Stones and Boulders and Scary Prayers

Stones and Boulders and Scary Prayers

 Stones before battle. I’ve never noticed the order before, but there’s something there, don’t you think? He does the miracle, makes the impossible possible, parts the Jordan. But we don’t just sit and chill. We battle. We fight–but not in our strength, in His! We battle on our knees and with splayed Bibles, with tears and joy.

And what did Joshua tell God’s children, his warriors, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.”

If we never had a Jordan to cross, never had the impossible before us, never faced adversity, would we get to see the fullness of God’s mighty hand? I know it was never God’s plan for us to experience pain, but doesn’t our Jordan give us a chance to see God dry up the mighty river?

This is me telling you there are plenty of times that I’m like, “Really, I think I’ll just sit here on the side of this river today, God. I’m just exhausted. I want to see you do the impossible. But I know there’s a battle on the other side, and I’m bone-tired.”
And this is why we need the stones. We need the stones to be our push, our steady foundation, our cornerstone.

That prayer you’ve been afraid to pray–let’s pray it today. The one that scares you. The Only God prayer–that’s the one for today.

A friend emailed me right after we got E’s referral and told me she was praying E was “home before the honeycrisps.” I smiled so big when I read her prayer. One–because she knows my love for honeycrisps. And two–because she had the courage to pray such a specific prayer. When I first read it, I thought, “There’s no way. No way it could go that quickly.” And then another friend told me she was praying for six months. Six months to have E home. And, again, I loved the specific prayer she was praying, but it’s impossible. But over the past few days I’ve been praying their prayers–the prayers I was too afraid to pray.

And the deal is–God is sovereign and His timing is perfect. No matter when and how He chooses to move, I know He is faithful. I know He is good. I know these things because I have my stones. I can see His faithfulness time and time again, through dark days and joy-filled days. But I love what Joshua said to the people before they crossed the Jordan, “Here is how you shall know that the living God is among you . . . .” Praying scary prayers gives me a chance to see the Living God. Praying scary prayers gets me on my knees for battle.

If you were to look back in my writing from the past couple years, you would notice there are very few posts about our adoption. Certainly not because I wasn’t thinking about it, but because I was so weary and so discouraged. I was barely hanging on, and, really, I was only hanging on because there were others lifting my arms. The whole stones thing has become a running commentary for Heather and me. I just went back to look at my text thread with her, and for the first time I realized these texts took place hours before we found out about our daughter. These texts started at 7:48 AM. We got the call about E at 3:45 that afternoon. Only God.



So, if you should happen to see boulders in a yard in Memphis and a yard in Ocala, just know . . . Only God. Let’s pray the scary prayer today. Let’s be ready to battle on our knees. The Living God is among us.

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From the Back Seat

From the Back Seat

My week has been one covered in germs and Lysol and stuff I won’t even type because I love you too much for that. Four of us had a vicious stomach bug that wiped us out, and while sweet Peach managed to miss the stomach stuff she acquired a double ear infection and a bad case of bronchiolitis. This afternoon I had to take her back to the pediatrician so he could determine if she needed a breathing treatment. On the way, Lyd asked if we could puh-lease get home before Daddy would because she needed to finish decorating the table. I remembered on our way out the door I had seen that she had already set the table for dinner and added a few “decorations” to Matt’s spot at the table. I grinned in the rear-view mirror and told her that while I wasn’t sure we would make it home before Daddy I loved her heart. “That’s a Jesus-thing you’re doing, Lulu,” I told her, “setting a place for someone, inviting people to your table, making them feel loved and wanted.” She piped up from the backseat, “Mom! Do you think that’s my purpose?!” By now my eyes were smarting, and I rather enthusiastically responded, “Yes! Yes, I think this is your purpose, sweet girl! To make a safe place for people to feel loved and honored and welcome.”

There in the middle of a week that has felt like one big blur of germ-infested nothingness and on the way to a second doctor’s appointment in 24 hours, God gave me a gift from the back seat of my minivan. I drifted back to a conversation Matt and I had with Lyd in the middle of teeth brushing and band-aid applying last night where she asked us how a person knows the purpose God has for her. And I thought of one of the verses I added to my prayer journal recently, Deuteronomy 6:4-9:

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Later in Matthew 22 Jesus would give the same command to love God with all our heart, soul and mind and remind them of the second commandment which is like it, “to love thy neighbor as thyself.”

There in all our sickness and weariness, God gave me a beautiful gift–the opportunity to see the reverberations of a thousand prayers echo forth from the backseat. That my daughter would know her Creator has a purpose for every breath she takes, every word she speaks, every beautiful, messy soul she invites to her table. 

For My Youngest

For My Youngest

Edits 0004You know those cute little stickers for each month of your baby’s first year, the ones you’re supposed to stick to a onesie and click a cute pic so you can look back and see your child’s growth? Yeah, Georgia will be seven months this weekend, and I’ve done exactly one of those. And it was three weeks late. I would tell you these are third child problems, but, truth be told, I got maybe two or three of my older girls during their first year. I finally caught up on the photo books I (try to) make, this last one having about two years of pictures because that’s how behind I was. Then, I saw that it was going to be $54 even with a promo code because it’s so stinking long, so, yeah, I haven’t ordered that yet. And I’ve apparently found a new version of Russian roulette where you wait until you are completely out of diapers and then make the trek to Target hoping you won’t have a blowout on the way. What I’m trying to say is that I’m not going to win any awards for Most On Top of It this year. (Or any year–let’s be honest.) But while our picture books might be a couple years behind, I’ll keep coming to this little place to write our story. And, Georgia, this page is for you.

I know it’s cliche to wonder where the time has gone, but that saying about the days being long and the years short is truth. Parenting in this season, while the hardest thus far, is my favorite. With every child, I’ve had to release my white-knuckled approach to life a little more and a little more. So that, by you, Georgia Ray, I have finally surrendered (at least on most days) to dirty floors and overflowing laundry bins, sticky fingerprints and snack requests every 3.7 seconds. Often, you and I will leave the big girls and their play dough/watercolor/mud pie/dance party explosion and steal away to the nursery for a few minutes in the afternoon. That’s when the light comes in brightest through your window. We rock in the glider and listen to old hymns. And you do what you always do–smile and laugh. Maybe it’s following the type A and firecracker sisters or maybe it’s just being the third child or maybe you take after your daddy, but you are as easy-going as they come. You watch everything with this look of awe, and nothing makes you laugh like your sisters. (Nothing makes me laugh like them either.) Sometimes you wear this funny expression like you’re still trying to figure out how you ended up in this crazy, rambunctious family. But, goodness, I can barely remember life before you.

Like the best books with layers of plot twists and turns, each of you, my precious daughters, has added a new narrative to this story we call family. Lydia’s life is writing a story of hope in a God who never leaves us. Charlotte’s a story of faithfulness and trusting in God when we can’t understand His plan. And you, sweet Georgia Ray, with all your peach-colored ink are writing one of abundance, of a God who loves lavishly. This weekend, we will gather our family around the table, and your daddy and I will publicly dedicate ourselves to live before you a life that makes you want to know this God who knew our names before the creation of the world. This Savior who redeems all our brokenness and makes us beautiful. This Holy Spirit who lives within us changing us from the inside out.

In my prayer journal I have a page for each of you girls. Granted, yours isn’t typed like the others but rather a welter of verses and promises I pray for you all scrawled together in my part-cursive/part-print handwriting. One day I’ll get it orderly and looking pretty–or maybe I won’t because I’ll be spending my time in the rocker with you and that gorgeous afternoon sun. But I’ll pray them for you daily and whisper them in your ear often. I love you, Georgia Ray, and I pray that your different colored eyes never stop gazing with wonder at Your Maker and His creation.

Your verses…

Matthew 9:35-38//And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” 

Georgia, your name means “farmer,” and while we were in the hospital God brought this verse to mind. When I first read the meaning of Georgia, I thought of my Papaw. My Papaw loved two things–God’s Word and God’s people. I pray you will labor for the only harvest that matters, that you will love lavishly and give generously.

Leviticus 26:11-13// Moreover, I will make My dwelling among you, and My soul will not reject you. I will also walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt so that you would not be their slaves, and I broke the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect.

Your middle name Ray means “strong protector,” and it was the name of your daddy’s late grandfather. The only thing scarier than saying yes to God is saying no. God often asks us to do things we don’t understand, but He has broken the yoke of fear and worry, and He promises He will make His dwelling among us. Press on in faith, sweet girl.

Isaiah 49:1-3// Listen to Me, O islands, and pay attention, you peoples from afar. The Lord called Me from the womb; from the body of My mother He named Me. He has made My mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of His hand He has concealed Me; and He has also made Me a select arrow, He has hidden Me in His quiver. He said to Me, “You are My Servant, Israel, in Whom I will show My glory.”

A verse I pray for all my children. You are His arrows, His glory–not mine.

Isaiah 61:1-3//The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

I pray you will be planted deep, your worth coming from the life-changing truth of His Word.

John 10:10//The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Life abundant in Him alone. My prayer for you and our family, Georgia Ray.

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When You Get Distracted While Praying

When You Get Distracted While Praying

It goes something like this…

Start praying for my girls.

Remember that said girls need new shoes for the fall.

Start wondering when Toms will have a sale.

Start thinking about fall.

Start wondering when Starbucks will come out with their Pumpkin Spice Lattes.

Mentally start counting how many cans of pumpkin I want to buy so I can stock up before the crazies buy it all out.

Realize I am one of the crazies buying it all out.

Start reminiscing about how we called Charlotte “Pumpkin” when I was pregnant with her.

Remember that I’m supposed to be praying for my girls.

 

I get distracted way too easily when I’m praying. But I realize there is much at stake, and my prayer life matters. During the Downline Summit this past February, Donna Gaines described her prayer notebook. I knew immediately this was something I needed to create, something that would keep me focused during my prayer time. I’ve been working on this project for months now. (Did I mention I get distracted easily?) I finally gave myself a deadline for the end of summer. Since we start school next week, that means deadline time is here. My notebook is nothing fancy. I got a white three-ring binder from Target and a pack of sheet protectors. Throughout the summer I’ve been typing up the pages with one page for each person or topic. I’ve got a page with Scriptures for Matt, our marriage, each of my girls, our adoption, waiting moms I know, specific prayer requests for friends and family, physical/financial needs I’m surrendering, and the different ministries and their corresponding countries we support. Donna Gaines shared that she puts pictures in between her pages so she can stare at the faces of those she is praying for. I love that idea, and I plan to add pictures to mine as well.

I’m the type of person who loves examples, so I’ll share a few of the Scriptures I turned into prayers…

That Matt will live to please the Spirit, that he will not be misled for he cannot mock the justice of God. He will always harvest what he plants. That he will not live only to satisfy his own sinful nature for that will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But that he will live to please the Spirit and will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. That he will not get tired of doing what is good. And that at just the right time he will reap a harvest of blessing if he doesn’t give up. Galatians 6:7-10

That Lydia will be a worshiper of God just like her namesake. Acts 16:14

That Lydia would know whether she turns to the left or to the right, her ears will hear a voice behind her saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” And that she will listen to that voice and follow His directions. Isaiah 30:21

That Charlotte will be a modern-day Esther, willing to risk everything for the sake of saving God’s people. That she will embrace such a time as this. Esther 4:14

That Charlotte will fear not, stand firm and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will work her today…that she will know the Lord will fight for her and she has only to be silent. Exodus 14:13-14

That our girls’ adorning will not be external, but that their adorning will be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. And that they would see this modeled in their mom. 1 Peter 3:3-4

That our adoption journey would grant to our children a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit. That they may be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor. Isaiah 61:3

For my waiting moms that they would know they can rejoice even in their suffering, knowing that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5

One of my favorite people Miss Nan taught me years ago that you can’t pray wrong when you’re praying God’s Word. I learned the true power of praying God’s Word during our miscarriages. I had no words to say to God, but I knew I could pray Scripture to Him. I was in Luke at the time, and I landed on Luke 1:45. When I couldn’t come up with any words because the tears were pouring down like sheets of rain, I just kept repeating to God, “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.” That verse became my anthem, and today I continue to pray it over Lydia’s life, that no matter what trials she encounters she will believe that the Lord is faithful.

Some of the pages are very practical like the page for physical/financial needs I’m surrendering. Learning to trust God as my Provider is something I struggle with, but having a place to record the specific needs we have allows me to not only surrender them today, but it also gives me a reminder of how God has been faithful in the past. The page for prayer requests for my friends and family gives me a location to write down specific needs they share with me so I won’t forget them. If God gives me a specific Scripture related to something I’m praying for someone, I can write that next to the request and share it with the person later.

This is definitely a work in progress as I will always be adding to it. But I think having this notebook and having everything in one place will help me stay focused during my prayer time. It was an idea I stole from Donna Gaines, so I thought I would pass it along in case anyone else gets distracted easily and wanted to steal it too. Now, about those pumpkin spice lattes…