Beyond Amazed

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When I was in school, I had a best friend. We did everything together. We did sleepovers at each other’s homes. We were inseparable. . .until the day she left. Not only did her parents join another church, but they also sent my friend to a new school.  I was devastated! Who would I play with? Who would join me for Sunday School? Who would listen to my stories, have my back, and be my shoulder to cry on?

Despite the separation, we stayed close throughout our teen years and even throughout college. Though we attended different churches and schools, we still had one common thread—we were studying to become teachers. For a few years, that was enough to keep our friendship intact, but as the years passed and she became a mother, suddenly things changed. We had nothing in common in more. We didn’t travel in any of the same circles or share any of the same friends. All we had was the past, but despite our efforts to hold things together, we grew apart. Yes, we’re still friends, but we’re not close. At least, not like we used to be.

Recently, I’ve felt that same sting of loneliness as I said “Goodbye” to my former way of life and the friends who shared in that. Now, please understand, my friends haven’t abandoned me, but things are not the same. Most of my closest friends are members of our church, but because Jason and I are in a different church every week (and sometimes every service) during this deputation journey, I rarely get to see these precious ladies. So, in a sense, it feels like I’ve lost them, like we no longer have anything in common.  

During my devotion time last week, I poured out my heart to God and told Him how much I longed to hold on to my existing friendships and to make some new friends, specifically ladies with whom I have a lot in common. Since deputation is my current way of life and the way of life for the foreseeable future, I felt missionary wives would make a good fit, but how would that work exactly?  After all, we’re all busy doing our own thing, trying to make things fit while traveling the road week after week. How could I connect with these women, let alone maintain a friendship? I didn’t know the answer to any of these questions, but I pleaded with God to help me make friends with someone (or many someones) who truly understood where I am right now.

Later that same day, I received an invitation to join a Facebook group for missionary wives. My jaw dropped as I read the description of this group that was formed so missionary wives could fellowship together and not feel so alone.  The group was designed to be an encouragement to those on the field and deputation. And best of all, what is said in the group stays within the group. It was an answer to prayer. (And I didn’t even know God used Facebook!)

Through this situation, God reminded me how much He loves and cares for me. To anyone else, my longing for friendship probably seemed frivolous and selfish. With all the problems going on in the world, who cares if one little insecure redhead is feeling lonely? God does. He cared enough to send me an answer on that very day. He cared enough to send not one potential friend, but hundreds. He cared enough to speak to another missionary wife and whisper to her to send the invitation to me. All of that and more so that I would feel I had someone to talk to who understood what I was going through. That, my friend, is how much God cares.

And that’s how much He cares for you. No problem is too big. No situation is too small. You may think your request is silly or insignificant, but if it’s important to you, it’s important to God. So, don’t hold back your requests. Let Him know what You need. Pour out your heart to Him. And stand back and watch as He proves His love and devotion to you in ways you’ve never imagined.  

Together, we can marvel at God’s goodness. Yes, my friend, as I bask in answered prayer and the love of my Father, I find myself beyond amazed! I pray you will enjoy the same blessing.

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
— Matthew 7:7-11



Fervent: A Woman's Battle Plan to Serious, Specific, and Strategic Prayer -- A Book Review

I haven’t posted a book review in a while, and I assure you, it’s not because I haven’t read any good books lately. I’ve been busy enough that the task of sitting down and writing a review seemed too great. But, with this book, I had to make an exception. This book has changed the way I view prayer and has made me feel much more like a warrior rather than a worrier. That being said, I knew I had to share it with you.

About the Book:

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You have an enemy . . . and he’s dead set on destroying all you hold dear and keeping you from experiencing abundant life in Christ. What’s more, his approach to disrupting your life and discrediting your faith isn’t general or generic, not a one-size-fits-all. It’s specific. Personalized. Targeted.
 
So this book is your chance to strike back. With prayer. With a weapon that really works. Each chapter will guide you in crafting prayer strategies that hit the enemy where it hurts, letting him know you’re on to him and that you won’t back down. Because with every new strategy you build, you’re turning the fiercest battles of life into precise strikes against him and his handiwork, each one infused with the power of God’s Spirit.
 
New York Times bestselling author Priscilla Shirer, widely known for her international speaking, teaching, and writing ministries, brings her new role from the 2015 film War Room into the real lives of today’s women, addressing the topics that affect them most: renewing their passion, refocusing their identity, negotiating family strife, dealing with relentless regrets, navigating impossible schedules, succeeding against temptation, weathering their worst fears, uprooting bitterness, and more. Each chapter exposes the enemy’s cruel, crafty intentions in all kinds of these areas, then equips and encourages you to write out your own personalized prayer strategies on tear-out sheets you can post and pray over yourself and your loved ones on a regular basis.
 
Fervent is a hands-on, knees-down, don’t-give-up action guide to practical, purposeful praying.

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About the Author:

Priscilla Shirer is a Bible teacher and conference speaker with a Master’s degree in Biblical Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary. Also a popular author, her books include the New York Times Best-Seller, The Resolution for WomenOne in a Million, and Life Interrupted. Priscilla is married to Jerry with whom she founded Going Beyond Ministries. They have three sons and live in Dallas, Texas.

My Review:

I’ve read a lot of books on prayer, but this was, by far, one of the best. I love the way the author portrays her fervency about prayer and compels the reader to find the same. As I read, I felt my heart hungering and thirsting for a more heart-felt prayer life. I recognized where my prayers seemed shallow and like rote repetitions and felt the urge to connect with God more deeply. The author also conveyed the importance and power of prayer, which is something I think most Christians do not take into account. So many times, we think of prayer as something we’re supposed to do instead of realizing it is something we are privileged to do. To speak with the Almighty God. To lay our burdens at His feet. And to do so, knowing He has the power to make all things right. Not only that, but through prayer, we have the power to resist temptations and to live the lives we long to live for God’s glory.

If you’re struggling with your prayer life, or if you feel your time with God has grown stale, I highly recommend this book. It will change your prayer life, and in turn, your entire existence. Prayer is powerful, and it changes lives—especially the life of the one doing the praying.

When God's Hand Is on His People

“Life, now, was unfolding before me, constantly and visibly, like the flowers of summer that drop fanlike petals on eternal soil.”.png

Jason and I are not seasoned travelers. Sure, we enjoy a nice vacation now and then, but mostly, we’re homebodies. This is just one more way God has removed us from our comfort zones in the past six months as we’ve traveled back and forth. I admit we’re getting a little better at knowing how to pack and how much to pack, but we still haven’t really found our groove. By the end of a long trip, items have been moved around and shuffled so much that neither of us knows where anything is. And yes, a few things have been lost or forgotten in our travels. But, we’re still learning, and maybe soon, we’ll be as adept at traveling as the caravan Ezra led back to Jerusalem.

We find the account in Ezra 8 where the prophet and a large group of travelers from Babylon embark on a four-month journey. There are so many interesting points and valuable lessons in this chapter, but I want to focus on the fact that God’s hand was upon them in their journey. Despite traveling through hostile territory, the caravan arrived intact and unharmed. Not only that but when they counted up their treasures, every one was accounted for. Not one had been lost, misplaced, or stolen. Miraculous, huh?

If this group can travel across the desert for four months and keep track of every single possession, surely we can get from Point A to Point B and back again, right?  After all, isn’t God’s hand on us as His children? It is, no doubt about that, but I want to point out what Ezra and this group did before embarking on their journey.

 Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance. For I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way: because we had spoken unto the king, saying, The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek him; but his power and his wrath is against all them that forsake him. So we fasted and besought our God for this: and he was intreated of us.
— Ezra 8:21-23

God’s hand wasn’t just on Israel because they were His people but also because they had sought His face. They had fasted and prayed before beginning their journey. They asked for guidance and protection. They pleaded with God to prove Himself not just to them but to all those who were watching. And God honored their requests.

Jason and I often say a prayer before starting on a trip, but I confess it’s not that kind of prayer. It’s generally a quick request for protection on the road and little more. But what if we prayed as these people prayed? What if we prayed for the power of God to be on us during our journey? What if we sought His direction each step of the way? And what if we prayed for days before the actual trip instead of waiting until we’re in the car and ready to go? I can’t help but think things would go more smoothly and we would feel less stressed. Yes, I believe God’s hand would be upon us either way, but how much more of His power and peace would we experience?

You may not be traveling the roads on deputation, but life is a journey. Every day takes us into the hostile territory of the world where we must learn to not only survive but also thrive. As God’s children, we can be assured that God is watching us. But if we want to truly experience His power and His peace, we need to ask for it. We need to seek His face. We must pour out our hearts before Him and let Him know we mean business. Then, we’ll see God move in miraculous ways. We have His word on it!

Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.
— Jeremiah 33:3