Showing posts with label prayers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label prayers. Show all posts

The Smallest Things

I'm helping Chris stand in the standing frame in our apartment in Norman

 I realized a few years ago that I was turning my thoughts into prayers. As thoughts came across my mind, I began to phrase them as questions for God. I turned to asking Him for wisdom, desiring direction, or pursuing answers from His word. When you spend day after day alone with your own thoughts and no one to talk to - it can get a little interesting, can't it?

I talk to God about the littlest and silliest things sometimes. Like how the intricacies of a flower petal are so perfect yet unique. Or how silly a bug looks. But I talk to Him about the big stuff too - like finances, caregiving, and the heavier things on my heart, and the things that trouble my mind. And you know what? He likes it that way! He really does want to hear what's on our hearts. I believe He enjoys us sharing all the little details and big prayer requests as well. Why? It's open communication - relationship.

Sometimes, I wonder if God should be "bothered" with my mental mumblings. But then I am reminded that sometimes, it's the smallest things that help solidify relationships. My BFF and I have been friends for over 50 years and we can talk about anything at any given time! We know each other and no detail is to big or small for us to share. It's part of what makes us friends. 

God desires that kind of relationship with us as well, I really believe that. We've missed a lot by thinking that prayer is just taking Him a laundry list of all the things we need. But He wants to hear from us more - and more often. We can bring Him all the big stuff, sure - but we can bring Him all the tiny stuff too!

Today, I will focus more on turning all my thoughts into conversations with God. I'll bring all the big stuff, and the smallest stuff to Him today. I'll let Him sort through what is "important" - because what's really important to Him, I believe, is our communion with Him. So, today I'll "talk His ear off"! Will you join me?

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31 Days in Psalm 31 devotional book cover


Check out my bookstores. I have eBook devotionals, Bible study guides, poetry, and more in my Dove's Fire Ministries bookstore. My Amazon bookshelf has a couple of those in print or on Kindle. My devotional 31 Days in Psalm 31 is all about seeking God from the cave! Check it out!



Inside the Fish

 

chris in the standing frame

As caregivers, we have good days and bad days  - just like everyone else! Actually, the number of caregivers is on the rise as Baby Boomers begin to age and need more personal care. A friend of mine just informed me the other day that his wife has early signs of Alzheimer's. Finding a caregiver-friend isn't as hard as it used to be as there are lots more of us. 

Yet in the midst of all the caregivers, it can be a lonely walk. Maybe we need to meet via zoom too! The latest technological advancements have made it easier to connect. However, in the day-to-day grind of caregiving, it's still easy to feel alone. As I sit here writing this morning's devotion, sipping my coffee, I feel the aloneness. It can be easy to get my focus on that and get lost in it for the rest of the day. 

But before I take that dive, I can help myself avoid it by going back to a scripture I read this morning in my private devotions. I found myself in Psalm 9. Verse 10 in the New Living Translation says, Those who know Your name trust in You, for You O Lord, have never abandoned anyone who searches for You. I stopped and thought about that for some time after I read it this morning.

I'm pretty sure the searching and leaning into God is the important part of this verse. When we do that - He can't help Himself as He leans back toward us. That's one thing I love about Him, that He wants to be with us and reacts to our faintest cry for Him. 

My mind ran through several of my favorite passages as I thought of people in scriptures who were searching for Him. He met Hagar twice when she was searching for Him. He even met Saul on the road to Tarsus, because even though he was committing heinous crimes against the church, his heart was searching for God. Then, I thought of Jonah. 

There he sat in the belly of the whale. He has purposefully and intentionally disobeyed God's command. Yet it says in chapter 2 that Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from inside the fish. And you know what? God answered. Not out of obligation or pity - but because He saw a heart searching for Him.

As caregivers, it can feel like we are in the belly of the whale. We can feel cut off from others - and the pandemic certainly hasn't helped that! But if God can hear the prayers of Jonah in the belly of the whale - the person who deliberately disobeyed God to end up there- then, I propose - He can hear us too!

Today, I will meditate on the truth that God will not abandon us. Instead, He will meet us right where we are. I'll be thankful that even my bad attitudes are not enough to keep Him away. I'll remind myself that He wants to be with me. He likes walking alongside me through time. And I'll rejoice that He is right here - right now. Will you join me?

3-Point Patterns


One of the many things I like about King David is his transparency before God. In a lot of the psalms he wrote, he poured his heart out in pure honesty. I love how he explains his emotions and feelings so vividly. He says things like he cried all night, or like in Psalm 3, he says his enemies have greatly increased. In Psalm 61 he talks about how his heart and emotions are overwhelmed. 

I think there is a parallel for us as caregivers. I've said it before that it's quite alright to tell God how we really feel. If you could hide it from Him, where would you put it? My point, of course, is that He knows anyway. God is fully aware of my fears, thoughts, and the full spectrum of emotions I cycle through pretty much every day. It's okay to be like David and lay it all out on the table before God. It's not like He doesn't know.

But David does two things after baring His soul. First, he reminds himself of what God has done in the past. In Psalm 3, David says You are a shield for me - the One who lifts my head. The Lord sustains me. In Psalm 61 he reminds himself - You have been a shelter for me - a strong tower from the enemy. 

The last thing David does consistently throughout the Psalms is to make a declaration. In Psalm 3 he declares I will not be afraid. In psalm 61 his declaration is I will abide in Your tabernacle - I will trust in the shelter of Your wings.

You'll find this 3-point pattern all through the psalms that are attributed to David. I'm learning to live it out myself. We can come to God with all - every single thing we are feeling and trying to sort through. He is big enough (and smart enough) to handle it. Then, we can help ourselves out by reminding ourselves of what God has done in the past. Thirdly, we can make our own declarations of trust and faith to trust Him for one more battle - one more struggle - one more day.

Today, I'm going to focus on two things. I will remind myself of all the things God has done in my past. I'll spend time thinking about the times I know he spared my life. My thoughts will be on how He has kept me these six decades. And then - I will declare that I will continue to trust Him. I will keep on praising Him and I'll keep on lifting my soul up to Him because I trust Him. And that is how I will trust Him with one more day. Will you join me?

Did You Hear That?

As if the life of a caregiver didn't have enough daily ups and downs, it can seem like life just feels the need to throw a few more circumstances at us sometimes. Yesterday, my day had so many ups and downs my emotions were all drained out by evening. There was good: the mobility van was fixed and running. Then there was bad: now the lift is broke. Of course I had cancelled our ride arrangements for the next two days since I was getting the van back. So we are stuck at home again for a little bit. But such is a day.

Needless to say, today I feel the need to heed the words of Psalm 46:10 Be still and know that I am God. It is difficult to be still when your thoughts are running all around in your head. So I am sipping my second cup of coffee and trying to get my head and my heart to slow down and take this day one second at a time instead of in a whole lump all at once.

I found myself in Psalm 143 during my devotions as I was trying to calm myself down to face the day. The psalmist starts out with a plea to God to:
Hear his prayer
Listen to his pleading
Answer his pleas for help
Caregivers can find themselves in situations where we just want God to hear us, listen to our hearts and answer us in His faithfulness. David goes on in this Psalm to explain what he is feeling at the moment:
My spirit is overwhelmed
My heart is desolate
My heart feels like fainting

He's crying out for answers and help in his situation. And the caregiver asks for nothing less. In verse 7, David says answer me quickly Lord, before my spirit fails. Who hasn't felt like that? Any number of situations can arise in a day of caregiving and we feel like we are just going to faint if God doesn't provide some answers. They don't even have to be the ones we want or like - but we just need some answers.

This morning as I was trying to slow my heart and mind down and absorb something from His word, my eye fell on verse 8. Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning. Can we hear mercy? Is His lovingkindness real enough to feel? Of course my head went off with tons of questions; but my thoughts ended up with the woman the Pharisees brought to the temple. You know, the one the leaders brought to Jesus to condemn? (John 8) 

They were saying she had been caught in sin and should be stoned. But Jesus did not condemn her. He asked the one without sin to throw the first stone at her; and they all just walked away. I wonder if she heard mercy that day? She certainly heard the hate and condemnation in the voices of the Pharisees. Today I need to hear mercy in His voice. While I'm going to guess that God does not fix vans or redeem us from every single situation we face as caregivers, I am going to lean on Him for direction and answers today. 

Today I will meditate on His great, endless mercy. I will purposefully lean in close to Him and listen for His heart beating for me. My thoughts will be on how He can bring peace into a tumultuous situation and calm the emotionally raging soul. And I will cling to His peace today. Will you join me? 

Say What You Mean - Mean What you Say

If there is one thing I have learned since I became a caregiver it is to be open and honest with my feelings. I learned that God is big enough to handle my "real" feelings - there's no need to "protect" Him. People I had more difficulty with because you're never sure how someone is going to take what you say and how it's going to affect them. Over and over I've had people tell me that they appreciate the openness and transparency with which I write. But it didn't come easy for me. Maybe I just figured I didn't have anything to lose; or perhaps I just got too tired to filter everything any more. Who knows?

I've been open and honest with God for a lot longer since I figured He already knows what I really think, so why would I try to hide my emotions or thoughts from Him? But being open with people has been another story. I have trust issues for sure - and I'm not denying that. Actually, this openness that I am just discovering is something I've admired about David and the other psalmist. In too many instances, the "church" has directly or indirectly taught us that our emotions are a sin. I've been told, Don't say that  or even you shouldn't feel that way. What other way can I feel, but how I feel? (smile)

David doesn't seem at all worried about what people think about his feelings and emotions. He just lays it all out there before God and man. And David was a king - he was in the public eye which means that a whole lot more people actually cared what he thought. I think sometimes he seems ambiguous, or divided in his thoughts. For instance, in Psalm 25:15 He makes a bold statement of faith:

My eyes are continually toward the Lord,
For He will pluck my feet out of the net.

He makes a plea for grace followed immediately by some strong emotions. 

I am lonely and afflicted
the troubles of my heart are enlarged
bring me out of my distresses

In some of the circles I've been affiliated with we were not even allowed to say we were lonely, afflicted or distressed. Using these "negative" terms was considered to be showing a lack of faith. But I think that we cannot honestly ask God for help with something we cannot acknowledge. And how can we honestly accept His help if we refuse to declare our needs? 

God is big enough to hear our earnest plea for help. His hearing is good enough to hear our silent cries in the night. As caregivers we are used to carrying the whole load; and we typically feel like we have to act like super heroes and do it all on our own - or we are failing. (Maybe that's just me!) But today is a good day to just be honest with God about our emotions, feelings, struggles and victories. Another psalmist said God is a very present help in time of trouble. I like that He is very present. 

Today I am going to roll all of my cares over onto God's big shoulders. I'm going to be honest with Him about the troubles of my heart, and I am going to trust Him for one more day. Will you join me?

Can You Hear Me Now?

Have you ever just reached the point of desperation? As a caregiver it seems I live on the edge of desperation a lot! lol. These are times when my life and my faith seem to conflict the most. I can pray and pray until I run out of words and it seems like God just isn't listening. My Bible thumping background haunts me because I know scriptures like 1 John 5:15 - And this is the boldness which we have toward him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us: and if we know that he hears us whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions which we have asked of him.

When I was taught that scripture it was by what I call the faith-ers. It was in the context of believing that God hears us and jumps at our command. Over the years I have found that concept to be in error. My next thought today is this So is healing not in His will today? I don't suppose I will ever really know why He chooses to do as He does; He is God of course and can see the whole picture while I can see only part - and not very clearly. 

My trouble is that if I am totally honest with myself - I don't know that He hears me. I trust that He hears me when my heart cries out - but how do I know that He hears my heart's cry? don't suppose there is any way to know...

But I can turn to another scripture for some help. Psalm 61:1-2 says this O God listen to my cry! Hear my prayer! From the ends of the earth I will cry to You for help, for my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety, for you are my refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me. (NLT) I have sung this scripture for years but today it really rings from my heart as I ask God to hear my prayers; hear my cries. I know He has been my shelter for all these years and I have no plans of running to anyone or anything else! He is my rock - my strength - my song. Today my heart cries to Him to hear me and rescue my heart from the enemy's snare.

My meditation today will be a cry to Him for help. I will remind myself of His faithfulness and strength. And I will trust Him to carry me today.

Inside Out

Some days are easier to bear than others, for whatever reason. It could simply be our emotional state, how we feel physically, series of good or bad things that happen, or just dealing with the day to day grind of the caregiving situation. During the times we are stretched beyond our strength we can become tired inside and out! When weariness sets in there is really no one who can help but God!

Ephesians 3:16 in the old King James Version of the Bible Paul prays that they will be strengthened with might by the Holy Spirit in the inner man. The New Living says that He gives you mighty inner strength through the Holy Spirit. Either way since we are believers, Holy Spirit is living in us and He can give us strength from the inside out. It must be part of the Holy Spirit's overall job description because in Acts when they were told to go wait for the Spirit, they were told that they would receive power from on high.

 So it should not be surprising to know that He can fill us up with the Lord's strength for whatever lies ahead of us today or behind us from tomorrow. I say it that way because it may be yesterday's tragedy that brought us to today. But no matter where we find ourselves today He can give us strength to walk it out and since He lives inside our being this strength comes from the inside and strengthens our whole being body, soul and spirit.

I think the key may lie with us in that we must learn how to wait on God. That's a lot more difficult than it sounds. Especially for caregivers as we are many times having to motivate ourselves to keep going, not lose heart and press on into today. But verse 11 may also give us a little help on releasing His strength inside to strengthen our outside. In this verse Paul is still praying the same prayer for the Ephesians and he prays that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts...I love that! We already discussed how we all have the same Christ and no one has any more of Him than another. But the last part of this verse tells us how to let Him be more at home in our hearts - as you trust in Him.

Isn't that the key? We must learn to trust Him more - not that we get more of Him but so that He is more comfortable in our hearts. Today I will put my energies to work to trust Him more so that He will be comfortable in my heart and I will be positioned to receive His strength.


But What About Me?

In a discussion yesterday I was talking about some of the emotions that are part of the caregiver's package. I was expressing the feelings that make it seem like God has abandoned us. While we know He didn't...it can certainly feel at times as though He did...and that He is far away.

 In Psalm 13 we can see that the psalmist David had some similar feelings. How long O Lord will you look the other way? somehow there is a small amount of comfort in knowing that we are not the only persons in the world who have ever felt like God is not looking on us with His favor - or looking our direction at all!  Even though David pours out all of his anguish before the Lord - he ends up in the last verse of this psalm with this phrase...but I will trust in Your unfailing love.

Isn't that where we are today? Some days we are unable to feel or sense God in any way...yet we will trust in His unfailing love. Psalm 19 ends with one of these types of thoughts as well. He prays let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight O Lord!

These are my prayers today. That I will continue to trust even in the questions and doubts. And that my meditations will be pleasing in His sight today! Will you join me?

Emotionally Stranded

  I was up late last night - and it wasn't to study my Bible. Lol. I was watching a dumb show. But each episode ended with things up in ...