesday, AND I had a meeting right after service. It’s a lot to fit in if you count trying to find all the people and talking with everyone else you bump into.

And the problem is, IT’S ALL GOOD STUFF. And it all does need to get done. But by the end of church I was frustrated because first of all, my list wasn’t complete, and secondly, there were other people that were hurting at church and my heart WANTED to talk with those people but because of my “to-do list”, I didn’t have time.

And that’s when my focus cleared up. Verses from Matthew and Mark quickly popped into my head and I realized that I had made church a place of business instead of keeping it a place of worship and prayer. Once my “have-to” stuff became more important than ministering to those that needed it, God quickly convicted my heart. And I’m so thankful he did!

I also realized that there was absolutely no need for those things to be done on Sunday. In my mind, I just always say, “Oh, I’ll see them at church and talk to them then.” BUT I DON’T NEED TO! Why in the world do I have phone calls, texts, and emails if I’m not going to use them?? I don’t NEED to push everything to Sunday because it can be done before then. What I need to do is restructure my mind to think this way and diligently plan ahead of time.

Ok, so maybe this wasn’t a new revelation for you at all. But it was for me. And now I have a list of things to do before Sunday gets here. I’m sure things will still pop up on Sundays but that’s ok. I’m praying my mind and heart will be able to focus a little bit more on the reason I go to church this coming week.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 11, 2018 in church

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Praying When You’re Crazy Busy

Do you ever feel like you’re crazy busy? Or maybe just crazy? (Either one works for me.) I think when I ask my friends how they are doing or how their week was, one of the most common answers is, “Busy.”

For me, I don’t feel like I have a lot of events or activities going on, my brain feels busy. Like it’s overloaded all the time and trying to catch up. I’m sure others feel that way. So maybe you can relate to this: You sit down to do your devotions in the morning (or whenever is best for you.) What I usually do is open my Bible, ask the Lord to clear my head and focus on what I’m about to read, and then I read a little. Then I spend some time in prayer. And here’s what happens:

“Ah, Lord, you are SO good to us and we totally don’t deserve it…(text comes in, looks at it and puts phone across room to avoid further distractions)…I love how you used Gideon in that story even though he wasn’t strong, it showed your strength and pla…(Geez, the cars are loud today. I wish they would change the¬† traffic lights back to how they were before.)…Father, please help Natalie today at work to be a light for…(Light bulbs! I forgot to pick up light bulbs at the store! And toilet paper! And toothpaste! Where’s my phone?? I need to make a list before I forget all this!)”

Yeah…anyone relate? I’ve always struggled with the verse that tells us to pray constantly because all I could think of is the amount of focus that would take! BUT I recently read a book that really helped me. It’s very fittingly titled “Crazy Busy” by Kevin DeYoung. How can you not like a book with a tag line that reads, “A (mercifully) short book about a (really) big problem?” I highly recommend it.

Anyway, in one part of the book, Kevin is talking about prayer. Sorry you aren’t going to get any direct quotes but I loaned my copy out so you’re stuck with my memory for today- buy the book. He talks about a concept that has really helped him. The idea is whenever you hear or think of something you should pray for, you do it RIGHT THEN. Pray right then. And then put it out of your mind and trust that God has it.

Maybe this isn’t a mind-blowing concept for some people but it was for me. For some reason, I had the idea that praying constantly meant keeping every single thing I was currently praying about on my mind ALL. THE. TIME. and trying to remember it all. Do you know how exhausting that is?? This idea took such a load off my mind. Now, whenever something comes to my mind that I should pray for, I do, and then I trust that God has it handled (duh), and that he will bring it to my mind as often as I need to remember it. I’ve actually been praying MORE this way. You see, instead of using my brain power to remember my prayer requests, it’s actually being used to pray for them! Who knew?

And in some way, this method has also helped my morning focused prayer time too. Because I pray more through the day, I don’t feel like I have a giant list of things to get through every day and I can just spend time talking to the Lord.

But seriously guys, get the book. It’s full of wisdom AND it’s a short, easy read. You won’t regret it.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on June 19, 2018 in prayer

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

No Heat Produces Faith, Faith Produces Heat?

Those that know me know that I love to sleep in the cold. Not like 50 degrees cold, I’m the person who keeps her window open all winter long. I froze my water bottle shut one night this winter and I have frozen a whole cup of water in my room before. Not that I like BEING cold- I like to pile on lots of blankets and snuggle under the weight of all of them. Now I have this magical thing called an electric blanket and I flip that on ten minutes before bed and then turn it off when I get in and everything is very cozy. I just like the air around me to be cold.

So ever since I moved into my apartment, my routine has been to go to the thermostat at night, flip the heat off, open my bedroom window, and crawl into bed. In the morning there is a very particular science to things. You see, while I love sleeping in 30 degree weather, I DO NOT love showering in that kind of temperature. So in the morning, I set my alarm for about a half hour before I need to shower and when it goes off, I reach over, close the window, dash out and flip the heat back on and crawl into my nice warm bed while everything heats back up. About a half hour later, my apartment is at a livable temperature and I can get up and shower. Works like a dream.

Yesterday, I did the same thing I’ve done every single morning. I dashed out, flipped the heat switch and crawled back in bed. I showered and it wasn’t until I was putting my shoes on about 5 minutes before I should be leaving for work that I thought, “Boy, it’s still kind of chilly in here!” So I checked the thermostat and sure enough: 57 degrees. I thought to myself that it sure was taking a lot longer than normal to heat up this morning but I didn’t really have time to think much about it since I had to leave for work.

It was a short but stressful day of work. Actually, it has been quite a long week and I’m ready for it to be over. Nothing big, just a lot of small things that piled up. As I walked home from work, I was freezing: it was 35 degrees and really windy and when I opened up my apartment door I was met with a blast of cool air. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Not a very good welcome home. The temperature hadn’t moved since that morning.

I played with settings on the thermostat thinking maybe I had accidentally bumped one of them and sat in moody silence on my couch in my coat and hat for forty-five minutes, listening for the heat. It would kick on but then 4-5 minutes later shut off and the temperature wouldn’t change. Finally, in a grumpy, complaining mood, I went downstairs and talked to my landlord’s daughter, who said she would ask her Dad as soon as he was done with chemo for the day. Which just made me feel worse. To be fair, they did bring me a space heater, but when you have 9.5ft ceilings, that doesn’t do much.

So I decided to go for a walk, thinking that a brisk walk MUST be warmer than sitting in the cold. Wrong. I forgot how windy it was and several miles later, I arrived home again to my cold apartment with a very cold body and hurting head. I spent the rest of the afternoon curled under my electric blanket, very grumpy.

So this morning, I got up, and (not very hopefully) turned the heat on, and crawled back in bed as usual. Still wasn’t working and it was even colder. Finally I started crying. Don’t laugh- as previously mentioned, it’s been a rough and frustrating week. And I cried out, “Lord! Can’t I at least have some heat?! I just want to be warm! I’m so freaking cold!” And right then, I heard the heat kick on in one of its fake-you-out tricks. I’m pretty sure I rolled my eyes at my vent in disgust. About 15 minutes later I realized the heat was still running. This time it hadn’t kicked off like all the other times.

You know who I felt like? Job. But not Job when he is proved righteous and his friends proved wrong. Not Job when he says he hasn’t done anything wrong. Job when God says to him, “Uh, who do you think you are talking to me like that?” Yeah, I felt pretty small and I meekly said, “Thank you, Lord.” About 45 minutes later my apartment was at 70 degrees and the heat is still working. I checked with my landlord and the repairman hadn’t come out yet.

That was a pretty fast answer to prayer. Gosh, why wasn’t that my first response when I found that it wasn’t working?? Why did the prayer come out of desperation instead of being the first thought? I think that’s how a lot of believers live. Prayer is like our back-up resource instead of our first weapon. I want to be so close to God that talking to him about it is always what happens first. I don’t want it to be an after-thought. First thought, constant thought, all day.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on March 3, 2018 in prayer

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Comparing Prayers

The other day during my devotions I was searching for a particular verse in Psalms and my eyes glanced over this verse instead:

O God,¬†hear my prayer;¬†give ear to the words of my mouth.” Ps. 54:2

I didn’t really think much of it until I was scanning again and came across this one:

Give ear to my prayer, O God,¬†and hide not yourself from my plea for mercy!” Ps. 55:1

And then, honestly, the thought that flashed into my head was something along the lines of, “Why in the world does David ask God to hear his prayer? That’s so weird. Doesn’t he know that God is there with him?” Verses on God’s omnipresence and promises to hear us flooded my mind. There may have been a silent scoff in my head.

So I became a little curious and started looking up verses JUST in the Psalms on asking God to hear and very quickly was overwhelmed. There are so many! To name a few: Ps. 4:1, 61:1, 5:1-12, 130:1, 102:1, 143:1-6. In fact, it almost seemed that most of David’s prayers started out that way.

Suddenly I realized my arrogance in contrast to David’s humility. Of course he knew that God was omnipresent. Who couldn’t know that and still write Psalm 139?? I think David simply had an understanding of who he was and who he was praying to. How dare he (I) assume that the God of the universe would attend to his every summon like a genie in a lamp? So he asked.

That was such a bizarre thought to me. I don’t think I’ve ever asked God to hear my prayer before. Have you? Since looking all those verses up though, a lot of my prayers have started out like David’s. I know it’s not mandatory, but it’s a very simple, humble, and dependent way to start out my prayer time.

 

 
Comments Off on Comparing Prayers

Posted by on February 7, 2018 in prayer

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Recent Thoughts on Bologna

Bologna has got to be one of the most disgusting deli meats around. I just don’t understand why people buy it. Why, with all the other good meat out there, would you stare into a deli case and decide, “Hmmm, well that bologna sure looks good! I think I’ll take a pound of that.”?? It’s kind of slimy and it smells weird and doesn’t taste good. MAYBE…if you have to eat it…you can fry it and make it edible.

You may ask where all these seemingly random thoughts on bologna are coming from? Some of you probably know that right before Christmas my doctor cleared me for work again. Although I’ve still been very tired and have constant headaches, I haven’t had any seizures since December 9th (Praise Jesus!) and so she gave me the ok to work as long as it wasn’t anything dangerous. When I asked for clarification, she told me not to go out and decide to be a lifeguard or anything like that. OH, ok.

However, with the privilege to drive still months off, my options were pretty limited. So I applied at a local, family-owned, IGA grocery store that is a 3 minute walk from my apartment and was hired right away. I’m currently part time because I wanted to start out slowly and see how it goes but he will bump my hours up as soon as I say the word.

At this store, each employee is moved from department to department so you pretty much get to work everywhere. I’ve worked in the meat room on grinding and packing, I’ve been cashier, AND in the deli. Which brings me back to bologna.

Did you know that bologna is actually one of the hardest deli meats to slice?? It is VERY slippery and so when it hits the blade, the whole meat tries to spin and instead of a clean slice of meat you get a shred of bologna. Turns out, no one in the deli really likes to slice bologna because it is hard. I found this out my very first day in the deli and promptly named that horrible meat my nemesis. But I thought to myself that surely not very many people actually order that stuff with all the other great deli meat that we sell.

Well, one day last week, it just so happened that I was in the deli all by myself because we were a little short on staff. It was probably only my third time ever working in there. The first person of the day comes to the counter and I cheerfully ask, “What can I get for you?” What do you think he said? A pound of Eckrich bologna. I had to clamp my mouth shut before something popped out like “Seriously??” or “Are you sure?” I gave a very fake smile as I pulled the meat out of the case and carefully unwrapped it, looking desperately around for someone to help me out of this situation.

It was as I was standing there trying not to drop a huge hunk of slippery bologna on the floor that I prayed what seemed to me the silliest prayer ever: “Lord, please help me slice this bologna. Please don’t let it shred.”

Did you know that slicing deli meat is actually very nerve wracking? Some people are very particular as to the thickness of their meat and they stand there and watch you with every slice. I placed the bologna on the machine, still praying, and turned it on. My first slice came out so perfect that I cried out loud, “Haha! Thank you, Jesus!” like a little girl. I’m not quite sure what my customer thought but I kept praying as I sliced and I only had one that shredded. Whew. I felt like I had run a marathon.

All that to say a couple things: 1. No prayer is silly and prayer does work. 2. Next time you are at the deli, do yourself and the employee a favor and order some salami instead.

 
Comments Off on Recent Thoughts on Bologna

Posted by on January 27, 2018 in work

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Refining Gold

I always tried to be a helpful child when I was younger. I liked to make people happy so was usually eager to be accommodating and obedient. Sometimes I took this method a little too far. For instance, when I was about 5 or so, I remember coming home from an evening church service with my family and I heard my Dad say, “Did I leave the stove on??” Always one to be helpful, I eagerly exclaimed, “I’ll check!” and placed my hand flat on the burner before anyone could stop me. Turns out, it was on and I burned my hand and learned a good lesson.

I was thinking about that story recently as I heard someone referencing a verse in the Bible that talks about God refining us. There are actually quite a few verses on the topic and I got to wondering how hot a refiner’s fire was anyway? I’ve been around a lot of fires and sometimes I turn my oven up pretty high…how hot does a fire have to be to melt metal? So I did some research. Turns out that to melt gold a fire has to be anywhere from 1600-2000 degrees F. Whew! (Guess I won’t be doing any of that in my kitchen…)

And the more I thought about it, I realized the huge significance of those verses. One of my favorites: “The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold,¬†and the¬†Lord¬†tests hearts.” Prov. 17:3 The parallel drawn here is pretty clear as the author compares the method of refining metal to how the Lord tests and refines our hearts. Suddenly it became apparent to me that it’s not a pleasant parallel. The more I read about refining, the more I realized that I didn’t want that done with my heart! It’s hot and it hurts! It’s not a fun process and that’s why it’s so important to have God’s perspective and not ours. Right now, I just see the temporary pain and loss but according to God’s Word:

According to his great mercy,¬†he has caused us to be born again to a living hope¬†through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,¬†to¬†an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and¬†unfading,¬†kept in heaven for you,¬†who by God’s power are being guarded¬†through faith for a salvation¬†ready to be revealed in the last time.¬†In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by¬†various trials,¬†so that¬†the tested genuineness of your faith‚ÄĒmore precious than gold that perishes¬†though it is tested by¬†fire‚ÄĒmay be found to result in¬†praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:3-7

All that to say this: every year I pray for a specific thing that I want God to teach me that year. In 2016, it was compassion and we all know how that turned out. This year, I prayed for the Lord to give me a richer prayer life. You know what happened? I moved to an apartment by myself, I was under rest orders from my doctor, and wasn’t even able to read my Bible for a while. My only resort was to talk to God.

I know what I want to learn in 2018 but I am actually terrified to pray for it. I have truly seen that God answers prayers but not in the way I expect and I am afraid for this one. I’m not sure I’m ready for the heat of this fire. I want to learn true and full contentment in Christ. I want him to be my life and the fulfillment of it. Right now, I often feel restless and discontent because I want my life to be how it was before. I want my old life back and the more I realize that isn’t going to happen, the more upset I become and I don’t want to live like that. I want to embrace the life God has given me even if it’s not what I would have chosen for myself.

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions but on January 1st, that is what my heart will be crying out and what I will continue to pray for the entire year. Would you pray with me?

 
Comments Off on Refining Gold

Posted by on December 16, 2017 in contentment

 

Tags: , , , , ,