Tuesday, 2 February 2021

Marvelling at the Wonder of God

 


I stumble up the stairs in desperate need of help. Falling at His feet, I gaze longingly at His face. Just as the cry starts to spill from my heart, I remember—this is the King. I must be careful with the way I approach Him. I quickly rehearse the formula in my head, being mindful not to skip a step. I have to get this right; my request is far too important.

Has this ever happened to you? Like me, do you get tripped up in your prayers because you’re convinced you need the right words or the right order of approach? No doubt this lie has kept us more than once from the sweet intimacy God offers us.

But I’m finding a better way, a living, breathing, beautiful way of drawing near to God, and surprise, surprise, it has more to do with the posture of my heart than a formula of words.

If like me you’re tired of believing the lie and you are hungry for a genuine, authentic relationship with God, then you’ll be relieved and excited about what I’m about to share.

The Five B’s of Living, Breathing, Beautiful Prayer

Sounds like a formula? Don’t worry, it isn’t. It’s more like a lifestyle. Read on and I’ll explain.

Phase one - Behold Your God!

‘Whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.’ Hebrews 11:6b (ESV)

This is foundational, yet beholding your God encompasses much more.

Consider who He is: 

“You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you.” ~Nehemiah9:6 

‘Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.’ ~ Jeremiah 32:17

When I close my eyes and bow my head to pray in the early morning hours or shoot an arrow prayer upward during a busy or harrowing day, I pause to remind myself exactly Who I’m talking to. I fix my mind on God as revealed in His word and His world and my perspective shifts. I remember!

Sometimes, I think of His omnipresence, His outside-ness and above-ness of time and space, and it comforts me that He is with my loved ones all over the world, all at once. Or I might ponder the power-pack of His omnipotence and steadfast love, as I bow in thanksgiving that He is as good as He is powerful. Imagine if He was a powerful and wicked God? Oh, the grace that He bestows on us.

God’s Word is filled with evidence of His out-of-this-world, amazing attributes: love, merciful, long-suffering, fore-knowing, omniscient, eternal, immutable, omnipresent, omnipotent, good, infinite, incomprehensible, sovereign. (See the handy chart I’ve added for you.) I love to choose just one or two to focus on as I come before Him. With Bible in hand, I can choose to remember just who God is and praise Him for how He has revealed His character to me.

Download a copy HERE


I know that God is:  

All-powerful, that nothing is too hard for Him because I’ve seen Him work in my life and the lives of my loved ones. 

All-good, because He treats me much better than I deserve and has promised that all things will work together for my good and His glory. 

All-merciful, because He cares for my lost loved ones even more than I do and accepts me, the chief of all sinners, as His child. 

The list goes on.

When I focus on God and His revealed attributes I am awestruck by His majesty and power and humbled by His goodness and mercy.

But most of all, I am amazed that He would invite me to draw near to Him.

I mean, it’s a mystery I can even approach His throne. But thanks be to God through Jesus Christ I have been granted access. Bold, confident access! (Hebrews 4:16) I need not fear or worry, because the King of this universe desires a relationship with me, in fact, He calls me His child.

‘For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” ~ Romans 8: 15

Let that sink in for a bit. God, the Creator of all things seen and unseen, has told me that I can call Him ‘Daddy’!

And it’s not just me, He offers the same to you! Doesn’t that just blow your mind? What an awesome God we serve!

So no, I don’t need to be plagued by the need for legalistic formalities. When I remember who God is and who He says I am to Him, I don’t need to hesitate. I can toss off the duty, doubts, and distractions and run right up those stairs straight into my Father’s arms.

It’s my first step in embracing living, breathing, beautiful prayer exactly as my heart longs for.

 

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What about you?

Do you sometimes wonder if you’re doing prayer right? 

Does duty interfere with your enjoyment of God? 

When was the last time you paused just to marvel at the wonder of God?

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We’ll continue with the second phase of our Five B’s of Living, Breathing, Beautiful prayer in the next blog post.  In the meantime, you can download a free copy of my Live Amazed Intercessory Prayer Calendar which outlines all the phases and helps us make the most of the sweet privilege of prayer. 




May grace and peace be multiplied to you,
Carlie


Thursday, 12 November 2020

What I Know for Sure and Why it Makes All the Difference

 


Somehow my feet didn’t get the message. I was sure they would make it safely to the other side, but they had other ideas.

As I slipped between the boulders, I wondered how something I was so sure about could cause me so much pain.

Has that ever happened to you? You are sure things are going to work out just as you envision, doubts don’t even cross your mind, but then they don’t. The shock of the fall leaves you reeling in sudden, searing pain.  So unexpected, unwelcomed, and inconvenient.

What do you do then? How do you recover? How do you trust your instincts moving forward?

It has only been a few weeks since I fractured my leg while hiking, and I’m still adjusting to the pain, inconvenience, and complications of living with a broken leg. Yet, I’m amazed at how God prepared me for this time and comforts me with His promises.

In the weeks before the accident, Psalm 23:6 kept stepping steadfastly through my mind. I couldn’t shake it and as I pondered what it meant I thought of all the things we aren’t sure of. Especially in 2020.

In our small community, as plans proceed to reopen our borders in December, many are anxious about what this could mean for our safety. Still, as a country where tourism plays a major role, others are equally worried about the sustainability of our economy if we don’t open on time. Then there are the concerns about schools reopening, jobs in jeopardy, families struggling, travel restrictions, and what feels like a never-ending hurricane season breathing down our backs. The list seems endless.

My US friends have their share of worries, many waiting to know for sure the outcome of the presidential election and what this could mean for them. In just a few minutes each of us can come up with our list of things we just aren’t sure about, both on a national and personal level, things we wished we knew for sure.

Not knowing always seems to add to the stress we feel. At times like these, we wish we could see into the future and know for sure which is the best path to take.

But, as God whispered in my ears a few weeks ago and reminds me even now, as His child, I can be sure that only goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life.

Now here is the real challenge—goodness doesn’t always feel good. In fact, sometimes, it feels downright bad. And when that happens, we may struggle to accept God’s promise that ‘for those who love God, all things work together for good’. (Romans 8:28)

Yet, we can take God at His word and trust His multi-layered goodness. What does not feel good to us may be producing spiritual growth that might not be possible otherwise. How many times has God in His graciousness allowed us a glimpse back into the good that came out of a ‘bad’ situation? While we may not have a full vision here on earth, we have seen the evidence of God’s goodness in our lives and we can trust that He really knows what is best.

Then there’s the mercy. The mercy that follows me, forgives me constantly, and accepts me continually. No matter how many times I mess up, being quick to judge another who shares a different view to me, allowing my selfish pride to dictate my time, no matter how my sin shows its ugly face, when I turn to God, mercy comes running.

Isn’t that absolutely amazing?

So, yes there are many things I’m not sure about, and the pain of landing badly on the wrong side of sure is never welcomed, but this one thing I know—‘Only goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.’ It’s a promise I take with me on days when I’m searching for answers, knocked dizzy by the shock of another fall, and desperately trying to find a reason for the pain. It’s a promise that assures me, even when I don’t understand, that it’s going to be okay, that I need not fear because my Father is always with me.

When I know this for sure, I can persevere through trials, endure through pain, and embrace God’s good plan for my life. I can live like I’m sure despite my feelings. It makes all the difference.

What about you?

What are you really sure about? Has 2020 exposed your fears and insecurities? Are you finding comfort in God’s promises? Why not spend some time pouring over Psalm 23 and linger long on verse six? Let it seep into your soul until you’re sure, really sure of God’s pursuing love.


Grace and peace to you,

Carlie



Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Prayerless prayers, Desperate times, and a Powerful God

 


Sometimes, when I pray, I don’t look for any answers. It’s embarrassing to even admit it. I mean, what does it say about my faith? Why bother to pray if I don’t expect God to answer? And if I expect Him to answer why am I not looking for the rain?

‘Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.’  ~ James 5: 17-18 ESV

I don’t know about you, but oftentimes I don’t feel like Elijah, much less act like Elijah.

First of all, Elijah prayed a big, miracle seeking prayer. How often do I do that?

Here’s the part of Elijah’s story that has been saturating my thoughts for the last few weeks.

And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink, for there is a sound of the rushing of rain.” So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Mount Carmel. And he bowed himself down on the earth and put his face between his knees. And he said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” And he went up and looked and said, “There is nothing.” And he said, “Go again,” seven times.  And at the seventh time he said, “Behold, a little cloud like a man's hand is rising from the sea.” And he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot and go down, lest the rain stop you.’”  And in a little while the heavens grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode and went to Jezreel. And the hand of the Lord was on Elijah, and he gathered up his garment and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel. ~ 1 Kings 18: 41-46 ESV

Seven times. Not once, not even thrice, but seven times. That’s how many times Elijah sent his servant to look toward the sea, expecting God’s promise to become reality. Seven times! Yet another way I don’t act like Elijah.

How often do you pray big, heaven opening and pouring out prayers? And do you keep on your knees persisting and persevering until you see the promise appear?

Or are you like me? Sometimes praying prayerless prayers laced with doubt?

What strikes me, even more, is Elijah’s faith when the tiny, distant cloud was finally spotted. As small as a man’s hand. So little, so far-off, I might have missed it. But it was enough for Elijah to move into action. God’s full answer was about to come thundering down.  

Sadly, in my life when I see the dimness of an answer, I’m often only cautiously hopeful. Mostly I get nervous, fearful that the promising mist of an answer might vanish before my eyes, fading away before the rain starts. It’s like I’m living expecting a drought and not the gracious outpouring of a powerful, faithful God.

But God, He tells me that I’m just like Elijah. An ordinary man praying to an omnipotent God.

If you’re like me and feel a little dried out from this rather unsettling year, I encourage you to remember who our God is. He is all-powerful and ever-faithful yet personal to each one who calls on His name. He ‘is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine’. (Ephesians 3:20)

Are we willing to take Him at His word? Are we willing to risk asking great things of our great God? Are we willing to look for the rain?

May these seven points from Elijah’s story refresh our parched faith and encourage us to expect great things from our great God.

Elijah prayed according to the word of God.

Elijah believed God would be faithful to keep his word.

Elijah persisted in prayer even when there was no sign of an answer.

God answered in His perfect timing.

Elijah acted in faith when the answer was still far away.

God strengthened Elijah for the journey ahead.

And perhaps, most encouragingly, Elijah was a man just like us. 

 

Okay, I’m ready. I’m praying for a miracle, and I’m walking with my umbrella.


What about you?

Do you pray for what you believe? Do you believe that even now in the midst of all the uncertainty God can show up in miraculous ways? What is God putting on your heart to pray for today?




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Are you overwhelmed by the prayer needs around you? Want to be more intentional in your prayer time? Don't forget to click HERE for your free Prayer Planner, my gift to you when you subscribe to 'from dust towards the heavens'. 




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Are you feeling fearful, frail, or frazzled? 
Would you rather have peace, purpose, and power? 
Live Amazed - Embracing the Gifts of God in Longing, Loss, and Life is a 30-day devotional that helps to steer our hearts towards God in the midst of our secret longings, staggering losses, and day-to-day worries.  Through scripture and real-life struggles, these daily reflections invite us to embrace the peace, hope, and grace God so freely offers us. 

You can read a free sample devotion here or purchase your very own copy here


Thursday, 18 June 2020

Trusting a Loving God When Waiting is Painful


I’ve often wondered what she thought when help didn’t come.

Not so much what she was feeling, in some way, I could imagine what she might have been feeling. Having also lost a brother, I know the searing pain of loss, the grief that weighs you down and threatens to take your breath.

But what was she thinking? When the only One who could help her, who could save her brother chose not to come, what thoughts flittered through her mind?

Here on the other side of history, we know how it all worked out. We know that Jesus showed up four days 'late', wept with the bereaved sisters, and then miraculously raised Lazarus from the dead. It was a bold, ‘remove-all-doubt’, type of move that led many to believe in His name.

But there in the middle of her sorrow, did she (Martha) begin to doubt His love? Did she question His motives? Did she plant seedling resentment in her heart? Did her faith waver?

Who would blame her if it did?

What about you? Are you stuck in the messy middle wondering about the motives of God? Trying to understand why He doesn’t show up? Refereeing the struggle between your heart and your head? Fighting to believe beyond the shadow of a doubt that God knows best?

Well, if that is you, if you’ve ever been there or know someone who has, I’m inviting you to walk with me as we take a closer look at Jesus’s motives and Martha’s resolve in the events surrounding the raising of Lazarus from the dead.

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.’ ~ John 11:5-6 ESV(emphasis mine)

Did you get that? Jesus chose not to go when he was called because of his love for them. Do you struggle to accept that? He knew the pain they would experience, yet he chose to stay where He was. You see, Jesus knew the life-changing, life-affirming impact His planned deliverance would have, so He loved them enough to hold out for them (and the witnesses) to experience this better thing.

And what is this better thing?

Let’s look at Jesus’s words-

“This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” ~ John 11: 4b ~

“Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” ~ John 11: 14-15 ~

That you may believe in the Son of God.

In the verses following, the word ‘believe’ is used six times. It is that important. To believe that Jesus is the Son of God sent by God is the only thing. It changes everything.

That we may believe in His name was important to Jesus then and it is just as important to Him now. He knows that this is the only way for us to ‘have life and have it abundantly.’ (John 10:10)


Oh, I pray for faith like Martha’s. She knew who Jesus was and she believed that nothing was impossible for him. Even through tears, even surrounded by the stench of death, she knew her God. She knew that both immediate deliverance and eternal deliverance were within His power and she trusted Him to know which was best. Inspiringly, despite her painful circumstances, she remained confident of His love.

Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” ~ John 11:21-22 ~ (emphasis mine)

She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” ~ John 11:27 ~ (emphasis mine)

What do you believe? Right here, in the midst of all the uncertainty, what do you know for certain? Is your head telling you one thing and your heart another? Do you run to meet Jesus expecting a miracle? Or have you given up in believing that miracles are possible?

My friend, I know 2020 has been crazy. Life for many of us has been turned upside down and we may feel confused, overwhelmed, afraid, or in the very least, unsettled. Like Martha, we may be wondering where God is in the chaos. But please remember this, He is never late; He knows the pain and/or confusion we may be experiencing yet because of His great love for us, He is choosing the better thing.

‘And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.’ ~ Romans 8:28 ~

We can trust His heart. He will deliver us. In His way. In His timing. Miracles are still possible. And through it all, God will be glorified. May we have faith strong enough to believe that.

Won’t you pray with me?


Dear Loving Father,

I am amazed at you and your great love for us. Thank you for the hope and peace found in your word. Thank you for loving us enough to take us through the painful wait to the glory on the other side. Help us to believe in your goodness, to trust in your loving heart, and to run to you in great expectation of your power.

In Jesus's Name we pray. Amen.  

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You can read the incredible account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead in John 11:1-44.

Grace and peace to you,
Carlie





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Are you overwhelmed by the prayer needs around you? Want to be more intentional in your prayer time? Don't forget to click HERE for your free Prayer Planner, my gift to you when you subscribe to 'from dust towards the heavens'. 




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Are you feeling fearful, frail, or frazzled? 
Would you rather have peace, purpose, and power? 
Live Amazed - Embracing the Gifts of God in Longing, Loss, and Life is a 30-day devotional that helps to steer our hearts towards God in the midst of our secret longings, staggering losses, and day-to-day worries.  Through scripture and real-life struggles, these daily reflections invite us to embrace the peace, hope, and grace God so freely offers us. 

You can read a free sample devotion here or purchase your very own copy here


Thursday, 4 June 2020

How to Listen Even When It Hurts


‘It's a long, long road
From which there is no return
While we're on the way to there
Why not share?
And the load
Doesn't weigh me down at all
He ain't heavy, he's my brother’

~ sung by The Hollies ~

‘I’m a good listener. At least, that’s what my pride told me. I believed it for a long time. Even when it was clearly no longer true.’*

And so began my confession. The result of painfully peeling away the layers that hid the dirty truth. Selfishness, laziness, and a whole slew of preconceived opinions often stood in the way of me really hearing what my ‘brother’ was saying to me. Sometimes, I blamed him. He’s too loud, I’d say, or he’s using judgmental words. When he calms down, we can talk then. Other times, I’d be quick to pull an answer from my self-justification bag even before he had a chance to fully explain his position. And to be honest, many times the thought of walking in his shoes seldom crossed my mind. By stacking up obstacles and failing to listen well, I was in danger of becoming deaf to the needs of my ‘brother’.

I think built into each one of us is the longing to be heard, to be understood. It walks hand in hand with the need to be loved. When I fail to listen to my 'brother', I fail to love him well.

But the festering sore at the root was my failure to listen to God. Here’s an excerpt from my confession.

‘The disease spread to my walk with God. I would read His word and quickly forget the truths found within. You could tell it in the way I lived: not convinced. Not fully accepting who He says He is, what His intentions are, who He says I am, and how He longs for me to respond. Instead of being quick to listen, I was often painfully slow. Even worse, I loitered around instead of acting on His Word.’ *

Turns out I’m just a poor listener. But then it dawned on me, what if God listens the way I do?

What if God becomes too distracted with all the thoughts in His mind or too busy with the affairs of the world to hear me crying out to Him?

What if I am dying for Him to hear me, but He is unwilling to sacrifice the time, attention, and love that listening requires?

What if He fails to respond in love to the lament of my heart?

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that if God listened the way I do, I would be without hope. It’s unbearable even to think of it.

But thankfully, God, in His mercy, assures us that He does listen. He hears, cares, and acts out of love.

‘Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.~ Psalm 116:2 ~ (ESV)

‘The LORD is near to all who call Him, to all who call on Him in truth.' ~ Psalm 145:18 ~

‘Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.’ ~ Jeremiah 29:12 ~ (ESV)

As I meditate on just how amazingly incredible it is that the Creator of the Universe is near to me and listens to me, it challenges me to ask myself how well I’m listening to my 'brother'.


Are you willing to join me?

Are you willing to do the soul-searching, messy work of exposing the obstacles that plug our hearts and ears? To be brutally honest if, hidden within the pile, we unearth a lack of empathy, a prideful hunger to be heard, and a refusal to listen past the noise?

It will be hard work, active and ongoing, often uncomfortable. But I pray that together we’ll be brave enough to clear away the debris and let the light in. My hope is that as we do, we will reflect the listening heart of God, truly listen to our brother, learn what matters to him, and love him with our actions.

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What About You?

How do you feel when someone takes the time to listen to you?

What about when they don't?

Are you a good listener? If not, what is it that stops you from listening well?

And what sacrifices will you make today to improve your listening?

God turns his ear to hear our prayers; how does that encourage you to be a better listener?

And finally, how does listening spur you to action?

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*Excerpts are taken from Devotion #25 ‘What if God Listens the Way I Do? found in my 30-day devotional book—Live Amazed-Embracing the Gifts of God in Longing, Loss, and Life. If you’re interested in learning more about Live Amazed and reading a sample chapter, please click HERE.


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Overwhelmed by the prayer needs around you? Don't forget to click HERE for your free Prayer Planner, my gift to you when you subscribe to 'from dust towards the heavens'.  



Blog post Photo by 
Hian Oliveira on Unsplash

Friday, 1 May 2020

Are You Trying to Walk All Alone?


My baby girl turned 15 this month. (I'm still trying to let that fact sink in.)

She is a self-assured, gracious young lady, who is considerably taller than me.
Yet, that doesn't stop me. 

On occasions, when we're crossing the street, I instinctively reach for her hand. I just can't shake the desire to protect her and guide her safely across. 

Amused by my maternal reaction, she confidently walks across the street single-handedly. Unattached. Alone. 

It's not that she is ashamed to hold my hand. In fact, we often walk hand in hand just for fun when we are taking a stroll.  She enjoys my company, but she doesn't need my help. 

I think of how much I'm like her when it comes to my relationship with God. 

For my daughter, asserting her independence is an expected and welcomed step on her way toward adulthood. For me as a child of God, independence is downright dangerous. 

There is no earthly way I could live this Christian life on my own. But that hasn't stopped me from trying.  

On my own, or with the help of Google, I've attempted to solve so many problems. I'm an addicted, compulsive researcher, and given the right motivation and resources, I have been known to serve up a delectable offering of man-made solutions. 

Problem-solver is not the only cap I wear. I've also proudly battled sin in my own strength. I just tried harder and harder and relished my short-lived successes. 

All along, while wisdom from above and the power of Christ were available to me, I relied on earthly wisdom and strength—the perfect recipe for stumbling. 

But thankfully, despite my choice to go it alone, God continually reaches for my hand, reminding me that I cannot do life on my own. 


'Christianity is nothing if it is not supernatural.' ~ via Andrew Murray

All because of God, I'm finally getting it.


Now, during this global crisis, I'm remembering where my strength comes from. I'm remembering to trust His hand as He guides us safely across, to seek His wisdom first, and to wait on the life-giving power of His Spirit.

I'm learning afresh that I can't even walk without Him holding my hand. One of the ways I'm reaching up to take His hand is through prayer. And like the good Father that He is, God has filled His Word with just the right words I need as I cry out to Him for guidance. 


Would you join me in a prayer to walk humbly with God?

A Prayer to Walk with God* 
Dear Heavenly Father,
Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth, is Yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and You are exalted as head above all. In Your hand are power and might, and in Your hand, it is to make great and to give strength to all.

Thank you for holding my right hand and walking continually with me, guiding me with Your counsel. Thank You for being the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

I confess there are times I struggle free from Your grasp, wanting to do life my way. Thank You for Your steadfast love that continually pursues me, and through trials and troubles, woos me back to You. You know, O LORD, that it is good for me to be near You. Thank You for being my refuge.

Dear Father, the world has changed, and I don’t know what the future holds. But You hem me in, behind and before, and You lay Your hand upon me. No matter where this crisis leads, Your hand shall lead me and Your right hand shall hold me. I may not know where I’m going, but the darkness is not dark to You, O LORD. To You, the night is as bright as the day for darkness is as light with You, so please lead me in the way everlasting. Shed Your light on my path, O LORD, just enough that I may take the first right step. Then whisper in my ears, “This is the way, walk in it.”

Give me a heart that yearns to cling to You, that trusts in Your perfect, unchanging wisdom and Your infinite goodness.

As You reach out for my hand, help me to reach out to others, to share the hope that I find in You.  We are all desperate for hope and You are our Hope, a sure and steady anchor of the soul.  With You on our side, we need not fear.

Thank You, loving Father, for hearing my prayer, for answering me and becoming my salvation.

May I never fail to walk humbly with You.

In Jesus Christ’s Name, I pray. Amen

*(The following scriptures were used in constructing the prayer to walk with God: 1 Chronicles 29:10-12, Psalm 73:23-26, Psalm 139:5, 10-12, Isaiah 30:21, Hebrews 6:19, Psalm 118:6, 21, Micah 6:8.)



If you would like a free printable of the prayer, please click HERE.  


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What about you?

God wants to hold your hand. 
Are you reaching for it? 
Or trying to walk alone? 
Do you struggle to fully rely on God? 
How are you seeing the Lord walk with you through this season of uncertainty?

Grace and peace to you,
Carlie


Here's some classic encouragement in song: 'I Can't Even Walk' featuring Jessy Dixon. 
May you be encouraged.



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@Embracing the Unexpected


Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Wonder-full Surprise? Or Do You Know What's Hiding in the Box?


I see the way she looks at him, and it melts my heart. 

I tell him that there's fairy dust sprinkled in every step he takes. 

I wonder if he sees it too. If he understands... if he fully grasps the awesome responsibility he carries. 

Having someone look at me like that would make me care. I would take great care in what I said, and what I did, always mindful to live right... to lead her well. It would be a 'burden' I wouldn't take lightly.

I wonder if he understands. I try to remind him not to mess up. Secretly, I pray that he doesn't ever disappoint her. 

But I'm wrong. 

It's not a responsibility to shoulder... a burden to bear. The way my daughter looks at her daddy is quite simply a gift she bestows on him. A gift that looks beyond his actions... accepts him as he is . . . always taking the best and kindest view of him, always hoping, always believing, always trusting. A gift of childlike love for her daddy.

I pray she never loses that sense of wonder. And I pray that we all can love like that. 

We are all fearfully and wonderfully made, each of us a masterpiece . . . expertly and lovingly crafted in the Master's hands. We see that clearly when we gaze at a newborn baby, everything is so new, each interaction so filled with anticipation and excitement. A gift from the Lord, exquisitely designed and wonderfully complex, each layer unwrapped yields a special treat, a surprise. 



But, as they age . . . as we age,  the polish fades and the luster gets smudged and our eyes and heart forget. Forget to look with wonder on the one created in the image of God. 

We stop looking for the hidden surprise and see only what we expect to see. We start building boxes around the people in our lives. 
'There's a surprise or two hiding in everyone, and if you put them in a box, you'll never get to see it.' The Growly Books  - Begin 
Perhaps, it's our need for order or our inability to fully appreciate the beautifully mysterious complexities of each other or maybe a survival instinct. Whatever the reason, we build boxes. 

I've been there . . . in a box . . . at the end of someone's wonder-less gaze, and it's not always pleasant. 


Sure, there are some boxes I don't mind - you know, 'attentive mom, passionate about her kids' - that's great! But, 'rules-based mom, who can't relax' - not so nice! 


Mostly, being placed in a box is stifling. 

It cramps me. It makes me feel unable to spread my wings and fly . . .  to be the me I'm becoming. Because in that box I'm the me that was. And there is no room to grow . . . no grace extended for me to wriggle free. Robbed of my chance to change and grow and flourish, that's how I feel when I'm trapped in a box of someone's making. 

So, why? Why do I do it to others?


Why can't I see others the way my daughter sees my husband? With that willingness to believe the best, looking for the surprise in every encounter? With full acceptance for who they are and who they are becoming, wholly believing that they are full of wonder and brimming with unexpected surprises.


I want to be like Merridy in our latest read-aloud who 'always seemed to look for the surprises in everything around her, and with endless joy and wonder, . . . always seemed to find them . . . Everyone who met her felt a little bit greater afterward, because she always seemed to find something wonderful in you that you had never realized was there.'    

That is a gift I would love to give to others, to put aside my automatic reactions based on assumptions about who I think they are and to simply see them and appreciate them for who they really are, while giving them room to grow and become who God designed them to be. 


Isn't that the way God loves us?  We are all fully known yet loved with a never-ending always and forever love. 




Especially now, I wish I could love like that. Don't you? 

My prayer for me . . . for you . . . for us all is that out of His glorious riches God may strengthen us with power 'to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ' and that we would joyfully share that unconditional love with others. 


What a gift that would be!



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What about you?


Can you think of someone who could use this gift today? 
How will you intentionally look for the surprises today? 

Grace and peace to you,


Carlie




*This post previously published on April 3, 2016



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I've also selected these other hope-filled posts for you for such a time as this. 

You can click on the title to read. 




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