January 28, 2013

Do You Ask for Prayer?

"Pray without ceasing," the Lord tells me.  I wish I could say that I never stop praying, but I do.
I look away from Jesus and look at the storms around me. I look at the people I admire rather than The Lord within them. I say "I am fine" rather than saying I need prayer.

When my son was having major surgery, I was asking anyone who drew breath to pray for him. There were times that I asked for hundreds of people to pray. I even stumbled upon a church that would pray for any request for 24 continuous hours. I never hesitated saying we needed prayer.

So why is it so hard to ask for prayer for myself? I guess it's pride. My flesh wants to present itself as being all together, when it is not. Just yesterday I went through minor surgery. Did I ask for prayer? Yes, but I found myself struggling to get the word out. I did not ask with the same urgency as I would  have asked if it was for someone else. What am I trying to say? I am weak. But even in this weakness, I know I need prayer.

I should bring all of my requests to The Lord myself, yet there is power in united prayer. There is something amazing that happens when a group of God's children are asking the same question at the same time. We should not hesitate to ask others to join us in prayer when life gets hard.

I have a small group of friends that I can call or Facebook at anytime day or night and ask for prayer. The incredible truth is that they will actually pray. It's like that old Steven Curtis Chapman song, Let Us Pray. They will actually join my voice and ask The Lord to intervene on my behalf.
They do not gossip, or judge, they just pray.

So why is it so award to ask for prayer? The enemy of our souls knows there is power in united prayer, so he makes us hesitate. He gets us to think people will judge us by our challenges. He leads us to believe that we can handle this difficulty on our own. He uses our own hands to cut our security lines. He isolates us and convinces that no one else knows deals with "this challenge". He lies and manipulates us.

Break free.

Find one friend at a time that loves Jesus and spends time in prayer daily. Begin praying for them every single time they come to your mind. Ask them how you can pray for them, then pray. Seek The Lord on their behalf. Share Bible verses and songs that speak to your heart about their situation. Now you are ready. The next time you are in the middle of a storm, bodily ask for prayer.

Do you ask for prayer? If not, begin asking today.

Do you need prayer? Leave me a comment, email me, or Facebook me and I will pray for you.

January 26, 2013

Foundation Building: Does it Have to Take So Long?

Look again at Proverbs14:1. 
I am staring at this single verse for a reason. 
"A wise woman build up her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands."

When I was first married, I did not have a solid foundation.
I did not know Jesus. I wanted a cute husband and a bunch of kids. I wanted to be a stay at home mom. I was insecure about who I was and what was expected of me.

Trust me when I say that it is easier to build a proper foundation before you build your pretty little house. Those things in my heart that kept me staring at myself and my own needs were hard to reach after I was married to that cute man and blessed with a quiver full of kids.

Life is wonderful, yet it can be incredibly hard and chaotic at times. If my life sits on a cracked and flawed foundation then I will be tossed to and fro by challenges, disagreements and traged
Remember that verse about the wise man builds his house upon the Rock? That's what we need to do.

To those single gals out there:
Take all the time necessary to lay a proper foundation with your God. Cast all your cares on Him; cry out to Him; seek His face daily; study the Bible; pray without ceasing for everyone that He brings to mind; find ways to serve and bless others; and wait for Him to lead you to your life building partner.
When you are young, you may find yourself frustrated that you are in this stage for entirely too long (from your perspective), but God wants the best for you.

Ask yourself, what good is a pretty little life nestled in a beautiful house and being surrounded by a handsome family, if everything crumbles to the ground just a few years or decades down the road due to some really hard life challenge? It is worth all the waiting so that you have a solid and unshakeable life.

Take your time. Lay a good, solid, secure foundation now.

If you are like me, 23 years or more into a marriage and surrounded by 5 kids and a dog... Do not lose heart. God is awesome, amazing, and able to reaching in and repair and reinforce that foundation. It is deep under there, but never out of His reach. The difference for you and I is that we need to be totally surrendered to His hand. We need to be patient and willing during the process. There will need to be some demolition, renovation, and reconstruction done.
Surrender is our action verb.
 Should a foundation take so long to build?

Short Answer: Yes. And it is worth it.

January 17, 2013

Building Permits for Marriage

"A wise woman builds her house..." Proverbs14:1

If I were going to buy a plot of land and build a new home, one of the first things I would need to do is obtain  a building permit. That's right. Owning the land is not enough to legally build my dream home, I would need to get permission to build the kind of home I desire.

Now, I have never built a home. Quite honestly the process scares me to death because of my lack of conviction in the decision making arena. I hate shopping and do not have a unique and creative eye for decorating, therefore the thought of all those choices makes me want to run away quickly.

I hear I am not alone in this.
Obtaining permits can be not only the least enjoyable stage of building, but also one of the more frustrating. My web dictionary says that this permit is a document that authorizes the holder to construct a building of a particular kind on a particular lot. Yuck. Who wants to ask permission and get authorization?

Permits take time and money. The problem is that if you cut this corner, in the end you can be up for some pretty big heartaches and fines.

I just love this spiritual parallel...

In America, the majority of people skip over this phase in building a home. We are bombarded with the messages that we are in control of our own destinies and that we do not need to ask permission to do anything.

Seek permission to get married? Are you kidding?

This is about as anti-American-culture as you can get.

Now, before I go any deeper let me say that I am writing this to women who are either are or not married. This message is more of a self note to myself, and I welcome other women to come along with me. I am assuming that you want to be that "wise woman who builds her house, not the fool who tears it down" Me too.

I think the reason most unmarried gals skip this step is fear. They do not want to be alone, and so they are quick to settle for one of the first men who shows interest in them. They are afraid to ask God, "Is this the man You have chosen for me?" The enemy of your soul loves fear. He can corner you into making unwise choices when you are staring at fear.

The way to navigate this stage of building your home is wrapped into one word: Ask.

Did you know the Bible speaks of Asking over 200 times? 200! A quick search of scripture reveals that God wants you to ask. He's waiting for you to ask.

Ask What? Well I guess it depends on where you are today. Are you married yet or not?

Before you marry:
  • Am I ready to marry?
  • Am I content in my current state? (You will not become content through marriage. Fact.)
  • Am I the kind of woman ready to complete my future groom, or am I seeking a groom to complete me?
  • Lord, is he the one? (Because it would be eternally better to be alone rather than to pick someone for myself instead of waiting for You)
There are countless questions you could and should ask, these are just a few

But what if you are already married? Ah, like me you have an endless supply of things that you can ask the Lord about. This is a good thing. You can be assured that He is waiting to hear from you and answer you.

After Marriage:
  • Am I a godly wife?
  • Do I seek God with all my heart?
  • Am I a wise woman who builds, or a fool who destroys?
  • Is there any wickedness in my heart? (There always is...)
  • Do I have my priorities straight? (God, husband, children, ministry)
Again, there are thousands of things to ask. God wants us to rely on Him alone. He cares about the minute details of our lives and actually knows the best for us. We need to ask Him to show us.

I have picked out a few verses for you on asking. There are so many more. I would encourage you to do your own study and see God's heart for yourself.

Side Note:
If you made it this far, but you do not know with all certainty that there is a God and He loves you so much that He died to save you, I would say either you are searching for truth or really bored. I pray you are on the search for truth.
If you do not know Jesus Christ died for your sins and rose again to save you, there is only one question He wants you to ask today...

Jesus, Will you come into my life and take over? 
Sure, there are other ways to ask, just ask.

Is God real? Does He love you? Did He really come to this earth to die for your sins? If you believe in Him will you be saved from hell? Will your life be different if you let God in?

I challenge you to ask Him...

Now. Grab your Bible and a notebook and pencil. Here are just a few verses about "asking" God. Whether you are a single woman waiting for your future groom, or a married woman its time to revisit this part of your life. Do you walk through your day without paying to attention to the Lord, or do you include Him in all parts of your life.

A wise woman build her house... She asks guidance and assistance and yes permission from the Lord for everything she does.

Isaiah 7:11
Matthew 21:22
Luke 11:9
John 11:22
John 14:14
John 16:23
Ephesians 3:20
James 1:5-6
Matthew 7:7-8

January 14, 2013

Chief Carpenter or Head of the Destruction Crew?

Proverbs 14
 "The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands."

That's as far as I got this morning. For me that's far enough. I am afraid I've been that foolish woman lately. Not intentionally of course, but foolish no less.

Let me explain.
It takes time to build a house and even to "keep" it. It's actually a daily process filled with many different stages from demolition, foundation building, obtaining permits, inspections, framing, roofing and finishing, decorating, and then maintaining.
If you want a solid house, you need to give each phase of building its proper attention.

As a wise woman (not smart aleck) I should be attending to my home. I need to know not only what phase I am in, but I need to be seeking my daily direction from the Guy in charge so I can do my part in transitioning my family into the next phase smoothly. I need to remind myself daily (well, minute by minute actually) that I am not the Chief carpenter of my life; Jesus is. If I try to run the show I unknowingly fire up the wrecking ball or surround my home with the red tape that can cause delays in building. I am going to dive into this verse for a while. I invite you to join me as I look at all the ways I can build or tear down my marriage, my children, my family, my home.  

Today's point: Where Am I Right Now?

 I awoke from a spiritual dullness to find my physical life mirroring the condition of my heart. My house is tidy, but not clean. Too many things are covered in dust and there are a few pockets of clutter waiting for my attention. My husband is constantly having to search for a clean pair of socks even though most of the laundry in our home is done consistently, my kids are beautiful but in need of varying levels of my attention. I am more likely to be found sporting lounge clothes and a ponytail than a "put-together outfit" unless I am going to school or church. In other words, my life looks pretty good from the outside.

My house is neat and my family eats home cooked meals. But I have missed the mark.

The stage of building I am in is in the maintaining, remodelling, and fine tuning of my home. Years ago, My husband found me a friend who was willing to come into my house and help me organize and declutter. It was amazing. She not only was great at it, but she delighted in the process. We went through every drawer, every space, even every piece of paper and organized, categorized, and binned my home into those Sterilite bins you can get at Target. It was wonderful.

For a few years after I would send her a thank you note after I dusted my home. Don't laugh. Before she helped me I could never dust my home, it was too dirty and cluttered. Even if I purposed to clean I never could get that far in one day. It was amazing to me that after a few weeks of really hard work that I had time to dust. Fast forward to today.

My home is still relatively organized, but pockets of clutter have crept in. I have a few stacks of homeschooling stuff that do not have their own homes, I have a few growing junk drawers, I have an cabinet with doors that is a wonderful hiding place for messy papers, my closet needs to be reorganized, etc... Not bad you say? I know I was blessed to have an organizing friend come through and truth is with a few days of consecrated effort I can get my home put back in order, but that's not the real issue...  

Spiritually my life mirrors my physical life.

There was that season in my life where the Lord swept into my heart and took me through the organizing process. I had years of wrong thinking to clean up, old broken thoughts to dump at the cross, attitudes that needed adjusting, areas of my life that needed to be torn down and rebuilt. It was hard work, but my eyes were fixed on the Carpenters and I surrendered and yielded and let Him have His way in my life. I was so thankful for the work He did in my heart that I spent time with Him more than daily.

I sought Him in the morning, journaled, prayed, was overwhelmed with thanksgiving. He walked with me through my new home each day and showed me what needed dusting and rearranging and then, like a good friend, would help me do the work. Time went by and my life got busy. My husband and I had 3 more children to bring the munchkin count up to 5 and I began homeschooling. I began blogging and writing out of a bubbling over heart. I was so thankful and blessed that I could not help pass it on and share with anyone who would listen.

Then it happened. People started to notice that I had it together.
Ha. Did you read that? ...that I had it together?

I began to get too busy to seek Him with the same heart of thankfulness, because I was too tired and busy to get it all done each day. I had new babies and kids to school. I had meals to prepare and a world to speak to through writing. I began sleeping in more and spending time with Him less.

My tidy heart began to get cluttered. Oh, not like before, but just enough. I didn't have time for the Word, but I had time to plan school, cook, write and watch TV. The clutter came in the form of my own thoughts, ambitions, ideas rather than the Lords. My mind was spinning with its own plans and paths and I would rarely stop and check in with the Lord of my life. When I would stop, it was only for a second and quite honestly not long enough to really hear what He was saying.

My heart has become cluttered and dusty. Now, you may not think dust is a big deal, but it certainly can be. It collects quickly. People can come by and write their own messages in it (like my kids who are quick to draw happy faces on my bookcases). Over time it can collect things that cause odor and even sickness.

I do not want this to be so. I am so glad the Lord met me and pointed out where to begin cleaning. It's here int eh quiet of the morning that I find Him sitting patiently for me. He's been waiting with a dust cloth in His hand ready to help clean up what I have neglected.

I do not know if this makes sense to anyone but me, but that's OK too. I need to take notes and write in order for my brain to make sense of things.

  • What building stage are you in?
  • Is your home thriving or faltering?
  • Have you talked to the Chief Carpenter lately and asked for direction or are you hanging out with the demolition crew?