Answered Prayers

Do you remember when you were a kid, and you did something that you knew would disappoint your parents? Or even now, when you disappoint someone you care about and someone that you value their opinion? They don’t have to say anything to you about it- just knowing that you let them down is enough. Sometimes, I feel that way with my Heavenly Father. I have been praying hard for a situation in my life. I’ve been riding that fine line of having faith and trusting Him to take care of it and wondering if I should be actively doing something to remedy it. There is an old joke about a preacher who is caught in a flood and climbs to the top of the church to escape the high water. A guy in a boat comes by and asked if he needs a ride and the preacher tells him, “No, my God will save me.” Then a guy in a helicopter comes by and offers him a ride and the guy once again says, “No, my God will save me.” Eventually, the flood waters overtake the preacher and he drowns. When he gets to heaven, he asked God why he didn’t save him. God said, “Well, I sent a boat and a helicopter, what more did you want?”

Sometimes I feel like the preacher. I want the miracle. I want God to show me His glory and perform a modern day miracle on my behalf- and sometimes, He does. But other times, it’s just a soft whisper of an answer. Just a gentle nudging- no lightning or flashes of glory- just a “Hey, why don’t you do this?” And there is my answer. He has answered my prayer, maybe not in the way I expected or with all the fanfare. But He provided a way just like I asked for. My first question was, “Really, God? That’s it- that’s what you want me to do? But we could have had such a story to tell. I could have told everyone how at the last minute you stepped in and saved the day.” And then, ouch!! That nasty conviction fills my heart, and suddenly I am reminded of all the miracles I’ve witnessed in the past 6 months. Not just one or two- maybe one or two the last week. Every day He is working in my life- everyday answering my prayers. Sometimes in a big way, sometimes in a quiet gentle way. God doesn’t need me or my prayers to prove how big He is. I don’t need a miracle so that I can brag on Him. My God is the God of miracles- my very existence is proof of that. He is the God that raises the dead, parts the sea, and controls every single thing that happens on this earth. My daily miracle is that even though He is all of that, He still loves me and cares about me enough to listen to my prayers and answer them as He sees fit.

Wonderfully Made

How often are we more affected by the world says about us than what God says about us? We are so quick to believe the lies that so-called friends, enemies and Satan hurl at us, but close our ears to the words of Jesus. Who has pure thoughts and intentions? Who sees our heart? Certainly not the world!

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. Psalm 139:13-16

Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:4-5

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. John 15:16

When the world tries to bring you down by telling you that you aren’t good enough or that no one really cares about you, remember the words of Christ. He knew us before we were formed, we have been consecrated (to make or declare sacred; set apart or dedicate to the service of a deity) and most of all we are chosen! No matter how insignificant others may make you feel, Jesus Christ has chosen you- He loves you so much that He died for you. He knows everything about you- where you’ve been what you’ve done. And He loves you” more than you can imagine, more that you can fathom.”

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Matthew West

Take a look at the mountains Stretching a mile high

Take a look at the ocean Far as your eye can see

And think of Me

Take a look at the desert Do you feel like a grain of sand?

I am with you wherever Where you go is where I am

And I’m always thinking of you

Take a look around you I’m spelling it out one by one

[Chorus] I love you more than the sun

And the stars that I taught how to shine

You are mine, and you shine for me too

I love you yesterday and today And tomorrow,

I’ll say it again and again I love you more

Just a face in the city Just a tear on a crowded street

But you are one in a million And you belong to Me

And I want you to know That I’m not letting go Even when you come undone

I love you more than the sun and the stars that I taught how to shine

You are mine, and you shine for me too

I love you, yesterday and today Through the joy and the pain I’ll say it again and again

I love you more I love you more

And I see you And I made you

And I love you more than you can imagine More than you can fathom

I love you more than the sun And you shine for me

What is Your Last Message?

It seems to take a day like the anniversary of 9/11 to really ground us. It reminds us of how fleeting and fragile life can be. It’s easy to assume we will wake up tomorrow and accomplish all the things we have planned. We take our own life and all the people we share it with for granted. Then we are hit with a tragedy like 9/11. We all remember exactly where we were and what we were doing when it happened. It will be engrained in our memory in the same way the Kennedy assassination was for our parents and grandparents. I know it will probably be one of the most significant events of my lifetime.

I find it hard to watch the memorials and documentaries because it breaks my heart. Yet, I feel that I owe it to the victims and their families to remember. I ran across a post on Facebook today that I had to share. It is the message that Brian Sweeney, a passenger aboard United Airlines Flight 175, left on his wife’s phone.

blog911

All of the sudden, these people are more than names- now they are real. When a tragedy strikes us whether it’s on a national scale or personal, we hold our loved ones closer, focus on what’s important and pray. The exact things we should be doing every day.

Take those emotions you felt that day and infuse them into every day. We loved each other, loved our country, and looked to God. None of the petty stuff mattered- we were worried about the safety of our loved ones and praying for those directly affected. Our hearts were softened, but our beliefs and convictions were strengthened.

I can’t imagine what it was like to be in one of those towers or on one of those planes that day. I’m sure people found strength, courage and faith they didn’t know they had. Karen Kingsbury wrote a book called, One Tuesday Morning that was about a firefighter and his wife that were part of that terrible tragedy. In one scene, the firefighter is trapped on an upper story of one of the towers with several other firefighters. They know there is no way out, and they are waiting to die. It still moves me to tears every time I read it. I know for some people it had to be that way. They knew there was no escape, and I know many of those people took that time to pray and cry out to God. I also , that believe He reached down His hand and plucked them out of that inferno before they felt any pain, because that is the kind of God I serve. Not everyone that died that day was given that kind of time and warning, some never knew what hit them. That is how we should live every day because we never know what tomorrow- or even the next second will hold. We should live every day as if it were our last; sharing the love of Jesus and loving each other.

Happiness vs. Joy

If I asked you, “Are you happy?” What would you say? What about if I asked if you were joyful? Do you think it’s the same thing? I always did. Matter of fact, I’ve used the two words interchangeably. But when we are talking about joy in the biblical sense, they are very different.

Happiness is fleeting. The longer you live the more you discover that life is filled with ups and downs. You can go from extreme sadness to extreme happiness within moments. Things, people and situations can make us happy (or sad). Happiness is an emotion. The word happy or happiness is used about thirty times in the Bible, while joy is used about 300 times. It’s pretty evident which one God thinks is most important.

Joy is not an emotion. It is a state of being. Joy comes from the Lord not from man. It is everlasting not temporary. It’s not based on feeling, but on knowing. Knowing that you are a child of God, and having faith in the promises He has made to us. He loves us, He has saved us and He will provide for us.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4

Joy is knowing that God has His hand on you. No matter what you are faced with, He knew it was coming and He is going to bring you through it- not just as a survivor, but stronger and closer to Him. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13

When life has you down, and you’re being bombarded by all those “storms” we’ve been talking about this past week, remember happiness is just an emotion. You never hear anyone talk about Satan stealing your happiness because it comes and goes. No, he’s after your joy because that comes from God. He wants to make you doubt that God is in control. Instead of sitting back and resting in our faith in God, Satan wants to take that and replace it with doubt, anxiety and fear. Do not give him that power! Remember:

“Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

Attitude of Gratitude

Yesterday I went to a big superstore to buy groceries. After about an hour of shopping, I unloaded my basket at the checkout. Then because they were short-handed, I sacked my own stuff. I took it out to the car, unloaded it into the car then came home and brought it all in the house. I started putting everything away and was feeling tired and a little agitated that no one was there to help me. As I was stacking things in an already full pantry, it hit me how blessed I am.

How many people wish they had $200 to spend on groceries? Or the physical ability to walk around a store for an hour shopping? When I was growing up, I had an old pastor who could make one of those statements that stepped on your toes and he would look at the congregation and say, “Amen or Oh me?” This was definitely an OH ME moment! God has blessed me with the money to buy groceries, a car to load them into and a nice pantry to store them in. And the only thing on my mind is how tired I am?

I felt like an ungrateful little brat- whining because I was tired of putting up all those groceries. I stopped right there and said a prayer of thanksgiving out loud. That started me thinking about how often I get caught up in what I think are the little inconveniences of life and miss the bigger picture of the blessings. It all comes down to attitude. I can choose to be grateful and see the blessings, or I can choose to focus on the negative things. I can name twenty goods things in my life, but for some reason I’ll let the one bad thing dominate my thoughts. Half the time the bad I’m focused on is the thing that could happen, and not what actually has happened.

When I make the decision to be thankful for things in my life, it’s amazing how it snowballs. My whole outlook changes- I find my joy! Compared to most people I don’t have anything to complain about. I read once that if everyone threw all their problems into a pile once we saw what everyone else was dealing with, we’d grab back our own back. I think that is very true. So today, make a conscience decision to be grateful and be happy. Take time to thank God for all the good and wonderful things in your life!

Storms- Day 2

I think the best picture of God’s love for us is to look at our love for our children. We know we are sinners, and we know how undeserving we are of God’s love and His grace. Sometimes, I think, God, why do you even waste your time with me? I am just a lost cause. But then I look at my boys, and I know I would never give up on them. They make mistakes, but nothing could ever change my love for them. I don’t stop loving them when they do something wrong- I don’t even love them less. Sometimes, they’re not that loveable- they are teenagers! Yet, I love them totally, completely and unconditionally. I don’t have to try to love them. They are a part of me. I long to spend time with them, talk to them and wrap them up in a hug. It doesn’t matter that my oldest is 6’5″ and about 270. He’s my baby. Right now, he’s four hours away from me, and I miss his face and his presence.

To me, that’s how God looks at us. When we are away from Him- He misses us. He wants us to spend time with Him, talk to Him and let Him wrap us up in His arms. No matter what we do, He loves us and doesn’t give up on us. His parable of the prodigal son illustrates that so well. He celebrates when we return to Him. Sometimes our children make decisions we don’t agree with. Experience has shown us where they are headed, but they have to learn their own lessons (just like we did). Sometimes, those mistakes carry serious consequences, and even though we love them they still have to face the consequences. It’s painful for us to watch, and we wish they would have listened in the first place. Oh, I can see Jesus looking down at me from heaven and shaking His head- wondering if I will ever learn. Have you ever looked at your child- no matter their age- and thought I wish I could do this for them? Most of us would take any punishment to protect our kids, and that’s exactly what Christ did for us.

When the hard times come and storm is howling all around you, know that He is there in the storm. His hand is on you. He hurts when you hurt and loves you no matter what. He has already taken the punishment for whatever you may have done. He allows the storms to refine you not to punish you. One day, you will come out of it and you will know without a doubt He was with you. When you say, “I don’t know how I survived that.” Yeah, you do. There is only one person that can shelter us and love us until the storm passes, and when it does, you share your story of how faithful your God is!

Storms- Day 1

I saw a quote on Twitter that said something along the lines of, “One day when this storm is over, I’ll tell you how God brought me through it and how much better my life is because of it.” I know I have been a little hung up on the storms of life, but God is just laying it on my heart. Sometimes when the hard times hit- we can’t see past it. It consumes our minds and hearts to the point that we can’t see life past where we are right now. We are convinced things will never be the same again. And that is usually true. “See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.” Isaiah 48:10. Once we have been through the fire we have been purified and we won’t be the same. God doesn’t punish us so no matter what terrible thing you have done, don’t think you are being punished. Our God is a God of love. Yes, He allows things to happen to us, just as He did Job. But many of the hard times we suffer are consequences of our actions, not those of a vengeful God. “And we know all things work together for good to them that love God.” Romans 8:28. We may not see the good today or even in a year- we may not see it this side of heaven. But God is in control. He knew what was coming and He has been preparing you for it. Let Him love you and hold you until this storm passes. He does have plans for you and they are great plans. It’s easy to talk about how much you trust God when everything is going your way, but are you still that confident when that trust is put to the test? Do you still believe God is in control when it’s your life falling apart?

Seven Tips for a Happier Marriage

In light of everything that has gone on this week, I have found myself pondering the state of marriage. Why do some marriages work and others don’t? Is there a secret that only a chosen few know about? I have been happily married for twenty years, not perfectly married, but definitely happily. All marriages have rough spots, but how do some overcome the obstacles? To get a male and female point of view, I posed this question to my husband. “Why do you think we’ve made it?” After a long and interesting talk, here is what we came up with:

  1. Put the other person first- no matter what. Never put your own desires above your spouse. If you are currently unhappy in your marriage, give this a try. For three days do everything for the good of your spouse. Even if they aren’t doing the same for you. Each day find things you can do to make their life a little easier.
  2. Don’t think the grass is always greener. Often times the marriage that seems so perfect on the outside is a mess on the inside. Anyone can put on a good show, and no one knows how things are behind closed doors. Don’t constantly compare your spouse to someone else. Sometimes that thoughtful husband that brings his wife lunch everyday is really doing it because he doesn’t trust her since she ran around on him with someone from the office.
  3. It’s not about winning or being right. Sometimes you just let things go because it’s not worth it. We all hear the phrase pick your battles when it come to kids, well, it holds true for spouses. So what if what you told her would happen happened. Pointing it out doesn’t make you anymore right, and chances are she already knows it. Instead help her fix it.
  4. I know we’ve all heard it before, but communicate. You have to talk to each other and listen to each other. That is the only way you will work through them. Sometimes you will never work it out. Sometimes you just accept that you disagree or don’t see eye to eye. If it’s not something that rocks the very foundation of your relationship, just let it go. But don’t think the other person can read your mind, and don’t let things stew. Confront them head on and get past it.
  5. Understand that Satan wants nothing more than to destroy your marriage. Everyday he is working to drive a wedge between you and your spouse so everyday you have to work harder than he is to keep it together. He can take the smallest seed of doubt or resentment and tear a marriage apart. You must acknowledge that the battle is very real and you have to fight for your family. Never say “that won’t happen to us” because he will make it his job to see that it does.
  6. Take your tips from God’s Word. He is very specific about the relationship between a husband and wife. The world wants to take His words and twist them to convince women they are lesser than men and men they are superior. Matter of fact, I think we’ll talk about that at a later time. But if a wife allows her husband to be head of household and a husband loves his wife like Christ loved the church- it will cover a multitude of marital issues.
  7. Love each other! Truly deeply passionately!!! Each day wake up thankful that God has sent this person into your life and remember how much love and excitement you felt the day you were married. Take the time to hug, kiss and truly appreciate the gift God has given you.

There are so many more things we could talk about, but this is a starting point. Never take your spouse or marriage for granted. Remember that once they were the one thing you didn’t think you could live without!

Confessions of a Worrier

I can honestly say, I don’t know what I’d do without Christ in my life. Life is hard, crazy, unpredictable, and just when you think you’ve got a hold on things- something flies at you from out of left field. I have a tendency to worry so I am constantly reminding myself that God is in control. In my heart, I know that. I know He has a plan, and that is what scares me. I pray daily that His will be done in my life. That doesn’t guarantee happiness or that things will be easy and wonderful. Sometimes the path to the best things in life lead through the worst storms. But I always know He is with me, and no matter what happens- He saw it coming and He will get me through it. I don’t always have to have a back up plan or plan B, C or D. I’ve just got to hand it to God and stop trying to take it back!

Called to Write, Part 2

I hope I didn’t bore you so much with part 1 that you won’t read part 2! It was a long journey to get to where I am today, and just when I was convinced I was completely on the wrong path- God would show me I was right where I should be. There are so many people He put in my life to encourage me, guide me and just support me. But unfortunately, lots of people just didn’t get it. Coming from a small town, when you have dreams that don’t fit the mold people make a lot of assumptions- like all writers are rich and famous (don’t I wish!!) or some think you must think you’re better than everyone because people “like us” don’t write books. Then when you combine that with the statement that God called me to write…you can only imagine. Who am I that God would call me to write? And you know what? I asked myself that question millions of times. No I don’t think I’m perfect or that I am any closer to God than anyone else. Matter of fact, I probably mess up more than most. I struggle with lots of things, and I am not embarrassed to share that. That’s why my books have flawed main characters- being a flawed Christian is all I know. Writing a book takes a long time, especially if you are raising a family and working a full time job. I knew there was a very high possibility my book would never be published and I was okay with that. I was writing out of obedience. So if the only people that ever read it were my mom and a couple of close friends- so be it. I knew there were lessons for me to learn through the process and God was going to use it- even He only used it in my life. I worked hard to get it published, and received lots of rejection letters. Don’t let anyone lie to you- that’s hard. When you have invested years and poured yourself into a novel it’s very personal. It’s almost like a child. Part of me didn’t want to share it because I didn’t want someone to tell me it was terrible. Booktrope accepted the manuscript for publication, and it couldn’t have been a better fit for me. They have held my hand through the process and hopefully you will see Tangled Web available on Amazon and through Booktrope on October 27. If I only sell ten copies, I’ll know that it has accomplished what God intended it to do. His hand has been on it from the beginning.