A Journey of Prayer

 

The place of prayer we seek.

In sacred privacy, where nothing and no one exist but you and the Maker of heaven and earth, words rise in a natural flow – – – as that of a fragrance being breathed up by God Himself.  Your heart is vulnerable, exposed. The “what” or the “how” bring no worry when words escape your lips. This time of prayer is special and incomparable to any said moment. It is where Grace comes down and meets broken. It is where Healing touches sick. It is where Hope purges despair. It is where Wisdom enlightens uncertainty. It is where Creator redeems and restores the tarnished and ruined soul. Yes, this time of prayer is one that we enter with anticipation, thankfulness and joy.

Then there is the place of prayer that we…avoid. 

In my own discomfort, I willingly almost missed out on an incredible and special time of prayer. As the body of Christ, the one I am so blessed to be a part of, was to gather together in a time dedicated to prayer, I found myself wanting to separate. I let whispers of distraction in, I let whispers of discomfort settle, I let paralyzing whispers consume. Then His whisper broke through all the others. In a sweet sense of His comfort, I also found myself challenged. Do you love Me? Do you love My people? Do you really want to be in a place of complete obedience and surrender? Do you trust Me?

I surrendered my pride, I surrendered the “busyness” of my life and I surrendered my will. I loaded the mini-van with my three little ones and we headed to church – to a night of prayer. I did not know what it all would entail, I did not know what my part would be and I certainly did not know how His Spirit would come and move within a group that gathered in humbleness before Him.

A night of prayer.

We gathered together, intergenerationally – children, teenagers and adults of various ages. We moved through various parts of the church as we prayed for specific needs, an interactive journey. We bowed heads and we opened hearts; through prayer and through petition we glorified and worshipped.

Three groups of people all worked their way through the building. Three groups of people prayed specifically for the needs of – our church family, our community, our families, our church staff and for our world whose ears have yet to hear the Good News that is found in Christ Jesus. Three groups of people on a prayerful mission.

Within each large group, more intimate and small groups were formed. Children and teenagers, whether meekly or boldly, publically joined in with adults and spoke from their hearts to a God who listens. In the first few moments of our time of prayer, I was reminded that it is not the words that are spoken that matter – it is the heart that they are coming from. I had been so worried about “not saying the right thing” or “not saying it the right way”…I had forgotten that it is simply just about connecting my heart with His. Words spoken, whether with painful stuttering and simple vocabulary or with profound fluency and captivating language, all fall on the ears of He who listens the same.

My own words of prayer found inspiration in the ones that were being offered up through the mouths of those decades younger than me. The sincerity and vulnerability that was offered up in their simple, and at times, misspoken words humbled me. I found, as I was there leading them in prayer, they themselves were blessing my heart. Some brought their pains and suffering and, before a group of people, gave them over to the God who loves and heals. In the moments of vulnerable prayer, God provided ways to point back to the rescue that is found in His son, Jesus. In these moments, I felt the watery mist press against my eyes squeezed shut and I felt myself offering up thanksgiving for a night that drew me closer to Him, the One who my heart and soul long.

I am so thankful that I was able to be a part of something bigger than myself. I am thankful that I was able to experience Christ in the midst of a gathering of believers who had come together in His name. I am thankful for a church family who is led by those who seek to know Him more and value the importance and power of corporate prayer.

“Prayer lays hold of  God’s plan and becomes the link between His will and its accomplishment on earth. Amazing things happen, and we are given the privilege of being the channels of the Holy Spirit’s prayer.” ~ Elisabeth Elliot

“I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God, it changes me.” ~ C.S. Lewis

“Prayer is what brings God’s power and grace into a situation.” ~ Jim Cymbala

“God has sovereignly ordained the corporate praying of a church, such that His mighty workings increase exponentially and His purposes are accelerated when we pray together. Understand that this message is not given to minimize personal prayer. Instead, it is to show you that personal prayer alone will not result in the working of God to the degree needed for spiritual transformation in our lives, our church, our cities, and our nation.”      ~ Lloyd Stilley (from LifeWay read full article)

 

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Make it Monday – Creamy Jalapeno Ranch Dip

A couple of years ago, my husband and I discovered this amazing thing called Chuy’s Creamy Jalapeno Dip. Umm, so so good. We loved it so much, my husband decided to do his best to replicate it. While it might not be exactly like the delicious one you can indulge in at Chuy’s, it is still pretty darn good.

Here is the recipe:

Creamy Jalapeno Ranch Dip

Place the following into a blender –

1 1/4 cup of sour cream

4 tablespoons of Mayo

1/4 cup of buttermilk

1/4 cup of Herdez salsa verde

1 small bunch of cilantro

1 – 2 teaspoons of salt

1 Ranch dressing packet

2-3 jalapenos (washed and seeded)

  
That is all! Now you can enjoy this delicious dip with many different foods. We use it with tortilla chips, pizza, baked on chicken, over rice, on baked potatoes and we even used it on our tater-tot casserole (recipe for that here). SOOO good!

  
This morning I used it over my Migas at breakfast. Yum.

  
I hope you try it and enjoy it. What are you making today on this Make it Monday? Please, share!

Today’s Journey to Joy and Thankfulness

Sometimes, in the chaos of everyday life —- babies with sudden fevers, having to miss Wednesday morning Bible study and evening church because of said child with fever, a toddler’s leaky diaper that is the cause of an unfortunate chain of events during breakfast (please note, it was not the simple kind of leak that a little napkin and a Clorox wipe can handle. It was a whole process) —- a spiral of haplessness will cause that moment where you mentally — just.cannot. All the above will directly involve your dear husband as he heads out the door for a busy day at work, with half of his head bitten off. 

When stress is insurmountable, when my frustration has reached its cap, or when that hapless spiral has fully enveloped me into its chaotic tumble, I clean.

After my sweet little (fevery) baby had been laid down for his nap, I gathered up my other two children for a morning of backyard cleaning. All the trash and junk that has been noticed for the last few days (months) suddenly needed to be taken care of, so with white kitchen trash bags in tow and our weekly memory work for CC playing loudly, we began The Clean-Up.

30 minutes later, somewhere between our history sentence about Hinduism in India and our song about 3rd declension Latin noun endings, I switched over to my “From the Inside Out – Hillsong United” Pandora station.

By this time we had made our way into our mess of a garden. We picked tomatoes and various types of peppers, weeded out (almost) forgotten about garden beds, trimmed out-of-control Crepe Myrtles bushes and a Honeysuckle vine, and planted some onions. When all was said and done, there was a large garbage container full of remnants from our busy and full morning of work.

By the time I dragged, with heavy breath, the large garbage container to edge of the curb, I had noticed a significant change of heart and spirit. I no longer was clouded over with anxiousness and I no longer was ready to snap at anything that looked over at me cross-eyed. I finally felt a soothing sense of calm and peace.

And it was not brought on because of all the cleaning, it was from something bigger and greater.

During our little morning of manual labor, some rich conversation happened. Maybe this said conversation was only from that of a five year old child and his 2 year old tag-along, but it was just what my heart needed. God often uses the likes of inspiring authors such as Ann Voskamp or talented artists such as Lauren Daigle to reach my heart and draw me closer to Him…today He used my sweet little children.

It was our little conversations today that reminded me of the journey of joy and thankfulness that I am on – the one that is bringing me to that moment of complete surrender to all that is His.

“Mom, I love picking fresh tomatoes. It is just the best. Holds up tomato “Look, Mom, this tomato reminds me of a sunset – the yellow and red colors in it. I love sunsets, just like you do Mom.”

Mom, working with you is the best. I am so glad we get to do stuff together. Miss Priss mumbles her agreement.”

“Look, you can find Roly Poly’s in the fall! Let’s grab the playground for them…you are right, Mom…fall is the best time of the year.”

“Mom! As new song begins on my Pandora station I love this song! We sing this at church, remember! Begins to sing”.

Through these and other conversations this morning, I was reminded about the joy that is found in – the simple, the amazing, and the sacred. From little hands working in the dirt and a bowl full of tomatoes and peppers to watching Roly Poly’s “play” and seeing the joy of a child’s heart as he finds excitement in singing a song of worship to a God his little heart is beginning to understand and love more and more every day.

I go to bed tonight with a heart of thankfulness, with a spirit of surrender and with the comfort of a God who loves me and draws me near. And now…my husband is home. So, off I go to cuddle and make up for the send off he received earlier today.

Goodnight, friends