From Frustration to Prayer

Sometimes I say “Oh Lord” when I hear about the shenanigans friends get into or when I glimpse the exasperating self-checkout where people who apparently have never experienced how to ring up things decide today is a good day to do just that…with their incredibly full cart.

Lately I have been listening to a lot of Lauren Daigle…while I cook, in the shower, working out, cleaning the house. If I could describe my current mood, it would be “Lauren Daigle” because she just seems to be singing what my heart and mind are feeling right now. One particular song has slowly become something I am praying instead deep within, and I find my cries of “O Lord O Lord” have been a welcome comfort instead of exasperation and frustration. It reminds me that He is right there with me, when I often like to lie to myself that He’s not, or He’s left me. He doesn’t. He hears. He meets me in my desperation, my loneliness and says “This will be made right.” It may not be mine to see, or experience, but it’s His.

So now when I cry out “O Lord O Lord” I know He’s already at work, but He’s there in the midst listening. I know my prayers are reflective of a God who is with me, a God who hears, who wants me to cry out to Him instead of in my own frustrations.


Part of Lauren Daigle’s “O’ Lord” is quoted below in how I have been praying it out. Maybe you needed it today or tomorrow. Maybe you needed to recognize your heart and mind have needed to cry out to God in a way that only you and He communicate. Whatever the means, know He’s listening.

Though times it seems
Like I’m coming undone
This walk can often feel lonely
No matter what until this race is won
I will stand my ground where hope can be found
I will stand my ground where hope can be found

Oh, O’Lord O’Lord I know You hear my cry
Your love is lifting me above all the lies
No matter what I face this I know in time
You’ll take all that is wrong and make it right
You’ll take all that is wrong and make it right

Your strength is found
At the end of my road
Your grace it reaches to the hurting
Still through the tears and the questioning why
I will stand my ground where hope can be found!
I will stand my ground where hope can be found!

Oh, O’Lord O’Lord I know You hear my cry
Your love is lifting me above all the lies
No matter what I face This I know in time
You’ll take all that is wrong and make it right
You’ll take all that is wrong and make it right

I will stand my ground where hope can be found!
I will stand my ground where hope can be found!

Oh! O’Lord O’Lord I know You hear my cry
Your love is lifting me above all the lies
No matter what I face this I know in time
You’ll take all that is wrong and make it right
You’ll take all that is wrong and make it right

Isolating Singleness

Occasionally I talk about single life on here, after all, I am single and people say you should write on what you know. Bless ’em. When you are working on a book centered on singleness and faith it’s difficult to find new content that doesn’t go towards that instead of here on the blog.

I was thinking about the isolation of singleness recently. That we may find our calendars full of events, plans, coffee and catching up but when we are at rest, we feel some sense of isolation. Loneliness creeps in because for some, the ability to share intimate details, thoughts, dreams of life is found in relationship with a partner. I find that even as a believer, when I take these same things to God that it’s left hanging in the air. While no man or woman is greater than God, the tangible need to talk through life with a person is what this heart desires. To look across the table, sit on the couch and be at your most vulnerable in sharing a hurt that has deeply wounded, unforgiveness that lingers, a deep-seeded hope that you have been praying on for years, and even the humiliating story at the 7th grade track meet.

We were not meant to live in isolation, but for singles (and yes I know marrieds too) we find ourselves there more than we’d care to admit. Even in a crowded room, or on the church pews. I was sharing some time ago with a friend that it’s difficult the older I get to not see someone like me on the platform at church, that the isolating effects it can have to not have a single person in leadership, in the pastor role. But ministry becomes isolating as well, and I understand why so many shy away from stepping into that minefield.

I don’t have any real synopsis to this today, no cure for the isolating effects of single living because frankly, I still battle it myself. That notion of having a very full life, full calendar, but yet feeling so cordoned off from living a life fully. From being able to share all of yourself with someone that is right there in front of you, tangible and breathing…it is almost heart breaking but yet we live it out, we step into it and pray we aren’t crushed with the effects of the isolation, of the loneliness. We know God is with us, He is ever present in Spirit, yet our hearts call for that rib-sharer…

A Single New Year

December 30th…when the tension starts to rise a bit for the singles. We have navigated the holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas or Hanukkah, hopefully with some success and self-confidence in tact.

But y’all we are heading into New Year’s Eve. So many years I spent puttingĀ alot of pressure on this eve of a new year, thinking that it would be the culmination of hopes that I had all year long. Plans, dresses, dinners, and plenty of social activities. Some years I had plans months in advance, others found me with none. Absolutely zero plans. It felt like it was a reflection of my marital status…FAILURE.

So for quite a while I lived in that reality that I had to have plans, a date on New Year’s Eve. That this specific date-December 31st held some significance in how my life lived out the next year. It set the standard in my mind for quite a while.

But let me tell all my singles right now, on December 30th, that it’s a lie. NYE is just a reason for people to make life goals they’ll have forgotten by April and an excuse to indulge in excess one last time before the slate gets “wiped clean” so to speak. How you spend your NYE is not a reflection of your life in the last year, or in the one to come.

Don’t let a day define your life. Don’t let plans, or lack thereof, do it either. And most certainly DO NOT LET YOUR MARITAL STATUS AS SINGLE DEFINE YOUR YEAR! I think that’s hard for some people to accept and live with. I think they wrap up all of who they are in having someone, being with someone, whether a date or a girlfriend or a spouse, that’s how they define all of their life.

But it doesn’t have to define your’s. Whether you find yourself sitting at home watching the ball drop this December 31st, or in a large crowd of friends and family, know that your 2017 isn’t laid out in how you spend it or who you spend it with (or who you don’t).

Happy New Year readers!

Punishment for good?

When I was a kid I had a habit of sassing. I didn’t get into too much trouble, except for my mouth. (That’s probably still true today) For punishment I’d get something taken away from me, most notably my bike or watching my favorite show (MacGyver y’all). I’d get sent to my room to cool off, and keep my mouth shut as well.

That was most often my mom’s form of punishment, although I did get popped on the behind a couple of times (and I turned out just fine thankyouverymuch). The taking away of stuff, of things that mattered. Sending me to my room. Confining me to myself, indoors, without the thing I loved so dearly-freedom. Choice. That amazing pink BMX Mongoose.

Because of actions that were within disciplining, I saw the removal of things I held as mine as punishment. It showed me that I wasn’t in control of those things, and they could be taken away if I wasn’t within the guidelines my mother had set forth on behavior. I think we all see when things are taken away from us that it’s a sort of punishment, an effect of our wrongdoing or misjudgement.

But I think we have it wrong. Or at least I do.

God loves you enough to strip anything from you that keeps you from Him.

Pete Wilson

Oof.

So when things that we perceive as being taken from us as punishment is really God loving us so much more than we deserve. He sees that they are what is keeping us from Him, what’s distracting and denying fellowship and communion with Him. He wants the absolute, flat-out best for us that He would strip it away so we can be free to run to Him. To close that gap on that dusty road as the prodigal, as the heartbroken stooped in picking up the pieces. He instead scoops us up and pulls us in. He tears down that wall we built, and yanks out that relationship that was not what He intended for us.

Y’all I firmly believe that He takes away all the things from us not as punishment but as goodness. As love. As deliverance. As redemption. Yes, we get disciplined, but that job you allowed to become identifiable by what you did not by Him? He needed to remind you of who you are to Him, not what you did. It wasn’t punishment, it was love.

So we lose some skin on this thought, on this punishment that is not in reality punishment at all, but God loving us more than we can understand. It’s Him being good when there’s not much good in us, and seeing our need for Him is far greater than our need for the thing or person that is stripped from us.

I don’t know about you but when I come to see this in how He loves me, it makes for an easier transition of my control to His love.

BFFs and God

Do you remember your first best friend? That first person who you could tell your secrets to and not feel judged or questioned? Mine was a girl named Jennifer, and it felt like we were kindred spirits at a very young age. We loved reading, watching ABC on Friday nights (hello Full House and Step by Step) and sleepovers at her grandmother’s house. Our closeness lasted into middle school and then we began drifting apart. Life, growth, just stuff in general caused us to gravitate in other directions, always remaining friendly with one another though, even now as we connect across states via social media.

I wonder if Adam thought about his first best friend there in the Garden. It couldn’t have been far from his mind each and every day, especially in those days of toil and labor, the days after losing his sons to murder and turmoil. All effects of a decision he made that drew him away from his first best friend, God.

At the root our relationships are often outflows of a relationship we have with God. It’s at the root of who we are as human beings, our ability to connect and be relational. I talked about this yesterday. However in order to begin healthy relationships with others, we have to examine our relationship with God.

Do we talk with Him regularly?

Are we spending time connecting to His interests and cares?

How are we listening to what He is saying to us?

Are we serving that relationship or expecting to be served by it?

Do we simply think He is a secondary relationship to all the others in our lives?

That may not be something we actually say, but by how we live it shows our answer. Where we prioritize time spent in His Word, talking with Him, listening for Him reflects our relationship. We can’t expect to be close friends with someone if we just tell them what we are doing once a week/month/year. I wouldn’t think that of someone in my friend circle, so why would I do that with God?

Ultimately relationships begin with Him; He is the Alpha. He showed us that even in the beginning, at creation, we were close with Him, walking with Him and connecting to Him. So much so that He sought us out again and again to be in relationship with Him first, even so much as giving up His beloved Son so that the relationship could be restored, we could be redeemed.

That far outweighs any friendship bracelet or BFF necklace, as He is the template for relationships from the beginning.

The Why Question

“There’s a lot of second best available; just walk by it like it isn’t even there.” -Bob Goff

How I wish I could scream that from the rooftops for every single gal out there. It is something I wish I could scream into my own heart as well. I sat around a table Saturday evening over dinner with seven amazing women, five of which are single…and the question lingers among us, to our married friends, to our families…

The why.

We wonder it too, so please don’t think we haven’t thought it a million times in the quiet stillness of our lives as singles. I try to ward it off when I see it coming in conversations with the marrieds. It’s an unspoken nod among us women and we wish we had an answer, eventhough everyone else seems to have one for us. As I sat there there at the table I saw seven truly fierce women, each astonishingly beautiful, witty, smart and loving Christ.

Hey guys out there, you don’t have to search too hard to find us, we’re at Blue Coast having burritos and chips and queso. We’re going to haunted woods and getting up and serving at the church the next morning. So I thought of that quote from Bob Goff I had seen some weeks ago as I left dinner with these women because they fill my heart, and I want the absolute best for them and for myself as well.

But we choose second best because it’s easy, it’s comfortable and we don’t risk all that much. Even as I was prepping to write this I found myself giving up my best to be second and not getting someone’s best for me. I had to really reexamine my own best and how I was allowing the comfort of second best to be the best option for me, when in reality I should keep on walking….choosing that it’s not even there rather than see myself less than through the eyes of someone that is second best.

Ladies let me encourage you if you are struggling right now in the midst of singleness that second best shouldn’t be an option for you. You deserve top-rate, five star, award-winning. Not runner-up. Don’t be someone’s runner-up and don’t let your heart be the second best because it’s the first hurt, and that hurt runs so very deep.

Your answer to why may vary but ultimately I want each of you to confidently expound that why you aren’t with someone or married by now is because you are picking second best in your food, your job or your home why would you do that with a partner in life? I want the very best for you, and if you have girlfriends then they do too. Those friends and family that ask want that for you too. So why should we want less for ourselves than others want for us, than for what we want for our best gals?

Be a Hur.

I do not like to be dependent upon anyone. Some have attributed this fact to some of the root cause of my present singleness. Over dinner earlier this week with a couple of girlfriends I even admitted that I know I am independent and it would be hard to “lose myself” in my husband when the time came because I am just wired to be independent.

As I have begun to think on that further, on how independence and dependence are shaped, I found myself turning to a friend in the midst of a spiritual battle. It was a reminder that at moments of faultering weakness, when my flesh and my body fail, knowing my God doesn’t and He knows we need that dependence at just the right moment.

I had been thinking on the need for friendships, a healthy dependence to people who keep you accountable and also encouraged. In the relationships of life, it is those times of dependence that define friendship…when you turn as you are wrestling with thoughts or struggling to keep a mind stayed on His work…to that friend to pray, to sit with you in your need, to depend on when you just are not sure you can face whatever you find yourself in.

Exodus 17 is a favorite chapter of mine–odd I know since I’m such a Paul girl. But I love this picture of utter and complete devotion to a friend when life was on the line. You see the Amalekites came to attack the Israelites under Moses’ leadership. He chooses to send out Joshua and an army to meet them in battle…as he went above to hold the staff of God before the battle.

You see, God goes before us in battle. Something I often forget, and instead try to accomplish in my own power. But not only does He give Moses the power of victory, He gives him the gift of friendship in the midst of it.

While it doesn’t tell us this I think Moses began to see that as he held up the staff of God victory by the Israelites was apparent. However human strength that he had began to fail him, so Aaron and Hur bring a rock for him to sit and then….yall, and then they saddle up next to him and hold up his arms.

They too were with Moses in this battle….it was their fight too because the Lord was with them in it…He was before them and among them. He gave them the victory and the beautiful picture of what it means to be dependent upon friends. There were two willing to come beside Moses in battle, as he tried in his own strength knowing the Lord was with him, to support him and claim victory as well.

As I have gone into some battles this week I have seen an Aaron come alongside me to support my arms as I claim the victory in God’s Name. I am also getting to be someone else’s Hur in a similar way, pulling up a seat to be right by them as they face their battle-for it will be mine as well with them.

So who the Aarons and Hurs in your life? and conversely, who can you be an Aaron or Hur to? I think battles waged independently will find weakened hearts and tired arms, but those claimed in victory with God as the banner before the first strike are those fought with dependence-upon God and His provision of those friends in our lives.