Friday, August 01, 2014

Day 1 - Coming Boldly Before the Throne

First let me say that I'm so excited that you guys accepted my challenge and will be journaling your prayers for the month of August.  I love to see people that are not ashamed of their faith and those who want to grow in their faith taking steps little by little to increase their faith.

For several years, I use to pray that God would help me to increase my faith.  I have to say the biggest development that I've seen when I look back over my life was born out of trials.  When things were going good, I was wishy washy. But when trials arise, I knew things were out of my hand and I became desperate to have a stronger relationship with God.

One of the things that I hope you will incorporate during this month of journaling is being BOLD in your prayers.  I think we all want God to supply our daily needs. And he will! But what about those things in the corners of your heart that you are afraid to say out loud? Those things that you don't really ask him because you think they are impossible and you can't see how he could or would do them for you.

Hebrews 4:16 says, "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in the time of need."

You may not want to tell us what those prayer requests are, but you can tell God anything whether it's big or small in your journal.  Also, those small things that are renting space in your head? Include those too!

I'm going to be transparent here as we start and list 3 things that I'm going to be praying daily for at least this month, but I'm sure they will continue.  The first one is one of those BOLD prayers.. The other two aren't as bold, but I'm trusting God for them.

1.  Reconciliation - Tyler is 12 years old. He never speaks of his father. He doesn't ask questions anymore.  I have not heard from him in years.  I honestly have no idea if he is well or not.  My prayer is that Tyler always has an open heart. Even though his father may have rejected him all of these years I pray that I'm raising him so that he will one day forgive and he will be able to have a relationship with his dad. My prayer is that his heart will be open whenever the appointed time is but moreso, I pray that his father has the strongest urge that he cannot shake to make amends with his son so that Tyler can get to know the other half of his parents.

2.  School Year 2014-2015 - Since I've been a mom, I pray without ceasing for my children's futures. I pray that I'm giving them a foundation of having a relationship with God, being compassionate, being leaders, kingdom builders and leaders and examples to their peers. As Tyler starts school later this month, my prayer is that he will have a smooth transition to this new school and he will make friends, do well academically and have favor amongst peers and those who are in positions of authority over him.  He will be organized and love learning.

3.  My career - I'm praying that God opens multiple doors for me and gives me a new role and elevation. I pray that I'm always able to do excellent work and work as if I'm working for him.  I pray that I'm able to share my faith with others that I encounter at work and that I am always a good representation of a christian.

Well that brings me to you.. What are you praying for this month?  What is your bold prayer?  We want to not only pray for our own needs, but also intercede for others.. I won't know what to pray for you, if you don't tell me. So you can share in the comments.. Also during this month, if you have any testimonies or answered prayers that you would like to share, please email me.. I'm excited!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Power of Prayer

 Yesterday I shared on my Instagram that I try to write one of these cards pretty much everyday. Whatever notes I may get from my personal bible study or they may just be affirmations of scriptures, promises, etc. Usually on the back of the cards, I will write some things that I am believing God for.  I keep the cards. Not really in any particular order. But I go back periodically and read through them.  It is helpful to keep things in perspective as to what challenges I faced previously and what prayers are still needing answers and even some that have been answered or maybe things that once were a priority but now may have fallen off my radar.

This one was posted on my bathroom mirror yesterday and I shared it.  Someone asked me what I do with them after that day and it made me start going through some of the ones on my desk.  I decided to share these two cards listed below.

It may be hard to read b/c they are sideways but if you look really close you can see some of the things I was praying about.  I have been practicing turning my concerns over to God instead of worrying and trying to figure them out on my own.

The top card was written on 2/21/13. I believe I was feeling under the weather and so was Kayden. I was asking God to heal us.  I asked specifically for Tyler to be placed in honors Math and the IB program.  On the 2nd card, it was dated 8/14/13.  I was praying for the resources to get all of Tyler's needs for the start of school. I was also praying for Kayden's preschool tuition to be covered.

Now a little about each of those. I was praying in February 2013 for Tyler to be in HOnor's math and/or the IB program. Here there are specific schools that are IB schools (magnet).  You have to apply for a lottery and then be picked and if your grades and test scores are ok then you get in the program. The work is more rigorous.  As you know last year he wasn't in these programs but they were a desire of mine and I previously blogged about his teachers telling me that he should have been in honors classes. And that he would be recommended for them for 7th grade.  I reached out to the guidance counselor last week when I found out he received a spot in the IB program at another school. I asked if his schedule was made already for this upcoming year and if he was in honor's classes. I was told that he is scheduled for honors classes.  So while we are some months away from 2/13, my prayers have been answered. Now it's just a matter of choosing whether he will do the honors program or the iB program.

As for the prayers about Kayden. At that time, I didn't know how I would be able to pay for him to go to daycare by myself.  In an act of faith, I found a part time preschool program that began at 1 years old. It was less than the cost of sending him to full time daycare.  I took him and we toured and talked to the director.  I paid a registration fee and signed him up to begin in September.  At the time of me writing this card in August, I simply wanted the ability to have him go part time.  So I could work half of the day and also so he could learn to socialize with other kids, etc.  Within a couple weeks of this prayer, in the beginning of September he was able to start daycare full time.

When I go back and read through these cards, I'm reminded that my prayers can be answered two weeks later or maybe 2 years later. But I should not let go of the prayers just b/c I haven't seen the answers yet.

I have different ways of writing my prayers. I have a prayer journal that I write in.  I also have a gratitude journal that I write in every single day.  Sometimes it's more than gratitude and I just may be talking to God about whatever is on my heart.

I want to challenge YOU.  Tomorrow starts off a new month, August 1st.  I know that every single one of you has needs, desires, people you are interceding for, things that concern you.  And if you are not a believer, this isn't for you. But if you are a believer, I'm challenging you to begin tomorrow and devote 15 mins everyday to writing our your prayers in one central place so that you can keep track of what you are praying for.  Whenever you receive answers to any of those prayers, record the answers also.  Can you do this for 30 days?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Make it Personal

Last year, I was searching the scriptures for promises that I could hold onto in regards to healing and my heart.  At some point, I came across this scripture,

"3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds [curing their pains and their sorrows]." Psalms 147:3

At that time I was broken hearted. I'll give you a little background on that word "broken hearted."  Ending a relationship is never easy but sometimes you weren't very involved with the person and they weren't a big impact on your life and it's easier to move on.  That wasn't the case for me with this ending.  I hadn't truly loved a man in a long time and I did this time. We shared a child together. We'd lived together and told each other that we were a family.  We'd connected our other children.  And I'd made a lot of sacrifices and compromises with myself and at the time of the initial breakup, I knew it was the best course of action in my head but that doesn't mean my heart was on board.

Even with the pain of actually breaking up, the things that occurred after added on to that pain and I'll say added more wounds to my heart.  And so I found this scripture and whenever I'd be upset, I'd write that scripture over and over and I'd journal what I needed.  I needed my heart not to heart. I needed not to be angry. I needed not to hold onto unforgiveness. I needed to be able to pray for this other person despite what may be going on and I wanted to mean it genuinely. I wanted to be able to one day pick up the phone and discuss what was going on with our child and that be it. No mention of the past and no emotions or any of that. That's what I desired, but that wasn't the immediate circumstance.

I've been holding onto that scripture for a very long time. Maybe not long to you but long to me. Saying it over to myself daily and reminding God, "You said that you were going to heal my heart. You said that you would mend my wounds. Where is it? My heart still hurts? I still remember the things he said and did. When is all of that going to go away?"

And even when I'd think I was ready to get to know another guy, I'd start talking to them and realize my heart still wasn't healed. And I'd be back reminding God, "How long is it going to take for you to heal my heart? I have been asking you to do this everyday for at least a year.  Why does it still hurt?  I know you are going to do it b/c you do not lie and I believe it but right now I don't feel it."

And then one day, not very long ago I realized my wounds were healing.. I have a lot more peace. Memories don't bring tears.. I actually do forgive. I wish him the best. and even with feeling like "Ok God, you are working on my heart. I can see the scars forming over the wounds instead of them being out in the open and fresh. Thank you and I'm still expecting complete healing.."

You probably don't need your heart to be healed. Your needs may be different. You may have an illness that needs to be healed so you can be healthy again.  You may need a breakthrough with your marriage or with reaching your kid or with your finances.. Whatever the case may be, find scriptures and promises and make them personal to you. Remind yourself often of what they say and hold onto them until your situation turns around.. Basically, make it personal.. :-)

What to do in the meantime?

"Looking away (from all that will distract) to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith (giving the first incentive for our belief) and is also its Finisher (bringing it to maturity and perfection)." Hebrews 12:2

This scripture was the basis of my devotional reading today.  When I woke up this morning, I also read a comment from a prior post that said something like, "It is encouraging to hear when God answers your prayers."

I thought about that for a moment. I do have a lot of prayers answered. I think we all do, but whether or not we notice them or specifically remember to give thanks for answered prayers is another story.  And sometimes our prayers are answered a long time away from when we initially prayed it and by that time we have other immediate needs that we are praying for and we "forget" to recognize those answered prayers.

I've always heard in church that "faith comes by hearing the Word of God."  I can say that in the last couple of years I have increased the amount of "hearing" I've done.  Instead of feeding myself in the mornings by turning on the radio and singing along, I turn on my roku or an app on my phone and listen to messages.  Not that I set out to feed my faith, but moreso, when you get in desperate prayer mode, you want to find any encouragement you can for your situation.

But more than hearing the Word from others, my personal Bible study has increased.  I made it a priority to wake up earlier in the mornings and study for myself.  Now I'll admit, there are lots of days when I'm too sleepy or lazy to get up, but there are more days when I know what I need and when I have too many lazy days i can tell. My thoughts tend to not be as faithfilled or positive. I don't have as much patience with anyone.  And I recognize the changes and realize I need to plug back into the source.

But one of the reasons I make it a priority to study for myself and listen to the Word being taught is because i want to know first hand what God's promises are for me.  I don't want to rely on someone telling me second hand what he can do or promises that he will do and not read it for myself.  The more I read it and hear it, the more it becomes second nature in my thinking when problems arise.

In January, when I began my last MBA class, my desire was to move into a different role.  I felt that I'd done my current position for 7 years and now that I was heading towards finishing my master's there should be a new opportunity, a new challenge and of course more money.  I set out wiht a goal in my mind of taking actions of revamping my resume, career counseling, reviewing job descriptions to zero in on a position, joining a professional women's network and taking on a leadership role, connecting with leaders and seeking out career advice.  I job shadowed and talked to others doing the job I'd like to do. I connected with managers of those positions. I had several interviews that went well and i received great feedback, but here were are 7 months or so later and none of that has manifested into a different/new role right now.

It can be very easy to get discouraged. Especially when you have put a lot of effort and action into something. And while i may have been temporarily disappointed, I do not want anything or any promotion that doesn't come from God.  I fully believe that he gives promotion and not man.

One of the things i worried about was if I were to get those positions, I'd have to be in a training class for several months and you're not able to take days off except for emergencies. During that time, Kayden's daycare has closed two separate weeks. And both times, my first thought has been "Thank God I didn't get those roles b/c what would I have done with him during those daycare closure times?"

Tyler's new opportunity for school next year will involve me driving him to a shuttle stop each day so he can ride a bus to his school. Since he won't be in the neighborhood school, the bus doesn't pick him up in our neighborhood. His school hours are 915- 415.  Most jobs are 8-5. So what would I have done about getting him to his shuttle stop at the correct times?

I still believe and hold onto that my desire is another role that will allow me to use my experience, my education and allow me to grow in my career. And i still believe that at the right time, an opportunity or opportunities will be presented to me.  But they will also line up with my circumstances of being a single mommy.

I can't allow my emotions and frustrations of thinking , "when are you going to promote me Lord" to change my attitude NOR it to change my belief that things will work out for me at the perfect time.  Whenever I have a challenging day and I think "I'm so ready to move on to something else," I remind myself "Promotion comes from God and not from man."

I know that all of us have things that we are desiring and maybe have been praying about for a while. What has your attitude been while you wait?  Have you put any action behind your prayers?  Have you held onto promises that YOU have found in the word? Not something that someone else told you but your own genuine and heartfelt prayers and scriptures that you've found relevant to your situation to hold onto?

Monday, July 28, 2014

And Suddenly....

I was thinking about this phrase, "And suddenly..." a lot lately.  It's something that I hold onto when I can't see how a situation or circumstance can be transformed.  I realize that I can't have all the answers and some I may not know or may not have any idea how they will work out, but I can hold onto the belief that things are moving, working, transforming all the time.

I can think of several times in my life when I've been in a position that I felt was "stuck" or in a storm and not knowing what would happen next but knowing that something would have to happen and then "suddenly" things changed.

One such time that I recall was when I was 23 or so and I was pregnant with Tyler. I'd lost my job and had morning sickness so bad that I couldn't even work at temporary jobs b/c I kept getting sick and having to leave.  I had interviewed with an attorney to be his assistant and he had told me that he didn't want to hire me b/c I was too bright and I would not stay working for him very long. He said I could do so much more.  I didn't try to convince him otherwise. As bad as I needed a job, I'd just about lost all hope and didnt know what was my next move b/c well rent was going to be right around the corner and my savings were meager.  And while I was in the midst a couple of weeks later of sitting in my apartment trying to figure out what I was going to do, my phone rang and it was that same attorney telling me he wanted to hire me and when could I start?  In one moment, I'd been discouraged and losing hope and without a plan and suddenly one phone call was changing the circumstances all around.

This phone call wasn't just an answer to my immediate needs, doing that job and making connections and getting experiences with him led to even more opportunities in the future. Learning those legal skills also led me to my current occupation.

I think sometimes we are wanting an answer to an immediate "Small" problem when God is preparing answers and opening doors to bigger opportunities than we thought we needed.

In 2007, I began to get bored with living in Baton Rouge. I wanted to do something more. I wanted to earn more. I wanted to be able to provide more experiences and a better life for Tyler.  I also wanted more of a challenge career wise.  I didn't go the traditional routes of applying for new positions. But one connection, a letter and a telephone interview changed our circumstances.

While I was trying to figure out a plan to be able to move to Dallas, I received a call one afternoon while I was at work. I remember stepping out of the office to take the call. And it was a job offer here and they were asking me how soon I could be here and ready to start.  And suddenly.... I was hanging up and making plans to pack up my life and relocate my family to a place that i'd never even visited.

When Kayden was a baby, I wrote a blog about dads. I posted a photo of him and his dad. And in that blog I wrote that even if things didn't work out for us as a couple, I was sure that he'd always be apart of Kayden's life.  When I wrote that blog, that was my genuine belief.

When Kayden was about 6 months old, I ended the relationship. He moved out. Things were turned upside down.  And the months that followed I remembered that blog that I'd written and I'd felt so foolish and dumb for thinking that I knew his heart and knew that no matter what he would be a great dad.  And as I looked around at my circumstances, it seemed like I was wrong.

There were long periods of no contact.  Kayden was growing up and developing and in the past he was who I'd shared his developments with and now he didn't even know what Kayden was doing from one day to the next or any milestones in his life.  And while I'd previously felt that I wouldn't be shouldering the burden of raising him alone, for some time I was.

My original prayer was always that he would be a great father to Kayden.  And throughout those rocky times, my prayers changed. I'd go from him being a good father and being a coparent to not even mentioning him and just asking for wisdom and strength to handle being a parent alone.  But throughout the time, I'd always pray that my heart be open and that his heart be open to God's plan for us as parents.

Even this year has been rocky. Perhaps not as rocky as last year but still rocky.  But I believe things are turning the corner.  More of that "And suddenly.."

I recently spoke to someone who is at the beginning of "walking in my shoes,"  and I try to give her encouragement to know that no matter what is going on around her, to keep her prayers for her child consistent and be open to wisdom and hearing from the Holy Spirit.

We can have situations tugging at our hearts for years causing much pain and deep wounds and then one day we can wake up and "suddenly" he's turned it around for us.  Just because we can't see it doesn't mean he's left us to do the job alone.. He's always with us, working things out and sometimes better than we could have asked.  While we may be asking for an immediate small thing, there may be a hold up b.c he's doing something even bigger and better.

Whenever you are feeling stuck and like nothing is changing and getting better or maybe you see things getting even worse, hold onto to this phrase, "and suddenly" and know that he has the power to turn it all around.

Note:  This is a photo of Kayden and his dad at Panther's Fan Day recently..