A Prayer Journal is a quick, passionate discovery on what it looks like to seek God in prayer. In this writing, there are only 42 electronic pages, if reading on a Kindle. It’s simple but profound. Elegant like gold, yet practical as a silver utensil. Overall, it illustrates a heart that is hungry for God. A hunger that isn’t satisfied with anything in this world other than to know God. O’Conner’s last words describe the intimate longing her journal portrays, “If I could only always just think of Him.”
When my kids were little, they had the cutest time-out chair, ever!! I wish I were small enough to sit in it. It was a nice place, a safe place. My boys could re-gather their thoughts and behavior, and start again. Sometimes their cries would outlast the timer, but I would give them the opportunity to stay in that nice, safe place until they gained their composure. Better said, I would NOT let them get out of their time-out until they cried it all out!
As a mom, I have found myself in need of more time-outs than any other time in my life. Maybe even more than I had as a toddler? I don’t know, but recently I needed a time out. I needed a timeout for a cry out!
Remembering back when my boys cried out, in a time-out, I never saw it as a gift. In fact, the scripture in Romans, which mentions kindness leading us to repentance, was certainly not in my mind, nor theirs. However, recently when I was alone, my time-out could only be described as a glorious gift.
Of course, you might be thinking anytime in which moms are alone is a gift, and I would concur 100%! However, when we are particularly placed in a time-out, do we see it as a gift? Do we see that kindness leads to repentance? Do we see waiting – leads to a promise?
As I think about my kid’s lovely blue time-out chair, I can vividly imagine myself rocking back and forth as if I were in a time-out, in their chair. It seems I’ve been rocking back and forth for a while. My back is beginning to hurt because there are no cushions. Even though I’ve described the chair as nice and safe, it isn’t the most comfortable. It’s really hard. It’s just a little wooden rocking chair.
Now I begin to wonder, “How did I get here? How did I get in this time out? It seems like I have been in this chair FOREVER!! When is the timer going to go off? Did it go off already? Am I still complaining and nothing has changed since I first sat down?”
As I continue to think to myself, I say, “Okay, I am going to gain composure. I am going to get out of this time out!” Then all of a sudden the tears, the true tears start rolling. I confess my envy, jealousy, discontentment, and all the stuff that has built up in my heart. I let God know I am scared. I didn’t intend or purposely do something wrong to get in time-out. Alternatively, it was just life. Many things aren’t fair, and just as kids, we get mad, we pout, and we end up in time-out.
As I discovered myself in time out, I realized God wasn’t harshly disciplining me. I just needed to gain composure. I was acting like a child complaining in a grocery store. I wanted all the pretty items on the shelf. I saw others getting items off the shelf, so why couldn’t I get something new?
As tears continued and my soul cried out, I got something new; I got mercy.
The next day, I woke up and when I looked at my phone, I got a text that said, “Praying for you today: Lamentations 3:19-24 I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. I said to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’”
Again, Jesus revealed I have something new, I have Christ’s compassion, His mercy, which never fails.
Although I will continue to see people have new items, (new careers, new homes, improved bodies, new levels of education) in which I may not get, I am promised to have mercy; and mercy unlike everything else I listed never fails, never breaks, and never ends.
He does not forget the cry of the humble. Psalm 9:12b
When I was a little girl, I was scared that if I fell asleep with my hands above my head, I would get shot. You know, because in the movies when the cop comes out s/he says, “Put your hands above your head,” and the officer(s) ALWAYS have a gun in hand! It was such a terrifying thought! One night when I saw my mom sleeping with her hands up, I was sure I would never see her alive again. I couldn’t believe that she didn’t know that putting her hands above her head (whether accidentally or on purpose) was the universal sign of signaling someone to shoot?
Thankfully my mom didn’t die that night, and shortly after I found out that if you accidentally have your hands above your head, no one is going to pop out of thin air and shoot you. I also learned, often, in these types of movies, officers would come out and say to the person who would soon be putting their hands in the air too, “Put the gun down.” So I realized they weren’t random people putting their hands in the air. Often these people broke the law. They were the ones who first had a gun.
Now that you know I learned the ABC’s of getting arrested through television let me tell you how I broke the law.
Many people think you should start your day reading your Bible, but I AM NOT A MORNING PERSON. In my teens and maybe early twenties, I would lay in bed with guilt as I tossed and turned only to fall back asleep. One day I learned about giving your best to God. I knew for sure my best was NOT IN THE MORNING. Ever since then I’ve made a habit to read my Bible, and pray, in the day, or evening before bed.
Although I am pretty good at reading my Bible before bed, I do have a problem when I purchase new books. I often find that when I open my Kindle App (where a few of my Bibles are found), the last intriguing book I bought seems to catch my eye. Therefore I’m guilty of reading other books. In fact, last night I went to bed a bit grumpy and said out loud to God (as my husband listened), “Why do I have to read my Bible? It doesn’t say anywhere in the Bible, ‘You have to read the Bible!’ It’s not a commandment.” As my husband laughed, I quickly recalled the passage of scripture that states, “You shall meditate on it both day and night.” I then thought, “Grrrr, IT IS in the Bible!”
As I continued to finish up my day, I checked emails, Facebook, and Googled some random fact and all of a sudden I seemed to hear a voice just like I did when I was little. However, I didn’t hear the usual “Put the gun down.” I heard, “Put the phone down.” I thought, “Seriously?” Did I just hear, “Put the phone down,” as if my phone was like a gun?!? Geeez, I must be having another naive moment like I did when I was little. Why would my phone be like a gun?
Then I realized why my phone is like a gun. It is holding me hostage. I’m holding myself hostage. To be free, I have to drop my phone. I have to raise my hands in surrender. I have broken the law. The scripture that came to me states, “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.” Joshua 1:8
Although I haven’t broken a law in which my hands were in the air, and the police were going to shoot me. I have broken the law, I haven’t met with grace in a few days.
I prayed, “Jesus forgive me. I’m naïve or downright foolish at times. I need help. I want to surrender to You. Help me drop what needs to be dropped so I can be free in You. In Your law, in Your grace. Amen.
I just got back from a prayer getaway and since returning a hundred things came to mind before praying did. Of course, then the hundredth and one thing popped on in, I thought, I should pray. Thankfully, I didn’t start the conversation. In fact, sometimes it’s much easier when God starts first. God knows that I am a mom and all that entails. I also think God knows that I’m probably an undiagnosed ADHD believer, as God often has to interrupt me to get my attention. Can I get an Amen?
Tonight God interrupted me through two lovely space invaders. One space invader I gave birth to, the other one I bought. Of course, I would never say, “I bought a kid.” However, I did buy this kid; he is my dog. So two children (one by birth, another by bucks) got so close that they only left me with an approximately 2-foot square on my king size bed! Thanks to Google I found out the length or footage of a king size bed is 76 x 80. Therefore, my child and dog had up to 74 x 78 feet. Granted they didn’t take it all, but they crowded me into this little upper right-hand corner in which I had no space. They invaded!
Ironically earlier this evening I told my husband, I wish I could hide in a closet or a cubby hole. Since being gone this weekend, I didn’t have any invaders. I had space. I had my own room! It was lovely.
Tonight as the hundredth and one thing popped into my head, I realized why I should pray. God wants to invade my space! God wants to get close. From experience, I’ve sometimes learned when God wants to get close it isn’t always fun. Sometimes God wants to clean out the closet. You too may know it isn’t always fun until after the closet is clean. But tonight, I knew God wanted to be present with me. God wanted to spend time with me. Like my dog and child all snuggled up so close. God wanted to invade my space.
When I started to pray, I said, “God, thanks for invading my space. Thanks for being present even when I’m not thinking of you. You always want to be so close. You are such a good father. You teach me in so many ways. I love my space invaders. Thanks for interrupting me through them. Thanks for teaching me how to pray.”
Before I got out of bed today my kids were fighting, my husband and I were frustrated with each other and one of my children was vomiting in the toilet… I didn’t want to face the day. I didn’t want to face another doctor’s appointment. I didn’t want to face frustrations that had built up with my husband. I didn’t want face my kids fighting and their disobedience. I didn’t want to face my bills. I didn’t want to face anything! Then I thought of a picture in one of the bathrooms at my seminary. Yes, in the bathroom – it is where God speaks to me the most! The picture in the bathroom is a delightful version of 1 Corinthians 13 it says, “There is nothing love cannot face; there is no limit to its faith, its hope, its endurance. Love will never come to an end.”
As the day progressed I was able to determine what I really didn’t want to face is fear, lack, sickness, and frustration, but in reality those things were closer to me than my breath. I was facing all those things, and maybe some others I don’t even know about – without love. The truth is I can face fear, lack, sickness, frustration and anything else that comes my way because “There is nothing love cannot face!” So whatever you are facing – sickness, death, loss, rejection, hopelessness, failure… look it straight in the eye and say, “There is nothing love cannot face.” Jesus conquered it all! Let’s live it out friends.
I’ve been studying Jeremiah lately and tonight reading chapter five in the Message I’ve been stuck on verse 10 “Go down the rows of vineyards and rip out the vines, but not all of them. Leave a few. Prune back those vines! That growth didn’t come from God!”
I often think growth is good. My kids grow an inch and I smile. My flowers bloom and I rejoice. Growth is good right? Then I thought about the rotting pumpkins on my porch. Even though I have sprayed them with bleach, and probably killed a squirrel because s/he took a bite, I still have rotting pumpkins. Growth isn’t all-good and mold can grow even on the prettiest carved pumpkin.
Thinking about my pretty molded pumpkins a question came to my mind: What growth in my life isn’t from God? Even though I may be elegantly carved, produce luscious seeds and a glowing candle to light up the dark, it doesn’t mean I’m with out mold.
Whether you have growing, glowing, or ghostly pumpkins on your porch ask God what you are growing, glowing and maybe ghostly hiding. Jesus wants your heart no matter what is in it or on it – he can handle any growth good or bad.
I have been progressively sick for over two years for no apparent reason. At first, I was determined that it was because I was pregnant. However, my baby came out and I haven’t stopped being sick. A funny story throughout this is when I was pregnant my older son often would imitate me when people would come into our home. As soon as people would walk in, he would show off by demonstrating what mommy does all day long. He would run into the bathroom, and make this awful noise and pretend to vomit. Ha funny, – but not so funny after you have been dry heaving for over 2 years!
Often on the days when I spend more time in the bathroom then I would like, it really makes me sad. One day, I was driving and asking, “God, why did You make me if I was going to end up with a disease? I feel defective.” I was so sad, and didn’t understand what purpose or value I had if I was going to be a person living with a disease. Then God spoke to me, as I drove past these beautiful trees. (Something you need to know about me is I LOVE TREES! Seriously, I like them more than flowers! I love trees!) As I passed by these trees I was mesmerized by their beauty. They were so big and beautiful. It seemed like they could kiss the clouds. They were simply majestic. I happen to notice some of the trees had moss growing on their trunks. I wondered if the moss hurt the trees? Then I thought even if the moss was hurting, or will hurt the trees they remain beautiful. Truly, I think when people drive by these beautiful trees they don’t see the moss; they just see the trees magnificent beauty. You can’t help but see it. Seeing these amazing trees radiate with life and exuberance showed me that even though they might have a disease or a defect they are of great worth. I was amazed to think that these trees still have purpose even though they might have a disease. Driving by these beautiful trees gave me such a smile, and I’m sure they continue to bring smiles to onlookers alike. That day I learned something meaningful. Even lives that are flawed are still beautiful and valuable.
Tonight, I was reminded of that incident. Again, I was driving asking God, “Why would you make me if I have a disease? I don’t like diseases!” Then I heard “Love your neighbor as yourself.” The problem with that verse for me wasn’t: love my neighbor, I LOVE my neighbor! Well do I? Can I love my neighbor if I don’t love myself?
That verse sunk deep into my heart as I was thinking if I don’t love myself with a disease how am I going to be a chaplain and love people in a hospital who are sick and diseased. I want to love them. I think I do. Something I do know is that I don’t love myself with a disease. Therefore, how can I love my neighbor as myself? I realized that I have some work to do! If I have a disease, then I am going to be on a journey loving myself even in my sickest state because I want to love my neighbor! I want to love each person I reach out to, and show them the hand of God. I want to have compassion on all who are sick. God help me.
So in writing this I stumbled on some great news. Some trees “500 to 700 years old, support quantities of moss and are still healthy and thriving.” I don’t want to live 500 to 700 years, but I would love to be 99 still healthy and thriving. I think I can….
 Sprunt, Jr., Alexander “Sandy”. Emerald Kingdom. January 1961. http://www.corkscrew.audubon.org/Information/EmeraldKingdom.html (accessed March 29, 2010).