Tag Archive: prayer


The company I work for has an AMAZING Christmas party every year for its employees.  The doctors seriously go above and beyond to give us the best experience…from where it’s held, to the food and drinks served, to the entertainment, even to the gifts (or prizes) given.

2011 was no exception.

There were over 130 prizes available ranging from big screen tv’s and the latest electronics, to $25 gift cards and everything in between!!  Granted, there are several hundred employees, so the chances (although not bad odds) are pretty slim in getting the prize you really want.  Especially for those of us who don’t win anything.

Ever.

Not even for a free Pepsi in those twist off cap games, or a stinkin’ pie in the McDonald’s monopoly game, or even the highest % off coupon at Kohl’s.  What is that?!!

just not a winner

In anticipation of the party that year employees were given a glimpse to what might be available for prizes and the one thing I saw, just like the year before, that I really wanted was an Apple iPad.  I absolutely do not need one and there was no way we would EVER spend the money or even be able to afford one ourselves.  So I continued to pray each year that if it be in God’s will, He would allow me to win.

For the 2010 Christmas party, I asked my Mom to pray and her response was “No, you don’t pray like that.”  But the more I bugged her about it, she finally gave in and said…“well, maybe a little prayer.”

I didn’t win.

gosh darn it

Then for the 2011 party I asked her to pray again and she said…  “I think we tried this last year and you didn’t get any of the big prizes.  So, probably not supposed to pray for good Christmas presents.  I suggest we just keep the fingers and toes crossed this year.”

The only thing that entered my mind at that moment was the truth from the Bible that says we are to pray specifically…

“This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.”  1 John 5:14-15

Now, I know this does not mean that God gives us everything we ask for.  In fact the Bible warns us to be aware of our hearts and motives…

“You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.”   James 4:3

But I also know that my God wants to bless us abundantly.   He takes great joy in and loves to see us excited, delighted, and overwhelmed by Him.

“The LORD your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.”    Zephaniah 3:17

So I continued to pray and ask for something frivolous and unnecessary, because my God is great and loving like that.

 

If it’s part of His ultimate plan, God will give us the desires of our heart…

“Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.”   Psalm 37:4

and He longs to thrill us by providing even more than we thought possible…

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us”   Ephesians 3:20

 

So… how did my Christmas party turn out that year, you ask??

Well, guess what I won?!

iPad

 

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it. If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. ”    John 14:12-15

 

Related posts:
God loves you this much…

In Mark 1:40, a leper comes to Jesus wanting to be “clean” or healed of his leprosy.

Isn’t it easy to barge into the throne room; burdens packed tightly under our arms, worry stacked evenly upon our shoulders, pencil behind our ear, wants and needs scribbled on long receipt tape clenched in our hands?  We boldly go before God with our lists, asking for this and that, spending precious time face to face with our Creator but filling it like a reporter; with idle chatter, empty questions and check marks in each box.

We can learn from the leper.  He doesn’t just ask Jesus to heal him…

“And a leper came to Jesus, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying, ‘If You are willing, You can make me clean.'”   Mark 1:40

He desperately wants to be healed (of course he would, leprosy is a terrible disease!) but it’s how he approaches Jesus while burdened with this agonizing and lonely disease.  He approaches Jesus and says one important phrase…

“If You are willing,”

The leper knows full well that Jesus can do anything.  That Jesus absolutely could heal him but he also knows that he will be healed ONLY if it is part of Jesus’ plan.  If it aligns with His will.

When we approach God in prayer, we must come before Him not only with our list; for God wants to know what burdens us,

“casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”   1 Peter 5:7

but first with a humble heart willing to accept whatever His answer may be.

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time,”   1 Peter 5:6

Lord, thank you for your goodness and control of my life.  Please help me be open with you, offering my cares and burdens knowing that you love me and want to know my heart, but also remind me that whatever You allow in my life is best for me.  All things happen for Your glory.

Romans 8:28

“… Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”   Mark 5:19

I have heard it said many times; “Family is the hardest mission field of all.”

For those of us who came to know Christ later in life, sharing what the Lord has done in our lives with family and friends is almost like surgery.  Tools have to be chosen carefully and pressure applied at the right time.  If the subject is approached with too much fervor, they might just bleed out and shut the door tight.   If the subject is ignored and we wait too long, they may just flat line and the opportunity is lost.

Family knows you.  They have seen you at your worst and know who you were before.

I had the immense privilege to watch five baptisms last night.  Three adults and two teenagers, who made the decision to follow Christ with their life, took the next step in their Christian walk by taking part in believer’s baptism.

Believer’s baptism is a public display of the decision made privately to follow Christ,

“Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, ‘Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?’ [And Philip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart, you may.’ And he answered and said, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’] And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him.”   Acts 8:35-38

but even more importantly, it is a picture of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection.

“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”   Romans 6:3-4

I have been blessed to get to know a lovely Japanese woman named Katsuko.  Her daughter, Noriko, began attending Hillcrest a couple years ago and she and I became fast friends.  When I first met Katsuko, she couldn’t speak a lick of English… so when we get together there are a lot of smiles, head nodding, and hugging, but few words.

When Noriko came to America to continue her education, the Lord placed integral people in her life at just the right times.  God worked mightily to reveal the truth of who He really is and what Christ did for her, and Noriko placed her faith in and gave her life to Christ.

Noriko immediately shared what she had learned about Jesus with Katsuko and questioned the god her mom followed.  But living in Japan, Katsuko was deeply involved in Buddhism and admits how committed she was.

For 15 years Noriko shared Truth with her.

Last night Katsuko was baptized.

 

15 years.

Is there someone you’ve been praying quite a while for?

Someone you’ve been witnessing to for what seems like forever?

Someone who is heavy on your heart, but doesn’t want any part of your Jesus?

Don’t give up.  Don’t become silent.

 “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
-Martin Luther King Jr.

“But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”   2 Peter 3:8-9

I was approached about being part of a band about a month ago, and if any of you know me AT ALL, I love to sing and I absolutely have no problem standing on a stage.  SO…when the offer came, I didn’t have to think very hard about the answer.

“But they soon forgot his works; they did not wait for his counsel.”   Psalm 106:13

I went to the first practice at the Madison Music Foundry; a real music recording studio, and I was like a little kid at Disneyland.  It was so cool!

I met the other band members there…three of whom I already knew and played with on the worship team at church, and three I hadn’t met before.  We made our introductions and when the guys started playing, I was awe-struck.

Steve “BigDaddy” played bass and tried to simultaneously play the trumpet which doesn’t work, but when he was able to wail on that horn he sounded like Dizzy Gillespie!  Sweet.  And when he sings?  He’s got so much soul, you need to question his upbringing…and his moves??  White boy has got some moves!

Greg, who I typically see playing guitar, was boss on drums hitting a stellar beat…and watching his face light up when he played was infectious!

Tom “TK” on guitar, has mad guitar playing skills and can improvise like a magician.  He has so much fun and so easily adds riffs and calls to a song, he makes a great song howl.

Now, I thought I was in amazing company watching these church boys kill it musically, but when I met the other guys…  whoa.

Pedro doesn’t say a lot…but clearly speaks through his guitar.  His fingers expertly fly over the strings and seriously plays like Jimi Hendrix.

Will was jamming on the hand drums and tambourine, but when he started singing?   Wow.  He has the sound and timing of Michael Jackson.  It was awesome!

But Dex, the coup de grace, the ringleader and bossman… plays crazy beat on the drums, writes his own music and lyrics, has a chocolaty smooth island voice and can rap…  aaaaahhhhh, heaven.  But when he pulled out his harmonica and started playing, I think my knees buckled.

 

Oh, such sweet sounds from this amazing group of musicians…I was waaaaaay out of my league.

“Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe!”   Psalm 150:4

It was so fun, to just jam and sing, although everyone else was doing all the work!  You see, I don’t play much of anything, saxophone a while back, but don’t have a horn anymore…so now I just sing and reap all the rewards of being surrounded by gifted players.

These guys were amazing, and although I had at least heard most of the songs before, I didn’t always know exactly how the beat dropped or how the lyrics flowed, but they were so forgiving of the silly-little-star-struck girl standing awkwardly by her mic.

It was a true blessing to be part of this amazing group, and I was so excited when I came home from practice I could hardly stand it.  I learned a couple new songs that I totally loved and was eager to learn more.  My kids were excited, my husband too… in fact, the first thing he said was:

“You’re in a band.”

Even the girls at work were excited and “wouldn’t miss” seeing the performance!!  Unbelievable.  This is something I had always wanted to be part of.  Something I had always dreamed of…and now I had the chance!!  How could God provide even more of my dreams?!!

Amazing.

Over the next few weeks I noticed that practicing was a lot more time consuming than I had expected.  I essentially had to learn all of these songs over again – but this time the harmony part, and there were several songs I didn’t know which raised the ante a bit.

I had to prepare for my writer’s conference in July with a book manuscript and proposal to write, and I’ve been asked to sub at work much more frequently which the money will help immensely for my trip.  However, I quickly realized I had gotten myself in way over my head.

When I said yes to the writer’s conference, I prayed a lot over it – seeking guidance and council.  But over the band, I just jumped right in.  I had always wanted to sing in a group and I saw this as another amazing provision and gift from God…but as the weeks went by I found myself starting to not sleep well at night.

“I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.”   Psalm 16:7

I was concerned about the loss of writing time, that I didn’t really know the songs very well and stressing over the timing of everything…but I had made a commitment.  I had given my word.

“But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes ‘ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.”   Matthew 5:37

I finally sat down and spent time talking to God about my concerns and asking for guidance and direction over what to do.  I voiced my concerns to one of the band members and he encouraged and assured me not to stress it and give me an out.  But I was most concerned about Dex.  I didn’t want to disappoint him, because I knew he was counting on each of us.

Praise God how He works…

It wasn’t but a couple days later that an email came from Dex saying that things just weren’t working out the way he had hoped, so he was canceling the gig.

“And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.”   Isaiah 30:21

So I was free.  All God wanted was for me to acknowledge Him…to seek His leadership…and to ask for help.  A weight had been lifted and I was off the hook, but it broke my heart.

Had I not been called to write and had God not orchestrated all of the stories and provision for the conference, I would have totally been able to commit to the band.

But, isn’t it amazing how easily we can be distracted – even by things that seem like an answer to prayer – a long time “desire of our heart.”

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”   1 John  4:1

Even if it seems right, we MUST seek guidance from the Almighty.  We must make sure our will and step is in alignment with His…because it is possible for us to be lured by the adversary…

our longings met by the one whose promises are empty…

who convinces us we are doing fine on our own.

When we truly seek guidance from the One who longs for our attention, He might just allow us to see that those “desires of our heart” have already been fulfilled.

“Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: ‘I am the LORD your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you in the way you should go.’”   Isaiah 48:17

I am in a band.

I am able to perform weekly, on a large stage, under hot lights, with live mic’s, in a group of outstandingly talented musicians.

And to be a part of a band who plays for God’s pleasure and to worship Him??  Greatest gift and blessing ever…

and EXACTLY what I have always wanted.

The song I fell in love with during my brief stint in a rock band:

As I sat to spend time with God in prayer this morning, my thoughts were being pulled to get into His Word.

I hate to cut my talk time with God short, because as of late I seem to have a lot to say to Him. Perhaps God didn’t want to hear it today, because I did unload a bit yesterday.

Seriously. I had words…

ONE SIDED words.

But oh, I PRAISE HIM that He wants us to share our hearts!!

So, I asked God to show me what He wanted me to glean from His Word this morning, and I went to His Book. I began reading in Hebrews and found great comfort in Hebrews 2:18…

“For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.”

I love that!!

Jesus was tempted as a human, so He knows what we are feeling when we are tempted. We can seek comfort from Him any time because He knows what we’re feeling!! He knows our pain, fears, and struggles because He experienced the SAME THINGS!!

That’s awesome!

Jesus knows how I’m feeling…
…when I don’t want to eat right and don’t want to work out.
…when I am frustrated that the house is a mess and the kids are fighting.
…when I am angry that He asked me to leave my kids and go to work full time.

Then it hit me. Jesus does know. He knows what it’s like to be asked to do something He doesn’t want to do. He was asked to give everything of himself, the most a person can give, and even He wants an out…

“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me… “

Jesus, the Almighty God, in all his humanity didn’t want to do this thing he was asked to do. For one brief moment he wished he didn’t have to. Although in stark contrast to my own attitude, Jesus doesn’t stop there. I REALLY want him to, but he doesn’t. The moment passes and he continues…

…Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”   Luke 22:42

ouch.

Jesus submitted to the will of His Father as I must do, and accept and trust that the journey He has put me on is right for everyone…including me and my family.

Oh Lord, thank you for being so real. Thank you for being so understanding. Please give me comfort as I leave my heart at home with my kids each day. Give me your strength and energy, and give me opportunity to share my faith with those you have put in my path.

Not my will, but yours…

“And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.”   Psalm 9:10

Lacking motivation…

I have been writing now for years, but since I felt God calling me to focus more on this writer’s journey several months ago, I have poured myself into spending time in His Word and in prayer over what His plan for me is, and I have at least a couple things straight.

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First and foremost: I am called to love God.  That’s pretty easy…it’s hard not to love and live for someone so AWESOME!!

“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”   Deuteronomy 6:5

And secondly:  I’m called to be a help meet and teacher.  That one’s pretty darn obvious, I have a husband and four kids, and also very easy because again, it’s hard not to love and live with five entirely AWESOME peeps!!

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”   Genesis 2:18

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”   Proverbs 22:6

After that is where things get fuzzy.

I have an intense desire to write and share what God has done in my life, and so am writing, planning on attending a writer’s conference, and planning to write some more.

However since feeling this longing, I have poured myself into using the quiet hours of the morning in prayer… instead of sweat.

I have lost my motivation.

I previously used those hours to first pray and then work out.  I woke at 4:00am (the ONLY time I am not interrupted by the needs of my family) every day.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still waking at 4:00am, but am now using my work out time to continue in prayer.  And what I have found is; praying for a couple hours straight is so sweet, and adding coffee to the mix??  EVEN BETTER!!

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However… with my spiritual life hopefully heading down the right track, I have found there to be a few side effects;

soft mid-section,

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spreading seat,

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and SERIOUS lack of motivation.

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You see, six years ago after having my 4th child, I was 33 years old, over 230 pounds, depressed, exhausted, and just felt so defeated.  I once heard someone say; “if you get to your goal weight when you’re in your 30’s, it is much more easy to maintain that weight as you get older.”

I desperately wanted to lose weight, but didn’t know how, and I so wanted to be a good example to my children about how to live a healthy lifestyle.

I started by setting goals each day:

 

A fitness goal:

GET OFF THE DANG COUCH!

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“But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”   1 Corinthians 9:27

I began walking for 30 minutes or 1 mile, whichever came first.  Then it became 2 miles.  I started to feel a small urge to run, so I tried it.  And it was awful.  I couldn’t even run 30 seconds straight!  But I kept trying.  So I started small: walk 5 minutes, run 30 seconds, walk 5 minutes, etc…  I slowly got up to 1 minute straight, then 2…

After about 4 months, I was up to over 1 mile running.  It was not fun, but I could do it.  My sister asked me to do a 5k race the following month.  I never thought I could do over 3 miles – but she was told that if you can run 2, then the adrenaline would push you through the rest.  So I signed up, and set my goal to run 2 miles straight.  By the time the race came, I could do 2 miles.  I did finish the race, but the last ½ mile was very, very difficult.  I pushed myself and got through it.  I only stopped 3 times during the race, once for water, and twice for my sister’s untied shoelaces, and just the feeling of accomplishment is what I fell in love with.

A nutrition goal:

STOP BEING SUCH A PIG!

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So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”   1 Corinthians 10:11

My mother had gone through Weight Watchers, and had all of the books, so I poured through the information and essentially did weight watchers without the corporate weigh-ins.  Meaning; I ate minimal sugar, fat, carbs, caffeine and because I was exercising I ate more lean protein.

A weight goal:

JUST LOSE SOMETHING!

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“to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,”     Ephesians 4:22-23

I weighed myself daily, and still do.  My weight fluctuates by about 5 pounds…depending upon what I ate and drank and so forth – so I’m not too much of a stickler on the number, but it does help keep me on track.

And lastly…

REWARD YOURSELF!

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“but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven…”   Matthew 6:20a

Ok, so the Bible doesn’t tell us to reward ourselves, but in certain cases such as potty training and weight loss, bribing absolutely helps.

I set several longer term goals and rewarded myself when I reached them…and DO NOT use food as a reward!!  I baited myself with things I normally wouldn’t spend money on.

When I reached 200 pounds = Teeth whitening.  190 pounds = Pedicure.  180 pounds = New clothes (that fit!!)  170 pounds = Naval piercing.  160 pounds = Tattoo.

The results??  See for yourself…

2006 ~ 230 lbs

2011 ~ 160 lbs.

So…I guess I need to get back on track.  Stop making excuses and glorify God in every aspect of my life!!

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”   Colossians 3:17

He has clearly given me guidance and passion in writing, and has even given me more time to write…so now it’s time to get back on track and, well… run!!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,”   Hebrews 12:1

heehee…

“lay aside every weight…” (Now that’s funny right there!)  as said by Mater from Cars 

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I have registered for the She Speaks Conference through Proverbs 31 Ministries.  At the time of doing so, I actually believed God wanted me to write.  He made a way for me to reduce my hours at work, validating He was giving back the time to write that was lost two years ago when I began working full-time.  So, I knew there would be no problem raising support.

This P31 conference is terribly expensive.  So expensive, that signing up for a conference I can’t possibly afford coupled with the reduction of hours and pay at work, flies in the face of all logical reasoning.  It is so costly in fact, that for the same amount of money I could practically self-publish my own book!!

For several years I have longed to combine the stories God has given me into a book.  Backed with gentle nudging and encouragement from friends and family who offered to actually consider reading it, I looked into it.  After weighing my options; literal book in one hand, conference and chance to propose book to publisher with no guarantees in the other, (although on paper weren’t really options because I couldn’t afford either one) I noticed God providing an open door; the option to “raise my own scholarship funds” on the conference website.

DING!  DING!  DING!

There was my answer!  I could raise the money I needed to pay for the conference!!  Granted, chances were slim that I would get a publishing contract out of it, but I was sure I would receive valuable tools to help me be a better writer and give me answers on how to begin this whole process.

Plus… it would be another great story to write; how God would provide for this conference!  So I registered, prepared my financial support letters, sent them out, and sat back to watch God work.

{Cue: crickets}

Nothing happened.

God stopped.

A week went by…

Although I hardly noticed.  I worked on past stories that hadn’t been completed since I began working two years ago.  Working to get these stories finished up continued to fuel my passion and I was still feeling quite confident and excited about my decision.

Another week went by…

With hardly a blink, I was busy starting a blog, made connections with other She Speaks Conference attendees and P31 workers, and had been encouraged and even more excited about my decision to register.

Another week went by…

I began to notice I had heard nothing regarding financial support and began to deal with a bit of doubt, but had felt reassured and confident that God would provide.

Another week went by…

Now I encountered doubt and fear so strong that I started to question my decision.  Why am I doing this?  Have I made a mistake?  Perhaps this isn’t God’s plan for me…  Is this God closing the door?  He’s right!  Who would want to read my stories; I don’t have anything to say after all…

I prayed fervently for God to provide…

“For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills.”   Psalm 50:10

“Ah, Lord GOD! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.”   Jeremiah 32:17

This amount of money is nothing to an Almighty God, the Artist of infinite design, Orchestrator of all things, the One who upon exhaling, breathed things into existence…

God responded with:

“Nicole, the doctors at Dental Health Associates have decided that you are no longer able to work part-time in your position.  Sorry, but we have hired your replacement.”

I got punched in the gut.

I’m not sleeping well, my stomach is in knots.  I pray for something, anything, to assure me I’ve made the right choice.  I pray literally for God to send me a sign…TODAY.  I check and re-check email.  I run out to the mailbox in hopes of a letter.  I go on the conference website, I read articles looking…no, begging… for God to affirm this choice and reveal His plan for me.  I try to write…

Nothing.

“But he answered them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it…’”   Matthew 12:39

This morning I couldn’t sleep and decided to get up, defeated and not sure even what to say anymore in prayer.  I asked God to take this desire for writing away from me.  This clearly is not His will, or He would have made it clear.

I decided to open the book “for the Write Reason” and wonder why I do.  Each time I read it I get more discouraged.  These are stories about SUCCESSFUL writers.  How God allowed THEIR dreams to come true.  How He gave THEM something important to say.  How everything just worked out and fell right into THEIR laps.

Then I read these words:

“…a book contract was all I could think about.  And I didn’t just think about it, I meditated on it, focused on it.  In truth, I couldn’t think of much else.  Every day when I walked out to the mailbox I would wonder if this might be the day.  And day after day I was disappointed.  My deep disappointment surprised me and served as a wake-up call…  I realized that my getting published was not up to the editors, it was up to God… if He wanted me published, He would get me published.  …in the end it was still His message, not mine.  

“… apart from me you can do nothing.”   John 15:5b

Do your circumstances seem impossible?  Does what He has called you to do seem overwhelming?  Do you think that He has forgotten you?”    ~ Rachel Carman

I had my focus wrong.  God had been giving me a sign; I was just too focused on myself to notice!!  God reminded me of what He told me when I first felt His call to do more with my writing…

For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise from another place… And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”   Esther 4:14

He has given me words to say, and has even given me time to write!  And He gently reminds me…

“that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”   1 Corinthians 2:5

“My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.”   2 Corinthians 12:9

Apart from Him I can do nothing!!  It’s not about me…it’s about Him and where He has placed me right now.  He is in control and will fulfill my desires as long as I seek HIM first… NOT the other way around.

As I finish my time with Him, my phone beeps indicating I have a message.  I finish up (gosh…look at how calm I am.  I didn’t even rush to the phone!  Ok, so I waited to finish my sentence…)  and see that God in His wonderful sovereignty and loving way, sent a devotion from P31 ministries entitled:

“When Waiting is Hard”  by Wendy Pope

“Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!”   Psalm 27:14

Praise you Lord for understanding my doubt.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.   Proverbs 3:5-8

I received an email from a dear friend of mine yesterday.  In it, she mentioned that she wanted to send out an Easter story to her Awana youth ministry kids.  However, she revealed, she’s not a writer…but I am, so she asked if I might be able to come up with something that could be read, potentially, by both the kids and their parents.

My first response was, “no” essentially… I do have many stories that center around the cross, which is what I first think of when I think of Easter, but I don’t think I had any that really related to Easter as a holiday.  But, my friend asked for my help, so I would see what I could do.

I prayed about it…and prayed about it…and with it being a Saturday, I decided to lay down for my afternoon siesta (don’t naps sound more sophisticated in a different language?!!) and God woke me with a start!  I began thinking about the story, and I immediately had an idea.

“…do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit.”   Mark 13:11

I quickly sat up, grabbed a notebook, and began writing (much to the chagrin of Jax who had been sound asleep until I started thrashing about!).  My squiggles were practically illegible as I wrote, trying to get all of the ideas down as fast as I could, then bounded out of bed and nearly ran down the stairs to get my thoughts on the computer.

I prayed, as I always do before writing, but especially because this would be a stretch.  I write about how God works in my life, not fictional stories.  I asked God to intercede and make this His own…and I am in awe at how God guides my hands and thoughts.  Oh, I praise Him for using me.  What an honor and incredible blessing!

The story that follows is what God allowed me to write.  His answer to my feeble prayer does not disappoint, and has absolutely nothing to do with my first obscure scrawls; praise Him for that!!  🙂  Enjoy!

The Hunt

“Hurry up; we’re going to be late!!”  My heart’s pounding so hard in my chest I can feel it in my throat. 

“All the kids are lining up… come on, Mom!!”

I’m desperate to get to the edge of the parking lot along with the other kids, and when I finally reach the grass my eyes survey the landscape.

“Where is it??  I can’t see it!”  I think to myself as my eyes dart from one tree to the next…

“I have to find it!!”

I scan the horizon; flecks of red, blue, purple, and pink dot the plush green canvas… I can almost hear them laughing as if taunting me from where they lie.

I look at my competition lining up around me; tall, short, snotty noses, long hair, sparkly pink and green Easter baskets…

I turn my eyes back to the expanse of grass before me and let out a breath as my heart pounds excitedly.  

Everyone is quiet now…

“On your marks!”  A voice calls out.

I swallow hard.

“Get set!

I hold my breath and wait…

“GOOOOO!!”

There’s a flurry of motion, kids running this way and that.  We dash out into the cool wet grass, and I stay in a straight path headed toward the outer edge of the grassy field.  Kids cross in front of me running to the left, while others sprint to the right… but I stay the course.

One little kid falls and lands on his belly…

“Mooommeeeeee!!” he cries.

“Yes!  One down…” I smile as I pass.

I dodge kids bending over to pick up eggs, and hurdle others.

Greens, blues, and yellows polka dot the grass as I continue running…

“Hey kid!  You’re passing all the eggs!”  Someone yelled to me…

But I didn’t listen. 

“There’s one special egg” the announcer had said, “a golden egg.”

That thought kept me going… “It’s gotta’ be out there.”

Now, I have done enough Easter egg hunts to know, that a colorful egg filled with 3 jelly beans or a chocolate isn’t enough for me.  The prize, the one worth seeking, is the golden egg.  That egg leads to the real treasure.  The huge, gleaming, basket set aside for that lucky kid that finds that one lucky egg.  The basket filled with limitless treasure… countless joy… inexplicable happiness…

Then I saw it. 

Not 20 feet away, it glimmered in the sunlight. 

My heart skips a beat and I pick up my pace.  I hear footsteps behind me as I run toward that glistening orb.

10 feet…

5 feet…

“It’s almost mine!!”

I feel the brush of wind as someone runs past, leaps in front of me and grabs the beautiful golden egg.

I stop dead in my tracks. 

“It can’t be,” I gasp.

I stand perfectly still and stare at the kid that beat me to my prize, his face radiant as he carefully cradles that precious gift.

I turn back to see all the other kids walking back to their cars, smiles on their faces, hand in hand with their moms and dads, baskets brimming over with their alluring rainbow eggs.

I look down at my basket… nothing.

As my eyes fill with tears, I notice a golden glow surrounding me.  I blink, clear my eyes wiping the tears away, and notice thousands of golden eggs at my feet.  I bend over, stunned, and pick up one of the gleaming eggs. 

I look at the boy who beat me to my prize.  Our eyes meet, an egg in his hand an egg in mine, and a knowing smile on his face.

I instantly turn toward the other kids…where are they going?  There’s one for each of them, and more besides…  I call to them but they continue walking, satisfied with their haul and blind to what they really need.

I look down at the wonderful gift I’m holding and realize it had been there the whole time, I just wasn’t looking.  

 

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”   Matthew 7:13-14

Like children at an Easter egg hunt, drawn to the promise of sweet satisfaction within a brightly colored package; jelly beans, sweet tarts, chocolate…  Things that satisfy but only for a moment, until we are left searching again for the next empty promise.

But that one golden ticket, if found will not only fill our every desire, but will quench our thirst and satisfy our hunger…

“Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.’”   John 6:35

The one prize; unimaginable until revealed, unbelievable until eyes are opened, unacceptable until understood. 

The gift so fulfilling, the prize worth seeking, and the promise so real it can only be found when searched for…

is Jesus.

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, ”   Romans 3:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”    Romans 6:23

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”   Romans 5:8

“If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”   Romans 10:9

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