Tag Archives: prayer

‘Tis So Sweet: Take Him At His Word

ID-100463957‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His Word;
Just to rest upon His promise,
And to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”
-‘Tis So Sweet to Trust In Jesus,  Louisa M. R. Stead

I want to start out by saying that the way I planned out this blog series is not the way the blog series is going to go. “Many are the plans in a man’s heart,” right? Instead of this series being about several things that happened during that prayer night, it’s going to be about the ONE thing that happened during that prayer night–the one thing that has really been affecting me the most, because it is just this one thing that is challenging my trust in the Lord the most. So please bear with me during the shift, and know that the Lord’s plans are always better than my own. (And I apologize for the length of this first blog!)

I think it’s safe to assume that everyone who reads my blog knows that I am single. I have been my entire life; I have had limited relationships–have dated some, but honestly, do not have a storied life in romance. I’m okay with that; I know there are folks who think you should date a million people to figure out what you like, what you want, what you need. Actually, at the beginning of August 2017, I was going to change into one of those people after reading, “How To Get A Date Worth Keeping” by Henry Cloud. I had made a huge decision to finally be proactive about dating now that I am settled here in my new home and city. I had even set up the steps as outlined in the book, had a few people in mind for my “get to know” list, and had a friend to hold me accountable. I was ready. Finally.

On August 19, 2017, when the ladies of my church gathered for prayer–praying over me as an individual at one point, one of the ladies in the group (a seer and prophet) saw a vision of a man in my life. She only called him THIS MAN–but she said it with such intensity that I knew deep within me that it was no ordinary man that she saw. THIS MAN was THE man for me. She said she saw him in a specific situation (she drew a picture of it) and that my mind would not get in the way. And as she said this to me, I CLEARLY heard the Lord say THIS MAN’s name to me. I can’t explain to you what this was like, the general feeling that I had at this moment. First, I knew who THIS MAN was. I hadn’t had too many interactions with him, but I knew him. Second, THIS MAN was one of the guys on my “get to know” list. And third, I knew from my limited interactions with him that THIS MAN was a mercy gift.

I honestly was overwhelmed in the moment. Here was a woman that I respected and trusted who was seeing a part of my life that is so personal to me. She supernaturally knew that my mind has always been a problem in the past; she spoke peace and life over the situation knowing there had been anxiety and death present before. It was a LOT for me to take. But though I left that evening still feeling overwhelmed, I decided to trust God–not my own mind, not my own past, not anything else. I decided to see how this would play out, and I decided to keep THIS MAN’s identity to myself (obviously in case I was wrong about what I heard).

The very next day after the prayer night, something incredible happened. THIS MAN and I had a sudden shift in our interactions. I don’t even know what happened, I just know that things changed between us the very next day. I wish I could explain to you what happened, but I cannot–it was somewhat supernatural, considering I had only had one real conversation with him prior to the prayer night.

Additionally, about a week after the prayer night, as I was beginning to think I was crazy and doubt the word I heard from the Lord, THIS MAN posted a picture of himself on social media in the specific situation that my prayer warrior friend had mentioned and drawn.

To say seeing that picture was overwhelming would be an understatement. I was at a friend’s house when I saw it, and I cried in her laundry room for 10 minutes. It was as if the Lord was not so subtlety quelling my doubts and telling me to trust Him.

Since August 19, that has been my daily challenge: will I trust the Lord to do what He has said He will do? Will I believe what He spoke to me that night? Will I take Him at His Word?

Challenge accepted.

“Do not disbelieve, but believe.” -John 20:27

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‘Tis So Sweet: To Trust Him More

ID-100463957

image courtesy of Stuart Miles / freedigitalphotos.net

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

-Tis So Sweet to Trust In Jesus,  Louisa M. R. Stead

I haven’t talked about it a lot here on my blog, but one of the most amazing parts of my move last year has been my church. I switched campuses a few months ago (same church, different campus location), and for the first time in a long time, I really feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be. Not only do I feel myself growing more spiritually than I have in the last 10 years, but it’s really one of those things where I feel like I fit. Not because everyone is like me, but because we are all so unique and crazy and wonderfully made–it’s truly a blessing to be in a church that is charismatic and I don’t have to “hide” my gifts or attend elsewhere to get my fill. Every single week at church, I am filled in more ways than I can count.

One of the biggest blessings has been the prayer ministry at my church. I have known that I am an intercessor for many years, but I was never in a church environment where that call was supported and grown. Yes, at past churches I have prayed with other people and prayed for other people, but here, the call to intercession is celebrated and many women are a part of my life who stoke the fires of prayer in me.

In fact, I knew this was going to be the right campus for me when the first Sunday I attended, a beautiful sister came up to me during the church greeting time, pulled me into a warm embrace, and said very boldly to me, “You are an intercessor. You are called to it. You need to be doing it more.” I was surprised–not at what she said, but at her boldness. And though I initially fought it, I knew from that one interaction that this was the church campus for me.

So I was incredibly excited when that sister and others organized a prayer night for the women of our campus in August. I did not attend expecting anything of myself, only that I would experience the Lord’s presence. I received that and so much more.

As the ladies prayed over me, one of our praying sisters and a friend of mine spoke several prophetic truths over my life…truths that have done more to increase my faith and trust in the Lord than anything before. I hate to say it, but I haven’t been someone who has had a lot of trust in the Lord. I have claimed to have it, but I have found it so difficult to trust in Him despite His repeated attempts to show me that He is completely trustworthy. After this prayer night, though, God’s grace has proven faithful once again as He has grown me so much in the area of trusting Him.

This new blog series is going to highlight many of the things that my beautiful sister prophesied over me and their subsequent impact on my life and trust in the Lord. I’m so excited to share with you these amazing, life-changing truths. And I am excited as I continue to grow in my trust and dependency on my Lord. It truly is so sweet.

 

 

The Trio: Worship While Waiting

trio of chairs

image courtesy of satit_srihin at freedigitalphotos.net

This one is a hard one to write! I wanted to save him until last–because I wanted to figure out what was going on here before I wrote about it. That did not happen. But I actually believe it’s fitting to put my former worship leader in the middle of the trio blogs. Of the three, he’s my favorite. But he’s also the most confusing.

The Introduction

The first time I saw worship leader (WL) was my first visit to the church when I moved here back in May. I immediately looked at my friend and said, “Who is that guy?” And she said, “One of the worship leaders.” And I said, “He’s a mercy gift. Trouble.” I know my history with mercy males–I wanted to avoid at all costs. He was young–only 21, and those younger mercy males are always drawn to me, which makes my life infinitely more difficult. So I made note and decided to keep my distance. WL was a great guy–he loves Jesus more than anything, always seems willing to learn, and did a pretty good job of transitioning into a leadership role when our former worship leader left abruptly. Knowing that he was a great guy AND a mercy gift, I stayed away from him for the most part, even after joining the worship team. But he did not do as good a job on his end (lol). And besides, no one can really stop the mercy-prophet magnetism. It just is. And the magnetism intensified once I stopped praying for my coworker. But I was careful to guard my heart and stay accountable in my interactions with him.

The Involvement

I was unsure what God wanted of me in this situation. I would pray for WL intermittently, but not like I was praying for my coworker. I didn’t feel called to pray for WL as much–he seemed to have a good head on his shoulders, a pretty solid relationship with the Lord, and he was a growing role model and leader in our church. Not to mention, he has great parents and a solid, Christian family and framework. But WL kept showing up in my dreams. Sometimes, he would just be standing there, sometimes he and I would have a conversation–it was nothing inappropriate or ridiculous, but my mind would not let him go. So I did what every smart pushy prophet girl would do in that situation.

I switched church campuses.

Now, before you go and say that I ran away from the problem, let me explain. No, it’s too much–let me sum up. (Name that movie!) I moved further away from my church right around the time I joined the worship team last fall. Then at the beginning of this year, I joined a small group at a campus right down the street from my house. While I was struggling with these emotions related to WL, I was also struggling with whether I should even be at that campus in the first place. I had found my PEOPLE at the campus near my house…women that I was really connecting with, serving at the food bank there…and when I visited for worship one Sunday, I just felt at home. It’s not that I did not love the campus with WL, it was just that this one near my house felt like the perfect fit. So after a lot of prayer, I made the switch. I told WL that I was leaving, and he said the most perfect mercy male 21-year old leader things in return, and I left.

The Importance

I am still dreaming about WL. In fact, this morning, I texted my friend and told her I wanted a lobotomy. What does this mean? Honestly, I don’t know. All that I know is that despite the fact that I no longer talk to WL, don’t see him at all, and have zero interaction with him, the Lord still puts WL on my mind both while awake and while asleep. So I have taken to praying for him a great deal, and praying for what the Lord wants to show me. I most certainly miss WL–he is good people. But I also miss my mom, and I don’t ever dream about her. So while I figure that out, prayer seems to be the best option–and in this case, it’s the only option. I can’t figure this one out on my own–and I might never figure it out. Perhaps there is something going on with WL that only God and WL know about, and I am supposed to pray for him when God injects him into my mind. Whatever the reason, it’s up to God to reveal them to me. It’s up to me to pray and worship while I wait for the answers.

Isn’t it funny when God keeps hammering the same lesson into your heart? (Maybe not!)

Breaking Bad: The Purpose

image courtesy of sattva / freedigitalphotos.net

image courtesy of sattva / freedigitalphotos.net

Maybe you’re wondering how this all fits together.

My original desire to break bad, which erupted after a difficult year, led to a crisis of conscience in many ways. Quite honestly, for those six weeks, I was perfectly fine with falling back into all those (lust) sins that so easily entangle. It can be difficult being single in today’s world, especially as part of the church. I’m not one of those single Christian women who is going to sugarcoat how hard it is by telling you that I quote Bible verses that keep me going and bring me back on track. It just doesn’t happen all of the time. Sometimes, Scripture consoles me and brings me understanding and wisdom. But when it comes to my purity and singleness struggles, I find very little solace in the Word. I’m not afraid to admit that, because I think God meets me in my honesty. In addition, Christians in general are terrible at comforting singles. Save for one, my married friends are collectively the most terrible people in the world at understanding my single girl struggles. It’s like they forgot what it’s like to be single in a sex-crazed world. Friends who have been married only a couple of years—and who three years ago were crying next to me—have taken up spouting verses and Christian idioms at me when I struggle with remaining pure and being good. So I have stopped confiding in them about my issues, because even when I tell them nicely that they’re not helping, they still fall back on those outdated practices.

Save for one. There is that one married Christian woman who helped to bring me back from the edge of breaking bad. She listened. She cried with me. She shared her own struggles with loneliness in her marriage—not to distract or compare, but to share that she struggles, too. And she never once shared a Bible verse or beat me down with the Bible—she only promised to pray for me and to encourage me. And I know that she did—because the day I confided in her about wanting to be bad and cried with her about being single and the day she began to pray for me is the day I met God in a worship song as I cried over Chris Evans’ mercy soul.

You see, there’s this delicate balance between our sin struggles, God’s grace, and our calling. I think, in many ways, that breaking bad is where much of our PureID™ is formed and found. Our sin struggles are where God meets us, where He talks to us about our identity as He is purifying us, where He places a call on our lives to bring others to Him in specific ways. It’s where He begins the refining process, even if we’re not ready. I’m not “fine” with my sin anymore—but I’m also not beating myself up about it like I used to. In essence, I think I’m beginning to understand grace more simply by being broken for the mercy male.

I wish I could tell you what this means for me and mercy males—but I don’t know. Here’s what I do know: I know that I haven’t quite broken bad yet. I am still struggling with daydreaming and lust. But for the first time in the midst of this struggle, I have felt the Lord draw closer to me. I’ve had the Spirit intercede for me with words and groans that I don’t understand. And last night, I prayed in depth for all the mercy males I’ve known in my life, and I prayed for the ones I don’t know—like Chris Evans. After I finished, I tried to fall asleep but couldn’t for three miserable hours—and God tenderly let me know that it was because I wasn’t finished praying for them. Once I did (at 12:30 a.m.!), sleep came easily.

I want to know what’s next in my calling to the mercy male more than anyone. But I believe wholeheartedly in Luke 16:10, which says that whoever is faithful in the little things will be faithful in the large things. I also believe in the parable of the talent, that when God entrusts us with something—small or large, He is the one who will multiply it, if we are faithful and we trust Him. And though it isn’t “little” at all, I think that, right now, my job is simply to pray and intercede for the mercy male—all of them, some of them, one of them. Where that leads next, I don’t know. But I now know that if you allow God to work even amidst your greatest sins and struggles, your breaking bad can lead to His greater good.

Breaking Bad: The Call

It’s tough being a prophet.Prayer Rock Word

(For those who haven’t read my other blogs, my redemptive/motivational spiritual gift is prophet. Read more about it here.)

What was I saying? Oh right. It sure is tough being a prophet.

So many times, I see truth in someone’s life and I just want to tell them. I don’t even have to know them—I can know just enough about them to see their struggles and know their pain. I don’t think I know everything, but I do know people…and I use what I know and what God shows me to see truth before it plays out in their lives. It’s a terribly awesome gift to have—if you understand how God wants you to use it. I can “see” into situations and see truth about others, which in retrospect should be a gift that brings joy not only to myself but to others.

But the part of this gift that I always, always forget about is the call to prayer. Every single redemptive/motivational gift of prophet is called to intercede for others. In fact, the downloads we receive from God about others, those truths that we can plainly see, those things are not things we are to always say or dwell upon—they are given to us so that we can give them back to the Lord in prayer. And as someone who likes to be right and sometimes likes others to know it :), I have a very, very difficult time doing this.

It’s not that I’m not learning at all. Last year, I met with someone and left the meeting thinking that this unhealthy person was going to wreak havoc on their church in some ridiculous way. I could have met with the pastor of their church and told him what I believed was going to happen based on the person’s unhealthiness. I could have called the person out about their unhealthy behavior. (These are the two things that I usually do when I get revelations or insight about someone.) Instead, I decided to just pray for them—that’s what I felt led to do. Oh, this person still wrecked a ministry in their church…but I didn’t feel ownership of the issue because I had prayed about it and prayed for the person. I had done what God had asked me to do. And I felt peaceful about it.

But unfortunately, that’s the exception and not the rule—at least for me. And what’s worse is that many times, the Lord will plant a dream or thought of someone in my head, and I will forget about prayer and run in the wrong direction with it—and what I mean by this is that instead of praying for the person, I will do the opposite. I will either dismiss it and forget about them completely, or I will begin thinking about them obsessively, especially if it’s a guy. And I know that, looking back on my life, I have wasted many opportunities to pray for someone who the Lord has laid on my heart because I thought they were in my head for a different reason. I have lost the opportunity to pray for someone AND I have objectified them in some way. What the Lord means for good, your flesh and the devil will always try to pervert and destroy—and even though I know this, I still let it happen. What’s amazing, though, is that what the devil intends for harm, the Lord can still use for good. He can redeem ANYTHING and ANYONE.

Eight weeks ago, I had a dream about Captain America star Chris Evans, and the repercussions of these last eight weeks have helped me to realize how I can begin to cultivate an important part of my calling. But more incredibly, it’s been instrumental in the birth of breaking bad. More soon.

Spiritually Healthy Habits: Prayer

spirit health by Stuart Miles

image courtesy of Stuart Miles / freedigitalphotos.net

“Pray continuously.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

When I was younger, this verse scared me to death. My mother would get up every morning and pray for an hour or so, and she would encourage me to do the same. I just couldn’t sit still that long, even as an adult. Plus, I wasn’t sure I could come up with enough words to say to God for a whole hour! And praying continuously throughout my day…well, I just didn’t think I could do that, either. Then one day recently, I realized that as I was going through my day, I was often stopping to whisper prayers to God, talking to Him while I was in the car or just doing things around the house, and listening for His still, small voice. And then it dawned on me: I had actually learned how to pray continuously.

Prayer is not meant to scare us, prayer is meant to invite us into deeper relationship with our God. If you want to be spiritually healthy, you must talk to the Giver of spiritual health! And here are three thoughts about prayer that have helped me to learn to pray continuously:

  • Prayer is talking to your Papa. Sometimes, my prayers are different, but mostly, I come to God as a little girl wanting to talk to her Papa. I think of when I want to have my mom’s undivided attention and I climb into her lap—yes, still, as a 37-year-old woman, I do that! I also do that in my head when I’m praying. I imagine that I’m climbing up into God’s lap and talking to Him about everything—my hopes, my fears, my failures, my successes. I confess, and I receive forgiveness there. I express my gratitude and I humble myself like a child. Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Praying to my Papa in this way is how I live out this verse.
  • Prayer is talking to your Friend. Sometimes we think of God as a taskmaster waiting to punish us when we do something wrong. But Jesus tells us something different in God’s Word. In John 15:15, Jesus said, “I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.” A taskmaster has slaves, but we are not slaves—we are friends of God. Jesus confided in us what the Lord told Him, so we can be confident in talking to Him as a friend would. And just like our earthly friends, God can handle our anger and our doubt, He can share in our hurts, and He can laugh with us and enjoy our sense of humor. Even better, God is the greatest Friend who will never let us down!
  • Prayer is talking to your Creator. We have to remember that God is not only our Papa and our Friend, but He is also our Creator—and the Creator of the entire universe. I don’t call Him my “homie” but I bow before Him. I talk to Him as my Abba Papa and Friend, but I don’t disrespect Him or treat Him as a human being—because He is not! In Psalm 50:15, the Lord says, “And call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” God can deliver me from evil, defeat darkness, help me be an overcomer, and speak things into existence. He can bless me beyond my wildest dreams and answer every one of my prayers, if it is in His will. As such, I will regard Him with awe and respect, because He deserves it.

Knowing these three things about prayer has made it easier for me to pray continually throughout my days. Every situation I encounter can be filtered to my Papa, my Friend, and/or my Creator, so I can go to the Throne before I go to the phone (Joyce Meyer). If you want to be spiritually healthy, try increasing your prayer life and communicating continuously with the God who will be there for you in every possible way!

How to Thrive Emotionally During the Holidays

The holidays are here! Yes, it is the time of the year when we spend increased time with our families—during which we can become stressed out at the mere thought. In fact, many people go into the holiday season wondering how they are going to survive. I was one of those people. Spending time with my family has been great at times and miserable at others. There was a time when I dreaded the holidays and going back to my hometown. However, as I grew in emotional intelligence, I changed my thoughts and began to manage my emotions, which helped me to set clear boundaries and respond instead of react. Nowadays, I tend to thrive during the holidays! So how can you move from surviving to thriving emotionally this holiday season? 

Christmas Sisters by imagerymajestic

image courtesy of imagerymajestic / freedigitalphotos.net

  • Increase the focus on yourself. People will tell you that it is selfish to think about yourself too much, which is true. But it is also unhealthy to not think about yourself enough—because other than God, no one knows your needs better than you. So, if you need time to yourself away from your family, your in-laws, your “different” cousins, or the general craziness, then take it. Let people know in advance that you may need some “alone time” (I call it “Michelle time) and then when you need it, take a walk, take a drive, or find a quiet place to unwind. Also—take a nap (or naps)! Sleep is instrumental in helping you cope better, feel better, and interact better with others. So get a good night’s sleep and take some naps. Remember, no one else will make that time for you, so just do it.
  • Release the burden of others’ emotions. When I need “Michelle time,” sometimes people are supportive and sometimes they are not. I used to get upset because others felt mad/hurt/upset at my need for space. Now, I release that—it is their issue, not mine. Once on vacation when Michelle time was over, I noticed one of my family members acting as if I had purposefully hurt them by taking time for myself. I, however, did not react to that (or respond to it). I ignored it. Now, had I done something wrong, I would have addressed it and apologized. But restoring my soul with much-needed alone time does not qualify as wrongdoing, so I released the issue and acted normally—and eventually, that family member did too.
  • Pray. Pray. Pray. Few things have gotten me through the insanity of family gatherings like prayer. I have noticed that when I pray for my family members, I am the one who changes. The Bible says in 1 Peter 5:7, “Cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you.” If you are anxious about this holiday season, cast your emotions onto God in prayer! He hears you, and He will answer because He loves you. How do I know? Because my responses are more grace-filled, I am more receptive to others, and my emotions are more balanced—because of God’s grace and mercy in answer to my prayers.

Remember: it starts in your mind with your emotions! Take some steps this season to move from surviving to thriving emotionally—and learn to enjoy the holidays with your family!

What are some ways you have learned to thrive emotionally during the holidays? 

Dealing with Dangerous Leadership

“Insecure leaders are dangerous leaders.” A friend shared this sentiment with me, and Dr. John C. Maxwell agrees that “…few things are worse than an insecure leader.” Insecure leaders break teams instead of building them and are extremely toxic, causing great organizations to be mediocre (or even terrible).

I recently worked for a manager who, due to her insecurities, tried to control every aspect of our work environment to the point of insanity. She refused to take the blame for any mistakes, rarely gave praise for work well done, and always sought to make those she managed feel like failures. During my last week there, she told my successor that I was terrible and that she did all the work when it came to my job. It was the most challenging work environment I have ever had–and I have worked in church leadership!

Working with insecure leaders is often incredibly draining physically, mentally, and emotionally. Unfortunately, it may not be possible to change your situation right now. So how do you work close to the fire without getting burned?

Firefighters by nokhoog_buchachon

  • Pray for your situation and for your insecure leaders. This should be your first resort, not your last. Prayer has helped me work with many insecure leaders, and God has answered prayers for strength to walk through those difficult times. And don’t forget to thank God for this trial! He is doing a great work in you through this situation, whether it seems like it or not! (Jeremiah 29:11) Like oxygen to a firefighter, prayer can give you a needed lift!
  • Detox from your environment as often as possible. Pull yourself away! For three years, it was necessary that I took regular lunches, mental health (sick) days, vacations, and time after work each day to mentally recover and physically rest my body, mind, and soul. You are not meant to live in a continual state of stress. Since it is the only body you have, care for it while you are stressed out. Relax as much as possible and even pamper yourself if you can.
  • Share your joys and frustrations with a friend. Each day, I shared my frustrations with close friends who prayed for me, listened to me, guided me when I thought I might lose my mind (and my job), and encouraged me to stay the course when the going got tough. This is especially important if you have a family; they deserves the best of you, not the rest of you. Leave your work worries outside of your sanctuary (home).

If you think you might actually BE an insecure leader, get some feedback from friends and coworkers. If they agree, then admit that you have a problem and find someone to help you. For deeper issues, try a counselor or therapist. If your insecurities concern your identity and leadership skills, a coach could be the right person to help you.

YOU have the tools to make a change, whether it is dealing with insecure leadership or moving out of insecurity and into freedom. 

Working with a dangerous, insecure leader? Need help taking the next steps? Click “Contact Me” at the top of this page and fill out the contact form. I’d love to have a free discovery call with you.