Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Prayer for the Moms of the Prodigals...

I met so many lovely women last week at Allume... but more than a few were weary and worn out. Torn and tried over the struggles of late night feedings, bedtime struggles, balancing meals and laundry, figuring how to keep their marriage afloat and yes... those mothering a prodigal.

I've worn all those shoes before... the babies eventually use a cup, the toddlers go to their own bed, laundry will still find itself piled in the corners of my room and a marriage is always worth fighting (and sacrificing) for. And when it comes to parenting a prodigal... well... I've worn that pair too.

I know how hard it is, to be at a time that we have anticipated celebrating the flight of the adult child only to see them floundering. Not just struggling with their college grades, or who they are dating - though both can be a strong indication of a problem - but in personal decisions that way heavier on the scales... to watch them take steps outside walking in the faith we planted, and seeing them choose habits and behaviors that make us wonder where WE went wrong... what could we have done differently... where did WE fail them.


Hold on dear momma. Take a seat right here next to me.

I remember days of KNOWING my child is lying to me, and there is nothing I can do about it. I knew that he was choosing to not walk in faith, that he was making decisions that would affect the rest of his life, not just the rest of the semester. I saw him set God's will aside over and over (or choose to not even consider asking God to show him which way to go, what to do), to fulfill his own will, do what felt right or good to him and consider what his peers would tell him was acceptable for his life.

Peers who are not even in his life today... 5 years or so later... 
Peers who would not have encouraged him to walk closer to God, because his sin justified their sin... 
Peers who would not have prayed for him if it was his last breath... when I would lay down my life daily for any of my kids, any day of the year. I bled for them when they were born, and I'd do it again every day - if it made a difference.

But - and this is the really hard part - it won't make a difference. It wouldn't then, and it can't now. 

And I want to tell you that although my son's circumstances changed, it wasn't anything besides prayers and God's grace that made a difference. No amount of MY bleeding would have changed it, or made it any easier.

Lots of tough love happened, through the pain I felt letting my son tear away from all I valued. All the blood in my body would not have been enough to change him; only the blood of Jesus could.

What secret formula did I pray to make it better, make him change? 

Many days I took my tear stained face to walk around our neighborhood, and all I could do is whisper the name of Jesus, over and over, speaking it into my son's life. Over my son's defiant body as he lived, and slept, and everything else 400 miles away. 

But the prayer, the one that really worked - it went something like this:

Lord, do anything you need to do to bring him back to You. He's yours. Take him and make him yours. And Lord, change him, change the circumstances, or change me. 

And He changed me. 

So the season of rebellion, defiance, sin. The horrid season of no sleep. Too much sleep. Too much hurt. It turned into a season of growth in my own life. My son's redemption spilled into my heart and caused revival. 

It was the best change ever. For both of us. 

(I'll write more about that next season of his life another time...) 

Father... You made our children, and You know right where they are right now. I pray Father that You will make dreams and visions occur to draw them back to You. Lord, we give up our right to parent - do whatever YOU need to do, to draw them back to YOU - even if it means that we don't get to have a relationship with them - which would break our hearts - it's MORE IMPORTANT that they have a relationship with YOU. 

Help me Lord! Make us to grow in You in new ways. Turn our hearts back to our first love - You. We are sorry if we have placed our children before our relationship with You. Draw our hearts back into a deeper love for You, to fall in love with You all over again.

God, as Creator, we know that each of our children were Yours long before You placed them in our homes. Call them to You. Don't let us interfere or interrupt the work that You are doing in their lives. Use us as a blessing to them, but not as a hindrance to their walk with You.

Change them Lord. Change the circumstances. Change us. 


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

10.30.13 Prayer Time

Oh Lord, this day hasn't gone like we've planned it... but we hope it's gone as You planned it! We can rest in that fact.

Please forgive us Lord, when we have taken our eyes off of You. Please Father, help us to not stray. Help us to not doubt, but to GO when You say "GO" and STAY when You say "STAY" - help us to listen deeper to what you are saying so we won't second guess our steps...the steps You desire us to take.

Father, You are so good to be patient with us! Your fruits of the Spirit show through you; help us to be full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22) Help us to grow in You, so that your fruit will shine through us too. 

You are so gracious, and loving and kind. Thank You for sharing your goodness with us, and help us to be content with what You give us day to day. Teach us to not strive with what is on our plate, not to look at what you have given someone else. We pray that we will seek Your face more than anything else... more than approval from people, more than any other god we would put before us, more than anything, or anyone... let us be captivated and content with You. 

And Father, when we fail You, as we most surely will, help us to stand back up again and step towards You in humility - knowing that 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Prayer Time - October 29, 2013

Lord, we need a fresh Word from You. Please quiet our souls as we approach You in prayer. Help us to hear Your voice as we pray these scriptures to lay foundations in our prayers today... 
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

John 14:26 NIV

Lord, we thank You that You have sent the Holy Spirit to us, to remind us of everything You have said to us. Thank You that your character is to be FOR us, to assist us and help us fulfill Your will in our lives today. Work in us, and teach us to pray...
Likewise, when you pray, do not be as hypocrites who love to pray loudly at synagogue or on street corners—their concern is to be seen by men. They have already earned their reward. When you pray, go into a private room, close the door, and pray unseen to your Father who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not go on and on, excessively and strangely like the outsiders; they think their verbosity will let them be heard by their deities. Do not be like them. Your prayers need not be labored or lengthy or grandiose—for your Father knows what you need before you ever ask Him.
Your prayers, rather, should be simple, like this:
    Our Father in heaven,
        let Your name remain holy.
     Bring about Your kingdom.
    Manifest Your will here on earth,
        as it is manifest in heaven.
     Give us each day that day’s bread—no more, no less—
     And forgive us our debts
        as we forgive those who owe us something.
     Lead us not into temptation,
        but deliver us from evil.
    [But let Your kingdom be,
        and let it be powerful
        and glorious forever. Amen.]
For those led to pray for missions, please pray as the Team Expansion Prayer Force prompted us today: 

Any worker in any country or with any organization
Pray for a strong relationship between that worker and team members.

Breaking Strongholds
Pray that souls held captive by fear may experience God’s liberating grace among the people of Ancona and Verona, Italy; Bangkok, Thailand; Dublin, Ireland; Krakow, Poland; and Tokyo, Japan... or any city/country that you would like to pray for. Imagine if we each prayed this for each city that we live in! 

Please feel free to leave your prayer requests below in the comments section... also feel free to leave a prayer for the person above you (if there is not a request, please pray as God leads you to). If you are praying "behind your closed door," please just leave the notation - "prayed". So we know that these matters are being prayed for. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

All for Allume (real light living)

Mercy House Kenya's table in the (in)courage Lounge, sponsored by DaySpring

A year ago, a then - friend (now co-worker) tried to get me to go to this blogging thing in PA - and last minute at that! As much as I wanted to go, I couldn't see how I could master the drive from AR to PA, just a few weeks after moving (airline tickets were astronomical). Not. going. to. happen. But I vowed that I'd go the next time it came around, and go I did - this last weekend to LOVELY Greenville, South Carolina, to Allume 2013! (Never mind that we JUST moved from AR back to KY... and I still had boxes stacked around my house... THAT is another post all together!)

SWAG. (need I say more?) 

I'm so glad I did! Worth every penny (and then some) to be able to hear the hearts, and look in the eyes of so many great women writers. Not just the famous ones, but lovely ones. Not just the ones with books, but the ones with teary eyes and weary bones. Not just the ones with regularly scheduled posts on popular topics, but the ones that fight through the day to get to their keyboard out at night and tap tap tap while their baby's sleep, and barely get a post up once in a while. And those that are part - time bloggers too... the ones that come to encourage, and learn, and meet up and pray. We were there.

I took a few things away - not hot new tips or latest sites to link in to - but wisdom of the ages. God truths I needed to hear. Today. 

I have FIVE pages of notes from Ann Voskamp's opening night keynote, and left carrying a torch to become a part of the "Esther Generation," to be a bright star in a lovely galaxy. I had 4 pages of notes from Holley Gerth's workshop on "Brand You" - branding and influence that we all have, and have responsibility to use - something I'd hardly ever thought of - but learned all about! I had only 3 simple lines written on Bianca Olthoff's keynote, but walked away profoundly changed and willing to "see dead people" (everyone we know that isn't saved) and prophesy over dead bones (lost and weary people) when she was done. It was a stake in the ground moment. I think it was so good I couldn't stop TO take notes, for fear I'd miss her next line! Good teachers are like that, you know. And I didn't take any notes while I listened to my friend Diedre Riggs come out of her "31 Days off" to speak with Nasreen Fynewever in a workshop called "From Maybe to Mobilized: Awakening Your Dreams to Action" (which, by the way, started the whole thing you'll read about later... AND you can read Nasreen's commentary on the topic of their speech at her website... be warned.. it might make you get up and change things in your life!) 

Nasreen and Diedre after the Jumping Tandem Meet Up... they co-led a session the next day telling about how God used each of them to spur each other on to achieve His dream for them.

But in retrospect, it was Melanie Shankle's breakfast keynote that hit me square between the eyes. It. was. so. good.

Melanie spoke from Ephesians 2:10... I can't recall the translation she used, but I love the way that The Voice translates it; 
For we are the product of His hand, heaven’s poetry etched on lives, created in the Anointed, Jesus, to accomplish the good works God arranged long ago.

She spoke of the song "Into the Glorious" by Christy Nockels. SO lovely. Yes, "So take me deeper, oh. I can hear You calling. Inviting me in. Into the glorious."

She emphasized that He has called us to do something that WE NEED HIM to fulfill. We are MADE to feel inadequate in trying to achieve it alone. He gave us that craving, that job, that vision to rely on Him MORE. 

I love how she phrased "Don't let our ambition get in the way of HIS will." Amen.

She spoke to the heart of those fooled (or consumed) by feeding our egos with social media. Nothing will satisfy us, but Him. We should desire praise from HIM ONLY. Our worth is ONLY from God. Only HE sees us when we are alone. EVEN when we are alone. People never can, never will. Don't seek their approval, count their numbers, run their analytics. 

Melanie wove words of scripture wonderfully with points to hold us. It was a sermon; we did church. 

From David's life I learned that God teaches us in obscurity, in the pasture, not just on the throne. Everything David learned, he learned before he was king, while he was still a shepherd. He learned to sit in quiet places with God, besides still waters - just as he says as he penned Psalm 23. In the same way, everything we learn in our school of hard knocks, will in turn be beneficial training for whatever His dream is for my life (our lives) in the future. Nothing is lost.

I heard her speak to something I've had happen several times: it's all about timing. HIS timing. We can catch the vision, get the anointing, and still be sent back to the pasture. Still, it's not wasted. I love how she shared Zechariah 4:10

"Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin...". 

It's SO important to take one. step. at. a. time. It's HIS plan. HIS way. He WILL bring it to fruition in HIS perfect timing, but I have to take the steps. It will likely start small. It will require attention and work. One day at a time. He will allow the world to be changed one day at a time. Just don't doubt the small things.

God's so great to use us despite ourselves - doesn't He do that often? Oh, how many times I will stumble, or fail completely, and I learn that I can't do this on my own. Hello? No kidding? He's created me with imperfections so I HAVE to lean in hard on Him. I NEED His help! I WILL fail alone, yet IN HIM, I can (like David) RUN IN TO THE BATTLE. In Samuel 17 David was prepared to fight to the death. He ran TO Goliath, not away from him (v48). WOW. So, I need to take a big breath, pull up these big girl panties, get a fresh word from the Lord (daily) and head into the battle... being obedient each step of the way.

And likewise, if it's a word from God that I've received, I need to not apologize for it - He is the only voice I should listen to! And in the same manner, if He brings someone along for me to assist - I need to help them - and if they are to assist me, I should LET THEM! (I can hear my 3 year old self saying "but... I can DO it MYSELF!" Yeah. Right.) 

We are challenged to make mistakes... we are going to anyways, and that's ok. It's a part of the process of learning to trust Him with it, broken or whole. We are called to leave comfortable behind. That change is good. A part of it is that we tend to stay where we get comfortable, let our guard down, stay with what we know. If our boundaries are challenged Satan encourages us to hunker down with what we are sure of, and tacks on a lot of "what if's" and fear. Although I hold all things pretty loosely, I still do that... let Satan get into my head and doubt. Worry. Wonder. 

Call it what you will, I'm not trusting God in all the ways He's intended me to. He will be here for me. Or there for me. Wherever He leads me - I just need to SEEK HIM. I belong to God, and He created me to be who I am. Period. Let Him move me, move IN me, as He wills. Accept all that He gives me, and give it back to Him to fulfill HIS will. Let HIM work His will, His way, in me. 

She shared this GREAT quote from Elisabeth Elliot, whose life is such an inspiration, 

"The willingness to be and to have just what God wants us to be and have, nothing more, nothing less, and nothing else, would set our hearts at rest, and we would discover the simpler life, the greater peace.”

And isn't that what it's all about..?

So, that being said... ALL the speakers, in all their topics, workshops and keynotes, worship and fellowship... it all together gave me a clearer vision to see what God's been trying to tell me for a while (and probably the motive for me being such a lazy blogger). It's not about me. It never has been. It never will be. It's all about HIM. And it's about you. All of you. Each of you. Bringing you to Him. Daily. 

And God's given me a story... HIS-story... that I'll tell over and over because of the amazing things He has done in me, through me, around me. But this blog doesn't have to be the forum for that. 

Because really, at my kitchen table, or at any conference, it really doesn't matter if I tell my HIS-story or not... that's not why I go. I'm there (at my kitchen table, at my keyboard, at any conference) so I can pray. For you. For the friend who is at wits' end over her prodigal son's wanderings, the lonely woman sitting on the other side of the room (who I usually end up trying to swap names and make small talk with), for the friend (or acquaintance) that I see is having a rough day on Facebook, and for the checker who has bags under her eyes as I check out from the local market, or the clerk who has a job interview tomorrow at the corporate office... I'm a knee warrior. That is who HE made me to be. 

So, over the next few days, or weeks, my prayer is that this place, Marina's Kitchen Table, will become more of a spot to come and pray with you. Pray FOR you. Pray WITH you. Pray FOR each other. All kinds of prayers. Prayers of need, praying scripture over each other, praying psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. Praying for healing, for restoring, for addictions to be broken. Praising Him for what He is doing, what He WILL DO. 

Getting to practice what they preached with emily p. freeman
SO, knowing how the enemy likes to work... would YOU PLEASE PRAY FOR ME? That I would be faithful with this... That God would lead, and I would obey...That I would see His hands move in the way He desires, so I can follow where He will lead me... and that we can do this together? Not to be known by man, but to be known by Him. That HE will know my voice, our voices, because we petition Him so often... and WE will know HIS voice, because we take time to sit at His feet and listen... 

For God expressed His love for the world in this way: He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not face everlasting destruction, but will have everlasting life. John 3:16 (The Voice) 

Monday, October 14, 2013

A Sense of Humor... or something...

I've failed miserably at keeping photos posted for the 31 days... but I warned you - I was moving! Here is a photo to try to make up for all the days I've missed...

Thursday, October 3, 2013

31 Days Outside of the Kitchen - Little Delays

Please bear with me as I try to come up with some wi-fi to use... It seems I've exhausted our data plan while being away from home...

I'll resume my series soon!


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

3/31 Days Outside the Kitchen and On the Move! - Abbey

Abbey the Wonderdog is a Jack Russel mix that we've had since she was a puppy... she's around 6 now? 7? (where DOES the time go?) She's super smart, but a little emotional. I think she's tired of moving, stressed, and just wants to be free to GO outside when she wants to. Little does she know what lies ahead ... 1/2 acre lot, stairs... wood floors! Until then she's stuck with me in Arkansas, at the "old house" until we hit the road again. The next few days will be really rough on her, with strangers coming in the house, packers and movers, then a few nights alone in the house... until we head back out to Kentucky! Say a little prayer for Abbey please. (Thanks!!) She's a REALLY good dog... but I know that even the best can only handle so much...

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

2/31 Days Outside the Kitchen and On the Move - Fall

Don't you love the colors of Autumn and how they are mimicked in every aspect of nature? I do! It's so beautiful in the area(s) we live in (we are in the middle of a move) this time of year. The leaves are just starting to turn, with the dogwoods and sumac changing to deep reds as the morning temperatures drop. I was afraid I'd miss the colors in both states (Arkansas and Kentucky) but I think I'll see the best of the Arkansas colors after this weekend when a cold front blows through and we get into the 40's overnight. The rain will help the leaves stay on the trees, but it won't help these poor flowers keep their color... Some things will just fade with the coming of cooler weather. Like me! I want to hunker down inside, bake yummy high carb foods and hunker down like a bear. What does Fall make you feel like doing?

What I Am (and am not): It's All Good

I’m not an illustrator, I’m not a calligrapher. Some would say that I’m not a watercolor artist! But what I am is a note taker, a multi-medi...