I Have No Idea…

Today I am a little shocked by where my heart is and where it has settled.

Day three of both my 21 day prayer challenge and my 40 day prayer challenge. – This doesn’t get easier either.

Last night, I went to bed asking God to show me what success looks like, send me a husband that together we bring Him more glory than we ever could apart, and then I asked for His help with my finances. Because I think all of these things are important moving forward. In His timing, and in God’s economy I will be able to do immeasurably more than I understand. Then, I woke up this morning, and asked God to teach me how to pray… and teach me what to pray for.

So, with those prayers uttered last night and this morning I am a little shocked at the indignation I feel towards the useless today. But, more than that, I am amazed at how broken my heart is for the blind.. Not the physically blind, but those who are unable to see the larger picture. I have no idea where these feelings came from because yesterday, last night, and this morning it wasn’t even on my mind.. and by “it”, I mean other people’s opinions, their perspectives, and I had no thought good or bad about where their focus is. Instead, I was focused on aligning myself with God’s heart…

And then, my focus of aligning with God’s heart has found me appalled at the lack of “whatever it takes” to save one more.

What sparked this? Katie.

I am not entirely sure what sparked my sudden indignation, but I was perusing Twitter, stumbled upon this blog post, and became obsessed with finding Katie’s blog, twitter, and learning about her heart. Her view of Jesus sat firmly on my heart as “this is right.” And, in the process I realized that lately my heart aches and desires a real authentic and difficult community that looks like much more like Katie’s life than currently own does… Sadly for me, I do no think it looks anything like me actually picking up and moving to Africa (yet), but instead it means staying right where I am, and creating the environment here that I yearn for.

Then it dawned on me, almost two months ago I began networking… And, really networking with other churches, organizations, and groups in the local and regional area. I know exactly what I am trying to do, and I have a visions for it… But, I have found it is taking a long time for everyone else to understand what I am doing, and even longer for them to buy in and join me. Some get it, others stare at me blankly, and some are just against what I am doing. Which, actually only fuels it more.

I have no idea yet what will come of the things I am feeling, working on, thinking and praying about; but, what I do know is that I am praying, hard for them to come to full fruition. And, I have complete faith in my Creator God that He will explode it to be bigger than I am actually capable of pulling off on my own. I also know without any doubt that God is on the move, and I intend on being and going where He does.

3 days down, 18 and 37 more to go on these prayer challenges. Should be exciting!

Where is God leading and moving in your life? What revelations is He showing you?… Are you following Him?

Prayer Summer 2013…

My church is doing a summer prayer series, and one of the recommended readings is The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson. While I have already read this book, I am actually really excited to read it again and gain fresh perspective on it.

Yesterday was the start of a summer small group I am leading. I am excited about the group, and I am really looking forward to seeing where God leads each of us. One of the things we are doing is, today we are kicking off a 21 day prayer challenge. I am looking forward to it, but, I am even more excited to see how He chooses to reveal Himself, and all the ways He is going to answer prayers this summer. I am fully anticipating looking back on this summer and realizing how many amazing and crazy things started this summer. I am fully expecting to be blown away, even though I have no idea in what way or what area of my life. I just know I am excited.

My biggest goal this summer is to gain a larger understanding of who God is, and for who He is to be immensely expanded in my life.

I am not looking to do things ahead of God, instead I am praying and expecting Him to show up immeasurably more than I can even possibly anticipate. I figure, my imagination is pretty large and pretty extravagant… And yet, God is bigger than that, which means I think He is going to show up in some pretty intense ways in the next 21 days, 40 days, and over the course of the entire 2013 summer…. (And likely beyond.)

While I certainly have a list of specific things I am praying for and through, mostly I am just focusing on starting new habits. I am purposefully spending more time with God, but also being sure to intentionally pay attention to and create space for Him to speak to my open and listening heart.

If you would like to join the 21 day prayer challenge or the 40 day prayer challenge with me, give me your address and I will be sure to add you!

In case you have not figured it out, July’s blog theme is prayer. Should be interesting!

Share your stories with me!

What are you praying for this summer?

Silence and Prayer…

I have been thinking a lot in the last couple weeks about prayer.. I have been praying.. attempting to pray.. thinking.. talking… reading.. all on prayer. Part of it is due to the 21 days of prayer my small group is doing, some of it has to deal with the 21 days of prayer I did in January, still even more of it has to do with the lent season, and even MORE of it has to do with the fact that I have felt like this year is going to be about prayer. Which, I like this year’s theme.. I would rather 2012 be about prayer and connecting with my lord and savior than just about anything else, especially after the challenges in 2010-2011.

What I find interesting, challenging, and frustrating all at the same is the cadence and pattern for which I have been praying this week.  Earlier this week I was so frustrated at praying that I literally said two things over.. and over.. and over.. and over.. and over “Speak to me..” “Help me…” I fell asleep switching back and forth between saying speak to me on repeat, and then help me. I woke up the next morning feeling.. nothing. I felt no better, I felt isolated, and as I drove into work I literally had a mental picture of a cement block room. I felt as though there was this wall, this thing blocking me from talking to my love, my lord.. SOMETHING was in the way, but I had no idea what it was or what to do. In fact for the first time in I don’t even know how long, I felt like my prayers were bouncing off the cement walls.. like they were hitting absolutely nothing. I remember getting about five minutes into my 30 minute drive to work and mentally tagging the wall with the back of my hand and saying “Lord, what is this?!.. Where did it come from?! And why do I feel like I am talking to a brick wall?!” … Then, nothing.

Silence.

I got to work and was annoyed because while I figured it was likely me, I wanted a clue as to what was causing it so I could make it better, so I could repent, find out what was going on, and right myself once again so I could be in the presence of my God once again.

About halfway through my day, I was taking a mental break from work and reading through blogs (I love blogs more than any other social media), I read this blog, and the title screamed at me: “God’s Silence is Not His Absence.” I had a wave of relief wash over me, and I mentally felt the cement walls melt away. Once again I was reminded that God IS working, I just have to be content always to let God be God, and for me… not to. Even if in order to let God be God, that means I have to sit in what feels like total silence.

This last week or so has been almost excruciating because I have been trying to pray, I have been working to build daily habits (which is part of the goal of the 21 days of prayer), and I have been trying to listen.. But, all week I have felt nothing but silence, which causes my mind to wander, and my focus to seriously struggle. Which is ironic since two of the big things I am praying for during this 21 days of prayer have to do with clarity, guidance, and a much higher level of familiarity with God’s voice… Ironic that He’s doing that through silence. Once of the comments that Pete Wilson says in his blog is, “Most of us have been trained to hear God speak, but we don’t know what to do with His silence.” I had no idea how true that was until this week. The other thing that has struck me this week, that I am really working to guard my heart against is, “When we are waiting on God, that is when we are most prone to idolatry.” I do not want my waiting in silence, my lack of focus, and my wandering mind to lead me down a path of idolatry of something else.

What an interesting 21 days of prayer this round has been, completely different than in January.

Reorienting…

So, I have clearly taken a little hiatus from blogging.. It is not that I did not have things to say or share (I pretty much always do), it is that I needed to instead get my life together, and spend some serious time just thinking…

I had an extended weekend, that turned into hang out time, organizing my life, cleaning my room… and let me just mention, I have the cleanest most organized room that I have had since… maybe ever. Since I have moved 14 times in 9 years, I typically never completely unpack. I either do not care enough to unpack everything I have and love or I do not have places to put it. Along with that comes months upon months of bills, paperwork, cards, letters etc.. that I usually stick in a box somewhere and catalog it away in my head to remember which box I put which month’s/year’s stuff in. So, this last weekend I bought file folders and commenced to cataloging and organizing for real. I filed (no joke) the last 8-10 months of bills and paperwork appropriately.. I cleaned, unpacked, and put everything In. Its. Place.

How bizarre.

How refreshing.

This must be what people feel like who have a stable place they have established “roots.”

It only took me 5 hours on Sunday night before I was able to look around my room and see it mostly accomplished.. I mean, there are still clothes to organize, hems to fix, and jeans to patch… but that can wait until another weekend.

I even went so far as to get a couple baskets for the mail that I will inevitably set down to take care of later… I am pretty sure I have never had my personal life this together. Weird.

On a totally different note, today marks day 8 of the 21 days or prayer my small group is doing… What a week it has been. This 21 days of prayer has been dramatically different than the last, and I have found this time that I more often than not, do not have words to speak… Almost as though I have spent more time praying with feelings than words… Which proves to be challenging for my mind to be still for extended periods of time, especially when it feels like I am not getting anything done.

But, through it all these two verses keep coming up as relevant (two versions of the same passage):

“But Moses said to the people, ‘Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the LORD which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. The LORD will fight for you while you keep silent.’”- Exodus 14:13-14 (NASB)

“Moses answered the people. He said, ‘Don’t be afraid. Stand firm. You will see how the Lord will save you today. Do you see those Egyptians? You will never see them again. The Lord will fight for you. Just be still.'” (NIRV)

Ok, I get it. I am working to be silent and still while the Lord fights for me…

This is… interesting.

So Frustrated…

Today has been like nails on a chalkboard on the inside…

Not in the physical sense, meaning I am not ill nor do I feel like I am getting sick. I literally mean it feels like the aggravation you have when someone is grinding their teeth or scratching a chalk board…

I am lacking a serious level of patience, I have little grace today for those who frustrate me, and I certainly have no place in my vocabulary to be understanding and helpful.

I have no idea where this is coming from, and have spent a decent amount of time just praying for clarity.. maybe it is just me, maybe I feel like being a jerk for no reason, there is always the chance that I am feeling tension because of my own issues, and maybe it has more to do with my own pride than anything else.. I don’t know.

What I do know is I am aggravated, I lack patience, I am frustrated… and something is wrong. I wish I could place it. Slide the missing piece back into its place and move forward. But, instead I am sitting here just frustrated.

I want clarity. I want understanding… If I am supposed to be feeling this way so I listen to what God’s trying to tell me better, I am not sure it is having its desired effect, but I certainly am talking to God about it more.

All I know is I am aggravated and frustrated, at mostly nothing in particular… Awesome.

Bold Yet Humble Prayers…

Tonight at my small group we were discussing The Circle Maker, which is a fantastic book about prayer… We watched an accompanying video, and then talked about various things that stood out to us, that we were struggling to understand or were just excited about. One of the biggest things we settled on discussing is, how do you pray bold expectant prayers, yet remain humble? What does that look or even sound like?.. Does that offend God?

We mulled over these questions, and did not necessarily come to any concrete answers…

How do we pray humbly before our God, yet approach with boldness?..
Is it even Biblical to approach with boldness?..
Is it even Biblical to pray expecting God to answer?…
Is it a cop out to say “if it is your will…” at the end?..
Is that our “back door” way of saving our faith so we have an explanation in case God did not answer?

HOW do you pray boldly to your Lord, Father, Savior, yet humbly?

There is a scripture in James 4 that talks about how we have not because we ask not…. and how even when we do ask we do not have because we do not have pure motives… How does that fit into it all?

Are there really prayers and miracles that God does not answer or grant because we do not pray for them?…

How does this fit into God knowing everything, yet granting us free will?… Is it really that dependent on us to pray in order for God to move?…

I definitely have a few thoughts on these things.. and I have a few vague passages of scripture I am going to have to go refresh my memory on… But, I think for right now, I need to mull over this and… Pray about it some more…

Tomorrow, we start our small group’s 21 days of prayer. I am excited, I am amazed at the things that happened in January when I did this prayer challenge… so, I am looking forward to the things God is going to do this time. However, mostly I am looking forward to becoming even more acquainted with the voice of God in the next 21 days. I mean, I am looking for some definite answers to things going on in my life, some direction and guidance.. and some miracles to happen. But, mostly I just want to feel to a much greater degree the familiarity to God’s voice in my life.

I want to learn what it means, what it looks like to pray bold, yet humble prayers before my God.

Running for Life…

Tonight I ran once again, but this time it was different.

I have been working towards running a half marathon the first weekend in April (oye). Mind you, I am not a runner.. I do not particularly like running (ok, I actually kinda hate it), and I definitely would not choose it as my favored workout…

However, running IS a fantastic workout.. It works the appropriate stomach muscles to help me flatten my stomach (my most disliked area of my body), and while I have a lot of issues with my joints, if I wear a knee strap and work on strengthening my muscles with other workouts, I have found I CAN actually run… (Even if I do typically walk like an 85 year old man for a day or two afterwards!)

This time the run was different though, I typically listen to random music for the first couple miles, then begin praying and pray through the last mile of my run (I get that 3 miles is not that far, but it is for me), however tonight I listened to techno music without words and prayed the entire time.

I prayed for the things I am seeking, the things I desire for my life, I spilled out my desires and gave them up, the things I want more than other (insert list here) things in my life.. I prayed for salvation for a few friends, I prayed for struggles, I prayed for God to reveal Himself to various people in new ways, I prayed for the hearts and pains of others, I prayed for health, and jobs, and exhaustion for all different people I love in my life.. I prayed for wisdom, peace, patience, compassion, love, joy, understanding, knowledge, Truth.. I prayed for the various things on my 3×5 bathroom mirror cards… Basically, I prayed. For the longest, most focused and most sincere period of time than I have in quite a while…

*Pause and insert additional background information*

At my church we are mid 21 days of prayer. I love it. I love my church, I love what Jesus is doing, and I am loving this series. It is speaking to me, beckoning me to a deeper relationship and communication with my Lord and my Savior. I have been somewhat surprised that I do not feel at all like this is something else I “have” to do.. this is something that I must do because my very core is calling out for it. My favorite part is my pastor (Mark Batterson) keeps stressing that even if we have no idea what to say, it is perfect to ask the Lord to “teach me to pray.” I have been uttering that phrase so many times over the last couple weeks.. I could go on and on (and will likely do so another time) about the things I am learning about prayer these last few weeks, however this last Sunday we heard a story about a woman who made a deal with God that if He would bless her husband’s ministry, she would meet him at 9am every morning (she had several other things that were part of her deal with God as well, but this was the one that struck me).

So, I have been mulling over the idea of “making a deal” or committing to something with God. Not because I want to test Him, not because I want Him to prove something, and not because I am doubting Him or His ability to do certain things in my life… I wanted to make this commitment because I want to learn to pray through.. I want to experience my sweet savior in a new way. I want to experience a relationship and a solid faith unlike anything I have experienced before. I want to see God’s faithfulness explode.

*Un-pause*

So, while I was running, I decided, this was perfect for me. I prayed and told God that I would run as long as I am able (meaning for my entire life), if He would meet me there. Meet me while I ran, and would create space for me to meet Him. Running is not my favorite thing ever, I (really) do not particularly care for it… But, it is good for me physically, and now it will be good for me mentally and spiritually as well. So, I will run for the rest of my life… until I am unable to run, and then I will walk… And, I will begin to make that a priority so my Lord can meet me there to speak to me and hear me.

I am full of a little trepidation, but mostly I am excited to see what He does with this time, this period committed to Him. I am excited to see how this changes my life purely by encountering Him new.

I am circling this prayer.