I am His

Who I am is not defined by what I do. I am not “just an adoptive mom.” I am not “just a wife.” My earthly credentials will never seem glamorous in the eyes of some.  To others, it seems I have accomplished great things. Even to my own eyes at times, I am overwhelmed by the weight of the missed opportunities, the unfulfilled dreams, and the unreached goals.

I have been so blessed to have been married almost 20 years to a man who loves more unconditionally than anyone I have ever met. I am a 40-year-old woman who has never given life to a child through pregnancy, but I have adopted 14 amazing kids and will soon add three more to that number.  I have an Associate’s degree in Psychology. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Bible. I have another Bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Social Science with a focus on Family Support Services.  I have traveled internationally. I have seen the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean as well as the Gulf of Mexico (from 30,000 feet up). I have relaxed in a cabin in the mountains, at a lakeside campground in Kansas, and on the white sandy beaches of the Caribbean. I have walked in the footsteps of history in Washington, D.C., and I have stared out in awe over the cavernous depths of the Grand Canyon. I have taught tiny children in AWANA and Sunday School, and I have trained adults who want to care for children who need a family.  I have heard that still, small whisper of God speaking into my life, and I have heard the loud, booming chorus of praise as He is lifted up in worship in a room of thousands of believers.  I have cheered on my kids in their soccer games, and I have celebrated in the stands with 50,000 family members cheering on the K-State Wildcats football team.

Yet none of this defines me. There is nothing more I need to do. I am whole and complete because I am His child.  I do not have to be defined by accomplishments or credentials. There are no limits to what God has planned for me. He created me to be His child. Before I was ever born, He knew the life that He would give me (Psalm 139). He sees the joy and the pain (Psalm 34:15). He allows the UPs and the DOWNs to come (1 Peter 4:12-13).  I am HIS beloved (Song of Solomon 6:3). He “takes great delight in me” and “rejoices over me with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17). His ways are not my ways and His ways are higher than mine (Isaiah 55:8-9).

 

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When I take time to open up His Word and learn what He says about me, I find out exactly who I am. His. It’s all I ever need to be.  It’s all you ever need to be, friend.  All of those truths are meant for you, too! If we could learn these truths and apply them to our lives, we could stop being hindered by our own expectations and the world’s.  We could be the wives, mothers, friends, employees and more that GOD wants us to be because we would be resting confidently in HIS plan.  You, my friend, are His. That’s the highest calling we could have in life, and we only need to accept it. It’s not about anything we have to DO or ACHIEVE.  Just choose to be His.

Are you letting the world define you? Or are you resting in God’s promises and His definition and plan for your life?

Just Breathe

Pray. Do I pray enough? How often should I pray? Daily? Several times a day? Just when I need to ask God for something?

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“Pray” Credit

There’s no formula. There are no “guidelines” or “quotas.” The Bible is really clear on this. One verse. Two words.

Pray…

Constantly.

(1 Thessalonians 5:17 HCSB)

Let’s take a deeper look into these words…

They come from the two Greek words:

προσεύχομαι (proseuchomai) and ἀδιαλείπτως (adialeiptos)

proseuchomai means ” to pray to God, i.e. supplicate, worship:—pray (X earnestly, for), make prayer” (Source)

adialeiptōs means “not of what is not interrupted, but of that which is constantly recurring” (Source) It is also defined as an adjective meaning “unintermitted, i.e. permanent:—without ceasing, continual.” (Source)

To pray to God EARNESTLY and RECURRENTLY without interruption.

There should never be a time when our hearts are not set toward God, when our thoughts don’t flow directly toward Him.  A dear friend taught me about the practice of spiritual breathing. We inhale all that He offers and pours into our lives, and we exhale our prayer and praise and worship back to glorify Him. If we relate this directly to our prayer lives, we must pray JUST as we must breathe. In and out. Listen for His voice and soak up every word (inhale) and pour out our all to Him (exhale). Inhale and exhale. And repeat.

If I only strive to “build the perfect prayer life” and “organize and structure my prayer life,” I am missing the whole point. As I walk through my days, I must simply rest upon Him and breathe. Inhale and exhale. And repeat.

It’s about abiding in Him. My prayer life will grow when I recognize that it is not based on my own efforts or structure, it is based on learning that my deep need for Him to sustain me continually in prayer is as important as the air I breathe to sustain my physical body. Inhale and exhale. And repeat. 

It’s not a voluntary act of my conscious effort to plan or organize or just pray enough. It is an involuntary act of a soul that is desperate for the LIFE-SAVING AIR only He can give. Not me, but Him. Inhale and exhale. And repeat.

Prayer Strategy

As I have posted before, I’ve been involved with a powerful women’s ministry in Kansas called Women’s Encounter.  The first Women’s Encounter weekend event I attended was in July 2014 and had an immensely powerful impact in my life.  I’m forever grateful to this ministry and to God for giving me new eyes to see the true freedom that is found in Jesus.

Each Encounter weekend is followed up with a few weeks of Post Encounter, gatherings where we focus on various topics to help cultivate continued spiritual growth in women’s lives. One of those topics is prayer.  This past fall, our Post Encounter “Prayer” speaker gave us an “order” of sorts.  Her orders were to go out and develop a strategy for prayer!  This, of course, followed her viewing of the movie, “War Room.” There has been a resounding outcry among my circle of believers, and prayerfully ALL believers who have seen this movie, to start to fight again, on our knees in prayer.  As my dear Encounter sister shared the cry with us, I am developing prayer strategy in my life!

What is a prayer strategy, you might ask? A strategy, as defined by Dictionary.com, is “a plan, method, or series of maneuvers or stratagems for obtaining a specific goal or result.” With regard to prayer, a strategy is a PLAN. It’s a series of maneuvers for obtaining a specific goal or result.  The goal is to see prayers answered, to see lives changed, and to see God glorified. Now, don’t get me wrong. God is not a “genie in a bottle” who will grant my every wish.  I’m not talking about “wishes” or simple requests from God, although I know that He cares about every small detail of my life.  In looking at prayer in a deeper way, I have learned that I need to be more serious, more purposeful, more determined, and more committed than ever before.  

How can we do this?  We’re busy moms or dads or students or professionals who have many different things vying for our attention.  We may not have hours every day to get on our knees (and we may not even be physically able to literally get on our knees that long!).

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One of the easiest ways to start to develop a prayer strategy in our lives is to WRITE IT DOWN! Journal your thoughts and prayers.  Make lists. Jot down any requests that come to mind.  Keep a note on your phone or tablet to add requests as they arise. As you are writing, say a quick sentence prayer for each item.  Maybe a special scripture verse comes to mind that you might want to pray for someone else or even yourself.  Write it down! If you are tech-savvy, you might find an app for your phone or tablet that keeps track of prayer requests and even sends you scheduled or random reminders to pray.  I like the Echo prayer app.  Make sure you are also adding praises and answers to prayer!  Documenting these things gives you a tangible resource to rely on when you go through difficulties and need reminded of God’s faithfulness.  You can look through previous needs and praises and be reminded of all of God’s amazing goodness in your life and the lives of others.  He is faithful.

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Once you have begun this habit of recording prayer needs and answers to prayer, you can dig deeper into developing your strategy. Identify a TIME AND PLACE TO PRAY. Make a plan. Mark it on your calendar.  If you are like me at all, you may have clutter in the way, cluttered schedules, cluttered living areas, and sometimes just chaos. That’s easy to have in our large family. Make it your goal to clear a space–maybe it’s just a space by your favorite chair or maybe it’s a whole closet. Keep your prayer lists, Bible, extra paper/notebook, pen/pencil, and good lighting in your space.  Make this a sacred place.  Because it’s where you are going to meet God Almighty! He is God of the Universe, yet He will come to meet you in your chair or your closet.  Amazing, isn’t it?

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Accountability

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Now that you have your lists, your time and place, the last stage of developing your strategy is ACCOUNTABILITY. While not a requirement, it is a huge blessing to share life with others who are walking this same road.  Remember, we are going into a BATTLE! There is a very real enemy in this world who does NOT want us to be on our knees and talking to God. When you find a person or a small group with whom you can share your needs and concerns, you find powerful connection.  Share with them your prayer strategy.  Tell them you are working to develop a deeper prayer life and you know this is a spiritual battle.  Ask for them to pray with you for protection from the enemy, for diligence and commitment to your strategy, and for focus and clear insight into how God is leading you in this effort.  Knowing that others are praying for you is a powerful motivator to keep working at it.

There is so much more to prayer than these three simple points, but it is my prayer that these ideas will help you to get started in the right direction toward a prayer strategy that is powerful and productive.  May God bless you as you begin to fight your battles through prayer!

 

2016 Word of the Year

For the past few years, I have focused on one word to help me have a theme for my year.  At the end of each year, I spend time praying and waiting to hear from God about my “Word of the Year.” I have to say, the end of 2015 brought very little time for me to focus, however, God made it very clear to me what I should focus on in 2016.  Through some journaling time and chatting with friends, as well as watching a very inspirational new movie, “War Room,”  I knew that the area of my life that needed the most focus was an area that could be GREATLY strengthened by the focus on this ONE word.  SO…without further ado…

My 2016 Word of the Year is: PRAY!

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I’m excited to see what lessons God has in store.  In order to kick this year off right, I have started out with a 31 day Scripture Writing Plan on the topic of Prayer from Southern Melle. Some friends on Facebook have joined me, and we are sharing our progress in a group there.  It has been good accountability and motivation to see other’s writing and thoughts. Here are a couple of my own entries from my journal:

Do you choose a “Word of the Year”? I’d love to hear what you are focusing on in this new year!