Prayer

Finding My Voice (conclusion)

You can read Finding My Voice by clicking on the title link just provided. However, this post should be able to stand alone in its truth.

As I was preparing for what I was to share with the ladies of the first Be Still study, I went back to one of my earliest journals that I kept. My October 2, 2014 entry was written while at a 72 hour intensive women’s retreat. I read directly from it, and since it is a “prayer journal,” I asked the women gathered to please close their eyes as I read the words unedited from my journal. As I began, I asked these sweet sisters to listen carefully, and try to identify how God surely heard my words and has undoubtedly answered my requests.

Lord, Thank you for this time. I love spending time with you in silence, in the stillness. Despite my loud personality and at times non-stop mouth, my love, desire and need for time in the quiet with you and in prayer are what I yearn for the most. Better than glitz, glamor, and the like; You are my provider. You are the only thing that satisfies. You are the lover of my soul. I am Your precious child, and Your design.

How many times have I missed this? The business of busy-ness. I ask you now Lord to keep my focus on You. Drain myself of me! Instead, fill me with You, and You alone. Let me replace all my opinions of myself with the opinions, love, and adjectives You have for me. Surround me, embrace me with Your holiness, and righteousness.

For all the ladies here and for myself also, speak Your word and truth into our hearts. I no longer pray with my eyes closed, but rather with pen in hand. Let me be an instrument to be used by You Lord. Show me opportunities to share my love and faith in You.

I closed with this prepared prayer. “Oh Heavenly Father, thank you for letting me share and remember this prayer from over 4 years ago. Nothing is a surprise to You. You are here Lord, and you are in this place. Thank you for each woman here today. May each of them know they have been prayed for by many prayer warriors sitting in this room, and elsewhere. There is power in prayer! We have no doubt that You have hand selected this study for each one of us to be part of, and we are using this time of learning how to surrender all unto You. I pray each one of us can leave here encouraged to live out Psalm 46:10. May we humble ourselves, be deliberate and obedient to practice being still so that we can know the Great I AM. Take us deeper in our faith. Thank you for giving me a voice to make your name great. You deserve all our praise. You know everything about us, and love us STILL. You are our Mighty Counselor.”
In Jesus Name, Amen

For those of you readers old enough to remember Andy Rooney and his famous way of bringing us The rest of the story, I want to share with you a little God wink that the majority of those ladies were not aware of. The women’s director had let each one of us on the writing team have freedom in what and how we presented out little speech to address the women in attendance. She and another church staff would deliver the bigger teaching points for each week. We did not meet beforehand to discuss exactly what each of us were going to share to make a seamless flow. But you know what? God did! That week the ladies got to hear my testimony. I had talked about seeking help with a counselor, and later in the hour information was given on who to contact for counseling and other needs. It was like my testimony was a volleyball set for God to drive His point home about using the community of believers to help each other out along our journey. I don’t know if I adequately described how exciting and goose-bump giving this was for us; but it was not by coincidence, nor by chance. God orchestrated the timing and it was perfect. We knew at that moment along with many others along the way, we were operating in His will and obedient to His direction. We were serving as His vessels.

Today take time to ask the Lord to open your spiritual eyes, and be willing to go and do what He has planned for you. Remember, you are chosen, and you are His. You have been called out of the darkness, and into His glorious light! You have a voice. Carve out time to meet with Him to find what He wants you to share, and then don’t keep it to yourself. You matter to Him. You matter to others that need to hear your struggle and the victory you have found in Jesus. 

 

Prayer

Finding My Voice

I began following Jesus after my first child was born. God grew me in my faith right alongside my children as they grew up in church. I started serving in pre-school, children, and youth ministries until God had me step out a couple years ago when I agreed to be part of a women’s writing team for a study on Psalm 46:10. I would be jumping in the deep end without my floaties, and trusting God with His plans for me.

I have no problems talking to strangers, or oversharing for that matter.  But one of the hardest parts of the study was the moment I had to stand up and publicly give a little insight into myself. Now mind you, I am typically comfortable speaking in front of large groups of children or teenagers, but these were women: Godly women, women of all ages, backgrounds, gifts, wisdom, and status in our church and community. When I got up on that stage, I was physically shaking and terrified. I heard it in my unsteady voice.  The enemy was on full attack mode and whispering all sorts of doubts and telling me how unqualified I was to speak to others. I persevered, and what you are about to read, was what I read aloud to a full room of ladies whose eyes were parked on me.  

About 7 years ago, I was in a bad place and stayed there for some time. I felt alone, I had health issues, and feelings of failure for quitting my job as a Jr. High science teacher, and at the bottom of my spiral down I was on the verge of ending my 20 year marriage. Thankfully, I sought help. At the conclusion of my very first session with a Christian counselor he told me these 3 things about myself:

  1. I have Mommy issues
  2. I have abandonment issues
  3. I didn’t have a voice. 

The first two were well realized, and self diagnosed years before. However, I wrestled with that last one for a while. I didn’t have a voice? How is that possible? I didn’t keep things in, I’m an open book. But I soon realized that for most of my life I wasn’t being heard, or not by the people that mattered most. I began writing then as part of my therapy. It didn’t start out great either. There was some ugly crying, ripping up papers, and what I like to call “serious butt time.” A nice way to put it is that a whole lot of time, and work has gone into the transformation and healing I have experienced.

But you know what? I found my voice in writing. I found that despite my ADHD tendencies, I could focus when I dove into pen what started out in a old partially used cheap spiral notebook. I found that I naturally began writing to my audience of ONE.  My therapeutic writing, pouring my guts out morphed into prayers and meditation and lessons from God.

My intimacy with the Lord has grown exponentially over the years. Early each morning my time with God isn’t just a luxury, or a box to check on my Christian to-do list. Plain and simple, it is hard work, takes time, but it is worth all of the effort and has become a daily necessity for me. Why? Because HE hears me. He always has time for me. He extends grace. He created me and loves me beyond measure. He is mine and I am His. He will never leave me, nor abandon me. Jesus is all I need.

To be continued…Finding My Voice (conclusion)

After my obedience in posting I’m back, I was prompted to make an entry every day until God tells me to stop with the daily submission for public viewing. I want to keep it short, so tomorrow check back to read the closing of this public testimony. Have a blessed day, and know that you are not alone.

Prayer

I’m back

I do not know why I am so reluctant, but after updating my “About” page it seems this site kept track of my approximately 2 years of silence. In this moment, I am forced to fully realize exactly how long I’ve been stiff arming the Sovereign God. I realize its time to take the foam ear plugs that I was using to silence the Holy Spirit. (FYI, they didn’t work because I heard His promptings anyway.) During my absence from posting publicly, I did not fall away and at no point did I stop pouring my heart out to the Lord in prayer and with writing.

This blog launched me into an opportunity very far out of my comfort zone. I spent a good part of a year on a women’s writing team from my local church to develop a Bible study on Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” I can tell you it challenged me in ways I never imagined. I had many moments, and full on days I would struggle and fight with God over my placement and worthiness of working on such a big project with a group of ladies that certainly were “more than” me. My emotions were all over the place throughout the course of the project. Here is some of what I did that reveals my struggle, see if you can relate to any of them. I compared myself to the others, I devalued my own submissions and ideas, I was fearful, unsure, obstinate; I would get off track, derailed, throw fits, ignore and procrastinate. I would be silent, I would think of a million other things I could be doing, I cried, I resented my “yes,” I contemplated quitting, and wondered why anyone would ever want to read anything I had to offer.  What’s more, is I’m sure I could go on with a thousand other not so lovely things I did wrong, but you know what? I did the most important thing .

I prayed. Every. Single. Day.

I prayed on my own in the solitude. I prayed with these writing sisters. I prayed with my small group. I was prayed for, and this study was being prayed over by so many I wouldn’t even know who all to thank. With God, I persevered. He never left me. He didn’t give up on me. I wasn’t a mistake to be included in this small circle of amazing Christian ladies. Reality check: Typing that last line, is tough even now. I do not consider myself worthy, but God does. He sees me, and He doesn’t want me to be silent on my struggles.

Today I choose to be obedient to my calling. Today I push all of my anxieties, and the list of reasons why I could be doing anything other than spending this extra time on my bottom in front of my computer to the side. I tell my negative self-chatter to put a sock in it for just a few. In doing so, I will let Jesus speak through me.  I am chosen, and I am who the Great I AM says I am. I’m back and I’m giving notice to Satan that I will not be silent and let the enemy win today.

What is the Holy Spirit asking you to share with someone, or do for someone? Is there something you have overcome with the help of Christ that you can share and help another who needs encouragement? I pray today you spend time at His feet, and know you are worthy. Be obedient to do whatever it is He is prompting you to do. If you don’t sense anything, stay close to Him; ask for His guidance and remember His timing is perfect.

Prayer

Malleable

I find it quite interesting that I am in my mid 40’s and I continue to learn new and profound lessons.  I know you have been doing a work in me to make me aware of some areas of my life that still need some adjusting, perhaps at times a major overhaul. Okay, that last part may have been a bit of an exaggeration, but I do know that I am not yet where I need to be. Like the apostle Paul in Romans 7, I find myself doing exactly what I do not want to do. It is a raging war inside of me. I long to always do what is right, and going where you lead; but more times than I can count I fail. Thank you that your mercies are new each morning.

I come to your feet this morning and as most days I pray that you change me. Shine your light into my dark places. Reveal to me the areas where I need to be rebuked and challenged. Align my thoughts and actions to be pleasing to you. All that is good within me is because of you Lord, and I want to please you by showing your righteousness to others. Use me; I long to be your humble servant. Give me your eyes to see, and may I gain understanding and wisdom through the Holy Spirit leading me while I meditate on your word. You have proven yourself to me by being trustworthy and a promise keeper. You never leave me, and you will never abandon me. You always welcome me back with open arms, separating me from my sins as far as the east is from the west.

For the last couple of days if not weeks, the word malleable keeps appearing in my prayer journal. As a science teacher, this was a vocabulary word I was familiar with and I was praying for God to “shape me.” Today, I decided to dig deep with actual definitions from the dictionary and here is what I found.

MALLEABLE  1) capable of being extended or shaped by hammering or by pressure from rollers. 2) adaptable or tractable 3) Capable of great deformation without breaking, when subject to compressive stress. Gold is the most malleable metal.

The second definition showed the word “tractable” that I was not familiar with so I looked it up to and here is its definition:

TRACTABLE 1) easily managed or controlled; docile; yielding: a tractable child; a tractable disposition. 2)easily worked, shaped, or otherwise handled; malleable.

This is one of those moments for me where I am actively resting and letting God lead. It was like a special gift waiting for me when I read these 1-corinthians-10_13definitions.  It is confirmation that I am on the right track. I am requesting to be able to allow the disappointments, hardships, and pain in life to extend me and shape me under that pressure; knowing I will not break. At times, I do find that life’s circumstances squeeze me like pressure from rollers. I know I am not alone in this, but I have always seemed to be the kind of person that has to learn things the hard way. In my stubbornness, God has had to hammer me because I wasn’t responding to his still small voice. I welcome the hammer, especially when it is from the righteous judge who wants nothing but the best for me. Tractable is a new word for me and I love it. I pray that I yield my will to His. May I be an easily managed child of God with a willing spirit to be obedient.

 

What really makes me awe-struck this morning by my Heavenly Father, is found in the more scientific definition that I had been meditating on and revisiting lately. I am reminded of how special I am to my creator who loves me. Gold is a precious metal and is the most malleable. I tend to forget that I am a precious daughter, and I am a valuable treasure. Purifying gold is a process by which it is placed in a blazing hot fire to burn off impurities that rise to the top. The impurities are skimmed off, and the process repeats until the refiner can see his own reflection, like looking into a mirror. Lord, I want to be refined by you. I want you to continue to purify me by the trials of life. Turn up the heat on any sinful desires, bring them to the top and not hidden in any dark place inside of me. Skillfully remove all the trash that floats to the surface until nothing is left but a glowing reflection of you. When others look at me I pray that one day they will see a reflection of you. I pray that day by day I become more like you, and less of me. Continue the good work you have started in me. May this post bring glory to You, Lord of ALL!
Armor of God · Prayer

Our Only Weapon

Are you struggling to be in the word? If so, I guarantee your Armor is not at its full power. Do not be surprised by the enemy gaining ground on you. 1 Peter 5:8 “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Stop, do not pass go (remember monopoly?) Go find your Jesus issued uniform. Put on your protective gear, the Armor of God. Return to the word, dig in and cover yourself in truth. Rest in his promises. May this post encourage you to be in prayer, be in the word, and know truth, develop your faith, be at peace, stand firm, and take a posture of victory. James 1:22 “Don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” (NLT) 

 I have been growing in the word for many years now, and the last several I have been walking ever so closely to my Savior. He called me out upon the waters. My faith gained much growth once I started the practice of writing in prayer journals.  Naturally I am not a writer. I have not been trained and I’m sure my style is unorthodox to say the least. Writing just isn’t my thing. Remember, I am a retired science teacher. I love quirky teenagers, sports, and I have a strange sense of humor. I have a difficult time staying still and focused.

Journaling is a discipline that I found really difficult at first, but soon realized it allowed me to stay focused and organized in my thoughts. When I try to pray without writing my mind wanders, and before I know it, I am making a mental list of things to do, and/or finding some pressing household chore that must be done immediately. Even worse, I may fall asleep right in the middle of my conversation with God. How’s that for brutal honesty? Thankfully we have grace. I developed a daily habit of writing. Soon, I found that my time spent with God began to increase. I would have such focused moments that words would flow through my hand with ease and fluidity. This process also helped me remember how faithful God was because I could look back and see how my prayers were answered. At times it felt like he wasn’t listening or acting in my timeframe, but once the scope was widened (time passed) I could see His sovereign fingerprints all over my life. His ways far surpass my limited perception. I have also developed a habit of meditating on his word and writing it in my journal. When I have no words, I pray His words! My quiet time has become my daily bread, my manna.

 Back in December of 2015 I felt a stirring inside of me and began to pray. I asked others to pray for me as well because I felt that a new season was coming. Like many, I have lived the majority of my life making decisions based on feelings, doors that were open, natural advancements, etc. On occasion I would sprinkle prayer in for good measure. More times than not, I would move ahead without any clear answer from the throne. With my faith at an all time high, I felt that I would continue to pray it through and fully trust God. I wish I could say I was consistently patient and quietly waited for the Lord to point me in the right direction. Admittedly there were several times I would circle around my prayer and pick it back up and try to “help God out”. Um, hello, newsflash…God doesn’t need my help. He does need my cooperation though. I would try to figure out ahead of God what “new season” could mean, and I had several “what ifs” that had my brain swirling. In the end, there would be nine full months of praying while the Holy Spirit corrected me in my impatience and my feeble attempts to gain control of the situation. He firmly, consistently, and lovingly reminded me again and again of His will, not my own. Isaiah 55:8 is a verse that continually is on replay in my mind, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.

My last big event of the Summer was a family cruise (right before school started and kick off of student ministry season). I had slipped away on a very quiet early morning on a large ship in the middle of the Caribbean to spend time in the word and to pray with my journal and Bible in hand. Very clearly, I was told to step out of student ministry. Who told me? Jesus spoke, and I felt compelled to tell everyone I was with later at breakfast of my clarity. I would have to say “no” to something that was so near and dear to my heart. Working with students had been my love for nearly 20 years.  My new season first had to begin with an end.

 How do you know if you are following God’s will and following the path He is calling you to? PEACE is the answer. I didn’t know what I was going to do with myself and my time, but I had peace. I knew all I needed was Him. He got me this far, and I was listening for his direction to where I would go next. I decided I would not move until he said go. God tells his people over and over throughout the Bible to be still, or to wait, or to rest. So here I was in the sit and stay position. 

 Do not buy into the world’s idea of coincidences, or luck. May you fully realize that God is in control, and He has called each one of us here. For me right now that means, opening up and writing for others to read. More importantly, for others to be encouraged to develop faith that can move mountains. God alone holds the power to my words. He alone is my rock, my refuge, and satisfies my every need. I was lost, but now I’m found. Dear Friends, find out what he is calling you to do. If he is pushing you outside of your comfort zone, do not shy away. I pray that God would confirm his next step and direction for you. For me and many followers before me, through a few tears and in much awe and with lots of prayer I hope that you are encouraged by strong Christian friends (wise modern day sages). I pray that your spiritual eyes and ears be open to other timely affirmations regarding your calling. Be bold to submitted fully to truth of the living word of God. 

 Lord, help us all to realize that YOU Lord equip those whom you call so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-10 It is all for your glory!

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