Help Me, God!

Help me God

Help me, God!

I am listening, child

My simple cry

I am here with you

My hope-filled words

I keep my promises

Humble

I am your strength

Honest

I know your heart

Healing

I am your healer

What more can I say?

No lengthy prayer required

Not trying to impress

I am pleased with you, my creation

Just leaning in to the Savior

My ear is attuned to your prayer

With my heart’s cry

I know your heart

Help me, God!

I am your helper

 

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.” Psalm 91:14-15

Go and Be With My People

My health status is in a day-to-day flux. Yesterday was good. I woke up with energy to make my family breakfast. I felt well enough to go out to lunch with my husband. Throw in a couple of loads of laundry, and it was a good day.

Today? Today is different. My alarm went off in time to get ready for church. “I am teaching Sunday school tomorrow morning,” I declared to my family the night before. “Let’s set our alarms so we make sure we are there early so I can get ready for my class.” Laying my plans out there without doubt of the day to come.

Sunday morning came, my alarm sounded. My energy low. Fatigue high. The battle in my mind began. Do I stay home? Do I go and not teach Sunday school? Do I go and try to teach? The kids are 4 and 5 years old and full of energy. The lesson will include games and projects requiring a fully engaged and healthy leader. God…is that me today? Can I really do this today?

I feel the pull….Go and be with my people.

But, God, I am so tired…

Go and be with my people.

But, God, they are preschoolers…

Go and be with my people.

But, God, I am having difficulty standing up today.

Go and be with my people.

But, God…

Go and be with my people.

Walking into church, I am greeted by a warm, familiar face who knows my physical and emotional battle. She knows because just days prior she was in the women’s group at church where each woman courageously shared a current struggle they are facing. Not the usual, “Hi, I am Lisa, I have gone to church here for 11 years. I have a husband, 2 kids and 2 cats…” No, none of that surface level stuff. No, more like, “I am Lisa. I have struggled with anxiety, am currently struggling with depression and am in the process of testing for a kidney transplant.” How’s that for real? Woman after woman shared hard things. Woman after woman cried. Woman after woman opened up their hearts. And, woman after woman loved on the one next to them. Go and be with my people.

After the hug and encouragement from the saint who greeted me, I headed up the stairs to my classroom. My 13-year-old daughter, also my teaching assistant, rushed up the stairs to see what she could do to help in the classroom. Scanning the lesson, she determined which parts of the lesson she would lead. Choosing the parts which require action and preparation, she relieved my concerns. Go and be with my people.

Then come the kids. One by one, they entered the classroom, each flashing me a smile, some offering a hug as well. The delightful energy and happy chatter spread to my soul. One by one they took off their shoes and became comfortable in our little classroom. I watched the kids build with blocks. I laughed at the funny greetings they gave each other. I marveled at how tall they were becoming. Go and be with my people.

Time to sit down in our circle for prayer and the Bible lesson. “First of all, I need to tell you guys, I am just not feeling well this morning,” I share with the 4 and 5 year olds. A couple sets of concerned eyes met mine.

One little one in particular looked up at me in a very solemn way, “Teacher, can I pray for you?” Others joined in, “Yes, I want to pray for my teacher, too.”

One by one, they offer their prayers of thanksgiving and their requests. I hear, “Thank you, God for my teacher. Please help her feel better today. Please heal her, God. Thank you for healing my teacher, God. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”

My eyes are dripping now. My heart is bursting out of my chest. These humble, faith-filled prayers are the culmination of what my heart needed this morning. Go and be with my people. 

church

I am aware that some of you reading this have not had this experience at church with God’s people. I share this to encourage you to keep searching. There are so many churches. But, also, you will not find this type of fellowship unless you take the risk yourself to open up and allow God’s people in…to know you, to encourage you, to love you. Go and be with God’s people.

 

From Pity to Gratitude

Groggy, quiet, and contemplative I enter my prayer closet this morning. Holding my hot coffee in one hand, I open the closet door with the other hand. Upon opening the door, I am filled with defeat from a night of tossing and turning with doubt and hopelessness.  Yet at the same time, I remember Hopeful Expectation, the promise the Lord keeps whispering.

tunnel opening

I enter the closet, overcome with envy, self-pity, and discouragement. Envy over the moms who have children that can get themselves ready in the morning. Envy over the children who got ideal starts in this world. Envy over kids who are able to hold two thoughts in their minds and complete those tasks. Pity for myself for the elaborate measures I take to help my kids follow simple routines. Discouragement over the lack of progress seen.

Stepping into the closet and then plopping down on my pillow, I begin my seeking. Matthew 7: 7, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”  

I come filled with ugliness, but seek the Beautiful One. I come filled with doubt, but seek the One filled with answers. I come full of myself  but leave filled with His Spirit.

As I begin my study and prayer time, I am reminded of how Jesus taught the disciples to pray in Matthew 6:

This, then, is how you should pray:

‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
 on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
 And forgive us our debts,
 as we also have forgiven our debtors.
 And lead us not into temptation,
 but deliver us from the evil one.’

 

I remember my Father in heaven who leans in to listen to me, who meets me there before I even awake. I remember my need for Him and His ability alone to meet my daily needs. I remember His heart to forgive me (even my stinking pity party) and my need to forgive all those around me. I remember to seek Him to deliver me away from the temptation of self-pity.

This morning, He changed my pity into gratitude. This morning, I entered my time with the Lord covered with stains. This morning, I left my time time with the Lord with one last whisper, “Lord, that I’d stay connected to you all day today, that this wouldn’t be the end. That it would just be the beginning of our day together.”

Thank you, Lord, for these children that keep me at Your feet…keep me coming back to You. Keep me seeking You for wisdom, peace, encouragement, and hope. Amen.

You Are the God Who Sees Me

IMG_1155She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” Genesis 16:13

I can only imagine how Hagar must have been feeling. Most are familiar with the story of how Abraham and Sarah took matters into their own hands when they were desperate to have a child. They had been given a promise from the Lord. He had promised they would have numerous descendants. But, still, Sarah remained barren.

We can think about and put ourselves in Sarah’s shoes. Waiting on a promise to unfold. If you have been a follower of Jesus for any time, you have likely had times of waiting. You also may be familiar with the sting of taking matters into your own hands and not waiting on God’s promise and timing to unfold.

But, can we stop and think about Hagar? Hagar was the servant of Sarah, who became the instrument in which Sarah and Abraham’s plan apart from God, took place.

It seems that Hagar could have fled. She could have up and left the area when approached with the idea of bearing Abraham’s child in lieu of his wife, Sarah. She may have been able to try to talk some sense into Sarah by reminding her of God’s goodness, faithfulness, and unwaivering promises. But, she partook in the human-made plan to make Sarah and Abraham parents.

Hagar went along with the plan until the situation became unbearable. Sarah began mistreating her. I can imagine the bitterness Sarah would feel toward Hagar. And, I can imagine the pain, isolation, and loneliness Hagar would feel.

The Lord didn’t allow Hagar to stay secluded in her pain. He sent an angel for her. The angel spoke direction to her and that is when Hagar knew the Lord saw her. Hagar declared, “You are the God who sees me.” What a comfort to know that God sees us. We see so clearly how the Lord was with and was leading Abraham. But in chapter 16 of Genesis, we see that none were forgotten. Hagar was not forgotten.

I pray for times like these in the lives of my children. When they are struck back by God’s presence. When they have no doubt that the Lord sees them.

My oldest daughter recently became separated from our family while on vacation. We were visiting Cannon Beach in Oregon, which is a bustling little town throughout the summer. There were 9 of us walking through the town in search of a place to eat dinner. Having made the mistake of heading into town without a plan at prime dinner time, we were faced with overcrowded restaurants with long waits. The adults all paused in our search to talk about where we would go next. After deciding on our next destination, we headed off.

Making our way through the overcrowded streets, our group of 9 seemed to kind of break off from one cohesive group to 3 smaller groups. After several blocks, I took inventory and noticed I could not see Mikayla, our 12 year old. “Jeff, do you have Mikayla up there with you?”

“No, I think she’s in the back group.”

“Dave, is Mikayla back there with you?”

“No.”

“Jeff, where is Mikayla?” panic filling my voice. Even retelling this story is causing my heart to beat faster and my whole body to tense. There is nothing like not knowing where your child is. The hunger and fatigue I had felt a moment prior, gave way to a huge adrenaline rush, as I pushed back toward the crowd, following the path we had just taken.

When is the last time I saw her? Had she mentioned wanting to look in a particular shop? What color was her shirt? Does someone have her?

Frantically calling her name, scanning the sidewalks on either side as I walked, I had laser focus. I would not stop until I found her.

Lord, help me. Be with her. Keep her safe. Lead me to her. 

Immediately after muttering that short prayer, the phone in my hand began to vibrate. On the caller identification screen it read British Columbia. Seriously a telemarketer is calling right now? I couldn’t take my eyes off the sidewalks. But, I glanced down one more time, and realized maybe it was someone calling me about Mikayla. “Hello! Hello? Hello?”

I look up one more time, turning my head to look down a side street and there she was. Oh, there she was! My girl! We ran toward each other and embraced in the middle of the road, crying and holding each other tighter.

We both cried on each other’s shoulders. “I just prayed,” I told her.

“Me, too. As the phone was ringing, I prayed.”

“Was that you calling me?”

“Yes. So many people passed me by as I sat there crying. But one older couple stopped and asked if I needed help. They sat down with me and gave me their phone to use.”

“Where are they? I need to thank them.”

We both looked back at where Mikayla had come from. “Is that them?” I asked.

“No. Mom, I don’t seem them anywhere.”

They were gone. I so wanted to thank them.

Suddenly, a supernatural chill came over my body as I pondered the thought that the Lord had sent angels. Remembering Mikayla’s words that “everyone else just passed me by, but one couple stopped to help”. This happened just as I was communicating with the Lord.

Angels.

Oh God, with the hundreds upon thousands of people walking around this town, you saw  us. You heard the prayer uttered amongst the chaos. And, you saw us.

Only God could change anxiety over a lost child to joy over knowing the All Powerful, Almighty, Sovereign King of the Universe sees you and your little family.

Thank you, Lord for keeping my girl safe. Thank you for leading me right to her. Thank you for seeing us. Thank you for never leaving us. Thank you for revealing yourself to my child in her time of need. 

Just as Hagar needed the reassurance that she was not forgotten, when we seek the Lord, He will show us that we are seen and remembered by Him.

Dear one, you are seen. You are loved. You are cherished by your Heavenly Father. Seek Him. 

IMG_1156

 

A Girl and Her Purple Guitar

She’s relentless.

“Can I just look on Craigslist? Please, mom?”

“Yes, you may LOOOOK. Did I say we are buying? No. We are looking. Your sister just turned 12 and she just got a guitar. You are learning piano and that keeps you busy. You may look and see what’s on Craigslist, but we are NOT buying a guitar for you right now.” My long, drawn out explanation was in one ear, and you know the rest.

Our 9-year-old, Abby, was already entranced in the beautiful instruments she saw flash on the computer screen. “Oh, mom! Look at this one! It’s so beautiful!” Her eyes lit up and she clapped her hands together with excitement.

“Yes, that is really nice,” I say while passing by on the way back to the oven to check on dinner. “But, again, we are not buying one.”

After dinner the daunting topic returns. “When can I get one, you guys? I have enough money. I want a guitar so bad! There’s this one that has numbers on the top. It’s for a little kid. I don’t want that one. But, there’s this other one. It’s purple and really shiny. I would love to have a purple guitar.”

“Let’s just wait. You just started talking about guitars a few days ago. I am sure your sister will let you borrow hers when she’s not using it. Besides, I know you don’t believe this, but it’s actually really good for us to have to wait for things.”

Again, my words were tuned out while the daydreaming began.

Abby big guitar

Days passed and this pattern continued. It seemed that an hour couldn’t pass without the word, guitar, entering into the conversation. No longer was it just guitar. Now, she was very specific, purple guitar. She was set on getting a purple guitar.

She’s relentless.

And, I am exasperated.

Finally, it got to where we had to ban the word, guitar.

“No more. We will tell you when we think it’s time to buy one of those, those, those instruments. But, until then, no more talk about gui…those instruments!”

She walked away defeated and I walked away feeling uncertain.

Hasn’t my prayer every day this week been for my girls to draw closer to the Lord? Haven’t I been praying for them to find their own ways to connect with God, apart from me or anyone else? Haven’t I played a large part in instilling a love for music in my girls? Constantly having music playing? Taking them to music class weekly? Insisting they practice the piano?

The next day, in my prayer closet, I realize, I have not even prayed about this purple guitar. It’s been a daily topic. A regular source of contention in our home, but not once did I seek God for wisdom. I answered, “no” before ever bringing it before the Father.

“Lord, you know her desire. But, Lord, I don’t want to spoil my kids. I want them to know how to wait. But, Lord, she loves music. She loves to worship and talk about your love. Please, Lord, give us your wisdom. Give us your heart and your eyes to see what this desire of hers is really all about. And, Lord, if it’s your will that she gets a guitar, please make it clear to us.”

Finally, the peace I needed, rather than the constant irritation around the subject. I still didn’t have an answer but I knew that I was open to what the Lord wanted and wasn’t going into this decision alone.

Towards the end of her piano lesson, I hear the topic come up again.

“Do you know how to play the guitar? I really want a guitar. Mikayla got one. But, my mom won’t let me get one.” I hear her spill it all out to her beloved piano teacher, Lindsey.

Talking from the other room continues, until Abby runs into where I am, breathless and wide eyed. “Can I mom? Please, mom? Come on, mom, please?”

Lindsey, seeing my confusion, explains, “I was just telling Abby about my guitar. I just got a new one last week. I have my old guitar at home. If my sister doesn’t want it, it’s all yours!”

“Really? You just happen to have a guitar at home? Well, it sounds like you need to check with your sister. And, I will need to check with my husband. But, it sounds like it may be a possibility.”

“Oh, just out of curiosity, what color is the guitar?”

“Oh yeah, it’s purple.”

Really, God? I just prayed this morning. I finally just handed this one over to you. Here you are bringing the answer right here to us. We didn’t have to search online and wonder what your plan was. No, you walked that purple guitar right on into our house!

Abby guitar

Now, of course I have no idea if Abby will ever really learn to play the guitar. I don’t know if this is a phase or if she’ll be a lifelong guitarists. I don’t know. And, I don’t have to figure that out. What I do know is that when left on my own, I had anxiety in my heart regarding what to do. I handed it over to the Lord, was flooded with peace, and He provided His answer.

A purple guitar brought right to our doorstep.

Once again, He proved to me:

He knows and cares about every detail of my life.

He desires for me to come to Him with everything.

He loves me.

 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Matthew 10:30-31

 

I Will Seek You in the Morning

My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord;
In the morning I will direct it to You,
And I will look up. Psalm 5:3

FullSizeRender 5

Morning is a gift from the Lord. To wake up once again, open my eyes, breathe another breath, stretch out my limbs, and begin another day, is a gift. How often do I forget to enjoy this gift of time given to me by the Lord? How often do I just go into automatic mode, put my head down, go about my morning routine, barreling through? But, when the girls are still sleeping, the house is completely peaceful…this…this is the time the Lord has given me to use. No distractions. No stimulation. Just time for me to hear from Him and be still.

Teaching the pre-K Sunday school class at church leaves me tired and happy. The goal each class is to gain their attention and hold it long enough to teach and encourage them in even the smallest of ways.

The cheerful chatter fills the tiny room. Girls reconnecting after a long week apart. Boys knocking blocks to the ground. The hugs. The sharing of toys. The whispers between friends. The excitement dwindles slightly and I sense my opportunity is nearing. I do some crazy song and dance to get their eyes and ears to turn my way. Got it! Okay, here we go! Let’s pray! Short, sweet prayer, don’t want to lose their attention now. Jump into the Bible lesson, while I still have the majority of them looking in my direction.

Eager hands are raised to share their thoughts about the Bible lesson. Some have questions, both on topic and off topic. Many want to share what they know about Jesus and the Bible. All come with prayer requests.

Entering distracted, but now fully engaged in learning the Word, the 4 and 5 year olds  soak up all the knowledge. Although challenging to gain their attention, once they become engaged in God’s word, they are captivated.

After pouring my coffee, my automatic, mindless routine is coming to an end and I sense the Lord calling me. Beckoning me to turn my heart and mind to Him. Asking for my attention.

How do you want me to spend this quiet, Lord?

In My presence.

Seeking Me.

Receiving from Me.

Growing in Me. 

Just like the distracted preschoolers, my attention isn’t automatic. I see the distractions around me. My eyes focus all around the house. But, the One who knows what I need to start my day off prepared for the Spiritual battle that awaits, doesn’t stop calling to me.

Once I open my Bible, close my eyes in prayer, or even just simply utter the first words to the Lord for the morning, I am hooked. Just like the preschoolers. I want more. He’s got my attention. My thirst is quenched. My dry bones are filling with life.

Is it dark where you are? Are you full of dread for the upcoming day? Is each day leaving you drained and empty?

Can you give Him your morning? Your first moments awake? Can you look to the sky, above your own situation, to Someone greater? Someone who holds the answers? Holds the peace you seek?

Someone who is calling to you.cherry blossom

 

 

I Am Yours

Backing up against me, she regained her strength. Her face flushed with the question she was asked.

In certain situations, our youngest daughter needs a little reassurance. Don’t we all? When she was younger, it meant squirming, clamming up, and backing her body into mine, disappearing into my arms. Some level of discomfort would hit her, and rather than stepping forward or remaining where she was, she backed into the arms of one who loves her so much, one who offers protection, one whose shadow envelops her small frame.

abby shadow

Be still, and know that I am God.

An author/blogger I follow, Emily P. Freeman, writes about the importance of just being still. She recommends setting a timer. There aren’t really any other rules for this practice, and I am intentionally not creating any rules for it. I am, however, sticking to Emily’s idea of setting a timer for 5 minutes and whenever my brain kicks in during that time period, I take a deep breath and exhale, as if I am blowing the thoughts out to God.

I have spent my five minutes in my prayer closet, the couch, our office, my bed, and out on my walk. It’s my 5 minutes of  just being in the Lord’s presence. Not praying. Not talking. Not reading. Not listening to anything or anyone. Just being. My favorite image during this 5 minutes is one of being in His shadow. His position is above me. Bigger than me. And, my position is close. Smaller. Lower.  So close. So welcomed. So loved.

When my mind wanders (even in the 5 minutes, my mind wanders), I mediate a short phrase, like, “I am yours” or “I am under you”, or “You are over me”, or “I am in your shadow”. Those short phrases remind me of what this time is, a time to remember my smallness and His bigness.

shadow

Just like our youngest daughter, seeking the grounding, stabilizing, protection I offer her in the midst of an uncertain time. This time just being with my creator fills me with the certainty I need. The incredible peace of knowing that even on this crazy earth which seems so unpredictable at times and downright scary, I am His.

His shadow envelops me.

My security is found in Him.

My peace is provided by Him.

I am yours, Lord. And, you…You are mine.

Ephesians 51 says, be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and self professed to God.

 Lord, I love my time with you. But, I especially love to stop, back up, and be in your presence. Gaining my strength, remembering my place. I’m your dearly loved child, always walking with you. Amen.