A Strengthening Struggle

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I’m in a season of blog starting. I start them and save them and kind of forget about them.  I think it is because I want so desperately to be encouraging and sometimes I’m just not.  Sometime I’m just an all out mess.

And my blogs can reflect that mess quite well.

And I have these voices in my head and outside of my head that keep telling me that I should be in a better place by now.  That maybe not sharing the struggle is best.

There are many, many good things in my life right now.  Many.  But there are also many, many challenges.

There just are.

Nothing unusual.  Nothing extraordinary.  Nothing crazy awful.

Really in the grand scheme of things my life is pretty good.

But daily I must grab my thoughts and say, “Thank you Lord for this day.  Thank you Lord for the tremendous blessings you graciously give just because You love me.  And I love You too!”

And that is what I want to focus on, but I’m struggling to find the words to share.

I shared about my concerns about health issues.  They are real.  And sometimes lately they have kept me up at night.  All the “what ifs” are terrifying to me.  But even without the “additional tests” thing, there are always “what ifs”…always.

I wish I could just let things go…place things in God’s hands and not worry.

I will say though that God has been so very, very kind to me this past week.  Two snow days, a half day of school and then two teacher workdays.  Blessed relief from some of the stress of work and the joy of getting things accomplished and planned and prepared for, both at work and at home.  That should provide a few more minutes of restful sleep.

That is a beautiful example of how God provides for me even in all my whirling dervish of anxiousness. He seems to understand my stuff…my constant battle with capturing anxious thoughts.  And when I say constant…I really mean it.

I have made a two part plan to peace.

  1. Pray for strength to take thoughts captive.
  2. Hide scripture in my heart so my life is a reflection of His grace, mercy, faithfulness, and forgiveness.

I feel like a broken record.  Pray! Pray! Pray!  And yet, I put my head on my pillow each night realizing I barely breathed a prayer to my Father.

I talked about Him, but not to Him.

I know prayer is the provider of peace I long for.  Why in the world do I not pray more?

When I was walking the beginning of this single parent path, that peace was so amazing…just really awe-inspiring.  There were days I didn’t understand how I could feel it so tangibly.  Please know that it wasn’t that I didn’t weep buckets at any given moment during any given day, but even during those very damp moments I knew His peace.

I have my sobby seconds now, but I’m trying not to fall into my pit of sorrow again.  I’m trying to move forward and see…really see the many, many blessings God continues to lavish on me.  And to thank Him daily.

Part two.  Hiding scripture in my heart…when I get God’s word in my head it seems to seep down into my heart.  And before I know it, my heart beats with the rhythm of His word.  My perspective changes and I can see beauty where before all I saw was burdens. My anxious thoughts are calmed and quieted as He reminds me that He is powerful, strong, and in control.  Things might feel like they are spinning hopelessly either in circles or out of control (or a little bit of both), but truly He has a plan in the midst of what feels like chaos.  His word whispers peace in my ear and stops the voices in my head.  Those words of fear and worry are drowned out by His words of hope and faith.

I have a lot to be thankful for…a lot to hope for (even if right now I’m just hoping for good news on Tuesday).

So maybe I’m not in such a bad place…maybe the struggle is strengthening me.

And maybe having some challenges doesn’t negate a good life…a good life always has some bit of difficulty.

The secret seems to be to find some wonderful in the worries, some awesome in the afflictions, some pleasant moments in the problems, some inspiration in the inconveniences, and just some plain ole blessings in the burdens.

Now I have to figure out how to open my eyes wide enough to see all the ways God is reaching in to my day with His love and peace.

Tomorrow is Monday.  Seems like a good day to start my plan!

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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.