Blog

When Life is Lonely

When life is lonely…

I was single until I was 29. So what? In the South this is considered “later”. There were many many lonely days and nights as I watched my friends and younger sisters get married. I used to think that if I was married, this loneliness would go away. There’s no way wives were lonely- if anything all they talk about was never having alone time. And don’t’ get me wrong, I am definitely a woman who likes her quiet time and I recharge when I’m by myself. But man, to be married, seemed like it would fix this loneliness.

When I married a terrific man, who happened to be active duty in the United States Navy, I saw adventure, moving, patriotism, spreading my wings! I did not see the loneliness that would ensue. Having always lived in a town with family and friends, I had no idea the challenges of not knowing a single soul.

These are two different scenarios of many other circumstances why people feel so alone in this great big world. No matter your situation, here are a few tips I’ve learned on this journey. You must be proactive if you want to see change.

  1. Join something. A job. A club. A church. A bible study. A gym. Something. Insert yourself in an atmosphere where there are other people. Sitting at home does not help with this situation.
  2. Put yourself out there. When you have joined something, talk to people. As an introvert this has been something I’ve made myself do. Ask your office neighbor where all of your new colleagues go to eat lunch. Chat with the other mom of a toddler at church. Invite a couple over for dinner or dessert.
  3. Get off social media. Its too easy to get caught up in the comparison game with everyone’s splice of fantastic lives they choose share to the world. We don’t document the truly hard and disappointing moments like we do the fun and exciting times.
  4. Do activities that feed your soul. For me its reading a book, pouring into my son or husband, or trying a new recipe. I’ve never heard someone say that scrolling through mindless minutes (hours) of Facebook or Snapchat really brought them joy. Nor does binging on the latest Netflix series.
  5. Give back to someone. These were wise words from my dad when he was going through a tough time. You’ll stop feeling sorry for yourself if you stop thinking about yourself so much. Go do something for someone else. This can be officially volunteering for an organization or simply making some cookies for your neighbors. Send a letter in the mail to a child or older person. Do something small for your husband or wife that you know they would feel loved by.

However, none of this matters if you don’t seek God first. He is the only being that will fill you and will never fail you. Before trying all these tactics, lean into Him. Sit at His feet. Open His word and read. Eventually everything you try to do to fill this loneliness, will fail you except Him. I thought after getting married that I would never be lonely, and here I am by myself on July 4th evening. I can hear fireworks going off, but my two year old is sleeping and my husband is on the night shift. I’m in a town where I know no one. I just finished looking through all my friend’s and family’s stories on Snapchat where they are together celebrating. There’s that ache that I’ve become so familiar with.

Come, Lord Jesus. Fill me as I sit at your feet.

 

Advertisements

How to Pray with Your Spouse

Praying with your spouse is important. You’ve heard it in sermons, Sunday School, and bible studies, but not all of us do it. It’s scary, it’s awkward, we don’t know how…these are just a few of the excuses we use. Or a very common one- we pray separately because prayer is more of a private thing. Yes, prayer, at times, can be very private and very personal, but this isn’t what God intended when we married. When we said our vows and promised to love our spouse as ourselves we became one flesh. One body. You, together, are now one. The idea of praying with your spouse is NOT just for people who need it, who need marriage counseling. It’s for everybody whether you’re a newlywed or have been married for fifty years. We all need to pray with our spouse.

Why should I pray with my spouse?

  1. You are one flesh. “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24, “…So they are no longer two, but one flesh.” Mark 10:8 NIV You are no longer two separate people, but one, so pray together.
  2. When two are gathered in His name, he will be there. “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:19-20 NIV
  3. The power of prayer is tremendous. “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James 5: 16-17, and “Whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” Matthew 21:22 ESV
  4. Be an example for your kids. “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 ESV Do it for them. Being an example is the best way to teach a child. You can’t tell them not to curse, but say bad words. You can’t tell them to be patient, but become intolerant in every frustrating experience. You can’t tell them to pray and not let them see you praying yourself.

My spouse isn’t a believer.

This is a hard and touchy subject because most likely you aren’t on the same page…yet. Hopefully you’re praying for him/her already on your own. I would suggest the book, The Power of the Praying Wife by Stormie Jackson. She walks through how to pray for your spouse and why to pray for your spouse in a short easy read. She also includes actual prayers for every day of the month each themed with major points of which to pray for your spouse. For example one chapter is for your marriage, another for his talk, for his faith, for his fatherhood. I use this book daily as a way to pray for my husband. There are points in there I forget to pray for on my own, so I love the detail and outlook. More on this topic later…

How to begin praying WITH your spouse

Some people are a jump-all-in-no-looking-back type of person. Those people may just look at your spouse and say, hey we’re praying today! Jump on board here we go! And they will grab their partner’s hand and start praying. Many people are not like this, and my guess is if you’re reading this post, you’re probably not.

Here are a few steps to take the leap into prayer with your love:

  1. First start praying on your own for this to happen naturally. Ask God to grant you courage to ask your spouse to pray with you and for him/her to accept it graciously, thankfully and joyfully.
  2. Begin by suggesting a blessing before each meal. This is usually a “go-to” that many people and non-Christians do anyway. People say grace out of habit or because they feel it’s the right thing to do. By partaking in this, it’s a simple prayer, no pressure, and its usually short. Grace is usually pretty surface-level as well. But this is the opening step to praying together. You’ve crossed the no-prayer barrier. After you’ve prayed together like this for a while, the idea of holding hands and speaking to the Lord together is no longer taboo.
  3. Hold hands during a prayer at church. This can be the Lord’s Prayer or another time of prayer or worship during the service. It practices joining together to pray even if its for a short time, and makes you comfortable for the next moment of crossing the barrier of separate prayer. This is also assuming you both go to church together. If you don’t, that’s another post for another time. Have courage to slip your hand into your spouse’s next Sunday!
  4. Next, suggest a quick nighttime prayer. This again can be short, simplistic, even the Lord’s Prayer. But you’re now taking the prayer time to another part of your daily schedule. You’re inserting God into a time that you haven’t before. This can be a big step and courage will be needed. Have courage!
  5. Once you’ve established some sort of basic prayer togetherness, its time to go deeper into these prayers. During your Grace before meals or nighttime prayers, begin to introduce bigger topics. Begin to open up, and put your true needs and worries out there. You can begin small, but over time divulge in deeper topics. God will bless this. You can ask for your own needs and struggles, but also begin introducing family and couple needs and struggles.
  6. As you become more and more comfortable with praying together, suggest a Bible study. There are dozens of couple Bible studies to do together, but even sitting down and simply reading the Word together is beautiful and life altering. Here is where authentic conversation will arise. Bible studies often ask hard questions, which require you to delve into your heart and soul, and thus you share with your spouse.

What do we pray about? How do we pray?

This in itself can be an entirely different post. But, if you do have the courage to sit and hold hands and then come up blank, there are suggestions for how to move forward.

  1. Many denominations have a prayer book with daily prayers and bible readings. This can be a go-to. You don’t have to think up your own prayers but read already printed ones for you. Some say that this isn’t meaningful or authentic, but, in my experience, it can be beautiful because someone else’s words tend to be exactly what your soul wanted to say anyway. It is much better to use someone else’s words than to say nothing.
  2. Or, you can go with the plan I was taught in Sunday School many years ago- ACTS. Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication. Walk through ACTS together- tell God you Adore Him and love Him. Confess your sins and weaknesses. Thank God for your many many And then ask for your own and others’ needs. Give Him your worries. But do all this together.

My husband and I have only been married for two years now. We have one beautiful child, who just turned one. But even with only two years down, we’ve had our struggles and some big life moments. I don’t know how we would have survived without prayer and without prayer together. We have countless stories of prayer together working and being successful. It will take time. This isn’t an overnight process.

Let me know how prayer with your spouse works in your life! Do you have other suggestions for praying with your spouse?

 

Prayers of Praise

Praise God from whom all blessings flow! Praise him all creatures here below.

We are given so much because our God is so great and powerful. He created us. He created our home, our family, our country. We are because of Him. He deserves and expects our praise every moment of every day. Why do I feel like I have to convince someone of how deserving our Lord is of praise? When we come to our knees to speak with Him often we tend to call out as a cry for help! We need something. We want something. How often do our prayers consist of praise?

What is praise? How do we do it?

Most often we praise with a song! Yeah- that’s it! I praised at church today when the PRAISE band sang. We tend to categorize our worship with the idea that now that our singing portion of a service is over, the praise is over. After praising, then we learn. Though this is how many modern Christians view and participate in worship, it isn’t the case. There are different forms of praise that we are neglecting.

  1. Our spoken word shows praise. Synonyms of praise consists of ‘admire’ and ‘applaud.’ You can speak words of admiration to God. Next time in prayer consider using those words; “I applaud you, Jesus. I admire you, Lord.” Tell Him you love Him.
  2.  Our bodies show praise. Lifting of hands is praise despite what your Catholic parents/Sunday school teacher/friend tells you. And similarly, the crossing of our bodies or genuflecting of the knee shows praise. In all fashions, our motions show worship and reverence to the Lord. “Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.” 1 Timothy 2:8 Embrace the idea of praising with your whole body.
  3. Our obedience to God’s word shows praise. We admire him if we listen and follow his directions found in the Word. We praise him when we choose righteousness over fleshly desires. The examples for obedience is endless and another blog post for another time. Begin by reading His Word.

Below are the lyrics to “Heart of Worship” by Matt Redman. A little background about the song- Redman was on a worship team at his church. The pastor preached about worship and challenging his parishioners to truly plug into worship instead of taking it all in like a consumer. They chose to unplug the stereo system and stop the music worship for awhile. This forced the members to sincerely dig deep and to offer their hearts authentically before the Lord. There were no guitars, piano or bass to mask an artificial idea of worship. As the change of worship seemed to sweep across the congregation and members poured their heart into prayer, they reintroduced the band and music. Redman wrote of this transformation into new song. Read these lyrics. Don’t sing them at first. Read them.

When the music fades
All is stripped away
And I simply come
Longing just to bring
Something that’s of worth
That will bless Your heart
I’ll bring You more than a song
For a song in itself
Is not what You have required

You search much deeper within
Through the way things appear
You’re looking into my heart

I’m coming back to the heart of worship
And it’s all about You,
It’s all about You, Jesus
I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it
When it’s all about You,It’s all about You, Jesus

King of endless worth
No one could express
How much You deserve
Though I’m weak and poor
All I have is Yours
Every single breath
I’ll bring You more than a song
For a song in itself
Is not what You have required
You search much deeper within
Through the way things appear
You’re looking into my heart

I’m coming back to the heart of worship
And it’s all about You,
It’s all about You, Jesus
I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it
And it’s all about You,
It’s all about You, Jesus

via Daily Prompt: Praise

Courage, dear sister

Courage is spoken about, preached about, lectured about, memed about. Our movies and stories illustrate grand acts of courage by heroes. Prince Charming scales a wall, destroys a dragon, and overcomes his downfall to kiss the princess and to show his amazing courage. Or in all too real stories, the woman fighting breast cancer displays her newly shaven head with a thumbs up, a veteran is holding his now prosthetic leg as the result of a tour in Iraq, and even more recently we have the stories of our local heroes – the police officers. These courageous and incredible stories are motivating and encouraging in our world, which often seems so dark and broken.

Courage, however, doesn’t have to be in these grand stories. Many of us never witness or belong to these traumatic events. We are everyday people who get up and work, take care of our families and homes, and try our best. We don’t feel we ever display courage because we haven’t had to yet. Our problems and struggles are nothing compared to what we see scrolling through social media.

Courage does not have to be a grand gesture. Courage is standing up for what you believe in whether big or small. Mary Anne Radmacher says my favorite line about courage, “ Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying ‘I will try again tomorrow’.” Courage is in everyday moments. Its when a child takes his first steps, a teenager sings on stage at her school, a college grad participates in his first interview, a mother quits her job to stay home. We choose to have courage in the little moments even as adults.

However, we tend to mix up courage with other natural human instincts. Courage isn’t telling someone off who pulled in front of you in line at the grocery store. That’s anger. Courage isn’t video taping a run-in with the police. That’s fanning the flame of the dangerous by-stander. Courage isn’t holding in your emotions as a parent when you’re crushed and you don’t want your child to see you cry or apologize. That’s pride. Courage is telling your dear friend that you won’t participate in the gossip about another friend. It is walking out of your comfort zone and trying something new even if it’s as simple as a new recipe or to begin exercising. Courage is asking your spouse to pray with you even though you haven’t in years…or even at all.

We all know the opposite of courage, a coward. I don’t want to be known as a coward. When we become idle because of fear, fear of judgment, fear of failure…that’s being a coward. Let’s take a baby step of courage today.

Your Mission Work

As I hugged my high school youth minister, she thanked me for a great week. I currently live in Pensacola, Florida, and I’m originally from the DFW area of Texas. My home church paid a visit to my new church and brought their youth along for a mission trip to serve the Pensacola community. For the trip, the teens were split into groups of about 8 kids and a few chaperones.  Each group had a task to clean up a yard for the disabled, work in a local elementary school completing different tasks or a beach clean up. They were here for five days, and it filled my heart to have a piece of home in my new home. My old youth minister served as a chaperone to the craziness and my friend, whom I’ve done several bible studies with, serves as their current youth minister.

The week began in prayer, so much prayer, before the group even arrived. Our local church prayed for each member, volunteer and chaperone. At the beginning of each day before breakfast, together they prayed and participated in morning prayer, reading the good word. Afterwards they separated into their respective groups and served in the community. Each day they shared the gospel and on multiple accounts they fed the homeless. However, a homeless shelter was not one of their service projects. Randomly (God appointed) homeless made their way to where one of the groups was, and our great kids offered them food and a prayer. Truly God was in their midst. The evenings were full of fellowship and dinner which was served and donated by stores in the community and our fellow parishioners. After dinner the participants began an evening of praise and worship, a devotion and small groups.  And they ended each evening in compline. Many times during these evening meetings the teens shared the awesome ways God worked in their day.

Furthermore, a unique aspect the youth minister includes in her mission trips are prayer partners for each participant, chaperone and volunteer. Katie pairs each person with a prayer partner volunteer from the home parish who devotes themselves to praying for each servant and writing a note for each night. There is so much encouragement from those little notes and such relief and gratitude when you know someone is devoted to pray for you.

Sure things went wrong. It rained during evening games and work time, kids didn’t feel well, a few meals ran late, and minor issues from here to there, but no one saw these minor infractions as even a hiccup. Did I mention not a single teenager had their phone for five days? But when I asked them at the end of their trip, “How bad do you want your phone back?” Every single one answered, “Meh. I haven’t really missed it.”  

So at the end of the trip, as I cried for like the fourth time that week, I sat back and reflected at what a great week it was. A little background about me- I have been on multiple mission trips, and I worked as a summer camp director for years. These “ spiritual highs” we get from Christian service…why does it seem to be so prevalent during organized events or missions like this? How do we transfer our everyday mundane lives to reflect something similarly so great? The Holy Spirit doesn’t just show up for weeks like this and then disappear when we “go back to the real world.”

There are so many aspects of a mission trip or a church camp setting which should transfer to our daily life. Every morning when we wake, we should begin with morning prayer with our family. Then we should go out and serve our mission as a team. Our mission and service may be to an office, hospital, school, business, or raising children in your home. But what if we looked at our jobs through the lense of a service project? What if we saw ourselves as a team at our jobs and worked with all our might to the great cause? Then when we leave in the afternoon, we would come home to rest and fellowship. In the evenings what if we turned off the TV and smart phones and praised the Lord together as a family, listened to devotions and discussed how God worked in our lives today? Think of the beauty and soul cleansing day we would have day in and day out. Our Lord would be pleased.

Another huge aspect of the success of this trip was the community. The group served as a community, prayed as a community, worshiped as a community. Other members of the church who couldn’t join, prayed for them separately and specifically by name. The importance of prayer partners in life is unique and imperative. Our community can be our family, our friends our coworkers. Jesus wanted us to live, serve, and worship together. Don’t be fooled when people say holiness and spirituality are a private matter.

A church I went to in Ft. Worth used to post a sign at the end of every service that read “You are now entering the mission field.” It has always stuck. My task this summer will be to conduct my days and weeks like a mission trip. I need to give my prayer partner a call. 🙂

Be Still, Mama

Every morning when we wake up, before we even get out of bed, we decide to push snooze (or not), check our social media accounts (or not)  and decide if today is going to be a good day (or not).  

Today I chose to get out of bed before my 10 month old  and have some God time. I didn’t snooze, I didn’t check my phone first thing and I decided to be proactive to making this a good day. I wish I could say that every morning this is what I chose. Most mornings I’m woken to a crying baby, and I struggle to start coffee at the same time I’m warming a bottle. I have immediate irritation and impatience for a small human who demands my attention now. This is an often start to my morning and from speaking with several other moms, I’m not alone.  

But today is different. I got out of bed 2 hours earlier than normal, and I sat with my Lord. I read His word and my soul was refreshed. I prayed over my son and my husband (and my dog 🙂 ). I prayed for my sins, my struggles, my worries and even some enemies. My heart is clean, and it is changed all before I finished my cup of coffee. As a mom, a wife, a daughter, a friend I know we don’t feel we always have the time to sacrifice a 30 minute time slot. But we must. We must sacrifice sleep, social media, even a hobby to sit and be still. Time with our Lord cleanses our hearts, souls and minds. It strengthens us. After my prayer time, I am ready to conquer and take on the day. I can only pour out to my husband, my son, to others if I am filled. Pouring from an empty soul is like a gas tank running on empty. Soon the car will give up and quit.

We are called to give our first to the Lord. The first of our money and our time. It IS the Lord’s by the way. Its HIS money and HIS time really. We are giving it back to Him. Its a form of praise and thanksgiving for what He has give us.

Even as a working mother I tried to start each day in praise for Him. It seemed that many days there was no time to carve out. Sacrifice of sleep could mean detriment to my health and my attitude. But what I have found was cutting out prayer and time with our Mighty God was the detriment to my health and my attitude.  “Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10 “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33 The Lord and my family deserves my first and my uninterrupted focus to the Almighty.