Tag Archive | prayer

A Wing and a Prayer

This post is a part of my 10-minute Tuesday series. I write for just 10 minutes on a one-word prompt provided by a friend. Today’s prompt is “prayer.”

The title of today’s post came to mind quickly, but I actually wanted to look up its origins to understand it. It originates from the idea of a damaged military plane coming in for a landing. It’s got a wing to fly with, but maybe not much more. So, it’s coming in on a wing and a prayer.

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I’ve seen miraculous healings; I’ve seen situations that seemed insurmountable be overcome by prayer. Most recently, a friend of mine had a dire diagnosis of stage 3 or 4 ovarian cancer. When the doctors went in to perform a complete hysterectomy, they found that the cancer was contained in only 1 ovary and was only a stage 1. Complete recovery is now the prognosis.

I have another friend whose baby in utero was diagnosed with a condition that caused his organs to grow into his chest cavity, causing his lungs to be unable to develop correctly. It’s more complicated than that, but regardless, 3 weeks after he was born and surgery was performed to correct the issue, he was able to go home. They thought he would be there for 6 months.

There is story after story after story about how prayer made a difference. Not every circumstance was changed, but every heart was. I have another friend who is currently heartbroken over a lost dog. They just moved to a new house after living on a 15-acre farm for many years, and the dog got out of the new place. It’s been 4 days and he is nowhere to be found. People are looking for him and praying for his safe return, but we obviously don’t know the outcome. And so I pray not only that he would be found, but that their hearts would be comforted.

Prayer is a mysterious thing. We can approach it as if God is a cosmic vending machine, just there to give us what we want. And if He doesn’t, then what good is He anyway?

Or we can view prayer as an amazing opportunity to draw near to the heart of God. He is sovereign and He is able to do abundantly more than we ask or imagine, and one of those abundant things he gives is Himself.

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Does it feel like you’re just coming in on a wing and a prayer? Believe it or not, that is enough.

As in most of my short posts, there is not enough time to delve into the whole subject of prayer. These are just a few of my quick thoughts. I’d love to hear what you think!

 

 

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If You Are Willing

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. We write for just 5 minutes on a one-word prompt, without heavy editing, and see what happens. Today’s prompt is “willing.”

“While He was in one of the cities, behold, there was a man covered with leprosy; and when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”And He stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” And immediately the leprosy left him” (Luke 5:12-13 NASB).

I have a friend, Marcey, whose 22-year-old daughter, Julia, became very ill. After many weeks, a large mass was discovered in her abdomen that was pushing all her organs out of the way. She was in excruciating, debilitating pain. Surgery was performed and 90+ percent of the tumor was removed. Within 6 weeks, it had grown back.

The doctors were stymied. Even the top tumor experts were not able to figure out what this tumor was. It had never been seen before.

As friends were rallied to pray, radiation and chemo therapies were applied. At one point, Marcey told me they thought they were going to lose her. She was so weak. There didn’t seem to be any hope.

And yet we prayed.

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Julia sporting her new wig (photo courtesy her mom)

Just two days ago, Marcey reported that there has been a turnaround in Julia’s prognosis. The chemotherapy is working and the tumors are shrinking. The doctor’s are jubilant as is her family. Today she is off her pain pump and trusting God for a future that just weeks ago she wasn’t sure she would have.

She’s a walking miracle.

We asked God to be willing to heal her, and His answer was, “Yes.”

But we know that’s not always His answer in this life. But He is always our portion. Whether healed in this life or not, we always have our hope in Him.

Even though my 5 minutes are up, I’m going to add a note here that this is a way bigger subject than can be tackled in just 5 minutes. This story is fresh on my heart and I wanted to share it, but I know that there are so many people who have not experienced healing of either themselves or a loved one. I lost both my mom and my grandmother to cancer and have known many others who have succumbed to this dread disease. There are no guarantees of physical healing here on earth, but I stand on the fact that God is good. Whether His healing happens here or not, He is good and He redeems all things. If you or someone you love is in need of God’s healing touch, keep praying: Your will be done.

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Help! I Have A Teenager!

Today’s post is a part of my 10-Minute Tuesday series. I write for 10 minutes, give or take, without any heavy editing, on a one-word prompt. Today’s prompt is “teenagers.”

People tend to think that parenting teenagers is pretty scary. It can be, if you’re not prepared for what you might encounter.

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For me, preparation for parenting teens started when they were born.

I mean, it makes sense, doesn’t it? If you are a constant source of rules and punishment and harshness when they are little, the rebellion they are going to feel when they are beginning to spread their wings and figure out what they are capable of will be greater. But if you are there to build a relationship with them, give them solid boundaries and are a safe place for them to process, then the likelihood of constant turmoil in your household will be diminished.

OK, stop right there. I’m going to make a big statement right now.

There are no guarantees. Your kids’ decisions are their decisions. All the best parenting you think you’re doing may not be enough to keep them from making stupid and life-altering choices.

Just like us, our kids are endowed by their Creator with free will. So don’t think that if your child starts down a path of destruction that the fault is yours. If you have been doing the best you can and leaving the results to God, then you have a clear conscience. Nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes.

Maybe I let me baby cry in his crib too long when I was wanting him to take a nap. Maybe that’s why he chose to walk away from a path of faith.

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Maybe the time I yelled at my daughter for not doing something I had asked her to do made her try to find friends who would tell her what she wanted to hear, but ultimately led her into a destructive lifestyle.

We can second guess ourselves all day long, but in the end, we do our best to love our kids and bring them up to love and serve the Lord, but they ultimately have to decide how they want to live.

The greatest lesson I’ve learned over the past couple of years is that prayer is absolutely essential. And so is community. If my kids make bad choices, I can’t carry the burden of their behavior. To be able to share what’s going on in vulnerability and safety with close friends is life giving instead of life draining. I only have one teenager left in my house. In three and a half years, she’ll be 20. It’s been quite a roller-coaster ride, but God has been faithful as always.

FledgeI recommend a few books for those of you in the throes of raising teens.

  1. Fledge: Launching Your Kids Without Losing Your Mind, by Brenda Yoder. This book was definitely life giving to me as Yoder said, “We are not called to raise godly children, we are called to be godly parents.”
  2. Parenting Today’s Adolescent: Helping Your Child Avoid the Traps of the Preteen and Teen Yearsby Dennis and Barbara Rainey. It’s been many years since I read this book (it was written in 2002), but from what I remember about it, the principles were solid, #1 being have a close relationship with God yourself. Seems to echo the “be a godly parent” quote from above.
  3. Age of Opportunity: A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teensby Paul David Tripp. Again, it’s been many years since I read this book written in 2001, and I can’t find my copy (I probably loaned it out to some parent of teens), but I remember most that Tripp talked about not being afraid. Of using every opportunity you have with your kids to build relationship. I do hesitate a bit on recommending something with a subtitle like “a biblical guide,” but I don’t remember this book being a “do this and get that” type of thing.

For me, the bottom line is that we are trusting God to keep writing our kids’ stories—and our stories as well. Our goal should be heart change, not behavior change, and only God can change hearts.

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Seeking the Silent

Today’s 10-Minute Tuesday post is on the prompt “silent.”

IMG_3060My brain is running at full steam.

What if? Why not? Would it be so bad?

I try to stop. I try to quiet it. I try to sleep.

Not going to happen.

There is no silent night in my thoughts. There’s always something roiling and boiling.

Sleep eludes me as I search for ways to shut it down.

Let it go.

Think about it tomorrow.

My brain doesn’t listen. It refuses to be silent.IMG_4424

It yells. It sings. It reviews or previews every conversation.

Could I have said that better? Did I say something wrong? What if I say something wrong?

Be still, my soul. Be silent. Rest.

The hum of the air conditioner. The chirping of cicadas. The croaking of frogs. Lots of frogs. The crash of ice from the ice maker into its bin. The snoring of the dog on the floor of my room.

Nothing is silent in my house.

Breathe. Deep, slow breaths. Out. In. Calm your thoughts.

Pray.

IMG_6175Ahhhh. That’s the ticket. So many people to pray for. So many concerns in the world. If my brain is not going to shut down, might as well put it to good use. Put my cares in the hands of my Creator.

He hears. He knows. He cares. He’s got this.

Finally. Sleep. I know He’s got this.

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Hold Onto Hope

IMG_2048Awhile back, I wrote a post about my avocado tree. (See The Beetle Within Us) I was sad to have to report that, after just a year of bearing fruit, the tree had to be taken out because it was diseased by the ambrosia beetle. Well, we had a storm more than a year ago that knocked down part of our back fence near where the tree used to grow. In removing the old fence, my husband came across this 18-inch-high seedling that had been growing from a pit discarded by the squirrels in the corner of the yard.

Imagine our surprise and our pleasure at finding this small glimmer of hope that we could still have a healthy avocado tree in the future.

This seemed to me a perfect analogy for the life of a prodigal: There is always hope that there is life left in those who wander from God.

When the new fence panels went in, the seedling was transplanted to our front yard. It was so small back then, and it was hot out, so daily, even twice-daily, watering was vital for its survival. It’s now more than 10 feet tall. It is surrounded by other plantsIMG_5551, yet given its own space. When it was still very small, we could watch it, we could nurture it, we could pray that it would grow big and strong and eventually produce fruit. All we could do was give it the best environment that we knew how to give; the rest was, and still is, up to its Creator. It hasn’t borne fruit yet, but we hope it’s well on its way.

I recently read a phenomenal article by Abraham Piper, the son of pastor and author John Piper, whom I greatly admire. Abraham was a prodigal for many years, and his insight into how to love prodigals back to Jesus is something I think everyone struggling with this should read. The article is quite long, so you can read the entire text here (Let Them Come Home). The following points are his, with my condensed interpretation.

1. Point them to Christ.Piper contends that the real problem with your prodigal is not their behavior, it’s that they don’t see Jesus clearly. Therefore, the best thing you can do is show them Christ. Their only hope is to clearly see Jesus and His love for them.

2. Pray.
“Only God can save your children, so keep on asking Him to display Himself to them in a way they can’t resist worshiping Him for.”

3. Acknowledge that something is wrong.
Don’t pretend that everything is fine. Don’t ignore their unbelief. Reach out and keep reaching out.

4. Don’t expect them to be Christlike.
“No matter how your child’s behavior proves his unbelief, always be sure to focus more on his heart’s sickness than its symptoms.” If they’re not believers, they’re not going to act like believers. Hearts need to change first.

5. Welcome them home.
No matter what they’ve done, if they want to come home, let them. If they have any desire whatsoever to be with you, let them come. You are going to be the best influence in their life. Make sure you aren’t pushing them away.

6. Plead with them more than you rebuke them.
Piper says, “Be gentle in your disappointment. . . Her conscience can condemn her by itself. Your role is to stand kindly and firmly, always living in the hope that you want your child to return to.”

7. Connect them to other believers.
If you know another believer you think might reach them better than you can, by all means, get them together.

8. Respect their friends.
Be hospitable. Her friends are someone else’s wayward children, and they need Jesus, too.

9. E-mail them.
“When you read something in the Bible that encourages you and helps you love Jesus more, write it up in a couple of lines and send it to your child. The best exhortation—better than any correction—is for them to see Christ’s joy in your life. Don’t stress out when you’re composing these as if each one needs to be singularly powerful. Just whip them out and let the cumulative effect of your satisfaction in God gather up in your child’s inbox. God’s Word is never useless.”

10. Take them to lunch.
Have actual facetime. Even if it may hurt to hear what they’re up to, do it anyway. Your interest in them as a person will speak volumes to them. Make the time to get together.

11. Take an interest in their pursuits.
Find value in what they like. Ask questions. Hear their heart.

12. Point them to Christ.
“This can’t be stressed enough. It’s the whole point. No strategy for reaching your son or daughter will have any lasting effect if the underlying goal isn’t to help them know Jesus.”

Be faithful and don’t give up.

 

We Are At War: A Movie Review of “War Room”

War RoomI learned very early on in my marriage that my husband is not my enemy. We definitely have an enemy, but it is not each other. The movie “War Room” makes that very clear.

This movie is an unapologetic Christian film focused on a young couple with a young daughter who are caught up in the troubles of this world. He is a successful pharmaceutical salesman and she is a rising realtor. And their marriage is in trouble.

I’ve spent just a little bit of time perusing some reviews, and it’s evident that if you don’t understand spiritual things, you absolutely won’t understand the power of prayer and what affect God can have in a person’s life and marriage. The intention of the Kendrick brothers (writer and co-directors) was definitely not to say that abused women should stay with their abusers, as some have suggested. It’s a story of redemption and prayer and God’s work in our daily lives.

Yes, Tony was not a good husband. He had a wandering eye, a problem with business ethics and a distant relationship with his young daughter. But he was not a physical abuser and deserved to be given a chance to repent and reform. Truth is, God changes lives. It happens all the time.

I’ve mentioned that I’m not the most discerning of movie goers, but I really, really liked this movie. When we walked out, I said to David, “Did we just go to church?” People were praising God, saying “hallelujah!” and cheering all through out this God-honoring film. There was truth, there was laughter, there were tears. There were people of faith understanding that prayer is powerful and it is a battle.

The premise, of course, is that we are waging war everyday against our real enemy, Satan. Once Elizabeth started praying for her husband, Tony, things started to change. One scene I loved, and that I think should be repeated in every household in the world, was when Elizabeth finally decided to get serious about her relationship with God and walked her house kicking Satan out of every room, proclaiming that he had no place there because Jesus was now in charge. That brought down the house!

Scoff at the scene of Miss Clara thwarting a mugging by rebuking the thief in Jesus’ name? There are stories on record of that actually happening.

Think Tony had no redeeming qualities and that Elizabeth should have just dumped him and moved on? Yeah, that’s what a lot of people do nowadays. But thanks be to God that no one is beyond hope.

Instead of bemoaning her situation, Elizabeth accepted Miss Clara’s challenge to pray that God would change things. This is not an uncommon occurrence for people of faith. But the Bible says that God uses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise (1 Cor. 1:27). What seems utterly ridiculous to those who think they know is exactly what God uses to accomplish His purposes.

Go see “War Room.” Give God a chance to show His power. Just because you don’t understand it doesn’t mean it’s not true.

The Gift or the Giver?

What if on Christmas morning that gift that you’ve been longing for is under the tree? What would it be for you? The latest technology? The keys to a new car? That outfit you’ve been admiring in the store window?

What if, when you opened that gift, you said thank you to the giver, but then didn’t acknowledge him the rest of the day? What if, in the days and weeks to follow, whenever you talked to him, you just asked him for more stuff? You wouldn’t have much of a relationship with him, would you?

What if, instead of a gift under the tree, you found that person simply wanting to spend time with you? Would you be satisfied? Would it be enough simply to be with him? After all, you have let him into your life. You’ve told him you love him. If he never gives you the things that you want, but is always there by your side to listen, love and care for you, would that be enough?

I think that’s how I’ve been treating God lately. There are so many needs; not just my own. I have friends who have great concerns that I have promised to pray for. I have one nagging health issue that I really want to go away. So that’s what I’m asking for. But I’m not asking God to simply be with me, to enfold me in His arms and to keep me safe from the attacks of the enemy that would tell me God must not really love me if He keeps letting me experience this trial.

What do I really want, the Giver or the gifts He might give? Do I want heaven because of what it means to be there? No more tears, no more pain, streets of gold. Or do I long for heaven because it means perfect communion with God?

Today I am singing along: “All I want for Christmas is You.” Won’t you join me?

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photo credit: thedigestonline.com