What do I pray…really?

Road Through ForestThis past week I received a Facebook message which asked me what I pray…really.

It was an interesting question.

Have to admit being a bit taken aback because I tend to write a lot about what I’m praying.

But maybe the question needs some further thought.

What do I really pray about?

I remember in college someone sharing the idea of praying ACTS.

Adoration. Praising God and Reminds me how great my God really is.
Contrition. Asking forgiveness puts me in the right place to worship Him.
Thanksgiving. Reminds me of all the blessings I have in my life.
Supplication Allows me to lay all my burdens and concerns at His feet.

That’s a pretty cool way of praying.

I have to be honest and say that I have not often used this prayer pattern. My style has been more about praying in moments of duress, with a child about a specific thing, with my head on the pillow, or when I’m asked to by a friend.

Maybe what I should share is what I want to pray about and need to pray about more.

I want to pray these prayers:

Lord, I so often spend my time lamenting things rather than recognizing how very blessed I am. Thank you for so much for all the ways you provide for and love on me and my children

Lord, I’m so grateful for your grace. I know I don’t deserve it, but I’m so very thankful for it.

Lord, no matter how hard I try I don’t seem to be able to do this parenting thing as well as I want to. Father, please love my children through me and cover my mistakes with your mercy and grace.

Lord, I fail so often. Father, my thoughts are so not holy sometimes. My actions are not pleasing to you. My mouth can say the worst things. Father, please forgive me.

Lord, I long for my children to know you well…to love you and that the desire of their hearts is to live for you. Please give my children a passion for You. Please bless them with strength for the day and hope for tomorrow.

Lord, you know me. You know I absolutely hate to make decisions. And I second-guess myself so much. P lease guide me. Give me your wisdom and discernment.

Praying is a beautiful privilege and blessing. I wish I’d remember to do it more often. To trust God with everything in my life…to not hold anything back. I wish I’d rest more in His presence then rush around in the present.

Those prayers I listed above…I just prayed them. So I guess I can say that is what I pray…really.

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Me, The Hermit, and a Molasses Cookie

Cookies Fresh Out of the Oven

I’ve become a hermit.

Hermit\ adj., living in the desert. 1 a: one that retires from society and lives in solitude esp. for religious reasons: RECLUSE 2 : a spiced molasses cookie

When I started this blog I was meaning more the recluse definition but I think I’m going to go with “a spiced molasses cookie”…I LOVE molasses cookies J!

Since the dictionary was open I decided to look up molasses too.

Molasses\ 1: the thick dark to light brown syrup that is separated from raw sugar in sugar manufacture 2: a syrup made from boiling down sweet vegetable or fruit juice

Something made from boiling. Hmmmm…I definitely feel like I’m in hot water a lot.  Maybe God is making me into something sweet and syrupy…

ehhh, probably not. 

Although I did have a friend say after 10 years of friendship, “You know when I first met you I thought you were too sweet. Now I know better.”

It was a compliment…of sorts.  Actually I know she meant it that way.  I’m drawn to strong, opinionated women who speak their mind…although I wouldn’t say that I’m one.  I mean in the traditional definition. 

I’m strong but in a mushy sorta way. I’m opinionated but not given to sharing my opinion…silently opinionated. 🙂 

Good grief…what was I talking about in the first place?

Oh yeah…being a hermit…or a cookie…or both.

In all seriousness I’ve been a bit of a recluse lately.  Or wanted to be. 

If I could be I’d be one.  I find myself not writing a lot, not texting a lot, not calling a lot, not answer phones a lot, not wanting to visit a lot…see, recluse.

Although I’m not lonely.  And that is a blessing.

When my husband left I didn’t feel this way.  In fact I was probably the exact opposite.  I mean, I didn’t feel like I wanted to hide away or miss phone calls or texts.  In fact, I had to work on NOT answering every phone call or text…I wanted to talk to people.  And I was terribly lonely.

What changed?

Honestly, I’m not sure.  But I think part of it is the complexity of life…and death.

My father passed away last month.  It wasn’t a surprise but it still rocked my world.  It hasn’t impacted how I live a normal day but it has impacted how I feel about some things.

I believe my father’s death was kind of like the straw that broke the camel’s back.  The past few years have been fanny kickers.  Seriously.  Fanny kickers. 

You know that hot water thing I mentioned…I think I got pushed into it.  And I’m having a heck of a time getting out of it.  I’m getting there…slowly but surely.

But it seems like the water temperature keeps increasing and sometimes the sides of the pool are a bit slippery.  But I have to admit that I‘ve not felt lonely…I’ve not felt abandoned or forsaken.  I know that God is with me even though my life feels overwhelming and difficult.

Maybe being a bit hermit-ish isn’t so bad.  It’s given me some time to think.  It’s given me some time to focus.  I can’t say I’ve gotten a tremendous amount of things done apart from parenting and homeschooling and a tiny bit of writing, but I’ve been blessed to do some wonderful Bible studies, read a great book*, and hang out with some dear people in my life, especially my children. 

I guess what I want to write is that it’s okay to rest in our relationships a bit.   It’s okay to be still.  In fact as I was writing this a kind friend sent me an email reminding me of Psalm 46:10

Be still and know that I am God.

I love how God does stuff like that.

Being still.  Being quiet.  Those are good things.  In moderation of course.  It’s not like my life is ever truly still or quiet…unless I’m asleep and that’s rare in and of itself.  BUT I believe resting in God is good.  And allowing ourselves time to deal with all that life has thrown our way can be a very good thing too.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.  Matthew 11:28

 

So to all my sweet friends who have suffered my lame-friendness…please forgive me.  I’m praying that God will renew my energy and heal all my broken places.

I’m praying for all of us to know that God is our peace, our strength, and our hope in our busy lives whether they are loud or quiet. 

Thus says the LORD:  “Stand by the roads, and look and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.

Jeremiah 6:16    

*The great book is Jesus+Nothing=Everything by Tullian Tchividjian    

stormy skySanity in the Storm
Why is it that I’m most productive, energetic, and awake after eleven pm?  Seriously.  Why can’t I be a morning person?  Actually I think I would be if I would just GO TO SLEEP ALREADY!  I know if I put my head on my pillow I’d be sound asleep in seconds and yet I’m sitting here typing…goofball.

I’ve just gotta get on a better schedule…it’s probably going to mean that I don’t get much done for at least a day…or a night. But golly it would be a good thing to do!

I’m highly motivated to get things done. I’ve started writing down a lot of to-do lists and I’m thoroughly enjoying checking things off.  I feel much better about things…although there are definitely days when I don’t have the pleasure of checking off many things on my list.  Days when things just don’t go as planned and everything goes wonky on me.  

I’m finding that much of my success depends on my attitude. A positive attitude seems to enable me to accomplish more. I think it’s because I’m not allowing myself to feel or be defeated by the day. 

I trust God even when things go kablooey. I know that God will use even the craziest of days to help me be the woman He designed me to be. 

The blog I’m sharing from MomLifeToday.com, Sanity in the Storm, is one a wrote about a totally different kind of list…my list of things that overwhelm.  Unfortunately I seem to be able to check everything on that list almost daily.  I do definitely struggle with the whole overwhelmed thing…entirely too much if you ask me.  Especially considering I KNOW that God loves me and will not give me more than I can handle with Him.

The problem is that I keep trying to handle everything without Him.  Again…goofball. 

I do know without a doubt that God did not make me to be overwhelmed nor did He make me to do my life without Him.  I’m made for so much more…I’m made for love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control…all those fruit of the Spirit…and I’m made for relationship with my Lord and Savior!  I’m made to do this life with Him.

And I’m so thankful because I can’t imagine any other way to do it!

Grief Upon Grief Upon Grace Upon Grace

Pier Along IslamoradaI wrote this blog last week and hadn’t posted it yet because I can’t seem to catch up with school, work, and house…well pretty much anything. I was sharing with a friend some of things that I’ve been thinking about and writing about lately. This dear friend challenged me to share a happy post I’d written…I couldn’t find one happy enough! So now I’ve been challenged to write happier blogs at least every once in a while. But I had already written this one and I’m praying that it will bless someone even if it isn’t as cheerful as I’d like! I pray you are encouraged…

This week has been a little rough.

Being gone all last week was difficult…I missed a week of being with my children. I missed walking my children through the grief of their grandfather’s death. I missed day to day. I missed bedtimes. I missed packing lunches. I missed A LOT of laundry (which was all waiting when I arrived home). I missed my little girls’ Back to School night. I missed the book fair at school. I missed chatting with children. I missed my Bible study. I missed piano lessons. I missed a lot.

Right now though, I miss my Dad.

And I’m not sure how missing him should impact my day.

I have a sweet friend who reminded me that I should give myself and my children the opportunity to grieve…that I shouldn’t just jump back into life. I totally understand and agree.
I just don’t know how to do that.

When I arrived home my children had done an amazing job of holding down the fort — everyone had been well-cared for and our home looked pretty darn good! Except for the mountain (and I do mean mountain) of laundry by the washing machine….and the fact that schoolwork had been put aside for other pursuits.

This week began with sweet time with my children, a tremendous amount of washing, drying and sorting of laundry, grocery shopping, and massive amount of catching up on school work along with all the other craziness of a normal week. I haven’t found a moment to sit down or really contemplate anything deeply. There are brief moments while driving alone when grief washes over me, but really I don’t have time to allow myself to feel anything profoundly for more than that brief moment.

I’m not sure how to walk my children through this grief. It feels like grief upon grief for us. One big and little and then big thing after another.

“Grief upon grief” reminds me of a verse I keep seeing lately…on Facebook, in a book, and on a church sign…

For from his fullness we have all received grace upon grace. John 1:16

In the past several years God has shown me nothing but grace upon grace. And even this week as I deal with the loss of my father and just simply living the life of a single parent, God continues to show me grace upon grace.

Grace for responding to difficult moments.

Grace for single parenting even when I’m exhausted and emotionally drained.

Grace for being content when the day doesn’t go as planned…pretty much ever.

Grace for myself…forgiveness and mercy when I fail.

Grace for others who disappoint and hurt me or my children.

Grace for my children when they mess up.

Grace for knowing that God loves messy me and my chaotic crew.

There is no doubt in my mind that God loves us and that God feels acutely the pain we feel. Jesus felt grief…He understands.

We have all suffered grief at one point or another in our lives. I was thinking of Paul’s 2nd letter to the Corinthians where he shared about his thorn…the thing that he pleaded God to remove from his life…it was his grief-giver. And God’s response was:

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. (2 Cor. 12:9)

And oh that my response to that could be like Paul’s:

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor. 12:9-10)

Sometimes in my weakness…I just feel weak. Sometimes in my grief I don’t truly feel content.
How do I get contentment in sorrow?

I don’t know any particular thing to do, but I do know that God offers contentment…Paul wouldn’t have had it if God didn’t give it!

Once again I’m brought back to prayer. Once again the answer is prayer.

I know that God wants me to be content in my circumstances actually according to 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 God says to:

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

I’m of the firm opinion that God doesn’t call us to anything He will not also enable us to do. So if I’m to continually be rejoicing that must mean I rejoice in all my circumstances whether they are good or bad. If God tells me to give thanks in all circumstances, I must be able to find something to be grateful for no matter the way things are going. And in the middle of all that God says to pray without ceasing.

So I’m going to pray…constantly…for the ability to rejoice and be grateful no matter how wonky things are. I’m also going to pray that I will be better about praying without ceasing…I want to be a prayer warrior so I believe I will pray that God will help me be one.

And I’m going to pray that God will give me His peace so that no matter what happens – whether its grief upon grief, joy upon joy, or grace upon grace – I’ll be content.