Category: Prayer

Into the Storm

Into the Storm

Gray clouds

There’s a new tornado disaster movie in theaters called “Into the Storm.”  I’m not sure I want to go see it.  I’m still recovering from my own brief, but traumatizing tornado “encounter.”  No pun intended, but here’s how it went down…

I was out shopping on a Sunday afternoon last month when, for the second time this summer, my cell phone vibrated with this ominous message:

“Emergency Alert. Tornado Warning in this area til 2:00 PM MDT. Take shelter now.”


I hastily abandoned my cart with its contents and hurried to a neighboring store to collect Laurel and her two friends.  Outside in the parking lot, we scanned the horizon in search of a funnel cloud.  Seeing nothing but dark clouds and gray skies, I decided to make a run for home, reasoning that our full basement was a safer location than a one-story strip mall.

I was fairly confident I could make it there in time.

Within moments I was fairly confident I was wrong.

Warning sirens began blaring as our van rounded the back of the building.  The girls continued to monitor the clouds through the back seat windows.  The wind picked up.  Rain, mixed with hail, started to pelt.  My pounding heart echoed the staccato sound.

Soon we were engulfed in Gray.  For all I knew we were driving straight into the tornado.  And believe me when I say I’m no storm chaser.

At this point I instructed Laurel to call home to see if we could get some idea of where the funnel cloud had been spotted and which direction it was moving.  Emily answered and informed us that “it” was “by the church.”  “We” were several blocks directly east of the church.


This was beginning to get real.

My heart now kept time with the windshield wipers set to their highest speed.  I pressed harder on the accelerator, my leg trembling involuntarily as we sped north towards the house.  At times visibility became so poor I feared I would drive right off the road.  Seeing no other cars around, it seemed that everyone had gotten the memo about the tornado’s location but me.

I began to pray.  Nonstop.  Out loud.  I’m not sure if my prayers were a welcome comfort to my three wide-eyed passengers, or an unsettling sign that a meeting with our Maker was imminent.  (I’m guessing the latter.)

Seconds felt like minutes felt like hours.  I just kept driving (read: speeding).  And praying (read: crying out to my Maker).

We finally skidded around the corner onto the dirt road that leads up the steep hill to our home.  I scaled that hill in record time, fishtailing as I floored it down (read: up) the homestretch.  We lurched to a stop in our driveway, flung open the car doors and bolted through the heavy rain into the house.  We were breathless and drenched.

But we were safe.

We later learned that a tornado did touch down east of town not long after our crazy storm chase.  Emily had witnessed some scary looking cloud rotation in the church parking lot.  It was all part of the same strong storm system that cut diagonally across the city that afternoon.  But as far as we know there never was an actual funnel cloud bearing down on us, despite how frighteningly real it felt at the time.

After the fact, a friend jokingly remarked that those moments of sheer terror were a great time to make sure one was “good with God.”

“Oh, I’m good,” I replied without hesitation.

You see, that’s the thing.  A tornado could have swept us up and into eternity that afternoon.  All of our days are numbered.  As Christian author and teacher Beth Moore once said:

“You gotta get home somehow.” *

Be it via tornado or illness or accident.  One day we will depart from this place we now call home.

It is vital to know that we are “good with God.”

I am.  I don’t base my confidence upon my own performance, but upon the perfection of the One I call Savior.  I love how Tullian Tchividjian put this in his excellent book One Way Love:

In other words, the older I get, the more smitten I become by the fact that God’s love for me, His approval and commitment to me, does not ride on my transformation but on Jesus’ substitution.  Jesus is infallibly devoted to us in spite of our inconsistent devotion to him.  The Gospel is not a command to hang on to Jesus.  It’s a promise that no matter how weak your faith and how unsuccessful your efforts may be, God is always holding on to you.”


If you have placed your trust in Jesus, then as far as He’s concerned, you’re good with Him.  Not because you are good or even just good enough.  But because HE was!

Storms will come.  They are unpredictable, unavoidable, and inevitable.

In those moments of fear and uncertainty, you can be completely sure of this:

He is with you.

He will hold on to you.

He will deliver you safely Home.

“And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” –Jesus (John 6:39-40, NIV)

*From her teaching on Daniel 3.


Let the Parents Come Unto Me

Let the Parents Come Unto Me


Jesus loves the little children.

And the big kids.

And their moms and dads.

I recently read a familiar passage in the Bible, the one in Mark 10 where Jesus says, “Let the little children come to Me.”  Only this time I approached it from the perspective of a parent.  I was greatly encouraged by this glimpse into God’s heart for children AND their parents.  (I pray you will be too.)

One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. (Mark 10:13, NLT)

Parenting is rewarding, challenging and humbling.  As a mother of three, I am constantly reminded of my need for divine assistance.  I’ve spent a good portion of the last two decades on my knees in prayer, “bringing my children to Jesus.”  My deepest desire, like those parents of old, is that each of my children would receive a life-changing touch from Him.  I come to Him because I believe He is the only source of true blessing.

But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. (Mark 10:14a, NLT)

Unlike the disciples, Jesus never gets tired of parents who approach Him on behalf of their children.  He is not irritated by our persistence.  He never scolds or turns us away.  We are not bothering Him.

Everyone knows it’s not wise to get between a mama bear and her cubs. Well, apparently it’s also not a good idea to get between the Lord and a God-fearing parent.  The well-meaning, but misguided disciples learned this the hard way…

When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. (Mark 10:14b, NLT)

Jesus was ticked. (My paraphrase.) This is one of the few instances in the Gospels where we are plainly told that Jesus was angry. The Greek word for “angry” is aganakteo, which means “to be indignant, moved with indignation, be very displeased.”*  The scolders got their own little scolding.

I love the fact that Jesus is passionate about our kids, that He is moved by our requests.  I am touched that He has an emotional reaction to anyone or anything that tries to come between Him and them.  And us.

(He) saw what was happening. (Mark 10:14a, NLT)

Jesus was fully aware of what was going on.  He saw the obstacles impeding their intimacy with Him, just as He sees them now.  He is never oblivious to our situation.

And He does something about it.

Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them. (Mark 10:16, NLT)

When our daughters were each a few months old, we dedicated them to the Lord in a simple, but meaningful church ceremony.  We promised to “bring them to Jesus” and teach them His ways.  Our pastor laid his hands on them and blessed them.  Two of those babies are now all grown up.  Their younger sister is not far behind.

The same Jesus who heard our prayers then, hears our prayers now.  They remain His children, just as they will always remain ours.  He still longs to hold them.  Bless them.  Be close to them.

No matter how old they are.

Regardless of what blocks their path.

Dear parent, God knows it’s tough sometimes.  It’s trying and tiring.  Just keep trusting, praying and bringing them to Jesus.  He’ll clear the way.

You may be their parent, but you are also His child.

Let Him hold and bless you too.

*From The NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon

What’s Next?

What’s Next?

I like to talk to God out loud when I’m alone in the car.  I’m sure it looks strange.  I try not to care what the other drivers around me think.

Last Friday I had a lunch date in Colorado with a good friend.  I always look forward to our annual “Christmas Catch-up.”  I also looked forward to my “date” with the Lord on the way there and back.  As I merged onto the southbound lane of I-25, I began sharing my heart with Him in prayer.

I was feeling burdened by an important decision affecting our family, wondering what was next.  I asked God to guide us and show us His will.  As I prayed, the Holy Spirit brought to mind several truths.  While I still don’t know the outcome of this particular situation, here is what I DO know…

1)  HE knows.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11, NLT)

We may not know the future, but we know the One who does.  Even though the path before us is unclear, He knows exactly what waits around the bend.  This brings welcome peace in the midst of uncertainty.

2)  I can “Do the next thing.”

Years ago I was privileged to attend a conference where author and former missionary Elisabeth Elliot spoke.  She shared how overwhelmed she felt upon returning to the mission field following her husband’s death. This phrase helped guide her:

When you don’t know what to do next, simply do the next thing.”

Continuing down the highway, I recalled her words.  I could see my “next thing” clearly, a conversation that needed to take place.  I would try and make that happen.

Then the Lord reminded me of this verse:

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10, NAS)

I’ve always pictured Ephesians 2:10 something like this:


God has gone before us.  The good works He has lovingly prepared and uniquely equipped each of us to do stretch out before us, like footprints in the snow.  Our job is simply to place our foot in the imprint of His, one step at a time.  Sometimes blowing snow obscures the trail.   But if we sit tight our view will eventually clear.

Are you faced with a difficult decision or a challenging situation?  Rest in the fact that God has prepared the way and knows the outcome.  Can you see your next step?  Then take it.  Just do the next thing.  Step by step, you’ll get to where you need to be.

It’s a new year, full of possibilities and unknowns.  Our future is known and planned by our heavenly Father.  He will faithfully guide us, each step of the way.

(For an in-depth study of Jeremiah 29:11, check this out: )

The Answer

The Answer

“You are the answer to my prayers!’

This was the sentiment on the front of a greeting card I once came across.  I still remember it years later, because upon opening the card the recipient was hit with this zinger:

“You’re not what I prayed for exactly, but apparently you’re the answer.”

Um…thank you?

Perhaps I can also still recall this particular card because it exposes a deeper reality, one that is often unsettling and confusing:

Sometimes God’s answers don’t exactly match our requests.

Can I get an Amen?

My latest experience with this has come through our recent quest for a puppy.  In July I made an appointment with a local Shih Tzu breeder, hoping to find a female puppy in time for Laurel’s upcoming birthday.  On the way there I prayed and asked God for wisdom and direction.  Instead of choosing one of two available female puppies on site, I felt inexplicably drawn to a sweet expectant mama, “Katie,” who was due in mid-August.  Believing this to be God’s leading, I nervously put down a deposit to secure the pick of the litter, and began praying that she would have at least one female pup.

We surprised Laurel on her birthday a couple of weeks later with a tiny pink polka-dot dog collar.  She was thrilled and quite content to wait for her special puppy’s arrival.  In the meantime she picked out a cute little girl’s name and prayed for her daily.  (Can you see where this is going?)

Last week, the long-awaited call from the breeder finally came.

Only there was no ‘Her.’

Just a ‘Him.’


There were some tears.  Disappointment.  Confusion.  A mini crisis of faith.

We went and met the little guy anyway.  Took some pictures.  Tried to adjust to the idea of having a boy instead of a girl.  A restless night followed.

The next morning I noticed a change in Laurel’s countenance.  She was now confident that this dog was God’s answer to her prayers.  When I asked her to elaborate, she said, “Mom, I know God led you to choose Katie and that He wouldn’t mislead you.  He knew all along that she wasn’t going to have a girl.  So God gave me a boy instead.”

And that settled it.

I admire her faith.  It’s the kind that says, “God, I trust Your heart and Your character, even when the outcome isn’t what I had hoped for.  You are Good.  You give good gifts.  Therefore, I receive what You give as good.”

When I grow up, I want to be more like my daughter.

So, meet “Beau.”  (Chris is just fine with that name, as long as Laurel agrees to have only one “beau” at a time.  He is praying the dog will lead a long and healthy life.)

He’s not what we prayed for exactly.

But apparently ‘he’ is the answer!

Little Beau at one week old

“Indeed, the Lord will give what is good…” (Psalm 85:12a, NAS)

P.S.  The pink collar has been exchanged for a sparkly silver one.  He may be a boy, but this boy will have his bling!

Backyard Battles

Backyard Battles

The other day I was startled by a commotion outside my bedroom window. I looked up just in time to see a hawk streaking across our backyard with two angry, noisy robins in hot pursuit. My guess is that Mr. Hawk was seeking refreshment at the “Red-Breast Bed and Breakfast.” Only Ma and Pa Robin responded with a firm “No Vacancy!”

It’s Open Season on baby birds. Hawks aren’t the only predators. Several of my friends have been blessed with bird’s eye views of nests this spring.  In fact, just this morning one of these friends shared her distress over recent blue jay attacks on the nest that was constructed inside a planter on her porch. Five babies were scattered on the ground as she and her daughter ran interference in an impassioned effort to rescue them. (Three currently remain.)  (Just received an update.  Make that one.)

This past weekend I was outside pulling weeds, soaking in some sun, when, for about the third time this week, a hawk zoomed overhead followed by a squawking robin. Another ambush averted?  I could only hope.

Something inside my maternal soul resonated with the robins’ relentless efforts to protect their little ones from harm.  I could relate, in a spiritual sense, to the sobering reality that a predator also hovers over my nest, with my children in his sights.

“Stay alert!  Watch out for your great enemy, the devil.  He prowls around like a roaring lion (or ‘a soaring hawk,’ SLS version), looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8, NLT)

He circles the house.  Hungry for his next meal.  Waiting for an opportunity to strike.

I can’t see him, but I know he’s out there.

My offspring, the object of his cruel desire.

That afternoon, as I watched the robin tenaciously chase the hawk out of the yard, I pictured the faces of my own children.  This quiet declaration rose up within me, a mother’s battle cry:

You. Can’t. Have. Them.

Like the robin, I may be small, but I will be unstoppable when it comes to fighting for my babies.  I will stay alert in prayer for them.  I will partner with my faithful God in protecting them, both in and out of the nest.

A second friend recently witnessed another dramatic backyard battle.  Her barn cat had captured a helpless baby bird and was preparing to enjoy his little snack.  Mama and Papa bird were nearby, frantic.  They dove at the cat in desperate attempts to secure the baby’s release.  Then one of them, in a last ditch effort to distract the feline, cleverly feigned a broken wing.

The strategy worked!  The cat pounced on the parent, consuming it instead.  The baby escaped, unharmed.

What a poignant picture of Christ!  He delivered Himself over to the adversary, offering His life for ours and securing our freedom.  His is a love so fierce that He will stop at nothing to save His children.

He looked the enemy square in the eye and declared:

You. Can’t. Have. Them.

“I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.” (John 10:28, NAS)

He will fight for us and for our children.

A Mother’s Prayer

A Mother’s Prayer

The pond of emotion wells up, overflows and seeps out the corner of my eye, a quiet rivulet.  I linger at the dining room window, prayerfully watching until that final moment when her car disappears from view.  She’s happy and carefree, off to visit college friends on the Colorado western slope for a week.

I want this for her.  I do.

But she’s also young, and it’s her first trip solo.  And it’s over the Rocky Mountains.  In January.

It’s not just her physical safety I worry about.  I know there are other dangers.  Spiritual ones.  The kind that wake a mother in the dead of night and compel her to cry out in the darkness to the only true Light.

Does it ever get any easier?  These goodbyes, this letting go, this releasing and trusting?

Seeking solace, I stumble upon a “mother’s” version of “The Prayer” by Celine Dion.  I make it my prayer.  I want this for her too, and for each of my daughters three.

And I am consoled, for I am not the first mom to pour out her heart in tearful intercession for a precious child.  I find comfort, for there is One who watches, and the car never slips out of His sight.

A Mother’s Prayer*

I pray you’ll be my eyes
And watch her where she goes
And help her to be wise
Help me to let go

Every mother’s prayer
Every child knows
Lead her to a place
Guide her with your grace
To a place where she’ll be safe

I pray she finds your light
And holds it in her heart
As darkness falls each night
Remind her where you are

Every mother’s prayer
Every child knows
Need to find a place
Guide her with your grace
Give her faith so she’ll be safe

Lead her to a place
Guide her with your grace
To a place where she’ll be safe


*Lyrics to “The Prayer” by David Foster / Carole Bayer Sager.  Here’s a link to Celine Dion’s beautiful rendition:

(Painting is “Woman at Window” by Holsoe)

A Tale of Two Moms

A Tale of Two Moms

Two moms, strangers, in different states, but both in “Moms in Prayer” groups,  just happened to pray  the same prayer last spring.  They both asked God to provide good roommates for their daughters, who would soon be going off to college.

Two girls, strangers, in different states, but both high school seniors planning to attend the same college, just happened to strike up a friendship on the college’s Facebook page.

They discovered that they just happened to be in the same dorm, and just happened to be in the same dorm community.  They requested and were assigned each other as roommates.  A summer family vacation just happened to bring one of them within thirty minutes of the other, allowing them to meet.  They hit it off, and were even more excited to find that they also just happened to share the same faith.

Today two moms met, as they moved their two daughters into their shared dorm room.  One of the moms just happened to mention that she had prayed for her daughter’s roommate last spring in her “Moms in Prayer” group…

The Wall

The Wall

Exactly forty years ago this spring, my father was navigating a plane over the jungles of Vietnam.  I was eleven, the oldest of three children in our family, and the one old enough to understand the harsh realities of war.  That year marked the end of my childhood.

It was a very difficult season.  Not only were we separated from my dad, who was in a war zone, but my mom eventually suffered a breakdown from the stress and was hospitalized, leaving my brother, sister and me in the care of a neighbor.  Since it was near the end of his one-year tour of duty, my dad was summoned (safely, thankfully) home.  My mom recovered, and our family was whole once again.  It was a year we were glad to put behind us and rarely discussed.

A few years ago I mentioned to a Christian counselor how dark and bleak that time was, how it felt like God was nowhere to be found, and how I still sometimes struggled with those feelings and fears of abandonment.  He encouraged me to ask God a simple question:

“Lord, where were You?”  

So I posed the question to the Lord.  And got nothing in response.  Silence.  A blank screen.  The counselor suggested I wait.  God would answer the question in His time and in His way.

Several months passed.  Still no answer.

One Saturday afternoon while flipping through the television channels, I happened upon a PBS program about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.  I had heard of this Washington D.C. memorial honoring those who lost their lives in the Vietnam conflict, and was eager to learn more about it.  Seventy polished black granite panels comprise the wall, which stretches nearly 600 feet long and is ten feet high at its peak.  Each panel is engraved with the names of those who perished or went missing, in chronological order.  There are a sobering 58,272 names in all.

I watched the screen intently as visitors to The Wall scanned the seemingly endless columns for the name of a loved one.  Tears fell when they finally spotted the familiar name etched in shiny ebony.  Some traced the letters lovingly with their fingers.  Many stopped to place a piece of paper over the spot to make a rubbing as a memento.  Others left behind flowers to mark a sacred place on that silent wall.

The moving and thought-provoking program ended, and I proceeded to take a shower.  As I tipped my head back into the warmth of the water, God whispered these words to my soul:

I was watching over your dad while he was in Vietnam, so you wouldn’t have to make a trip to that wall someday.

His voice was inaudible, yet clear and unmistakable.  I was deeply touched by this tender expression of His love for me.  And I had my answer.  He hadn’t abandoned my family, even though it felt like He had.  Though I had no conscious awareness of His presence during those dark days, He was there, and at work, carrying out His sovereign plan.

In December of 2010, I had the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. with my own almost eleven-year-old daughter and the Cheyenne All-City Children’s Chorus.  One of our stops was the Vietnam Memorial.  A guide directed me to the section of the wall representing the year my dad served.  Quiet tears of humble gratitude slipped down my face.  By the grace and mercy of God, I was not there on a pilgrimage in search of his name.

Yet as I walked the length of that somber memorial, tears of another kind of gratitude stung my eyes and obscured my vision.  Gratitude for those who did pay the ultimate price in service to their country.  Gratitude for the sorrow their loved ones endured on behalf of an often ungrateful nation.  And gratitude for a God who is greater than our grief and bigger than all of our unanswered questions.

Photo taken at the Vietnam Wall, December 2010
Answers and Abundance

Answers and Abundance

Lately I have been overwhelmed as God has answered specific prayers and surprised me with unexpected blessings.  My cup overflows!

What follows is today’s entry from my daily devotional.  I thought I’d share since it echoes my recent experiences and captures the essence of abundant life in Him.  Plus, He expresses it much more eloquently than I can!  Enjoy and be encouraged!

     “I am a God of both intricate detail and overflowing abundance.  When you entrust the details of your life to Me, you are surprised by how thoroughly I answer your petitions.  I take pleasure in hearing your prayers, so feel free to bring Me all your requests.  The more you pray, the more answers you can receive.  Best of all, your faith is strengthened as you see how precisely I respond to your specific prayers.

       Because I am infinite in all My ways, you need not fear that I will run out of resources. Abundance is at the very heart of who I AM.  Come to Me in joyful expectation of receiving all you need–and sometimes much more!  I delight in showering blessings on My beloved children.  Come to Me with open hands and hearts, ready to receive all I have for you.”

(From Jesus Calling by Sarah Young)

Just Passing Through

Just Passing Through

I first met Diane when she joined our weekly “Moms in Touch” prayer group.  She and her family had recently moved to the prairies of Wyoming from the beaches of Georgia, where she had belonged to a similar group.  She knew the value of consistent, focused times of prayer for her children and quickly sought out a group to pray with here.

It’s funny how you can feel like you’ve known someone for awhile even though you’ve just met.  Fellowship in the Lord is like that.  Mothering children of similar ages and stages also creates an instant connection.  But opening up your heart and soul in prayer develops an understanding and an intimacy that goes even deeper.

I’m thankful for the time I had with Diane, for she and her family moved back to Georgia within a year, preferring the humid coast to the arid high plains. (And who could blame them?)  Wyoming was not their home.  It was almost as if they were just passing through, never meant to stay here permanently.

Today I received a call telling me that Diane had been diagnosed with cancer this past fall, and had passed away last month.  I hadn’t picked up on the one or two subtle references to health issues and difficulties on her Facebook page during that time.  But then, Diane wasn’t one to draw attention to herself.  Her focus, during the brief time I knew her, was always on others, especially her three kids.

And just like that, she’s gone.

I bet she prefers the crystal seas of heaven to the barren, in comparison, landscape of this earth.  (And who could blame her?)  This world was not her home.  She was just passing through.  She was never meant to stay here permanently.

“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ…” (Philippians 3:20)

And now I’ve got another friend waiting for me there.

Beautiful Diane, on her GA beach
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