Life Recently…

I have started attending a new small group.. although “new” is sort of a misnomer since I have not attended a small group of any kind in almost two years. It was a really bizarre series of events that brought me to this small group, but events that I am very happy about and more than slightly amused by… The group consists of a great blend of guys and girls, which as much as I love my girlfriends, I literally have no guy friends here in DC (I even have very few guys at work!), and I greatly appreciate the chance to add some more Y chromosomes to my life regardless of the capacity to which they will be in my life.

Anyway, the small group is focusing on the book The Circle Maker by our pastor Mark Batterson. If you have not read or heard of this book, I highly recommend it… especially if you are struggling with prayer in any capacity or struggling with feeling stuck and like maybe God is not hearing you… This book does an absolutely wonderful job encouraging, building up, and inspiring you to want to become better at praying.. I never once had the feeling of “another thing to do or another thing I am failing at…” instead, as I read the book (the first time), I really felt inspired to make a much more concerted effort to pray and pray well. So, obviously this group will be doing a lot of reading, a lot of discussing, and a whole lot of praying… which I am really excited about.

It is things like this, people that I meet, and books that I read that keep my life interesting… It is challenges like the 21 days of prayer (which our small group will be doing another one soon), and the teaching of my pastors that really inspire me towards the next goal, the next challenge, and the next step in not only my faith, but also towards the me I was designed for.. I pray often as I lay in bed that I will be more who God wants me to be tomorrow than I was today… It is moments, things, and people like these that inspire and help exactly that to happen. I am constantly amazed at how God orchestrates things in my life that I was completely clueless of the purpose until I am smack dab in the middle… or completely on the other side feeling slightly dazed and confused because of the whirlwind of it all.

On a completely different note, my schedule is representing something that is ridiculously packed and busy once again. What is funny though is that I feel almost like I have returned home with this schedule… I am not entirely sure how or why a completely booked schedule feels familiar, especially when nothing in it is familiar or at all resembling what I used to fill my time with, but there is still something innately comforting in the controlled chaos. I love having to schedule time for people, I love adding to my calendar “Call (or skype) with ____” just so I know to reserve their time and make room for the ones that I love and cherish. I enjoy putting the time on my calendar that is dedicated to exercising. I enjoy marking the times I will be at church, and then fitting school work, food, sleeping, and any errands in between all the things that I value highly.

I love having a busy and packed schedule not because it keeps me busy… but because it causes me to siphon out the things that do not matter to me, like watching TV or going shopping for yet another piece of clothing that I likely do not need at all… or to lazily kill way too much time on facebook. It forces me into a much more defined and productive lifestyle.. The useless and unimportant things are set aside until they require enough time together to be worth putting the info into my calendar as a to-do item. Somehow the ridiculousness that is my packed schedule brings a familiar cadence to my life… which is ironic since any given day includes work, gym time, phone calls with various people catching up on life, homework, laundry, cooking, cleaning, errands, reviewing other people’s business plans/resumes/cover letters/marketing materials etc.., and my slowly progressing business.

I enjoy being productive.. but I enjoy even more using my controlled chaos as a means to get rid or reduce the unnecessary things that clutter my life and focusing on the people and things that truly matter.

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.

Prayer Over Me…

Today is day 3 of the 21 days of prayer that my church is doing as part of the Circle Maker series.. which is also a book that my head pastor Mark Batterson wrote.

I fasted on Tuesday.
Wednesday I avoided music while I drove.

Today, it dawned on me how many people have told me recently that they are praying for me.. Either because they felt compelled for no reason at all, read something I wrote on my blog, saw something I said on Facebook or Twitter or because of a conversation I had with them personally.

What amazes me, and really truly humbles me to my very core is HOW MANY of them there are..

I am so incredibly thankful for each prayer.
I am so humbled by the pure love expressed in each prayer.
I am so amazed at the sheer number of people sending petitions to my savior without any idea why.
I am so undeserving of the amount of time people are spending on my behalf.
I am so completely blind, but completely excited to see what God is doing through all of this.
I am so grateful for the true friends and family that have taken me before the Lord.

I am so loved.

Last Sunday while my pastor was talking about the 21 days of prayer, he mentioned that so many times we just have no idea what to pray, but that sometimes we just need to start with “Lord, teach us to pray…” (Luke 11:1b).. Somewhere in there I realized this year is going to be a lot of me praying. I have no idea why or what for yet, but what I do know is there will be a whole heck of a lot of talking to my sweet savior this year…

The idea that this year is going to be a lot about prayer was solidified when three separate friends e-mailed me last night and today, and each of them said they had been praying for me. One because she felt compelled, another because we had a conversation, and still another because she said she loves me.

That is when it dawned on me that something is up this year.

“Lord, teach me to pray…”

The Circle Maker…

I say this pretty much every Sunday, I love my church. This week we started The Circle Maker series, and I am so pumped!

While there is nothing particularly special about the building(s) and nothing different about the people, what is special is that God moves because the leaders are humble, seek His face, and because the followers seek, listen, and learn. I have said on several occasions that the thing that speaks to me the most is the humility people exhibit.. But, this Sunday, the thing that spoke to me the most was the boldness.. Not to be confused with arrogance, dictation or any sort of demanding… But, pure boldness.

Mark Batterson‘s latest book is called The Circle Maker. To sum up the book in way too little amount of detail, the book is about prayer. But, it is the fact that it is not just about prayer that excites me, motivates me, encourages me, it is because it does it in a way that does not make me feel burdened or like I am being obligated to yet another thing that I should be doing but am currently failing at. The book is about inspiring.. not coercing.

My roomie and I began reading The Circle Maker while we were driving back to DC after Christmas (really she read to me while I drove).. And, there is always something that flares inside of me when I read about the boldness of others and the way they live their lives for Christ. Even if the story I am hearing is hundreds (or possibly thousands) of years old, I cannot help but feel inspired. I love these stories because I do not posses the strength, boldness or faith to do the same things, and I know it… But, I always love the feeling I get inside of me when I hear about someone else choosing to be bold, and then God ANSWERING their boldness! I am always amazed at how some people have the ability to speak things into existence with their prayers, and I am always inspired because they posses the most humility of anyone I have ever met (or heard of etc..). I want to be like them.

It is no surprise to anyone who knows me that I am naturally fairly bold and direct in the way I operate or communicate. Although, sometimes my boldness or the directness of my approach is just way too much, and other times it is the completely wrong choice of words or timing, but either way, I prefer straight forward. I admire people who can tote the line of direct, bold, and maintain the understanding that it is all out of genuine love and humility. I hope and pray all the time that God gives me the wisdom and understanding to be proficient at this as I get older.

All this to say, I am really excited about this new series, and finishing reading this book 🙂