Monthly Archives: January 2016

When God Says, “No.”

This blog post is part of the 31 Days of Prayer Blog.  If you’d like to read other posts about prayer, follow this link.

hos3If someone saw me in the parking garage that day, they would’ve wondered about the crazy lady who was sitting in her car by herself sobbing and screaming to no one in particular.

To fully understand this hysterical moment, I need to rewind a few days. I was staring out a window in a hospital waiting room. I had been there about 18 hours a day for the previous week, sitting by my father’s bedside while he was in a coma after a freak swimming accident. We had just received another grim doctor’s report and I needed some time alone.

“It’s not okay, God.”

I knew what I was supposed to say. I knew that I needed to trust. I knew that I needed to surrender to His will. But at that moment, all I could come out with was,

“It’s not okay, God.”

Because really, it wasn’t. I wasn’t okay with the idea of my dad never getting better. I wasn’t all right with anything less than an extraordinary miracle that I knew God was capable of doing.

woman-praying-darkI began praying once again for a miraculous touch, for God’s resurrection power to fill my Dad’s body and breathe life into him again. My sister was even given a promise at the start of all this. Habakkuk 2.2-3:

“Then the Lord answered me and said, “Write the vision and engrave it plainly on [clay] tablets, so that the one who reads it will run. For the vision is yet for the appointed [future] time. It hurries toward the goal [of fulfillment]; it will not fail. Even though it delays, wait [patiently] for it, because it will certainly come; it will not delay.”

That’s right, God. We’ve been waiting long enough. Heal him. And in the middle of my
prayers, this thought came to me.

Everyone wants the resurrection power, but no one wants to die to get there.

“Well of course not, God. I just can’t. I don’t want it. I don’t want to go down that road.”

Silence.

The silence continued for several more days, at least until that afternoon in the parking garage. I quickly drove over because Dad was getting worse. There, in that 15-minute drive, I had my wrestling match with God

bigstock-woman-silhouette-waiting-for-s-5824100“Okay, God. You win. I still want the miracle. I still want the healing. I still don’t like any other option. But if You chose that, if that’s what happens, I’m with You. I choose You.”

Like Jacob at the end of a long night, I limped out of the car that day forever changed. Twenty-four hours later, we left the hospital for the final time . . . without my dad.

So, what do you do when God says, “No?” Whether it’s praying for a healing, for a job, for a child, for a spouse . . . if you walk the Christian journey for any amount of time, you’re bound to experience a similar moment. And when you do, how do you handle that?

While there aren’t, “Three Easy Steps to Walk With God Through A Crisis,” these are some things I’ve learned in my experience.

  1. Give yourself time.

Disappointment has to be one of the most difficult emotions in the human experience. No one knows this better than Jesus. He doesn’t chastise us in our disappointment. He joins in. He wept with his friends at Lazarus’s tomb, and He weeps with us today. In those moments of disappointment, give yourself time to sit with Jesus and weep with Him. Let Him give you the gift of grieving together.

  1. Be honest.

God can take it. The messy. The ugly. The emotion. Not only can He take it, He wants to take it. He invites us to trade our burdens for His (Matt. 11.28-30). Take Him up on it.

  1. Trust Again.

This is going to be the hardest of all. It’s heartbreaking. It’s scary. And yet I believe it’s scarier to live a life without trusting Him again, than it is to open up to trusting again. It takes time. It takes a lot of honest work and communication with Jesus and the body of Christ, but I implore you to try it. Talk to Him again. Pray again. He can be trusted.

IMG_0199A little over a year later, I found myself in another van, having another conversation with God. I wasn’t yelling this time. I wasn’t in a parking garage, either, mainly because there weren’t any constructed structures in a 20-mile radius. My mom, sisters, and I were riding to a remote area in the middle of Tanzania, dedicating a new water well constructed from my dad’s memorial fund. My dad loved Africa, and being a part of such a special moment would’ve made his heart run wild.

I was remembering the promise that God gave us in the hospital. The vision didn’t look like I had hoped, but that day, it was bringing healing to hundreds of people that we would’ve never met if God had healed my dad. God was breathing some of His resurrection power that day. He was resurrecting hope in me. It was just a start of the fulfillment of a promise that He will continue to redeem in our lives for years to come, and ultimately one day when we see our dad once again.

If you’re dealing with disappointment, I encourage you, too, to wait for God’s vision. Run the race well and declare it to others running with you along the way. God’s fulfillment of redemption will certainly come. And it will be Good.

Praying With Toddlers

This blog post is a part of the 31 Days of Prayer Blog.  If you’d like to read other posts about  prayer, follow this link.  

D-Custom-Brand-DisconnectDoes there ever seem to be a disconnect between the things you WANT to do and the things you ACTUALLY do? It seems like the new year especially is ripe for our more idealistic thinking.

You want to be disciplined in your eating. But your weakness for potato chips and dip late at night wins 80% of the time.

You want to exercise more. But you’re too tired by the time work is over, and there’s something just not right about exercising before the sun is up.

As a mom of four young children, I’ve set my expectations a little lower these days: take a shower three times a week, brush my teeth every day, don’t forget any of the children in the car during errands . . . yes, 2016 is a year of big dreams. 😉

One area in which I am committed to grow, however, is in becoming a mother of prayer. Several weeks ago, my husband was preaching an incredible message about being a prayerful parent and I was inspired. He stated, “You’re not going to be a perfect parent, so you might as well be a praying parent.”

power-praying-motherYes, I will be a praying parent. I will get up early in the morning and intercede for my family in an hour-long prayer session every day. That is what I WANT to do.

And before I even had the chance to try my prayerful pipe dream, I already heard the voice of reality telling me what’s really going to happen.

Tired-Mom2Get up early!?! Who are you kidding? After taking care of an infant through the night, you can barely get up to get your daughter off to school. And pray for an hour?? When is the last time you did anything for one, uninterrupted hour? Can you even go to the bathroom for two uninterrupted minutes? You’re never going to accomplish this goal. You’re going to try and do it, sleep in by day two, and condemn yourself with a nice dose of guilt for the next five days and give up by the second week of January. That is what will ACTUALLY happen.

I knew the voice of Reality Leah was right. But I really wanted the voice of Idealistic Leah to win. There had to be a way to make the two meet somewhere in the middle.

So how does a busy mom of toddlers incorporate prayer into everyday life? Even finding 20 minutes to pray can seem like a challenge. I’ve been giving it some thought and I came up with three quick guidelines, and to make it as memorable as possible, it’s an acronym.

IMG_9472-1M – Make a plan. This goes without saying, but if there’s no intentional plan in place, it’s never going to happen. My plan had to get a little creative when it came to praying for 20 minutes. If I can’t find 20 minutes in a row, maybe I could spread it out through the day in intentional chunks?

 

Sitting in church that day at 12:07 PM, I took out my phone and set five different alarms: 8:07 AM – Pray for Gabby, 10:07 AM – Pray for Claire, 12:07 PM – Pray for Caleb, 2:07 PM – Pray for Karis, 4:07 PM – Pray for Brad. Every day, whatever I’mdoing at those moments, and wherever I am, I stop and pray for that family member.

I’m not claiming that my 30 second-4 minutes focused prayers are going to win any Prayer Warrior of the Year Awards, but it’s 4 minutes more than I was doing before. It’s a start.

O – Open With a Focus.

This is one of the reasons I love the Praying With Confidence book and the Declaration sheets. Having a scriptural focus when praying is invaluable. If I don’t have a focus, I find that my prayers consist of a laundry list of mainly irrational concerns for each family member. The “prayer” quickly degrades to glorified worrying. Having a focus, however, reminds me of the Truth of God’s Word and the declarations He’s already given me for my family. My son will be a strong man of God, not the three-year-old terrorist that I see right before naptime each day.

M – (Re-) ‘Member Grace. J

Guilt is a powerful emotion and Mommy Guilt can be the most potent of all. Sometimes, I think of my prayer and journal times in other seasons of life, and I feel condemnation that I am not sustaining hour-long quiet times in this season. Or I look at my family and think if I just prayed more, maybe they wouldn’t [fill in the blank with whatever they are struggling with here]. While I don’t want to be satisfied with complacency in my relationship with Jesus, He’s continually reminding me of His Grace being sufficient at all times, even when my physical exhaustion prevents me from getting up to pray for an hour.

While I’m far from becoming an expert in prayer, I’m committed to growing in it during whatever season of life I find myself. That’s something that I WANT to do and will ACTUALLY happen.