Hope

The Pathway to Praise

Prayer and praise. The prescription for both ends of our human emotions. The antidote to struggle, worry and doubt is prayer. Not only prayer for God to solve the “problem” but also the grace and strength to bear it.  

James 5:13 Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. NLT

Prayer is not complicated. It’s a conversation-a relational exchange between God and His kids. If you are a parent, maybe you can recall the tender moments of your baby’s firsts words and how you waited in anticipation to hear them for the first time. When the day came, you sang praises of joy to everyone you knew and even maybe people you didn’t. You told it on the mountain, posted it on social media and told the cashier in the check-out line at Target. 

Maybe you can recall how thrilled and excited you were for that communication that came, at first in a string of one or two words. Maybe in a language that only you, as the parent, could understand. 

Perhaps your baby is older now and the words, “Mom/Dad, I love you want I want to share some news with you” or “Mom/Dad, I am struggling and I need your advice.” are something that you have heard, or maybe you are waiting to hear? 

Imagine our Father’s heart when we ask Him and seek Him through prayer and petition. 

Prayer. Going to Him with any and all because He already knows. Returning to Him to sing songs of praise for the resolution, the answer and the revelation of His plan even when it looks or feels different than we anticipated. 

When we pray through whatever it is, we begin to see God’s will and, newsflash, sometimes His will is not the same as ours. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Just like when we hear our children’s voice, the words don’t always make sense or even matter. What matters is the heart and intent behind them. As a child or a young adult or even a more grown up child, think of the joy and twinkle of tears in your parents eye when you reach out to them with your words-just a simple relational connection. 

Human connection and relationships matter. The game goes for our communication and relationship with God. From Him all things flow. 

Prayer is the pathway to praise. Prayer is the pathway to firmly planted joy and gratitude. Praise is the pathway to sharing the Good News with a world that certainly needs it, and perhaps the pathway for someone else to come to meet, know and follow Jesus. 

He loves to hear from His kids. He knows our voices and wants us to know His. 

Is prayer your go-to first or your last resort? How can we pray for each other today. If you are bold and willing, post your prayer requests in the comments below and we can lift them up together. 

Hope

Authentic Friendships Part 3-A Game Plan

It is crazy to me, that most of us don’t really understand deep, authentic friendships until much later in life. We think we are grown up, and have it all figured out, and then we find out we don’t. Am I right? 

To kind of put a wrap on this three-part series, I wanted to share some ideas on how to choose to trust by choosing to trust. We have to move our feet. There has to be a game plan or an action plan. We cannot just talk about it, pray for it and dream about it. When God gives us the opportunities, we have to take that next step. 

It’s pretty commonly known that women are wired with deep emotional capabilities. That’s how we were created anyway. God made us that way and then something caused us to hide. Whether it was Adam and Eve, or more on top of that down the road through experiences and circumstances we all tend to hide a little bit even in our truest, most safe friendships. 

It is also pretty commonly known that we struggle with insecurity based on comparison and snapshots of someone else’s “great life” that we don’t seem to have, or maybe it is insecurity based on wounds from another person who hurt us in some way

No matter how the hurt originally happened we can choose to change, heal, grow, and kick Satan in the teeth. 

Shannon Swenson

This is a list of the 5 practices to experience change, when it comes to learning to trust God and others with our whole, glorious, messy selves. 

  1. Choose. Choose to change! Drown out the voices in our heads that tell us we cannot or go against the truth of what God has to say and take every thought captive. 

 “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5

  1. Connect. Choose to connect. Start serving somewhere, sign up for a Bible study with women, create a Bible study group for women, or meet for coffee.
  2. Confess. Choose to confess. Open up about how weird it feels and share maybe just a little bit from the deepest, most vulnerable part of your soul with a friend that you want to know better or maybe choose to go to a Celebrate Recovery meeting and get into an open share. If you are feeling really, bold (i.e. vulnerable) then go ahead and confess some of that sin and shame you are carrying around. Go ahead and talk about why you absolutely love to spend time with your closest people, but really need to have time to yourself, too. Go ahead and share with someone that you may not say yes, but it sure is nice to be included or invited anyway. It is perfectly okay, as a grown adult-ish woman to say things that help the little girl inside of you be brave!

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for each other that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James 5:16

  1. Commit. Choose to commit. Choose to keep repeating these steps towards change. Keep choosing to commit to yourself that you are going to walk into a community as part of God’s will and plan for your life and that you are going to stop slamming the door on those opportunities. 
  2. Change. Commit to change. While you are at it, go ahead and commit to the fact that God rarely makes it a straight path in learning to trust Him and others. It’s a dance that probably looks a lot like the cha-cha. It is not uncommon for it to be one step forward, and three steps back but commit to the change and commit to being changed from the inside out. 

Maybe it is old news to some of you reading this, but maybe we all need a reminder or a check-up once in a while. Okay, we do. We just do. Okay? Maybe this is something you really want to start praying about and you are ready to jump without that parachute we talked about in part 1 of this series and you are willing to trust the One who will catch us every time we fall.