Saturday, January 21, 2017

What about when BOLD prayers seem unanswered?


The key board have been silent for the past week or so.

My heart and soul, not so much. 

God gave me a gift in the word “bold” for the year. I’m choosing to look at it as a gift because I know every good thing comes from the Father of Heavenly Lights. While I don’t understand all his “gifts” I can still choose to believe and to trust that they are for a good – even when that good seems invisible to me.

Our family has been anticipating a diagnosis. My Dad has been keeping an eye on some symptoms that he’s been experiencing. It’s been on my heart for months.  As the day approached for his doctor appointment I began to pray. Because God is breathing into me a spirit of boldness this year, I chose to stand on the promise that HE never takes me somewhere He isn’t already present.  So, I boldly prayed that my Daddy would get to the doctor appointment and that the doctor would find nothing wrong with him; that his symptoms would be simply natural aging symptoms, that the things that bothered him would be gone, and that IF there was something wrong it would be healed in HIS MIGHTY name. I prayed BOLD. I believed BOLD. I hoped BOLD. I counted on BOLD.

And then the phone rang.

And a diagnosis came. Parkinson’s Disease.

My heart stuttered. What?! How can this be? How could this happen? I prayed. I prayed BOLD like you asked of me. I renounced sickness, I prayed healing, I praised you in advance for the healing you would do in his body because I was THAT sure you could bring it to pass.

And yet, the diagnosis came. Parkinson’s Disease.

That was one week ago today.  God and I, we have gone a few rounds. It’s comforting to know He can handle my hurt, my sadness, my questions, my doubt, my wondering what He’s up to. 

My heart, when overcome with the unknowns fears the future; fears tomorrow; fears what’s to come around the corner that I can’t see. And yet, wasn’t my first thing of the year to purpose ‘embracing the unknown’. 

God put that phrase on my heart.

He knew.
He knew that I’d wrestle with the unknown.
He knew that there would be things in my future – in the future of those that I love – that would require a blind faith – in every unknown … to remember that in every unknown situation HE is what IS KNOWN.
The unknown need not be nearly so scary because He’s already there. There’s a certain comfort that comes with looking at the future – as scary as it looks some days – and knowing that His comfort, His love, His embrace, His provision, His company, His healing… it’s all there, waiting in anticipation for me… and for you…

Tonight, I led worship at Celebrate Recovery. (This was the event that I blogged about earlier). I was anxious going in because the “I like order and control” self was having to “go with the flow”. I wasn’t 100% sure who my band was going to be. I was walking into a new service, and leading from a venue I had never even stepped foot on before.

And then there was the underlying tension in my spirit… that tug of choosing to believe God is good even when prayers are not answered the way I’d like.
The pull of wanting God to use me and the gifts and talents He’s instilled in me – and yet wanting to hide and put on the mask that there isn’t anything simmering under my skin, deep in my soul.  I didn’t plan what I was going to say. Every time I tried it felt fake, forced, rehearsed. Instead, I picked a Psalm to read and prayed BOLDLY that God would place His words in my mouth and that I would be a vessel for Him tonight.

I can’t tell you exactly what I said. What I do remember is sharing that it had been a hard week and that we had received a diagnosis – that even though we expected it, it felt like a sucker punch. I admitted praying BOLD prayers and feeling like God hadn’t heard me when the diagnosis still came. I had hoped to not get emotional up front, on a stage in front of strangers, but tears did come. How could they not?

What I didn’t expect was the way it felt to share my heart. Bearing my heart was not only cathartic, it was filling. Releasing those feelings and thoughts left room for His spirit to come rushing in…like a wind, like a flood filling up those spaces where doubt and hurt and anger had dared to take up lodging.  It’s no wonder scripture tells us to bear one another’s burdens and to confess our sins to one another.

I love that, tonight, in a place of tender (albeit emotional) boldness, God answered.

My Dad isn’t healed but my heart is on its way there. 



Wednesday, January 11, 2017

This year I purpose to...

Bold. Brave Out Loud Decisions. That’s what my word, bold, means for me this year. It means voicing things for accountability. It means voicing things to give them validity and life. It means stepping outside my comfort zone. It means growing ….


~ EMBRACE:  the unknown
                I haven’t a blessed clue what tomorrow will bring and that is okay. God is in control. That is enough for me. I will rest knowing he has it under control.

~ ENGAGE:  daily and deliberately
                I will be deliberate in my interactions. I will put forth a daily effort to not just be physically present but to be emotionally present as well. It will be an investment that compounds indefinitely.

~BE:  the spouse you’d want and the friend you’d want
                I will focus on my actions and not on the perceived failings of those around me. I will act and speak and love in a way that I would want to be loved in return. This likely looks like sacrifice.

~ BELIEVE: God’s truth about who I am.
                I am a daughter of the Most High King. That makes me royalty. I am a co-heir with Christ. That means Jesus is my brother. That means his inheritance is MY inheritance. That leaves me speechless.

~ BREAK:  negative self-talk
                I must be on guard. In order to break the negative self-talk I must be able to identify the voice of truth. Breaking negative self-talk walks closely with believing God’s truth about who I am. I must replace the negative thoughts with God honoring and sound thoughts.

~ Daily:  abide in His presence
                I want to learn to abide better. I’m a busy girl and busy girls like to get things done. Abiding is intentional and has an element (at least to me) of rest involved. It’s a surrendering.

~DO:  act on the “urges” of the Holy Spirit
                I want to listen closer and blindly obey.  I believe obedience is less about the outcome and more about the action of follow through. It builds an ear for listening and it breaks down self-centered walls. Obedience in the little things builds faith and character and its excellent practice for when God calls me to have faith and to obey the big “asks”.

~ LET GO: of the past
                My future is secure in His promises. That’s where I want my eyes set.

~ LEARN:  be moldable and teachable
                I want my heart and will to be in the hands of the potter. I want to be clay in His hands.

~ LIVE:  bold
                Brave Out Loud Decisions – enough said!

~GIVE:  out of lack and out of abundance
                Whether I feel there’s enough or not (money, time, energy, love, desire, patience….)
I still want to give.

~ GROW:  in the WORD
                I want to be wowed by the word of God this year. I want to learn and soak in new truths and new stories. I want to turn the pages and be thirsty for more.


Thursday, January 5, 2017

The journey begins

It's just days in to this new bold year of mine. Funny, how once you start to focus and meditate on something how it seems to just show up, everywhere. Kind of like that car you bought, thinking it was so original and unrepresented on the streets. Until you buy it, and somehow you now see them every third block. It's a funny phenomenon ... I'm pretty sure it has it's own name but that's beside the point. 

The point is... I acted timid, insecure, safe.

There, I admitted it.

The sad part, is I knew I was doing it, too. It wasn't some accidental, absent minded, I'm too flakey to realize I'm stepping away from my new declaration of bold.  What I knew was I wanted a safety net, some experience first, a chance to "check it out".

And all the spirit could whisper to me was, "This is your time to step forward. This is your time to trust me. This is your time to put into action that which you've spoken. This is your time...step bold."


(insert internal dialogue)
"Your plans are good for me, right Lord?

"You're not going to leave me hanging to dry, right?"
I'm always with you.

"What if I look like an idiot or fail?"
So what if you do?

The thing is, I know God has plans for me. I know He has the desire to orchestrate things in my life for His glory, for my good, for the good of His body. I know I have a part to play, a place to belong, and that I am to be instrumental in the Kingdom.  The human fleshy part of me says, "But at what cost?" because I get caught up in how much time it might take, how much sacrifice it might demand, how much will it affect my family, how will it make me look, and the insecurities of "I can't". 

But, I admit, on the heels of those fleshy thoughts comes another. "How can I not? How can I live, knowing that God has a plan for me and choose to ignore, choose to turn away from it, choose to pretend I don't see the signs?  Is there anything that I could attain on my own that would make ignoring the Spirit of God in my soul worth it?  I say, NO! Emphatically I say NO."

And yet....

A request is made of me to lead worship in a "new to me" venue. I hesitate. "Sure I'd love to help, but I don't want to lead by myself the first time. I want to feel it out."

It looks like surprise on his face when I tell him. He assures me that it will be easy, that the stage is big but its forgiving, and that no one there will be looking down on me ... they are just a bunch of broken people choosing to meet together.

Insert the Spirit's little pep talk to me above... This is your time....

Today, I pushed accept on the scheduling request sent to me. Everyone requested to play in the band has either not confirmed or is unable. So far, it's just me. It's okay. It's a couple weeks out and there's time to fill the spaces.

God has a plan. He has a purpose. He has a promise. What's better is he has a plan, purpose and promise FOR ME.

Monday, January 2, 2017


I have insomnia tonight. Either that or the French vanilla cup of coffee I had this evening has kicked in and the buzz of caffeine has chosen to engage my brain. Both are unusual.  Typically when it is time to go to sleep I check my alarm, plug in my phone, kiss my hubby goodnight, turn off the light, roll over and within minutes I’m sound asleep snoring breathing peacefully.  My hubby can attest to this. It is true. He’s often envious of my quick to sleepness.

So, tonight – when sleep was elusive I finally decided to just get up. My thoughts ran from one thing to the next but landed on the word that has chosen me for this year. For several years, rather than make a list of New Year’s resolutions that I will never end up keeping, I have prayed for God to give me a word to focus on for the year. As the New Year approaches I always start being aware of what God might be speaking to me. I do my best to help Him and I come up with good words to suggest to Him – words such as blessing or miracles or rest or joy – words that give me warm fuzzies and comfort and assurance.

Three years ago my word was change. Boy was it a year! Change was an understatement.

Two years ago my word was strong. I had a lot of practice utilizing strength, growing strength, and asking for strength. But, it was a year that God used for His glory. 

This last year, my word was persevere. I was literally counting down the days to the end of the year – just waiting for it to be over and the word to roll over to something new!  It’s not that it was a bad year – but it was a tough year – lots of change, lots of relying on God, practicing patience and trust.  Good came from persevering.

This year, God did something different.  I didn’t think long and hard for my word.

It found me.

I don’t think it’s by accident either.  Last week at our life group I shared my story – the ups and downs of my life and my walk. At the end, I said that I felt strongly that God was calling me to live more boldly as I was coming out of a season of caution.  It was just a statement.  I said it loud and clear for everyone to hear. 

My friend, Gina, responded and said how she liked my word… “Bold”.

 I had an inner reaction. “Um, bold is not my word. I didn’t choose that word. I was just saying God was calling me to be more bold.”  It was as if there was an inner recoiling in my spirit to the word.  But hadn’t I just claimed it? Why was I responding that way?   Her words rang in my ears for days.  At that point, I put in some effort to think of a new word … a better word….

Nothing came. All was quiet.

Sunday came and the next teaching series was introduced. “BOLD”.  

Okay, Lord. You’re funny. But surely, you don’t mean it.

This morning, I started a new book, The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson. The second chapter opens with “Bold prayers honor God, and God honors bold prayers”.  

Okay, Lord. You have my attention. You’re speaking. Here I am... In hindsight it almost feels like my Samuel moment where God is calling to me – third times the charm, I guess.

I told my Mom today about my new word. How it wasn’t one I initially wanted. How it wasn’t one I really feel I picked, but that rather it picked me. I told her how the word is popping up everywhere around me. In the end I told her that it felt like a gift to me from Him… a reminder, an assurance, an encouragement.

The idea came to me later in the idea that it might be fun to make BOLD stand for something. I struggled and came up with nothing. Then as I lay awake in my bed, caffeine coursing through my veins, my brain gone haywire and hyperactive on me… the phrase brave out loud decisions popped into place.  It was perfect.

Being bold requires a bravery that resists the urge to bow to peer pressure or worry of what others think of me.

Being bold requires speaking out- loud. I believe out loud is two fold. One, I must speak out – speak out for those that can’t speak for themselves, speak out for what is true, and speak out of my comfort zone. Speaking loud comes with a confidence that requires God-confidence – Godfidence if you will.  (Hey, Ann Voskamp can create new words, why can’t I?).

Being bold requires making decisions. One doesn’t live bold whilst waffling about what to say or do. Living bold requires action and initiative. It requires a sound mind and a fixed focus on what God desires.  Living bold requires taking risks, chances, and firm stances.

It will be a bold year.

A “brave out-loud decisions” kind of year.

I can’t tell you what that looks like yet. This morning in my devotions I journaled the following:

My word for 2017…BOLD. It feels scary but hopeful, intimidating but liberating, unchartered waters yet a deep calling to me. IF I could walk bold, God could take me places and into situations where His power could be displayed through me. Am I a willing vessel? Am I willing to be an active participant in this process? Lord, help me in my unbelief, in those times I doubt your goodness, doubt your faithfulness. Give me a Holy confidence in you.

An old chorus from my high school days (and probably older) came to mind as I sat down to write tonight. I leave you with these words.

Be bold, be strong

For the Lord, thy God is with you.

Be bold, be strong

For the Lord thy God is with you.

I am not afraid (no no no)

I am not ashamed (no no no)

Because I’m walking in faith and victory

Come on, walk in faith and victory

For the Lord, thy God is with you.