When “Thoughts and Prayers” Don’t Work

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You’ve seen all over social media, the internet and even heard it from friends and family. “You’re in my thoughts and prayers.” Some people take that to heart while others snark at the comment. But do thoughts and prayer really work?

If you are just saying the phrase then no it doesn’t work. You may mean well when you type or speak that phrase, but it quickly becomes another trained response to avoid a real conversation. Why do we say it if we’re not going to actually pray for that person? That is when it doesn’t make a difference at all. Thinking about someone is nice but when we say we’re going to pray – we need to drop to our knees that instant and do it. That’s when it works.

After several shootings many people became tired of the “thoughts and prayers” phrase. Even some people I work with saw it more as a passive way to overlook gun issues in the country. Like I said before – if we say it but don’t pray then nothing will change.  BUT when we pray – oh that’s when things change. Mountains move and we see the change even in ourselves.

I truly believe prayer is powerful. It has the ability to do so much for our country. God literally says it in the Bible.

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” – 2 Chronicles 7:14

Our country is crumbling at our feet because many of us (yes, even Christians) don’t feel the need to pray. They either don’t think it works or they don’t have the time. From experience I can tell you I’ve seen what prayer can do. I’ve seen lives change, including my own. I’ve seen miracles happen. I’ve seen people step away from their selfish lifestyle and give their whole heart to Christ. So why are people so surprised that God can do amazing things when we pray to Him? I honestly believe it’s because they’ve never seen prayers answered. That makes me a little sad.

No, God is not a Genie that grants our wishes. Our prayers are answered every time but the outcome might not always be what we expected. The fact that our loved one passed away from cancer instead of being healed. Or we were skipped over a promotion at work again. God is answering your prayers. But they are within His will for your life.

I ask you, the next time you say the phrase “thoughts and prayers” PLEASE pray before you say or type those words. Maybe specifically ask how can I pray for you. If you’re on the phone with them or even texting them – say a prayer with them. Type out the prayer. Whatever it is. Because in that moment the person will see that the phrase is no longer an empty promise but a reminder of how powerful prayer is. We need more of that in our country. We need people to be vulnerable and to pray over us when we’re hurting.

We are all called to pray. If you even have a relationship with God then prayer should be a major part of your life. If not, then that relationship needs to start. We must humble ourselves before the creator of this world and pray. You’re not too holy to be exempt from prayer. Nor are you too far from God to be heard. The very act of prayer will start to change the world. But most importantly change you.

I truly believe many issues of this world develop from a heart problem. Not physical but spiritual. We measure our motives, actions and conversations next to what the world accepts. But we were not made for this world. God created us for something greater. As humans we still struggle with sin but we don’t have to become it. I’m calling Christians out to take time and pray. Instead of saying the phrase – do the action.

Remember, “thoughts and prayers” WORK when WE do the work. After reading this, some may still believe they are empty words. That we can’t fight gun violence with thoughts and prayers. We can’t fight murders with thoughts and prayers. We can’t feed the hungry with thoughts and prayers. But I would say we can. When hearts heal from praying there is less gun violence. Marriages start to mend. Fathers stay and children grow up in a loving home. Parents begin to invest in their kids and teach them right and wrong. We start becoming givers instead of takers. We start seeing others and their needs instead of our own. That’s when the hungry get fed. That’s when “thoughts and prayers” prompt action not apathy.

How Jesus’ Death Represents a Message for Our Mess

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How Jesus’ Death Represents a Message for Our Mess

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“It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.” Luke 23:44-46 ESV

Hope seemed lost. Those who hated Jesus saw it as a victory while others cried for the “one who was sent to save the world.” I think about this day and what people may have felt. To them, they saw no bright light at the end of the tunnel. I think even the strongest of believers felt empty. But as we all know — God wasn’t done.

Each Easter we look at the crucifixion of Jesus and try to make sense of it. We’re reminded that as Jesus hung on the cross he thought of YOU and me. He knew who would deny him, who would run from him and who would live their lives preaching about his sacrifice. He died so that we could live. He died so we could talk to God as we drive to work. These small luxuries were given to us by God’s one and only son. Jesus also died so we could be free. So we could see there is hope in a dark world.

If you’re in the midst of darkness today then I want you to think of what it may have felt like seeing Jesus die. Look at your life now. Are you struggling? What is going on in your life that makes you feel hopeless? What have you endured that has broken your heart so much you can’t see any way out? If you know the story of Jesus’ death then you know it wasn’t the end.

Sunday is coming! No one knew Jesus would walk out of that tomb 3 days later. I can imagine those 3 days of mourning were brutal. They were trying to make sense of it. Trying to figure out why he had to die. But then they learned he wasn’t dead.

“But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.”

Luke 24:1-4

Finally, the hope they so longed for was there. Proof that Jesus’ death was not in vain. That it was for a purpose. There was the light at the end of the tunnel. That is the same for you.

“Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” Luke 24:46-48 

As you face your struggles, remember God’s timing is perfect. God could have raised Jesus from the dead any moment. He could have taken him off of the cross at any time. But God chose the perfect timing. Just like he is doing in your life. You may be struggling to see the hope, but your resurrection day is coming. The day when you look back on your most painful day and see it as a message. God took something so ugly and made it into a beautiful story. One that we look to each day and give thanks. Same goes for your story. God will use whatever mess and turn it into a message.

But you have to let him. Don’t let it be done in vain. Don’t let your pain determine your future. Use it as a tool to do good for God’s kingdom. Find a way to help others. Remember, Jesus died so that you may live. He broke those chains for you. Now you just have to let them go and start taking one step at a time. Whatever you are facing God is with you. Know that he will turn your life into a beautiful masterpiece.

“And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” – Luke 24:38-40

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When I Doubt, God Sends a Sweet Reminder

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Sometimes we just need to be reminded of why God is calling us down a different road. My husband and I will complete our last home study this weekend to help us become foster parents. So far this journey has been mentally taxing but overall exciting. There are even days I question if this is the right choice for our family.

Last night, I was driving home from work when I started to pray. (I talk to God a lot when I’m driving. It keeps my road rage at bay.) I talked to God about my hesitation and my fears of becoming a foster parent. Will I make a difference? Can I even help these kids? That’s when I asked Him to send me an encouraging reminder as to why He wants us to do this.

Side note. God understands my first love language is words of affirmation. He also knows I’m very visual. He knows that I need to be reminded in the midst of a journey. One way he likes to show me things is through my dreams. He has shared with me many times about my future husband (Steven) before I even knew who he was. He even used a dream to help me see Steven was safe to pursue. Dreams are a major way God communicates with me.

That prayer I prayed to God came true. Last night, I dreamed about our future foster kids. To no surprise there were 3 teen girls. Out of the three girls I saw the face of one girl. She looked to be about 13-years-old. Hispanic with beautiful black hair. She also had a love for horses. The second girl I didn’t see but she was talking to me on the phone. This girl talked a lot. She was asking me if we had dogs because she always wanted to own big dogs. I remember her voice coming alive when she found out we had TWO big dogs. The third girl I could barely see but I know that she was African American with an up-do. It was as if she as at a farther distance than the others. But God confirmed that this journey is what He wants us to do.

I share this story with you because some of you are questioning God about a choice, a decision or even a direction He is leading you in. I totally understand fearing the unknown.  Feeling unqualified for what He has called you to do. But like me God wants to send you reminders too. Maybe He communicates with you in other ways. Like sending people to speak into your life or through scripture. Whatever future you are facing I want you to ask God to give you an encouraging reminder as to why He wants you to choose that path? Keep your eyes and ears open to what He says.

Remember, it is normal to question God. No matter how strong our faith is. If you open the Bible…it won’t take long before you come across a story about a person God uses to do mighty things…who has little faith. Or even question God’s direction. God doesn’t mind if we ask questions. He doesn’t mind that we doubt our ability. That’s when He comes alongside of us to shine light on what we are capable of. Following God is not easy. He never said it would be. But His ways are better.

I would love to hear how God sends you little messages. Share your story below.

When God Uses Our “Ugly” to Impact Others

Preparing a Place for Our First Foster Child

What Foster Training Taught Me About My Own Trauma

Preparing a Place for Our First Foster Child

 “Rise during the night and cry out. Pour out your hearts like water to the Lord. Lift up your hands to him in prayer, pleading for your children, for in every street they are faint with hunger.” – Lamentations‬ ‭2:19‬ ‭NLT‬‬

When I was pregnant with Aurora I used to sit and talk to my tummy. Rubbing my hand across my daughter wondering what she was going to be like. There were days I ached to hold her so bad that I would find a baby doll to hold. It would give my heart a little relief. When I saw her for the first time my heart felt complete. That’s what it feels like as I prepare a place for our future foster children.

My husband and I still have a way to go before we become licensed to be foster parents. But right now we are getting a room ready. We just painted and put up bunk beds. The bedding just arrived this week. So now the beds are ready.

The other night I had a heavy heart thinking about the kids that will come into our home. Where are they now? Are they going through abuse and neglect or are they safe in a foster home? I went downstairs into the room we are preparing for them. I sat in the floor and started to pray. (One thing I’ve learned is that when someone is heavy on your heart – there is a reason.)

I prayed for their protection. I prayed for what they are going through now. I prayed that whatever brings them to this room will be turned into a testimony of their life. I prayed that when they walk in this room they feel the peace and safety we want it to demonstrate. That they don’t feel scared with us but relieved.

Like waiting for my daughter to arrive I am waiting for foster children to arrive, except it’s under different circumstances. It will be exciting and sad. These kids will be coming here because of the pain they’ve experienced. That breaks my heart.

But I am believing that it will make a difference. That they will find themselves growing stronger, feeling more loved and appreciated for who they are. That’s my hope at least. I have no idea what our future holds. Who these kids will be. But God knows. That’s why I pray to God about these kids. About these beds and this room. He knows what these kids will need. And He knows what impact they’ll have on our lives.

We’re Adopting and I’m Terrified

This Is Us: 4 Takeaways For Foster Parents from this week’s episode.

What Foster Training Taught Me About My Own Trauma

Parenting Through Grace

What A $2 Valentine’s Day Gift Taught Me About My Marriage

“Marriage has the power to set the course of your life as a whole. If your marriage is strong, even if all the circumstances in your life around you are filled with trouble and weakness, it won’t matter. You will be able to move out into the world in strength.”

– Tim Keller

My husband and I knew going into Valentine’s Day that we wouldn’t have anything for each other. Life has been so hectic with foster training, work and other projects that we forgot to plan ahead. We decided to celebrate this weekend when we got to spend time together.

Yesterday, I had a cute story lined up about a dog and his new owner meeting for the first time. The former owners of the dog had wrapped his injured leg in duct tape. When the vet finally got to them his toes had to be amputated. It was the donations from this one consignment store that helped Ducky get the care he needed. So I went to the store yesterday to do the interviews. (It’s one of my favorite stores by the way). As I started to get video of the store I noticed some cool cups sitting on a shelf. One was a gold and white tea cup. I’m collecting them for my lady’s brunch coming up. I was so excited to see it cost $0.59. That’s when I started to look and see if there was a cool mug for my husband.

I knew I had a little over $2 in cash so I had to be thrifty. (We’re on the cash only system because we follow Dave Ramsey’s Financial advise). I almost gave up when I saw this one cup stuck between other mugs. It was a blue and gray striped mug. Perfect for Steven. He doesn’t have a lot of guy mugs so I wanted to get it for him. I was so proud that I could bring him home something for Valentine’s Day. Even if it was a small gift.

If you know Steven and I then you know drinking coffee together has been one of our things since we were friends. At first when I got these cups I was thinking about them just as gifts. But then I realized these cups represent our marriage and love for one another.

Some days in marriage I can’t give anymore. I am overwhelmed with work, life and taking care of Aurora. That’s when my amazing husband pours his strength into me. So when my tea cup is empty he is there to help me get back on track. The same thing goes for him. When he is tired and exhausted I am there to help him.

Now, there have been times we’ve had nothing to give each other. We weren’t keeping our cups filled. That’s when friends and family stepped in to help. Other times we have to fill ourselves up with God’s word just to get through the day. But we don’t stop giving.

These $2.25 cups represent the way a marriage and community should work. If you see your spouse needs to be filled and you keep the contents to yourself then you’re being selfish in your marriage. Marriage does not work when you are thinking about your own wants and needs. You are teammates not enemies.

 “Do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” – Proverbs 3:5-6

Most importantly as couples we need to be first filling ourselves with God’s word. We cannot help others if we have nothing to give. If you want to see your marriage improve then invest in your relationship with God. It’s there that you will find how to release those selfish desires and give to your spouse more each day. It’s in God’s word that you will see how you need to love your spouse unconditionally. Marriage is hard. It’s even harder when God is not the center of both of your lives.

To Singles on Valentine’s Day

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Parenting Through Grace

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“What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” – Philippians 4:9

“What did I say?” “Don’t touch that.” “No. ma’am.” I have repeated these same phrases for the last few days. My daughter is almost a 2-years-old; which means we are working on listening to mom and dad. My main struggle has been repeating myself and yet she continues to do the same thing after I told her not to. I feel like a broken record. Why won’t she listen?

If you’re a parent then you know exactly what I’m talking about. You spend most of the day trying to teach and correct your children. And yet it seems the information goes in one ear and out the other. Yesterday was a rough day. I found myself frustrated with my daughter. I would correct her and then she was doing something else. She is starting to test her limits with me. Always trying to see how far she can go. It’s frustrating.  That’s when I realized this must be how God feels.

God parents us each day. He gives us guidelines to live by. (The Bible). He teaches us through His word what we need to do as Christians. However, we continue to push the limits. Even when we know it’s wrong. Many of us have faced the punishment for our actions. And yet we’re still making mistakes. Why?

Because we are all sinners. Yes, even our babies. Those cute and chubby kiddos came into this world as sinners. True, they learn habits from those around them, but we all have sinful nature inside. Even as an adult I fight against daily sin. If you’re human then so do you. But there is good news.

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” – Ephesians 2:4-9

God’s grace. I had a friend text me during my rough day. She reminded me of how God gives us grace even when we don’t deserve it. Our kids need that as well. Even when it seems like they will never do what we ask. We have to remember to give them grace in the midst of those moments. It may take months or even years to see the lessons we teach them. But I promise it’s not wasted. I can think of MANY times I tested my limits with God. But He was still there. He never left my side. Eventually, I decided to follow His advice instead of my own.

As a reminder to you amazing parents, like your kids, you are still learning as well. For parents of young ones, now is the time to strengthen the patient muscle. To fight through the tough days even when we feel like failures. You’re not wasting your breath or energy. Every effort you put into your child means they are one step closer to becoming the Godly men and women they were called to be.

What are some struggles you face with your kids?

How do you remind yourself to show them grace?

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The Great Adventure Called Life

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The Great Adventure Called Life

Untitled-design-5.jpgAt least once a year my husband and I find time to watch through “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” movies. My husband is a huge fan. A few weekends ago we watched the first Hobbit movie which I have seen about 4 times now.

I always find it so funny how one day Bilbo Baggins is smoking his pipe outside of his home and the next day he’s off on a new adventure. However, Bilbo was not that excited in the beginning. Politely frustrated actually.

During the first several minutes of the scene, dwarves file into Bilbo’s home, unannounced. All of them set the table and enjoy a meal as they discuss why they’re all gathered together. Their mission is to take back their home. And there may be a fire breathing dragon involved. Of course Bilbo finally learns he has been picked as the one to steal the Arkenstone from the mounds of treasure inside the Lonely Mountain.

As you may know, Bilbo is a simple guy who enjoys his pipe, books and comfy chair and he is not willing to leave it all behind to head into a mountain with a dragon. Bilbo refused to go on the trip. Then Gandolf says one of the best quotes from that movie.

“You’ve been sitting far too long. When did doilies and your mother’s dishes become so important to you?” – Gandolf

Like Bilbo many of us are set on the things surrounding us and forgetting what God is calling us to do. GO and make disciples. When God calls us to get up and go – it’s often the worst timing for our lives. We have this engagement, that appointment, this party to attend. Or we are simply okay with staying where we are.

This can also be compared to how God calls us to grow as Christians. Often times we can stay where we are most comfortable. Where we know the right words to say. Or where we only hang out with Christians. We play it safe so we don’t have to see the real world we are living in.

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If God came to you today and asked you to give up all of your beautiful belongings, take what you can fit in a pack, and go out into this world…would you do it? What if God revealed to you that your love for things is deeper than for the people around you? People you pass everyday who know little of what God’s love looks like? Would you be able to see that side of yourself?

Like Bilbo, sometimes God pushes us to take a journey that will change our hearts. To grow and become who he has called us to be as Christians, disciples and followers of Christ. It’s through that difficult journey that he helps us discover our courage, strength and purpose for this world. So at the end of it you can say,

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” -2 Timothy 4:7

If you watched the 3 Hobbit movies then you know that Thorin, the Dwarf King goes a little gold crazy. At the end of the last movie he is talking to Bilbo, and before he takes his last breath he comes to realize that,

“If more of us valued home above gold, it would be a merrier world.” – Thorin Oakenshield.

Christ is our home. We do not belong to this world. The Bible says we are but vapors “that appear for a little time and then vanish.” Riches we accumulate on this earth will have no value when we meet our creator. What will be measurable? The lives we impacted along the way.

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Comparing Yourself To a Mountain

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