It’s Ok To Celebrate When God Answers Prayer

It’s Ok To Celebrate When God Answers Prayer

“I asked God for $800…”

After those words left my mouth at dinner, I smirked and shrugged at my husband and two daughters.

“It’s so strange,” I continued. “This conference in New York called VoxCon keeps popping up in my path. I feel like I’m supposed to go, but we don’t have the money. 

“So…I asked God to give me $800 if He wants me to go.”

The fact that I asked God for the money was a mini miracle in itself.

I have a spending dragon. Clothes. Home decor. Make-up. Trips. My nature is to buy now, regret later.

But I’ve been working on it. REALLY working on it. Mostly because my spending dragon was driving a wedge between me and Justin. He stresses about money. A lot. And we (mostly me) had built up a hefty balance on our credit card.

So at the advice of dear friend, I completely turned my spending over to Justin a few months ago. He took my credit card. He gave me cash to spend each week. And it was hard. I had to say no, turn the other way, and keep my spending dragon at bay.

But it worked. We paid off our credit card in December. For real.

So…the fact that this VoxCon conference kept appearing in front of me truly intrigued me and bothered me. I was obeying God in this aspect of my marriage, so why did He keep putting this conference in my path that I couldn’t afford? 

The thing is…
I have learned that there is so much more to life than what we see.

And the intuition God gifted me was sizzling. It was just two weeks before the conference date, but I prayed something a little like this…

Dear Jesus – There’s this amazing conference in NYC that has captivated me. I don’t know why. And I definitely don’t know HOW it would even work for me to go. It will cost $800, and I can’t spend the money unless we have it. If you really want me to go, will you please give me $800?

Truthfully, I felt guilty even asking.

A trip to NYC was a luxury, not a need. And so many people have such bigger problems. My shame dragon kept trying to suck me down. But each time, a new email appeared in my inbox or a Facebook ad popped up, I prayed the same prayer.

Please give me $800 if I’m supposed to go.

Just a few days after I shared my prayer with Justin and the girls, I had a massive panic attack. The kind that leaves me in bed and quaking with uncertainty about the future. On the first day I made it back to work, I received this text from Justin.

 

Allow me to explain.

Due to hail damage, we needed to replace our roof. For a variety of reasons, it was a 5 month long saga. The one thing we knew for sure was that we’d have to pay AT LEAST our $1500 deductible and likely more. So we had that money socked away.

Do you see what I’m showing you here?!?

We were told we HAD to pay $1500. But when we got the bill it was only $700. A difference of $800.

Mind blown…but wait. Remember that I was now in the throes of an anxiety rebound. What recently sounded like a fun adventure, now seemed like a death trap and the worst idea in the world. Thanks, anxiety.

So what’s a girl to do?

Let’s take stock, shall we?

  1. The Spirit had been stirring me up about this conference.
  2. I didn’t have the money.
  3. I asked God for $800 if He wanted me to go.
  4. He gave me exactly $800.
  5. I had a panic attack out of nowhere.
  6. Now I didn’t want to go.
  7. But God clearly showed me He wants me to go.

In all situations, we have a choice Messy Miracle.

We can listen to the Voice of Faith or we can listen to the voice of fear. If my journey has shown me anything, it’s that the voice of fear is a liar and the Voice of Faith is freedom. Every. Single. Time.

So…I told my team. I sought wise advice. I asked my Dad if he wanted to take a trip to NYC with me, and I booked our flights.

As I type these words, I’m sitting at the St. Louis airport waiting for our delayed flight to Manhattan. I still don’t know why this conference is calling me, but I am obeying that call.

I could feel guilty that my prayer was answered when so many aren’t.

But that’s the voice of fear. That voice WANTS ME to minimize this blessing. That voice IS DESPERATE for me to keep my answered prayer silent. That voice DOESN’T WANT us to share any hope or help or healing.

So to combat that vicious voice of fear, I choose to CELEBRATE the God who loves us so much that He answers us so specifically, right down to dollar amount.

There’s so much WE DON’T KNOW. And will never know this side of heaven. That’s the whole point. To ask. And go. And praise. And simply do the next right thing, trusting the outcome to God.

If you are in a place of doubt or fear or questioning right now, may I suggest one thing? Ask yourself…

What would happen if I stop TRYING to make this thing happen and PRAY for The Hero to show me IF and HOW.

I promise you this. No matter the outcome, the pressure you feel will be lifted.

And that thing will be in the only place it belongs…the Hands of God.

Be Still,
Laura

P.S. If you’d like to see how this trip unfolds, follow #SeekingTheStilNYC on Facebook and Instagram. I’ll be sharing my fears and my fun and the ever-unfolding path of seeking the still amid the chaos of life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Radical Trust

Radical Trust

Allow me to introduce the idea of Radical Trust.

 

Trust not in myself or any man-made thing, but in the only One who deserves such trust. The One True God.

A friend emailed me this verse today, and it was a much needed reminder of where my trust needs to be:  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
– 2 Corinthians 10:5

Read that last phrase again: We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Did you know that fear, all on its own, triggers more than 1,400 known physical and chemical responses and activates more than 30 different hormones? Fear is just a thought. That’s all it is, yet it has enormous impact on our bodies.

I don’t have much control over much in this world. Especially things like anxiety disorders, depression, and medication. But I CAN control my thoughts. I can take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

The Bible tells me I can.

So here’s what I’ve been doing since I read that verse. Every time my mind wants to worry about how I’m feeling…or how long this yuckiness will last…or whether I’m going spiral further downward…or whether I’ll have to feel like this EVERY TIME I change medication… or whether I’ll be able to make it to Anna’s party tomorrow… or whether I’ll ever get off this medicine or whether…you get the idea. As soon as a FEARFUL thought enters my mind, I’m TAKING IT CAPTIVE and handing it over to Christ.

Literally, in my mind, I snatch it and give it to Jesus.

And then I tell myself. I trust you, Jesus. I trust you. I trust you. I trust you.

If God is who He says He is, I can trust Him. Not just with the big stuff, but the everyday fears and worries. Yes, even my messy medicine tapers. If I TRULY believe Jesus walked this earth and loved me enough to take my place on a cross and that He rose from the dead, then I have to be able to believe He loves me enough to help me make it through this current trial.

On my own, it’s impossible to take every thought captive, I know this. So, I ask Jesus to help me.

Take this fearful thought, Lord. I trust you. Take the what-ifs and should-haves and could-haves. I give them to you. Again, and again, and again. I trust YOU. I love you.

Jesus. Only Jesus.

 

That’s Radical Trust, Messy Miracle. If the only way out is through, then Radical Trust in the healing power of Jesus is the only way I’m making it. I think it’s time for a Radical Trust revolution, don’t you? I believe it would look something like this.

Snatch…Hand it over…I trust you, Jesus. Snatch…Hand it over…I trust you, Jesus.  Snatch…Hand it over…I trust you, Jesus.

He is the Almighty One. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. Through Him all things were made. He is All Knowing, All Powerful, Omni-Present. He is BIGGER THAN MY FEARS. He is WORTHY OF MY TRUST.  He STANDS ALONE, I STAND AMAZED, Jesus, only Jesus.

Snatch…Hand it over…I trust you, Jesus. Snatch…Hand it over…I trust you, Jesus. Snatch…Hand it over…I trust you, Jesus.

P.S. Please remind me that I wrote this tomorrow when I forget, ok?

In fact, let’s all remind each other, and often. Because your story matters, too. Where is He gnawing in you? Where are the cracks in your armor that let His light shine through? Don’t try to stop the unleashing, love. Let it flow from your mouth, or your pen, or your fingertips. It may just be your time. Maybe you were created for such a time as this.

QUICK QUESTION
If I could help you with one struggle in your life. What would it be? What is making your soul R E S T L E S S today? Send me a message and let know, ok?

BE STILL,
LAURA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instagram Inspiration

But Now I’m Found

But Now I’m Found

There came a day when it was time to re-enter the land of the living.

 

I attended my last session of intensive outpatient therapy, and my work leave ended. The annual off-site retreat was first time I would see my colleagues from the church & school.

I felt like a piece of driftwood bobbing on the waves. I barely knew what had just happened to me, and I had no vision for the what the future held. Doubts and questions whispered in my head.

What have they heard?
Do they know where I have been?
What will they think when they see me?

I knew I couldn’t handle the overnight stay, so I planned to drive to the retreat center early Saturday to join the rest of the crew. It was my first time traveling to this location, so I dutifully entered the address in my phone and let Siri be my guide.

I knew the retreat center was in the middle of nowhere, so I wasn’t worried when the roads began winding and wrapping with few houses in between. However, as the clock ticked toward starting time for the morning session, I knew something was not right. I should have been there by now. My anxious thoughts about my co-workers were replaced with another realized fear.

I was lost.

 

Great, I thought to myself. Now I’ll have to make an entrance in front of the entire group. That will only make my recent absence all the more obvious to everyone in the room.

My insecurities were about to push me over the edge when I saw it suddenly appear on my right hand side. I slowed down, stopped, and stared. There, in the middle of fields of corn, sat a beautiful, abandoned church. The remnants of stone walls stood, but the roof was all pale blue sky.

I had a moment then.

 

I get these feelings from time-to-time, like the Holy Spirit is tapping me on the shoulder. I didn’t have time to process what I saw as I drove by, but that feeling told me it was significant.

Just then, Siri rerouted my map, and I saw I was only 10 minutes from the retreat. My sense of responsibility kicked in, and I followed the remaining instructions to my destination. I did have to walk into a meeting already in session, but I made it through the day with no awkward moments. Until the very end…

We stood in a circle. About 30 of us holding hands, and we took turns praying out loud. When the prayer made it’s way to me, I was shaking badly. I knew It was time to be honest. My mask fit me no more. So, I prayed thanks for the people who had stood by my side. I prayed gratitude that Jesus never once stopped holding my hand. And my voice cracked with tears when I shared how difficult it was to simply take the next right step. The tears really came then, and I didn’t try to stop them. I had done what I came to do. I showed up. I was in the arena once more.

As I quietly returned to my van to head home, I felt the nudge again.

The church. I knew I had to find it, if only to prove to myself it was real.

I retraced my route on those winding roads until I saw it on my left side, now. I parked the van, grabbed my camera, and stood in awe. It took my breath away. This broken shell of a church was me. Crumbling, but standing. Fragile, but strong. Rooted in a God who gives miracles to the lost.

I stepped through the empty doorway and walked reverently to where the altar must have stood many moons ago. The open circle still marked the space where the sun once shone through colored glass. I knelt down on that hallowed, rocky ground and sobbed. I cried till there were no more tears, and I felt a burst of something in my heart. Something I hadn’t felt in a long time…hope.

If God could use a lost travel route to give me this incredible gift, what else could He do?

My past was raw and my future was uncertain. But that day, the gift of an abandoned church etched a truth on my soul. The destinations that I plan may not be God’s plan. But no matter where the winding road leads, I will NEVER be too lost to be found.

Darling, you also are never too lost to be found. Sit with that, savor it, revel in it.

XOXOXO,
Laura

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instagram Inspiration

I Once Was Lost

I Once Was Lost

It was one of those days.

 

A day where my anxiety reigned and shrouded me with it’s dark veil. This thing called anxiety had barreled into my life over the past year, and I was still waiting for rescue. I barely made it through each day as a wife, mom of two, and Director of Communications at my church.

 

During this dark time, I often felt suffocated and paralyzed.

 

Like I was living under water and struggling to make my way to the surface for a breath of air. When panic overcame me at work, I sought refuge in the only place I had privacy – the back of my van. I curled up on the folded seats. I prayed. I meditated. I breathed. I did anything that might calm the surge of adrenaline coursing through my body and irrational thoughts in my mind.

If close my eyes, I still see myself laying there in isolation, desperate for saving. I cried, I raged, and I prayed.

 

I felt alone. So very alone.

 

Outside the van, kids were running around at recess. Happy and carefree, they paraded by, unaware that a shell of a woman was lying on her back just feet away, praying for the pain to stop and for the strength to rise.

Then I heard it. A knock on my back window. Sitting up, I saw a friend and co-worker. Her face pressed up against the tinted glass, searching for me curled inside.

 

“I’ve been looking for you,” she said as I opened the hatch.

 

Climbing inside, she sat cross legged with me – two grown women finding respite from the world in an unlikely place – the back of a mini-van. My friend acted like it was the most natural thing to sit there with me. I talked about my fears, and she listened. Her presence calmed me.

She didn’t have answers, but she was there – she came to find me, to listen, and that was enough to get me through another day.

I wonder if you have that same tendency to retreat when the world just seems to be too much? Do you hide away and try to go it alone?

 

Messy Miracle, there is Someone knocking, waiting for you to open the door and let Him in.

 

Jesus, too, says, “I’ve been looking for you.”

When I was young, I was fascinated by a painting of Jesus knocking on a door. It was so interesting because there was no knob on the exterior of that door – it could only be opened from the inside. Revelation 3:20 says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”

Jesus will come looking for you no matter where you are, what you’re feeling, or what you’ve done. Scripture tells us that as our Good Shepherd, He will leave the 99 to look for the one. That one is you. He will peer through the window in the door of your heart and wait as long as it takes for you to let Him in.

It’s as simple as word, a whisper, a silent prayer. “Come, Lord Jesus.”

And when He enters in that most unlikely place, you won’t be lost anymore.

XOXOXO,
Laura

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Whisper in the Leaves

The Whisper in the Leaves

Crunchy leaves swirl wildly in the vortex.

I stand mesmerized each time I see them spin. Where is this unseen, whirling wind and how do the leaves always find it? My life is like these leaves. One minute gently floating and the next spinning out of control.

As the autumn leaves dance and fall, my soul stirs and stills. Something in this season grants permission to enjoy the chaos I see. If anything else spilled from the sky, collected everywhere, hid the familiar, calamity would strike.

But these beautiful, dead leaves bring peace and knowing. They fall chaotic, yes, but there is divine order in their very being. They remind that the earth is ushering in a deep sleep.

A time of rest and restoration is on its way.

In my life, too, I feel the chaos. The dreams I once held, the person I used to be, the masks I once wore are no more. They swirled away in a vortex of change. My soul is like the last leaf that clings to the tree. You know the one? I always notice those lone beauties. The others let go, set themselves free, and trust the divine wind to carry them.

Oh how I want to do that. To trust God’s control and let His whirling Spirit send me on a divine dance. I know He can. Why am I still here clinging?

I close my eyes and breathe. Letting go of the chaos in my mind requires a deep exhale and a shift.

It’s easy to talk to God, but I’m still learning to listen.

When it happens, my heart stills in wonder. It’s not an audible voice. More like a deep knowing from within. And peace. Lots of peace.

In Old Testament Bible days people literally heard the voice of God out loud. Then God spoke through the prophets. When the time was right, He spoke through His Son. And now He speaks within. As I watch the leaves spin, He speaks.

What do you have for me today, Lord? I’m listening. I’ve set down my agenda and laid my fears at your feet. Help be open to your spirit. Please tell me.

I listen. I close my eyes and hold a vision of Jesus in my mind. I set my pen on the paper and write what I hear Him saying to me.

Did I really hear Him? I believe so.

The messages that came from my pen were words of hope, complete opposite of the fearful voice that filled my head.

“You are closer to healing than you think.
I will give you the strength you need to carry on.
It may not always be comfortable, but it will always be doable with me.
Do not doubt me or you will be like a wave tossed on the wind.
Let go and trust me. You will be healed.
Don’t fight the fear, give it to me instead.
Rejoice always!”

Be still and know that HE is God.
XOXOXO,
Laura

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of Them

One of Them

I am one of them.

The intake therapist raised her eyebrows in emphasis as she issued words of caution to me that first day, “Many of these people are struggling with very serious issues,” she said. “You will need to be open and honest in that room.” Reading between the lines, I caught the meaning of her warning. My life experience is not as horrific as others. I’ve had an easy life.  The voice in my head began to say, I don’t belong here.

Then a still, small voice rose within.

You DO belong here. You are at a crossroad.  These moments matter.  Don’t waste a chance to grow by falling into the comparison pit. Your journey matters. You matter. Everyone is just doing the best they can.

The therapist was right, but so was the small voice within  As I sat in that room and heard the suffering of those around me, it was overwhelming.  So many hurting people. So much abuse. So much horror. So much running. So much pain. And in the middle of it all, I belonged there. I did. My triggering event wasn’t newsworthy, but it had unleashed fear and emotions that had long been buried deep. I was broken. I was one of them.

Group therapy was strange at first. It was a hodge-podge of people from every walk of life finding common ground in rock bottom of some form or another. For the purpose of my writing, I will refer to my fellow journeyers as students rather than patients.

The difference seems important somehow.

The students entered the room each day, scouting out the best chairs and sitting down to complete the obligatory mood questionnaire. The same questions were listed.  Rank your level of anxiety, depression, fear, helplessness, sadness… How many hours of sleep did you get? Medication changes? Scary thoughts? Ideas for harming yourself? Do you want to see the doctor? What is your goal for the day?

The therapist on duty silently read the completed forms to determine which student might need to begin and then something curious happened. Complete strangers began sharing the most intimate details of their lives right there in the open for all to see. It was never the same group of people from day to day, and it sometimes wasn’t even the same therapist. We were encouraged to ask questions of one another and comment on what we heard.

Thinking back, it seems absurd that a group of complete strangers in the darkest hours of their life became one another’s community. But that is what happened even though our paths would likely never cross again.

 
What if it didn’t take a rock bottom experience to bring people together?

What if we sat at one another’s feet instead of a table and spilled all the fear and darkness and pain? What if this happened in our living rooms and kitchens and school pick-up lines rather than in a hospital or a clinic? What would that require?

Let’s start here, in this space. On this journey. Together.

XOXOXO,
Laura