“Father, make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road;
make me a fork
, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.” - Jim Elliot

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What If I am Praying for the Wrong Thing?


I took my troubles to the LORD;
I cried out to him,
and he answered my prayer.
~ Psalm 120:1, NLT

We knew something was wrong early on... but we just didn't know what to do about it. Even in preschool the teacher had mentioned that we needed to work with Christopher on hand-eye coordination. And so we did. No change.

When he entered kindergarten, we immediately saw that his handwriting and drawing were quite different than the rest. "Oh, he's a boy," we were often told. And so we waited. No change.

We took him to a two-week class in the summer between first and second grade which was to help with teaching your child handwriting techniques. No change.

Christopher's grades were good. He loved to read. What was I worried about?

A year and a half ago, at a new school, me and a couple moms started a prayer group. To pray for our children and our school. And my prayer for my son was about... handwriting. Every week pretty much... same request... a bit persistent... but not knowing what else to do.

And some of you may think... that's a lame request. Praying for your child's handwriting. Too small of a request. Too trite? Doesn't God have bigger prayer requests to answer?

But I felt compelled... to pray for my child. To seek the best for him. Because I had no answers. So, I went to the One who does.

Within a few months, we received a letter from Christopher's 3rd grade teacher. He was concerned about Christopher's handwriting. Perhaps it was dysgraphia? He suggested a thorough examination by a child psychologist. And so we did.

The examination detected some discrepancies in Christopher's ability to process information. And one of the recommendations was for Christopher to see a behavioral opthamologist. And so we did.

And another thorough examination. And I about cried. As I sat through the exam, I saw how it pinpointed Christopher's weaknesses and strengths in his vision. Not just 20-20, but were his eyes focusing on the same object at the same time. No, they weren't.

Things that I thought were simple, like using an addition table... were impossible for him. His eyes were not focusing in conjunction. He had been overcompensating which is why he had good grades, but sooner or later one of his eyes would have basically given up and allowed the other eye to override.

As we listened to the opthamologist, we found out that Christopher's literal lack of focus contributed to his lack of ability to focus in general. Too easily distracted. We discovered this contributed to hand eye coordination... which explained why on the first day of baseball practice he got hit in the face by a ball lobbed to him by his coach. We learned that he couldn't see the lines of his handwriting paper, so how could he write between the lines? or color within the lines?

There was so much more than we ever realized. And we didn't know that. All we knew was to pray... for his handwriting.

And you know what... God knew what I was asking for... even though I didn't have the right diagnostic codes for it. Even though some thought that I was bothering God with my request.

We had four months of intense visual therapy and exercises. And Christopher's handwriting? Well, some might not notice a difference, but we do. Better concentration. Better hand-eye coordination. The ability to write neater. The ability to use a math table. And more confidence.

So, sometimes... when we are praying... we might not even know what we are asking for... but here's the thing. It is okay to ask. And you may be praying for something that may seem "trite" that in the end... might have been just the tip of the iceberg.

And that's okay... because God is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think... Ephesians 3:20 NASB

Monday, September 28, 2009

What Do You Need?


What do you need?

Do you need to rest?

Do you need peace?

Strength?

Guidance?

Are you afraid?

Do you need protection?

Comfort?

Are your enemies succeeding?

Do you need healing?

Is your cup empty of blessings?

Could you use a little goodness?

How about unfailing love?

Do you know what your future holds?

Well, I have some extraordinary news for you...



The Lord is your shepherd;
You have all that you need.

He lets you rest in green meadows;
He leads you beside peaceful streams.

He renews your strength.
He guides you along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.

Even when you walk
through the darkest valley,
Do not be afraid,
for He is close beside you.

His rod and His staff
protect and comfort you.

He prepares a feast for you
in the presence of your enemies.

He honors you by anointing your head with oil.

Your cup overflows with blessings.

Surely God's goodness and unfailing love will pursue you
all the days of your life,
and you will live in the house of the Lord
forever.

Psalm 23 (New Living Translation
- edited by sister sheri)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Are You Questioning God?

I read a post today that touched my heart. Actually, it touched my heart because I thought of you. And since we have been discussing prayer... and unanswered prayer... I wanted to share it with you. I think it might be just for you.

I had linked to her post Taking a Break in my post on Unanswered Prayer... I was affected by her transparency during a time of her great pain and sorrow. Her daughter has a very rare brain malformation called Arnold Chiari I.

But to see her transformation... With permission from the author, I'll let her words do the talking!

~~~~

Trusting and Waiting to See His Glory!

"But You, O LORD, are a shield about me,
My glory, and the One who lifts my head." Psalm 3:3

Oh, I wanted to stay angry....embarrassingly, I thought it was my right. This is my daughter after all. But even after typing the previous post the Lord had already begun to work on my heart. I still don't understand it all....but I don't have to... because I know the One who does and I can trust Him.

We have said it all along that God may very well be setting the stage to show His glory in this....but last weekend I just couldn't see past the nose on my face. I was broken over the magnitude of it all.

We moms (and dads) feel like we have to fix it when our children are sick, or sad, or hurt, or upset, don't we? When they ache, oh how we ache too. Somehow I got caught up in trying to fix what I know I cannot fix and I lost sight that our Heavenly Father aches when we ache too. I got wrapped up in the enormity of having to make the decision for surgery and when would be the best time (is there ever a best time for surgery?) and so on and so on.

And then I became frustrated and angry, and in the middle of it all, the Lord encouraged me to trust Him once again. I found that child-like faith again. If the timing of the surgery is not His timing, then He will change it. If the procedure is not the right procedure for Rachel, then the Great Physician will see to it that other arrangements are made. If the plans that have been made are right and in Rachel's best interest, then the doors will remain open. There is much relief and peace in handing that all over to Him once again. He knows this heart of mine too well though. It is my nature to jump into action on behalf of my daughters...but I am reminded that He is not slow to action either and His was are always the best. I choose to trust Him.

I have talked about L.B. Cowman's devotional, "Streams in the Desert" so many times before but in my anger I missed a day. My mom lovingly called me the next day and asked if I had read it. She said that it should have been titled, "My Dear Kristi...."

I picked up the Word for September 20th and sobbed. Oh, how timely is the Lord! I know that it is long, but if you would like to read it too, I will post it below. Thank you for your prayers and encouraging comments and cards. I am so blessed by all of you.

September 20, Streams in the Desert by L.B. Cowman

"Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?" (John 11:40)

"Mary and Martha could not understand what their Lord was doing. Each of them had said to Him, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." (vv.21, 32). And behind their words we seem to read their true thoughts: "Lord, we do not understand why you waited so long to come or how you could allow the man you love so much to die. We do not understand how you could allow such sorrow and suffering to devastate our lives, when Your presence might have stopped it all. Why didn't you come? Now it's too late, because Lazarus has been dead four days!" But Jesus simply had one great truth in answer to all of this. He said, in essence, "You may not understand, but I am telling you that if you believe, you will see."

Abraham could not understand why God would ask him to sacrifice his son, but he trusted Him. Then he saw the Lord's glory when the son he loved was restored to him. Moses could not understand why God would require him to stay forty years in the wilderness, but he also trusted Him. Then he saw when God called him to lead Israel from Egyptian bondage.

Joseph could not understand his brothers' cruelty toward him, the false testimony of a treacherous woman, or the long years of unjust imprisonment, but he trusted God and finally he saw His glory in it all. And Joseph's father, Jacob, could not understand how God's strange providence could allow Joseph to be taken from him. Yet later he saw the Lord's glory when he looked into the face of his son, who had become the governor for a great king and the person used to preserve his own life and the lives of an entire nation.

Perhaps there is also something in your life causing you to question God. Do you find yourself saying, "I do not understand why God allowed my loved one to be taken. I do not understand why affliction has been permitted to strike me. I do not understand why the Lord has led me down these twisting paths. I do not understand why my own plans, which seemed so good, have been so disappointing. I do not understand why the blessings I so desperately need are so long in coming."

Dear friend, you do not have to understand all of God's ways of dealing with you. He does not expect you to understand them. You do not expect your children to understand everything you do--you simply want them to trust you. And someday you too will see the glory of God in the things you do not understand."

Isn't that an incredible devotion?! Yes, I can trust the One who lifts my head again so that I may watch and see His glory in this.
~~~~~

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Special Broadcast by sister sheri
Esther Week 1, Day 5


Dear sisters (and brothers!)

Thank you for stopping by and visiting The Leaking Window! Please bear with me as I begin the study of Esther: It's Tough Being a Woman. Some of the posts may be specific in nature to the study (like today's) but others will be similar in format to my normal blogging.

Please feel free to join me as I do this Bible Study. I am so excited that my natural born sister has decided to join me from 3,000 miles away... so we can do the study "together"!

I've also started a Facebook Group specifically for those of us who are going through the study right now. Let me know if you would like to join us. I'd love to link your blog posts... or any thoughts you have. We're on this adventure together! (And by the way... if you want to make the cookie recipe on page 224 and let me have a sample... I am all for that!)

I so appreciate you taking your time to stop by and read my ramblings. I think of you every day... and I pray that this blog in some way brings you encouragement to draw closer to our Lord Jesus Christ.

Blessings!

sister sheri

ps
This link that will give you more details about this Bible Study. It also includes endnotes, viewer guide answers and more. Look for the downloadable PDFs at the bottom of the page. If you're interested in viewing individual sessions or audio sessions, you can stop by here and order them.

P-U-R-I-M

We will be introduced to The Feast of Purim later in the book of Esther. However, Beth encourages us to keep track of our own "P-U-R-I-M" of the Book of Esther or keeping a chart of

Parties
Unknowns
Rescues
Ironies
Moments

Below you will find my answers for P-U-R-I-M (some from the book... some from me... and some from the gals at my Bible Study table) for the first chapter of Esther. You'll find a pullout in the back of the book.

PLEASE let me know of your P-U-R-I-M findings so that I can pass them on to other ladies, too.

Parties -
180-day Display of Wealth
7-day Banquet for least to greatest
Banquet for Women given by Vashti

Unknowns-
Why Vashti refused the command

Rescues-
Memucan "rescues" King Xerxes pride

Ironies-
Xerxes can't control own wife but commands others to do so
Vashti's refusal = her ultimate punishment

Moments
Vashti's refusal
King's decree

Monday, September 21, 2009

Advice about Advice
Esther: Week 1, Day 4


Yesterday, I sat in awe as I listened to the discussion. We had just finished watching Session 1 of Esther: It's Tough Being a Woman. There were 10 of us sitting around a table made for eight, and as we tried to hear each other over the excitement of the other ladies in the room... it was as if we were the only people there.

Our hearts had melded together. Each woman having heard her heart's cry on the DVD was now given opportunity to share their pain and their past. But even more so, they shared their insight... their experience... their hope and sometimes... their advice. All out of love and encouragement and personal knowledge.

Their advice. Their counsel. All given out of care and compassion. All for the benefit of the hearing of another. With no agenda. With motivation from a pure heart. And my heart felt like it might burst out of my chest because I was privy to watch it all unfold.

God has brought together an amazing group of women. I know it is true for others, too. But I get this glimpse. This peak. To look through this window.

Oh, how I want to share their stories. How God has woven us all together either by experiences with rejection or suicide or alternate lifestyles or depression or alcoholism or lost loved ones or health issues or age. Women single due to divorce or death of a spouse... or waiting.

A young mom in her twenties. Two single gals in their thirties. Five of us in our 40-50-60s. Two women in their eighties. All sitting around discussing how Esther would end up becoming queen. But first discussing the missteps of Vashti and Xerxes. And the decisions that they made. And the counsel that was given.

The advice King Xerxes received. The counsel given by "dangerously tender egos." Given not out of care and compassion. Not for the benefit of the hearing of another. But with their own agenda. With motivation from selfish hearts. (Which also reminded me of silly King Rehoboam see 1 Kings 12:1-15.)

And worse yet... he took it. He took their advice. And many suffered.

Plans go wrong for lack of advice;
many advisers bring success.
Proverbs 15:22 NLT

Which makes me wonder... Who is sitting at your "table"? Who is giving you advice? If anyone? Girls, we need our sisters. Our sisters who have been there... who are trustworthy... who love us... who have our best interest at heart.

And for those of us who may be charged by the Lord to give advice... We cannot hold back if the Lord has asked us to come alongside someone to speak truth into their life. Knowing we are accountable for the words we give... and knowing we are accountable for the words we withhold.

Guide older women into lives of reverence
so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks,
but models of goodness.

By looking at them,
the younger women will know how to
love their husbands and children,
be virtuous and pure,
keep a good house, be good wives.
We don't want anyone looking down
on God's Message because of their behavior.
Titus 2:3-5 MSG

Failure is an Option

I failed.

I was given a test... and I failed.

I trusted my feelings instead of trusting God.

Didn't I just finish a Bible Study about this very thing?

Now, I am dealing with the repercussions. The dreaded SELF-TALK. Thinking through what I should have done differently.

But the thing is... when I got my grade for the test, it was an A+.

Because out of my failure, I have another prime example of when I should have trusted God... and I love Him for showing me that.

That He is trustworthy. That He is faithful. That He does speak. That He is in the details.

So, as I spend the next couple days pondering the shoulda, coulda, woulda... God is preparing me for the gooda... oops I mean good.

So, just an FYI... I'm not sure you'd want to copy my answers on your next test.

Trust me on this...

Or should I say... Trust God!

Remember the two benefits of failure.
First, if you do fail, you learn what doesn't work;
and second, the failure gives you the opportunity
to try a new approach. ~ Roger Von Oech

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Esther: Week 1, Day 3

Caesarea, Israel

But when the attendants delivered
the king's command,
Queen Vashti refused to come.

Then the king became furious
and burned with anger.
Esther 1:12 NIV


Refused.

We are not told why Queen Vashti refused the King's command. We can only surmise. We can study the opinions of historical scholars .

But in the end... it doesn't matter why she refused. It only matters that she refused. It is how she is remembered.

And the consequence is the same. No matter the reason.

Why do we feel the need to find a reason for her refusal? Justification?

Is it because we have been in a situation where we refused and were met with a determined consequence? But we felt we were justified?

Just wondering... How will I be remembered?

Unanswered Prayer.

A window of opportunity. The rain had stopped, so I quickly ran outside to pick green beans for dinner. Not knowing how long the rain break would last, I passed by every distraction and began the reaping. It was the best harvest of beans yet.

I am still amazed at our little vegetable garden. I plant seeds. I water. Sometimes I remember to fertilize. And then something happens... a seedling... a plant... flowering... starts and then the bounty.

But there are times... that nothing happens. I plant. I water. I fertilize. I wait. I wait. I wait. And then the wondering begins... was something wrong with the seed? did I do something wrong? Why would one seed bloom but another would not?

And so it is with our prayers. Sometimes the answer is more than we could hope or dream. A bounty. And sometimes we wait. And nothing happens. And we wonder why God answers one prayer and not the other.

After reading her post today, I feel trite in even trying to post these thoughts which have been stewing for over two weeks now. But I am going to try. I admit that I do not have all the answers... but God does. And He can make sense of my thoughts... even when I cannot.

An outline found in the book Too Busy Not to Pray gives a general idea.
  • If the request is wrong, God says, "No."
  • If the timing is wrong, God says, "Slow."
  • If you are wrong, God says, "Grow."
  • But if the request is right, the timing is right and you are right, God says, "Go!"
"No" ~ Friday, I had the privilege of praying with other moms from Christopher's school. One of the moms said that her children wanted us to pray that they would not have homework over the weekend. We chuckled as we discussed the request. We felt we needed to bring their request before the Lord... and yet the request was selfishly motivated.

"Slow" ~ I also had the opportunity to see some closure to something I had been praying about for over a year and a half. Something that I thought would have occurred a year ago. And when I realized that it was going to take much longer then I anticipated... I had to find my strength in the Lord and trust him for his timing. I have to admit that because of the delay I drew closer to the Lord and have a new perspective on the situation. And looking back now... I see how the timing is... well, perfect.

"Grow" ~ God treasures our relationship with Him so much that He chooses it over our comfort or desires. If we do not know Him or if we are out of relationship with Him, He will choose our greater good.

I'll discuss "Grow" and "Go" in another post.

But for now... Why don't you tell me what you think about unanswered prayers?

"Frequently I have wondered if God was saying, 'No,'
only to find out later that hew was saying, 'Not yet'
so that he could orchestrate a greater miracle
than I had the faith to pray for in the beginning." ~ Bill Hybels

Friday, September 18, 2009

I Don't Like Confessing My Sins Either!


Do not be anxious about anything,
but in everything,

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.

Philippians 4:6-7 NIV


In the post Is a Growth Spurt Contagious?, I began a conversation with a dear sister about prayer. She has given me permission to share our dialogue for the benefit of others. I have changed some details to protect her privacy.

I love that she is comfortable enough to share her feelings and questions that often go unsaid. Most would fear what others would think of them, but she is seeking the Lord with a pure child-like heart. And she will be blessed for it.

Dear Sheri

I don't know if you know this but before my husband and I got together I never stepped foot in a church, not once. I was very hesitant at first because -- what did I know about the Lord? I felt I had no right to be in a church, not only because of the things I have done but because I have never worshiped before.

I still struggle every day with knowing what is right. I have a lot to learn. I have not read the whole Bible but I am trying. I have a hard time understanding, my husband helps and I love to read your blogs. I guess I am just a child introduced into the church.

When we left church last Sunday, I asked my husband and step-child how it felt to feel the presence of Jesus. (Let me explain, a lady at church said the Lord convicted her to do something.) My step-child said, "You feel at peace." I believe that because I feel that is what my husband's parents have. I explained to them that I have seen his miracles at our home. I've seen money appear in the bank when we really needed it and didn't have it, I guess I just don't feel the peace. I'm trying to understand how to find that "Peace." (I believe I am getting into a whole other story, lol.)

I have read your A.C.T.S. blog and it was one that had stuck with me because I always thought I was doing it wrong. I have read in the Bible, I believe, not to repeat your needs to the Lord because he already knows what they are. I tend to find myself doing that a lot, once I realize that I get discouraged.

In your post you say...adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication. I sin everyday and confession is the one thing I have a hard time doing and I don't know why. Don't get me wrong, I have asked for forgiveness many times and I understand that he died for our sins. I believe I don't deserve forgiveness.

I have daily problems that I ask the Lord to help. I get to the point where I just feel that the Lord doesn't want to help me and that I don't deserve his help because I am flawed. Like I said, I have a lot to learn.


And my response...

Dear sister,

I'm so glad that you feel comfortable enough to talk with me about this.

First and foremost! I don't like confessing my sins either! But by confessing them we are examining ourselves. We're able to ask God for help and perhaps see what is the real root problem. I've heard it said that most of our sins are because we are filling a legitimate need illegitimately. We're also acknowledging that Christ's death and resurrection occurred for a reason. To save us from our sin.

I guess you are right when you say you don't believe that you deserve God's forgiveness. No one does. It's a gift. We just need to receive it. I think we are harder on ourselves. God has offered us grace and life.

Again, your desire for peace has to do with learning more about the Lord. Growing. Now that you long for that peace... you can pray for it. I also think you could be experiencing it and not even realizing it. For example, have you noticed that there are times that you've handled a situation differently than in the past? Not quite as angry. Not quite as fearful. Not quite as nervous.

In regards to repetition of prayer, this always confused me, too. My understanding now of this verse (Matthew 6:7-8) is that God doesn't want us just repeating prayers without thinking about them. Just saying the words and not thinking about them. He calls us to intercede and that means we may be praying years for a lost loved one. We wouldn't just pray once, right? And it is true for the small things, too. (Read Luke 18:1-8 about the Persistent Widow.)

I'm so glad that you were open to the idea of coming to church when you were asked to. It must have been difficult. You are very brave.

I pray that you will find the peace you are seeking. I will be praying for you.

With much prayer and love,
Sheri

“Should we all confess our sins to one another
we would all laugh at one another
for our lack of originality.” ~ Kahlil Gibran

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Esther: Week 1, Day 2


For a full 180 days
he displayed the vast wealth of
his kingdom and
the splendor and glory of
his majesty.
Esther 1:4 NIV


Today's lesson reminded me of another king who lived 200 years before Xerxes. King Hezekiah. A King of Judah who thought nothing of showing messengers from Babylon "all that was in his storehouses—the silver, the gold, the spices and the fine oil—his armory and everything found among his treasures."

Our church did the Bible Study "Life Principles from the Kings of the Old Testament" in the fall of 2006. I loved studying the kings of the Old Testament. I'm not sure why... perhaps because everything tasted sweeter after "The Dark Night of My Soul" in early 2006.

Anyway, Hezekiah, Day 4 talked about "Stumbling in the Crisis of Prosperity." Some of the thoughts shared in the study were..."Until Hezekiah had shown them the treasury, Babylon probably thought little of Judah and Jerusalem... Nothing good ever comes from bragging."

Hezekiah didn't have to shoulder the consequences, but it didn't turn out too great for his descendants.

2 Kings 20:12-21 (NIV)

Envoys From Babylon
At that time Merodach-Baladan son of Baladan king of Babylon sent Hezekiah letters and a gift, because he had heard of Hezekiah's illness. Hezekiah received the messengers and showed them all that was in his storehouses—the silver, the gold, the spices and the fine oil—his armory and everything found among his treasures. There was nothing in his palace or in all his kingdom that Hezekiah did not show them.

Then Isaiah the prophet went to King Hezekiah and asked, "What did those men say, and where did they come from?"
"From a distant land," Hezekiah replied. "They came from Babylon."

The prophet asked, "What did they see in your palace?"
"They saw everything in my palace," Hezekiah said. "There is nothing among my treasures that I did not show them."

Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, "Hear the word of the LORD : The time will surely come when everything in your palace, and all that your fathers have stored up until this day, will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the LORD. And some of your descendants, your own flesh and blood, that will be born to you, will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon."

"The word of the LORD you have spoken is good," Hezekiah replied. For he thought, "Will there not be peace and security in my lifetime?"

As for the other events of Hezekiah's reign, all his achievements and how he made the pool and the tunnel by which he brought water into the city, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? Hezekiah rested with his fathers. And Manasseh his son succeeded him as king.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Esther: Week 1, Day 1


Our Ladies' Bible Study has just begun the Beth Moore study on the book of Esther. Although I was wanting to do the study as soon as it came out... I knew that there was a reason that we would have to wait a few extra months... you know I'm not a girl who believes in coincidences, right?

Just a few thoughts on Week 1, Day 1.

Top of page 12, Beth says, "God will write something new and unexpected of our own into His [story]." Okay, so I'm used to the "new" with God... but the "unexpected"... well, I'll just have to keep my eyes open!

Page 13, Beth reminds us of Romans 15:4 which she also discusses in the video segment.
"For everything
that was written in the past
was written to teach us,
so that through endurance and
the encouragement of the Scriptures
we might have hope."
What a powerful verse! Scriptures encourage us to have hope!

And then the "personal question"... what are you hoping for? And I thought... I'm hoping to act wisely in regards to a certain situation. But not only acting wisely now... but learning something from the situation, so that I don't go through my roller coaster of emotions, again... and so that I can help others who are going through something similar. And that is going to take "endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures"!

So, what about you? What are you hoping for?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Is a Growth Spurt Contagious?

first day preschool 4's ~ 2003

Christopher couldn't sleep last night. Which meant I didn't sleep last night. At 1am I began to ramble off thoughts of what was keeping him from the land of nod. Hunger? Sugar? Growth Spurt? He asked me to clarify what exactly a growth spurt was... and then we tried to drift off to sleep.

This morning when I came down for breakfast, Christopher snuggled close to me on the couch and asked, "Mommy, is a growth spurt contagious? Because I want to know if I can play with Collin today."

I hugged him tight and assured him that it was not contagious, but I'm sure Collin... like any boy... wouldn't mind catching it!

first day 5th grade ~ 2009

And all of this growth spurt talk reminded me of another type of growth spurt...

Recently, I asked my FB friends, "Who taught you how to pray?"
Dixie: I would have to say my Mother.
Mark: Jesus

Phil: the parental unit known as Bill & Joy. Saw my dad praying every morning when I got up for 15 years.
Amy: The Lord's Prayer

Shannon: My Missionette leader

Leila: I learned how to pray by going through life situations that made me get real and talk to Him from my heart.

But the response that touched me the most was sent to me privately.
Sheri, no one taught me how to pray and I believe that I do not do it right. Is there a certain way to pray?
And first my heart ached for the one who thought they "do not do it right" but then my heart leapt... because I realized that this question was coming out of a growth spurt! And so I responded:
Great question! But first and foremost... please, don't ever think that you do not do it right. I think perhaps we get to a point in our prayer life where we want to go deeper with the Lord, to know Him in a more intimate way, to trust Him more. Just like when your baby learns to walk... she'll start with a crawl... then an unbalanced wobble... then a walk holding on to things for support... and then... and then... she'll run! And you'd have to admit that she did everything right... in its time.

I think one of the best ways to learn how to pray is by finding prayers in the Bible. Even starting with the Lord's prayer. Seeing how Jesus prays is helpful in teaching us how to pray.

I also highly recommend the acronyms A.C.T.S. You can check out my post on that one and let me know if you have any questions.

The book I am currently reading Too Busy Not to Pray is PHEnomenal! Are you a book reader? It's not too long of a read. I'm taking a chapter at a time so that it will really sink in... He does an incredible job of describing how to use A.C.T.S. If you like, I'll send you a copy?

Another book series is by Stormie Omartian... The Power of a Praying Wife, Woman, Parent. Each chapter talks about something to pray for... gives Bible verses... and then a sample prayer. I've learned a lot by listening to other people pray. But then finding my own comfort zone.

I've also found that our life experiences end up teaching us how to pray. When I was going through a deep depression in 2006... I begged the Lord to heal me immediately. When He didn't, I continued to pray in desperation... I began journaling daily. Sometimes thoughts... sometimes prayers. I continued to seek Him... and to listen to what I was praying. I relied upon Him so much and found true comfort when I would pray that it has become very much part of who I am.

I hope this gives you a place to start. You know to think of it... I've been praying for you for almost six years.

How about you, friend? Have you had a growth spurt lately? Because when it comes to spiritual growth spurts... I actually do believe they are contagious!

So then neither the one who plants
nor the one who waters is anything,
but God who causes the growth.
1 Corinthians 3:7 NASB

Thursday, September 10, 2009

September 11, 2001

Originally aired on September 11, 2008
Where Were You?

There are certain events in our lives that mark us. That change how we are. That change how we think... that mature us too quickly... and make us wonder...

I had not been born when President Kennedy had been assassinated.
Two days before I was born Martin Luther King, Jr. had been killed.

But I do remember where I was when I heard about
The Challenger crash in 1986
Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995
Columbine in 1999

and the World Trade Centers in 2001.

I was asleep when the first plane hit. I woke up and Anthony had the television on... I watched in disbelief as over and over and over again the first plane hit the building. I remember thinking that there must not have been anyone on board. There couldn't be. That plane had to be empty.

And then it came. The second plane. Well, I just thought they were replaying the first plane. No, a second plane. And within a few minutes someone at the Pentagon saying they felt something. And I thought "What an overreaction... nothing could happen to the Pentagon." On and on it went.

I went to Bible Study that Tuesday morning. I thought we would all be taking the morning to pray. But it was business as usual. I think we came together on Wednesday night to pray... You see living on the west coast... we weren't in the midst of it all. It took some time feel the aftershocks.

We were supposed to get on a plane on Friday, September 14th of 2001. Anthony's brother was to get married on the 15th. Anthony and Christopher were to be in the wedding. Could we get there? How about a train or could we drive? Not enough time at this point.

And on Friday the 14th quiet airports started to hum again. Yes, our flight was one of the first to take-off. But our parents begged us not to... not even for a wedding. They could not live with themselves if something happened to our flight. The unknowing. The fear.

We stayed home and grieved. Being away from family during good times and bad... is so very difficult. I remember Anthony's mom telling us that she asked that the wedding photographer not take a family photo... since not all of the family was there.

I had been to the top of the World Trade Center back in 1985. I used to work just minutes from the Pentagon. I would pass it each morning on the way to work. We still fly in and out of Dulles Airport on United Airlines.

It's not the same anymore. Christopher will never know of a world without 9/11. And even though he was too young to remember. He will never be able to forget.

We will never forget.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

"If You've Lost Faith, Borrow Mine"


Some men brought to him
a paralytic, lying on a mat.


When Jesus saw their faith,
he said to the paralytic,
"Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven."
Matthew 9:2 NIV


She told me that they had stopped praying for her daughter-in-law numerous times. Just given up. Too tired. Too much time. No change.

But she came up to the altar for prayer last week. One more time. One more desperate prayer. And we prayed together for her daughter-in-law. "For where two or three have gathered..."

Today she hurried to greet me. She was excited. Ecstatic. Grateful to God. Her daughter-in-law finally FINALLY agreed to get the help she needed for her alcoholism.

And I stopped in my tracks. And held her tight. And was amazed.

I was listening to a book by John Maxwell last week. He spoke of a young preacher named Kevin who went off to start a church... but had become disillusioned with the results... and Kevin wearily returned to his mentor to tell him that he had failed. And his mentor said to him, "Kevin, if you've lost faith, borrow mine."

Are you disillusioned? Weary? Have you been praying and wondering if the Lord will come through? Does it have to do with addiction? Rejection? Fear? Health? Finances? What is it? What are those dusty prayers? The ones that break your heart?

Because today, I've come to tell you... If you've lost faith, borrow mine.

When Jesus healed the paralytic in Matthew 9, He did it when He saw "their faith." Not the faith of the paralytic. But those who carried him. Who carried him on his mat.

And today... I'm offering... to carry your mat.

This is not a one-time offer. And I am the type who will want to pray with you, but understand that sometimes you don't even know how to pray for yourself. I've been there. And I've leaned on the faith of others. I've borrowed their faith... until I could find my own, again.

Because earlier today I had the privilege of praying with another woman. With her own heartbreak. And I was wondering... Lord, how will You answer this prayer?

If we are faithless,
He remains faithful,
for He cannot deny Himself.
2 Timothy 2:13 NASB

Even when my faith is lacking... it doesn't make God less faithful. He will always be faithful.

And for those times when you feel like you have no hope... no faith...

Just remember my offer... "If you've lost faith, borrow mine."

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Keep Your Mouth Shut...


Don’t sin
by letting anger control you.
Think about it overnight
and remain silent.
Psalm 4:4 NLT

I've been angry this week. Frustrated. Mad.

Unable to put pen to paper or fingertips to keyboard for fear that I might sin... I have withheld my words.

Always wanting to be vulnerable and integrous here. But never wanting to spread my feelings like so many Utz potato chips for everyone to partake. (Because you can't stop with just one.)

As I was considering how to spur myself back to writing... I remembered this post... and it directed me back to the One who hears my heart.

originally aired Monday, July 14th, 2008
Anyone Can Become Angry -
That is Easy


“Anyone can become angry -
that is easy,
but to be angry with the right person
at the right time,
and for the right purpose and
in the right way -
that is not within everyone's power
and that is not easy.” - Aristotle

I had the opportunity to visit the church of a family member this weekend. The pastor's sermon was on anger. I thought, "Great! I can take a little mind break... I think I have a handle on this..." Boy! Was I wrong!

I was amazed at the amount of verses in the Bible that deal with anger. I've heard it said that if something is repeated over and over again in the Bible... it must be for great cause.

What impacted me the most is when the pastor said that often the emotion of anger is caused by feelings of injustice. When we think, "That's Not Right!" When we have a blocked desire or goal... when we feel slighted, cheated or attacked. When our rights are violated... but catch this one... when our perceived rights are violated. What? Back up the train! Repeat that... "when our perceived rights are violated."

Okay, OUCH! This hits home for me. Think about it... what really are our "rights"? what really are our "perceived rights"? Do I really have the right to expect everyone to treat me fairly? or to treat my son with special attention? or to have peace and quiet in my backyard? or for the gas prices to be lower than $4.50 a gallon? or for my rental car to smell new (or at least not like smoke)? Or to get free internet access at a coffee shop... that does work? Or to get that super close parking spot?

Then the pastor came in with the next punch... We tend to get angry when someone violates a personal right that we have NOT YIELDED to God. (Wait a minute! I thought I was on vacation here!!!) Hmmm....

So, maybe I'm the only one dealing with this issue... but if you want to know how the pastor suggested we deal with our anger over what we may feel are our personal/perceived rights...

give it up

That's it. Just give it up. Give up our right to not get cut off while driving... or while talking. Give up our right to feeling we should be the center of our friend's attention. Give up our right to being first in line. Give up our right to get free food on the airline. Give up our right to... fill in the blank.

Yield these rights over to God.

I'm not saying it is wrong to be angry. I'm just wondering if there are more times then not that I get angry over "rights"... that I'm not even "entitled" to... that I perceive to be my right.

Complain if you must,
but don't lash out.

Keep your mouth shut,
and let your heart do the talking.

Build your case before God
and wait for his verdict.

Psalm 4:4-5 MSG