Tuesday, December 2

3 Ways to Press Through Unanswered Prayer

A year and a half ago, I opened an anonymous letter that made my heart sink. It was from another mom who wanted to make sure I had a list of all the ways one of my daughters was falling short. There in black and white she listed my daughter’s mistakes, shortcomings and frailties.

And then just to make sure I took her nameless letter seriously, she informed me she’d be sending a copy to my pastor.

My initial reaction was figure out who sent this so I could call her. Talk this through face-to-face. Assure her my husband and I were not only aware of some struggles my daughter was having but also working diligently to help her course-correct.

But as I reread the letter, I discerned it wasn’t sent from a place of love for my family or a heart that wanted to help.

From the language she used and the fact that there wasn’t a way to contact her, it was obvious she didn’t send it because she wanted the best for my daughter.

I sat on the edge of my bed and cried.

It’s so hard to have someone attack you in an area that’s already rubbed raw with hardship. Her letter was like a bullet straight to my heart.

However, it was also a wake-up call to get more intentional in praying for my daughter. I thought about her struggles a lot. I talked about her struggles. I worried about her struggles.

But thinking about, talking about and worrying about something is not the same as praying about it.

I determined to turn this letter that felt like a bullet into a blessing by using it as a catalyst to ramp up my prayer life.

Through my tears I cried out to the Lord, “I will not sacrifice Your grace for my child on the altar of people’s opinions. Of course I want my daughter to walk the straight and narrow path of great choices. But I trust You Lord to write her testimony. My main goal for her is not behavior modification but total heart transformation. I want her to want You, Lord, and Your best for her life. Give me the courage to not just pray about my daughter, but to pray her all the way through this.”

Praying her through the ups and downs wasn’t easy. There were days I wondered if God was even hearing my prayers.

It’s tough to pray someone all the way through a messy, hard, complicated situation and not see answers. Maybe you’ve been there. Maybe you are there now.

Can I speak hope into your heart with 3 ways to press through unanswered prayers?

1. Know with confidence God hears your prayers.

1 John 5:14 reminds us, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” (NIV).

2. Trust that prayer makes a difference, even when you don’t see the difference.

It may take a while for you to see God answer your prayers. But don’t miss an “in the meantime answer” you can receive right away. Philippians 4: 6-7 reminds us of the immediate answer to every prayer: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)

Did you catch it? It’s the peace of God that will guard your heart and mind in the process while you’re waiting for God to reveal His answer to your request. When you pray, you can trust you are doing your part and God will certainly do His part.

3. Tell fear it has no place in this conversation.

These prayers are your gateway to feel an assurance you don’t see yet. But fear will beg you to focus on the problem more than God’s promises. Isaiah 41:10 says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (NIV).

A lot has happened since I got that hard letter that prompted more frequent prayers for my daughter … that bullet that turned into a blessing. I recently visited her at college and could hardly believe my eyes.

She’s a completely different girl.

At one point during our time together, I asked her, “What finally made following Jesus wholeheartedly click for you?” She said, “Mom, I’ve made friends who love Jesus. I saw a joy in them that I wanted. So, I started doing what they do even when I didn’t want to. At first I thought getting up to do devotions was unrealistic, prayer meetings were boring, and listening to praise music, excessive. But as I kept doing these things, the Lord started changing my thought patterns. And when I started thinking about life from the standpoint of truth, I had so much more joy.”

She then paused and said words I’ve longed to hear and prayed to hear for so long, “Mom, I’ve just completely fallen in love with Jesus.”

I can hardly type those words without crying.

I pray this infuses your heart with hope to keep praying. I pray you believe God can take the things others intended to harm you or the ones you love, and use them for good to accomplish His purposes as Genesis 50:20 reminds us.

I need a visual reminder of these truths. And I’m wondering if you do too. This Christmas season, Proverbs 31 Ministries has partnered with Fashion and Compassion to create beautiful jewelry using repurposed bullets from the civil war in Ethiopia.

The collection is assembled by vulnerable and rescued women in Mexico and Charlotte, NC. Attached to your jewelry is the name of the artisan who made it, so you can pray for her.

Our hope is that when we wear one of the From Bullets to Blessings pieces, you and I can be reminded to pray with deep assurance that God hears us and will bring good from this in His time.

Click here to purchase the jewelry for yourself or for a friend who may be going through a difficult time this Christmas.

Tuesday, November 25

4 Gifts That Help Make a Difference

When I spend money on buying Christmas gifts this year, I want to invest in things that will honor the Lord.

Let me explain.

I’ve found that it’s hard to even turn on the TV or look at social media without hearing about something terrible going on across the world or in my own backyard. A shooting. An ISIS attack. Children being kidnapped and sold into sex slavery.

My heart has felt so heavy about this lately. I keep thinking, “How can I help these hurting families? What can I do to stop this? How can I help bring light to a world that seems to be drowning in darkness?”

While I can’t change all the evils of the world, I can make purchases that will make a huge difference in the lives of rescued women, Godless families, and people in need.

So this year, I’m buying these items for my family and friends which feels so in keeping with the real meaning of Christmas:

1) The “From Bullets to Blessings” Jewelry Collection: I’m so thankful Proverbs 31 Ministries has partnered with Fashion & Compassion this Christmas season to create beautiful jewelry using repurposed bullets recovered from the rubble in Ethiopia.

The “From Bullets to Blessings” collection is assembled by vulnerable and rescued women throughout Mexico and Charlotte, NC. By purchasing a piece of jewelry, you are directly helping to financially support women who have been saved from the horrors of sex slavery, addiction, and more.

Purchase your jewelry here.

2) “Wake Up The Wonder” Elevation Worship CD: Our souls were created to respond to worship. And this new CD, released today, is so powerful! It’s the perfect music to play first thing in the morning to set your heart to the life-giving realities of Jesus. God moves me and changes my perspective through these songs being used in my church as well as other churches all over the world.

Download the album here.

3) It Will Be Okay: Trusting God Through Fear and Change: This is the children’s book that I wrote to help kids discover that no matter how new or fearful their circumstance, God is always with them. I’m passionate about equipping families with the most powerful tool – God’s Word. So I’m praying this message will bring His truth into unreached places. You can buy your copy through Proverbs 31 Ministries with confidence that your investment goes to support ongoing initiatives such as training pastors in the underground church of China, building homes for orphans in Africa, and more.

Get your copy (or copies) here.

4) Personalized Christmas Ornament: My friend Lisa Leonard creates the most beautiful jewelry and decorations for homes. Recently, she partnered with workers in the Dominican Republic to handcraft these ornaments and other pieces. Through this initiative, she’s been able to help provide full time jobs with health benefits for workers in a country with 40% unemployment. Receiving fair wages has enabled these men and women to care for their families and pursue higher education!

Purchase your ornament here.

Today, I’m giving away 10 copies of Elevation Worship’s “Wake up the Wonder” CD. Just leave a comment below with which gift you’re buying for a friend or a loved one this Christmas.

Together, through small acts, we really can help change the world in a big way!

Friday, November 21

If You Ever Feel Lonely, Read This

There were many feelings I thought I’d have at this small conference I’d been so looking forward to attending. Acceptance. Fun. Camaraderie.

I was sure that these were my people.

And I couldn’t wait for the deep friendships that would surely bloom as a result of our time together.

I walked into the meeting room and quickly found the people I was excited to meet. Every seat had a nametag attached so I circled the table looking for mine. As I got to the last chair and realized my name wasn’t there, I got a sinking feeling.

I milled around the room looking for my name, feeling increasingly out of place.

Finally, at a table on the opposite side of the room, I found my name. I rallied in my heart that the Lord must have a special plan for me to meet and connect with the others assigned to my table. I took my seat and pulled out my cell phone as I nervously waited for my tablemates.

I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

As the prayer for meal concluded and the event got underway, it was painfully apparent the others assigned to my table weren’t able to come for some reason.

So, I’d be seated alone. Very alone.

I wasn’t just in this place at the dinner that night. I’ve been in whole seasons of my life where though I had people around, I felt quite alone in the calling of my life.

Maybe you can relate to feeling this way. If so, can I give you three thoughts that might encourage you? I’m sharing them today over at (in)courage. Read the rest of my post here.