They Will Know That We are Christians by Our Love

READ ON TO GET YOUR FREE FEBRUARY PRAYER PROMPT CALENDAR DOWNLOAD! February is arriving at the perfect time—we all need a little more love in our lives. Maybe you’ve been disillusioned by the meanness on Facebook lately, or disappointed when people in your lives seem to be showing their true colors (and they’re not very pretty). Maybe you keep hearing about hate and want to be intentional about choosing love. Perhaps you’ve even wondered how on earth we’ll ever convince another person to want to embrace Christianity when the image put out there by so many doesn’t look like the Christ we’re proclaiming. I hear ya. Unfortunately, I’m right there with you. And now it’s nearly Valentine’s Day. Normally I groan a little on the inside at that. I have a wonderful husband but this holiday has always felt like one geared more towards infatuation than permanence, so it hasn’t meant a lot to me (and as a redhead, I’ve never been a big fan of red or pink). But LOVE? Now that is something I can celebrate. And so it’s an easy step to turn this holiday into one that’s not about two people—but about our True Soul Mate. It’s about God, who taught us about love, practiced love, advocated love, and IS love. Because one thing I believe is that love is always the answer. I’d rather err on the side of love—give too much rather than not enough. Welcome everyone in and let God change their hearts, not me. The other thing is that people do watch us to see how we treat people and whether we live...

They’ll know we are Christians by our love

READ ON TO GET YOUR FREE FEBRUARY PRAYER PROMPT CALENDAR DOWNLOAD! February is arriving at the perfect time—we all need a little more love in our lives. Maybe you’ve been disillusioned by the meanness on Facebook lately, or disappointed when people in your lives seem to be showing their true colors (and they’re not very pretty). Maybe you keep hearing about hate and want to be intentional about choosing love. Perhaps you’ve even wondered how on earth we’ll ever convince another person to want to embrace Christianity when the image put out there by so many doesn’t look like the Christ we’re proclaiming. I hear ya. Unfortunately, I’m right there with you. And now it’s nearly Valentine’s Day. Normally I groan a little on the inside at that. I have a wonderful husband but this holiday has always felt like one geared more towards infatuation than permanence, so it hasn’t meant a lot to me (and as a redhead, I’ve never been a big fan of red or pink). But LOVE? Now that is something I can celebrate. And so it’s an easy step to turn this holiday into one that’s not about two people—but about our True Soul Mate. It’s about God, who taught us about love, practiced love, advocated love, and IS love. Because one thing I believe is that love is always the answer. I’d rather err on the side of love—give too much rather than not enough. Welcome everyone in and let God change their hearts, not me. The other thing is that people do watch us to see how we treat people and whether we live...

“You, My child, are My favorite.”

I have one younger sister, Kerry. Our dad, who loves us completely and totally and with an unconditional love, has a standing joke when we call: “Is this the pretty one or the smart one?” After all these years, it still makes me laugh, and depending on how I feel that day, I give him a different answer. We both know he thinks both of us are pretty and smart. My dad has found a way to always let us know we’re special to him. If you would ask Kerry, she’d claim she’s his favorite. I, of course, know better. (Because I’m pretty and smart.) One night, when my friend Sandee and I were talking, she said, “Don’t you ever, sometimes, imagine that you are God’s favorite—just for that moment?” At the time, I couldn’t say that I did. I wasn’t important enough. I didn’t know Him well enough. The only thing I knew was that I was jealous. I didn’t even know I wanted that special distinction until I heard her talk about it. And yet, in spite of my actual qualifications, God looks at me and says, “Is this the pretty one or the smart one? The faithful one or the prodigal? The one who’s with Me all the time or the one who just found her way back?” And whatever the answer, it doesn’t matter. He already knows. He holds out His arms in welcome and says, “You, My child, are My favorite.” How can that be? It makes no sense to us, particularly as women who are conditioned to compare ourselves to others (usually finding...

Seeing you, being seen, and seeing Him

My friend Tami and I are very different, although we’ve been close friends for years. We are on different ends of the spectrum politically and in many other ways. But the other day I met her for lunch and ended up pouring out my heart—how I feel, what emotions have come to the surface lately, and so on. I told her these things knowing she had different opinions, and she shared a little about where she’s coming from. We could do this because we were in a safe place—we both knew we were loved, differences and all, and we trusted each other to listen with an open heart. It was a really healing moment for me. A reminder that differences don’t have to divide us. One thing Tami and I have always had in common is we hate to be misunderstood. If you want to be mad at me, fine, but only if you’re basing it on the things I actually did or what I actually meant. We can’t rest until we’ve corrected mistaken impressions. A big insight I’ve had lately is along those same lines: We all want to be seen and know that we’re heard. [I promise this isn’t about the election… bear with me. REALLY. I promise. It has a God point and doesn’t take a stand about sides!] I’ve heard analysts say that many thousands of people who supported our President-elect voted in large part because they felt like he understood their plight and was on their side. They supported him because for years they’ve felt overlooked by our government and media and now they feel...

If my people will pray…

It’s finally here—election day. It’s been a rough few months, hasn’t it? Lots of division and debate—but if there is one thing I think we can all agree on during this volatile time, it is that our country desperately needs prayer. If you’re anything like me, though, you may be intimidated when facing such a huge need. Where do we even begin? We step away from politics and parties and begin at the Rock. Our firm foundation. The unchanging, ever-stable Word of God. Will you please join me in prayer for our country? If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 If my people… Wherever we go, whatever we do, we have to remember that we belong to God. We are His children. Let’s pray that our relationship with Him will define us and guide us, and that we will come together as one “people” in unity with the sole purpose of bringing glory to God. who are called by my name… Those who do not know God will form an opinion about Him based on our behavior and words. There’s a responsibility attached to this privilege we’ve been given, and we need to structure our behavior accordingly. Pray that we will faithfully represent God in all that we do.  will humble themselves … None of us likes to be wrong. It hurts our pride to admit we’re wrong. But the first step in a...

Prayer for all of us during this election

Lord, I confess that this election season is the first time I’ve let other people’s stances on political issues change the way I feel about them. I used to pride myself on being open to other opinions, on looking for similarities rather than differences. On my ability to separate someone’s opinion from who they are. I don’t like being this way. I am critical. Judgmental. And, honestly, perpetually shocked by the perspectives I see and hear, in person and on social media. It’s ugly. I have tried to understand where others are coming from and justify their points of view. I have attempted to initiate discussions to understand why they feel the way they do. I honestly don’t understand how, on certain issues, they cannot see what I do. I feel like it’s become us versus them—but I don’t like thinking of any group of people as them, as the other. We’re supposed to be in this together. When did we forget that? I’ve tried to be smart about when to speak up and when not to. To discern when my opinions will be treated with respect and when I would simply be stirring the pot. But all I can seem to do is stir the pot. Whether I’m trying to or not. I don’t want to cause trouble and division and unrest. But, honestly, part of me feels as though “they” are so misguided that it’s my responsibility to speak some truth. To call out hatred and ugliness and ideas and statistics that have been shown to be incorrect. To defend my religion when I see people claiming to follow You but acting nothing...

Stuck in a rut? Pray with me.

This is for all of you people out there who love God but sometimes get bored. You who have had good prayer lives but sometimes feel like you’ve lost that spark. Will you please pray with me? Lord, I love You; I do. That has never changed. I long to grow closer to You. I’m excited by the new things I discover in Your Word, by the way I see You in prayer and in the changed lives around me. But I don’t know how to maintain my passion for You. I struggle with staying focused and purposeful in prayer without falling into a rut. Remind me that I don’t have to have the answers. That You will give me the ones I need, and that the other ones don’t matter. Reveal Yourself to me in new ways all the time. Let me know You better and better. When I don’t hear from You, or when I feel dry and parched, let me know that doesn’t mean You’re not with me. Renew my passion for You in ways that will wake up something in my spirit. Excite me, fill my mind with ideas, fill my heart with so much love for You that I can’t just sit back and keep it to myself. Let me learn that prayer is valuable and I can’t have a good relationship with You without it. But at the same time, don’t let me squander it. I was never meant to keep You all to myself. Prayer equips me to reach out to others, so it shouldn’t stay within the walls of my house....

Prayer for those stuck in a rut

This is for all of you people out there who love God but sometimes get bored. Who have had good prayer lives but sometimes feel like you’ve lost that spark. Will you please pray with me? Lord, I love You; I do. That has never changed. I long to grow closer to You. I’m excited by the new things I discover in Your Word, by the way I see You in prayer and in the changed lives around me. But I don’t know how to maintain my passion for You. I struggle with staying focused and purposeful in prayer without falling into a rut. Remind me that I don’t have to have the answers. That You will give me the ones I need, and that the other ones don’t matter. Reveal Yourself to me in new ways all the time. Let me know You better and better. When I don’t hear from You, or when I feel dry and parched, let me know that doesn’t mean You’re not with me. Renew my passion for You in ways that will wake up something in my spirit. Excite me, fill my mind with ideas, fill my heart with so much love for You that I can’t just sit back and keep it to myself. Let me learn that prayer is valuable and I can’t have a good relationship with You without it. But at the same time, don’t let me squander it. I was never meant to keep You all to myself. Prayer equips me to reach out to others, so it shouldn’t stay within the walls of my house. Faith...

Inspired by Kevin Bacon to connect the dots in prayer

I took a humanities course during my freshman year of college. As much as I now love to read and write, discussing classic literature right after lunchtime made me especially sleepy—warm classroom, full tummy, and the lack of sleep caused by the near all-nighters I pulled regularly as an architecture major. But one day the lesson woke me up because my professor was describing stream of consciousness. Developed by a group of writers in the early twentieth century, it was meant to express the flow of thoughts and feelings in a character’s mind. It relates to the way one thought triggers another and then another, and before you know it, you’re in a whole new place. I thought, Finally! That’s what you call the way I think! If “stream of consciousness” sounds too fancy, think about “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.” It’s a game based on the concept of six degrees of separation, which supposes that any two people on earth are six or fewer acquaintance links apart. In this game, people challenge each other to find the shortest path between an arbitrary actor and Kevin Bacon. You can put this thought process—the concept of making connections and seeing how interrelated we all are—to work in your prayers. Because we’re all connected, one way or another. DIRECTIONS: Write the name of someone important to you in the center of the page. Who or what is connected to that person? His or her children? Businesses? Relatives? Spouse? Draw lines from the original name, connecting them to others. Thoughts of one child might make you think of someone else’s child. Draw lines between them. Praying for one friend’s marriage may remind you of another couple who needs prayer. Diagram the trajectory of your prayers, noticing the parallels and intersections. Look...

How do I Pray When ___?

Pray about it! I declare. Pray without ceasing, the Bible tells us. Prayer changes us, I promise. I write about prayer, but do I truly believe it? Absolutely. Except sometimes life gets in the way of our best intentions. When my mom was diagnosed with cancer and then passed away in spite of all the prayers my family and friends prayed, I floundered. Not just floundered. I flopped. Fell, tumbled, stumbled away, pretending I was okay while knowing I’d never be okay again. God hadn’t saved her life. The only thing stronger than my anger was my denial about being angry. When I watched my neighbor carry his six-year-old son Henry to the hearse parked in the driveway between our houses, after Henry had succumbed to the brain tumor that distorted his beautiful face, the ache in my heart was almost too much to bear. Even though he wasn’t my own child, my heart was broken. And I had trouble finding words. When my daughter missed more school than she attended her senior year and had to be hospitalized three hours away from home for a week at a migraine specialty hospital, and clients needed brochures and ads turned around quickly, and my other daughter needed ankle surgery, and my dad was diagnosed with pre-cancerous cells, and money wasn’t coming in to my graphic design business account, I was more inclined to curl up in a ball and take a nap than I was to pray. It was too much to try to wade through it all. When the British man who had devastated me in college by ending our...