Tag Archives: prayer

A God of abundance…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from the Gospel of John 1: 16-18:

“From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.”


Recently, I’ve been spending a lot of time praying and thinking about what it means to be loved by a God of abundance. Pondering this fuels me as our family navigates through the ever-changing world of 2020. Last spring I started asking God to help me to know Him better so that I could truly trust and believe that I am beloved by Him. Some deep part of my heart knew that I needed to better understand this and to cling to it as an anchor of faith. I asked, I prayed, and God moved. Over the past four months, God systematically supplied me with tools of discernment and moments of personal growth so that my heart could deepen in love. It’s allowed me to find peace regardless of circumstance.

I think it is interesting how God works – using a variety of people and bringing different facets of our lives together as a way to answer our prayers. He put a series of callings on my heart, and as I followed them I found the answers. From our girls Bible study on the book of Philippians, to our swim team family’s shared devotional lessons on the “fruits of the Spirit”, to the recommendation of two of Henri Nouwen’s books to read, to surrounding me with the love of family with all three of my girls home, to bringing Joseph back into our lives — God has clearly been moving in my heart and helping to answer my prayers to better understand His abundance.

People write books on how to follow Jesus in order to find peace. I suppose that maybe I could write one too 🙂 But today, what is on my heart finds its power in its simplicity. We may live in a world of scarcity, but our God is a God of abundance. His love never runs out, and it covers all of His children. We don’t have to worry that God does not have a place for us, Jesus took care of that. John 14: 1-2 recounts Jesus’ words, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?”


Regardless of what the earthly world tells you, it is not a competition. There is enough for everyone. God’s love never gives up, it never runs out, and it has the capacity to fill our hearts if only we would allow it. When love comes alive, fear falls apart. When we follow out of love, then our focus is that love and it outshines everything else. We may have times when we feel pain, but it is not our focus. Instead, divine love brings a wave of peace and a gentle strength that moves past worldly troubles to bring the hope of tomorrow. That love is available now – today – this minute. It is eternal, but it begins on this earth the moment that we say “yes” and move into the comforting embrace of the Father. The more that we nestle into that embrace, the more Jesus fills our hearts with His sustaining love, and the Holy Spirit brings peace amidst the storm.

Megan comes out of quarantine tonight. We’ve had a time of joy, of togetherness, and of faith during this journey. It’s reminded our family to be grateful for what we have instead of worrying about what we don’t have. God blessed us by keeping her safe and free of sickness. He also blessed us with moments and memories that we will carry with us for the rest of our lives. Perhaps the list of what she “missed” is long, but there is a longer list of things that our family gained – medals that were placed on our hearts as we deepened in love and faith with each other and with our God of abundance.


For those of you who enjoy reading, The Return of the Prodigal Son and Following Jesus by Henri J.M. Nouwen are wonderfully insightful books that have blessed me this summer. Ashley Grace has studied Henri Nouwen in her theology classes at Notre Dame, and our discipleship pastor encouraged me to read them as well.

A big “thank you” to all of you who are keeping our family in your prayers – you bless us with your loving hearts 😊

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Prayer…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from Romans 12: 10-13

“Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.”


I used to be afraid to pray. I was reasonably adept at reciting phrases that I’d learned in school and at church, but I shied away from truly opening my heart to God and trusting Him to hold me. While I don’t know exactly what fueled this fear, honesty requires that I admit that during some times of my life I have struggled believing that I am worthy of God’s grace – of Christ’s loving sacrifice – and participation in the mission to share it. I spent decades working really hard, but (when I prayed) I held a piece of myself back for fear that I would not measure up.

Instead of living in grace, I found myself caught in this cycle of clinging to belief yet drowning in bits of unbelief. I was like the father who brought his demon-possessed son for healing (Mark 9: 14-29).  The father believed enough to seek, but at the same time collective insecurity created an underlying level of unbelief that only Jesus could overcome. Interestingly, the last verse of the passage is Jesus telling to his disciples, “This kind can be cast out only by prayer.”

Prayer is vital. It builds relationship. It builds trust. It fuels belief and brings the freedom to choose joy, regardless of circumstance 🙂


I overcame my fear of prayer, by praying. By simply opening up my heart and sharing it with Jesus. I talk to Him. I share my day, my thanks, my fears, my desires, my faults, and my love.  As I’ve spent more time reading the Bible over the past several years, I have discovered God’s advice for prayer. He calls for us to pray with confidence, faithfulness, and dedication – regardless of circumstance. God asks us to pray boldly, fueled by the knowledge that He loves us and He listens.

I am currently reading a book called, Unquestioned Answers by Jeff Myers. He points out that when we pray we must be willing to do two things:

  1. To act on what God leads us to do.
  2. To expect God to move in the ways He has promised, rather than expecting that He will make things easier.

Myers says, “Military generals don’t long for opportunities to avoid the enemy. Rather, they request the equipment and personnel needed to obtain victory. Prayer is the same for us. God wants to give us everything we need to accomplish what he asks of us.”

I think that I used to be afraid to pray because I feared that I wasn’t important enough for God to remove the struggle when I asked Him to. Now that my prayer life has matured, I realize that I don’t actually pray for God to remove the hardships. Instead, I pray for God to give me the strength, the confidence, the hope, and the boldness to face the struggle head on knowing that Jesus steadfastly holds my heart. I’ve found freedom through prayer as I have deepened in relationship with Jesus.

Prayer ensures that we are never helpless nor ever hopeless. It prepares us to serve. As Jesus reminds us in the verses from Mark, there are kinds of struggles that can only be cast out by prayer. Perhaps this is because prayer is our ultimate source of strength and communication with the One who brings eternal victory 🙂

Prayer may not change circumstances, but it shapes our hearts so that we can walk through the trials covered in grace.

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Holy Sass…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from the Book of Esther (the entire book) but specifically 4:13-14

Modecai sent this reply to Esther: “Don’t think for a moment that because you’re in the palace you will escape when all other Jews are killed. If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die.

Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?”


The book of Esther fascinates me. It is a story of a young woman with great courage and devote faith who unselfishly and bravely followed God’s call in order to save the Jewish people from political persecution during the reign of Xerxes (approximately 486-465 B.C.). In addition to the story being a profile in human courage, it also demonstrates how God masterfully works – in and through each of us – to care for his people.

Esther has what I like to joyfully refer to as: Holy Sass. She embraced God’s wisdom and savvy and used it to bravely destroy a selfish plot of mass murder and destruction. She did it with grace, whit, and just enough sassy attitude that she bested an evil scheme and changed the course of history. She gives the term “Girl Power” a whole new level of meaning 😉

Sass is an interesting word with a variety of connotations. My favorite farmer and I are blessed with three daughters. Over the years, we’ve known a bit of sass in our house. In fact, when Ashley Grace was about 8 she decided to try a bit of disrespectful sass (in the form of eye rolling at inopportune times)– something that her younger sisters quickly picked up on. That led to a new rule – 10 pushups for each eye roll or sign of disrespect. Twelve years later, all three of my girls kick out some impressive push-ups, but more importantly they learned a lesson in discretion.

The good kind of sass – the Holy Sass – is the courage that comes from God to respond with honor and strength when he calls for you.

It’s not a disrespectful “eye-rolling” sass, it’s a boldness and courage that leads to active faith.


Ashley Grace, Megan and Karyn – circa 2006

I spend a lot of time around girls. I often see a quiet obedience in them. But as they reach the teenage and young adult years, I also watch them struggle with boldness and courage. I think a lot of that stems from an inherent lack of confidence paired with a faith that has yet to reach maturity. I used to be that girl. In fact, some days I still am.  It’s hard to truly and consistently trust God. It’s difficult to believe that you are strong enough – smart enough – worthy enough – to make a meaningful difference in this huge world that He created. It’s frightening to think that God trusts you enough to ask you to fight for Him.

Esther did something incredibly important as she prepared to act on Modecai’s message. She packed her faith and looked up – spending three days (in community with others) fasting and praying for courage and direction from God before she went to see the King. She didn’t act rashly and she didn’t act alone. As a result, God’s grace carried her through the call and enabled all of the pieces to come together.

In my own faith journey, I’ve learned to both listen and pray before I act. Honestly, I used to be terrible at this but God finds creative ways to grow us 🙂 Some days I still struggle with discretionary boldness and courage, but I am learning that prayer helps me to pack my Holy Sass. It not only ensures that I am doing what God asks of me – it also brings me peace and confidence that my actions are Godly.

We worship a good and a great God. He asks us to believe. He’s the author of Holy Sass. In Malachi 3:10 he tells us, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!” Each time that we believe and we accept that God has uniquely placed us for good, we respond to this verse from Malachi and put Him to the test. We give Him the ability to deliver us and to deliver others – Just as Esther did so many years ago.

I pray that each one of us will look up to find the Holy Sass that God grants – that we will act with boldness and courage in faith, worshiping the One who holds our hearts as we hold His hand.

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I am enough…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration this week comes from 2 Samuel 22: 2-3

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety.”


1991 Florida State Cross Country Champions…

I’ve struggled with confidence for as long as I can remember. Despite making good grades and being a successful athlete in multiple sports, the worry that I wasn’t enough haunted me during my teenage years. I’ve developed ways of dealing with this challenge as an adult, but it comes back to bother me from time to time. We live in a world that prizes performance – medals that hang around our necks or fancy diplomas/titles that demonstrate superiority. It provides a perfect playing field for doubt to thrive in those people that – like me – struggle believing that they have what it takes to be worthy. 

God’s brought many young people into my life over the past decade. I’ve been blessed to play a role their athletic and life journeys. My past experiences allow me a window into many of their hearts as I get to mentor them. The athlete that pulls most at my heart is the unconfident one. I not only see their struggle, but I feel it.

Fear of failure – fear that I am not enough is a terribly heavy burden to carry, not just on the athletic field but also in life.


Monday evening God put this prayer on my heart. I share it today for all those who battle fear on their journey.

Heavenly Father,

Help me to believe that I am enough. That I was enough the day that You breathed life into me, and I am still enough today. Place your love in my heart and help me to hear you calling me by name. Help me to release the worry of falling short.

When you ask me to go, please grant me the courage to go where you ask. When you ask me to stay, give me the patient strength to be confident that I am where you want me to be. Either way, help me to do it with my whole heart – with the trust that You will carry me.

I know that it’s my job to follow your call. Help my heart to truly believe that You will fill the gap when the ask is hard. Place the conviction that I need in me so that I can trust. Bless me with your grace and peace. Hold my hand as we walk the journey.

Lord, help me to give you all of my effort – everything that I have. Remind me to work willingly at whatever I do, as though I am always working for You. I promise to move my legs as you promise to guide them. I promise to seek You and be willing to offer my work as a sacrifice, as I know that you are steadfast in your love.

Help me to run with endurance the race that You have set before me – with a cheerful and confident heart – believing in the power of your love and knowing that you call me your own. That alone makes me enough. Strike away the doubts that haunt me so that I can live in your grace and peace.

In Jesus’ name I pray.

Amen

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Courageous Faith…

Wednesday Wisdom 🙂


Inspiration for this week’s post comes from Galatians 2: 21

“I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless…”


I wasn’t going to write a post to share this week as we are going through some difficult times at home, and I am not yet able to share about them. But, here I am writing at 9:00 on Tuesday night as God has placed something on my heart. I opened my bible to read out of Galatians and the above partial verse jumped off of the page at me.

I love it when the Holy Spirit does that!

The more that I realize the depth of God’s love, the more I understand the vastness of His grace. When we walk through hard times, it is easy to be angry – to accuse God of not being there – to let frustration steal the peace that should live in our hearts. I’ve been tempted to do this, but God just keeps pursuing me. His steadfastness draws me in. It inspires me to lean into my faith instead of walking away.

Why?

Because Jesus shows up everyday. He is the ultimate demonstration of God’s grace and He uses the Holy Spirit to comfort and guide. He fills my heart with the courageous faith that inspires hope and grants the peace that passes all understanding. Even on the hard days – especially on the hard days.

He is there.

I write myself bible verses, quotes and sayings on note cards. I scatter them around the house and seem to find them on the days that I need them. A couple of weeks ago, I sat down and wrote: “Courageous faith is continuing to work with hope even during times of trial — trusting that God’s grace will carry me.” When we treat the grace of God with reverence and devotion and truly trust in it, then we are able to feel the full power of courageous faith. Its value is limitless.


 

I’ve experienced God’s grace often over the past several months. I’ve seen it in this goofy and loyal dog that has granted me company in the long days that I spent in the chair with a broken leg. I’ve seen it in my favorite farmer and our girls as they have circled in love and carried me when I failed. I’ve seen it in friends and those in our church family who have been there – waiting to fill whatever gap unfolds – supporting without question – and reflecting Jesus’ love with steadfast loyalty. I’ve seen it as I’ve continued to live, to coach, and to share my faith.

Sharing faith helps to create courageous faith. We are all meant to live in community. The more that I embrace that, the more I am able to experience God’s grace. Many times grace is found in giving – not in receiving. A grace-filled heart is a grateful heart. Grateful hearts make for cheerful givers. Cheerful givers spread God’s grace, even during times of trial.

Today I am thankful for God’s grace. I cherish the courageous faith that Jesus puts into my heart, and pray that in sharing it I can also help to spread His grace to others.

Thank you to all of you who have reached out in prayer and support for me over the past weeks. Please know how much I appreciate your kindness 🙂

 

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A Request…

Thoughtful Thursday

cowboyhorsecross.jpg

As I drive across the Sandhills of Nebraska, I see the above image frequently.  I find peace as I look at the metal replica of a cowboy tipping his hat in prayer.

Today, I make a request more than providing a thought for Thursday.  I ask that each one of you take a moment to pray for a dear friend of mine who will soon take her place in heaven.

Judy helped to bring the words of Mother Teresa to me some time ago

— while there are many that I ponder —

below are the ones that I grasp for during these challenging times…

Yesterday is Gone.

Tomorrow has not yet come.

We have only today.

Let us begin.

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