Learning Wrestling Prayer in a World of Instant Gratification

learning wrestling prayer in a world of instant gratification #prayer #followingJesus

I like things to be instant. Well, everything except pudding. Nothing beats a slow cooked custard pudding. But for the most part if I decide something, I want to go right then and get it done. I’m just like that.

Yet, I’m learning that things don’t happen this way in the Kingdom of God.

For some reason God seems incredibly concerned with persistence.

From the story of the friend who got what he needed because he wouldn’t stop knocking, to the widow who gets the justice she desires because she won’t stop bothering the King— Jesus, himself, gives us permission to pound on the gates of heaven with our requests. Continue reading

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Tuesday’s Prayer

I filled the house with smoke for the second week in a row. You would think that after five and half years, I would get the hang of this oven. Alas, it seems to not be so. The coconut oil that spilled into the bottom last week (which started quite the fire) apparently was not all burned up.

The coffee cake this morning? Not the best. Sorry, dear Pioneer Woman, but it seems your tastes are a bit sweeter than mine. It felt a little like inhaling spoonfuls of sugar. (Maybe I’m just sensitive to the stuff.)

There is a bag of trash that has been sitting by my front door for three days. (Ew!) It, unfortunately, has blended into the woodwork and I keep forgetting to take it with me when I go to the barn.

I was kind of hoping that no one who need to use the restroom while they were here because there is a huge pile of laundry in there that never got taken care of.

And I was actually praying that no one would need to open the fridge for anything. There is something dead in there. Probably that container of chicken stock that I thawed two weeks ago but forgot to use.

What I’m really trying to say is neither my house, nor I, am very well put together at times. 

But it never fails. When I open my door, open my home– God shows up. He pours blessings on me.

He empties out the pride, forgives the sinfulness, and wraps me tight in grace.

We decided to have prayer meetings on Tuesday mornings. It is the evidence that God has been stirring things up because my husband hates mornings. Yet, it was his idea to invite people up at 5:30AM to drink coffee and pray. It was originally going to be a one-time thing– he just felt the burden to pray for a friend and invited some others to join in.

But then it was so wonderful– meeting God in community, right first thing in morning– so we’ve had a few more. And now, for this season at least, I don’t think we’ll stop. 

God created community. He designed us for it. We are made to have a personal relationship with Christ and at the same time to share our walk with those around us. And the more true community you have, the more you crave it. Even enough to stumble out of bed at ridiculous times in the morning.

(Seriously, when we milked cows we didn’t get up at 5:30 (we milked at 7 and 7) but for prayer and community and the presence of God? Absolutely.)

I challenge you, friends, to establish community. No matter what your house looks like. No matter if you can cook (*ahem*) or if your floors are clean. Because it’s not really about all that stuff anyway. It’s about Jesus. Living. Moving. Breathing. Changing lives and forgiving sins and transforming hearts.

And if you live in the area, come on up next Tuesday morning. For reals. We’d love to have you. (And hopefully by then the trash will be taken out, the laundry cleaned up, the house smoke-free, and breakfast edible. But you never know. I make no promises. There will, however, be coffee and prayer.)

Community/prayer

things i love about my husband {15} comfort zones

28 days of intentionally honoring my spouse

Praying aloud doesn’t come easy for my husband. I remember when we first were married and he would pray silently at the dinner table. I wondered, slightly, what was wrong with him.

In my home we prayed loudly, sometimes right in the heat of the moment. Mom would be lecturing us about our behavior and then her lecture would turn into a prayer. At the dinner table we sang prayers and laughed through prayers and if the mood struck us right, we’d beg my dad to pray in french and then interpret.

But then I grew up and found out that many people didn’t do that. For some, prayers were simple and short and, as in my husband’s case, often silent.

But slowly, over time, he’s stepped into the ability to pray aloud boldly.

And I love it. I love that he has been willing to walk through that which is not comfortable, and in the process, God has been able to use him greatly. In my life and in the lives of those around us.

In our home it will never be my husband who starts singing a prayer. Ever. (Although he does periodically pray in Creole.) But he does stop and publicly invite God into our situation, time after time.

And I love him for it. 

The Challenge:

It can be hard when a spouse has a totally different experience in certain parts of daily life. Has your husband ever surprised you by stepping out of his comfort zone? Have you honored him for it?

Faces I Remember {a Haiti story}

Faces I Remember @ natashametzler.com

Their faces haunt me.

The man with the skin burned right off his back. The boy with the bones sticking out of his leg. The man bent over near double, carrying sticks to sell for food. The blind woman whose rough hands patted my face. The baby with sores and scars covering his legs.

Yet, it is her face that I cannot escape from tonight.

It was early afternoon when my husband called me from where I was hanging laundry, “Ambulance run,” he said, waving a hand toward the Kubota. I tossed the still damp clothes back inside the house and locked the door behind me. A worker jumped on the back of the vehicle and I slid into the seat.

It was a long ways. Houses spread further apart. Hills grew taller. Cement walls gave way to woven palm fronds. On and on.

When we finally crossed the last ditch and eased inside the compound, I knew we had arrived much quicker than they expected. Frantic running. An older woman rushing with a dress toward the half-naked girl, the one laying on the mat and moaning.

The children came, saw our faces and stopped. A two-year-old started screaming crazily, rushing inside a shelter and burying his head into a pile of rags.

“He’s never seen a white person,” they tried to explain. I ached to go and hold him, to calm his fears. But they left him cry.

“Vini!” A man called, motioning us onward. I jumped out to help direct my husband as he backed the vehicle up to the woman. They had pulled a loose white shift over her pregnant body. Her eyes were red and a moan bit out as she rubbed a hand over her stomach. With pulling and tugging, we got her lifted onto the bed of the vehicle.

The return ride was slow. They asked us to stop and scooped water from the dirty creek. I did not look to see what they did with it. Finally, the hospital came into sight and they banged on the roof, asking us to pause again. I stood and glanced at the girl sprawled in the dump box. My breath caught and I spun back around,

“She’s not in labor,” I nearly screeched at my husband. We had clearly heard the term, “nine months” and assumed she was simply having her baby. She was not. “Go, go.” I waved Amos onward, slipping to stand and glance back again. It was a seizure and blood was dripping down her chin.

The next few minutes rushed hard together. Hollering for doctors. People pressing close and me standing, pushing them back, trying to let the poor woman breathe. The doctor ripping the woman’s dress up, finding the soft skin of her bottom to push a needle in. Amos picking up the laughing teenage boy by the back of the neck and whipping him around to give the girl privacy. Helping the nurse tie the woman’s tongue down so she would stop choking. Listening to the crowding youngsters get lectured by my husband as he pushed them backward, away from the vehicle.

Phone calls. Trying to understand with our limited language abilities. It was clear that she required a c-section but there were no surgeons here. We pushed the last of the kids away, helped tie a sheet over the back to give her shade from the 100 degree sun. Her eyes rolling back and unconsciousness taking over. Amos, frustrated, “Where is the truck?” he asked over and over into the phone. It slammed down and he shook his head. “We’re going in the Kubota.” Taking off, leaving one hospital for another. Hoping to meet an ambulance at the main road.

Prayers spilling as I watched the woman’s stomach move. Her baby was still alive, but would it continue to live? Could an ambulance get her to a hospital that had a surgeon?

I wanted shake my fists heavenward. Is it not enough, God, that I cannot bear a child? Must I watch one die? 

There is no ambulance. We wait. When the girl begins to stir and her moans intensify, Amos says, “Enough.” He puts the utility vehicle in gear. It was not meant to drive miles on the highway, but we drive. It maxes out at 30 miles an hour and the trip takes forever.

Finally, the hospital is in view. We rush and question and the guard stands at the door and shakes his head.

I stare, mouth gaping. You cannot stand there while she dies! I want to scream. The seizures are back and her breath is so shallow, I’m leaning over her praying between each movement.

I hear my husband, arguing. “We have money,” he is saying in Creole, “it’s not here but we’ll come back and pay.”

Money? My fingernails bite into my palm. They won’t let her in because of money? Her head snaps back and I reach up shaking fingers and start praying out loud, “God, you formed this woman with your own hands. She is precious, beautiful,” my voice trails and I realized how true it is. For the first time I look close. She is young, much younger than me. Her eyes spaced perfectly, straight white teeth, small upturned nose.

Tears drip from my chin as I cradle her head in my arms. Everyone is gone. The excitement over. The hospital refused her and she will not make it. I cling to her hand as my husband continues arguing and making phone calls. His voice fades and I realize he has left as well.

My prayers stop being thought out and turn into muttered Spirit-led words. Every few sentences drop into, Let her and the baby live. 

I am ready to give up hope. I have a deep fear in my belly that I will hold this woman as she dies in a hospital parking lot.

Then my husband comes back. He is breathing hard. “Truck, coming.” He says, leaning against the Kubota. The mission truck appears and they pull her from my arms and bundle her into it. “Other hospital,” Amos explains. A mission hospital with a surgeon on duty.

We drive home slowly. Stop at a fuel station and ask the man on duty to trust us to bring money back later. He looks us straight in the eye, “You are good people. I know you’ll come back.”

I cry. This strange world where people are left to die because they lack money morphs back into the place that I know and am known in.

I don’t know what happened to the baby.  No one knew if he lived or died. But the mother came home. Willim told me, with a smile on his fourteen-year-old face. I think he knew how desperately I longed for the information.

I never saw her again but I remember her face.

And I often lay awake and night and whisper prayers for her into the darkness. I pray that she’ll remember the presence of God in that hospital parking lot. Because He was there.

Colorado Springs– prayer warriors?

A couple years ago two of my dearest friends spent a semester at Focus Leadership Institute in Colorado Springs, Colorado. I was blessed to hear the stories of them learning the face of God, trembling at His holiness and dancing in the shelter of His love.  I scoured facebook for photographs of them climbing mountains, laughing in joy and reading scripture in fields. I devoured handwritten notes from Meg that shimmered with God-words and billowing hope.

Colorado Springs is on fire. I’m sure you’ve seen the news. I was way behind- had no idea about it until late yesterday. But I’ve been reading and weeping.

Weeping for those being thrust from their homes.

Weeping for my friends who are in agony watching the places where they met God be devoured by flames.

Weeping for this fallen world and the natural disasters that are circling the globe.

And praying for rain.

Will you pray with me?

Influence

Shadow of Influence

Night after night

Mother stood in the kitchen

And it really looked like

She was just washing the dishes

but in truth,

She was changing in the world.

Changing the world with her prayers

Changing the world with her cries

What looked so insignificant 

Was really

Changing the world. 

written January 1999

weekend {5/4}

{something for your devotional time}

This week has been a zinger on the home front. Most days I’ve had at least five kids. Yesterday it crept up to eight. I felt, very personally, the struggle that moms speak of when trying to find devotional time.

So, yesterday, I tried something different! We all did devotions together. Then picked a favorite verse. I happened to have some poster board and sticky letters so we wrote out the verse and then, while they were coloring, I took time to pray and read a bit more!

Here was the outcome! (missing the two babies who were standing in the doorway behind me.)

{something from the kitchen} 

I’ve been a bit boring in the kitchen. Veggie-noodles and chicken with salad most days. Last night my husband pulled out a few packages of venison. (side note: to get the gamey taste out of wild meat, cook it in apple cider vinegar. works wonders!)

But today, oh, today, I have grand plans! I want to start a couple kinds of sauerkraut! Inspired by my friend, Trina’s posts, I’m hoping to have the kids help me shred carrots and cabbage. (And this Mexican kind? I think I will just have to try!)

{something from the craft room}

The kids and I wrote a book. Yes, a book! It was such a blast! I haven’t bound it yet but it was done Tuesday and everyday since they ask, “Pallleeezzzee, can we read the pocketknife book? Paaallleeezzeee, Tasha?!”

Just some card stock that we covered with contact paper and it makes them oh, so happy! 

{something to make you think}

Yesterday was National Day of Prayer. My goal for this period of my life is to be more intentional about my prayer life. I made a Prayer List (just chalkboard paper in a cheap little frame) and was very encouraged by this post on finding time to pray right in the midst. 

{something to make you laugh}

for all you Anne of Green Gables lovers out there… 

{something from the bookshelf}

This week I reviewed the book God Loves Broken People (and those who pretend they’re not) if you haven’t read the review, I encourage to jump on over and enter the giveaway as well!