Giving Myself Up to God's Plan

But that’s not what Jesus says in Mark 8.

Because I don’t want to follow you, or you, or you. I want to follow Jesus. And He makes it pretty clear that if He is to be my Lord, then I need to get over my own ideas about what my life should (or could) look like, and relent to His plan—His way—not because He is a Lord who withholds, but one who gives in abundance. In an age where we follow people all the time, I believe there needs to be a major revival in our understanding of what it is to have a Lord. We need to look at what Jesus is not saying in this verse in Mark 8—He isn’t saying that we get all the benefits of salvation while getting to keep our lives as we think they should be. Give ourselves up to God’s plan. Take up our crosses. Follow HIM. We need to do as the disciples did and throw it all away to go where He is going and do what He is doing.

Read More

Reverence | An Awakening

Earlier this year I felt led to submit an article to two different online magazines. I felt smoked by the Spirit as I wrote this, and yet neither magazine wanted it. The words are still His and it's time I share them.

So, without further ado, a word on Reverence


Maybe it’s because we live in first-world Americana, but the idea of reverence seems to be lost on many. We can’t tangibly understand the idea because, after all, we live for ourselves much of the time. The Christ-follower in this culture might believe that she is “dying to herself” and revering the Lord she serves, but there are so many simple and yet humbling questions to be asked of her.

We don’t know what it is to bow before a Sovereign, and for some, if given a face-to-face meeting with the President, it would almost be frowned upon if they did not greet him with words of disdain and disrespect.

We are not a culture that reveres.

We boast, we bully, we believe that the ideas created within ourselves are the best of the best and anyone who disagrees loses their place at our table.

And somewhere in the midst of that lies the Sovereign Most High.

 

“For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.” -Joshua 4:23-24 | NIV

 

What would happen inside of us if we closed our eyes, quieted our hearts, and let the reality of these events (and the countless others) sink deep into our souls, past our inward-focus, past our distractibility?  What if we entered into the House of God fully aware of the God we were about to meet?

The God who told Moses to take off his sandals because in His presence, the ground is Holy.

The God who is worshipped around the clock with tongues of fire belonging to beings our minds cannot even begin to imagine.

The God who saw the deepest stains of sin and bondage within her and decided to wash her as white as snow.

Could it be that God desires an awakening of reverence? He has not forgotten about His majesty and might, but He has seen each and every time we have.  And in His mercy and grace, He patiently awaits our reverence. He invites us to take off our sandals. He invites us to unveil our faces. He beckons us to lift up our hands.

Because He is worthy of all of that and so much more.

Reverence: to cause astonishment and awe; be held in awe.

When we look beyond ourselves, when we remove the veil of pride, disengagement, and fear, we can do nothing but stand in awe of the God we serve. 

 

I will remember the actions the Eternal has taken,

    reminisce on Your ancient wonders.

I will reflect on all of Your work;

    indeed, I will study all You have performed. 

O God, Your way is so different, so distinct, so divine.

    No other god compares with our God.

You, God, and Your works evoke wonder.

    You have proved Your strength to the nations. 

-Psalm 77:11-14 | the Voice

 

Jess Connolly says in her book, Wild and Free, “The full picture, you see, requires you and me to acknowledge that the main character of the story is not the masterpiece, but its Creator.” How many of us enter into worship and inevitably worship ourselves? Our hands are raised and our hair is done for the glory and praise of the wrong “one”. But the heart that reveres worships with abandon. The ambassador who glorifies and honors the One she represents does so in accordance with what He says is right and true.

 

“Your adornment must not be merely external—with interweaving and elaborate knotting of the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or [being superficially preoccupied with] dressing in expensive clothes; but let it be [the inner beauty of] the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality and unfading charm of a gentle and peaceful spirit, [one that is calm and self-controlled, not overanxious, but serene and spiritually mature] which is very precious in the sight of God.” 1 Peter 3:3-4 | AMP

 

Imagine yourself a little girl, leaping downstairs to twirl in front of your Papa in your brand new dress. Do you know the One it is that you twirl before? He is the Papa who says, “Darling, that dress is lovely,” and placing His big, tender, powerful hand over your heart, He continues, “but you [the “you” that rests in here] are beautiful.”

When we stand in awe of this God who chose us, we lose interest in standing our ground on our rights as free women who can “do as we please” because the longing to worship in truth and grace is far too great.

We remove our sandals and unveil our faces.

We stand in abandoned awe at this Holy King who says to each one of us, “I choose you.”

 

To My Grown Children | On Making Plans and Keeping The Faith

I've been where you are. Dreaming. Making plans and piecing all of the information you have together into some sort of understanding of life as it has been, as it is now, and as it will be in the days, months, and years to come. You do what you can with what you have. You take the information that God has given you and you say, "ok, this is the plan I'm setting out on because it is what makes the most sense."

Maybe that will be your story--I pray it is. And maybe it won't be. I'm banking on the latter, as that seems to be the story for many of God's chosen. I think it's because He wants us to depend solely on Him, and not on our own understanding. And, shocker, I'm not the first one to come to that conclusion (shout out to Solomon)-- "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." (Proverbs 3:5-6). 

Right now you are 4 (almost 5) and 11 months (almost 1) and Dad and I are as wayward and squirmy as you two combined when it comes to abiding in this instruction. Which is why I felt it pertinent to jot this down for you--I'd hate for you to believe the lie that you are the only ones who aren't on the path to success in your generation.

big. fat. lie.

Dad and I experience that, too. When we look around all seems to be right in the lives of most, and yet here we sit. Asking God so many questions and hearing so few answers. Just abide. Just sit and watch. It's hard, my loves. It's hard on this day and it will be hard for you on the day you read this. Also ask questions. Get to know those around you--the ones who's lives seem to together and forward-moving. I bet you'll feel better about your lot and be built up in faith and fervor when you do. When you really get to know those living their lives for God, He will give you a grander scope of life and success and the reality that life is raw and, at times, ugly for everyone. Not just you.

Just as the struggle doesn't change over the ages, neither does the faithful hand of God. Keep trusting Him. Force yourself. Move yourself, step. by. step. by. step. to the altar of God. Dad and I are doing everything we can to leave behind us a legacy of faith--the example (however messy and imperfect it may be) of people who drag themselves before the throne, sometimes kicking and screaming, sometimes desperate and raw, and sometimes proud and stubborn. You might find yourself asking the question, "what if it's all for nothing?" I asked that question, too. On this very day. And it is all worth it. It just has to be. I don't have the answer for you today, but on the day you read this, I know without a shadow of doubt that I will have a fiery joy as I tell you how it was all worth it. You won't understand, and my story might leave you feeling just as you did before it began, but I promise you one day you will understand. You will see the faithfulness of God in the land of the living (Psalm 27:13).

Just like Dad and I will, too. 

So make plans. Piece together what you know, but hold it loosely. He is going to ask you to trust, and it is going to be hard. Probably one of the hardest things you'll ever do. He is not a safe God, and Dad and I have just begun to scratch the surface of how He is both unsafe and yet a mighty fortress and shield.

When you doubt that He is listening--that He isn't moving and pursuing you and your deepest need and desire, remember that when Jesus comes back He will have a new Name-- Faithful and True. Those traits aren't awaiting the title. He is both faithful and true now and forever.

Maybe today, as you read this, you are twenty and think you know it all. Maybe you are thirty and are desperate in your absolute lack of understanding of all the things. Maybe you are fifty and feel like the ground has given way beneath you. Keep making plans with what you know, and keep choosing faith--forcing faith, abiding in faith, pursuing faith--because He is Faithful and True, and my darling loves...

He sees you.

He Is Now My Lord

"Hear this, daughter; pay close attention to what I am about to say; you must forget your people and even your father's house. Because the king yearns for your beauty, humble yourself before him, for he is now your lord."

-Psalm 45:10-11 | the Voice

 

You know when you've read a verse multiple times and you pass it off as "heard and understood"? This verse is one of those for me. Reality is, much of the Psalms are that way for me, which is why my mind has been exploding morning after morning since January when I began diving into a new translation. We have a way of carrying our old stuff with us, even when it's good stuff, and that can potentially keep us from something new and wonderful. 

The above statement is also true in relationships and our "life labels" (the things we've identified ourselves by, whether given by ourselves or others, that shape the way we receive and perceive events around us).  This morning, as I sat back down after interruption #37 of my time with the Lord, I forced my eyes to linger a little bit over these words. You see, I tend to get distracted by the purposed audience of scripture, which then keeps me from seeing a possible alternative meaning to God's words. In literal terms, I read that the author wanted to talk to some girl because the king (I'm guessing David??) thinks she's fly and wants her to leave all she knows and be with him. Truth is, there's something here for this daughter too.

I'm your textbook holder-on-er.

What is that, you ask?

I'm the one with the memories that blare like an obnoxious television and a photographic memory that seems to favor the bad snapshots. Much to my husband's dismay, I can't seem to let things go, but rather I find myself longing to understand why they stay where they do. Why do I keep these memories locked up tight and pull them out at the first chance I get? What treasures lay within them that will, in turn, make me a freer Daughter of my King?

As I read the words of Psalm 45 again, straining with every ounce of attention I had in me amidst the clanging of "guys" and the screams of a little voice learning to find itself, I heard it.

Laura, My daughter, will you pay attention now to what I am saying. Forget your "people"--the culture that you live in that calls you to look this way and that, straining to measure up and fit the part. Forget the norms that come with being "wife, mother, daughter, woman, friend, Christian"; both the lifestyles of these things but also the struggles. Is it normal to believe that "you aren't enough because you can't do it all, so why try to feel anything but less-than?", therefore dismissing any effort towards something better? Forget that. You must choose to lay down and leave behind the things that are "normal" in your world with your people. You also need to leave behind your father's house. What does that mean for you? That means putting down and leaving behind the things that hurt you there--the labels you continue to put on yourself because one time, long before you knew Me, they might've fit. It's time to leave your father's house in that the value of the opinions of those found there are no longer the ones of highest value. It's time to take the last of your things and head out of the place you once needed but no longer do. It's time to do these things because I've been waiting and yearning to see you walk out in the beauty that I placed in you long ago. I yearn to see you walk in the way I created you to walk, exercising and enjoying the gifts I fashioned in you. I yearn to see you walk secure in your King and full of hope, love and joy. Be humble before me, admit your feelings and struggles because I am not offended by a single one of them, and remember Who you belong to. I am your Lord and I am now the one that you live for.

When you hear a message like that, you can't help but sit up a little straighter. In the flash of a moment, I was set straight in the most loving of ways--fully reminded of the place in which I stand. The place of obedience and adoration to my mighty and gracious King. I can learn from the memories that linger, but I must know when it's time to close up the boxes and leave them at His feet. I can bring them before Him, asking Him to show me what they mean for me today, but I cannot do that at the expense of forgetting who I belong to. My honor must always go to my King and never to my people or to my past.

"Hear this, daughter; pay close attention to what I am about to say; you must forget your people and even your father's house. Because the king yearns for your beauty, humble yourself before him, for he is now your lord."

-Psalm 45:10-11 | the Voice

Is it time for you to forget your people and your old home in order to take up permanent residence with the King who adores you? It is for me, too. May we be a people who find our complete adoration spent on God and God alone. 

 

Thanksgiving : Giving Thanks

These days it seems harder and harder to get here, and yet my heart longs for it more and more. Through our season of loss and grief there have been so many moments that the Holy Spirit has made the Word beautifully alive to me. All I've wanted to do is shout each one from the rooftops (or post it on here and let it spread like wildfire--or so I'd hope), but busyness, mom-hood and sometimes simply this season of sorrow have kept these gems between me and my Father. Which is pretty awesome actually. My prayer is for more time here in 2015--I believe wholeheartedly that He has called me to some good things here. But until then, there is one thing I must share with you.


Image-1 (22)

Now, you maaaaay not know this, but tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I know, I know, it's a little bit nuts. I think it's safe to say that I'm not alone in feeling very unfulfilled at the thought of an American Thanksgiving.

  • Way too much food.
  • Stresses of family.
  • Corralling kid(s) and living on the prayer that they will stay sane throughout this very out-of-routine day.
  • And dishes. So many dishes.

What's it all for these days? We hear so often that we need to cultivate an attitude of gratitude as we enter into the holiday season, kicking it off with the holiday of thanks. But I think what's unsettling to me is this idea that we are to simply walk around with an attitude of thanksgiving.

As I prepared for my holy yoga classes this week, I did some perusing on Wikipedia; you know, for all of the legitimate historical information that would transform me into a scholar on the topic. I found some very interesting facts on the origin of this holiday that, to no surprise to me, correlate pretty perfectly with this faith-life we live with Jesus.

Firstly, there is the pretty oft-forgotten original intention of Thanksgiving. President Abraham Lincoln, in 1863, declared it to be an official Federal holiday by proclaiming a national day of "Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens."

In a time when Thanksgiving is about all the wrong things, can we take a moment to remember what we are actually supposed to do on this day?

The definition of Beneficent is "characterized by or performing acts of kindness or charity."

Our Father's very character is kindness. It's not something He simply decides to give--it's a part of Him; one that cannot be separated or taken away. If you're like me, you thank God for His kindness with a spirit similar to that of a debtor. Like it was so much work and such a burden for Him to show that kindness to me. But if I focus on the reality that my God's character is to be kind, would my thanks be given with a spirit of adoration? Maybe similar to that of a wide-eyed child thanking their parent from which they are unshakably secure in the knowledge of their love for them? I mean, can't you agree that there is a whole-body shift in you when you thank someone whom you feel indebted to versus someone whom you know you owe nothing in return? That is our Father. Our King. The One we celebrate tomorrow for.

The other thing that I just have to say is this: there is a mighty huge difference between simply having an attitude of gratitude and actually giving thanks. You can walk around all day long feeling thankful, but at that point your gratitude is about you. Sort of. But when you open your lips and speak out your praise, so that the One you are thanking (and all those around you) would see your joy and praise for His character of kindness, it becomes about Him.

Say your husband shovels the driveway for you. You feel thankful. Inside. Your gratitude cannot reach any further than your own self. But as soon as you open your lips and tell your husband how appreciative you are of his kindness and service, your gratitude has reached another--it's become about him and not about you.

The same goes for our King. And the same goes for what we celebrate tomorrow.

So as you prepare and bake and shop and clean today, can I challenge you with something? Please, oh please, take 5 minutes, a pen and some paper and sit. Prayerfully meditate on the kindness of the Lord in your life. And yes, things like food on the table and loved ones are important, but I'm talking specific things.

"The New England colonists were accustomed to regularly celebrating "thanksgivings"--days of prayer thanking God for blessings such as military victory or the end of a drought."-Good ol' Wikipedia

Has the Lord just won a battle for you? Where has He been victorious in your life this week? This month? This season?

Are you finally beginning to experience springs of Living Water after a season in the desert with the Lord? Are you seeing the harvest of your commitment to sowing the Truth in your mind, your family or your ministry?

Now once you've meditated on these things I want you to write them down. Make a list, sloppy or neatly bulleted, and carry this around with you tomorrow. As you visit with family members or friends, share one or all of these things with them, because as Psalm 105 tells us, we are "to make known His doings among the peoples". Let it be known to those around you that you are loved by a Father who is kind. Any maybe, just maybe, let this year be the beginning of your families accurate celebration of this very battered and stolen holiday.

2014-11-26 15.53.19

"O give thanks unto the Lord, call upon His Name, make known His doings among the peoples! Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; meditate on and talk of all His marvelous deeds and devoutly praise them. Glory in His holy Name; let the hearts of those rejoice who seek and require  the Lord [as their indispensable necessity].-Psalm 105:1-3 AMP (emphasis mine)

Tomorrow is your thanksgiving. The schedule, food, family or black friday ads needn't determine how you celebrate it. So celebrate your King tomorrow. Take back the holiday for yourself and your family. Maybe, if we each share this with our own families this year, it can continue to grow and one day we can see this holiday as it was meant to be.

Image-1 (13)

29 - A Birthday Blog

20140408-190027.jpg

I realize 29 is still young; I'm not going to be that woman, but for the baby of the family (by 8 years) it's hard to imagine myself so close to 30. Especially when I'm married to a man who is 4 years younger than me. (Yes, it's true. He's the luckiest of 'em for snagging an older chick.)

I woke up quite early today (4am) and as I laid there my mind began to dutifully travel down the path of birthday drudgery- "Man, you're almost THIRTY!", "You're only going to get fatter and frumpier from here on out.", "You've only got a year or so left before your joints start to ache and you lose your spunk."

Obviously these statements are all absurd, and it took me all of 2 seconds to snap out of it and change course. The truth of my heart is this: the older I get the better I get. Maybe not everyone is like this. I know there are many women who try to hold onto their twenties with all they have, but that's just not me. Thankfully, my husband doesn't mind a woman with little makeup on her face, dirty feet from never wearing shoes and hours spent in the kitchen or craft room home-making like the best of them instead of hours spent pampering herself. The older I get the less I care about myself... but in the absolute best way possible.

Recently I've been contemplating just how much our "self-worth" can't actually be about self at all. I plan on writing about this one day (soon) but today I'd like to put pen to paper some of the things that make me glad about being that much closer to 30. (And no, this is not going to be a "30 is the new 20" thing... honestly, I'm not interested in living my 20's any longer than God intended me to.)

What's So Great About Heading Out Of My 20's:

1. The older I get the more life I've lived. Duh. But in that obvious statement is a very beautiful truth: God has been faithful to me. Part of parenting that terrifies me is the reality that I am NOT guaranteed any number of days with my sweet boy. He belongs to God and each day with him is quite literally a gift. Even the bad days. Similarly, my life and each day of it I've lived has not been guaranteed. It has been a product of His faithful love to me and to those that love me. Above that, I believe He has chosen these days in order that He may complete His work in me, that He decided before the earth was formed. He still has more to do with me... I can't even conceive how awesome that Truth is. So, I'm heading into my 30th year of God choosing to keep me around, choosing to show me who He is, and choosing to bless me and use me and love me immensely. Guys, each one of us should be jaw-droppingly grateful right now for all the days we've lived. How faithful is the God of the universe? Inconceivably faithful.

2. In these 29 years I, like everyone else, have experienced challenge. I've made bad choices. I've chosen myself or the world or idols over my God. And I have an enemy who tries with all his might to wash me in guilt and shame over these experiences. This, again, is something I plan on writing about in the (soonish) future. Again, the Truth here, is that in each of those instances I've been showered with grace, mercy, love and restoration. And in turn God has grown me in wisdom. When I think of this I can't help but look ahead at the next 29 years with anxious anticipation. If each hardship or bad decision has already been washed by His saving grace and will in turn grow me in wisdom and closeness with God, then how could I not be excited for each year He blesses me with?

3. That husband of mine. While he still has some time to camp out in his 20's, I can't help but love "growing older" with him. Knowing that as each year passes I get to fall more in love with him makes my eyes widen in wonder. How is it possible? Knowing that God will use us for His glory makes me never want to leave his side. There is adventure and love and joy and heartache that we can't begin to imagine awaiting us in this future of ours. I absolutely can't wait.

4. Sweet little M. How is it possible for God to love me so much? This child (and I'm sure our future children as well) is a constant reminder of my Lord. In each smile my heart swells at the love lavished on me, and in each tantrum I'm left with nothing but to cry out for the strength to parent from His spirit, not my flesh. If you desire to grow in your faith and love of the Lord, have a child and open yourself up to allow God to use that child. You will be taught things no pastor could ever teach.

5. Something I've struggled with for most of my adolescent and adult life has been friendships--specifically one-sided friendships. In those relationships was a deep-rooted need for affirmation. "If she would just want to be my friend as much as I want to be her friend then that would mean I matter." Sometime this last year I spent a good amount of time thinking about this part of my past and I found myself feeling sad. How many great relationships were overlooked because I was focused on someone else, thinking they were the ones to give me value? As God has graciously opened my heart to see the dark spaces, He has shown me how no human being is able to give me value. Only He can give me value, so even if I were best friends with each of those women I would still be left wanting more. In the not-so-pretty revealing moments of this part of my heart God has been faithful (yet again). He has brought some wonderful women into my life. Our lifestyle has forced us to be away "physically" from many that we love, but I've been blessed to establish some deep and meaningful friendships despite the distance. While I may not get to shop or have coffee and study God's word with my best friends, I always know that they deeply love the Lord and me, and that no matter where life takes us, they are a blessing and never the source of my value. What an awful burden for anyone to have to carry. (I'm glad you ladies don't know who you are otherwise you'd probably feel an immense pressure knowing how much I had riding on our friendship in this anxious heart of mine.)

Those are just some of many reasons why I'm happy to be making my way out of my 20s. I'm grateful beyond words for each and every way He has directed my life thus far, and in that gratitude I can't help but be so joyful as I look to the future.

These days that we celebrate our birth... they are really absolutely not about us. They are 100% about our Maker. It is because of His faithful love that He has chosen this many days for us. Days of love, heartache, loneliness, joy, growth, change, and above all, blessings.

Guys, 29 is so good. Just wait until Taylor Swift is 29; she'll know exactly what I mean and write a catchy song about it. #justyouwait

One Of The Nine

Well, I am one of the nine. I was sure it couldn't be true but turns out it is. Allow me to explain.

This morning, as I rocked my sweet M before his nap and read to him out of his Jesus Calling Bible Storybook, I found myself reading a story of Jesus' healing that I didn't remember. If you've ever read either this children's bible or the Jesus Storybook Bible (an absolutely amazing one that I sort of want for myself), it's easy to find yourself uplifted, challenged and/or encouraged by stories you've read a hundred times before. There's something about reading it through the eyes of a child that brings about simplicity.

photo (3)

As I read the above story (which you should read too) I told myself, with such confidence, that I was definitely the one who came back. Surely I would have remembered Jesus and gone back to thank Him first thing! I mean, how could you not?

Fast forward about an hour.

I had just finished spending some time with the Lord on my mat, and with each stretch of the tight spaces I found my heart crying out for Him to come into the tight spaces of my heart. To bring release to the "ways of the world" that are so ingrained in my behaviors and responses. By the time I finished I found myself so encouraged by His promise to bring healing to this heart of mine that I just knew I needed to share that encouragement with the world.

So, naturally, I got out my phone, snapped a few pictures, examined which was the best, and began my usual social-media-posting process.

And then it happened.

I joined the nine.

Image-1 (19)

As I stared at this photo, I came to realize the parts of my heart that I don't like to see. The parts that find a little more satisfaction in telling others of His goodness and grace than in coming back to Him and thanking Him, in the intimacy of the two of us, for all that He is doing in me.

I could chalk this up to reason #498 that Social Media is slowly ruining our lives but really, that's just blame shifting. It's not that those nine had it "wrong", they just got ahead of themselves... but sometimes care must be taken to not "get ahead" of where He wants to take us. I believe wholeheartedly that Jesus wants us to share these revelatory moments with the world, in order that the Truth of who He really is might be known. But I CANNOT forget to thank Him-always. In everything. And I cannot forget that while He wants to use our stories to encourage, grow and change others, our relationship is not about the "others". It's about Him.

And sometimes, like the story of Jairus' daughter in Mark 5 (thank you, again, Bible Storybook), Jesus asks us not to tell the world. Sometimes He wants to keep it between us, because that's when intimacy is created.

So there you have it. I'm one of the nine.

Oh Lord! Open my heart to love you more, that I might become that one.

May I discover what it means to share His goodness with the world after first delighting in Him with a heart of thanksgiving. And may you, too.

Image-1 (13)

Day 40: 40 Days of Praise

Really, that's what we've been doing these past 40 days... Praising. One of the (many) definitions of praise is, "the offering of grateful homage in words or song as an act of worship." Our words have been worship to His ears. Today, Caitlin and I really just want to offer Him praise for ALL that He has done, is doing, and will do. I know we all have stories of His gracious handiwork in our lives through this journey, and tonight we just want to share a few of them with you. So as you read of all He has been doing, let your heart rest in His goodness and give Him praise.

[If you read my blog you know I'm all about anonymity and initials so that's what we are sticking to with these]

"Over the past 40 days of praying for my husband I have experienced great blessing in my own heart as well as in my marriage. Through Laura and Caitlin's posts and beautiful prayers and also through my own time with the Lord, God has shown me different areas to be praying for my husband and specific areas of his life to become more in tune with. My husband and I have had growth in our marriage and our communication which as a result has strengthened and deepened our bond." -K "I'm so glad God put the 40 days of prayer in my path. With a husband that is often gone with work I am always seeking ways to pray over him and his safety. What a blessing it was to dedicate 40 days to just that. While praying, a sense of calm was given to me. I was able to give my worries and concerns for my husband over to my Heavenly Father who knows how to love and protect him so much better than I can. I thank Jesus for using these ladies to speak His truth in my prayer life for my beloved. Prayer is powerful, praying for my husband is a joy, thank you Father for the reminder." -L "I am praising God so much in the area of the man I am married to. It started before the 40 day journey... it started 9 years ago when we got married and I started praying more fervently for him. I've prayed for specific things that I have just seen answered recently - the last few months. NINE years of prayer. It would have been so easy to just stop, give up, and say "to heck with it, Lord! There's no fruit!" And I did get discouraged, many times. But I was reminded over and over by the Lord and women like you, that God IS faithful and He is in the business of answering prayers and changing hearts. I FULLY praise Him for all the work He has done in my husband's heart in the last 3 years! -D "I feel as if my husband and I have grown closer. I talked with him last night, asking him if he felt different since I had been praying for him, and he said he feels better at seeing my emotional needs. We struggled with a lot of spiritual warfare during this journey but I know it's because God was working good in us. My hubs even stepped out last night and decided to make a permanent time every night for us to pray together. Praise God for His work in our hearts!" -Caitlin For me, God has been doing the muscle work of digging these roots down deep into the earth. He moved some mountains after I did this last year, and I feel very much that this journey was all about the roots. I've seen a wisdom and a maturity in my husband that I've not seen before. But it's a maturity of steadfastness. His heart is becoming more and more steadfast in his God. His faith is becoming his own. I have shared emotions with him that I would've been insecure to show before now, allowing him the ability to see the rawness of my heart for my God. While being apart makes communication all the more difficult, we've really done all that we can to share what really matters in our hearts, and a lot of the time that is simply Jesus.

The most exciting thing to me about this day is that it is like that last second that your toes are touching the diving board before you spring off into the sky and fly exhilaratingly into the blue below. This is the springboard--just the beginning. Because the reality is, He has always been working for, seeking out and loving on our husbands and us. He has now gotten our attention and removed the scales from our eyes so we can see how He really works.

So wives, joyously leap off that diving board tonight! Lay your head on your pillow KNOWING that YOUR GOD IS NOT FINISHED! Oh praise Him!

Image-1 (18) "For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wastelands." Isaiah 43:19

Peace and joy to all of your sweet, loving hearts tonight. We have been so blessed going through this journey with you. Until next year.

-Laura and Caitlin

*Remember, these prayers will always be available to you. If you ever feel like you would like to repeat this journey PLEASE don't hesitate! Just obey!*

Day 39: Proclaiming His Faithfulness

Image-1 (16)  

As we wrap up our journey tomorrow I can't help this insatiable need to praise His faithfulness. Whether He has already begun it, or has simply been putting the final touches on a big move, He has been moving and has been faithful these past 39 days. What's so magnificent about our God is that He works far beyond the confines of committed prayer journeys or bible studies or retreat weekends. He's always moving, proving His faithfulness. Things like this are merely an opportunity for us to open our eyes and our hearts to the True God we serve and love.

So let's pray Psalm 146 today, and with all of our hearts proclaim His faithfulness and goodness to us and to our husbands. He's doing a greater work in us and in them than we could ever begin to dream up on our own, and we praise Him for that!

-Laura

 

Hallelujah!

Oh my soul praises You God! All my life long I will praise You, singing songs to You as long as I live. Lord, I will not put my life into the hands of "experts" who know nothing of True life; salvation life. Mere humans don't have what it takes; when they die their projects die with them. Instead, God of Jacob, I get help from You! I put my hope in You and because of that I know real blessing! God, You made the sky and the soil, the sea and all the fish in it. You always do what You say You will. You defend the wronged. You feed the hungry. You free the prisoners. You give sight to the blind and lift up the fallen. God, You love good people and protect strangers. You take the side of the orphans and widows and you make short the work of the wicked. God, You are in charge-- ALWAYS! My God, the God of Zion, is God for good! 

Hallelujah!

(Prayer adapted by me from the Message version of Psalm 146)

Day 37: Silence

Image-1 (15)  

We live in a terribly loud world. Radios quietly on in the background, televisions playing in the corner, children talking/yelling/crying/singing... and that's just the audible noise. The "noise" constantly produced by our minds can be deafening at times. Maybe this is why we like to have some static in the background... something to drown out what's really driving us crazy-- our own thoughts.

Here's the thing though; God never intended for us to be in a constant state of noise. While we've been given the gift of music and voice and all of these other things that produce sound we cannot forget the beautiful gift of silence. When we are silent, truly quieting the audible and inaudible in our lives, we can enjoy His presence.

Guys, this is not easy. As I am learning through training this is something that must be practiced, but it's worth all of the effort. I have to believe that, each and every second (literally, second by second) that I have to reel my thoughts in and quiet them in the name of Jesus, that  is one step forward in my journey towards quiet.

"But the Lord is in His holy temple; let all the earth be silent before Him." Habbakuk 2:20

By the victorious death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we are now His temple. He is IN His holy temple, and we must take time to be silent before Him.

Our husbands have busy lives; working, providing, loving, caring, delighting, fighting... the actions never end, just as ours don't either. But let's ask God to provide them with a space of silence. A place where they can quiet their hearts, even for a moment, to remember that He is in His temple-- in them. Whatever noise may come, whether from sugar-spiked children or the weight of worry, they might be able to draw close to the Father in His temple and enjoy the gift of silence. There is so much waiting for them there.

-Laura

Jesus,

You taught us how to withdraw from the noise; from the crowds and the demands of life. You showed us this often. Thank you for making this a very clear matter of importance in our relationship with you. As you knew you needed to be with your Father, you had to turn from the noise to truly do so. Help myself and my husband to recognize when the radio needs to be turned off. Or when we need to choose some quiet with you over the numbing of the television. Give us the strength to believe that what you can provide in those moments can and will fill us more than any noisy distraction could. Grow us both in the ability to recognize and cherish silence before you for the gift that it really is. Give us grace each and every time we have to bring our busy minds back to quiet, and remind us that there is  nothing but grace there-- no expectation or disappointment--only love. Thank you, Jesus, for giving something as simple as silence so much value! Help us to grow and challenge each other in this practice of being present.

In your most Holy name,

Amen.

Day 35: A Prayer Of Protection

Image-1 (14) In the book of Joshua, we find Joshua bringing the Israelites together once more to renew their covenant. Joshua tells them to choose, once and for all, who they will worship; the God of the universe, the gods of their fathers or the gods of the Amorites. And here is the verse we are all so familiar with: "But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." (Joshua 24:15)

What I would like to point out is the following verse, one that might not get as much fanfare but brings to light the state of the hearts of the Israelites-- they were not always as aloof as we sometimes might remember them to be.

"Then the people answered, 'Far be it from us to forsake the Lord to serve other gods! It was the Lord our God himself who brought us and our fathers up out of Egypt, from that land of slavery, and performed those great signs before our eyes. He protected us on our entire journey and among all the nations through which we traveled." (vs. 16-17)

Even before Jesus came and brought with Him the new covenant, God actively protected those he loved from the dangers of this world. His protection did not first come with the anointing of the Holy Spirit from Christ's death and resurrection. In John 17 we see Jesus praying for protection over the followers God gave Him during His time on earth. Jesus protected them while He was here, and is now calling upon God to protect them once He has gone. So again, even in the new covenant we see our Mighty God actively protecting those He loves. In verse 13 Jesus clarifies why He is saying the things He's saying... "so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them." He said it that they might hear and believe that the God of the universe will protect them, because His very Son asked Him to.

Today, I pray a prayer of joy and thanksgiving that my Father loves my husband so much that He will never leave him unprotected. That no matter where he may be-- at home under "my protecting arms" (yeah right!) or far from my reach or influence-- God is before him, with him and behind him, keeping him safe and within His merciful and gracious will for his life.

Just think: as desperately as we strive to keep our husbands in our arms, safe, healthy and happy, God desires all the more to see those things manifest in their lives. He just has a different way of achieving that end goal. We must relinquish our desire for control and let God protect and care for his precious sons, knowing full well that He has promised to protect them and keep them safe in His arms.

Our God does not break His promises, dear daughters. Believe Him.

-Laura

Mighty God,

You are the God who has protected Your people for countless years, and You are not about to change now. Thank You for knowing us- our need for reassurance. For knowing that there would be many, many times that we would need to cling to Your promise of protection in the scary times in life. Thank You for not leaving us to fend for ourselves in this dark world, but for supernaturally interceding on our behalf in times when our security in You is threatened. We are never far from You, and the blessing from that is boundless. It continues to pour over our entire lives, each and every day, allowing us to live freely and without fear or worry. God, I lay my husband and his safety and security down. I unclench my fingers and willingly hand it over to You because I know that You love him more. You are even more interested in seeing his life be glorifying to You and so I choose to stop trying to influence it and drive it in the ways I believe are best. God, as he faces dangers in this world, physically and spiritually, I believe that You have already gone before him, allowing what is necessary to glorify You and grow him, and keeping him from anything that will harm him and the purpose You have called him to. God, thank You for loving him so. My soul is blessed and at peace knowing that there is Someone who loves him even more than I. You are Lord over all, and there is nothing that brings You fear. We find such peace in Your presence today.

In Your name, Jesus.

Amen.

Day 31: Predestined To Be His

Image-1 (10) The prayer of my heart today comes from several places in the Word, speaking to one incomprehensible truth. Journey with me to this revelation for your husband and for yourself. But be ready, because it's a doozy and worth all the time you can give to let it truly soak into your entire heart, soul and mind.

"What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it -- we're called children of God! That's who we really are." 1 John 3:1 (MSG- emphasis mine)

Me, you, your husband, my husband... we were chosen. We've already talked about this a few times but I think the magnitude of this merits a lot of time to be meditated on. We are His children-no matter our sin;  past or present. Before any of our decisions were ever made, He had already decided He wanted us. It brought Him immense joy just to think of it.

"In love, He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will -- to the praise of his glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves." Ephesians 1:5 (NIV-emphasis mine)

Before He knew my husband's mess-ups and shortcomings, He put in the "adoption paperwork". We currently know a family who is in the process of adopting a little peanut from Poland and they've been asking for prayer support, having garage sales to raise money, and preparing their other children for the welcoming of a 6th family member. There is so much passion and love for this little person that they don't even know yet, but they know that she is a beautiful creation of the Creator and they can't wait to love her with all they have in their hearts. Now with that vivid picture in your mind I want you to think of the Father and His Son. They wanted you. They wanted your husband. Enough that Jesus, with the same sensations and feelings that you and I have, endured the cross.

We often ask why He did that? Why He didn't just call angels or say He couldn't go on. It has recently come to my very humbled attention exactly why He pressed on when He even asked His Father for another way: He went on "for the joy set before Him". Guys, that "joy" was us.

He knew the adoption was on... that there were souls so desperately loved by Him and His Father that He had to pay the price. They wanted us to be a part of their family.

Hebrews 12:2 "... who for the joy set before Him endured the cross..."

Above all of the prayers for peace, or strength, or faithfulness or obedience, today I want to pray for eyes open. Hearts softened. Minds welcoming. Because this Truth is a doozy- and it is what pours over everything else we could ever ask or hope for for our men, ourselves or our children. To know that before the foundations of the earth were laid, He had already decided He wanted us. Man, how incredible is that?

May that carry you through the next month and a bit as we prepare to celebrate the price paid for each of our hearts, that we may truly be His children.

-Laura

Father,

You are a tender, loving God. You are a mighty and just God. You have moved mountains and parted seas that those you chose could be called yours. Please, Father, soften my husbands heart, from a heart of stone to a heart of flesh, that he might begin to comprehend this truth. Lord, there is nothing in this fallen world that cares for him or desires to love him relentlessly, which is why the beauty of your adoption is so magnificent. Thank you for loving us personally, not like faces in a crowd but individuals that you paid a lofty price to make a part of your family. I pray that this truth, as it seeps more and more into his soul, would drive him to turn from the empty and heavy things of this world. As a father picks up his child each and every time they stumble and fall, continue to pick him up and cover him in your love. And in each of those moments graciously remind him of how proud you are to call him your son. Thank you, Jesus, for enduring all that you did just for us. Truly, we will never be able to understand that kind of love, but we will continue to offer our lives to you in obedience and gratitude for all that you are and have done for us.

In your mighty Name, Jesus, I pray.

Amen.

Day 24: To Proclaim His Name

Image-1 (7) "Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. 'Go, stand in the temple courts', he said, 'and tell the people the full message of this new life.'" Acts 5:17-20

Upon reading this section of scripture today I take such comfort in the men and women who have gone before me. The ones who have gone out again and again, in the face of such opposition, to proclaim His Name because He is worthy. I encourage you to read the entire chapter but I will just explain this specific moment here because I think it is triumphant. Peter, who had just confronted a man and woman in their own sin, been proclaiming the Name of the Lord in the streets and performing many amazing miracles, was showing the lost how they could be saved. Souls were being won... and people weren't happy about it. So they were put into prison, but what happens next just floors me! An angel, for Pete's sakes, comes, breaks them out, and then tells them to keep proclaiming... to keep telling everyone of the full message of this new life. AND THEY DO IT!

We have the privilege of being able to see the whole story; of being able to know from thousands of years of testimonies, of the Truth that is Christ. These people, who were jailed and stoned and hung and burned and ridiculed... they did not. And yet they kept doing it. Isaiah 66:19 says, "I will set a sign among them, and I will send some of those who survived to the nations... They will proclaim my glory among them." We are still here... we re the "survivors". If you read the middle of verse 19 there you will see a list of countries, that commentaries say are representative of the far away places, the dangerous places, the places no one would ever go unless sent.

God has our men in places that maybe no other Christian has been sent. Maybe there is a man in his life whose heart is that far away land, that if it weren't for your husband, the word of God would not truly be brought. Matthew Henry's commentary on Isaiah 66 says, regarding verse 19: "Those that escape the power of those prejudices by which the generality of that nation is kept in unbelief shall be sent to the nations to carry the gospel among them, and preach it to every creature. Note, those who themselves have escaped the wrath to come should do all they can to snatch others also as brands out of the burning. God chooses to send those on his errands that can deliver their message feelingly and experimentally, and warn people of their danger by sin as those who have themselves have narrowly escaped the danger."

Today let's pray for their willingness to leave the prison they have been placed in by others and to keep proclaiming His Name. And let's pray that we all would find comfort and peace in knowing that He will be the one to change the hearts, we are to just proclaim the freedoms from the dangers of sin we ourselves have narrowly escaped.

Peace to each of you today, lovely wives. His Name is great!

-Laura

Mighty Father,

It is for your name alone that we live and breath. God, because of your mercy we have been saved from the continued dangers of a life ruled by the flesh. I pray that you would allow that to become a fragrant aroma to those around us. Lord, I know my husband has men and women around him that need to hear your Name proclaimed; that need to see your message feelingly and experimentally. Please fill him with your Strength to continue proclaiming your glory. I ask that in situations where he may be imprisoned by people around him who insist on keeping you out, that you would bring an angel to break him free. When someone comes up against him to try to break him down and take away his voice, provide another who would lift him up and allow him to continue on in your work. Father, for both of us, I ask for a steady flow of your strength over our hearts, that the passion you have placed there would be protected and that the attempts from the enemy would not be able to take away from the fullness of that passion. That we would both have steadfast hearts and minds in your Truth. When you ask us to go, you have always gone  before us so that we are never left without you, and we praise you and thank you for that.

For your Name I pray.

Amen.

Day 8: Finding Connection

20140221-161006.jpg "Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family."

-Proverbs 18:24

I'll be the first to admit that when I married my husband, I knew I had married my best friend. Which pretty much made me want him all to myself all the time. I had big dreams that we would work out together several days a week, and spend our summer nights riding bikes or hiking. We'd cook dinner together in the kitchen of an evening, go on coffee dates to the bookstore, and then spend hours reading books separately but together.

We do some of those things together. Some. And not all that often because, let's face it, I love spending time with my husband but our kitchen is way to small to be cooking together.

As a military wife, I can see where my want to have lots of shared activities with my husband is important because we often spend lots of time apart. But through the years I've realized that as much as I need a good girlfriend to connect with both while my husband is away or here--my husband needs a guy he can connect with too.

I truly believe that when husband and wife come together under and in God, He has put together two souls who have yearned for each other. Make no mistake--my husband is my best friend and my partner and he would say the same of me--but we need others outside of ourselves to be who we are created to be. Just as we need a womanly connection to help nurture our spirit, so our husbands cannot fully become the men of God they are destined to be without a strong, Christian male friend in their lives. There are things only that type of friendship can hold him accountable too.

Today wives, as much as we love our husband's and desperately want to spend quality time with him, I encourage us to pray for a Christian friend to enter his life should he not have one. If our husbands do have that kind of relationship in their lives, then I encourage us to pray for God's hand to nurture it. I know how dear my friendship with Laura is, and how thankful I am to have had God put us in each other's life. Knowing how much I need her reminds me how much my husband needs a dear friend of his own. God tells us that we will come across all sorts of people in our lives, but those true friends--those who have hearts for the Lord and connect to us in ways our spouses cannot--will become our family. They are the people in our lives who will stick.

-Caitlin

Heavenly Father,

I come before You today with thanksgiving in my heart for this marriage You have blessed me with. Thank You for putting someone so desperately in love with You in my life. Marriage truly is a beautiful example of Your love for us, and I thank You for choosing us to be that example in the world. Not only have You put us together as one--but You have paired us as friends. Such a relationship brings joy to our marriage, and I thank You for that gift of friendship. As we journey on, I pray that You would place a Godly man in my husband's life who would serve as a friend who sticks closer than a brother. I ask that You would nurture that friendship, and grow it in You so that the two of them can go to each other with the joys and hurts of their heart. Father, You tell us that a friend in You becomes closer than family--that in fact, they become our family. As we move around in this life, both literally and figuratively, I pray for a connection for my husband, that he would find this dear friend and Godly man in times he needs him, near or far. Lord, I pray for this friendship--that You would build my husband up to be a Godly friend himself. I ask that as You bring a strong friend into his life, You would equip my husband to be the friend this other Godly man needs. Nurture both of their hearts so that this friendship becomes rooted in You, so that they may build each other up as Godly men in You. God, You are ever faithful to us, and I thank You for Your presence in our lives and our marriage. May our spousal friendship and our Christian friendships be such an honest and beautiful example of Your love to others. In your precious Son's name, Amen. 

Day 3: Trust In The One Who Answers

Image-1 "I don't fear; I'm confident that help will come to the one anointed by the Eternal: Heaven will respond to his plea; His mighty right hand will win the battle. Many put their trust in chariots, others in horses, but we place our trust in the name of the Eternal One, our True God. Soon our enemies will collapse and fall, never to return home; all the while we will rise and stand firm." (Psalm 20: 6-8)

In an uncertain time, in an uncertain world, we need a God that will answer. We need to know why we choose to place our trust high above the things of this earth. There are millions of distractions daily, tiny little greedy tentacles of a scaly, slimy enemy, vying for our attention. I once heard that the enemy isn't necessarily aiming to turn us 180 degrees away from God, but even just one degree. Just enough to eventually get us off track and our eyes far from Heaven. So today let's pray for our husbands to look intently towards the Lord. To have strength to turn their backs, even if just for today, from the pull of the temporary... the "chariots" and "horses" of our day. That their focus and the depth of their heart could be deeply rooted on the Eternal One. So that, even at the end of today, they will be able to stand firm amongst a sea of souls who have chosen the things that will never love them back.

Be blessed today, wives, for you are so deeply loved by your King.

Laura

Eternal One, Your beauty is matchless. There is not one thing in this entire world that compares to even a glimpse of you. How gracious and loving you are to allow me to know and love you, even in my ever present state of sin. Thank you for promising to listen to my prayers. Thank you for giving me the gift of confidence in your answering. Lord, I carry him to You, knowing that Your love for him far outweighs the love in my heart for him. I pray that You would bring contentment to his heart, allowing him the freedom and desire to turn his back on the things that draw him to this temporary world. Spirit, fill his entire being with such peace and satisfaction in You and all that You have given him that he feels no need for the idols of this place. Open his eyes to all that You are, allowing him to go forward in this day with the confidence that his God is the one true God who tenderly listens to him and fiercely moves for him. God, You are unbelievably good. Please remove the scales from both of our eyes today so that we may see a bit more of who you truly are. We love you, and so long to love you even more. Show us how, Lord Jesus. It's in Your mighty name I pray. Amen.

We Had A Yard Sale

and I had very high hopes for it. You see, I am really cheap, and I feel like everything I own still holds about 90% of it's original retail value, and so I should be able to sell it for said value. Well, Saturday and Sunday proved a lot of things... one of which is that my stuff is not as valuable as I think it is. In the back of my mind (or the front... more so the front) I had believed that this sale was going to be a way that God would provide for us in this very awkward, very transient time in our lives. We have a lot of money being spent on food, travel, trailers, etc., so naturally I thought, "Let's sell our junk! We'll make a fortune!" Turns out "One man's junk is another man's treasure" is not just a saying. In my situation it is more accurately applied in the reverse. Not to say we were selling junk, because I truly believe it was nice stuff, but the reality is that the chances of everyone having your same style and therefor wanting to buy everything you own, are very slim.

I found myself feeling rather disconcerted because I just knew we were supposed to be provided for via this yard sale. "God provides" kept ringing and ringing and ringing in my ears throughout the day and I just felt stumped. What was going on here?

Later that evening we were traveling an hour or so away with some friends to go swim at the lake when we found out about a horrible house fire in one of the neighboring Army housing communities. Two families completely lost their homes and three others were reasonably affected. Then a little whisper came over me... Maybe "God provides" didn't necessarily mean "for me". You see, something wasn't sitting right with me and the idea of giving most of our stuff to Goodwill. Not that they don't do good with what they have but I felt like there had to be some more immediate need for our belongings. If I wasn't going to make bank on it then I wanted it going to someone who would appreciate it. Shortly after we got the news the pieces began to come together in my small little brain.

God knew every piece of clothing, every kitchen item, every piece of jewelry had a purpose for His kingdom., it just took me a little while to figure that out myself. Being hung up on money and letting that little green monster called Greed get the best of us can really keep us from seeing His bigger picture. I'm just thankful that I finally got it and didn't miss the point completely.

Thankfully the two other girls were on board and at the end of the day Sunday we got a huge box and filled it up with all sorts of things they would need... or we hoped they would need anyways. Unsure of their sizes we just put in what we had and hoped for the best. (It turns out most of the sizes we included were just what they needed. Coincidence? Definitely not.) The rest of it... all the random junk we got that really doesn't have an immediate use in anyone's lives got sent to good ol' Goodwill. And in that I'm trusting God can use those things to provide for someone too, even though it won't be free.

The moral of my yard sale experience is that, 1) I'm too cheap, which makes it more difficult than it should be for God to bless others with what He has blessed me with. 2) I need to be ok with spending the money I already have and stop expecting God to magically increase our lot when seasons of spending occur in order to keep what we have always the same. I mean, that's just a little bit insane. 3) I have simplified God far too much and in turn have not allowed the space and time to see just how He provides for those He loves. 4) Craigslist might actually be the better way to go. That's free advice for all of you who have junk you think will make you a pretty penny. Apparently yard salers aren't willing to spend much. Who knew?

In other news, I think I've found the best parenting tip on Pinterest ever. I mean, ever. Well maybe not the best but seriously, it's my favorite. Put a laundry basket in the tub with your little one so that if they slip they won't hit the hard porcelain and also so their toys stay within reach. My little turkey hasn't had much interest in sitting for long periods of time but he will sit in that bath tub for ever. Plus he looks like such a big boy I can't even stand it. Try it, you'll be so glad you did.

Image