A Heart that Prays

It was November 1992 and I was alone in our apartment, Darrell had left town on a hunting trip and as a new bride for the first time since our wedding I was alone. I pulled out my Bible and sat quietly before The Lord and began to pray. I think it was just a normal prayer, I don’t remember it being anything unusual, I began to pray in the Spirit and soon I was scribing in my journal the things God was speaking…

That day prophetic prayer changed my life! God spoke ‘You will be a mother soon’ and within two months I was pregnant with our first daughter. From that day forward, prophetic prayer became a way of life.

Over the years, I sought The Lord in many different ways, quietly worshiping, boldly proclaiming, quoting His word and when words weren’t enough and allowing His Spirit to pray through me. It is from those times I had a front row seat in watching my family become established, lives changed, relationships mended, babies born, nations shaped, hearts healed and grace received. It is like being a part of the supporting cast of your favorite play; you see the lead actors filling their roles knowing in some scenes you will be used as a catalyst that directs the storyline in a new direction.

A few years had passed, it was 3 AM, and I was awake again. It seemed like I had been waking up at 3 AM for weeks (I am sure it was only days) but after repeatedly being awakened in the night I was getting frustrated with my inability to sleep. I crawled out of bed, humphed myself down before The Lord and asked Him why I was awake and if He had anything to do with it. He led me to Isaiah 50:4, 5

“The Lord God has given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary. He awakens me morning by morning, He awakens my ear to hear as the learned. The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, nor did I turn away.”

There it was, my early wake up calls were so I could take those same things I was hearing in prayer and begin to speak them to weary hearts. The choice to hear and the choice to speak were mine, courage and boldness would be much needed attributes.

Over the next few weeks, I would meet The Lord at 3 AM and listen attentively all He had to say to me as well as what He had to say to those around me. The first time He asked me to speak, I was shaking to my core, nervous, anxious, unsure. But God, in HIs kind and gentle ways, continued to whisper to my heart that it was time to speak. So, I gathered all the courage I could muster and declared what I sensed The Lord was saying. Lightning didn’t strike, the earth didn’t tremble, and I was still standing when it was over. I prophesied according to my faith and God met me there, right in the middle of it all.

Our ability to hear God is a promise we can receive, His word declares we are His sheep and His sheep hear His voice (John 10:27).

John 16:13 reminds us that our advocate, the Holy Spirit, is the Spirit of truth and He comes to us to guide us into all truth and tells us things to come.
Jeremiah 33:3 says when we call to God, He will answer and show us great and mighty things, we have not seen or heard.

We are commissioned us to pursue love, desire spiritual gifts, but especially that we prophesy in 1 Corinthians 14:1.

As believers we have the ability to hear God and know the plans He has for us, our families, our neighbors and our nation. God wants for us to be a prophetic voice to those around us, to speak on behalf of His people, He wants women of faith to rise up and declare His promises. He wants to see His Kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven.

Begin to speak His Word over your life and ask Him to reveal to you His destiny; He longs to give you a glimpse of your future!

Daddy’s Arms

No safer place to be than in daddy's arms!

No safer place to be than in daddy’s arms!

Her chubby, little toddler legs run around the house searching, she looks in all his usual places, she glances into the living area, not there, back to our bedroom, not there, I hear her open the bathroom door, still no sign of him. I hear the swish of her diaper as she toddles by and see her come back around the corner into the entry, she peeks through the glass door frame into the office and she spots him, seated at his desk, the closed doors preventing her access to him. She is smart, she knows there are two ways into his office and takes off around the corner to go through the half-bath but the door is shut, I hear a whimper and get up to help her get to her final destination. As soon as the door is open she toddles right around his desk, boldly walks right up to his chair and then with all the effort of a 14month old, makes every effort to climb up into his lap. Big strong arms lift her, seats her comfortably on his leg and she makes her self at home, reclines against him and sighs. As quickly as she is settled, she is ready to hop down and go back to playing. No conversations, no antics or tugging on his glasses or earpiece, just a quick snuggle in daddy’s arms and a sense of being seated in just the right place before moving onto the rest of her day.

I watched and was amazed, she walked boldly to her daddy, not a hesitant bone in her body, no wondering if she would be accepted when she arrived, no need for conversation or even the need for his full attention; she had no agenda, she only wanted a moment in his presence. Once she knew she had access to him, with a contented smile, she was ready to go about her day, ready to take off and play!

“Come boldly to the throne of grace…” (Heb 4:16) These words suddenly took on new meaning, with full assurance of acceptance, knowing my strength will never be enough to seat me in His lap, His loving arms reach out and lift me from my humble position and wraps arms of strength, grace and comfort around me as He holds me close to His heart. Just one moment of His presence can calm my unsure heart and draw me into the depths of His love.

This picture was worth a thousand words in my mind. Ana Grace has captured her daddy’s heart, he never hesitates to take her up into his arms and comfort, hold or just love on her. He stops all he is doing and offers her a simple embrace and then gives her the freedom to continue on with her day. If I ask for bread, will my Heavenly Father give me a stone? You being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, HOW MUCH MORE will our Heavenly Father give good gifts to you?

Since this moment I have been reminded to stop periodically throughout my day, step away from whatever I am doing and allow my heart to go on a hunt. I begin by taking a deep breath and quieting my mind, I begin to feel His presence and I look for His peace, and then, I just sit. I enjoy the embrace, I relish the feeling of His nearness and His strength. Sometimes I have to get back to what I was doing, other times those things just don’t seem so pressing and I feel released to just sit awhile. Either way, I know I have my Daddy’s heart and He has mine and those moments will forever be etched into the fabric of my life!

Tomorrow, Ana will wake up, she will call out for ‘dada’ and at some point she will again put those two pudgy legs to work trekking all over the house looking for the hero of her heart, rest in his presence and know that she is his little princess and has full access to him, no matter what obstacles might seem to be in the way!

Found

Found in His presence.

Hungry for more.

Yearning, early wake up calls draw me near.

Less and less about me, more and more about Him.

Oh, how He loves me!! The power of His love is greater still than my heart can grasp, than my mind can handle or my emotions can even feel. The depth of His love is beyond my understanding and the height to which He would go to secure my heart challenges how my mind perceives love.

Awakening early, hearing the gentle whisper of His Spirit.

Calling.

“Come away with Me!”

Wooing my heart into time with Him, alone.

Uninterrupted, intentional and intimate.

Be Still and Know – be still and know the power of His love. Be still and know the depth of His passion. Be still and know the fullness of His great grace. Be still and know His prevailing peace and hope.

Be still and know, intimately know, Him!

Today, I am found.

Found in HIM!

The Gift of Friends

I recently had a chat with a friend, she laughed as she mentioned the need to be flexible; late nights with young adults who need to talk and getting on the ground with a baby who wants to play, chick flicks with the girls and wrestling matches with the boys. In that one moment I thought, ‘she gets me!!’ Her children, 4 girls, 3 boys, range from 22 to 5 years; mine, 3 girls and 3 boys, range from 20 (next month) to 14 …months. My life spans across every educational line from college to pre-school. Parenting many is like the Texas weather, unpredictable and ever changing.

I have friends who are empty nesters; I have friends who are having their first babies. My friends come as singles, marrieds, single-agains, with children, without children, working moms, SAHMs, business professionals, statesmen, ministers and students. I love the many friends God has placed in my life, but sometimes I realize that those friends just don’t get my life. While some may be able to be at every baseball game, attend every karate class, make every equip class at church or dive deep into a ladies’ Bible study. Others are busy making their way in the corporate world, challenging the political establishment, or leading world changing organizations and ministries. Me, I am at home trying to listen to the hearts of young adults as they learn to fly while changing a poopy diaper, staying up late waiting for older ones to return home while knowing I will be getting up early with a young one and then hoping a nap will be on the next day’s agenda.

I love my life!! I am not trying to be someone else or even envy those who are placing their mark on this world. However, sometimes it would be nice to just have someone who understands. After this conversation, I realized she did!! Funny thing was I was with her when she had her last. I was there when she was laid up in bed for months, when she had her precious miracle and was privilege to hold him in my arms. I was there when she was the one hoping for naps and helping daughters launch into the world. And yet, I was one of the ones who just didn’t get it. But now, I do! And with this precious understanding comes a friend who gets me!!

Sometimes it is hard to find our place in the world, it is difficult to be all things to all people and we will kill ourselves if we try. I realize this is just a season, it is just a moment in time and in the next few years I will have daughters moving out, boys heading to college and a young girl ready to share late night stories and discover who she is in this great big world. It will be during those times when I can once again attend every baseball game, launch out in business or ministry, shape the political culture, or just enjoy a moment of quiet. Proverbs 31 is a beautiful picture of the many things a woman can become!! It is a beautiful reminder that God has created us without limits and we can run a business, lead others, honor our husbands and raise a family. It is a lifetime of living, not a day in the life of. And this one truth sets me free embrace today and just be!!

No matter what season you are in, there is someone who ‘gets you’! The God who created you and created the seasons you walk through knows right where you are. He sees the dirty dishes, the baby who needs a bath, the sticky hands that prevent you from wearing white until all fingers are no longer clinging to your legs, the sleepless nights and the laundry filled days. He ‘gets’ the feelings of loneliness, the cry of the heart for divine purpose and the fear that you are forgotten. He understands the issues of our female hearts, he created them, he fills them and he loves them. He understands our frustrations when dreams are placed on hold or the longing to have ‘Calgon’ take us away. Not only does He understand, He has a plan.

Jeremiah 29:10 – 14 (v 10 Tomi paraphrase)This is God’s Word on the subject: “As soon as ‘this season of Tomi’s’ is up and not a day before, I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you into a new season. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” God’s Decree.

You have a place in this world and there is Someone who understands. Whisper a simple prayer and ask Him to be with you today, receive His peace and then look for that friend who maybe once upon a time you didn’t get, but now gets you. She is your gift from Him today! If you have been there, then remember to be that friend to someone else, they might just need a reminder that you were once there as well and God didn’t forget where you were!! And to my sweet friend, “THANK YOU!!”

Counting Sheep

I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. (Psalms 4:8 NKJV)

She was awake, it was 1 AM and she had begun to fuss. She wasn’t hungry and there were no signs of discomfort, she was just awake. As I took her up in my arms and gently rocked her back and forth I was transported to another place, another time and I was the infant being cradled in loving arms.

It was my senior year at college. That time in life when you future is just on the horizon and a world of opportunity is what lies ahead. When the days are brighter and the dreams are sweeter. For me it was dark and bitter.

It was more than the darkness of the night, it was the darkness of my soul. The darkness held my fears, held my doubts and held my shame. I would lie awake at night unable to sleep, tossing and turning, tormented by the void in my soul, the weight of my guilt and the bleak outlook for my future. Sleep would elude me, my enemy was my own sin and shame, and turmoil filled my mind with despair,

Sleepless nights became weeks and then months, after counting every sheep, cow or duck I could find, I was done. What hope could there be for my future if I couldn’t function in a day.

One of those sleepless nights I dug deep and pulled out a last resort, two prayers I remembered from my childhood, “The Lord’s Prayer” and “Now I lay me down to sleep”. I began to gently whisper those prayers and soon found myself in peaceful slumber. Waking up the next morning, I really didn’t know what had caused me to sleep, I was just grateful I had. The next night, another sleepless night, once again counting sheep and unable to grab a few zzzz’s, I finally remembered to whisper a prayer, sleep came before it was over. For months I prayed, “Now I lay me down to sleep…” For months I would whisper in the night, “Our Father, who art in Heaven…” and a gentle peace would draw me into sleeps sweet embrace.

Those prayers were the catalyst for me to seek The Lord and find Jesus, those prayers became a stone path leading me to the foot of the cross. It was those nightly prayers, two simple prayers, nothing added, nothing taken away, that drew me to the Savior.

I graduated college in May of 1988, on June 2nd of that same year I finally surrendered it all. The peace that would draw me into a gentle sleep each night, was now the peace I had each and every day. The heaviness of my sin was no longer a weight I was carrying, the guilt and shame no longer tormented me in the night, I choose to receive Jesus as my Lord and Savior and my life would never be the same.

Tonight, as I held Ana, I was taken back to that sweet embrace of the Father. A wayward, sleep and peace deprived child He would lovingly nestle against His chest offering me the one thing I thought I needed most, sleep. The reality was He knew I needed something even more, I needed Him. I needed Jesus!

Occasionally, I will have another sleepless night, a sick child, a heavy burden, an event that tries to implant some lies. When those times come, I pull out those two simple prayers, lay my head against my Father’s chest and receive His embrace of peace as it cocoons me and sleep.

Her eyelashes fluttered against my skin, her breath warm and soft, her fingers wrapped around my finger, there is no place I would rather be. How great is the Father’s love for us, because I know, there is no place He would rather be.

When you lie down, you will not be afraid; Yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet. (Proverbs 3:24 NKJV)

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Full Speed Ahead

Have you ever tried to restrain a two year old and keep him from running. It is like trying to hold a wild bronco by the bridle. Twisting, turning, pushing and pulling, they try everything in their power to break free of the hold being placed on them. The moment you let go they take off running, seeing how far and how fast they can go. If you try to pick them up they go into what my husband and I term ‘anti-lift mode’, contorting their body to be a limp noodle you are unable to hold.

I have a son who has a need for speed. His favorite all time movies are Cars and Cars 2. He has longed for a motorcycle since he was two and has loved to be on the go and in constant motion since birth. There have been many times when I have had to put a locked grip onto his arm to restrain him from taking off. What would happen if I kept him in that locked grip and never let go to let him run free? What happens when I do let go, do I lose control or do I gain something in the letting go?

When he was a toddler my hand restrained him from running out into the street or a full parking lot, it was there for protection and guidance. Did he always like it? No. However, there were times when the parking lot was empty or we took him to a park or just sent him out the back door where he was allowed to run free and without restraint. Did he learn something from this? Yes. He learned there was a time to walk and a time to run, a time to be on guard and a time to be free. He learned that I was placed in his life as a guardian, not as a dictator and he learned to feel for my protective hand when danger might be around.

Walking through life I have felt that death grip on my arm, launching out into the busyness of life without a thought about where I was heading or what I was about to get myself into, trying to yank my arm away as if I know what is best. But the Lord’s grip is both firm and loving, His grip is there to protect as well as to guide. Hebrews 12: 7-11 in the Message Bible reads –

My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline, but don’t be crushed by it either. It’s the child he loves that he disciplines; the child he embraces, he also corrects. God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God’s training so we can truly live? While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best. At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.

I have also felt the freedom of the run, the wind in my hair and the delight in forging ahead knowing that the boundaries have been set into place and I am free to explore, free to enjoy, free to be in the moment without concern for danger because I am in a secure setting.

Our Father is a loving Daddy who watches over our coming and going, He has a protective hand waiting to grab our arm at a moments notice to keep us from launching out and getting hurt, but just like that two year old, we can twist and turn and try to break free because we want to just run and be free, or we can learn to watch for the oncoming traffic and begin to walk by His side, trusting that His arm will reach out to shield us if danger heads our way.

Moving Past the Pain

It didn’t hurt.

The ache was no longer there.

That place that kept getting rubbed the wrong way by that one (or two, or three…) person that just seemed to always say the wrong thing at the wrong time, the one (two, or three) who had been abusive in word and deed.

In that instant, I knew I was free!

It began with little digs, and a constant one upping, moving into put downs and reminders of my failures. I finally had enough and just shut the door. I was through and I was hurt.

Wounds not found on my flesh but on my heart. Words harshly thrown can wound deeper than a fist to the face.

In the midst of the pain the choice to forgive was mine and mine alone. I must choose to forgive, by faith, and trust one day the pain would no longer be there.

The choice was made.

Approaching the throne of grace, I asked for the gift of faith and set my will in the direction of forgiveness. With this act came prayers for myself and for my oppressors. I wanted to believe forgiveness would be simple and quick and I could just move on. Sometimes it just doesn’t happen that way, sometimes trust has been so broken and a heart so wounded and the pain so deep that while the act of forgiveness has taken place the actual healing coming from forgiveness takes time.

The gift of time.

Giving myself the gift of time, I chose to allow the inner promptings of the Holy Spirit to remind me when I needed to dig a little deeper and when I needed to just let the soil of my heart rest. Occasionally, I would test the waters and see how my heart would respond.

It was during those times I had to fight the lies of the enemy. Lies he would whisper about the pain, lies he would declare about a true lack of forgiveness, lies to keep me in the bondage and lies to tie me to down with condemnation. He would poke and poke on those wounds and deceive me into thinking true forgiveness didn’t hurt.

It was during those times when I would remind him I had forgiven by faith and someday my emotions would follow. Someday, how I felt would line up with the decision I had made.

The day arrived.

I tested the waters of my heart and felt…joy! The pain was gone, the gentle pricks of my heart were no longer pricks of pain but undeniably joy. Joy for their families, joy for their destinies and joy for their lives.

John 20:23 – “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them;”

Jesus made a way for me to be forgiven and from His forgiveness, He has asked me to forgive others. He does not leave me on my own to just say the words but to truly embrace the grace needed to receive healing and hope for my wounded heart and to know healing comes sometimes instantaneously and sometimes over time but either way it comes by faith!