Don’t Fence Me In

As I contemplated my post from Friday, I began to look at life from a different perspective. I tried to envision how the world sees me. How God sees me. It is not, usually, at all how I see myself. And as I was contemplating this, I found this quote:

The wide world is all about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot forever fence it out.
~ J. R. R. Tolkien

I felt a little, “Humph!” rise up in my chest when I read it. I’d been trying my hardest to fence out the world, to make sure there is nothing that can grieve me, hurt me, molest me, or damage my soul anymore than it already has, but I can’t. At least according to Tolkien.

The world continues spinning. People keep moving about us. Although I can shelter myself inside my home, I can only do so for so long. Admittedly, I can do so for longer than most. I have a job where I work from home. I have a husband who will fetch me things. I could stay locked up here for a pretty long time. But I also have obligations, responsibilities that I choose not to give up or feel, well, obligated to complete. My parents need me still. That requires leaving my home, venturing into the world, and interacting with people. I can’t fence those things out no matter how hard I try.

When we’re depressed or feeling low, we often think people don’t want to hear from us. The world has enough depressing tidbits, we want only happy, vibrant people with which to spend our time. Right? But last week, I let one of my friends into the struggle I’ve been dealing with. One friend. She listened and offered compassion. She is still my friend despite my negativity and foul mood.

Then I found this quote:

“It is in the shelter of each other that the people live.”
~ Irish Proverb

Hmmm…. We can find shelter in one another? We can find life in these people? It seems very profound. Yet the Bible suggests the same thing:

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
~ Hebrews 10:24-25 NIV

It’s hard when depression rears its ugly head at us, but, I think, we cannot give in to the depths in which we want to sink. We cannot hide ourselves away and fence ourselves off from the world. The world will get in anyway. We might as well find ways to accept and embrace it.

So as this week begins, I’m endeavoring to seek shelter in those who know me best and will not give up meeting together with them as I am wont to do. I will seek how best to live by doing so. 

This week, I encourage you to seek out someone who knows you well and would want you to share your struggles with them. Not everyone in this fallen world is seeking to make us stumble. Find your tribe. Find those who honestly care about you and seek shelter within their loving embrace. Also, try to be that shelter for someone this week.

Happy Monday.

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This Post Is Depressing

Did I mention lately that I’m having trouble keeping up in my life? Today is no exception. My mom is having surgery and we’ll be at the hospital for the better part of the day. I hate these things. First, I don’t want my elderly parents to go under the “knife” anytime (even though she technically isn’t. It’s one of those “through the veins” type deals.) Second, it’s really more than one day because I’ve been stressing about it for about a week.

I plan on having a good book to read – I’m sure to make lots of progress if I can find a quiet place. I don’t read well when there are others around talking. Trying to read in a waiting room full of people usually doesn’t work out for me, but I’ll give it a try.

I’ve been having difficulty getting back on track since conference. If I’m honest, I’ve been feeling a bit waylaid since Max died. I just can’t seem to get back in the race. Every day it seems like I take more time to reminisce, sit on my porch and even waste away time staring at his photo. The other night I was with friends and I realized I was being friendly and conversational, but the effort really wasn’t there. Or maybe I should say it was ALL effort. I wanted to have a good time. I wanted to relax and enjoy myself. I just didn’t. Couldn’t. I felt a wall begin to form around me, protecting me, sheltering me and I didn’t know why. These are my friends. I don’t need shelter from them. I actually need them to help me, but I found myself not letting any of them in so they could.

The term “Functional Depression” has been bouncing around my head for awhile now. It’s been in the news and online constantly. The latest “fad” thing, I guess. I looked it up and found this article. The one point that really stood out to me was the difference in sleeping idea.

I’ve been taking naps lately. If you know me AT ALL you know I DON’T take naps. Ever. Unless I’m sick with a cold. Like…really sick. And even then…not always. Last Saturday I laid down and just…fell asleep. Like a normal person. I take sleep meds to sleep at night. I don’t simply fall asleep at will. It hasn’t happened, like, ever. (I’m not exaggerating. I did Relay for Life one year and had no problem staying up all night. I was exhausted the next day, but staying awake – not an issue.)

I’m getting older so that could be it. Cycles do change. Heck, I might even start to be warm too at some point. THAT would be a good life change. Then again, back to that social thing…I’ve been avoiding some social interaction. The ones I have been going to, I don’t enjoy. My nerves feel like they’re on edge almost constantly (I cut back on the caffeine thinking that might be it – it’s not). And my husband can tell you I’ve been pretty grouchy. (Not that being grouchy is a big difference in my norm…although I try NOT to be. It’s been a bit unreasonable at times. But usually only with him. I bet he’s happy to hear that.)

All of this to say…what? I’m not sure. I’ve been told my readers like my transparency so here it is. I might be dealing with depression. I think it’s from Max’s death. Could be other things. I am trying to let my body heal and to try and understand it at the same time. It scares me. I’m not trying to hurt myself. I’m just…”out of sorts” as I said to a friend the other day. Nothing seems “right.” It just seems “off.”

And the hits keep coming. Like today at the hospital. It (“it” being LIFE) just never stops. But, before, I’d always felt like I’d had a handle on it and now I don’t. It’s just whizzing by at a speed I can’t seem to keep up with. Like that carousel from Monday’s post, except faster. And more nauseating.

For now, I’ll read my book and try to breathe. And I’ll take the next few minutes as they come. And the next after that. And, hopefully, it’ll all start to make sense again soon.

Happy Friday. God bless.

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PS – I wrote this post a few days ago. Since then I’ve had a nice chat with some caring and concerned friends. My mood is a bit lighter, but it’s a process. I’m thankful and blessed to have good people in my life who are willing to listen and provide suggestions.

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Carousels and Splash Zones

My husband and I like to spend time at a local amusement resort near us. You would think we’re big coaster riders or even enjoy a myriad of other amusement park rides. But you’d be wrong.

We simply love the place and love to sit and soak in the atmosphere.

Knoebels Amusement Resort (not paying me in any way) has been around for a long time – all of my childhood and adulthood, in fact. I’ve gone at least one time almost every year of my life. The rides are nice and the food is some of the best. (Try Cesari’s pizza if you love a crispy crust!) But one of the things my husband and I love the most is the sitting.

You see, the park has a plethora of park benches placed all along the edges of the main concourses. You can walk a few feet, sit for a while, walk again a few feet and sit again. My husband and I love doing this because of two things: 1) the shade and the relaxation and 2) the people watching.

“People watching” sounds like it might include some judgmental comments, and you wouldn’t be wrong. I wouldn’t be an honest person if I said judgments did not leave our lips. However, there is a lot of admiration too.

As we sat and watched a variety of people from (seemingly) a variety of places, I began to notice a few things.

  1. Everyone loves an amusement park. There was such a wide variety of people in the park the other day. Black, white, Hispanic, Indian… you name the culture – we saw it (probably). Kids, teens, adults, and even older people walked through the park, stood in line for rides and enjoyed tasty treats. It was a melting pot of people.
  2. Everyone connects in some way. We saw a lot of dogs in the park that day (Yes, Knoebels is a pet accepting zone.) and a lot of pet loving people. If you had a dog with you, it was probably getting petted by someone you didn’t know. If you didn’t have a pet with you, you were petting some stranger’s dog. But the place I saw the connection happen the most? The carousel.  People of all ages, sizes, races, colors and creeds rode that brightly lit, musically entertaining piece of nostalgia. And I didn’t see a sour face among them. Adults helped kids to garner the best horses (the ones that go up and down, of course) and many shot to the outside for a chance at the brass ring. I saw men dressed “tough” and women dressed “goth”, but they all enjoyed that moment, together, bound in a never-ending circle, without a care in the world. Smiles, laughter and shouts of joy mingled with the calliope’s never-ending refrain. What a sight to behold.

I walked away from the carousel’s tinkling music thinking, What if it was that easy to bring people together in every day life? 

Later, we stood and watched kids (and adults) enjoying the Skloosh ride. This is one of those wide boats that comes down a waterfall of water, soaking its passengers and many in the surrounding area off the ride, too. The riders would run off the ride, soaked to the bone, to wait out another boat full of folks coming down the shoot so they could get drenched again. Once again, I saw people of all colors and age enjoying the splash – some right in its wake, some getting only slightly wet and some on the edges (like us). But when the water hit – everyone smiled. Faces full of pure, unadulterated joy from just a bit of splashed water surrounded us.

Once again, I thought, What if we just decided to enjoy life?

If we got soaked in a rain storm, would we be happy about it? If someone splashed us with their car while we were walking, we wouldn’t be too thrilled. But these folks all had smiles on their faces!

How do we not let the outside world influence us, but listen only to the delightful sounds around us? It doesn’t have to be a calliope organ or the rush of water upon our faces – what about a child’s laughter? Or birds singing? Or the sigh of a baby after he’s been fed, his belly full and his life content? What if we simply enjoyed each other? It doesn’t always have to be a fight. We can enjoy the same things – it’s a proven fact at Knoebels.

I want to take that feeling of contentment I had at Knoebels and try to apply it to every day life. I want to smile at the little things and let the hard things not get such a foothold on my life. I want to spend my days like I’m walking around an amusement park.

Does this sound a little odd or out of touch? Maybe. But I’m going to try it anyway.

How about you?

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Perspective

As you know, I spent some time at a writing conference recently. I’ve been attending St. Davids Christian Writers’ Conference for several years and it always, ALWAYS helps me to boost my writing. The creative juices start to flow as I spend countless hours with other creatives. It’s almost as if their creativity rubs off on me and the blissful, beautiful campus of Grove City College stirs a sense of peace and calm that helps me to write.

But not this year.

After I returned home I realized I hadn’t written a darn thing. In fact, I had barely opened my laptop and had only jotted down a few sparse thoughts in a journal. The creative juices I had expected to flow had not come at all. I felt like a failure. Once again I was back home, amidst the normalcy of every day life, where my creative juices often get sucked up by chores.

Monday’s harsh light snapped me back to reality and I took to Facebook to sulk about my woes.

“I sometimes feel inferior to all they (my writing friends) are accomplishing and achieving while I sit here and lament over my lack of work and lack of creative juices. I thought conference would inspire me, but it seems to have only made this inferiority complex worse.” 

I put my depression and my feelings of failure out for the world to see. It’s something I’m known to do – a sort of transparency that many tell me is a nice thing to behold. But I wasn’t feeling transparent or like I’d be able to encourage anyone. I was simply sulking. But I was astonished by the response.

“I’m so glad you posted this,” wrote one friend. “I always feel the same at the end of conference.”

Another encouraged me by saying, “You are not alone. … I always have to remind myself, ‘someone else’s success is not our failure.'”

Still others told me about a long list of chores they had to accomplish, laundry that needed to be done, groceries that had to be bought (one friend’s family couldn’t even get bread and milk for themselves!) and kids that needed to be driven places. Many told me they hadn’t written a single thing during conference. It helped me to realize that others were feeling this way. I was not alone, it seemed, but, in fact, in good company.

Then one of my new friends wrote this: “I am so grateful to you for taking me under your wing. You were such an encouragement to me.”

Another, “You reserved time to individually review my jots and tittles, providing good ideas and encouragement.”

And lastly, “I’m glad you weren’t writing during those moments we were chatting. I enjoyed getting to know you.”

What perspective! I had almost forgotten that during this time of not writing, I had been meeting new friends, encouraging others to write, giving advice to new writers, helping new conferees find their way – both literally and figuratively – and simply enjoying the company of others who were like-minded. I didn’t waste one single minute of conference, it just wasn’t what I had expected I’d be doing with my time!

One of my other friends reminded me of this: “It is absolutely impossible to survive the bruises if we compare where we are, EVER, to our friends with whom we’re sharing this journey. … we have to stop thinking of life as some kind of race. It’s not. … the true joy of life that God desperately wants for us can’t be found when we’re racing. We have to SLOW DOWN and cherish now.”

Wow. After reading her comment, I thought back to every minute of conference. I didn’t race. I let every single person who wanted to talk to me, do so. I listened to people’s stories and laughed along at their jokes. I hugged. I prayed. I smiled. I DID cherish it, but simply got caught up in worthless thoughts afterwards.

Does this look like someone who wasted her time to you?

So I wanted to write this post to thank all of those people who made me realize my perspective last Monday wasn’t in keeping with what God’s perspective is for me. I wasn’t recognizing and enjoying the joy He had provided all during conference week. Instead, I was letting the enemy sink his teeth into my thoughts and skew my perspective. But, thankfully, it only took a minute of being honest and transparent on social media for my friends to come to the rescue.

And I thank them.

If you are feeling down, depressed or upset about your shortcomings this week, consider these verses:

They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for. But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Peter 2:8-10 NIV)

*******

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. (1 Peter 5:8-9 NIV)

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Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Phil. 4:4-9 NIV)

If you’re feeling down – ask for help. Tell a friend. Look to the Word for encouragement. I would venture a guess that your negative thoughts are not in keeping with what God has in store for you.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jer. 29:11 NIV)

Look for His message, His perspective and pray for His guidance to help you through.

God bless and Happy Friday!

 

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Catching My Breath and Moving Forward

It’s July, people! Where did June go? I learned so much from my writing conference the other week and met some really awesome new friends, but, oy!, I’m still catching up. Alas, we must move forward. Time marches on, as they say.

I talked with a friend the other day whom had also just returned from TWO conferences (No clue how she managed that.) and we agreed that it’s always a mix of 1) Catching up on “normal” life activities and 2) Processing all we’ve learned during our time away.

In fact, I was following up with her because I’m working on this nonfiction book geared toward negative thinkers and how we can use God’s words to refute the lies we tell ourselves. After speaking to a woman at conference, I wanted to get my friend’s take on it. The woman at conference seemed to think my book was ready to go – and that thought petrified me. I realized I was no where near ready to publish, but thought I better get the perspective of someone I know and respect and who has been through the traditional publishing process with a similar book. Our chat not only encouraged me, but continues to spur me forward. The book is NOT done, but that doesn’t mean I can’t do some things to start a buzz about it.

So, I’m working on my first ever book proposal and rewriting some of the book. I realized that the chapters are not “meaty” enough so I’ll be reworking some of them, combining some and writing more. It seems now like I truly have a foothold so I’m anxious to keep going. Your prayers are, as always, appreciated.

I’m working hard on setting goals for myself and striving to achieve them and here’s a few other things in the works:

  • At conference, I co-taught a workshop on “Essentials of Writing a Good Devotion” with my friend and mentor. We had good feedback and it stirred my teaching juices. SO, I just sent in my first submission to teach a different class at a one day conference in Virginia. I’ll also be working on some other workshop ideas to present to a few other local conferences.
  • Along with working on my nonfiction book, I’ve kind of come up with a new idea for a fiction book. It’ll be humorous – something I haven’t really written before. I’m hoping to get it done in a year’s time and self-publish it as I did my other novels.
  • The editing part of my work continues to ebb and flow. I have made a few new contacts and even started working with some new clients. I LOVE my long-term clients and wouldn’t give them up for the world, but it’s always exciting to get new writers working with me, too. In the end, it’s all about me getting to read a bunch of new writers and books before anyone else does and that makes me feel special. PLUS, I can help writers to hone their work so writers will flock to buy their books. I want everyone to succeed!

As we traverse into another week, in another month, that much closer to the dreaded winter (ugh), I’m determined to keep moving forward just as the time and the calendar does. It might not be huge strides I’m making, but it’s at least baby steps.

God bless and Happy Monday!

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If you liked this post, or others, please share with your friends. Also, I LOVE comments so please feel free to comment below and share what goals you’re trying to achieve!

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A Time and Purpose for Everything

So, as many of you know, I’m working my way through the Bible and doing a commentary study along with it. Today, I read Ecclesiastes 3. Many of you probably know the opening lines to this chapter – either through Bible reading or because you’re a child of the 60’s and know the song “Turn! Turn! Turn!” by the Byrds.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
Ecc. 3: 1-9 NIV

My two commentaries give differing opinions about these verses.

The “Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee,” stated that these verses offered a fatalistic point of view. There is no hope in anything – you just live life and then you die. Good things are the same as bad things. Dr. McGee stated that many people in our world today have this fatalistic point of view. And it is a view that does not include God.

In contrast, my NIV study Bible discussed how Solomon (the author of these words) saw that all experiences have their own timing – God’s timing. The study said, “The secret to peace with God is to discover, accept, and appreciate God’s perfect timing.” They do not see these verses as fatalistic at all, rather, realistic.

I thought about these differing opinions for a time and think I agree with the NIV folks. Although Solomon may have been a bit discontented with his life at the time he wrote these words, I think that the NIV commentary is more accurate in what we can learn from Solomon’s words. God does do everything in His own time and it all works for our good.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

There is a time for everything under the sun. Although we may not like to grieve, we must sometimes. Although we don’t want to give up, sometimes it’s vital to walk away from things – like sin. There even is time to tear down. We must break down the walls of our own sin to realize we are saved by the grace of God. We need to let go of those sinful ways in order to embrace what the Lord is giving us. There IS a time for everything – it all leads us closer to God.

Yes, Solomon might not have been thinking in this way when he wrote these words, but I think we need to embrace these thoughts in order to truly become closer to God. We need to know that everything has a purpose and it will all lead us to the glory of God’s saving grace.

As for Dr. McGee … I like his study, and he was a smart man. But I’ll say that I think his commentary for these verses is a bit fatalistic. Maybe he didn’t realize it at the time. But I’m glad even for this viewpoint because it helped me to discern for myself what I thought the true meaning was with these verses. And it helped me write this post. AND it helped me get closer to God.

See. There is a time and a purpose for everything. Even the bad stuff.

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Mini Post Monday

Happy Monday everyone! I’m just back from an exciting writer’s conference and I’ve got a lot of catching up to do! June has been a busy month, but I’ve survived so far. Only a few more days and it’ll be July. Before you know it the summer will be over and I’ll be complaining about the cold temps in PA.

As I traversed the month of June, I realized I simply had booked too much on my plate. We all do it, don’t we? I couldn’t help that certain events, like my parent’s anniversary and my writing conference both fell in June. But I also forced myself to get several home projects done in this month, too – things that could have been put off for another time, another month.

All too often I realize that I try to do everything a once. I kept telling myself, “Well, July will be so boring since I’m doing it all in June.” But it never actually ends up that way, does it?

Looking back on June now, I’m thankful God helped me through the stress and the plethora of activities, but I know I could have been a better manager of my time by not dumping so much on my plate in the first place. Most of what I tried to accomplish was because of my own selfish desires. A lot of the things I had to do was because I’d committed to too many things in the first place. Not once did I schedule down time. Most mornings it was a struggle to simply open my Bible and have time with the Lord. Simply because I felt like there wasn’t enough time in the day.

Yet, we always find time to do the things we want to do, don’t we? I forced my husband to work on one of the hottest Sundays so far this year just because I wanted some landscaping done. The yard was torn up and I didn’t like how it looked so I coerced him into getting it done despite the heat and despite the fact that we both probably could have used a day of rest instead.

It’s so easy to fill our time with useless things. We often don’t see them as useless, but they really are. If that landscaping hadn’t gotten done it would have been fine. The work would have waited. If I didn’t do everything “perfectly” for my parent’s anniversary, they never would have known.

But if I’d spent just a few more minutes with God each morning, it may have made a difference in my life. Perhaps I wouldn’t be obsessed with the material world or wouldn’t have stressed so much that things weren’t getting done. Maybe I would have even slept better had I relied a bit more on God and His peace in my life.

So, once again, I’ll start fresh today. Maybe July really won’t be that hectic. Maybe, for once, I’ll truly seek to relax instead of run.

How about you? What’s on your schedule this week? Did you pencil in rest and time with God? I know I will be.

God bless and happy Monday!

 

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Friday Fun!

Hi, all! I’m at the great St. Davids Christian Writers’ Conference this week so I can’t blog too much. My brain is full and I’ve met scores of new people, but I don’t want to leave you all out!

Our conference is almost over this year, but if you know someone who is a writer in the PA, OH or even NJ, NY, MD, VA areas, give them a heads up about this awesome conference. We’d love to have even more people attend next year. Check out our website: www.stdavidswriters.com.

From our website: “St. Davids is special. We’re an intimate gathering of writers that provides an opportunity to build a network, not by exchanging business cards in a busy hallway. Here we connect, like real people – laughing over lunch, chatting about our projects in the lounge, or giving our elevator pitch in genre group meetings. Writing is a different beast with the digital world, but connecting with people is still done face to face.”

Here we connect over hot meals and within cool classrooms. The people I’ve met at this conference have been folks I’ve been able to network and pray with as well as simply be friends. We’re bonded for life. And we have fun!

    

I hope you’ll consider joining us next year. Make sure you sign up on our website for the newsletter so you can keep abreast of when registration opens for 2018!

Happy Friday!!!

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Mini Post Monday

Here it is Monday again. I’ve been so busy this month that it seems like these Mondays are coming faster and faster, but July will be slower (I hope!).

This past weekend, I surprised my parents with a 50th wedding anniversary party. These two have been through so much in their lives and I wanted to make sure they celebrated this amazing achievement. My parents often remind me and my husband what our marriage vows of “for better and for worse” truly mean. They’ve been through long-term illness, lack of work, lack of funds, heart surgeries, loss of parents as well as birth of children, success in work, and the joys of putting a kid through college. They never give up on each other, themselves, or their kids. And I’m grateful to call them my parents.

Aren’t they the cutest?

Now that this stress is over (I’d planned this thing for about six months and wanted everything to be perfect!), I can move on to the next big event – writer’s conference! I leave next week for my annual trip to be with my creatives. There is a plethora of new people this year so I’m looking forward to meeting them. I’m teaching too so that should be fun. I’m not fond of being in front of people, but I like sharing my craft.

Although I’ve been busy, it’s been a good kind of busy. I’ve been planning events that will create memories well into the future – like the train ride last week and this party. I hope my parents will live for many more years, but even when they are gone, I’ll forever have these moments to hold on to. And I hope my husband and I can celebrate 50 years one day (although I’ll be 85 so… I’m not sure. I guess many things are possible.)

Because of my business level, you’ll forgive (I hope) the shortness of this post. Summer is certainly a busy time for most people, but I am grateful you took the time to read today and I pray you have a blessed and fruitful week ahead.

God bless and happy Monday!

 

 

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Having a Personal Relationship with God

Every other Wednesday night at my church, we hold a prayer meeting. Our church is small and the group that meets for prayer is even smaller – usually only four people (which includes the pastor and his wife). We each bring a plethora of prayer concerns to the table each time. Most of the time, we lift people in prayer that the others don’t know, don’t come to our church and may not even know God. It might seem like a fruitless effort on our parts when only four of us show up, but I’ve found that this little group has been not only a mighty influence on my soul, but has also seen prayer answered in vast and glorious ways.

This week’s meeting was a good example. As we began to list the prayer concerns, it was obvious that a theme was emerging.

Earlier this week, a man shot at several congressman in VA. (Thankfully, he did not kill any.) In our own families, we have people who have strayed from God and who are struggling to live their lives. There are people dealing with addiction. There are people suffering from loneliness. And there are people who are harboring bitterness, anger and resentment in their souls.

So what did we pray for?

Yes, we prayed for individual situations and to bring mercy, grace, healing and strength to numerous individuals, but the one thing I noticed that all these people needed was this: a personal relationship with the Father.

You see, it is like the scriptures say:

But God has said:

How many things in our life would be better, improved, if only we’d turn to the Lord? If only we’d seek out His face, His word and His purpose instead of our own? Instead of turning to drugs, food, drink or other useless endeavors, turn to the Lord in prayer. (Please note: I am not saying addictions can simply be rectified by prayer, but it’s a good start.) The Lord tells us that when we come to him our burdens will be light.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matt. 11:28-30

Do you know how to have a personal relationship with God? It starts with a simple prayer:

Dear heavenly Father, help me repent of my old, sinful ways. Help me to come to You each day in prayer and with a humble attitude. Show me Your ways. Guide me with Your Spirit. Teach me how to have a personal relationship with You. Amen.

The next step? Daily focus on the Lord and His word. Study the Bible. Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Continue to pray.

When you meet a new friend and you have a lot in common, don’t you spend time with them? Don’t you endeavor to make plans with them? Call them? Ask about their lives? And don’t you enjoy the time you spend with them? Isn’t it nice to have those personal relationships?

Having a relationship with God is no different. There is no secret to it. It’s simply spending time with Him. You say He can’t speak? Yes, He has. The Bible is His word for you. That is His voice talking to you. Read it. Meditate on it. Consider how what those words say can impact your life.

I’ve prayed for individuals off and on in these prayer meetings for several years now. I’ve seen change occur even when the individual doesn’t know we’ve prayed for them. God hears and sees. He sees you. He knows your plight. He wants to help. Let Him. Seek out that personal relationship today and see just how your life will change. If you need specific prayer, please feel free to ask for it in the comments below or send me a private message. We will add you to our prayer list.

God bless and Happy Friday.

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