All posts in Prayer Request

IF: God Moved

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It’s hard to believe I haven’t written about IF here before. I mean, really rather shocking. I chalk it up to the fact that I haven’t written much of anything here over the past year. Because if you’ve spent more than a little time with me over the last year, I’ve more than likely word-vomited on you about just how amazing IF has been for me.

Just in case I haven’t waxed poetic to you yet, and you don’t know a thing about what IF is, here’s the cliff notes version of it. IF began three years ago when God set the wheels in motion through Jennie Allen in Austin with their first conference in February of 2014. To say there was a groundswell following that conference is an understatement. IF exists to gather, equip and unleash women to live out their calling by creating tools and resources for the local church and the women they serve; a generation of women who desire to change their local context for the glory of God and the good of others. To underline the focus on the local church, IF keeps their February in-person attendance small, and then encourages women to host IF:Local gatherings in their local context to participate in the conference via Live Stream. (ahhh the power of technology)

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IF:North Oak Cliff 2015

IF:Local is how I first experienced IF, when I decided to host a gathering in my home last February. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But I knew they had wonderful speakers and I love gathering women together in my home, so I figured what could there be to lose? And let me tell you , it was more than I ever could have dreamed of, and has continued to be. God moved in such a powerful, tangible way and that weekend was just the beginning of what He would do through the last year.

After a weekend of getting to know each other and being vulnerable, the women gathered in my living room were asked to write on a stone what they felt God was calling them to beyond the weekend together. And those 20 minutes were the minutes that would rock my world, and solidify my faith. Those 20 minutes were the moments where any doubt I ever had about God was washed away. As we shared our calling, we also shared our fears and our prayer needs. We prayed for patience for a dear girl who had been dealing with infertility for 2 years, we prayed for movement in a relationship that seemed to need a nudge forward, we prayed for knowledge and confidence for a student readying for board exams, and we prayed for relationships to be built for a shy, introverted girl who longed for deep relationships with women in her community. We prayed for so many things, and God listened. My friend found out she was pregnant within two months of our gathering, and gave birth to a healthy baby girl in December. And that relationship that needed a nudge? Not only were they engaged shortly thereafter, they were married in December. That student? She passed her board exams with flying colors on her first try. And that girl who longed for friendships? That girl was me. And oh the fruit that prayer has yielded.

IF:Table at Christine's Home

IF:Table at Christine’s Home

Even that very weekend a brave soul showed up to my house not knowing anyone, and she has blessed me and discipled me through her steadfast faith and friendship this year. Christine lived in the area and we instantly clicked. And this year I watched her work through some tough decisions and, because of her faith and true abiding belief in the Father, she and her precious family are in Nashville now. And I was so sad, thinking I was back to longing for relationships. But then I stepped out on a limb and went to the IF:Local Leaders Gathering in Orlando in September, and from just that weekend, I have two new amazing friends, Jennifer and Laura…Laura who lives just minutes from me but we had to travel to Orlando to meet. And what amazing women they are. I grew closer to women who I had met through a church small group and together we got deeper with God and prayed Anything prayers. And the circle continues to grow. We’ve found an amazing church in our neighborhood and I’ve already met some amazing ladies there who I know will continue to bless my life and grow my faith.

I could go on and on about God’s provision and movement over the past year. But I say all of this to bring me here, IF:Gathering is once again upon us. And if I can push you to do anything at all through this tiny little space on the web, it’s to find a group of women who you can walk with spiritually and be vulnerable with and do live in the trenches with. A place where you can wrestle with your faith and work through it together. And I really believe IF can be that jumping off place for you. If you live in the Dallas area (or want to travel in!), I am hosting again this year, no…co-hosting with my IF friend Laura (God is GOOD!), and I would love for you to join us! We will be gathering February 5th & 6th. All of the details can be found here on our website page, as well as our Facebook event page. And if you don’t live in Dallas, rest easy! There are over 1500 Locals happening all over the world. Visit ifgathering.com/local to find one near you. And if by some chance there isn’t one near you, you can host one too! Or stream it live throughout the weekend right wherever you are.

I am so expectant and excited and filled with the joy of the Lord at the thought of this year’s IF:Gathering. I pray God will place on your heart the place you are meant to be and that you will come with an open heart and mind and eyes ready to see God move. My life was truly changed last February and I know there is more in store this year. So tell me, will we see you in February?

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A Song & A Prayer

Hillsong-Oceans

Have you ever had a song, or a poem, or a quote that you just couldn’t get away from? I don’t mean one of those earworm songs that gets stuck in your head and drives you crazy. I mean something that clearly God wants you to hear, or see, or read…something He will continue to place in your path until you stop brushing it off as coincidence and realize maybe, just maybe, God is actually trying to tell you something?

In the last few months I have really felt God stirring my soul and confronting me with the truth that I tend to stay where it is safe, and let fear and uncertainty hold me back, rather than leaning on my faith in Him that He will carry me through. The truth that if I would stop worrying about myself and my own comfort so much, He could use me for really great and incredible things in His name. I want so badly to move beyond my fears and let Him lead me where He wants to use me.

And in comes this song I just can’t get away from. For the record, I really don’t listen to Christian radio and am largely out of the loop on what is popular in the Christian music scene. So it’s not like this is a song I can’t get away from because it’s played all the time on the stations I listen to all the time. This has been brought to me through random blog posts, comments in other blog posts, Bible studies, friends’ Facebook posts…all unrelated, and all this song. So I finally listened to it and there God was, telling me once again to let go of my fears and grab on to Him.

I’m certain I am not the only one who has listened to this song and made it his or her prayer. It’s a scary prayer to pray, because God is so good in taking you to those places you aren’t comfortable when you ask Him to. But I know my God is good. And it might be tough, and it might be scary, but He can use me in this place of discomfort…this place where I can’t rely on myself but instead must truly trust in Him. I just pray I will keep praying this, and not fall back into my meek and fear filled ways. Lord help me to be bold and be a vehicle for your glory to touch others.

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

–  “Oceans” by Hillsong –

My Oklahoma-Shaped Heart

Oklahoma

I’ve tried to start this post some 10 or 15 times but never really know what to say. I am heartbroken by the tragedy the struck Moore, Oklahoma in the form of a monstrous tornado yesterday afternoon, just one day after another significant tornado in Shawnee, Oklahoma…and less than a week after the tornadoes that ripped through Granbury, Cleburne and other parts of North Texas.  I can’t remember a tornado season like this in these parts.

After spending four of my best years of life in Oklahoma for college, the state, and particularly the Norman area (just south of Moore) will forever hold a special place in my heart. It’s where I learned to live on my own, and to loosen up and enjoy myself more, and where I made the best friends I will EVER have…my forever friends. And because of that, I still have a lot of ties to the area. I guess what made yesterday’s tornado seem even bigger to me was realizing just how many people I love and hold dear were directly the path of that tornado’s destruction. My youngest sister, Caroline, is in school at the OU Health Sciences Center in OKC and she lives in Norman, her boyfriend’s parents and grandmother live in Moore, one of best friends, Ashley, lives on the Norman/Moore borderline…and that’s just to name a few of the many.

I was texting Caroline like a crazy, overprotective mother yesterday making sure she was safe and out of harm’s way. I was praying over Ashley’s storm cellar doors on Facebook….I was totally consumed by the enormity of this thing.  The photos of the devastation are almost mind-numbing. It doesn’t really seem possible. And then the children. Oh the children, Lord. I got home and just sort of dissolved into tears. I couldn’t help it.

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But just like good ol Toby Keith said, Moore (and really Oklahoma as a whole) is “strong and will persevere.” There is work to be done and rebuilding to start. What has happened cannot be changed. We can only learn from it and get on with it. We now have a duty to lift this community up in prayer, and to get down and dirty helping them rebuild and repair however we can. Here are a few ways you can help:

  • American Red Cross: Make a $10 donation by texting REDCROSS to 90999,  donate online or over the phone at 1-800-RED-CROSS
  • Salvation Army: Make a $10 donation by texting STORM to 80888, donate online or over the phone at 1-800-SAL-ARMY.
  • Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief Volunteers: Make a donation online .
  • Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma: Text FOOD to 32333 or donate online.

I know there are many more and I absolutely encourage you to share resources if you have them! I know sometimes it’s hard to know how to help when something like this happens. Take it from me, with my non-profit experience, if you have any money to give I PROMISE that is the best thing right now. That way they can get the items they most need, and the people who are trained in recovery and cleanup can do the work they are made to do.

My heart is with you, Oklahoma!

Lent

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Today is Ash Wednesday and marks the start of the Christian Lenten season. While I am not Catholic, I think Lent is an important time in our Christian walk as it is a dedicated time for us to prepare ourselves for Easter (I wrote on this last year) and really dwell of the Lord. Part of this preparation typically involves some sort of fasting, or giving something up for the 40 days leading up to Easter. I’ve decided this year I am going to, once again, give up alcohol for Lent and make a concerted effort to cut out fast food and all the junk food I’ve been eating of late (the second will take more preparation and planning than I’m accustomed to when it comes to food. So it’ll certainly be a challenge).

But I don’t want to just give something up, I want to give something back. My mom is really the one who brought this approach to my attention and I really love it. So I am planning to write a note, or a card, or even an email, to someone every day for the next 40 days to just tell them I love them, or am proud of them, or encouraged by them. I think we have really become so isolated from each other in many ways because of technology but also because we are just constantly pushing to reach the next milestone or goal and we don’t often take the time to celebrate what has been accomplished. I want to offer encouragement and support, in God’s name, this Lenten season.

So my question for you is are you giving anything up this year? Is there a particular reason you’ve chosen this to give up? And would you consider adding to your Lent commitment something to give back? It doesn’t have to be anything huge…but just something to take things beyond just yourself. Afterall, what better way to improve yourself than by helping to build up others around you?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

photo by Fadi Habib.

In Memory of…

As I sat this morning trying to get ready for work with the morning news on, it became a battle between me and my eyeliner, which was doing its best to run off my face before I even finished the first application. Every time I read a story, or watch a news segment, or see a picture, I end up in a puddle of tears. I’ve tried to figure out the best way to talk about what happened Friday in Newtown, CT at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Should I give my thoughts on gun control, or mental health care in this country, or perhaps on the way media cover these tragic events, or recap the President’s moving words to a gathered crowd last night. None of it seems quite right. So I think the best thing I can do is just to remember those lost and state what I know to be true.

I know that we live in a world where evil is present, but there is also good abounding around us. And there is good because of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, whose birth we are readying ourselves to celebrate in a few short days. I know that 27 wonderful souls were lost Friday, but that they are resting safe in the Father’s arms today. I know there were incredible acts of bravery and valor that took place throughout Sandy Hook Elementary that morning. I know that God has plans to see us prosper and have hope and a future and in that truth, I know that none of this tragedy comes from Him. I know that no matter how many explanations we come up with, or diagnoses we can pin on the killer, or laws we can sign into action we will never truly be able to make sense of what has happened in our country, in Newtown, Friday morning.

I know that the very best way we can honor those who we have lost, is to remember their names, each and every one of them, and to take every opportunity to hear their stories. I’ve been overwhelmed listening to the family members speak about their children, and grandmothers, and teachers they’ve lost and how they so desperately want the world to know what wonderful humans each one was. Let’s honor their memory by listening and loving and never forgetting those lost. And let’s vow to do everything we can to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

With that, I leave you with the names of those lost. Read them and remember them.

Charlotte Bacon

Daniel Barden

Rachel D’Avino

Olivia Engel

Josephine Gay

Ana Marquez-Greene

Dylan Hockley

Dawn Hochsprung

Madeleine Hsu

Catherine Hubbard

Chase Kowalski

Nancy Lanza

Jesse Lewis

James Mattoli

Grace McDonnell

Anne Marie Murphy

Emilie Parker

Jack Pinto

Noah Pozner

Caroline Previdi

Jessica Rekos

Avielle Richman

Lauren Rousseau

Mary Sherlach

Victoria Soto

Benjamin Wheeler

Allison Wyatt

 

photo by Mike Brand 

1The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. 3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.

Psalm 23

Helpless to Save

Have you ever just felt so helpless and unable to save the ones you love the most? There is something so crushing about watching a loved one who  doesn’t recognize that the pain they are choosing to endure is unnecessary pain. That they have the power to recognize a beautiful world with so much promise if they would just believe in the strength they have been given through God.

I’ve probably already said too much but I just want to put this out there for anyone who might be facing something that seems insurmountable at the time. God tells us that He has plans for us to prosper and that He is our refuge in times of trouble. When David was being hunted by King Saul he called on God and God delivered him from Saul’s clutches again and again.

But we have to believe. We have to truly believe in our hearts that God can, and will, do what He says. And we have to trust that if God is with us, then nobody can be against us.

Whatever you are facing, know that you are not alone. But you have to listen  or you will miss out on the prodigal grace that God so lovingly gives. It’s there, you just have to receive it. Sometimes God’s answers don’t look or sound the way we want them to, and it can be so hard to follow, but know that there is a greater plan than any of us could come up with on our own.

I’m sorry to be too preachy tonight, but this is just weighing heavy on my heart. Don’t settle for less that God wants to give you. Think of all the beautiful things you will miss out on.

photo: Seattle Municipal Archives

Prayer Request: Los Alamos

Friends, I have a prayer request for you this morning.  As you have likely heard, the Las Conchas Fire is knocking at the doorstep of Los Alamos, New Mexico. I’d like to ask that you pray for the people who call Los Alamos home, for the fire fighters who are facing the blaze, and for the safety and protection of the Los Alamos National Laboratory.  

You see, I have family who live in Los Alamos; my aunt and uncle Teddie Sue and Rick, my cousins (their kiddos) Kyle, Jennifer, Emmy and Jack, and their two sweet pups Scout and Scarlet. While it sounds as though they are starting to make progress in containing the fire, my family’s home is still in danger. As chance would have it, they are actually vacationing right now and by the grace of God, they are blessed with some wonderful friends who have taken their dogs and a few important belongings out of town for safe keeping.  And yet, I still cannot fathom having to just sit and wait to see what happens. 

I have been reading the book Crazy Love by Francis Chan and reading last night with the fires weighing on my mind, I was reminded that we truly are not in control. And that’s a good thing. It is these moments in life when we run to God and rely on our faith, knowing that God has a plan and will carry us through. 

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!…Do not be anxious about anything.

Philippians 4:4 & 6

My thoughts and prayers are with everyone facing the flames.

 
photo by John Fowler.
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