Answered Prayers

Like a lot of people, I have often asked others for prayers for a particular situation, but I can’t say that I have been very good about following up and letting people know that their prayers, or my own, have been answered. I privately thank God for what He has done, and I am truly grateful, but I don’t always publicly acknowledge or praise God for answered prayers. So, I wanted to take a minute to do that today.

On March 31st, I published a post “Seeking Prayers Today” as I had been stressing quite a bit over a work project. It was not something I felt equipped to do (even with years of editorial experience), as the client had very unrealistic expectations and requirements. While I recognized that situations like this can create an opportunity for God to shine through and pull off a miracle, it didn’t feel like this was one of those cases, as the actual work would still have to be done through me. I told God that I trusted Him no matter which way the situation went, but if he wanted to know my heart, I preferred that the project would simply go away. Within the next month, there were several delays, and then we were told that we would start at the beginning of May but the project would run through October (where originally they wanted everything done in a couple of months). I felt better about the additional time, but prayed that somehow it would still end up being cancelled (which is not very common once contracts have been signed) as it continued to feel very overwhelming and almost impossible to me.

At this point, I am pretty sure that several other vendors had already walked away from the project, but I knew that the company I am working for did not want to walk away from their commitment. They have a very strong work ethic and moral code, and I understood where they were coming from in remaining ready to press on. About a week before we were to begin, we heard from the client that they no longer had the resources necessary and were going to be unable to complete the whole project. At first, they wanted us to write one small portion of the project, which we would have been happy to do, but within a couple more weeks, the entire job was cancelled. Now, obviously, I can’t say all this happened because of me as I don’t have any pull or control in a situation like this … but God does … and he cares about the things that matter to us.

Granted, the downside of this was that we lost a large contract and the money that would have come in from it eventually. However, I feel it was a major plus in that the company I work for was able to save face and not walk out like other vendors had; the editors (me especially) felt a great sense of relief as this “monster job” was slain; and the time we would have spent on this crazy project was opened up for us to be able to take on better jobs with more realistic expectations and time frames. [Since then, I have added a prayer to my prayer board (more on that later) to deal with the aftermath, and new projects are beginning to come in.]
Composure prayer

So, thank you God particularly for this answered prayer! And thank you for the other prayers you have answered recently as well – like Bart’s new job, which he is really enjoying and we feel will offer him success as well as an opportunity to make a difference for others [he sold his first house today!]; and my sister’s health, which is finally better [at least for now … it’s always something with her 😉 ]; and so many other things you have come through for us on.

Book

Read this!

I have so much more to share with you, my readers, on prayer, including the new prayer board I made, but if I try to write about it all now, I will never get this post published. So, I’m going to end with some words from The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson, and promise to share more with you later.

“God is infinitely bigger than your biggest problem or biggest dream. … There is nothing God cannot do. Yet many of us pray as if our problems are bigger than God.”

“100% of the prayers [we] don’t pray won’t get answered.”

“Our most powerful prayers are hyperlinked to the promises of God [in Scripture].”

“Scripture is God’s way of initiating a conversation; prayer is our response.”

“The Bible is a promise book and a prayer book. … Reading is the way you get through the Bible; prayer is the way you get the Bible through you.”

If you have not yet read this book – I highly recommend it. In fact, I borrowed it from my sister-in-law and took tons of notes, but I plan to get my own copy sometime. If you want to change/strengthen your prayer life, you really should check it out.

Meanwhile, pray BIG, worry small, and TRUST GOD.

My Conversation with God

Today, I want to share with you a partial guest post by my husband, Bart. Having experienced various times in our lives when money has been tight, we have struggled with the concept of tithing (regularly, generously, and biblically). We have often been so concerned with meeting our own needs that we have clung too tightly to what was in our hands rather than trusting God and releasing what we had in order to open up our hands to receive greater blessings.

In fact, I remember having a conversation with my aunt once about what I thought of giving 10% to the church. I told her I felt like the money I donated or gave to various places or causes added up to 10% and it didn’t matter if it went specifically to a church. Giving was giving, right?

Our church has recently been sharing “generosity talks” at each service through members of the church. These personal stories have been very encouraging and motivating. Giving is up and so are personal accounts of blessings received. Following is Bart’s story, which he emailed to Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Plano, last month after sharing it with me:

My Conversation with God

I just had a conversation with God. Well, let me back up and give you some background.
Over the last couple of months, when I have woken up early in the morning, before the sun, I have begun praying. Now, I know praying is a good thing. But one of the things I got from reading the Left Behind series (for the third time) is that praying should also be about listening.
This morning, before I woke up, I was dreaming about taking a test in school or somewhere. Someone walked into the room and called my name. I woke up instantly. I was wide awake. I started my usual prayers, thanking God for my beautiful wife and then just stopped. Hey, why don’t I try listening this morning and see if God talks to me.
In church this past Sunday, there was “another presentation” about giving to the church.  What stood out to me about that presentation was the phrase: “90% of God’s math will go further than 100% of mine.”
Church Note
Being that I can’t just clear my head and think of nothing, I was smiling to myself, feeling pretty proud that my wife and I had recently been having conversations about giving to God. We had decided that we would give 10% of our earnings, but rather than tithing it all to the church, we wanted to have some control over where our money went. We felt like we would give more joyfully if we got to choose who we were giving to. So, we thought we’d give some to the church but the majority of our tithe would go to other missions of our choice like E3 and to people we knew personally who have been called to missions. I smiled as I thought about the different people we had been helping over the years go on missions throughout the world. And then I felt and literally heard, “How many of those has your tithe funded completely? Ask Jack [pastor of Prestonwood] how many my church has funded completely.” He was standing in my bedroom looking at me. My smile was gone. Our tithe is nowhere near enough to fund anything completely. “Give my church the 10% and I will bless you so that you will be able to continue giving to the other missions.”
I hear you God. I hear you.
I was so excited, I rolled over to wake my wife and share with her my conversation with God. She was sleeping peacefully though, so I thought that might not actually be the best way to start the morning. So, I decided that I should type up my conversation and share it with you, Jack (especially since God called you by name). God used your sermon, and the recent focus of the church on giving, to reach out and shake me out of my need to control my tithing. I will be obedient to God … joyfully.
God Bless,
Bart Fuller

Chris Kouba, the pastor of our church, wrote back about 15 minutes later:

Bart,
This is such a great email. Thank you for sharing. We continue to hear similar feedback from people who have been challenged by the generosity talks and hearing about their personal journey of obedience and blessing as a result of giving. I pray God shows you so much more of himself as you take this step of obedience and release control over your tithe. In my personal experience, I have found that God always supplies what I intended to give and supplies even more to give above and beyond what I originally intended. The key is being willing to trust him for everything instead of trying to do only enough. Thanks for sharing and if I can help you in anyway in the days ahead, please let me know. 

Chris Kouba, Lead Pastor North Campus

In the past, I am sad to say, we have often given out of what was left rather than from our “first fruits.” Since Bart and I talked about his conversation with God, we have decided that we will be giving 10% of our checks as soon as they arrive, before we even pay a single bill. It has not even been a month since Bart’s encounter and our change of heart accompanied by a change in action, yet we are already experiencing blessings and a hope for a more fulfilling future.

I pray the same blessing on all of you.


“…return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord … You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me. … Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!” Malachi 3:7, 8, 10 (New Living Translation)

Evening Sky

This Is the Week

I read something wonderful and beautiful that a funny and faith-filled friend posted on Facebook today. So grateful that she agreed to let me share it with you here. I hope it touches your heart the way it did mine. 

Easter is in one week.

I am usually a hot mess in December. The slightest mention of the Baby Jesus, and how He came as an infant, to save us from our sins, dissolves me into weepy, sentimental tears. I blow up my house with decorations, torture my family with Christmas music on an eternal loop, and basically fall apart every day until December 26th. Do not even make eye contact with me in church during the Christmas season. Corby practically has to sedate me to make it through. It is simply the most tender holy season.

But Easter, Easter is just as magnificent, and although it doesn’t receive the hype and prep and decorating like Christmas, it is just as deep and holy, if not more so. It is a sober and moving THANKFULNESS for the one who gave His life so we may live eternally. Let us all prepare our hearts this week. May we all go visit a “stations of the cross”, regardless of religious upbringing. Let us all grieve on Good Friday. And may we all rejoice next Sunday. This is the week Jesus rose to his task and split history in two. This is the week he rode on a donkey, cried in the garden, suffered on the cross, rose into glory. This is the week that sinful, broken humans were granted a pardon, justified to perfection and set free. It is too miraculous for words. Songs and sermons will fail us.

May we all huddle at the cross this week in sobering reflection, overwhelmed by the punishment that brings us peace.

Jill Chatham

The Cross

Seeking Prayers Today

I have been buried with work lately, and overwhelmed by some tasks that are beyond my skill set and comfort level. Through it all, I have been struggling to find my joy and my purpose. Work really cannot be the main focus of my life. I have been stressed to the point of making myself ill over the last couple of months. But I have been working on turning it over to God and trusting Him to either give me the wisdom and strength to do what I need to do or to miraculously make the nerve-wracking, mind-crushing projects go away.

On top of this, I have been feeling guilty for being so stressed and worked up about my “problems” when others I know and love are struggling with major health issues and other more serious life problems. The good news is that I have been doing better lately with taking things one day at a time, and although the difficult projects are not gone (yet), they do seem to keep getting pushed out and delayed by the client. And for that, I am thankful.

I am also grateful that I have regular work and a paycheck, and I’m thankful for the great group of people that I am currently working with.

So, today, I am just taking a moment to ask for prayers for myself – to help me see the bigger picture, to recognize the true priorities in my life, and to trust God more fully.

More importantly, I am asking for prayers for my sister – Gabrielle – who has pneumonia and can’t seem to get to feeling better; for my friend  – Jacquelyn – who is back in the hospital (again), and is experiencing some heart issues along with her liver problems; for my brother’s sister-in-law – Liz – who recently completed radiation treatment and is still on the road to healing; and the many other friends and family members who are going through tough times that I’m either aware of or unaware of because I have been too wrapped up in myself lately. 😦

Lord, help me to get outside of myself and be the friend and encourager that you made me to be. Help me to make time and take time to go out and help others whose needs are greater than my own. Please heal my sick friends and family members, especially my baby sister. Thank you for my good health; my husband, Bart, and his new job that he will be starting in April; all of my answered prayers, as well as the unanswered ones; and the gifts you continue to bless me with daily. I pray all this in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

Wishing You Abundant Joy

Well, it’s a new year. January has come and gone, and we are almost through February, and I am just now getting around to writing my first blog post for 2017. I really love having a blog, and I enjoy sharing my thoughts and discoveries with all of you, but sometimes it just feels like another “have to do” hanging over my head. I need to find a way to bring the joy back to the process.

Speaking of joy, I am happy to say that this is my word for the year (at least I hope it will be a positive thing). If you are not familiar with the idea of having a word for the year (or even if you are), here is what Debbie Stuart from Hope for the Heart had to say in their December newsletter:

Ask the Lord for a Word for 2017.

By that, I mean ask the Lord to give you a literal word. This word will be like a banner over your life in the coming year. The word that is impressed on you might describe what He wants to develop in your life or what He wants you to focus on. I’ve found that the Lord usually confirms the word in various ways, and it becomes a sweet thing between you and Him. My word for 2017 is resilient … strong enough to come back from severe stretching, bending or other adversity; irrepressible. I heard the word several times from the Lord but it was confirmed when I saw the Gold Bond® Hand Lotion at Walmart with the words “Strength and Resilience.”

You can also watch her video here. I just love to listen to this woman share wonderful words of wisdom. [Please let me know if the link doesn’t work.]

I found something I wrote back in 2009 on our Fuller family Shutterfly page that seemed to fit with this message, so I edited it slightly to be appropriate for today.

With most of the year still ahead of us, even though we don’t know what lies before us, I know that God’s hand is upon us and that we are certainly blessed. I hope and pray that we will all remember the truly important things in our lives and that we will not let the worries of this world stress us out or cause problems in our relationships.

Although our family has been much luckier than many, we still have each dealt with our own struggles and issues over the years – both shared and personal – and through our trials as well as our successes, we have learned things about ourselves and others and we have grown – each in our own way. I believe 2017 finds us all at a point in our lives where we still have things to learn and ways to grow, but it seems like it is also a year full of wonderful possibilities.

I hope that we all enter into this new year with a sense of gratitude, happiness, love, and hope; and that we not only find peace and joy in our own lives, but we find a way to bring those things to the lives of others as well. I love you all (family, friends, and followers).

Let the joy of who you are to Jesus light your heart tonight.
May you feel as loved as you truly are —
and may you and those you love experience
the joy of God’s irrevocable love for you —
as we step into the New Year with Jesus’ hands
in yours and mine!

Bonnie Gray, FaithBarista.com

Do you have a favorite “joy” Scripture or quote? Please share it with me here. 🙂

Have a beautiful day!

 

Sharing Some Favorite Links

While we are going to be keeping things pretty low key this year for Christmas, I know many of you have started or soon will be starting your holiday shopping. I have been thinking a lot about some of the talented people whose work I follow and whose words I often share on Facebook. Because I like what they do so much, but am not always able to buy things from them, I wanted to share links to their websites and other sites here with you. Perhaps you will find something you’d like to purchase from them for yourself or as a gift, or you might know someone else you’d like to share their info with. I hope you enjoy reading about some of my favorites and maybe discover a new favorite for yourself.

Holley Gerth

Holley Gerth is a blogger that I have followed for quite some time. She always has wonderfully encouraging words to share, which I have often passed on. She also has a page on her blog where she posts free printables and graphics that anyone can enjoy and share however they’d like; check them out here . Holly has been a writer and editorial director for DaySpring, and is currently the best-selling author of several books. I have her book What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days, which is a wonderful devotional. She co-founded (in)courage, which she calls “a place that’s like God’s beach house.” You can find tons of great posts by Holly and many other writers there. (I also love her Coffee for Your Heart opportunities for other bloggers to connect their words of encouragement with hers.)

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Studio JRU

I have to tell you about this artist I discovered through Instagram. She is also a part of (in)courage. Her name is Jennifer and she describes herself as a “creator of art made to reflect God’s word and love creatively and beautifully in your home.” You can follow her on Facebook or check out her beautiful work on her website. She creates original paintings, creative crosses, and also offers prints of her work. I love her artwork and I think you might enjoy it as well.

 

Sweatpants & Coffee

A while back, I discovered entertaining posts by Nanea Hoffman on Facebook. On her FB page Sweatpants & Coffee, she writes about coffee (surprise, surprise) and other important things in life. I have shared a number of her posts at one time or another.

About Sweatpants & Coffee: Sweatpants & Coffee is an online magazine founded by Nanea Hoffman in July of 2013 featuring inspirational, uplifting, entertaining content with a focus on comfort, personal growth, and mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Their mission: To inspire people to be their most comfortable selves – mentally, emotionally, and physically. When you are comfortable in yourself and your life, you can do anything.

Besides great online posts, they have some items for sale that you might want to check out: http://sweatpantsandcoffee.com/shop/. Right now, you can get 25% off your entire purchase of $30 or more with the code SCTHANKS25 at checkout – ends midnight on Monday 11/28/16.

coffee

Karen Salmansohn aka NotSalmon.com

I can’t remember if I first discovered her on Instagram or on Facebook, but Karen Salmansohn offers “self-help for people who wouldn’t be caught dead doing self-help.” I have shared TONS of her posts on happiness, gratitude, surviving everyday life, etc. On her website , she offers a lot of free stuff as well as life-improving courses and other “tools that help you become the highest potential YOU!” She has also written a number of inspiring books.

About Karen Salmansohn: Hi I’m Karen Salmansohn, founder of NotSalmon. My mission is to offer you easy-to-understand insights and tools to empower you to bloom into your happiest, highest potential self. I use playful analogies, feisty humor, and stylish graphics to distill big ideas – going as far back as ancient wisdom from Aristotle, Buddhism and Darwin to the latest research studies from Cognitive Therapy, Neuro Linquistic Programming, Neuroscience, Positive Psychology, Quantum Physics, Nutritional Studies – and then some.

Emily McDowell 

I first discovered Emily McDowell when a friend shared a few of her amazing empathy cards on Facebook. The tagline for this line of cards is “What to say, when you don’t know what to say.” While some people might not be comfortable with the strong language she uses on some of her products, I can think of a lot of people who would get a kick out of the variety of items available through her shop (cards, pins, journals, etc). I admire what she has done and the way she can connect with people in such a real way, so I am sharing a link to her website here. {Do not click on the link if “colorful” language offends you.}

 

Use Special Code: FOODCOMA16 for 25% off your whole order through Monday (11/28).

About Emily McDowell Studio: This company was founded on the success of one card that spoke to a truth about relationships in a way that wasn’t yet represented in Greeting Card World, and that’s what we most like to do here: identify universal, emotional truths and observations on being human, and turn them into products that help people feel understood. We make cards for the relationships we actually have, not the ones we wish we had, and we’ve made it our mission to help people connect when they don’t know what to say.

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Lysa TerKeurst

I have read several books by Lysa TerKeurst and I follow her on Facebook. She is an amazing, godly, but down-to-earth woman. She has a great sense of humor and makes a wonderful connection between everyday life and Christ-based faith. You can follow her on Facebook, subscribe to her blog posts on her website, and/or read her posts and those of many other talented writers at Proverbs 31. Her books can be purchased through Proverbs 31 Ministries as well as just about anywhere you buy any of your books. (See the info below for Lysa’s Cyber Weekend Sale.)

About Lysa TerKeurst: Lysa TerKeurst is the New York Times bestselling author of The Best Yes, Unglued and Made to Crave as well as 16 other titles. As president of Proverbs 31 Ministries, Lysa and her team reach millions of women daily through their Biblical messages of encouragement. Their latest development of the First 5 Mobile App landed them the number 1 spot of most searched for apps in the Apple Store, with over 400,000 downloads in the first 2 months. In addition to speaking at Catalyst, Lifeway’s Abundance Conferences and Women of Joy, she speaks at 40+ events annually where she is passionate about teaching the Bible in ways people enjoy it and understand how to apply what they learn.

Odin Leather Goods

I know Odin Clack personally; I used to work with him. Odin crafts high-quality handmade leather goods. What started out as a hobby for him has grown into a very successful side business. He has a number of products that you can order right off of his website , but he can also do custom orders. We have ordered several pieces from him (a belt, a tote, personalized mason jar wraps) and are very happy with them; we hope to purchase more items in the future. You can also find Odin on Facebook or on Instagram, or if you live in Texas, you might run into him at a local craft show or flea market. His Black Friday Sale is good from now until November 30th.

odin-shopodin-sale

Well, I’m sure I could come up with even more favorites, but I gotta get this blog posted so you guys don’t miss out on these great deals. Hope you find a new creative person to love and follow from my list of links.

Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, and many blessings to all.

Cling to the Word of God

Great thoughts and words of wisdom from my friend David on his blog today, so I wanted to share it with you.

Let’s guard our minds and hearts from the dissension, hatred, and just plain meanness out there in the world. It’s always there, but seems to be even more so lately with the media promoting so much of the craziness.

“The mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.” Matthew 12:34
Let’s fill ourselves with God’s Word so that we may act in love and be a reflection of God’s light, not a reflection of the flames of destruction.

“Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18

EttingerWriting.com

By David Ettinger

The Sacred Book
As American and Western society continues to splinter, it is crucial that Christians remain focused on God’s Word. The recent Presidential Elections exposed the major differences dividing Americans, and it is has led to ugliness, confusion, anger, hostility, and discord.

reading-bibleStoking much of this is the media, both on the left and on the right, and Americans have been gorging on it. We have been consuming the onslaught of pundit preaching on both sides of the political spectrum, their outlooks, notions, and sentiments shaping ours.

For the child of God (John 1:12), however, this should not be. We need to know when to pull the plug on our media consumption, instead focusing on the Sacred Book, the Bible.

Limiting the Unholy
Whereas the Bible is holy, the secular media is far from it. Whether your choice is Fox News or CNN, all…

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