Prayer Transforms—Prayer Changes Me

You’ve heard it said that prayer changes things. Well, sometimes.

Sometimes we see God answer our prayers through changed circumstances or hearts, but other times things don’t change. The house goes into foreclosure. The divorce is finalized. The cancer rages on and finally wins the battle. For whatever reason, God, in his infinite—and loving—wisdom has not seen fit to change the thing we’ve brought to him in prayer time and again.

But one thing I’ve found to be true about prayer is that even when God doesn’t grant the change I desire— when he says “no” or “wait”—prayer still brings about change. It changes me.

As I bring my burdens to him in prayer, changes take place in my heart. Sometimes they’re dramatic and instantaneous, but more often than not, they blossom a step at a time as God does the work in my life that will draw me closer to him, that will conform me into his image.

Anxiety and worry melt into peace and calm assurance in my heavenly Father. Anger and unforgiveness grow into grace, like the grace given so freely to me. Bitterness that may have crept in gets uprooted while negative feelings about someone are replaced by compassion and love. My wisdom and need to control give way to the blessed relief of trusting utterly in him.

So even when it seems prayer is not changing circumstances the way I’d like, I’m grateful to know that coming to God in prayer is indeed doing a transforming work. I’m grateful to know that prayer changes me. How about you?

“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV

*When has the Lord changed you as you’ve prayed to him?

*I hope you enjoyed this encore post from February 2011!

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out in early February. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by kabilsCreative Commons License

Resist Temptation and Make a Good Choice

Some of our best lessons in life play out in the lives of the little ones around us, don’t they? And with four grandsons age three and under, I have a feeling I will be witness to lots of lessons over the next few years. Just last fall, one such lesson unfolded while I was visiting our daughter Kristin, her husband Shawn, and our sweet grandsons Isaiah and James.

While I was doing my makeup one morning, Isaiah—who was not yet three at the time—ran into the bathroom to see me and was promptly met with unexpected temptation. In a house with twin 2-year old boys, everything you don’t want them to touch is, of course, usually put up or pushed back beyond their reach. Without thinking, though, I had left my glasses sitting on the bathroom counter right at Isaiah’s eye level and very much within his reach.

The moment Isaiah spied his temptation, his face became a picture of the battle going on in his little heart and mind. His eyes sparkled with anticipation while he did his best to subdue a full-faced grin. I then watched him momentarily consider and then resist the urge to grab my glasses. He made a good choice and oh the pride I felt in him at that moment! Of course, I praised him like crazy and we both rejoiced in his good decision. He resisted temptation! 

I wonder, are any of us currently being met with unexpected temptation? Have any of us come face-to-face with something we know is off-limits or dangerous? Are there some urges we need to resist?

Let’s do it—like Isaiah, let’s resist the temptation and make a good choice. Let’s bring the Father joy and give him reason to puff up with pride. We’ll all have reason to rejoice, won’t we?

“Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith . . .” 1 Peter 5:8-9 NIV

*What do you do to resist temptation?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out early this month. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by Beshef, Creative Commons License

7 February Stress Busters

*I’ll be taking a blogging break during Valentine’s week. Happy Valentine’s Day to all!

With the flip of the calendar to February, it’s time for another installment in our Stress Busters blog series. I started it in September and I pray it’s been a blessing to you. Hopefully you’ve discovered some new ideas for reducing stress as we think of strategies especially appropriate for each month of the year.

Since February is the month of love, some might think stress should disappear, but alas, the expectations of Valentine’s Day can actually add stress to some of our lives. Combine that with the other stresses that invariably rise up to drag us down, and yes indeed, it is a very good idea to consider how we might reduce our stress levels.

So here, my friends, are seven stress busters for your February days:

  1. Say “I love you” to someone every day this month. Whether saying the words, writing a note, or posting a meme on someone’s Facebook page, brighten days for others and lift your own spirit as you share love. See how many different people you can touch.
  2. Perform a random act of kindness. Offer an encouraging word, hold a door, leave an extra generous tip, or pay for the person behind you in line. Surprise someone unexpectedly. Not only will it make you happy, but you might just change the course of someone’s day, week, or life.
  3. Offer a comforting touch or hug as often as an opportunity presents itself. Loving touches have a way of helping stress melt away for both parties involved. Bless others—and let others bless you—with a hug.
  4. Show yourself some love with an out of the ordinary treat. Get a massage, indulge in a candlelit bubble bath, order your favorite dessert, or take a day (or afternoon) off to do something fun. Enjoy yourself!
  5. Make a list of the things you love about your life. The biggies will come to mind first, but nothing is too small to include. If it brings you joy, jot it down. As you do, whisper a prayer of thanks.
  6. Call a friend or family member you rarely get to see and share some love and laughs. Sometimes hearing a distant loved one’s voice soothes our spirits the way nothing else can.
  7. Read and reflect on a passage from the Bible—God’s love letter to us—each day. Let the Word of God infuse your spirit with peace and joy and wisdom. Let it refresh and recharge you to deal with the demands of your life.

Your stress is sure to diminish if you put these ideas to work this month. As you do, may your February be filled with love and joy. And chocolate. Don’t forget the chocolate!

“Love never fails . . .” 1 Corinthians 13:8 NIV 

*Which of these stress busters will be the easiest for you to carry out? Which will be the biggest challenge?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out last week. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by Tania_Cataldo, Creative Commons License

Hear the Call to Worship

Chime! Chime! Chime! On weekdays, not more than a dozen blocks from our house, children arrive and begin their school day at the local Catholic church and school. When I’m lucky, I happen to open my door or step out on my back steps and hear the church bells ringing in a new school day, signaling the time to begin.

I don’t know their schedule, but I like to think they are starting with moments of worship and prayer. As they hear the chiming of the bells, I hope they are gathering to acknowledge the Creator of the world, gathering to say prayers to their heavenly Father.

I know for me, when the rich ring of the beginning bell wafts through the air, I hear a call to worship. I hear my Father saying, “Think of me! Think of me!”

And I do. I think of him. I think of the glory of the morning and of the world around me. I think of how worthy he is to be praised. I think of how blessed I am to have such a loving and faithful heavenly Father. I think of him, I think of him.

On days when I’m caught up in something else and miss hearing the ringing of the bells, I still feel the call to worship as I look at the beauty of my Lord’s creation or as I think of blessings he has poured into my life. Each work of beauty, each sound of nature, each blessing he has granted is like a church bell chiming, “Think of me! Think of me!”

How about you? What calls you to worship? What calls you to think of him? Whatever it is, take time to answer his call. Take time to think of him.

“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? . . . LORD, our LORD, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” Psalm 8:3-4, 9 NIV

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out on Thursday Feb. 1st. One lucky subscriber will receive a $15 gift card to Starbucks and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. New subscribers this week won’t be included in this giveaway but will be included in all future giveaways. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*I hope you enjoyed this newly revised post from February 2011.

*Flickr photo by vxlaCreative Commons License

Winter Trees and the Church: Beautiful Support

This may sound odd to some people, but I see a unique beauty in the naked trees of winter. Many would describe them as stark, drab, or depressing. I, on the other hand, think they have a beauty all their own when winter strips them of their leafy glory.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the leafy glory of trees as much as the next person. Watching trees bud out and turn green in the spring holds a special excitement for all of us. Summer then brings lush, full trees to pleasantly fill our landscapes before autumn arrives and sets them ablaze with color. I delight in each of these seasons and the changes they bring to trees.

But I think trees are beautiful in winter as well. Some might think it’s like looking at skeletons, but I see what looks like arms and fingers reaching for and pointing to God. I love looking out and seeing the intricacies of the branches. Winter allows us a view of the support system of the leaf laden trees we enjoy the rest of the year. Without the drab looking branches, there could be no beautiful leaves.

Winter trees actually remind me of other support systems in our lives as well. Just think about our bodies and all that’s working together beneath the surface to keep us up and running. The same can be said for just about every company, group, or organization we might name.

Consider the church. Many programs and people are highly visible, but there are just as many or more serving behind the scenes. And it’s the behind-the-scenes-type activity that makes it possible for the more visible ministries to take place. Everyone needs to do their part to keep things running smoothly—and more than that, to enable growth.

What role are you filling in your church—or life in general? Are you a part of the highly visible, leafy-glory, or is your role a part of the vital support system that’s needed? Maybe a little of both? Just keep in mind that neither is better. Both are needed and valued.

So take another look at the winter trees. Beautiful, huh?

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10 NIV

*What support systems in your church, workplace, or organizations are you most thankful for?

The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out Feb. 1st. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a $15 gift card to Starbucks and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by Oakley Originals, Creative Commons License

*I hope you enjoyed this revised encore post from January 2008!