Prayer

Prayer.  It's not hard, but we make it hard at times.  There are tons and tons and tons of books out there on how to pray.  I remember going through a period where I was reading books on how to pray, and getting burdened down with all the techniques, ways to pray, prayer "formulas", etc. Finally, I remember looking up at the sky one day after feeling so burdened and I felt like I couldn't pray, and saying "Lord, it shouldn't be this difficult to have a relationship with you."  That still, small voice that I've come to know and love, gently says "it's not." 

I put all of those books away and went back to the basics.  What are the basics?  When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, He gave them a model for prayer.  It's quite simple.  It's known as "The Lord's Prayer."  I started back at that point — literally.  (Matthew 6:9-13)

The way I have approached my relationship with the Lord is much like a relationship with a person.  In order to get to know any person, you have to spend time with them, talking and listening.  Prayer can and is a two way street.  Both listening and talking.  Your prayers don't have to be eloquent or well spoken because God already knows what is in our hearts and our minds, He just wants to hear from us and have relationship with us. 

Don't complicate it.  Maybe you've heard that saying "KISS" — "Keep it Simple Stupid".  Although I'm not calling you stupid  :-), I would say to definitely keep it simple.  God just wants to hear from you.  Talk to Him.  Tell Him what's on your heart, in your mind, no matter what it may be.  He can handle it.  I heard a story one time of a man who kept a rocking chair in his room, and when someone asked him about it he said that his pastor had told him to imagine Jesus sitting there so that it would make it easier for him to pray.  Whatever works for you to make it easier for you to talk to the Lord, please do it, share it with others, you may help someone else.  I pray the Lord blesses you as you read this, and would love to hear what helps you in your relationship with the Lord. 

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God’s Power is Made Perfect in Our Weakness

2 Cor. 12:9 "But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness."  Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." 

I said this prayer yesterday, "God your power is made perfect in my weaknesses, and today I am weak and need you so that I can do all that You have called me to do today."  Yesterday I was struggling with pain and extreme tiredness and weakness.  After I prayed that simple, yet powerful prayer, God made it possible for me to get out of bed, get ready, and get the things done that needed to be done yesterday.

Today I say the same prayer, and am feeling filled with His strength, His power, His grace — so that I can do all that He would have me do today. 

"Thank you Lord that Your power is made perfect in my weakness.  Thank you God for my husband, my children, my family, my friends.  You have blessed me beyond measure, and I will forever be grateful and thankful to You for my life.  Amen"

 

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Depression

 

As Christians we don't like to talk about it because as Christ followers sometimes we are told that we shouldn't struggle with depression.  I've been told "you're fine", when all I wanted to do was cry.   I've been told "fake it till you make it."  All by well meaning and well intentioned Christians.  The fact of the matter was that when I would go to church, I would put on my fake smile, fake it while I was there, then go back home and into my pj's and turn off my phone.  It is exhausting to "fake it until you make it." 

I remember when I finally confessed to someone I loved and trusted that I broke down finally and went to the doctor to get on anti-depressants again, the comment they made to me tore me up.  Yes, I have forgiven them, but the hurt is still there until the Lord heals it.  I believe it remains there so that I can get the message out there that you're not a bad person, or doing something wrong if you are depressed.  When someone gets diabetes, do you tell them to suck it up and trust God?  Or do you tell them they should take their medicine and go to the doctor?  If someone has high blood pressure, do you tell them "fake it until you make it" and trust God, or do you tell them they should take their medicine? 

Is it possible, dear Christian, that the Lord gave doctors and scientists the wisdom to create life saving medications so that we could be okay?  Yes!  God gave the scientists wisdom to know how to treat certain cancers.  I have a dear friend who was cured of breast cancer, and while she is still in the final stages of treatment, she is on her way to recovery.  What if someone told her "you're fine" and "just trust God"?  and she chose not to do this life saving treatment?  Sure, there is a possibility that God would miraculously cure her, but do you take that chance when there is a life saving treatment available?  No!  Just like with any sickness or disease or illness.  If someone is throwing you a life saver and you're in the water drowning, do you tell them, "I'm trusting God to save me"? or do you take the flippin' life saver and let them pull you to safety?  I don't think I need to answer that question.

Just because we are Christians does not mean that we aren't going to suffer, have problems, go through sickness and illnesses, or struggle with depression.  Christ did not promise us a life of ease.  If He thought we weren't going to go through junk, why would He provide scriptures such as Matthew 11:28-30 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."  Now some might argue that this scripture is for someone who doesn't know Christ.  Okay, then how about the book of Job?  Why did God provide us with this book?  Job knew the Lord intimately.  In Job 1:1 Job is referred to as a "blameless and upright" man "he feared God and shunned evil."  The Lord says to satan in verse 8 "Have you considered my servant, Job?  There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil."  Wow!

Or how about the scripture 1 Peter 4:12 "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed."  (Peter is speaking to Christ followers here)  or 1 Peter 4:1 "Therefore, since Christ suffered in His body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because He who has suffered in his body is done with sin."  or James 1:2-4 "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."  (Peter and James were both speaking to Christ followers)

My dear friend, if you are suffering from an illness just because you aren't healed yet or living in what the "world" considers "prosperous" — doesn't mean you are doing something wrong.  The Apostle Paul really went through a lot while an apostle of Christ says in Phillipians 4:11-13 "I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do evertyhing through Him [Christ] who gives me strength." 

John the Baptist was beheaded doing the work of the Lord.  Peter was hanged upside down on a cross while doing the work of the Lord.  Paul was shipwrecked, stoned, left for dead, imprisoned, tormented by a "messenger of Satan (2 Cor. 12:7).  Paul asked the Lord THREE times for Him to take it (the messenger of Satan) away, and the Lord responded "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  (2 Cor. 12:9).  I also believe that eventually Paul was beheaded as well.  Of course, our greatest example is Jesus, who suffered the most of all.  Heb. 5:8 "Although He was a son, He learned obedience from what He suffered and, once made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him." 

So, just because you have trials, tribulations, sickness, financial problems, kid problems, marital problems, relationship problems doesn't always mean that you are doing something wrong.  We live in a fallen world.  If you have an illness, its okay to go to the doctor and get medicine, and don't let anyone make you feel bad that you have to take it. 

Depression is an imbalance of chemicals in the body, much like diabetes is an imbalance, high blood pressure, or heart disease, or …..the list goes on.  Some people have it.  Some people don't.  Don't feel bad or feel like a failure if you have to get an anti-depressant because God provided wisdom to the scientists and doctors for that too — not just these other things. 

Another thing, reach out to others and have a support network that will call you to reach out to you also.  I am starting a women's prayer group, and am very excited to have the support and prayer support that we as women so desperately need.   Again, Christian, do not think that because things aren't perfect in your life that God is not with you.  God is always with you.  Trust Him.  Follow Him.  Seek Him.  Thank Him.  Praise Him.  He is the same yesterday and today and forever.   Heb. 13:8. 

Do we stop asking for healing?  Absolutely not!  That is not what I'm saying, but God gave us a brain to use and we should not be stupid if there is medicine or doctors available to help us during our time of illness — use them! 

Recommended reading this week:  anything that is in your Bible that jumps out at you.  Just read it!  🙂

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Blessing in Disguise

 

This illness is the best thing that has ever happened to me.  (GASP!)  "Why would you say that Michele?" — you ask.  I've realized that its the best thing because it has caused me to slow down, and really take a look at what matters in life.  What matters in life, first and foremost in my relationship with the Lord and my relationship with my family.  That is what matters most.  Anything that comes after that is just the icing on the cake. 

Due to this illness I was basically forced to quit a job I had been at for 8 years.  I have always worked.  Before I was 16 years old I babysat to earn extra money, or did extra things around the house so that I could earn money.  Then when I turned 16 I hoofed it over to the Humdinger, and applied for a job.  I kept going back until Ron hired me.  I would ride my bike to work until I was able to get a car, pay for the insurance and the gas.  After high school I went off to college for a couple of years, and then began working in a law office when I was about 19 years old while I continued to go to school. 

I got most of my "schooling" on the job more or less.  This last job I had was by far the best as far as teaching me everything I needed to know to be a paralegal.  My boss taught me to think for myself, think on my feet, and taught me to write better.  It was great.  I honestly loved my job. 

In November 2008, I got hit with an illness, unfortunately.  It was not a new illness, it had been one that I had been dealing with for years.  It just erupted again during that month and I was down for the count.  The details of which aren't important right now.  I began having to miss a lot of work due to it, and began to feel it wasn't fair to my boss that I couldn't make it to work.  He was always very gracious and very understanding, but he needed someone he could rely on (I felt).  So in May 2009, I gave my notice.  I continued to work periodically when he needed some extra help here and there, but then realized this month that I couldn't do that anymore because the stress was really affecting me.

Honestly, I loved having the security of having a two income household.  We didn't have to worry about finances at all.  It was wonderful after having had so many years of struggling financially.  The great thing was that the Lord gave us enough extra income during the time from when we were married to May 2009 that we were able to get completely out of debt (with the exception of our mortgage).  Thank you Lord!

In evaluating this decision to stay at home, I realized that the pressure that society puts on us as a whole to be a two income household.  I mean, look at the advertising.  They show us all these design shows that show us these big, beautiful homes that are decorated to the "nines", you see the brand new cars everywhere, and the pressure all around to own a Lexus, an Acura, a Hummer, a Mercedes, a BMW, etc, but honestly, who are those for?  Us?  Or do we purchase these things to impress others?  Same thing with clothing, shoes, purses, make-up, etc.  I mean, when we purchase a "Coach" purse, or "Steve Madden" shoes, who are we purchasing them for?  I think we generally (me included) do it to impress others, whether we want to admit it or not. 

I mean, the big beautiful home is wonderful, but if you are working so much (both of you) that you never get to see each other, or you're working so much that you don't get to enjoy it, is it worth it?  Is that fancy car worth it?  I've realized that now, more than ever, my kids need me home.  I'm not as frazzled (like when I was working) as I am beginning to adjust to this stay-at-home lifestyle.  I can cook them meals, take care of them when they are sick, just be there for them when they come home from school.  Nicole came home the other day and didn't even turn the tv on for at least an hour and a half, and sat and talked to me.  To me, THAT is worth it. 

Now, are we going to be able to afford to go on extravagant vacations, and purchase all the best (I'm talking Abercrombie or American Eagle) for them?  Probably not, but honestly, what will they remember more?   Me spending time with them, or that American Eagle shirt I bought for them in 2009? 

I am beginning to think that this illness was a blessing in disguise because honestly I wouldn't have quit my job otherwise.  I'll be honest — I loved having the extra money to get what I wanted, get them what they wanted, etc, and I did love the work I did, but I'm realizing that being home for them and with them is far better than what I had prior to the illness.  I get time with the Lord now in the mornings, I get time with the kids, I get time with my husband.  Money can't by that.  I can always go back to work after they all move out, but for now, I believe that the Lord will provide for us — He already has.  Stay tuned — I'm sure there will be more.  Thank you Lord for my life today! (I put the pic of the kids, because they are worth it!) 

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