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Category Archives: Praying

When Life is Loud and You Can’t Hear God {Nourish Your Soul: Day 20}

Nourishing our souls is a great idea. Except when life is loud and our minds overwhelm with demands that don’t end and schedules that never let up. So today let’s think through some ways to get quiet and intentionally place ourselves in a position to hear from God and let Him do the nourishing.

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Just three tips for when you just don’t know how to shut up and listen for the only One Who can actually bring the nourishment you know you need.

1. Stop.¬†It takes time and strong intention, but just stopping what you’re doing for even five minutes is essential when it comes to nourishing your soul.

So stop right there. Stop the over-thinking, the second-guessing. Stop the self-doubt, the outside noise, the overhwhelmed lie that tells you it’s impossible to quiet your soul and rest, that you have too much to do.

Take a pen and some paper if you need to. Do a brain dump and write everything down that comes to your mind. Then hand it to God and ask Him to show up. Ask Him to quiet your mind so you can hear His whispers, feel His hand when it touches you.

2. Drop. Drop to your knees. Literally. Maybe even your face. Lay flat on the floor and remember.

Remember Who You’re listening for. He’s the King of the Universe, Maker of Life, the One Who thought this whole thing up — this living and breathing and being who you are. He is the One Who invented your dna, strung it together and put you into motion. And He whispers in quiet stillness and humble hearts.

3. Listen. Wait. Look. Keep watch for His hand. Turn your focus to the expectation of His whisper.

Pick up your Bible and turn to a Psalm or a chapter in John or maybe something that caught your ear from last time you listened. Maybe you have a devotional book or a blog you follow that keeps you on track with the study of God’s Word. Just pick up the Bible and listen for His voice right there in His Words.

Question for you: What would you add to this list? How do you find the quiet you need for nourishing your soul? Let’s talk in the comments or over at the Facebook page today.

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**We’ve been challenging ourselves to take care of our souls this month. Know someone who might need to find the quiet? Why not let them know about our challenge over here? I would be so grateful if you’d share it with them on Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest or Instagram or even through email. ūüôā

When Waiting is Part of the Finding {Nourish Your Soul: Day 9}

I wake up early because I have to. But lately I’ve been realizing my need to actually get up before that. (!!) Because there is a hole in my prayer life that needs mending, and I believe the only way to get it mended is to ask God to mend it and then wait for Him to show up.

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That word wait is such a strange one to me.

It’s not passive in its nature like being verbs are. In fact, to wait is an active verb by definition of active verbs. (Grammar nerds like me enjoy this stuff.)¬†But it’s meaning seems to imply not doing. Just. Waiting.

So how can we intentionally wait for God to show up and nourish our souls when the word itself means not doing anything about bringing forth whatever it is we are waiting for?

In Hebrew it can mean to wait or look eagerly for.

Could we then safely say that waiting on God is hope and expectation? Can we say it’s actually actively looking for God?

Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord. (Ps 27:14)

Oh, how I love what Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary says about this:

Wherever the believer is, he can find a way to the throne of grace by prayer. God calls us by his Spirit, by his word, by his worship, and by special providences, merciful and afflicting.

And this is why I wait. Because no matter where I am, no matter what time of day or night, because of God’s mercy, I can find a way to the throne of grace. And that, I know is where I find nourishment for my soul.

So I wake up and wait. At the throne of grace. For God to mend this hole in my prayer life. And I’m starting to think that maybe the waiting is part of the mending.

Question for you: Why do you think it’s so hard for people in general to wait?¬†Tell us in the comments.

**Are you new here? Why not jump in and nourish your soul this month? We would love for you to join us! Here’s what we’ve talked about so far . . .

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Day 1: Nourish Your Soul: A 31-Day Challenge

Day 2: How to Know When Your Soul is Hangry

Day 3: What to Do When You Know You Need Better Water

Day 4: How I Fed My Soul This Week

Day 5: What God Says About How to Be Happy

Day 6: How Playdates With God Can Feed Our Souls

Day 7: The Junk Food Called Comparison

Day 8: Even in the Fog

Like what you see here? Why not tell someone? Share it on Facebook. Or Twitter. Email it to a friend. I’d be ever so grateful. ūüôā

Anyway Worship

It had been a rough couple of weeks. No single major catastrophe, just a lot of little things nipping at my heels.

I was discouraged.  Feeling sorry for myself, really.

So when I entered worship in the gym that Sunday morning, I hoped God would see it from my perspective and join my pity party.

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He didn’t. Turns out, God doesn’t roll like that. In fact, He does things altogether differently.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise (Ps. 100:4).

If you want to know how to join God where He is, start thanking Him. If you want to know how to rest where He dwells, start singing His praise.

Sometimes it’s easy. Like¬†when¬†the sun¬†sets beautifully over the¬†corn crops down the road, and I can almost hear the earth as it shouts for joy to Creator God. Or when¬†I see His¬†hand working¬†in my children’s lives as they share Jesus with a friend.

Other times, though, it’s more difficult, this praising thing. When my kids are sick or a friend hurts my feelings. When my computer crashes, and I have writing deadlines to meet this week.¬†When the cats next door rip through the screen in my back porch, and I can’t¬†enjoy my¬†morning quiet time that¬†I’ve grown to love.

Even then,¬†God wants my praise. He doesn’t change His gate-entry procedure according to my circumstances because His goodness does not waver like my feelings do.

God is always good. He still deserves my praise.

And He knows that when I worship Him I will remember Who He is. 

Funny, because the converse is also true: when I remember Who He is, I can’t help but worship Him.

Worship the LORD with gladness (Ps. 100:1) . . .

True worship is that which is glad in Who God is, despite my feelings about where I am or what’s happening around me.

For the LORD is good and his love endures forever (Ps. 100:5).

No matter where I am. No matter what I feel.

I might not be¬†glad about my ripped screen. But the LORD is God. He’s my God.

I might be downright upset about not having a computer for a short time. But I am God’s.¬† A sheep in His pasture under His care.

And still I¬†can know God’s true presence. Even still, I can enter into His very place of dwelling when I choose to praise Him anyway.

 

(Twenty) Fourteen Words

It’s a new year.

Well, sort of.

I mean, it’s already January 23rd. And something in me knots all up when I write that out.

Because I’ve had a slow start on my goals. I was all set and ready to go with my three SMART goals for the year. (A cool acronym for setting reachable goals.) And my 14 words for 2014.

Oh wait. You don’t know about those, do you?

Probably because I haven’t written about them yet. (See above.)

So — I guess I better get started, eh?

Remember last year and the year before when I chose a word to focus on for the year? A lot of bloggers do it, so I joined in because I love the idea of having a certain theme all year.

So I started thinking about my 2014 word somewhere around the end of November. I prayed about it, too. And asked God if He could help me figure one out.

Some phrases came to mind, like . . . Love like Jesus. and Make the next right choice. 

No one word stuck out.

But this verse kept showing up in front of my face, and it seemed to encompass all those phrases. So I took the hint and chose a verse for the year instead of a word.

A verse, it just so happens, that has exactly 14 words. Fourteen words that come straight from God’s mouth. And it’s 2014. Perfect, right?

since we live

What a great focus, no?

A perfect way to jump into my goals for the year. Because, although I have prayed long and hard through these three ambitious intentions, I know I cannot accomplish even one unless I do it God’s way, with His strength, according to His Spirit.

So far this year, I have been on my knees every day at least once asking the Lord of my life to show me where to step.

Then I stand up and trust Him, and I take the next step.

Because it’s one thing to say I live by the Spirit. But it’s an entirely different thing to actually stand up and walk in it.

It’s a high call. Keep in step with the Spirit of God. In all truth, I know I don’t have it in me to do it on my own.

But that’s just the thing. I’m not doing it on my own.

Because God is alive in me. I live by the Spirit because I handed my life over to Jesus Christ a long time ago, and He promised His Spirit would give me His life.

This year, I want to go where God wants me. I want to step where He leads. When I sit with a friend who needs me to love her like Jesus. When the lady at Panera cuts in front of me at lunchtime. I want to keep. in. step. with the Spirit of Almighty God.

 

I want to keep up with His call. Make the choices He wants me to make. Love the people He gives me to love. Serve the way He wants me to serve.

And the only way I can do that is by giving up my everything and stepping where He shows me to place my feet.

I’m telling you here because I’m hoping you’ll help keep me accountable.

But there’s something else.

I wonder if maybe you’ll join me?¬†Join me in asking God’s Spirit to show us His steps every day? Join me in following and trusting as we do?

I’ll give you a few days to think about it. Let me know if you’re in, and I’ll hook you up with some ideas for a jumpstart, ok?

I truly believe that if we do it together, we will see God do amazing things in 2014. And, oh how I would to see that with you!

When Overwhelmed Paralyzes

The overwhelmed screams loudly as the crazy of the season catches up with me.Merry Christmas focus

I can’t shake it.

Even in the midst of a freed-up morning, I feel paralyzed by all I have to do.

I get my kids to school and return home to the dishwasher full of clean plates and bowls and silverware and the sink that overflows with their dirty counterparts. Where do I start? I ask myself emphatically and literally spin around in my kitchen hoping for a sign.

I have so much to do I don’t even know how to pick where to start.

It’s like trying to find the end of the Scotch tape roll. My mind spins, too.

But somehow even in the spinning, I hear a sort of whisper in the deep places where my thoughts form.

I remember the quiet Almighty God offers. I want the peace He gives.

I see my Bible on the table, but I don’t reach for it. Not yet.

I go straight to my knees instead. Face to the ground, and I bow before Almighty God Who thought up Christmas and knew about this very day before He even started time. He knew the crazy overwhelmed I would feel. The stress and the busy and the too-much-to-do list.

So right in the middle of the minutes I have to get something crossed off my list, I lay on the floor and tell God He is Lord. Lord of the whole earth. Lord of my life. I know He knows, but I need the reminding.

The loud overwhelmed¬†quiets as I ask the Lord of my life to show me what to do. Let me know how to do it. He¬†reminds me that this is¬†His¬†plan even today. It’s¬†His¬†hand that’s brought me to right here. ¬†His hand that’s pointed me straight into this season. Jesus Focus

Then right there — in the middle of¬†my¬†living room¬†floor — the Living God breathes air into the lungs of my soul, and He whispers away the paralysis. He reminds me Who He is as I exhale my desperation.

I get up off the floor and find my dishes still undone.

But their effect is quite different now.

No almost-swearing or hopeless burden of busyness. Somehow now I can think clearly.

No longer paralyzed by overwhelmed that had me frozen just minutes ago, I check my list and start on what’s easy. I notice a hope suddenly restored.

Maybe, just maybe, I’ll get something done today.

Do you feel paralyzed by the overwhelmed of life right now? Why not take three minutes to hand it over to the very God Who already knows?

Can I pray for you?

Almighty God, thank You for knowing already our stress. Thank You for the quiet You promised to bring even when it feels like we’re stuck in the spin-cycle of life and Christmas parties and shopping and crowds and laundry and life. Lord, I pray right now for my friend reading this. Will You let her know Your peace like she’s never known it before? Will You take his overwhelmed and turn it into hope? And, Lord, please don’t let any of us forget that You’ve got this. Every detail. In the Name of Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen

Those Four Days I Spent at a Blogging Conference

I flew through Washington Dulles on my way to Allume. The blogging conference in Greenville, South Carolina where 452 women came together last weekend to figure out how to collectively make God famous on the internet. In the world.

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I had an hour layover. So I found a turkey brie sandwich at a Cosi deli and sat down at my gate to eat it. I knew it was one of the last moments I would have alone for four days, so I took some time to breathe and think through my expectations for the weekend.

Then I realized I had no idea what to expect, except for one thing. I fully expected to be overwhelmed. And, really, how does one prepare herself for overwhelmed? So I gave up the thinking-through and struck up a conversation with the woman next to me.

As soon as I got there, my expectations became reality.

Seriously. Over. Whelmed.

It started when my roommate and I rode the elevator with NY Times bestselling author Melanie Shankle and asked her name. (Um, duh! Melanie Shankle. You know, the lady that will speak tomorrow morning? The one whose book you adored?!?)

It came with me to the first meetup, with all the new people, where everyone and everyone else was better at doing what I’m usually so good at. I introduced myself to Tricia Goyer, the amazing author of more that 35 books and asked her name too. (Hello, Bria! Have you looked at any Twitter picture? Ever?)

And, yes, the overwhelmed followed me into dinner that first night. That’s when the awesome Barefoot Mel so graciously saw what must have been the picture of a holy-cow-this- is-a-lot-of-women-and-what-the-heck-am-I-doing-here scream. (Seriously, I felt a little bit like crawling into a corner and rocking while sucking my thumb.) She gave me a hug and asked me to sit with her and her friends.

I felt a little bit like Nemo. I was really ok, but at the same time terrified. Wanting to sit back and soak it all in, but still wanting to be at the forefront with all the famous people I’d already seen. I didn’t want to see them as famous, I wanted to see them as fellow Jesus-chasers. I wasn’t there to compete. But it was hard to remember.

My thoughts were loud. Super duper loud. And crazy. Ann Voskamp spoke at dinner that night, and I loved what God had her say, but I felt like His voice was a distant echo bouncing off all the loud that was in my heart.

So I found the prayer room after dinner. A big dimly lit, softly music-ed room (did I just make that word up? I think I just made that word up!) full of godly women who wanted to be Jesus with shoes on for those of us who might want to find respite there throughout the weekend.

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God gave me a beautiful new friend who asked if she could pray with me. I said yes.

We prayed for God’s voice to speak. Prayed for clarity of purpose. Then I grabbed my prayer journal and wrote these words:

Dear Lord,

The noise is big. I want to hear You. Please help me hear You. And help me obey.

Amen.

And then I heard God speak.

Okay, not really like that. But kind of.

Three times last weekend, God gave me specific answers I had asked for. Three no-doubt-about-it times He let me know He wants me all-in. He used three different people (two agents, one speaker) to assure me and to prod me and to tell me to get over it and just do it. Get the word out about Him and the amazing life He wants us to live.

Just. Write. Bria.

Quit worrying about screwing up your motives. Or your kids. Trust that He won’t let you. Trust Him to keep you on track. And just do what God has given you to do. Take the next step. Write the next word. Publish the next post. Love the person right in front of you. Just show them Jesus.

He reminded me that first morning in South Carolina, Greenville Hyatt, room 545’s shower, why I was there. It had nothing to do with meeting famous people or being less than or more of a writer or a networker or even a follower of Jesus Christ.

I was there because He ordained it.

God wanted me there. So I was there.

He gave me people to meet. Women to befriend. Bloggers to love.

And he clarified my purpose in writing what I do. He gave me words of assurance in moments at lunch. At a breakout session. And lunch the next day.

So today I have purpose I hadn’t realized I had. I have so much to tell you about those clarifying words He spoke ever so clearly. But I’m pushing 850 words here, and I want you to come back. ūüėČ So I promise I’ll tell you. Just not quite yet.

Have you ever felt like God gave you an answer you’d been waiting to hear? Do you think I’m crazy?

In Honor of M.D. Robinson and To The Praise of God

I last saw my grandpa almost two years ago. I would be leaving for Germany soon, and I really wanted to see him before I left. He’d had a stroke not long before, and God had done something inside his heart that made him turn to Him and follow Him. Even though he could no longer walk.

I needed to see him before I went. Because I wanted to tell him how I’d prayed for all those years. Prayed he would know Jesus. Prayed he would know His undeserved grace that looks beyond all the crap and sees the adoration of His love — even Grandpa. Even me.

But my grandpa was two flights and about two thousand miles away. It wasn’t in the budget to buy me a plane ticket before moving across the world.

So I prayed.

Two days later, God gave me an editing job in the form of a friend’s book that would pay for a flight to California. A trip to see my grandpa in person.

A gift from God.

My grandpa passed away two days ago. Somehow I’d thought he might live forever in that bed. Even though I knew he wouldn’t.

I haven’t seen him in almost two years, but I already miss him terribly. He was an amazing man full of strength and courage. He taught me so much about being confident and knowing what I want and knowing what’s important and loving life. He held my hand while I cried at the side of my cousin’s grave six years ago. That big, tall man held my hand and hugged me and told me he loved me. And I will never forget him.

I wrote what follows that week I was there with him two years ago. I wrote it as a sort of praise offering to God. To thank Him for the heart-change I got to see in my grandpa that week. To praise Him for the gift of that time with him before I moved across the world with my family.

Today, I offer it again. In honor of my grandpa. In honor of my gratitude to God because I know where Grandpa is right now.

Grandpa and me

I sit in awe as he ponders life from the bed he lays in.¬† A stroke put him here, and it’s not been easy.¬† Unyielding, in fact.

For the breaking of a man is never painless.  And the breaking of this man, especially.

I prayed for him as a schoolgirl who wanted to know she would see her grandpa in heaven someday.  The prayers never stopped.  Thirty some years I prayed for his spirit, for his faith in Jesus Christ.  Many of those years I wondered, not knowing, only hoping.

But praying just the same.

I sit with him now and marvel at his spirit.  The faith that God has sparked in him.  The depth of genuine sincerity with which he now expresses his care about the deep things of life and the searching of the soul.

I love this man so dearly.

And I catch myself surprised at God’s very real answer to my thirty-year prayer.

Thank you, God!

That Almighty Maker of Men and Healer of Broken would hear my cries and finally answer simply stuns me.  I am honored to know this God.  I am honored to know this man.  And now they know each other.

A simple answer to the simple but long-lasting prayer of my heart inspires a certain praise in my soul that will quite literally last much longer than the 30-years from which it came.

From the depths of my being, my soul cries out astounded gratitude.  But the only three words I can get my mouth to form are quite simply

Thank You, God!

The Call to Stay Small

I hadn’t planned it to be this way. But it seems I have for the most part taken the summer off from this cyber place. As it turned out, adjusting to life here in the land of excessive ease and beautiful muffins required more than I’d planned for. So I left the writing in this place take a sort of backseat while I loved on my kids and helped them re-acquaint themselves with friends and grandparents and the new kittens that live next door.

All the while, I’ve been praying about this space right here. The one I call home when I turn on my computer. Seeking God’s advice about where He might want it to go. How He might want to use it to help make Himself famous.

And I’ve been trying to figure out how to return. When to do it. What to write to re-introduce my writing, God’s prompting in my heart, the dreams I have for this small place I call home here in cyberland.

I mean, I haven’t written here in more than a month. It’s time to return.

So today when I saw Lisa-Jo’s 5-minute-Friday prompt word, it seemed like a perfect place to jump back in. I’ll write more next week, but today, I ask you to bear with me as I contemplate SMALL, in (a little more than) five small minutes.

Go:

I thought I wanted to be big. So I started this blog. Started writing and thinking and dreaming all big.

I chased dreams for the sake of their bigness, thinking huge and fame and glory.

But God wanted me small. So He could prove Himself big. He wanted to use me in small ways.

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I called it trying to make Him famous. And really that’s what I wanted. His glory. His Kingdom.¬†Only by way of me.

I wanted to be a big part of His glory. He just wanted me to take the next small step.

He wanted to keep me small so I’d keep looking to Him.

I wanted to be like the famous bloggers who’ve made it big. The ones with the big platform and all the friends and the thousands of commenters every week.

Then it occurred to me I’d not really asked God. What was it He saw as big for me? What kinds of big things could I do.

So I started asking Him daily. On my face praying.

And I found out what He wanted. What He wants. For me. For my blog. For my every ounce of everything I do in the name of His fame and His glory.

Whether through a post on my blog or a conversation with the Walmart cashier.

He wants me small so I can show off His big.

He wants nothing more from me than to remember that He’s the One worth all the fame. He wants me to take the next step, however small it might be. And He wants me to do it really, really well.

Small blog? Do it well.

Tiny platform? Use it for Him.

Two commenters? Love them like He does.

He wants me to show Him to anyone. Everyone. By way of whoever He might put in my path.

To let my smallness point to Him in whatever ways He chooses.

STOP

 

*Over the next few weeks, you might notice some changes around here. Some will be big. Others will be small. But each one will be intentional. The main difference will be the focus of my writing. I want to do it well. I want to love you well. I want to encourage you and cheer you towards Jesus and the real life He gives. Might I ask you to pray? For this new focus. That God will use my small words for His huge fame. To encourage and love and help everyone who visits to live more fully.

Thank you so much!

See you next week.

Bria

 

In Which I Confess I’ve Not Yet Found My Footing

I wake up around 9am. It’s Thursday, July 4th, and I am home in my bed in Ohio.

A year has passed since my family and I spent our first holiday away from the normal of family surrounding us, cooking out with friends, watching fireworks, grilling hot dogs, eating watermelon and red-white-and-blue Jell-o molds.

It was on a Wednesday last year. My husband had to work. Because, strangely enough, Germans don’t call the 4th of July a holiday. They just treat it like any other day.

I felt a bit lost last year in the newness of that strange-to-us place, celebrating the birthday of my homeland from the other side of  the ocean.

But that pushed me into a plan. We made the most of our Americanness and celebrated with paper-made fireworks displays and a parade in our tiny German living room.

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Somehow, though, I feel lost this year too. Even though I am now safely Stateside. And the 4th of July has now passed in all its glory. Fireworks, friends, bbq’s and all.

It’s not that I don’t want to be here. I do.

I am so happy to be home. Continually amazed at the growth I’ve been able to see in both of my kids. Deep-in-my-heart encouraged by the mere gathering I get to do with other Jesus-followers now on a weekly basis. Sleeping on my own long-lost pillow in my very comfy king-sized bed.

I do want to be here. Right here at home.

But something is amiss. I can’t seem to find my footing. Can’t grab hold of the comfort and relief I thought I would feel the minute we stepped back into our home. Or at least by now, a whole month later.

We go shopping for a few things, and it hits me just how grumpy I am. How unsettled I still feel.

And I realize I am angry.

Angry at myself for taking so long to re-enter life here.

I try to figure the depth of the issues. The anger. The grumpy. I can think of only one solution.

The one I am fairly sure will not bring instant relief.

I pray.

I go back to this morning, and every one of the last 71 mornings, when I laid on my face and begged God to help me remember He’s Who is in charge. Plead with Him to help me trust His ways again today. Tell Him again I will follow if He will lead.

It’s become more than habit for me. More than just discipline.

Laying myself out before the God of my life has become my foundation.

The only piece of Rock my feet can seem to find. The only solid piece of anything from which I can find enough balance to even sort of stand up in this midst of the unexpected wobbling caused by this whole re-entry thing.

It sometimes feels like the only place that hasn’t changed since walking back into life over here is the laying on my face, wholeheartedly confessing my absolute need for God to walk me through the day that awaits me on other side of my bedroom door.

So many of you ask “Are you all settled in?” I love seeing you. And chatting. And hugging you.

I want to say “yes! We are so glad to be back. I so badly want to tell you how our lives are changed forever. I want to invite you over to my completely settled home, free of all the clutter we threw out after our year of not needing any of it.

But the truth – oh the truth — holds me back.

Because I am nowhere near being settled. My heart is stuck somewhere between Bayreuth, Germany and Northeast Ohio. Iceland, perhaps?

And I feel like a total Drama Queen for it.

Because, really, isn’t a year long enough? Isn’t twelve months an ample amount of time for unsettled and moving and figuring out how to be and who to be? Honestly, nobody wants to hear more drama.

Not even me.

So here is where I tell you how dear you are to me. And I ask you for even more grace than you all have already given as I figure out how to be me, all changed and upgraded by the uncomfortable and awesome or our year abroad.

In the meantime, I will keep waiting for the God of all I am and all I know to show up and point me in the way I should go.

 

 

 

 

A Good Friday Thank You Note

Dear Jesus,

I just want to say… thank You for today.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA¬†OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA¬†OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI love you.

Always,

Bria