Yes, we Christians come in all shapes and sizes and are equally guilty of succumbing to the pressures and traditions of the secular world. While we do put God first on our list of priorities, that doesn’t mean we can’t rearrange a schedule or two to accommodate cultural traditions and special events. What I’m saying is that we’ve decided to start our new small groups next week—when football season is over.

There’s going to be a lot of praying today—not just in church but on the ten yard line, before the extra-point kick, and for many, for the hangover cure on Monday morning.  At church we’ve been reading and studying a book written by our pastor, Mark Batterson called The Circle Maker. One of the recurring themes in the book is to pray big prayers.

For example, when your team is losing by 21 points and there is only a minute left on the clock and it seems completely impossible for you not to lose that ill-conceived bet you placed while the tailgating was in its early stages—that is the perfect time to pray for a win. Why? Because it’s the impossible situations—the miracles—that give glory to God. If it’s not a miracle, we tend to give the credit to coincidence or frankly ourselves. So in other words, go big or go home.

There are so many stories in the Bible about monumental miracles that God performed. It’s these seemingly hopeless situations (a band of three hundred men defeat an army of tens of thousands; the Jews’ triumphant victory of Jericho not via battering rams but by walking circles around the city; feeding 5,000 people from a few loaves of bread) that show just how glorious and wonderful God is and that He alone can make ANYTHING happen. It’s living with RAW DEPENDENCE on God that allows His work to be done.

Throughout the last few weeks in church, Pastor Mark had been sharing story after story of answered prayers. We know they were answered prayers and not coincidence because we mere mortals could not make them happen—only divine intervention delivered these miracles. I kept leaving the services with an overwhelming sense of joy. Story after story—on and on—it’s a true testament that God is at work with us everywhere all the time. It made me wish (and pray) that our news programs would someday turn into hour-long segments of testimonials of the miracles and answered prayers of God. Can you imagine how wonderful our world would be if we heard about these stories all the time? People would become hopeful instead of depressed. People everywhere would start praying and waiting patiently instead of living a life in want of instant gratification. I am confident that someday that is exactly how it will be. We may need to wait for the second coming, but it will happen. It just would be much cooler if it happened sooner. (Or is that instant gratification rearing its ugly head?)

I would very much like to hear your stories. Your answered prayers. Let’s start telling the world about them so we can give hope to others. I would also like to hear about your big prayers. I want to pray for you. I’m going to make a circle here on this blog. I’m praying that people like you will reply to these posts and share your stories and your prayer requests and then share them with your friends and family and your Twitter and Facebook followers and anyone else you come across. Let’s start the ball rolling right here. It’s GAME TIME people!

I’ll start and put myself out there in the hopes that others will follow.

Today I’m praying for:

Opportunities to travel the world to see the beauty that God has created. I pray that I can take stunning photographs and write about the experiences to share God’s glorious creation with others. I want to meet people and learn about their cultures, traditions, and beliefs and to educate and share those wonderful stories with others. And I want the courage and opportunity to share with the people I meet my testimony about how God has blessed me.

Healing—to be pain free from my joint and back injuries and to become fit and healthy enough to climb mountains and play sports again.

For legal help for a friend’s sister. For her to break free of an abusive relationship and get help in the form of physical healing, a job, and a new home.

My friend who is pregnant to be relieved of the physical suffering that comes from being pregnant and for a perfectly healthy baby who will one day come to know Jesus.

For the healing that needs to happen with family members.

To be filled with the fruit of the Spirit and emanate light, grace, and love so that those who meet me will see the joy and freedom that comes from accepting Jesus and putting your faith in God.

As usual, the Christmas season is bustling with activity. It started early this year because our team at work is providing Christmas gifts for a local family in need. This is something I cherish doing each year. I know we should be looking out for these families and children all year long, but at least we can make some kids smile on the morning of Christmas. I can see their faces in my mind—eyes wide open and smiles from ear to ear. And the parents must have a tug on their hearts as they see their kids enjoying presents like other American kids.

So in order to get presents for these kids, I needed to go to Toys R Us before Thanksgiving. Holy hell. A Saturday afternoon spent at that place in the holiday season is my version of what eternity in hell would be like. And to make things fun, God had a great laugh by making me go back to exchange both the gifts I got—on two different occasions. But I’ll tell you. It didn’t take away one bit from the absolute joy it is to give a gift to someone else. Especially a kid in need.

My nieces then asked a huge favor from me. They wanted to go shopping on Black Friday. I told them they owed me big. That was the day we were supposed to sleep in (or fake it while Grandma finds a way to make enough noise to bring the entire house out of bed). But no. I went shopping. On Black Friday. Kill me now.

After that I was beginning to have enough (not completely but near enough) of the material side of Christmas. That night we went to Longwood Gardens to see the Christmas displays. If you’ve never been, I highly recommend it. It’s so beautiful and the horticulturists who work there are master artists. Not just the display of lights but the various trees and flowers as well as the gingerbread houses and trains—oh my, it’s just so incredibly fun and breathtaking. I was so inspired I went out and bought more crap to decorate my house. Okay, so I wasn’t quite done.

But now, today, after spending a really fun dinner last night with friends and their adorable three-year olds, I started really thinking about the advent. I listened to a sermon online tonight about God’s will and plan for us and how we need to be ready and open for opportunities and to always seek His council before making decisions. So now I’m inspired for the right things. God. And preparing for this season when we celebrate the birth of Jesus. I’m going to light my advent wreath candle tomorrow and say a prayer. Something like this (note, this is something I got online from this Web site and it’s by Victor Hoagland, C.P.—the beginning part, the other part is by God via the prophet Isaiah):

As our nights grow longer and our days grow short,
we look on these earthly signs—light and green branches—
and remember God’s promise to our world:
Christ, our Light and our Hope, will come.
Listen to the words of Isaiah the prophet:

The people that walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those who lived in a land as dark as death
a light has dawned.
You have increased their joy
and given them gladness;
They rejoice in your presence
as those who rejoice at harvest,
as warriors exult when dividing spoil. Is. 9:1-2

Then all pray:

O God,
we remember the promise of your Son.
As the light from this candle,
may the blessing of Christ come upon us,
brightening our way
and guiding us by his truth.
May Christ our Savior bring life
into the darkness of our world,
and to us, as we wait for his coming.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen

So I thank you God for pressing upon my heart the true reason for Christmas. I pray for all of you reading this that you have a joyous Christmas filled with love and mercy and time spent with loved ones. Especially those wonderful children who bring so much joy to our life.

Now please don’t go without enjoying a little laugh from an old sitcom, Laverne and Shirley. This is Lenny and Squiggy singing a powerful message about the holiday!

Each year when spring starts to show its face I think, crap. Why? Because I have serious allergies, the weather behaves like a manic-depressive, and it reminds me of mud. Rain plus the leftover deadness of winter. I love the snow in winter and around D.C. I always feel like we didn’t get enough. (With the exception of the 2009/2010 winter.) I love summer when it’s warm enough for the beach and the fall feels so good and is so pretty.

Poor spring. I’m hard on you but there are days when you prove to be so lovely and so uplifting that we can’t help but say you are beautiful. Today I walked the dog and felt the cool sun on my face. Last weekend I hiked through a park with my family and the dogs. It’s a time of newness when we watch as things grow and bloom all around us.

I was thinking of all this because of my nephews. They are just the sweetest boys. They are still kind of little but growing up fast. I love visiting with all of the family to see how all of the kids are growing and blooming. Even my neighbors and friends kids are delightful. Another year, more new skills, and the things that come out of their mouths just make you smile. It’s that same feeling of spring. I don’t want to leave the last season but a little reminder of something new makes you enjoy where you are and what you are doing.

So last weekend my nephew Harmon said something to me that made my heart grow a few inches. I was telling my brother that I might want to hire the girls (my nieces) to come down and help me with some landscaping work on my house. Harmon asked if he could come and I told him that he was too little but that in about ten years he would be my go-to guy. “What’s that?” he asked. “It means when I’m old and need help with heavy stuff, I’ll call on you,” I replied. And then Harmon said, “Oh, okay. Well, I’ll come down and help you and you don’t even have to pay me.”Love it. Love him. All those years of presents and trips have paid off. I’ve got my ticket now and am no longer worried about my old age. My nephews are going to have my back. Awesome.

But for now I am going to enjoy the fact that they are still little. Harmon and Tyler, we can linger a little longer in this season—you don’t have to grow up too fast.

I am blessed.

Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart.
(Proverbs 29:17 ESV)

« Previous PageNext Page »