prayer

On God Moments, Asking for Help & Angry Tennis Matches

I had a God moment yesterday. 

It was during a tennis match at Courtyard against Becky and Rosa. I train with Becky and Rosa, so I know them; they are not any old opponents. I was playing with Renee. We won the first set 6:1, lost the second set 2:6. In the third set, I served first and won, Becky served second, quick set, 0/40, we won. Renee lost her serve, and we won Rosa serve. That makes it 3:1 us.

I went to the net to grab the tennis balls from Rosa to take my serve, my second time, and there was a disagreement about the score. Becky thinks it’s 2 all. Now all four of us are standing at the net and disagreeing. I start describing everyone’s service game and who won, but Rosa and Becky were not having it. They are both known for not having great memories. The four of us could not agree. Finally, we agreed to start the third set over. I was not happy, fuming actually!

I lost my serve. I was so angry. I was struggling to keep it together. Becky served and changed her serve from the last time. In my very angry head I was thinking she changed her serve to my backhand, because my forehand beat her the first time around. She seemed to remember that! I could not get out of my head how wrong this was. I wanted to throw my racket and walk off. Childish, I know.

Now the score was reversed, we were down 1:3. Taking deep breaths to calm myself was not working. I started praying. I asked Jesus for help, pleading to give me peace of mind. I told him I couldn’t calm down, I couldn’t play this way, I needed help, I needed Him. 

The momentum of our play started to shift, we started winning games, and we started catching up. We made it to 5:5, and then we won the next game, making it 6:5. Again, I spoke to Jesus pleading with Him not to make me eat humble pie by losing. I wanted to win. Don’t we all! I thought, please let us pull this out. The game went to duce, once, then twice. I got the last angle shot to win the game and set 7:5. Amen.

I gave thanks and glory to Jesus! It wasn’t me that won it on the court that day. I was the angry childish woman that wanted to throw her racket and walk off the court. I was the woman who couldn’t mentally get it together and in return couldn’t hit a ball to save her life. It was Jesus! He met me in my weakness that day. He showed me that at my worst, he loves me, and helps me back to my best. 

I think a light bulb went off that day.

I’ve been trying to figure out how to get to know Jesus.

He has been there all along, patiently waiting for me to ask for help, listening and watching my every move, every day. I have been trying to do all the right things only finding myself falling short time and time again. And again. And again. But the tennis court brought me some clarity. I finally realized that it’s not what I do that will get me closer to Jesus, it’s just asking for help when I need it and being grateful for it. Simple as that. He isn’t going to push me away because I allowed tennis to get the best of my emotions. He gently wraps His loving arms around me and gracefully speaks into my ear, “My daughter, I love you and I’m so glad we talked today.”

 

It Is Well With My Soul

I heard that hymn as a girl growing up in church but never did it really mean anything to me until the last few years.

My soul is that part of me that stays still and at peace when everything else around me is in chaos, or out of my control or just plain busy with life. But in the midst of the busyness, is it well with my soul?

Yes, it is. Today it is. Yesterday it was. Tomorrow it will be.

But it hasn’t always been that way. You see, I like things now. Do it on my timeline. Fast like a drive through and pick it up at the window for immediate satisfaction. And for the most part, things have happened like that for me. I’ve had lots of favor. Not by chance so much but because honestly I’ve prayed for favor over myself speaking Luke 2:52:.

And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.

I mean, if Jesus had to grow in favor with God and man and didn’t automatically have it, why should I automatically have it? So I prayed for it. All the time.

But to be honest, I haven’t felt like I’ve had much favor the past few years. Maybe I’m being selfish but if I made the promise to be transparent by opening up in my journals, then that means I have to let you see my selfishness and all the ugliness that penetrate my thoughts. I just have to believe I’m not alone in this big online world…so maybe let me know. Okay?

Nothing can explain it better than a quote I read this past week in Draw The Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge: “Too often we pray ASAP prayers – as soon as possible. We need to start praying ALAT prayer – as long as it takes. “

When I read that I couldn’t help but to think, “Yes, I do want ASAP.” I don’t want to pray ALAT because it’s already taken too long! How much longer can it take? If I have favor, pray for favor, seek wisdom and counsel, shouldn’t my prayers be ASAP?

I’ve looked for that scripture…it doesn’t exist (Frown face, violins playing).

So why do we get such big visions for our lives if they don’t happen right now? Our vision not just for ourselves but for those around us as well (if not, they should be just FYI). If you’re reading this blog which is hosted on our Created Woman website, then you probably know who we are as a foundation, an organization and ministry. You’ve met me, the team, come to one of our events or have just hung out with us online. So you know, at least a little bit, of the vision of CW. And I have to tell you, as passionate as I am about CW there are those moments when I’m just as frustrated.

Working – believing – breaking through – taking steps back – moving forward – resting – wondering.

The seasons rotate almost every day. It’s been five years of wonder, bliss, heartbreak and rejoicing hearing your stories, praying for and with you, and laughing a whole lot over our fashion faux pas.

So when the New Year rolled around, like most of you, I sat down to ask, “What’s this year?” It’s my 40th year on earth – yep, I told you my age – and I am super excited about this decade. I felt like the 30’s were my building decade – marriage, having babies, transitioning jobs and trying to figure out who we were as a family of four (that’s ongoing). So this decade, I would love those ALAT prayers to now become ASAP prayers.

But this is the revelation I got. “What’s in your hand?” What that meant was, “What gifts have I given you and are you using them?” So I opened my journal and wrote out the gifts God has given me based on a test I took this year, Spiritual Gift Test. My top three gifts are as follows in this order:

  • Leadership – Discernment – Faith

Paired with the one of the two words God has given me for the year, intentional, this is what I came up with.

  • Leadership:
    • Be intentional about leading the CW Family. This is an area I was challenged on at the end of last year. As the leader, I’m responsible to share the vision, empower them, and lead them in a deeper relationship with The Lord (as per definition below).
      • Definition of Leadership: Care for God’s people and lead them into deeper relationship with Christ and each other.
  • Discernment:
    • Be intentional about stopping and listening. I can’t discern if I don’t stop, watch, and listen. Ask and discern where God is leading me personally, with my family, and within our organization.
      • Definition of Discernment: to clearly recognize and distinguish between what is God and not of Him.
  •  Faith:
    • Be intentional about believing that if God said “Go” that it will happen in His perfect timing. Trust Him in all things; not just when things look good, I have favor, or happen on my timeline. But in all things.
    • Be intentional about building others up in their faith through my words, actions, and what I speak.
      • Definition of faith: build up the church in her confidence in God.

So there it is. I have to run the race set before me with the gifts God has specifically given me, not what He’s given to others. Because, like I’ve confessed before, I’m good at getting things done. Administration was not too far behind faith and when I get to check something off my to-do list it makes me wave my arms wide open and sing the Frozen song. But did I lead anyone by doing that? Maybe. Maybe not.

So whether my prayers this year happen ASAP or ALAT, I’m determined that I will be intentional about pursuing the gifts that I’ve been given and that is Well With My Soul.

Journal Entry #3√

XO,

Heather

P.S. Take the test and if you dare, share with us in the comments below how you will use them this year. Let’s be intentional about 2016 to use what we’ve been given.

Spiritual Gift Test Adults

[title subtitle="Previous Journal Entries"][/title]

#1 What Was It All For?

#2 Fancy Writing & Gold Letters

 

 

"Do You Frustrate the Grace of God?"

When you were a kid, did you ever play “Let’s Pretend?” I did! Some of the most exciting days of my childhood were spent with my best friend pretending we were in a faraway place, away from the countryside of our small southern town.

So, I invite you today to pretend you are in a faraway place. I have even it picked out for you, so I can make the points I wish to make. (You get to choose next time we play pretend.)

Here goes. Pretend you are standing on the banks of The Jordan River back in the days of Joshua and Caleb. You watch as the water parts and Joshua and Caleb, along with a new generation of Israelites, walk across on dry land into their long awaited Promise Land.

You are standing there, watching the scene unfold before you, but then you notice that everyone gets very quiet. “What is going on?” Then you realize that Joshua is getting instructions from God, telling them a couple of things they must do before moving forward. (Joshua 4-5)

Let’s lend an ear.

Build a Memorial Monument with Stones: “Take 12 men from each of the 12 tribes of Israel and build a monument with stones. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What is this monument for,’ you can tell them it is to remind you that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the ark of the covenant went across. The monument will be a permanent reminder to the people of Israel of this amazing miracle.”

Circumcise Every Male: “During the forty years you spent wandering in the desert, you stopped practicing the sign of the covenant I made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. As your sons were born during the wilderness wanderings, my people failed to honor their covenant obligations. Don’t try to move forward in disobedience until every male is circumcised!"

Okay, our pretend game is over and now we must face the reality of how this scene is significant to us today.

I believe it goes without saying that if we had to place a big stone in our backyard every time we encountered God’s faithfulness to us, the monument would surpass the size of Mount Rushmore. When times are rough with new trials, and we want to cry out, “God, where are you,” all we would have to do is look at the stones in our backyard and remember His faithfulness to us in times past; they push us forward, rather than feeling defeated.

But, yikes! What about that circumcision He was talking about? We know in our world today, circumcision means out heart. May I just put it to you bluntly and say: “We must get the sin out of our life before we try to move forward in disobedience.”

Sin is not something we like to talk about, is it? We prefer instead to talk more about God’s love, and how we’re just going to stand on the promises of His faithfulness to us, regardless of our lifestyles. Then we expect God to shower His blessings on us. We don’t think that God would actually withhold His goodness just because of how we live. After all, nobody is perfect, right?

The late David Berheimer, my pastor for over 25 years, drove a point home to me one Sunday morning as it applies to the circumcision of my heart from Paul’s writings in Galatians 2:21:

I do not frustrate the grace of God

He pointed out that grace refers to the unmerited favor of God to bless us. It was by grace that Jesus paid our sin debt by dying in our place. It is by grace that he helps us through the storms of life. But he pointed out that when Paul said, “I do not frustrate the grace of God,” he was indicating that there are ways to stop or nullify and keep the grace of God from working in my life

 The question is:

"How can I stop God’s grace from working in my life?”

 First of all, it is important to understand some of the things that do not frustrate God’s grace. A partial list might include: scars from past hurts, poor choices that have messed us up. These only intensify God’s grace.

Some things that frustrate the grace of God and nullifies it might include:

  • walking too far away from Jesus
  • neglecting His word
  • trying to be good in our own strength
  • sins of the flesh that God has repeatedly convicted us of, yet we fail to confess it and turn from it such as: unforgiveness in our hearts, unrighteous anger - things that have become a pattern in our lives.

So, my question to you today is:

"Do you frustrate the grace of God?"

"Is there sin in your life that God has gently asked you to get rid of

time and time again?"

 I encourage you today to: “Stop right here, and circumcise your heart before going forward. Only then can you become what He desires for you to be from the Inside Out! Only then can you be free to pursue your dreams and passions and go forward.

I wouldn’t ask you to do anything I haven’t been doing. Oh yeah, the whole month of January has been spent in my “War Room” with God circumcising my heart.

FACING FEAR

Fear has the power to knock you off your feet. It has the ability to keep you from moving forward. And, left unchecked, fear has the ability to dominate one’s life. We were not created to carry fear and anxiety. Check out Dr. E. Stanley Jones observation on fear:

You are inwardly fashioned for faith, not for fear. Fear is not our native land; faith is. I am so made that worry and anxiety are sand in the machinery of life; faith is the oil. We live better by faith and confidence than by fear, doubt and anxiety. When experiencing anxiety and worry, my being is gasping for breath--these are not my native air. But in faith and confidence, I breathe freely--these are my native air. To live by worry is to live against reality. (Source unknown)

Below are a few tools I have adopted to increase my faith and confidence when fear, anxiety or doubt is present:

  • Write it down – otherwise known as journaling. Take a short amount of time to think about where your anxiousness is come from. Write it down, and then go to the Word of God to identify a scripture that will help you in this area of your life. Write our type the verse(s) and contemplate on the truth of the Word. Say it out loud. Put it in your phone or write it on a card. It is always good to have it available to pull up when you need it.
  • Pray – Prayer changes things. Once you identify the fear and find your scripture. Ask God to give you the strength to overcome what may be keeping you from advancing. Don’t give up. Prayer is powerful and has been a vital resource throughout my life.
  • Exercise your Faith –Proverbs 3 says, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to our own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path. Once we write it down and pray, depending on God to manage the situation means letting go. This may be the most challenging aspect of our lives. I know it is for me, however, I have experienced God in the most difficult circumstances.
  • Talk to someone – Nothing compares to having someone to share your challenges with. It could be a trusted friend, family member or professional. I have used all three sources over the course of my life and have benefitted tremendously from their guidance.

These are just a few approaches I have taken over the years to help me work through fear. Be assured that God is at work in every area of our lives, even when we are faced with anxiety, worry or doubt.

Which tools or resources have you used to overcome fear, anxiety or doubt?

Submit Already

So you wake up every morning and going to work has become more of a chore than ever.  You’re not excited about the job, the boss, the people on your team – what do you do?  Quit?  Stick around? If you’ve read my Facebook devotionals you’ll see I’m all about seeking God’s will.  Logically, in this economy quitting your job for any reason is a risky move.  Spiritually, if you’re not in the place God wants you, sticking around out of fear is a risky move.  To my friends who know they are where God has called them to be, I share a message of endurance.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4

Is all of your misery at work tied to one person?  Have you prayed consistently for them?  I’m not talking about a “Bless my butt head boss Phil” before bedtime, I mean really sitting down and praying for peace in their personal lives, wisdom when making decisions, and a softened heart towards other people.  You may be surprised how your heart softens towards them in the process.

Perhaps you’re miserable because you always feel like the oddball out.  People leave you behind when they go to lunch, leave the break room when you arrive, plan events outside of work without inviting you.  Think back over the last year, how have you impacted their lives?  Has your behavior reflected God’s love or his wrath?

Take into account that the situations you are in require a lesson to be learned.  What that lesson is, is between you and God.  Two things.  1 – If you fail, you can count on a retest.  2 – If you avoid it, you’ll find yourself being tested on something else.  Let me assure you that God is 100% committed your education, so rather than fight with him, SUMBIT ALREADY!

Stoplight Prayer:  Father in Heaven, thank you for loving me enough to teach me your ways just as any earthly parent should.  Continue to guide me and open my eyes so that I am reflection of your love.

Still Hungry?  Abraham personifies endurance in Genesis 12 – 22.

 

Originally Published in 2011

Please Can I Have It?

     Do you have prayers that have been unanswered; requests you’re certain, God has ignored? Perhaps the answer is in your immediate surroundings and you just don’t see it. The Jews of Nazareth were waiting for the Messiah and yet, when He walked in their midst they couldn’t see Him because their eyes were “wide shut.” Hence, their prayers went unanswered and their needs unmet.

            The same woman that desperately prays for a friend complains to God that her marriage isn’t satisfying. Could her ‘BFF’ be her husband? Is it possible the friendship is waiting to be cultivated?

The single woman who’s stressed because her salary doesn’t cover her monthly bills might be the same woman who crafts one of kind purses for her friends. The purses don’t bring her any income because she’s too timid to try to sell them.

 We can stop the pacing and the mindless eating that results from worry. God knows about our problems and He is already at tomorrow with the solution, waiting for us to catch up to Him. Our task is to move from eyes “wide shut” to “wide open” and see where He is.

 

Prayer: Lord, sometimes I let my worries look bigger than my God. I want to open my heart and mind and see you as you are; greater than any challenge I could face.

Life’s speed bumps and collisions form who we are. We can be left with tire tracks on our back, run over by life or let God leave a distinct Fingerprint on our heart. Yielding prepares us to love and empathize with others.

Say What?

  I have a friend that can sing… really sing.  I’ve occasionally caught her singing in the office and each time I stop and commend her on her beautiful voice.  Her response, “It’s all Him”, but her eyes say,  “I know right!  I’m just trying to sound humble and Christian like.”  Gotcha!  How about next time you just say thank you?

 

In business it’s important that you are able to effectively communicate with your target audience.  Whether you’re selling infant formula to hospitals, teaching sensitivity courses to executives or selling folks on the idea of faith in God, knowing and understanding your audience is key.  That being said they have to understand you as well.

I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding.  For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return.  May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation – the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ – for this will bring much glory and praise to God.  Philippians 1:9-11  (New Living Translation)

As Christians we sometimes forget that not everyone understands our Christianeese lingo and it is important that we take to time to understand the people we are sharing God’s love with.

Here are some of my favorite Christian words and phrases made simple.  It’s okay to laugh, I guarantee you Jesus did.

I’m saved = I’m confident I’m going to heaven.

I’m born again = I believe in Jesus now.  *(Note: There is no Christian voodoo; it’s impossible to be reinserted into your Mother’s womb to literally be reborn!)

Brother/Sister = Man, Dude/Chica, Girlfriend

Sold out for God = Really psyched about God!

I don’t feel led = Seriously, no one can make me do that!

The Lord works in mysterious ways = I have no flippin’ clue how to answer you right now.

Are there any prayer concerns for the group? = Does anyone have any juicy gossip for the group?

Hopefully you’re giggling right now.  For me, laughter opens the door to share how God’s love has impacted my life in free and simple way.  What is special about your story?  What’s the best way to share it with others?  Be transparent, pray for knowledge and understanding.  When an opportunity arises be bold and strong, know that God is with you.

Stoplight Prayer:  Father in Heaven, thank you for coming into my life and making me whole.  Lead me to share the story of your love with others in a way meant just for them.

Stay In Your Lane

  Several weeks ago I was playing with Wii bowling with my daughter.  The best part of electronic bowling is that it’s impossible to be really bad.  You might get a few gutter balls from time to time, but at least you’ll always stay in your lane.  We were neck in neck as she proudly announced, “I’m a great bowler.  Right Mommy?”  I happily agreed.

After our game was over, she opened her box of Bob books and began reading to me.  “Mommy, I’m a really great reader.  Right?”  Again, I happily agreed.

Twenty minutes later we moved onto singing and dancing to Ava's jams.  She climbed onto the coffee table, microphone in hand, and began singing “All Star” by Smash Mouth at the top of her lungs.  “I’m a great singer.  Right Mom?”  This time I froze.

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.  1 Peter 4:10 (New Living Translation)

It’s a natural response to tell your children that they are great at everything they do and that they can be anything they want to be, but there comes a point when you realize that might not always be the best choice.

God gave each of us special gifts and talents that he intended for us to use.  When I was younger I wanted nothing more than to be an actress.  As I grew older, I still wanted to be an actor, but I wasn’t interested in being a starving artist in Hollywood.

I found way to use my gifts working for a non-profit organization.  For a time I traveled the state of Texas doing drug and alcohol prevention school assemblies, it was then that I met a cute teacher who would later become my husband.

While it is good to stretch yourself and grow in the areas you’re not so great at, I encourage you to incorporate your gifts.  Stay in your lane; you never know what kind of surprises He has in store for you when you operate within your gifts.

As for Ava, I told that she was great at a lot of things and that as much and Mommy and Daddy loved to hear her sing there were other things she was so much better at like drawing and making up great stories.

Stoplight Prayer:  Father in heaven, thank you blessing me and making me special and unique.  Please open to door for me to share my gifts with those around me.

Honor All People

A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house. [Mark 6:4]

Knowledge to Build On:  The key word in the scripture is honor.  Jesus’ hometown folks didn’t treat Him as valuable.  Instead, they saw one of their own; just an ordinary local man from Nazareth.  Therefore, there was nothing notable that occurred in Nazareth.  Think of it.  Jesus - -the Son of God, is sent to heal the sick and all who were oppressed of the devil; but He cannot fulfill this commission, not because it wasn’t God’s will, but because they restricted Him by withholding honor.

What does  “honor” mean?  The Greek word for honor is time. (tee-mee)  When you speak of the word time to a Greek man, he thinks of something valuable, precious, weighty, such as gold.

Life in the Now:  Has there ever been anyone in your life that you didn’t think deserved to be honored?  Perhaps it was your parents, husband or wife, boss, or a church leader.

1 Peter 2:17 makes a point of saying that we are to “honor all people.”  Surely, Peter can’t mean rude and obnoxious people, not to mention those who are outright wrong in their beliefs and attitudes.  Why, I had a long list of those kind of people on my “do not honor list.”

But, something begin to gnaw on my conscious that told me I needed to make a change in my attitude. After much prayer and studying on the word Honor,” I came to the conclusion that:

  1. I didn’t reach perfectionism before God accepted me unconditionally.
  2. “You can honor the person without honoring the behavior.” Behavior may, indeed, be wrong, but honor and value should be released to each person who Jesus valued so much that He shed His blood for on The Cross.

Think about it:  Do you suppose we must first get a glimpse of Jesus’ finished work on The Cross for all men before we can begin to walk in true honor to those we think are undeserving?

Prayer:  Father God, I ask you in the name of your son Jesus, to forgive me of those times I have withheld honor from anyone.  Help me to honor them as a precious stone of gold that You created and for whom You made the ultimate sacrifice.