Category: Being Real

Freedom in Vulnerability

 

Some Vulnerable Moments

  • IMG_4198When I cross the threshold of an airplane and see the five-inch-wide tube I’m climbing in, there is a moment of “heck no!” and I wonder if anyone else thinks about the fact that we are getting in a can to fly 35,000 feet up in the sky.
  • I used to live on a two lane highway in Missouri. Sometimes I would briefly close my eyes when the car coming toward me would pass. Not the smartest, I know, but the vision of a head on collision was just too much for me. I slipped into a short season of fear every time JT left for work. Two lane highway. People driving 65 miles an hour at each other.
  • I went into check on by baby because he was too fussy when I laid him down for his nap. I had stepped outside just to get a breather and let him cry it out. My momma heart was too heavy and I peeked in on him one more time. Oh my gosh! His eyes were swelling up! We called 911 and headed to the hospital. He had an allergic reaction to eggs.
  • 1985. My sister was sitting on my bed using the phone. I sat at her feet studying her face. She cried, “Okay, thank you.” She sat the phone down and ran down the hall. I followed right behind as she threw herself on the steps. “It was them, mom! It was them!” My grandparents had just been killed in an airplane crash.
  • 1984 6th grdHe called me a beaver.  I had bucked teeth in the 5th grade. He even made a beaver face at me, putting his front teeth over his bottom lip and making a sort of “phht” sound over and over.
  • When I was in Jr. High, I walked in the college music hall hugging my piano books against my chest. The competition was there. My nerves were in my throat and I watched the as the clock told me it was my turn. I sat down at the piano in the music room and played my memorized piece. My shoes clicked back down the hall and out into the Oklahoma heat. My stomach had settled back down.
  • My brother and I were driving slower than the actual speed limit looking for a place to turn around when some guy pulled out in front of us from the other side of the street. We hit him. Air bags and smoke. Amazing how powerful a hit is at 35 miles an hour. He was drunk and took off. The police found him down a dead end street.
  • I sat in a room full of people I loved and knew he didn’t love me anymore. He was over me. My heart was broken.
  • I leaned back and let my own body weight sit down in the strap. I looked up at the person above me telling me it was okay and to just start walking backward. Gravity pulled at me, trying to pull me down the 70 ft. drop. Straps held me in, and my own hand held a fall at bay. One foot after the other, down the rock face to the bottom. Two feet on the ground.
  • photo 1I panicked. I couldn’t go through with it and had to get out. My husband sat on the side of the hospital bed and told me we couldn’t make it stop and the baby was going to come. The panic subsided and a baby was born.
  • My girls were about the ages of four and five. My mom came over and wanted to take them home for the day. They drove off and then mom called me and said, “Oh, we’re going to run down to Carrie’s.” Carrie’s was 45 min away. Panic. What if they crash? What if I lose my babies? All bets are off if You take my babies.

            Vulnerable: susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm.

Welcome to the human experience. There is no human on the planet that at one time or another (or all the time) hasn’t felt vulnerable. The human experience is wrought with susceptibility. From health, to accidents; rejection to abandonment. We are vulnerable to loss, pain, terror, surprise, sickness and death. No human can escape. No human doesn’t experience the weight of this truth.

Vulnerability was exposed the moment Adam and Eve sinned and ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. There it was, the exposure of the chasm between man and God; good and evil; safety and vulnerability. Their instinct was to hide. They were scared. They had now and forever been exposed to two things: 1. Their own sin and 2. his great glory. Not the glory where we lift our hands and “give glory,” no, this is the weight of who God is. Their eyes were opened and the distinction between who they were and who God was was so stark, so terrifying, so drastic, so real, they ran and hid. His light had exposed the reality of what was between the Creator and the Created. The wonder had been blown out like a candle’s flame. Death was ushered in like an unwanted guest. They were no longer safe in the garden or safe in His presence. They had become vulnerable, susceptible, exposed.

Any encounter from then on with the Almighty was met first with “Do not be afraid!” Fear was the new instinct when humanity met its Maker. When the fullness of the glory of God was made known when the first couple ate, with it came the rebellion against that glory. Since his own Glory is God’s primary passion, he dealt with humanity as Great and Glorious first, and they then understood his love and compassion later. The weight of his Glory is his first and foremost expression of Who he is. Even when Jesus came, John says that after Jesus did his first miracle of turning water to wine that this was the first time “he revealed his glory.” It doesn’t say “he revealed his love.” Glory, the weight of Who God is, meets the human before anything characteristic or other expression.

It is this glory that makes us vulnerable. Scott Saul’s taught that when the angels appeared to the shepherds and declared, “Do not be afraid!” is because the Light of God exposes in us the darkness of what is expressed in humanity. His light exposes our frailty, our nothingness, our weakness, our insignificance, our dust, our fleeting nature. This great Light of God shines in our hearts and we are undone at the magnitude of the chasm between who God is and who we are. We know we are creatures, doomed to die and we feel it all the time. The gasp at a near miss. The relief when we get a good report. The sense that time goes too fast. We see it in the wrinkles in our faces and the pain in our joints. We smile and sigh at the clothes our kids outgrow in a few months. We shake our heads that is was twenty-five, fifty-five years ago we got married. We just can’t believe it when we bury our loved ones.

Death never feels right. Our vulnerable state comes to fruition when we breathe our last. Most of us have a sense that we will never really meet that time. I think we pass our days without giving breath a second thought. It goes in and out. Our chests heave up and down and we don’t even think about it. Then one day, it stops. And we are always surprised. Even if someone has been sick, when they stop breathing we just stare in disbelief. We instinctively know that death is not supposed to creep into the land of the living. It’s not supposed to show up and steal what we love. It’s not supposed to sweep through countries and come at the hands of one man to another. We know it. We know it.

So, we call it something else, “God’s will,” or “The circle of life.” Others might say that they will find life in the next life. Maybe they will come back as someone or something else. But, to think that we die and that’s it, is almost something the human mind cannot, or will not, accept.

Why? Why does the human in all its brilliance and intelligence suffer in the knowledge that death comes to us all? It is because it is not in the original design. We were never created to feel the susceptibility and vulnerability we now feel. Even now, thousands of years and sins removed from Adam and Eve, we cannot help but hate death. It’s been part of the human experience since the beginning, surely we would have reconciled with it by now! But, we haven’t. We still weep and wail. We still sit stunned and stare off. We still scream and cry and shake our fists at the heavens. We are not used to it. Even in our attempts to honor our loved ones and create dignified ways of saying good-bye, the ache in the human heart swells and we just know that it isn’t right.

And we are right.

Before the choice of sinning against God, there was no death, and it is still within the DNA of the human to know that we aren’t meant for it. In fact, the Word of God says, “He has also set eternity in their heart.” (Ecc. 3:11) It’s just as much truth in us as our DNA for our gender, eye color, hair color, race, and fingerprints. Their choice left all of us vulnerable and scared. It left us feeling like at any minute the worst could happen.

 

But…

In the same story of the angels before the shepherds after they declare, “Do not be afraid!” they go on to say, “We bring you good news that will cause great joy!” The same light of God that exposed mankind to the chasm between Creator and Created offers that which will redeem sin and death. The same Light that brought forth the Glory of God, the weight of who he was before that which he had created, now brought forth the Glory, the weight of redemption. The Light exposes us; the Light envelopes us.

Why is this freedom?

Because now we are left with something we don’t have to beat ourselves up over anymore. At the age of 42 I have now realized, with relief, that my instinct to panic, to suck in air of fear and flinch at bad news, and cry at death, and have a moment of anxiety when I need to do a breast exam, is nothing more that my fallen human experience that was brought forth when the Light of God’s holiness and glory was shown to Adam and Eve.

It is not a lack of faith when I feel vulnerable.

It is the very expression of knowing Who God is and who I am; knowing what will be and what is right now; knowing my life is dying, but there is life to come. I am not not trusting God because I feel vulnerable and exposed to what could happen in life. I am not someone who doesn’t believe God for his word when I feel the weight of death and fear of illness, or debt, or suffering, or abandonment.

What is faith is feeling that vulnerability, that exposure, that insecurity and believing that the same Light of Glory, weight of God, love and compassion of God is greater than those things. His glory over me in blessing and life is greater than what is revealed in the natural human experience.

I think too often it has been taught that a life with fear is a life without faith.

While I believe we cannot live in fear, I do not believe we can live without feeling vulnerable. When vulnerability gives way to fear, we must remind ourselves that God’s glory over us is greater. God’s promise to us is greater. God’s love in us through Jesus is greater. God’s Holy Spirit who brings us life and light and knowledge is greater.

God’s glory is greater. The angels in Luke 2 continue with the joy that God’s glory is the highest and there will be peace for those on whom his favor (blessing) rests! This Glory rests upon us.

This GLORY rests on us. Think on this.

We should be relieved to know that the vulnerable ways we feel are because God has shown himself to us and we have seen the scales of balance between us. A greater knowledge of God should create in us a greater sense of vulnerability. From this, we rest in the greater greatness of God’s glory in and over us that comes in blessing and honor, strength and power, stability and peace, security and being known.

This is peace that passes understanding. In our vulnerable, chaotic state, we have a peace from God that passes it up. This tells us that our understanding is, yes, we are vulnerable and exposed and dying, and yet his peace is greater than that. We don’t have to stop feeling one to have the other. The Glory of God gives us this supernatural peace in the midst of our natural vulnerable reality. That is faith.

That is the freedom found in vulnerability.

 

“God doesn’t need you, He wants you”… I Beg to Differ

IMG_7399You’ve heard the line, “God doesn’t need us.” It’s usually followed up with “God doesn’t need you, He can do anything He wants, but He wants you.” Sure, I get it. God wants me and loves me, but there is something in us that cries to be needed.

Look at the meanings for these words in the English language:

 

 

Wanted: “have a desire to possess or do (something): wish for”
Needed: “require something because it is essential or very important”

All of us want to be wanted. We want to be desired and wished for. But, when we just stop there and teach our people, our church, that God doesn’t “need” us, we are saying (unintentionally) that we aren’t essential to the plan or very important to what God can do.

I beg to differ. Ephesians 3:10 teaches us something different. It teaches that it is through the Church (that’s you and me) that the manifold wisdom of God (Christ) would be made known to the world (that’s everyone else). Eph. 3:10

We are essential to His plan.

We are very important. 

Read that a few times.

Not only are we wanted, wanted by God to be in His known-ness, to know His voice, to have His Spirit, to walk with His Word and live in His love, but we are needed. We are needed by God to pray for the nations, cry with one another, bless each other, spread the Gospel, tell of His greatness, to finish the task of taking Christ to all people, to feed the sick, spend ourselves on the needy, love the widows and orphans, and on and on.

We are needed by Him to be filled with Him to be the people through whom He can take His love to the rest of the world.

We are essential to His plan.

We are very important.

Never let yourself forget that. Never let the enemy tell you anything otherwise, and he does this to all of us. If we actually believed we were not just wanted by God, but needed, as a King needs His army, there would be no stopping us.

Let us, teachers and pastors, stop telling our people, our brothers and sisters that “God doesn’t need them, but wants them” and change that to a more empowering sentence that “God doesn’t just want you… He needs you!”

Empower your people to greatness! Give them the words that say “you are seen”, “you are loved”, “you are wanted”, and “you are needed”. 

Not just needed to volunteer to make Sundays run more smoothly, but needed to accomplish eternal works of God that He has made ready for them. And then help them discover what that is!

This is powerful stuff.

This makes the stay at home mom not feel like she is overlooked and forgotten. This gives the man who goes to the same job, day in and day out, a sense of Biblical and eternal awareness that he matters in the place he goes to every day. This gives the student the ability to see that her time in school is not in vain and not for earthly gain alone. This gives the woman who works those hard hours the kind of encouragement she needs to keep seeking her place in His Kingdom.

We are all wanted: God has a desire to possess us.

We are all needed: God sees us essential and very important.

We are essential to His plan.

We are very important.

Both of these truths will set us free from insecurity, fill us with strength, and give us purpose.

Do you feel essential and very important?
Why or why not?

Wanting a Pacifier God

paci“She’s lost her paci again.”

These words have been uttered who knows how many times in all the years we’ve been raising kids. The never-ending hunt for a paci plagues most parents with babies who love those darling, wonderful peace-saving pieces of rubber!

Whoever invented the paci should get a Nobel Peace Prize, or at least a firm slap on the back. We salute you, pacifier inventor.

A Paci is just that, a pacifier. These man-made wonders (probably mommy-made wonders) were designed to bring both comfort to the baby, and peace to the mommy, because mommy cannot be the pacifier, wee one. Momma need a shower! However, when time to say goodbye, these wonderful things become the most troublesome, we-are-the-worst-parents-ever, “yes, you can have it one more night”, complicated seasons of your young child’s three year old life!

What? What happened to easy bedtime filled with joy and singing and ease!? (None of that is true, but it felt true when we starting taking away said paci) The tears! The sadness! It was like the paci had a soul! It’s like we took away her best friend! What parent does that?

We did.

Twice.

No “paci fairy”. No sending it to other kids who needed it. No lying. (Parents, stop doing that.) We just told her, “It’s time to stop using the paci now, baby.” And slowly, we worked it out of her little life.

Paci’s are good for a season. When that season is over, paci’s are from the devil.

A pacifier and comfort are two different things. A paci fixes a moment. Comfort goes with you through the moment. The difference is stark, especially when it comes to faith. 

Let’s focus on us grown-ups for a minute. Anyone here ever get angry at God? What about wish you knew the details to the future plan of His universe and was slightly irritated that He wasn’t telling you? What about when you demanded a sign from Him so that you would believe? Ever hold hate or anger in your heart toward someone and wish He would just change them? Ever want to throw yourself of the floor and kick and scream like a toddler because you weren’t getting your way? (Maybe, you’ve actually done that! Shhhh, I won’t tell, but seriously, get up. You look like a fool!)

I remember one afternoon I was in the car and took the opportunity to talk to God about some stuff. I was struggling with an issue in my life and I just needed Him to take it away and make me different. I was irritated and crying that He wasn’t fixing my problem. Then, I heard in a very clear voice in my heart:

“Natalie, I will not pacify your sin.”

I was stopped in my spiritual tracks. I knew exactly what He meant. God was telling me that He would not make me feel okay about what I was doing and that He would not just make me feel better and take away something that I needed to stop doing. It was a clear teaching that He would not pacify my sin, but would be more than willing to comfort me in my repentance.

  • You see, God will not pacify your sin, but He will comfort you through your repentance.
  • He will not pacify your rebellion, but will comfort you through your return.
  • He will not pacify your stubbornness, but will comfort you through your humility.
  • He will not pacify your unbelief with signs and wonders to prove Himself to you, but will comfort you through your faith with signs and wonders of His goodness and faithfulness to you.
  • He will not pacify your anger and tantrums, but will comfort you through your calming down, listening, and remembering He is good and He is God.
  • He will not pacify your blame game, but will comfort you through your ownership or your forgiveness of others.
  • He will not pacify your hate, but will comfort you through loving your enemies.
  • He will not pacify your judgmental nature, but will comfort you through your grace.
  • He will not pacify your “rights” and living for yourself, but will comfort you through your “cross” and dying to yourself.

Our God is not a giant paci to our me-centered faith. Instead, He is a God of grace, mercy, forgiveness, intimacy, fire, strength and comfort when we are humbled to Him and His Spirit. We have to be a humble people to a mighty and awesome God. I’m not saying we can’t be honest with God. I am saying we can’t be like tiny kids, angry that we aren’t getting our way, and expect God to fix it, pacify it. We don’t do it to our kids, He won’t do it to us. He wants a humble heart, a contrite heart, one yielded to Him.

There you will find all you need for all you need.

 

In what ways do you expect God to be a paci? 
In what areas do you need to humble yourself and let Him be the Prince of Peace in your life, the God of all Comfort?

What the American Church is Missing in Our Freedom

IMG_0506I have heard (and said) (and believed) (and still believe) that our freedom in this country is for these things:

1. So we can have a place to worship freely.
2. So we can have our own form of churches and buildings and no one can tell us otherwise.
3. So we can meet publicly and legally and not be arrested and/or persecuted.

Very beneficial. Very legit.

But, I wonder if we are missing something that, once we realize what we have, might send us running laughing like crazy people. I wonder if there is something in our freedom, that if we don’t take advantage of it in this day and age, could be taken from us by the time our grandchildren come around.

Is there something in this freedom that needs to change in us in order to make sure those coming behind us aren’t caught off guard, ill-equipped and unprepared for what might lie ahead?

I say there is.

My friend just told me a story about how her mom is a Kohl’s guru. We will call her Sharon. Sharon knows when the sales are, how much she can get off in coupons, and how to use the Kohl’s card faster than a gunslinger at noon. The woman knows Kohl’s. So, it was to her surprise when she went to scan a purse that was originally $100 and it came up $.50. She took the purse back to customer service, plopped it up on the counter and said, “Would you check this? It came up fifty cents and I’m just not sure that’s right.” The cashier checks the tag, scans it… $.50. The cashier then typed in the bazillion numbers on the tag and it came up $.50 again! They stood there stupefied. Calls to managers were made. CFO came in on a helicopter to check it out! A call to the White House and Secret Serve and low and behold it was $.50!

The cashier looks at Sharon and in sort of a question says, “Five dollars?” Now, I’m not sure what happened here, but Sharon said, “Okay!”

Wait a minute! The tag rang up $.50 and because it was too unbelievable, Sharon went with the five dollars. (Note: she had a 30% coupon so she only paid about $3 in the long run! But, back to the five dollars.) Sharon had them against the ropes. She had the advantage. It was not only for her benefit to see such a price, such freedom in shopping, but it was to her advantage! She could have called the shots and walked out of there with a pert-near free purse!

She didn’t see it. She paid the five dollars-ish and left feeling pretty good about herself. She didn’t take advantage of what was given to her. She didn’t leverage the situation.

And neither do we.

We have freedom in this country to do what we want within the reasonable boundaries of the law. We have been given a tag that reads “FREE!” and we only see it as to our benefit.

This is the missing component: We don’t leverage this freedom the way we could.

Not only do we have the gift of freedom for our benefit, we have the gift of freedom to really stick it to the spiritual enemy in our lives and the freedom to help the lives of others around the world. We are missing our chance to leverage this freedom. Missing. It.

Imagine with me:

What if we used our freedom, not to just build amazing buildings and fill them with lights and music and soft seats, but to spend hours in those wonderful buildings praying for our suffering brothers and sisters who meet in secret, in the dark?  

What if we used our freedom to not only be successful and make loads of money, but made as much as we could make in the freedom given to us that we could give millions and millions to those in need, not just here, but around the world? To send as many as possible. To fund every church and every ministry to it’s capacity. What if…..

What if we used our freedom, saw our freedom, not through the lens of our own benefits and pleasures, but through the lens of our freedom benefiting the world we live in? 

What if we no longer looked at our freedom as protection, or our right, and how it benefits us individually and as religious people, but what if we looked at our freedom as something we have been given that has given us the upper hand, the leverage to really change the world?

Our me-centered Christianity inside a me-centered country makes for an overall globally limping movement. We limp through our service to the nations and each other. We are always asking for more money in a country with money coming out it’s proverbial ears. We are always looking for volunteers when our seats are stuffed full of people every week. Our para-church organizations, although exhausted from it, are always coming to us with the need for more money, more support.

Why?

Because we view our lives, our freedom to come together and be the “church” as something we have the right to do and should get the benefit from.

This must change.

If we saw our freedom as the most precious, powerful, laughing-in-the-face-of-the-enemy advantage, there would be no stopping us.

But, we don’t.

We see our freedom as something here to serve us.

We complain about the smallest inconvenience and call it persecution rather than falling on our knees because we realize our “persecution” pales in comparison to our brothers and sisters around the world. Our persecution should drive us to prayer for them. But we let it drive us to anger, stomping our feet and saying “That’s not fair!”

“We can’t take our Bible’s to school!” Big deal. Hide the word in your heart so you don’t have to take the Bible to school. And pray for those who have no Word in their hands or they will be arrested, or killed. Use that persecution to wake us up to the fact that the Word of God has yet to reach millions of ears. Use the freedom we have to send the Bible around the world.

“They took the 10 Commandments down!” Come on. It is not up to “America” to honor God, it is up to the people in America to honor him, and a plaque with the 10 Commandments on it does nothing in the hearts of man. A plaque hung on a wall may honor the institution of Judeo-Christian beliefs, but honor to God is in the hearts of men. We do not make images of what we believe in and call it honor or worship. We honor and worship God in who we are and what we do to and with our fellow man. Use that irritation that you see our country changing to pray for those who have yet to hear of God and his love and grace. Pray for the people of our country to come back to honoring God, and then, live it out in your own life.

This is leveraging our freedom. This is not letting these small, progressive forms of persecution do anything but push us to our knees, pull out our debit cards, and use the freedom of speech to preach and teach.

Leverage this freedom to pray.
Leverage this freedom to give.
Leverage this freedom to go.
Leverage this freedom to send.
Leverage this freedom to learn and study.

Leverage this freedom to benefit the world. 

Could it get worse? You bet. Will it? No doubt.

But, our fight is not for America. America will come and go, but the Word of the Lord, the Church of God will last forever. Our freedom should be about His Kingdom, not ours. And when it gets worse, I pray we are ready to be prayer-filled and Spirit-filled people.

 

“The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave”

Be in this land of freedom, use it hard against the enemy. May we hold our freedom and shake it in the face of our enemy and cry to God:

“We will not let this freedom make us drunk on self-centered needs and wants. We will use this freedom to intercede where he destroys, pray for those who are under his rule, and pray against the darkness in this land of light! We will not shrink back in our comforts and pleasure just to watch him ravage the world. We will shake off the hypnotic state of freedom and pleasure and fight with a savage war-like fight in us that he has yet to see. We now see our freedom as a mighty sword against him and we will leverage it like no other generation has done before us. We have Christ in us, on un, around us and before us. We have the Spirit of the living God prepared and ready to do explosive mighty powers and acts through us and we will not let his temptation of sin and self-indulgence blind us to Your power in us! Finally, this country and it’s freedom should be a tool for us to use well. This country and it’s freedom cause us to smile a in his face because we have him against the ropes. We have been given the most amazing gift and we will use it for Your Kingdom and not ours. When the day comes, it will not be America standing, it will be the great Son of God and our enemy’s day will come to an end.”

Let it be, King Jesus.

Three Easy Ways to Make Your Kids Feel Awesome

IMG_3153I have four kids whose ages span from 16 to 5. Three girls and one boy. It doesn’t matter their age or their gender, here are three things work to make my kids feel like they are special and unique. And they will work for you.

(Side note: I don’t have the corner market on these three things, and I don’t think I’m the first to think of it. Wait…. nope, not the first. So, consider this a reminder to things you have heard before.)

One: Touch

I’m not one for snuggling much after the age of about ten. Maybe it’s because once they become almost as big as me, the darling and sweet moments of holding them in my lap is replaced with trying to grasp for air while trying not to wince from the pain of a boney bottom on my femur. So, I adjust. I go from holding and snuggling and picking them up over and over, to sitting by them on the couch and putting my arm around them. I exchange the double-arm, double-leg wrap around my neck and waist, for a long hug in the hallway when they get home. I swap out sloppy kisses for gentle cheek kisses before bed.

IMG_4099Touch is tricky. Some of us love it, thrive on it, can’t wait to be touched by another human because it feeds a place in our spirit. Others of us can go for days without even so much as a handshake. But, let’s stick to the middle of the road here. God created us with nerve endings that talk to our brain and vice versa. We are created to respond to touch and those responses trigger emotions that then make a path in our mind that could either feel love or hate. We all know that not all touch is equal. Some is life-giving. Some is life-stealing. As parents, we have the awesome responsibility to give them the gift of touch that holds hands with the gift of security, love, and feeling awesome.

If you are someone who hands out hugs and touches like cake at a birthday party, keep it up…but don’t smother. If you are someone who doesn’t need to be touched all the time, chances are you gave birth to someone who does, so dish it out. We all need it at some level. And your kids need it most.

Use the gift of touch to make your kids feel awesome. Sometimes, it speaks louder than words. Sometimes, it should be our only words.

Two: Laughter

It’s no secret that laughter is good for you, so imagine using that gift with your kids. I know, there are as many scenarios with our kids are there are families, so some of you might feel like that teen just doesn’t like you and there is no way they are going to laugh. Others might have little ones that the giggles come easy. There is also those years from about eight to twelve where what they think is funny, well, isn’t. But, we must march on!

Finding the funny can take some trying. We might bust a move from our high school dance days and think we could get a good applause and we look and our kids are writhing in laughter. Okay, not the response you may have wanted, but let’s count that as a win. They thought it was funny. Sure, it was at your expense, but it’s worth it. Go with it. Be goofy. Laugh heartily. Be amused at how goofy they are. Watch those silly shows on TV and let it be funny to you.

IMG_7187Let’s just be real here and let those bodily noises be something that is hilarious. You know they are, so don’t be so weird about it. Laugh with them.

Tickle those little ones and let them tickle you. (This harkens back to the #1). Read silly books and make yourself giggle with your toddles and little kids. Make funny faces and act out characters from the books you have. My kids become captivated when I use different voices in their stories. It adds so much to the moment and fills their little love banks until they are overflowing.

With older kids, turn on an appropriate TV show, or an old TV show, turn down the volume just a little bit, and add your own lines. You will roar with laughter and you’ll be surprised how funny and creative they are.

Go to a park and race. That is for sure to bring some laughter. See a G-rated movie. Tell them funny stories from your childhood around the dinner table. Show them old pictures of you and let them roll with laughter. Try to do a full exercise routine with them because we all know this is a sure fire way to get some chuckles.

A shared experience that involves some true gut-wrenching laughs is one they will cherish forever.

Three: Listen

I have a five year old who likes to tell me every detail to his Lego Star Wars game. I have a sixteen year old who likes to tell me every detail of her night at youth group. I have a seven year old who likes to talk about gymnastics and what kind of new shoes she wants until she almost can’t breathe. I have a fifteen year old who likes to tell me what she learned at church and how it touched her.

photoAll of these require more of my ears than my mouth. All of these moments when I talk less and listen more does nothing but show my kids that they are valued and heard. Now, I’m not not talking and sending the signal that I don’t care. I’m reacting. Asking questions. Nodding my head. Trying not to cut them off so I can get back to whatever I was doing. I’m listening.

Listening is more than just hearing what they are saying. Listening is ingesting what they are saying so you’ll have something to grow on. What is important to them may not mean a hill of beans to you, and even though your decades of experience ahead of them makes you want to gently say, “Honey, all this does’t matter when you’re a grown up.” don’t do that. Listen and learn to resist the temptation to always give advice, or always remind them that things aren’t as important when you get older. They are important to them now. Sure, we know that we can give advice and we can help encourage them to see just beyond their circumstance, but the reality is, they just really can’t see that far. They are in their moment, their reality, and we have to meet them there with love, encouragement and patience.

IMG_7188Touching our kids, laughing with our kids, and listening to our kids are just three ways to make them feel awesome. It’s not money, it’s not always in our words and tweets and Facebook posts. It’s in our interaction and in the moments we have now that matter.

The Third Week and Other Emotional Upheavals

IMG_4097_2Men, just, well, read if you want.

When I am about 10 days away from starting my, you-know-what, that war between rationality and emotional upheaval ensues. We women simply cannot help it. If you’re like me, those 7-10 days leading up to what we casually call our “period”, can take a normal, everyday person and turn them into a lip-biting, don’t-hug-me-one-more-time, deep breathing, where is my wine? kind of woman.

It ain’t pretty.

It’s that dreaded third week of our cycle. The one that decides that our hormones should be in charge and our wits decide to leave for a one week vacation. It’s exhausting, and can be quite the trickster.

In Stasi Eldredge’s book, “Becoming Myself” she has a few things to say about this time in our lives.

In the third week, if no embryo was fertilized, our brains signal estrogen and progesterone to vacate the building. Emotions slide a little bit. Blood sugar levels slide too. We aren’t feeling our confident selves as easily. For a few day, the empty space created by the departing hormones leaves many women feeling empty as well. This is not the ideal time to have a large gather in your home.

She goes on to give a little bit of advice.

Dear sister, if you haven’t practiced this, please chart your cycle. Make notes in your calendar each month so you know where you are. Look up, and take note of the signposts. You’re not lost;  you’re in your third week, that’s all.

Okay, that cracked me up and I have remembered it ever since I read it. It gives me grace. I can sigh a sigh of relief and say, ‘I’m not crazy. I’m not going to stay feeling like this. My hormones have abandoned me and I am in my third week.”

Still, it’s not an excuse. Well, it is, but I try not to use it.

Yesterday morning I woke up and I just “felt” it. I counted quickly on my fingers…day 20. That explains it. I can even tell my husband, “Look, I’m in week 3. I’m trying very hard to be nice, but I just need you to know that everything between us is just fine. Just don’t hug me so much.” We laugh. But, he knows I’m serious.

Even though the hormones rage, I still have to submit to God. Even though I want to let the firestorm of aggravation lead the way through the house, I realize I am nearly 42 and maybe I should calm down.

So, I get out my journal and write. I type in spite of the crazy running and yelling outside my door. Kids being darling kids that I want to toss outside for the day but can’t because it’s 45 flipping degrees in the middle-to-end of March!

 

breathe

 

 

My journal entry today was this:

I say Yes to You, even when my emotions say, “No, stay in your room and be crabby.”

 

I say Yes to You, even when my emotions say, “Throw in the towel and drink before noon.”

 

I say Yes to You, even when my emotions say, “Leave the house for a hours and let the kids fend for themselves. You’ve bought plenty of food! They can totally live for a day!”

 

I say Yes to You, even when my emotions say, “You’re a mom of four for the past sixteen years, not much to offer to the world.”

 

I say Yes to You, even when my emotions say, “You’re not strong enough. You’re not influencing anybody.”

 

I say Yes to You when everything flies and rages against me, against us. I will choose Truth and stability.

bosuIt’s like those half-ball, work out things. Down under the squishy, unstable, difficult to maneuver top is a sure and solid foundation. (Well, there should be anyway.)

But, we convince ourselves, regardless if we are in our third week or not, that our emotions, our feelings are our reality. They aren’t our enemies, but they also aren’t our boss, or Lord.

My emotional reality can be squishy, unstable and difficult to maneuver. It even tries to convince me that this is the way it is; that I am unpredictable and that life will always be hard to stand on. They can confuse us and make us feel like there is not really a solid foundation.

We must move past that. Even when we feel like we can give no more, or that if one more person speaks to us that our heads will explode, we must believe that we have a more solid foundation under the chaos of our emotions.

Easy? Nah

True? Yes.

Managing through our emotions can only be possible when the spiritual ground we walk on is stable.

It’s a game, no doubt. One we must play. And even when our hormones win out, even when we cannot control our tears or our anger, they do not define us.

What’s real is God and His Word. I mean, no matter what we go through, no matter how squishy and unstable we feel, underneath the emotions, the tragedy, the flailing of hormones, the day to day, in and out, motherhood, work, kids, marriage, friendship, under all that goes into those is the truth that we really do have a firm place to stand. 

We must not be deceived by the squish of our emotional upheaval. It threatens to make us feel like we really will fall down. Then we start to struggle with fear and panic. We grasp for control. We close our eyes for fear of falling down. Our ankles nearly break from trying to hold our balance. Our arms flail, trying to stablize our world.

 

 

stop

 

 

Breathe. Pause a moment. Take some inventory. See where you are in your month. Rest in the few seconds you have the power to create and sit there. You have the ability to shut down the world around you for a few minutes. Use it. Stop and focus. Look down at your feet. They are actually standing on something firm. We’ve been duped. We’ve believed our precious emotions call the shots and we feel out of control.

Honestly?

We are.

And that is why it is so important to know Who you believe, and what you believe. Know Who God is. It was Christ’s prayer for us toward the end of His life in John 17.

Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people, that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

The old hymn really is true. “On Christ the solid rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand.”

The third week. The emotional upheaval, the grief, the pain, the bad news, the loss..whatever it is, when you feel unstable and out of control, wobbly and tired, remember…

You are on solid ground.

IMG_2585I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock, and gave me a firm place to stand.

Psalm 40

 

When Fear Pounces and Joy Unfolds

FullSizeRender-1I didn’t want to take showers anymore because I knew that I would find something wrong. I would start the water and my stomach would fill with the little knives of anxiety. My heart race, my breath shorten. Somewhere along the way on my road of depression and grief, I had developed a trigger that said, “You get in and this time you’ll find a lump.”

I would get in because, well, it would be gross to never shower again and I had some sort of dignity left even though fear and anxiety had become my BFF’s. It was strange to be experiencing fear at such a pronounced level. I mean, I think any woman gives at least some thought to finding something in the shower every now and then, but what I was going through was not like that. I could hardly muster up the courage to get in the water.

Patsy Clairmont says in her book, You are More Than You Know, 

“Fear suggests that it came on suddenly when actually it’s been setting up housekeeping inside of us most of our lives. Satan has just been waiting for a situation where he would catch us off guard and set off fear explosives.”

I felt like all the fears, the paranoia, the hypochondria episodes, were sudden, pouncing on me like a lion on an unsuspecting meal. Not so true. Those fears had really actually been there inside me. Maybe somewhat dormant, easy to ignore and control. But, once my life had been uprooted from my home and I went spiralling into depression, those fears were unleashed and grew to the size of monsters. Satan absolutely took advantage of my situation and went on a full out war to get me to surrender to crazy. He dropped fear bombs on me and left me wounded and crying in pain.

My showers were quick. I would slide the soap bar over my breasts and make sure I didn’t linger on them very long. Or, I would just indulge the fear and do a 20 min examination on myself, shaking and knowing things were going to go wrong. Once I was “in the clear” I could go on with my shower and be done with it…until I cycled again.

My fears weren’t limited to just my boobs. I would feel anything weird and know I was doomed. It was appalling to me that normal aches and pains could send me into days of worry and self-medication (wine). A pinch at ovulation. A not-so-normal bowel movement. A headache. Even though each had a rational explanation, it didn’t matter, my emotions won the battle of my mind. The more I stressed about things, the more I believed things were happening, the more my physical body actually acted weird. I had pins and needles. I had weakness and my arms felt limp. I was sore down my neck and arms. I thought my legs weren’t working right. And, I more than once went to see my nurse practitioner/friend and tried to play it cool until she flat out said, “You’re a hypochondriac.”

She was right.FullSizeRender-2

I had spiraled and spun and cycled into an all out worry wart about my health, all while dealing with depression and two more moves after we got to Nashville. I would try and stay away from Google, because we all know every symptom of everything could be the common cold or you’re dead in seven days.

Listen: STAY AWAY FROM GOOGLE! (unless you need an answer to some trivia question like, “Who’s the best ping-pong player of all time?”)

I researched my brains out on how to heal the mind. Ordered supplements, read books and articles, listened to my NP on what were the best natural ways to balance my chemicals and feed my brain.

Vitamin D3
GABA
L-Theanine
Omega 3’s
5-HTP

I took them religiously, some of which I still do.

But, there was no magic pill. No right supplement combination that got me through. They were a great part and a good part, no doubt. Feeding my brain with good brain food was a step in the right direction. Talking walks in the sun were great as well. But, the biggest factor to my healing was…

 

Time.

 

You thought I was going to say Jesus, didn’t you? But, notice, I said factor. I didn’t say agent.

Here’s some fun dictionary stuff.

Factor: one of the elements contributing to a particular result or situation.
Agent: a person or thing or acts or has the power to act.

 

Time was indeed my greatest factor. It was one of the best elements that contributed to a result of healing. But, Jesus, he is the only person who had the power to act and heal.

In that time, I would fall and weep and tell him I couldn’t do it. I thought I would never be normal again. The fear and anxiety was too great and I just needed to move home to Oklahoma and drink wine and all would be okay.

FullSizeRenderBut, when the wine wore off and there were no boxes to be packed, I was still there with my fears, and my grief, and my depression. I think somewhere along the way in our super speedy way of living, we think that we can come through things faster, or that we should come through them really fast, and in a tweet sized way. Quick, short and easy. “This too shall pass” we say, but how long that takes is different for each of us. And usually, we want it to pass quickly.

There isn’t a day I can look to back and say, “Huh! I’m not a freak anymore!” I can’t tell you when the paralyzing grip stopped choking me, but I can tell you it did stop. I was persistent with God. I clung to Him and told Him I trusted Him over and over. I read the Word and had a few safe friends who knew what was going on. I confided in my mom. I saw a counselor and was honest with my husband. I sat. I stared. I read. I wept. I believed that God was greater than my situation and actually got to where I could say, “This won’t last forever.”

The fear let go.
The paralyzing cycle of what-if’s quit playing in my head.
The assurance of a faithful God even if my worst nightmare happened began to take the place of struggling to believe I would be normal again.
The grief of losing the life I thought I would have released, and I accepted this journey He had me on.
I quit waking up in knots.
I quit reaching for the bottle.
I relaxed.
Breathed.
Knew God.
Slept all night.
Smiled.

 

Laughed.

 

To open back up from being so tight in fear is like the slow opening like a flower to the sun. It’s a process, an unfolding, and exposure to the Truth-Light until you’re all the way open to the fresh goodness of God, a new perspective on life, and a newfound firm place to stand.

This is what coming out of fear feels like.

I won’t lie and say I never fear anything ever! because, well, I’d be lying. But, I can say that fear doesn’t call the shots. Fear doesn’t tell me that I’m crazy and that I’ll never be free. Fear no longer leads me through my day like a whipped puppy. Fear isn’t my boss, Christ and His Word are!

 

Your journey holding hands with depression and fear can come to an end.

Believe me.
And trust the Agent of healing through a long factor of time.

 

 

For a more in-depth look at how to be free from fear read Patsy’s book, You are More than You KnowAvailable on Amazon. Just click the book title!

So, You Don’t Have a Tragic Story. Me Either.

1984 6th grdI’ve heard it preached like a million times and it goes something like this:

“Jesus uses the talentless, the forgotten, the screwups, the marginalized, the poor, the least likely to make his kingdom grow and expand and to take his gospel around the world. He will use your weakness and the little you have to offer for himself.”

Something like that.

 

And I always cringe. I want to adjust myself in my chair and I try not to look around because I know people are looking at me because they know.  I kinda scrunch up my face and begin to feel a sense of “Well, looks like I’m out of the game.”

 

Now, before you think I think too highly of myself, I don’t. What I mean when I feel like “I’m out of the game” is that I grew up in a upper-middle-class home on the north side of the city. I went to the “rich” schools and got poked at by my friends on the south side because I was “rich.” My parents are Christ followers who love each other and are approaching 50 years of marriage. Being raised by them was both fun and easy. I have two siblings whom I love and have more good memories with them than bad. I wasn’t bullied. I never had want for money. I had plenty of food and clothes. I had more friends than I could shake a stick at. I cut my baby teeth on the leather Bible cover and the back of the wooden pew. I was never abused or hurt. I was never lonely. I didn’t go without normal pains like friends hurting my feelings, or loss, but I don’t have a tragic story that has left me feeling like I’m a nobody with nothing to offer.

Quite the opposite. I was always told I was a somebody, dearly loved and valuable, full of talent and could be or do whatever I wanted. I was set.

 

 

While I heard that preached many times, I also heard this:

“You’ve been given gifts and talents by God. Some are in your nature and some are spiritual gifts to you by the Holy Spirit. Now, we need to discover those and God will show you how he can use you to advance his kingdom! Go and make his name famous. Do something! Do something great in those talents God has given you. Be strong! Don’t let your weaknesses stop you!”

Got it.

So, God uses the ugly and untalented and least likely, but then he wants to infuse us with talents and make us awesome warriors for the kingdom so that we are strong for him, but be sure to keep your weaknesses close so that you stay humble, but be strong in your talents and gifting and make sure you are taking time to hone those in so you can do a great work.

I’m getting mixed messages here.

Out of one side of our Church’s face we preach that you don’t have to be somebody to do something. In fact, the worse off you are, the better it will be for you in what you will do for the the kingdom. Out of the other side, we couple that with the elevation of the most talented and the most dynamic and and then they, in turn, tell us we don’t have to be somebody to make a difference.

What is going on?

Which is it?

A nobody or a somebody?

 

I know, I know, I get it. But there is still the feeling in me that I’m at risk at being the least compassionate, the most Pharisaical, and the least like Christ because I’m not the broken, abused and marginalized person.

Preachers do not mean to do this. I know. But, it’s very much a thing. And those of us who have been raised the way we have with little tragic tales to tell, begin to feel like we won’t be as effective or as used as others. We get the sense that we won’t understand or won’t connect. And, you’re right. I can’t really connect with a woman who has come out of prostitution or has had an abortion or has been raped. I can’t relate to parents who abandon me or a husband that has walked out. I don’t have the tragic story marked by a redemptive meeting with God. I have some tragedies, but my life isn’t marked by a life of trouble and heartache.

 

I got saved at nine years old at church camp. We all did.

 

But, here’s what I do have.

I have a story of a woman who has testimony to what a family looks like who has been devoted to Christ for generations. I have testimony that when the “perfect” family, or life, has a tragic moment, we cling to Jesus, and to each other. I have testimony that when I chose a life of sin, and I had known the Truth my whole life, God is still in the business of forgiveness and redemption. I have testimony that generations can love and serve a great God for the advancement of His kingdom. I am living proof that the generational blessing is a real thing and I can point to a family tree, though not perfect, that has deep roots, firmly founded in Christ. I can tell you it works.

Stay true.
Stay steadfast.

I can tell you the Word of God is true, and even though I might not be able to sympathize with you, I know a God who can, and does. Even though I don’t share the exact same story, I understand grace, and love and forgiveness. I am a living testimony to the great Word of God being taught from one father to the next and then to his children and that the years in church and Bible college have armed me with the Word of God, rich and deep, for my life and those lives around me. It has saved me from more sin than I care to remember that I even thought about committing.

I am proof that though I don’t fit the bill of the “least of these” and the marginalized, I am still someone in desperate need of a Savior, who saves me from my pride, and a million other things. I am willing to give my all to God, and use both the talents and gifts he has given me, and the failing of my human weaknesses so that he may be glorified.

 

We are all in this together. We have all fallen short.

You, with the shattered life story, you are desperately loved and Christ wants you to be filled with him so that his name is made famous in your life.

 

You, with the pretty story, you are desperately loved and Christ wants you to be filled with him so that his name is made famous in your life.

 

Jesus hung out with a blue-collar hot head, a dirty government tax man, a greasy betrayer, prostitutes, and status seeking brothers. But, he also hung out with a Pharisee, a good man who loved God, but had some questions. He had a doctor write two of the books of the New Testament. He saved a well-to-do, dyed-in-the-wool Law abiding man (though a murderer thinking he was doing the right thing), and made him one of the most famous ministers of the gospel the world has ever known. Rich and powerful women advanced the gospel with their generous giving. Prominent men and women, those we don’t know their stories, made it possible for the gospel to march it’s way through the world.

The rich, the poor, the lonely, the one with the awful story, and the one with the pain free story, we all need him. We are all loved and used by him if we are filled and desperate for him.

Your story is yours.
Mine is mine.

But, both of ours plays a vital role in his

 

To God be the glory.

Be the Friend You Want to Have

IMG_4788I was floating along in the pool on a floatie. She was standing in the shallow end. We were lapping up the sun and enjoying our time together. She dropped her ponytail holder just after she had pulled it out to dip under and let the cool water run through her hair.

It sank to the bottom. Three feet down.

She went after it.

Now, at this point, you’d think any grown adult would be able to simply take a small nose dive under the water, retrieve the ponytail holder, pop back up and pick up where we were in the conversation.

That didn’t happen.

My darling friend of thirty-plus years had a bit of trouble. I laid on my mat watching in delight.

She dove under. Feet popped up. There was no small amount of splashing. She seemed to be gone for quite a bit of time. Her feet kept kicking up through the top of the water. She’s only three feet down. What is she doing down there? 

She came back up for a bit of air, hair in face, eyes closed. And went back down.

Now at this point, I’m already hysterical. I have no idea how I stayed on my mat.

She goes back under, oblivious to the fact that I’m in fits over what I’m seeing. My eyes are glued to the saga I am seeing before me. Feet cut back through the top of the water, flailing around like she was on the verge of kicking to the bottom of the ocean. Feet then disappear simultaneously as her head comes back through the top. Ponytail in hand. Rejoice! Glory! We celebrate. Well, she sorta does. My eyes are popped out of my head as she says, “Had a little trouble getting that.”

A LITTLE?

The spasms of laughter ensued. Spasms! Gut-wrenching, swimmer’s cramp, grasping for breath, equal to sit-ups kind of laughter.

She is a friend. A dear friend of whom I am not afraid to laugh at straight to her face. And she would do no less for me.

 

 

Same friend. Years later.

“Nat, I don’t know how much longer my mom is going to live,” she said.
“Want me to come home?” I asked.
“I don’t know. Let’s wait and see. I can’t believe this might be…” her voice cracked, “the last time I talk to her.”

We cried together, wondering if I should make the twelve hour trip home for a “maybe”. I called another girlfriend and we talked and weighed my options. We whispered our concern and spoke in low tones about our dear friend.

We have laughed until our sides split, and cried over things until we thought our hearts could bear no more. We’ve hurt each other’s feelings and made each other feel like we could conquer the world. We have studied the Word of God together and cracked not-so-clean jokes. We spoken Truth to each other and held each other accountable. This is friendship.

IMG_4816

Being a friend isn’t always about us. It’s not about who’s who and who knows who and who is on the Instagram with who (or is it whom? moving on).

It’s not waiting to see if you’re invited or tagged. It’s not waiting to see if they will text before you text them, or if they told you something they didn’t tell others so you will feel included.

Friendship is being the kind of person you want them to be to you.

 

 

 

You want friends who will prayer for you and with you? Then you pray for and with them.
You want friends who will check in on you and make sure you’re okay? Then you do the same for them. And if they don’t reciprocate, then maybe you need to find a different friend.
You want friends you can trust? Be trusting.
You want friends you can count on? Be someone they can count on.
You want friends who go after the things of God? Be someone who goes after the things of God.
You want friends who have your back? Have theirs.
You want them to care about the stuff in your life? Care about theirs.
You want them to babysit your kids? Babysit theirs.

This looks simple and sometimes it is. But friendship takes work. It takes being vulnerable and opening up. It takes going after it sometimes. One of the best ways to find strong friendships is to go through a Bible study together. Get some friends together and do a six week study. It’s amazing the new level you will have.

Wanna make it more amazing?

IMG_5089Pray together. Together, like on the floor together. Make it a priority.

Be that friend you want so that you will have the friends you want. They will be your biggest cheerleader, your greatest source of comfort, and your best laughs. Our God designed us for community to display His glory to the world. Even Jesus said, “They will know you are my disciples by your love.” (paraphrase)

When we love one another, when we are friends through thick and thin, it speaks to His greatness. Don’t let insecurity, jealousy, and the “need” to be popular (yes, even 41 year olds can still deal with this) ruin your chances of being a great friend and having great friends.

They are worth the risk, the fight, the reaching out, the work, the joy, the pain.

Be the friend you want to have in your life, and you will be so enriched by who God places in your journey. These are the friends I have. I pray you have the same.

Spend Yourself in Prayer

DSC_0353Crucified upside down.
Staked.
Burned alive.
Torn apart by lions.
Skinned alive.
Shot.
Beheaded.
Tortured.

No one wants to read that. No one wants to actually believe people are capable of things we hear, have studied in history, in the Bible, and now have seen on our screens.

I’m with you. I’d rather run, hide, pretend it isn’t real and believe that I’m so ill equipped to handle it that I just have to turn away. I don’t want to turn away, but I must. I can’t handle it. I’m way too weak, and honestly, too selfish to want to deal with this! But, I must. We must.

 

We can’t turn away.

 

I sat on my shower floor, exposed and as naked as you can be before the Lord. I prayed for them, for those who are facing those evil eyes, staring out over masks, and those hands holding knives and torches, guns and video cameras. I prayed for the ones that have no voice. I prayed for the ones that we have no idea where they are or what country they are in, but they are threatened, they are being targeted. I prayed for the ones not covered by media, nameless, faceless.

I begged God to send the enemy they face into spasms of spiritual fits because the name of Jesus is being spoken around them. That they would become like King Nebuchadnezzar of old, wild and untamed, lost and foraging in the ground until they recognize the One and Only True God. I prayed that He would cause them visions and dreams so unrelenting that they would beg Him to stop, and they would then know His love. His forgiveness.

 

“Pray for your enemies.” – Jesus

 

 

My head dropped lower and the water poured over my head. I whispered prayers, asking Jesus to tell my brothers and sisters, “We are here. We see you. We love you. We pray that your words would be of Christ. That your words would irritate the enemy, though they slay you. That they only know of Jesus and Who He is because you dared speak. We pray for your strength and boldness. We pray for your unwavering faith and dedication in the face of things we cannot not begin to understand.”

I wished I could whisper prayers in their language, but I was satisfied with knowing He can.

They are facing death. They are facing things we can only imagine and only see on our screens while we sit in our chairs and watch the snow fall. We cannot grasp it.

 

Do we dare pray for such things? If we were facing death as they, what would we be saying? What would we be praying? Pray that for them.

 

Prayer.

You doubt it?
You don’t understand it?
You wonder if it is effective?

Do not think that because you do not understand all of it that it is unproductive and He isn’t listening.

He is.

He wants us to pray. Repent. Drop our ideas of success. Let go of the need to be popular. Go faceless and nameless for the Great Name of Jesus. Blend in to the unity of believers and as one Bride, kneel and pray for the infectious name of Jesus to crawl into the hearts of those who hate and kill.

Ignore platforms and stop counting numbers.
Kneel. Weep. Spend your energy, your wonderful, Spirit-filled powerful energy on asking God to SEND, to GO, to GIVE, to RELIEVE, to IGNITE, to CRACK and PIERCE the darkness!

Spend yourself on behalf of others!

Spend it in prayer. In money. In social media. In whatever way you can. Wear yourself out.

Spend yourself because:

“Is this not the kind of fasting I have chosen; to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?…If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourself in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.

The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.”

Isa. 58

 

Do not think for one minute that your fasting, your prayers, your agony for others is not doing something. These promises mentioned in Isaiah of satisfaction, strength, water, light in the darkness, these come when we spend ourselves on others. These aren’t promises because we have prayed more, or thought more, or dreamed more… these come with pouring ourselves out more and more and more for

 

others.

 

Pray. Get some friends together with an agenda. Get together and kneel and pray, even if you don’t know how to pray…learn. Learn how to pray what God wants you to pray. Stop being afraid that you don’t understand or that you’re not sure. Fight for knowledge of the mysteries of heaven and spend yourself doing it. Loose what is in heaven to earth! Fight for our brothers and sisters in the posture of exhausting prayer. Loose their chains in ways we will never comprehend this side of eternity.

 

For in the end, what will matter most? In the end when the end of days come and we are watching Him in all His glory, will you smile because you…YOU spent your days on behalf of others, interceding in prayer for the lost, broken, persecuted, forgotten, and yes, even your enemy. You tired yourself fighting for them, for Him.

Will you spend your strength, your might, your time, your naked shower time to pray?
Will you let God agitate you and make you uncomfortable?
Will you let him bother you enough that things become a little silly and you worry less?

Talk to Him.
Ask Him to make you a pray-er if you are not. Find out what He says about prayer and then…

 

pray.

Join 21martyrs.com to pray Sunday. Visit the website and join the Church in this.