THE answer...

maxx headed out today for three days of camping with some friends...

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he had asked us about it MONTHS ago. we suggested that he plan it for these days right after Christmas. back when it seemed like these days would never get here. we didn't help him at all (too busy to remember that he was supposed to be going camping) and then today came and he had prepped it all by himself. called and made the reservations at the state park. gathered food and supplies and a band of merry men.

all that was left for me to do was to pray over the trip.  

which reminded me of a question that i used to ask EVERY parent of a college student. back when our kids were so little that we NEVER dreamed they would ever grow up. NEVER dreamed they would be teenagers. NEVER dreamed that this boy who lost a pair of shoes every week might be able to one day plan an entire camping trip all on his own. and be wearing shoes when he left...

when we taught college students they would inevitably introduce us to their parents when those parents were in town (most likely to reassure their parents that the beloved college students were actually attending church and lo and behold KNEW their sunday school teachers.) EVERY time i met a parent i asked them about how they had managed to raise such a fine son or daughter. i was always looking for that ONE THING to check off my list so that i could do it right. 

and almost EVERY parent said the same thing...

“i prayed a lot.”

that was their answer. almost every one of them. every time i asked. and i kept on asking because i wanted a magic pill. a silver bullet. a spell. a one shot cure it all miracle. not realizing prayer was the miracle. not one shot. not by a long shot. but a thousand small still moments of “help him/her/me” moments. a lot of late nights waiting up and praying desperate prayers. prayers for angels to accompany them. or angels to slap some sense into them when they were too far out of reach of our arms. prayer for protection. for wisdom. for soft hearts and open ears. for friends. for love. for rock bottom to be soft. for grace to surprise them gently. for broken hearts. or for hearts to break wide open... so many prayers. if we only knew the power we have...

“men (children/teenagers) may spurn our appeals, reject our message, oppose our arguments, despise our persons, but they are helpless against our prayers.” {j.sidlow baxter}

psalm 6:9 The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer.

 

 

praying our fears...

i listened to the sermon, praying our fears by tim keller (you can get the podcast on itunes by clicking here),  on my walk this morning. beautiful words that soothed my soul after yesterday's horrific news...

tim keller talks about two kinds of fear in this sermon based on psalm 3 - fear of an immediate threat, and persistent anxiety - 

he says there are two different kind of fear...

fear (like a car heading toward you and you run out of the way): a healthy response to danger, which drives us to fight or flight, and then is gone.

anxiety (the feeling the rest of the day after the car almost hit you that you are fragile, that anything could happen at any moment): a lingering, generalised, undefined sense of fear which paralyses us.

if fear is a thunderstorm, anxiety is a constant, cold drizzle. the thunderstorm produces green growth and replenishes the earth, the second constant drizzle produces mildew. fear can be good for us - it forces us to react and can save our lives - but anxiety just makes us agitated, nervous and upset. and constant anxiety can permanently turn on our autonomic nervous system, which is meant to respond to crises events only, and so lead to all kinds of health issues.

and what causes this debilitating kind of anxiety driven constant fear is not a threat to life or safety, but a threat to our identity: when something that makes us feel in control is threatened or taken away...

i have never read george macdonald's fairy tale "the princess and the goblin" but i have to after hearing this sermon. dr. keller uses part of the story to remind us to "follow the thread of faith..."

in the story the princess' fairy grandmother gives her a magical thread and these instructions...

" 'If ever you find yourself in any danger – such, for example, as you were in this same evening – you must take off your ring and put it under the pillow of your bed. Then you must lay your finger, the same that wore the ring, upon the thread, and follow the thread wherever it leads you.’
‘Oh, how delightful! It will lead me to you, grandmother, I know!’

‘Yes. But, remember, it may seem to you a very roundabout way indeed, and you must not doubt the thread. Of one thing you may be sure, that while you hold it, I hold it too.’"

however later when the princess uses the thread it doesn't take her directly back to her grandmother. it seems to take her deeper and deeper into danger. she becomes more and more afraid. dr. keller uses the story as an illustration of obedience especially in the face of fear. the princess realizes that the thread only goes forward. if she tries to go back the way she came, it disappears.

when God calls us to obey, there are only 2 possible responses: obedience, which is hard; and disobedience, which my seem easier in the moment but in the long run is even harder. obedience may seem to take us into danger, but backwards lies disaster. so we face our fear and go forward. knowing that we have a Commander-In-Chief who has already won the battle and who is our sword and shield in the midst of the battle.

you can read the story for freezies online! or even listen to it online or watch a cartoon version also! isn't the interweb amazing...

so encouraging...

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

2 Thessalonians  2:16-17 

Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

Romans 15:4

Indeed, the Bible is such a gift to us. It is a treasure trove of hope, an artesian spring of refreshment, a perpetual supply of redemptive surprises, an always-working GPS for return trips to gospel sanity. (scotty smith from a prayer in praise of God who encourages us)

i love that line "an always-working GPS for return trips to gospel sanity." especially after this weekend...

Transient

on friday morning i was taking a group of high school cross country runners up to carrollton, GA for their meet. i programmed my GPS and then followed it. straight into alabama. WHAT?!?!?!?

my knowledge of geography is scant/nonexistant. but i was pretty sure that i shouldn't go through alabama to get into georgia. it seemed a bit counterintuitive. but we got there. in due time. a bit longer than the average trip. but it is one way to get there.

so my GPS was a little faulty this weekend. i have a lot of things in my life that work-ish. they get me where i need to be, eventually...

...but nothing works with the same blazing pinpoint accuracy in the same way the Scriptures work to return me to gospel sanity. emotional sanity. peaceful sanity. joyful sanity. hopeful sanity.

God has been incredibly sweet to me through His Word and in always bringing me straight to gospel sanity (He never takes me via alabama.) i can testify to His long suffering patience and His mercies being new EVERY day. i would think that He would tire of me asking Him the same questions every day, "how long Lord?" , "exactly what are you doing with this situation Lord?", "did you really mean what you said to me yesterday and the day before Lord?" yet, i see that david in the psalms asked those same kinds of questions over and over and over. and was still called the apple of God's eye. perhaps i am the pear of God's eye. 

this was the verse i ended with last night teaching grounded for our youth at church. we are making our way through ecclesiastes (slower than i made my way to georgia) and we are up to chapter 5. it was a great reminder to me that God is in the details of EVERY day.

ecclesiastes 5:20 (the message)

God deals out joy in the present, the now.

memorial days...

“Few things are impossible to diligence and skill. 
Great works are performed not by strength, 
but perseverance. ”
{dr. samuel johnson}

Depend upon it, if you are bent on prayer, 
the devil will not leave you alone. 
He will molest you, 
tantalize you,        \block you,\ 
      and will surely find some hindrances, 
                      big or little or both. 
And we sometimes fail 
because we are ignorant of his devices…
I do not think he minds our praying about things 
      if we leave it at that. 
     What he minds, 
       and opposes steadily, 
is the prayer that prays on 
until it is prayed through, 
assured of the answer. 
{m.w. booth} 

Psalm 119:76
May Your unfailing love be my comfort,
    according to Your promise to your servant.

yesterday was our last “moms in prayer” time for this school year. i have missed very few of the meetings this year. which says less about my faithfulness than it speaks to my total helplessness and feeling like peter when he says to Jesus, “Lord to whom (else) shall we go? You alone have the words of eternal life.

Prayer should not be regarded “as a duty which must be performed, 

but rather as a privilege to be enjoyed, 

a rare delight that is always revealing some new beauty.”

-- E.M. Bounds

and here is a GREAT story about the power of a mother’s prayer...

so i persevere in prayer. i wait with joyful hope and expectation. i submit to His Sovereignty. i am comforted that He will not fail (even though i seem to fail on a minute by minute basis.) my trust is in His promises and knowing they are all answered “YES” in Christ Jesus. i linger with longing and with love. i am assured that the answer will come. in His timing. in His perfect way. in His perfect will. 

and don’t worry, i won’t leave you without a musical moment for today.... from “catch me if you can”. the songs in this musical were written by the same team that brought the musical “hairspray” to life. and it has the same upbeat feel. it follows the story of  con artist extradonaire, frank abagnale. there was a movie with the same name in 2002. both are based on abagnale's autobiography. now abagnale works for the very agency (the fbi) that hunted him down when he was the aforementioned con artist and criminal.  it is a “truth is stranger than fiction” kind of story. and it was a fun musical... norbert leo butz played the fbi agent and he was AMAZING. i had seen him as fiyero in wicked a few years before and he is a quintessential broadway performer.

so catch some rest this weekend. sing a couple of broadway songs. dance through all three days... and i will see you on tuesday!