A prayer for you

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prayerMy prayer for you today.

You are a good, good Father. All praise and honor is due you. All worship is yours, Lord. You know us by name, and beckon us to join you at your table. Great and mighty are you. Worthy are you. May your people declare your holy name.

]Praise the Lord!
Praise the name of the Lord;
Praise Him, O servants of the Lord,
You who stand in the house of the Lord,
In the courts of the house of our God!
3 Praise  the Lord, for the Lord is good;
Sing praises to His name, for it is lovely.
For the Lord has chosen Jacob for Himself,
Israel for His own possession.

You are the Alpha and Omega, the God who was, who is, and who will always be. There is no one like you, there is no one greater than you. You created the world and all that is in it. You are the Lord of lords and King of kings.

For I know that the Lord is great
And that our Lord is above all gods.
Whatever the Lord pleases, He does,
In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps.
7 He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth;
Who makes lightnings for the rain,
Who brings forth the wind from His treasuries.

You are our protector, the righteous judge. You protect your children, and restore what the locusts have eaten. At the sound of your name, demons flee, and evil runs. In your presence, there is no darkness. Nothing is hidden from you. You find the lost, heal the lame, and breathe life into the dead. You give hope to the hopeless. You are a father to the fatherless. You love with an everlasting love. There is none like you.

8 He smote the firstborn of Egypt,
Both of man and beast.
9 He sent signs and wonders into your midst, O Egypt,
Upon Pharaoh and all his servants.
10 He smote many nations
And slew mighty kings,
11 Sihon, king of the Amorites,
And Og, king of Bashan,
And all the kingdoms of Canaan;
12 And He gave their land as a heritage,
A heritage to Israel His people.
13 Your name, O Lord, is everlasting,
Your remembrance, O Lord, throughout all generations.
14 For the Lord will judge His people
And will have compassion on His servants.
15 The idols of the nations are but silver and gold,
The work of man’s hands.
16 They have mouths, but they do not speak;
They have eyes, but they do not see;
17 They have ears, but they do not hear,
Nor is there any breath at all in their mouths.
18 Those who make them will be like them,
Yes, everyone who trusts in them.

Your people praise your name. We rejoice in who you are, in the strength of your hand, and the fierceness of your love. You have cast our sins into the sea of forgetfulness. May our lips sing your praises. May we be a people who call out to you.

19 O house of Israel, bless the Lord;
O house of Aaron, bless the Lord;
20 O house of Levi, bless the Lord;
You who revere the Lord, bless the Lord.
21 Blessed be the Lord from Zion,
Who dwells in Jerusalem.
Praise the Lord!

Father, forgive our stubborn arrogance. Forgive our forgetfulness. We need you. Every hour we need you. Rain down your Spirit. We are so thankful, thankful for the ability to lay before your thrown in humble adoration. Be near Father. Have your way in us. Amen.

(Psalm 135, NASB)

Are you in need of prayer today? I would be honored to pray for you. Use the comments and share how I might pray for you, and please pray for one another. Thank you!

The uncomfortable places

uncomfortableAre you wiling to enter the uncomfortable places with others? When their story unfolds, filled with circumstances that cause you to squirm, do you remain there, or do your feet long to run far away?

I see headlines filled with betrayal and heartache, as a mass exodus begins from the one hurting.

When the days are long and the circumstances overwhelming, will you offer hope or condemnation? How easy it is to speak what we believe, to use words as boulders hurled at the already bleeding hearts of others. Simple is shaking our heads and walking away.

True mercy stays in the wreckage, in the mess, in the waiting.

I remember well the days of watching a friend come close to completely destroying her life. Her behaviors, her attitude, her words, were a flurry of chaos and destruction. I stood nearby, shaking my head and recounting her wrong doings. On a few occasions I shared, blatantly and mercilessly, what I thought of her choices.

Rather than gently love her, I heaped burning coals upon her wounds.

Whether self righteousness or ignorance (or both), I am unsure, but I did not know how to be with her in the uncomfortable places. I did not love her well as she struggled to make sense of the world around her. Instead, I focused on a handful of poor choices.

Never once did I acknowledge the fragmented pieces of her heart, ripping her to the core.

Had I spoken more with kindness, with affirmations of who she was rather than what she was doing, maybe some of life’s blows would have landed more softly. Had I known how to listen to her story and heard the evil she was battling, maybe I could have helped her to fight rather the battle raging within her rather than inflicting wounds of my own.

I cared too much about my own reputation, refusing to have it soiled by our association.

Years have passed, and the friendship I thought was destroyed has emerged stronger, better, and with bounties of forgiveness. She has taught me how to dwell in the hard, uncomfortable places. She has shown me what it means to span the great divide between flesh and the divine with prayer, with grace, and with humility.

We are the light called to pierce the darkness.

In word and deed, I am learning to enter the mess, not to condone it, but to help remove it. I will listen to stories draped in darkness so that light may may shine its restorative power.

10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11 for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.”

12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. 13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. (Romans 14:10-13 ESV)

I am learning to enter the uncomfortable places in order to build a bridge rather than a stumbling block.

When someone close to you is suffering, how do you respond? Are you able to walk through your wreckage, or are you prone to fleeing? It is not always easy to confront the uncomfortable, the circumstances pulling us further from Christ. Let’s encourage one another to love well, even when it is difficult, for the sake of increasing God’s kingdom.

Are you unable to get past the stumbling block in your life? Life Purpose Coaching can help you identify and navigate your way to a more purposeful life. Click here for more information.

God’s splendor

sunrisePraise be to his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory (Psalm 72:19)

The sun began its slow ascent. Colors splashed across the sky in varying hues of reds and yellows. It was magnificent. I stared at its beauty, entranced by the way the light pierced the morning’s darkness. A gentle breeze brushed my cheek, shadows fell away around me.

I walked on with God’s splendor on glorious display.

Beautiful colors filled the sky, and I stood mesmerized by its beauty. Among the breeze was the quiet whisper: You are more magnificent to me. Even more than the beauty of this sunrise is your beauty to me. Like the colors dancing across the sky, I created you. I know when you rise and when you sit. I know you fully and completely. I love you with an everlasting love.

I walked on with God’s splendor on glorious display.

As the world around me awakened, my spirit awoke as Truth spoke. More than the birds in the air, God cares for me. More than any creature roaming this earth, God cares for me. Just as He placed each star in the sky, He has placed me in this place, at this time.

I walked on with God’s splendor on glorious display.

The sun found its rightful place as I was reminded, I too have my place in this world. God created me on purpose, and for a purpose. As the sun provides light and warmth, I too have the power to bring light to darkened places. I have a strength, a beauty, a purpose all my own.

I walked on realizing I am God’s splendor on glorious display.

Were the sun to refuse rising, darkness would not be broken. Morning would be void of its brilliance. If I fail to walk the path God has placed before me, darkness remains. As I walk in my God filled purpose, His glory shines through me.

I am God’s splendor on glorious display.

You are too. You are fully and deeply loved. God, who created the world and all that is in it, created you. He knit you together in your mother’s womb, and even before you were born, He knew the plans He has for you. You have a purpose, and as you walk in that purpose, you will be God’s splendor on glorious display. Shine my friend. Shine. You were created to.

Not sure what your God given purpose is? Unsure of what the next step should be? Life Purpose Coaching can help. Click here for more information, I would love to help you unfold the purpose awaiting you.

*Sunrise photo credit, edited on PicMonkey

Your Perspective Matters

visionYour perspective matters, more than you know.

Entering the living room one morning, my daughter informed me she had been laying in bed for the past 20 minutes unable to move because of fear. What caused her fear? A coat rack in the corner of her room with a cowgirl hat adorning the top. In the dark, with shadows spread across her room, the unmoving object looked more like a person.

She remained in her bed, staring at the object, imagining it was something it was not.

When I asked her why she did not simply reach over and turn on her bedside lamp, she simply stated she couldn’t because her eyes were set on the coat rack. She went on to say she knew there was not really a person in her room, but once the image was in her head, she could not shake it.

Our thoughts are so powerful they can create what in reality does not exist.

While I suggested the simple act of turning on the light, her father suggesting thinking the image was not a person but a guardian angel watching over her. With one action or one change of thought, the entire situation would have changed. Her fears would have been alleviated.

How many times do we become fixated on a supposed threat rather than the reality of our circumstance? 

We must be careful about thoughts we allow to flow through our minds. I am learning this is a choice we can make. We can choose to see a situation as scary, as something other than it is, or we can choose to turn on the light and alter our perspective. The right perspective can make all the difference.

How do you manage your thoughts? What techniques do you use to maintain the right perspective in any given situation? If you are like me, this may be an area you are working on. Trust me, it will make a difference in your life! Choose the right perspective.

Need help determining the game plan for your life? Not sure how you are wired, or what may be keeping you from living a purposeful life? Life Purpose Coaching can help clear the muddy waters. I would love to walk through the journey with you. Click here for more information.

Who are you?

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The room was filled with soon to be sophomores and their moms. I asked one question, “who are you?”

I shared with them the lies spoken to me when I was younger. I laid bare how frustrated and hurt I felt during those years. Words, I said, were powerful, and I had learned how to use them as swords and daggers in an effort to protect my already damaged heart.

Briefly, I explained how the lies I believed altered my perceptions, my actions, my words, and my thoughts.

Then, I showed them what it meant to walk through life unaware of who you are, and believing lies. Five brave girls joined me, five beautiful, courageous volunteers.

Phase One: Walking Blindfolded

Three girls stood in a line, each holding a small beach ball. A fourth girl stood blindfolded. The blindfold, a representation of the lies we believe. I gave her simple instructions: walk straight ahead, I will tell you when to stop. The beach balls will be tossed at you, and if you are able you can avoid them, but the blindfold has to stay on. As she completed the first pass I asked her how it felt, unable to see, objects coming at her. Scary. I was unsure. I may regret volunteering. I was unsure where to go. My heart is racing.

With my arm around my brave volunteer I explained: when we experience life shrouded in lies, stresses both big and small will alter our course. We are timid and unsure of which way to go. When we do not who we are, we are walking blindfolded.

Phase Two: Blindfolded, but guided

Another girl was added in. Her job was to hold the arm of her blindfolded friend and lead her to the opposite side of the room. However, I instructed this young lady to let go of her friend’s arm prior to the third ball being thrown. With more confidence, the blindfolded girl walked. The guide batted away the first two beach balls tossed. In spite of the blindfold, I saw shoulders more relaxed. Then, the guide let go and stepped away. Instantly, steps became hesitant and shoulders were tensed.

Why would I tell the one guiding to let go at the end? Because not even our friends can always be there. Tenderly I explained people, even parents, fail. We are imperfect and all have various stresses we are navigating. While we do our best to walk alongside one another, there may be some moments we find ourselves alone.

Phase Three: Freedom and truth

The blindfold was removed and my precious volunteer smiled a wide, joyful smile. I laughed along with her and stated: This time, sweet girl, walk without a blindfold. When the beach balls are thrown you may catch them, toss them aside, bat them away, or throw them back. It was her choice.

She nearly danced as she went. Freedom. Without the blindfold, she was able to navigate the course. While she did not know when the beach balls would be thrown at her, she was able to react. Why? Because she could see. That is what it is like to walk through life aware of who you are.

Are you walking through life blindfolded?

When you know who you are and are grounded in that truth, life’s circumstances and stresses will not destroy you. When you know who you are, conflicts are easier to resolve, and everyday stresses will not undo you.

I hope and pray they heard me when I said they are beautiful, they can be strong confident women. I pray they heard me say they are enough. I pray they believed me when I said they are fearfully and wonderfully made. I pray they heard me when I said they do not have to believe every word spoken of them.

And I pray for you too, to know who you are, to know how wonderfully exquisite you are. I pray you know the world needs you to use your gifts, to exercise your strengths. We need you to be you.

Having trouble navigating who you are? Life Purpose Coaching can help you discover how you have been created and how you have been purposed. Click here for more information.

For The Love

for the love graphic

For the Love by Jen Hatmaker is officially out! There are 500 members of her launch team excited and sharing the news far and wide. There is a group called the #4500 who are just as excited and just as vocal. Excuse our excessive sharing and widespread excitement. We have been waiting for this day for what seems like an eternity, and the summer’s heat is doing a doozy on our brains.

Forgive us, join in our enthusiasm, and for goodness sake, order the book!

People are hard. (Go ahead and shout your “amen!” to that statement.) You can be difficult, and so can I. Jen Hatmaker is fully aware of this. Every day we encounter other living, breathing, imperfect souls. And we even have to live with some of them. Every day we interact and have to learn how to walk alongside one another lest we strangle the living daylights out of one another. It’s just hard sometimes.

Be kind. Be you. Love Jesus.

That is what Jen states she dreams for her children, it is what I dream for each of us. Simple, messy, complicated, awkward, us. We are doing the best we can, rubbing up against each other sometimes gently and sometimes harshly. We have to learn to deal with one another better.

As Hatmaker claims, “we are not good gods over one another; we are better humans beside each other.”

This book? This book will have you laughing, nodding in agreement, shouting amen, doing some cartwheels, dancing in the living room, and whispering “thank you.” Jen has a way of saying what many of us think, but does so with humor, honesty, and love all intertwined and meshed together.

What does Hatmaker want for you? She says herself at the close of her book: You have authority to use your home as a sanctuary, your hands as tools of healing, your voice as an instrument of hope, your gifts as channels of incredible power…Let’s fulfill the good work we’ve been commissioned to do.

Gather a gaggle of girlfriends, sit back, and enjoy this one. You will be glad you did. You will be encouraged by every page you turn.

And maybe all women, everywhere, will come finally realize leggings are not pants, and community is beautiful.

Order on Amazon

Or Barnes and Noble

Or Christian Books

or wherever awesome books are sold.

Lean more about Jen Hatmaker on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

**As a member of the launch team, I received an advanced copy of this book, but no compensation. This review is my own thoughts, insights, and witticisms.

 

For the Love is coming

for the love graphic

Jen Hatmaker’s For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards is coming.

When? Tomorrow, August 18th!

I have been a part of her launch team, and it has been a wild, crazy ride filled with #500 excited souls. A unique little community has been formed, all with a desire to love others well.

Return tomorrow for my thoughts on this wonderful little book. It is worth every single page.

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Brownies for firemen

firefighters-hanging-1466143

My daughter came to me with an idea. She wanted to make brownies for firemen. Why? To say thank you for what they do. With her head tilted to one side she simply said, “they help people and put out fires, I think it would be nice to take them brownies.”

How can I, a mother wanting to instill compassion in her child, argue with that?

She and a friend made the brownies, with a surprisingly small mess for two silly seven year old girls. They cracked the eggs, poured the oil and water, stirred the batter, then waited in front of the oven. The sweet brownie aroma drew my husband out of his office, only to realize he would not be partaking in the gooey chocolate goodness.

I have never seen two girls so proud of a culinary creation.

Balancing the pan of brownies between them, they marched confidently to the firehouse door. Ringing the bell, a smiling firemen greeted them. When the four firemen heard the reason for the brownies, they were dumbfounded. No reason, just a simple thank you. No, you haven’t put out a fire out our house. We just want to say thank you.

Standing behind them, I watched the girls interact with these local heroes. It was beautiful.

The fireman in charge ushered them to the garage and began showing the girls the ins and outs of the fire truck. Wide eyed, they stared at the jaws of life. Happily, they climbed into the driver’s seat. With great delight, they worked the fire hose under the fireman’s watchful eye.

They laughed, the girls and the firemen. They looked with admiration at one another.

A multitude of giggles and thank yous filled the garage. The firemen thankful for an unexpected display of gratitude, and the girls thankful for an unexpected experience. Expectations were exceeded that afternoon, and I stood back, trying to keep tears from spilling from my eyes.

My child expected nothing, but received an extraordinary experience, one I could not have planned if I tried.

The firemen did not just take the pan of brownies and send the girls on their way. No, they created an experience the girls will long remember. How can I thank those men for such a gift? In that moment, they also reminded me the value of investing in people who show up.

Like the firemen, I want to exceed people’s expectations with every interaction.

How do you go above and beyond the call of duty? When interacting with others do you do the status quo, or attempt to exceed expectations? Have you experienced someone exceeding your expectations in your interaction with them? Take the time and say thank you to someone who has impacted your life today. Please share your stories.

Interested in discovering your purpose and how to engage it in everyday life? Life Purpose Coaching can help you discover and grow in your purpose. Click here for more information.

You can also connect with me and contact me on the Sparked Living LPC Facebook page.

Image from freeimage.com

Service temporarily unavailable

treadmill

What? You want to go to one more place and do one more thing? I am sorry, that service is temporarily unavailable.

Summer. Oh summer. I love you. I become irritated with you. Sweat flows in steady streams through the duration of our time together. Were it not for air conditioned buildings and cool swimming pools, I would loathe you. Sometimes sweet summer, you drag your feet a bit.

Like a circus clown on continual demand, I am also expected to provide entertainment. Every day. For three months. This clown is tired. I am ready to pack up the tent and wipe off my painted on smile.

I have already admitted I am failing at motherhood. As the days creep by, that one small fact remains true. And have I mentioned I am tired? Tired of messes. Tired of the constant chatter. Tired of the questions. Oh the questions. They come in rapid succession, beginning around sunrise and ending at sunset.

How is it I can spend all day with my single circus attendee and yet hear the phrase, “Can we do something? We haven’t spend much time together.”

My eye twitches, the hairs on my neck stand up. Haven’t spend much time together? Apparently the last 67 days of constant interaction do not count. No, I am done. All services temporarily unavailable.

That’s not fair of me. No one is to blame for my gradual shutting down. My perspective is to blame. The real problem? I feel I have nothing to show for my days. And that’s a fallacy too.

Nothing is more productive than investing in the life of my child.

Seasons change. Children grow. Children venture out on their own.

Parenting can be a fickle beast. One moment I want her home with me, where I know she is safe and sound. I want to hear her rapid fire questions and silly giggles. Yet the next I am counting down days until she spends her day elsewhere. I miss her. I want opportunities to miss her for but a few hours.

School begins soon and we are both keenly aware of it. She holds on tighter while I gently release her. We cope the best we know how, perfectly imperfect we are. My services are rendered useless from utter exhaustion, she demands more as she senses the coming change.

I am one amazing night’s sleep from being functional again.

Until then, I will wipe the sweat from my brow, spread a smile wide across my face, ingest copious amounts of caffeine, and venture out, again, because there are 18 days reaming in this circus.

Fellow parents. It is summertime. We love it. We don’t love it. Can we all agree we love the time spent with our children, yet also grow in gratitude for the school system? I struggle sometimes with maximizing opportunities, with enjoying the moment. Do you? How do you enjoy the summertime without becoming depleted?

Want to discover your purpose in the season you are in. Life Purpose Coaching can help. Click here for more information.

The heart of worship

praise

The heart of worship. How do we define it? How do we put parameters on what worship should be, should look like, should sound like?

Recently I perused some articles declaring one way of worship trumped another. The writer compared some church services to concerts, claiming church goers no longer participate. The writer further claimed churches sans instruments were more likely to contain participatory worshipers.

Yet I wonder, how can we deem another’s worship as right or wrong?

I have attended congregations filled with beautiful voices. No instruments entered the sanctuary. While I found the worship beautiful, it too was at times lacking. It seemed to me many were singing the same songs they had sang for years, and were merely going through the motions. In my opinion, I saw no one pressing in to the throne of Christ, they were simply there, hymnals open, singing notes. Some merely mouthed the lyrics.

My feet have walked into ethnically diverse churches that came alive as the first note was played. There was clapping, there was dancing, there were shouts of exclamation. This gospel infused style worship literally moved those in the building. I was intrigued by the beauty of it, by the freedom. Even there, in this lively place, some stood with arms crossed. There was no dancing, singing, or clapping coming from their seat.

I have sang along with talented musicians as they lead songs of praise. Filled with people, these congregations will smoothly go from acapella to music filled choruses. Infusing multiple styles of worship, some will lift their hands, some will clap, some will sway rhythmically. Here, even in the in between, there will be some who do not participate.

The heart of worship, who can define it?

It seems to me the right worship is dependent on the worshiper. One may stand silently, contemplating the words being sung. Another may dance in holy exclamation. Still another may sway gently, sometimes singing, sometimes listening.

Where the heart is set on Christ, there is worship.

Maybe worship happens when we kneel: Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! (Psalm 95:6, ESV)

Maybe worship is when we shout as instruments play: Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! … (Psalm 150:1-6, ESV)

Maybe worship is the unison of voices: Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously; let this be made known in all the earth. (Isaiah 12:5, ESV)

Or maybe worship is not at all about what we do or how we do it. Maybe true worship is what we become. You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.(1 Peter 2:5, ESV)

Worship happens as we gather together: For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them. (Matthew 18:20, ESV)

May we learn to worship in Spirit and truth. May our hearts long to praise Him. May our worship draw us closer to the One we worship.

Think of a time you were involved in a powerful worship moment? What happened? What made it so powerful? I would love to hear your stories.