My Story, Prayers, Uncategorized

Finding peace through prayer

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Elevated heart rate.

Tight chest.

Constricted throat.  

Dread of what new problem or heartache the day would bring.

All this and I had yet to open my eyes.  Another day of anxiety waking me before the sound of the alarm. Day after day of waking like this caused me to dread morning while I was yet asleep.   This terrible cycle eventually birthed a beautiful new habit that has changed me.

I took my troubles to the Lord; I cried out to him and he answered my prayer. ~Psalms 120:1 (NLT)

Somewhere in the mess, I gave up what I knew I had no control over and began praying before my eyes even opened.

Please Jesus, give me the strength to get through this day.

Protect my child from the attacks of the enemy.

Calm my anxious heart and racing mind.

Let me see your work in this day.

My desperate pleas would continue until the anxiety lifted or the alarm began to signal that it was time to face the day, anxiety or not.  There were many days my feet hit the ground and the anxiety and heavy heartedness lingered.  I continued my pleas throughout the day. Lift the anxiety and heaviness and turn my gaze toward You.  He did. Every single time.  It didn’t mean that those days were less problem filled, BUT there was peace in knowing that He already knew what the day held and I was not alone.

I know the Lord is always with me.  I will not be shaken for he is right beside me. ~Psalms 16:8 (NLT)

Cultivating the habit of going to the Lord in the face of the turmoil I was feeling before entering into the day set me free from the bondage of anger and dismay that I had experienced a little over a year prior.  The circumstances of the trial the previous year were different, but the anxiety and stress they evoked were the same.  Fear. Worry. Disappointment. Anger. A sense of losing all control. Dread of what was to come.  Throughout that experience, rather than giving it over to the Lord and asking Him to walk me through it, draw me closer, I let anger and panic take over instead. I woke every morning before the alarm with a knot in my stomach, heart racing, and  mind reeling with every possible way this disaster could become even more of a disaster.  I spent the better part of each day consumed by grief and anger, feeling frantic, sad, and sick to my stomach.  And guess what.  Every single worst case scenario that I could come up with came true and then some. It was all as bad or worse than I feared and I was facing it in a way that only caused more damage.  While my bitterness and anger did nothing to help fix the situation, it was destroying me.  The only control I had in the face of that trial was how I reacted to it, faced it, handled it. I couldn’t stop it or change it; however, I could have stopped to pray and changed the way I entered into those challenging, heartbreaking days.

I’m sure I prayed throughout that time for the situation to change, but I should have been praying for God to change me and how I was handling it. Giving it over to Him to handle and asking Him to walk me through it might have saved months of heartache and misery that I wallowed in.

The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.~Exodus 14:14 (NLT)

Fast forward to the more recent place of trouble I find myself in and the experience is so different. The problems are certainly not less significant.  In some ways they are bigger, more overwhelming.  I am so very thankful that I am different this time around. Because of Him.

Be still and  know that I am God.~Psalms 46:10a (NLT)

What a relief that HE IS GOD and I AM NOT!

What have I learned through this?  When I give my problems to Him, He shows up.  He gives peace.  He will supply what I need each day if I just ask for it.  The key is to ask for it.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. ~Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)

Notice these verses do not promise that your problems will go away.  They promise something far greater-PEACE that only He can give.  Experiencing peace in the midst of trouble is an amazing gift.  We live in a fallen, sinful world.  We all experience trying times.  We all struggle at times.  Periods of hardship in life are guaranteed.  BUT, we do not have to face them alone!  We CAN find blessing in the midst of the storm.  Expect to see God’s hand in your day and you will begin to see Him everywhere, making even the most difficult path bearable and even beautiful in Him.

The Lord himself will fight for you.  JUST STAY CALM~Exodus 14:14

Prayers, Running

Prayer Run

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Over the years, running has become a big part of who I am.  I have trained for races of various distances, developed and deepened friendships over miles shared, and pursued time goals that required dedication through months of strict, focused training.  I have also had the great privilege of coaching middle school, high school and adult runners in pursuit of their own recreational or racing goals.  I have learned much about myself and life in general through training my body and mind to go distances and paces that I previously thought were impossible for me.  Five to six days a week I head out to the trail and I come back tired, but refreshed.  My family would likely add, easier to live with as well.

Recently I broke from my normal routine and tried something different during my daily run.  Normally I listen to podcasts while I run. Podcasts have gotten me through some boring miles and miserable weather over the last few years.  They have also entertained and taught me some things along the way.  Lately, I have heard my own thoughts competing for listening time during those runs.  When I first started running I did so without any music or other media in my ears.  I ran like this for years and enjoyed the time to let my thoughts run free, work through challenges I was facing at home or work, sort through emotions and enjoy the sights and sounds around me.  My body has been sending me messages that it is time to set aside time goals and mileage pursuits and go back to this less distracted state of running.

A few months ago I tried to implement prayer walks into my normal routine.  Those eventually fell to the wayside.  As it turns out, I find walking terribly boring.  I do enjoy running though, so why not try a prayer run?  It was such a blessing!  I wasn’t rushed the way I sometimes feel when I am sitting on the couch to pray and have my quiet time.  My tolerance for sitting in one place is very short, so I often find myself rushing through prayer. Not an ideal way to communicate with my Heavenly Father!  The miles flew by as I prayed for each person in my family. During my run I could take the time to think about each person individually, give thanks for their uniqueness and pray for them in the way that I felt the Spirit leading instead of a generic ‘bless them, keep them safe’ prayer.  It was amazing!

Taking the time to give thanks for each person individually and specifically begins to change how I see that person and how I interact with them.  It also opens the door to reveal answered prayers of the past for each of them.

When I stop to give specific thanks for my husband I am reminded of how he is always so kind in his interactions with me.  Sure, we joke around and tease each other, but he almost never acts annoyed or short tempered toward me.  And it’s not because I’m easy to live with!!  He just treats me with love and kindness each and every day.  I am so thankful for that!! I definitely cannot say the same about myself~he is almost always the one I lash out at when I am frustrated or overwhelmed.  So in this case, I can be thankful for the sweet and kind spirit of my partner and repentant for my selfish actions of being short tempered with him and ask for help to change that human weakness. That kind of attentive prayer just does not happen for me while I am sitting on the couch.  It has to come while sweating and laboring through the miles.  I have also noticed a lot of listening comes along with the prayer run.  It is much more of a conversation with God rather than me bringing my list of requests.

As I began, I spent some time thinking about The Lord’s Prayer and how that is the model we have been given to follow in our prayer life. Beginning the conversation by acknowledging God and who He is has really changed the flavor of my prayers. It has taken the focus off of ME and MY wants and put it where it should be~on Him!

I am certainly not suggesting that you have to go out and run to have a richer, more fulfilling prayer life!  Just sharing a happy and successful convergence of two things that are important in my life. I enjoy running and my body needs the exercise, but it is also time consuming.  Putting my hobby to greater purpose is creating blessings in my life that I plan to continue exploring!

My Story, Uncategorized

What is my real story?

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I have known for awhile that I have a story to tell.  At first, I thought the point of my story was to show how God wrecked my comfortable life to lead me to a path of ultimate abundance in Him.  A story similar to that of the Israelites of reaching the Land of Canaan after wandering in the wilderness. It would be a beautiful story of experiencing some hardship, feeling discomfort for a season and then God setting everything back to normal (only better) and continuing on in my typical American pursuit of all things leading to a comfortable, easy life, which would now be made even better because of the season of hardship I had endured.  And since God is so awesome and moved us to Texas where everything is bigger (and better!), of course that would apply to my situation and my house and bank account would also be bigger.  That seemed like a fair trade off for the year I had endured.  I would share my experiences from the other side, the promised land.   I was just waiting to get to a comfortable place to say ‘Look what God has done!’  I was waiting to show how God brought me out of the hardship and provided blessings as a reward for getting through it.  It’s ridiculous, I know!  I hate reading what I just wrote, because it shows how greedy and prideful I have been.  Unfortunately, it takes getting the words written and actually seeing my thoughts to realize how ridiculous and selfish they are.  And I know I could clean this up and not even tell you the prideful, greedy, selfish part, but that would be even more prideful.  So here’s the truth, I don’t have it all figured out.  There are a lot of days that I feel mad or sad or disappointed that I had to give up my material comforts. Isn’t dealing with the heartache of mental illness, addiction, and wayward children enough?  Do I really have to struggle financially too??  There are many days that I wrestle with my attitude about it all. Sharing my story is not about how I did it all right.  It’s about how I still get it wrong much of the time, but I am seeking Him and He is good.  He is faithful. He is God. He has been with me through every hard step.

 

My story is about how He has met me IN the hardship and walked with me through my darkest days.  And He is still showing up every day.  I am done waiting to be in a comfortable spot to say Look what God has done!  I am saying it now, even in the hard places, especially in the hard places.  I’m not asking Him to remove the hard places anymore (most days).  I am asking Him to USE the hard places.  To use me and not let me waste the work He is doing in me by looking beyond right now.  Those hard places where all the pain, heartache and growth have and still are occurring….that is really the story I need to tell.  
Sharing the experience of lessons learned at my lowest points,  how He provided through the through the hardest days, how that is growing me.  That is where hope and comfort can be shared. That is the story I am here to tell.

Prayers, Uncategorized

He Already Knows

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Psalm 34:4 I sought the Lord and He answered  me; He delivered me from all my fears.

Heavenly Father,

You knew that early morning call would come, ripping us out of bed with news we were not prepared for. Please help us to think clearly and speak with wisdom.

You knew that Plan A, which had been put into place a month ago would not be possible. Thank you for providing another option.

You knew that this situation would come about and that there would be nothing that we could do to prevent it, change it, or control the outcome. With open hands I give you my precious loves.  I know that you love them even more than I do.  I pray your protection around them.  Please send your mighty angels to protect them.

2 Corinthians 5:7 For we live by faith, not by sight.

You know what this day will hold. Please guide, protect, and hold all of us in the face of the unknown.

You know that I am not sure what to do next.  Please hold my hand and walk me through each hour and each new development of this situation.

Isaiah 40:29 He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.

You know that Satan is at work in this very moment using trickery and promises to cloud judgment. PLEASE open my dear ones eyes!  PLEASE let her see and make decisions from what is TRUE.  Please protect her even while she is blinded by the enemy.

Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who is promised is faithful.

You know that layers of difficulty and deceit are being added to this situation while I am still praying over it. PLEASE fix it Jesus! PLEASE work in spite of faulty human understanding. PLEASE give light in this darkness.

Psalm 45:17-18 The Lord is righteous in everything he does; He is filled with kindness.  The Lord is close to all who call on Him, yes to all who call on Him in truth.

You know that I am heartbroken and left without words.  May the Holy Spirit intercede for me.

Psalm 34:18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

I thank you for your faithfulness.

I thank you that you are God and have power over the impossible.

I thank you that you can work a miracle in this.

I thank you that your love is beyond our understanding.

Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Prayers, Uncategorized

Prayer of an anxious heart

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Heavenly Father, as this day unfolds please calm the anxiety in my heart. Thank you for this brand new day. I give it to you. And I place in your hands all the worries that are clouding my judgement and turning my focus away from you. I lift my eyes to you and look forward to seeing your work, your grace. Please provide peace in this glorious day no matter what circumstances unfold.

1 Peter 5:7 Casting all your cares on him because he cares for you.

Getting to know you

Hello, I’m New Here

Hi there!  I’m so glad you have come to visit. I hope you’ll stay long enough to find encouragement, grace and sisterhood here.

Trying to put together a FIRST blog post has felt really overwhelming to me!  I don’t want to over share on this first post and scare you away, and I also don’t want to bore you away.  There are so many talented writers sharing great blogs. Knowing that inspires and intimidates me! So…. Here goes my first blog post attempt….Buckle up.  It’s going to be a bumpy ride!

Welcome to my mess!  By mess, I’m not referring to the cute, quirky, endearing kind of mess that some girls seem to wear like a charming accessory. I’m talking about the messy, painful kind of mess that you will not see on the outside (most days).  My particular brand of mess has been a journey of close to two years and counting of life spinning out of control in ways that I never could have predicted or prevented.  One trial after another.  Pain in relationships, mental illness, addiction, job loss, hospitalizations, uncertainty in the face of the future for my family.  Throughout this journey I have felt pain, loneliness, discouragement, weariness and some days hopelessness.  I didn’t share what I was going through emotionally with anyone intentionally.  Some days the pain of it would leak out anyway, but I was quick to put a lid on it and tuck those unpredictable, messy emotions back inside where I felt they belonged.  I was motivated to keep my vulnerable side from showing by a desire for privacy, a sense of trying to protect my loved ones, not wanting to feel even more out of control, and pride.  What I am beginning to understand is that pride has played a role in keeping my mess painful which provides the oxygen it needs to keep growing.  I have also come to realize that there is a chance I might be able to help someone else in their mess by sharing my journey.

I sure don’t have it all figured out, but I have learned a few things along the way.  I have learned that I have an amazing support system of friends and family who are willing to be there for me and my family in ways beyond what I ever would have asked. They were also loving enough to say things to me that I didn’t want to hear, but needed to.  There is something really special about friends who will speak hard truth with love. I have learned (well, I’m still in the process of learning this, but I’m working on it) that I cannot control the choices and decisions that my teen and young adult kids make.  The most powerful thing I can do to influence my children is to pray for them on a daily basis and make sure they know that I am praying for them. I wish I had known this sooner. I wish I had known that even when I thought I could parent them into making the right choices, they still have free will.  Prayer is now my most powerful parenting tool. I have learned that taking care of myself and making sure I get my run in more days than not is absolutely essential to my well-being and ability to face the hard days and appreciate the good days. I have learned that my outlook on my situation is directly impacted by my relationship with God.  Turning my troubles, worry and sadness over to Him has resulted in peace in the midst of trouble and the grace I need to get through some really difficult days.  God will not always give us what we want but he will always, always, always provide what we need.  Sometimes life is hard, but God is good.  God is good all the time.

Hope to see you next time!

Much love,

~Trish