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Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Blessings of Prayer

It always amazes me at how different my thoughts are from God’s thoughts. Regardless of how hard I try, still the negative, hopeless thoughts seem to emerge. During the midst of my anger, I can only see the negative, hopeless side. It takes God to open my eyes and show me everything is not nearly as bad as I believe it to be.

I wrote this blog entry on Tuesday, only it was from a perspective of someone angry and taking the high and mighty stance. My words were sharp and judgmental, not at all reflecting the feelings of my heart. After hearing my old high school had stopped the pre-game prayer because of a complaint by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), I was livid. In the flesh, I wanted to rant and rave and make my voice heard. I wanted to argue all of the reasons prayer should not be removed. However, after I stopped my temper tantrum God changed my mind and showed me the positive side. And then He blessed me to rewrite it.

Instead of believing there will be no prayer at the football games, I choose to believe during the moment of silence everyone who believes in God will pray. Instead of one prayer, there will be many. Maybe this will open the eyes of those who don’t go to church and remind them how much they need God in their lives. God can take a bad situation and turn it into a blessing.  The devil cannot stop God’s people! Regardless of how hard he tries.

In all reality, he only has the power God wants him to have. The devil has never been able to defeat God’s people. Oh, he might tempt and try us; still, he can’t make us do anything. We learned from Daniel that even when the world tries to make a petition to prevent us from praying that we still need to follow the voice of our Lord. And when we do that even if we are thrown in the lion’s den, God will be with us. On the other hand, Daniel prayed in his home. I don’t believe he prayed to be seen, to make a point, or because it was tradition. I believe he prayed because God burdened his heart to do so. There’s a difference in praying from the mind and the heart.

So often we don’t pray anyway. We go through the motions and I believe God wants us to make an effort. But in all reality, it takes Him to give us the prayer to pray. Without Him we can’t do anything, especially pray.

Instead of focusing on the things the world forbids us to, why don’t we focus on the things God wants us to do. We still have the freedom to worship God and tell people of His greatness. We should all live our lives so that people may see God through us. Instead of telling people we are a Christian, we should tell them we are a sinner saved by God’s wonderful grace, and then show them the love, forgiveness, and patience of our hearts.

Yesterday, God reminded me of the part of the bible where they came to take Him to be crucified and Peter drew out his sword and cut off the soldier’s ear. Instead of urging them to fight for Him, Jesus stopped them and touched the soldier’s ear and healed him. He gave as an example of how to act. The world will always persecute us for God’s sake, but instead of being angry and bitter we should be thankful that God counts us worthy to suffer for Him.

Instead of wishing harm on the nonbelievers, we should be praying for God to help their unbelief. Just as Jesus said on the cross, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34 (KJV) That is what we should be saying.

It’s so easy for me to see other people’s faults and failures, but I don’t have the right to judge anyone. I don’t treat God right either. When it all comes down to it, my sins nailed Jesus to the cross, but it was an amazing love that held Him there.  

I have found when I get myself straightened out and pray for my own sins then I can see much clearer to pray for others. My pastor tells us to pray for our leaders. Where would we be without God in our lives? We could do much worse, than what some people are doing.  

I’m so thankful God has given me such beautiful thoughts about prayer and the privilege to pray to Him. After all, the power of prayer heals the sick and opens the eyes of the blind. It shields us from harm and protects us. It gives us the strength to walk through the valleys of life and overcome the storms. It comforts us through grief and despair and gives us hope. It is the way we thank God for His many blessings and beg for His forgiveness. Prayer is the keys to the kingdom of Heaven.

Sometimes we put God in a box and believe He only has so much power, but He is all powerful. With a blink of an eye He could destroy this world and everything in it. He could take the very breathe away from those who are persecuting the church and trying to ban Him. He could sound the trumpets and call the church home and then allow the fire and brimstone to rain down. But He doesn’t! Why?—because of the power of prayer.

There is a little church somewhere crying out for her lost people. She’s begging God for mercy and just a little more time so her loved ones might be saved. She’s praying with tears and a broken heart for the nonbelievers. While the world loves to distract us and make us think God is losing His power, we know that God is always in control and He will have the victory.

1 John 4:4 (KJV)
Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than He that is in the world.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Choice

I love this picture! It reminds me that God won’t break down our walls. He just simply knocks and waits patiently, with love and mercy, for us to open our hearts and allow Him to come inside or turn Him, and all that is wonderful, away. He doesn’t make us love or accept Him. He only asks that we will; however, where we spend eternity and the condition of our heart is our choice.

Someone once told me, we can either be a stumbling block to our loved ones or a light to them. When you really think about it that is a tough statement. It doesn’t leave any room for negotiation or compromise. It means that you will either help those you love to the Lord or you will stand in their way. I don’t know about you, but I would rather my Lord take me home, than to willingly stand in the way of someone and God.

There is someone watching our lives. There is someone who watches to see how you handle situations. There is someone who counts your smiles and frowns. There is someone listening to see how many times a day you complain or if you’re praising God, during your struggles. There is someone who watches to see if you find the positives in life or dwell on the negatives. There is someone counting on YOU to lead them to the Lord.

Last night, my baby snuggled up close to me and said, “I’m so thankful you’re my Mommy.” I smiled so thankful that God had blessed me with such precious little boys to take care of. He trusted me to look after them. And I want to do my absolute best. I believe if we fail to take our kids to church and tell them about God, then we are standing in their way of the most precious gift ever offered or received. I believe we should take them, regardless of the situation. We need to not only tell them how much we love God, but every day we need to show them.

This week has been a tough week for my kids. School has been demanding and they’re not adjusting well. I’ve held them as they cried and wished I could make it all better. However, I realized as the crisis was happening, I had two choices. I could either A) Go into the school making demands and being hateful, therefore, further upsetting my children and their teachers or I could, B) Tell them it would get better and show them the positive side of it all. I could offer possible solutions to the problems and remind them their teachers are struggling with the new system, too. So instead of rebelling, they needed to be kinder and more understanding. A smile in the midst of horrible day can be as powerful as a drink of water in the desert.

In every aspect of our lives we have a choice! While I don’t always know the right one, I’m so thankful the answer is always a faith call away. God will always lead and direct me, if I only ask him. He will always show us how to rise above the rubble, victorious over it all. He will show us how to walk through the valleys of life with a smile on our face, while the tears fall down. He will show us how to trust Him, during the storms of life that threaten to destroy us.

Every time I think about my life and how God opened my eyes and showed me my scars are a blessing instead of a tragedy, I’m so very, very thankful. I’m so thankful that instead of keeping my hands shoved deep into my pockets, my arm and foot covered that God blessed me to reveal them to the whole world. They will all be on the cover of my book. If someone had told me this a few years ago, I would have laughed and argued it would never happen. I’m so thankful God showed me that instead of being ashamed of my scars I needed to be thankful. I’m so thankful that He has blessed me with the gift of words to show the hope and thankfulness that is in my heart. I’m so thankful that He has blessed me with the hope that my story might help another life. But when it all comes down to it, I had a choice. I could either see myself as a victim or a survivor. There’s a HUGE difference in those perspectives.

I have learned it is not what you overcome that inspires others, but it’s how you overcome it. I could never put into words what it felt like when I realized I could no longer work a regular job. I felt defeated and useless. It was so hard on me to watch my husband go to work every day and work so hard, and, yet, we struggled to pay the bills and just buy groceries. Things that were once taken for granted became luxury items. There was a big part of me that wanted to give up. That wanted to stop fighting and just accept the inevitable. However, there was a part of me that still had a little glimmer of hope.

And that hope made me look toward Heaven and remember the promises God had made me. I believed that if I trusted Him with my life, He would make a way for me. I believed that He wanted me to continue fighting, believing there would be a better day. Oh the devil laughed at me and tried to get me to worry and turn away from God, but I’m so thankful I choose to believe that all things work together to the good for those that love the Lord and are the called according to His purpose.

Imagine how I felt the day the publisher offered me a contract on my books. All because I chose to follow the way God had made for me. I will continue to have days filled with pain and limitations, but when I’m sitting in a classroom, surrounded by kids, reading them my story, I really don’t think it will matter. Their smiles will make me forget my troubles.

Today is filled with choices, so choose wisely! And when in doubt, sometimes we have to choose the road less traveled. That’s usually the road that leads to happiness, peace and, most of all, our wonderful God.  

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Next Chapter

The prelude to the first day of school always makes me nervous. I’m vulnerable and therefore and easy target for the devil. If I’m not careful, I will find myself worrying over needless things like if their new shoes will hurt their feet or if their backpack is too big and heavy. Will they have any of their friends in their class or will their teacher be kind? It can be a fearful thing to drop off a little one at school and then walk away—not knowing if any kind of danger lurks ahead.

Last night I thought I would never fall asleep. Sometimes it’s so hard to be a Mommy. I want to protect my kids from all harm. I don’t want their little feelings to be hurt or anyone to hurt them physically. I want them to always be safe and happy. But I know that’s not always possible. So I tossed and turned half the night whispering a silent plea for God to keep my little ones safe.

And then I realized that before anyone can hurt my children they have to go through God. He is always with them. He has an angel just to protect them. And if for some reason He allows one of them to be hurt for any reason, there is a purpose.

I want them to be strong, kind, compassionate, loving kids, but in order for that to happen they must face their share of heartaches and challenges. So now I pray that God will help them overcome any obstacle that comes their way and grow strong roots.

The kids and I were blessed with a wonderful summer. This was the first summer that I didn’t work—not even writing; well, except for this blog. We played and helped my parents in the garden. I love being able to balance my career and family without neglecting one or the other.

Now that the kids have started school, it’s time for me to start a new book. It scares me a little—okay if I’m honest, a whole big lot. I’m faced with the same type of fears and concerns as my previous book. I know when I start writing the first draft it will be a painful process, but I also know it is therapeutic to write with tears. Regardless of how much it hurts me, I don’t want to be disobedient to God. I know if I refuse to do what He wants me to do that He can take away my ability to write at all.

I know this is the next chapter for both the kids and me. There will be bumps, bruises, and tears along the way. There will be times when we will both want to give up—times when things will seem impossible for us both. But I also know it is very important for me to lead by example. God’s work is not always easy because we struggle with ourselves, more than anything else, but it’s a good work. And everything God does is for a purpose.

It took me six years to write my last book, but five and a half of those years were spent running and fighting the gift God has blessed me with. With this book I pray I open my heart and allow God’s wisdom and knowledge to mold me. I pray I won’t resist, but humbly accept and be appreciative for the next chapter of my journey. God has a great plan for me and my life and I believe we are just getting started.

The one thing I have learned about serving God is there is no discharge in this war. A preacher once said, we are all going to die on the battle field, but it is up to us if we are lying down or fighting for our Lord. When things in our life get hard we can either draw closer to God or turn away from Him.

I want to draw closer to God. I want Him to teach me the ways I should go. And if there’s one thing I learned from my previous book, it is to do whatever God lays on your heart willingly. I fought it with everything in me, but, if I’m not mistaken, I ended up writing that book anyway. All of my running and fighting just caused me a lot of unnecessary misery and heartache. God always knows what is best for each of us and I’m so thankful He ignores my whining and gives me what He knows I need.

So I’m going to keep writing and praying, sharing my heartaches and blessings and pray that it helps at least one person along the way. As with everything I write I know the first person it will help will be me. And one day my tears of heartache will be anew blessing.
Romans 8:28 (KJV)
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

My Reflection

The first time I saw my son stomp to his bedroom and then slam the door, I knew I was looking at my own reflection. It was even more pronounced when he rolled his eyes as I scolded him. Whether we like it or not, our children often pick up and mimic our traits, habits and tempers. It can be a very good or bad thing, depending on how we live our lives in front of them.

Anyone who has children realizes that being a parent is not easy. The Lord only knows how much I fail every day. I pray and ask continuously for Him to help me be a good Mommy. So I’m not going to pretend that I even know what I’m doing for one minute or that I feel I’m so great that I have a right to educate others on the dos and don’ts, but I would like to share the things God has showed me. I know this is a learning process for me, and just like any other part of my life, I will make the wrong choices—every now and then. However, I believe the most important thing we can do is to learn from our troubles, pray harder and constantly look to God for our guidance.

After all, He is the one who gives us these little ones to brighten our lives. He knows what they need, far greater, than we do. He knows the correct balance of love and discipline to help them grow and establish strong roots. He knows when they need to be held and when they need to be left alone. He knows when they need help getting up and when they need to do it on their own.

My Mom and I often talk about the way I was raised. She’s amazed and often heartbroken at how she treated me when I was a child. She was tough and stern with me. She pushed me to find my limitations in life and then pushed me to overcome them. But that’s EXACTLY what I needed. Now she realizes it was God who hardened her heart toward me. If she had always done everything for me, then I would have never learned to find my own way. And she was never truly mean; she just wouldn’t ever allow me to use the handicapped/disabled card. She never showed me any sympathy for my scars.

She forced me to live a normal life and I can never tell you how much that means to me. In doing that, she gave me a wonderful, beautiful life. She could have just as easily taken it all away. Imagine what kind of person I would be if they had blessed my poor heart constantly or if they had constantly put limitations on me. None of us know the true depths of our abilities until we are challenged to prove them.

And that’s what I want to do for my children. I want to give them a good solid foundation to build their life on. I want to take them to church and teach them about the most important part of life—God. I want to pray for them and trust God will save them one day and bless them with everything they will ever need in this life and the one to come. I want to TRUST God with my children and know that He will give them exactly what He gave me. I want to set them up stones for their future.

I want them to look back on their life one day and be thankful for the way I raised them. I will never be perfect, but I want them to know I tried and gave them my best. I don’t want to just tell them how they should live their life, but I want to show them. I want to show them how to handle difficult situations, by doing what they can do and then turning the rest over to God. I want to show them to be kind to others and treat other people the way they want to be treated.

I want to show them that living for God, is the best life they could ever live. I want to show them that if they put God first in their lives, everything else will fall into place and be even better. I want to show them to dream big. The only limitations in life are the ones we place on ourselves.

I want to teach them to always look to the positive side of every situation. I want to show them to always look for that little glimmer of hope in all situations. And believe with God all things are possible. I want to teach them they can overcome anything at all, through prayer and obedience to God.

Okay, so I know some of these things they will have to learn on their own. But I also know there is nothing their little eyes don’t see nor their little ears hear. When we think they’re not listening or paying any attention at all, they hear and see it all—the good and the bad.

Every day we are molding our children in some way; whether it is a positive or negative way. They will either adhere to the things we teach them or have to learn to overcome them.

Author shares message through Zippy the zebra