I sometimes wonder how people survive without prayer. I couldn’t make it through a single day, much less a lifetime, without prayer. For me, praying is almost like breathing.
I’m not saying that because I want you to think I am acing the Christian life. I’m not. I have to pray simply to survive and stay sane! Without prayer, I have no peace in my life.
But I do have to admit that praying is not always my first response to the difficulties that inevitably come up in life. In fact, I have a problem with panicking. A pretty big problem. Any number of things can throw me into a cycle of worry and anxiety, and I panic instead of praying. Especially as a mom who worries about my kids, I could easily be in a constant state of panic!
Most of my worries follow a little pattern that can spiral out of control without me even noticing. It springs up as a little pang of fear; it then picks up speed, swirling into worry around my brain; next it spins me downward in a funnel of anxiety, till I bottom out in a puddle of panic. When I land, I am a mess!
Depleted. Confused. Afraid.
This circle of fear, worry, anxiety, panic is something I want out of! And oh, I have tried. When the cycle starts, I have tried to just handle it myself. I have fretted about how I can fix the situation. I have come up with solution options. I have called my friends and bounced all of my ideas off of them. I’ve analyzed their answers. And I have taken action based on what I thought was the best response to the problem.
But guess what? That wasn’t the answer. All that did was create additional pressure because I had to fix everything myself! But as every human does, I failed. And when I failed, I would be thrown right back into my cycle of panic.
You know what the answer is? Look up! Focus on something much bigger and higher than anything you have going on—God. He is bigger than my child’s sickness, bigger than my flooded house, bigger than my heart surgeries, bigger than my adoptions, bigger than all of my problems.
In looking up to Him in prayer, I remember that there is nothing I am experiencing that hasn’t been experienced a million times before. This is life. And once I look up, I usually find that I have climbed high enough to look down on my situation rationally, even calmly.
When I pray, panic gives way to peace.
I was encouraged and inspired in my prayer life last fall when shown an advanced screening of the movie War Room (which will be in theaters tomorrow!). The power of prayer is so clear in this movie. I was reminded to “pray without ceasing.” To be a prayer warrior for my family. To pray fervently for God’s will on earth. To keep a record of my prayers so I can testify to others of God’s goodness. To cast all of my anxiety, panic, fear, worry, doubt, EVERYTHING on Him…because He cares.
I really don’t know what my life would look like without prayer. And you know what? I hope I never find out!
If you are a prayer warrior share your story of how you learned to pray and how you made it a part of your life.
|Posted On: August 27, 2015 Lessons I Learned||Leave a comment|
When I’m in a hurry and trying to get somewhere quickly, nothing irritates me as much as a speed bump—especially when it comes out of nowhere and takes me by surprise! While flying through life, attempting to balance the countless things on my plate, I sometimes get hit by a speed bump that reminds me I have to slow down. They’re never fun, but these speed bumps in our lives offer a perfect opportunity for reflection and evaluation.
Over the past 24 years, Mark and I have faced countless parenting speed bumps. Illnesses, friendships gone awry, academic transitions, disappointments, puberty, learning to drive, first dates, and so many others.
I remember one parenting speed bump came when my daughter Emily was in the third grade. She had loved school until then but suddenly changed out of the blue. Where she used to come home from school overflowing with stories to tell, she was now moody and distracted and didn’t seem to want to talk about her day. She became increasingly distracted, grumpy, disorganized, and her grades were slipping.
Ever the concerned mom, I began sleuthing around for clues. I found notes in her backpack that were being passed around in class and concluded that she simply must be goofing off. So I got frustrated with her. And of course, that made her frustrated with me! Until one day, I found out that her teacher’s health had been failing for months, and she had lost control of her class because she didn’t have the energy to keep up with her students. The results were chaotic. Emily thrives on structure and is easily distracted, so that environment had been very bad for her. Yet I had blamed her instead of properly evaluating the situation.
On this podcast, Mark and I talk about some of the speed bumps we have encountered in parenting and how challenges have actually strengthened our relationships with our kids.
|Posted On: August 26, 2015 Parenting||Leave a comment|
Communication is the glue that holds a marriage together. But I can tell you that during our 25 years of marriage, there have been countless times when Mark and I have come a little unglued. Early in our marriage, I struggled to navigate the sticky communication situations we sometimes found ourselves in. I had to start by figuring out how to communicate…about communication!
As crazy as it sounds, I learned that to improve our communication, we had to talk about the way (conversations were getting ugly, at times) we talk to each other. Not in the heat of the moment, but sometime later when we had both cooled down and were relaxed. And in order for me to effectively express myself to Mark, there were three questions about his communication that I had to answer for myself.
Every person has communication preferences, and it’s so important to know what those are. There are certain things Mark can say or do when we are talking that wear me out or tear me down. Over the years, I have taken the time to analyze my feelings and reactions so I know exactly what I don’t like, and how my husband should not communicate with me.
Nothing frustrates my husband more than when I tell him that I don’t like the way his communication makes me feel, but then I can’t explain what exactly bothered me. After 25 years of marriage, I know and am able to explain to Mark five ways he should not communicate with me:
With attack intensity. As a mom, I sometimes feel like every day is a series of strategic battles. So if my husband approaches me in attack mode, he may get a warrior woman reaction. This is the fight or flight response taking over. I respond much better to a gentle approach.
With his mind already made up. Mark is a lawyer, so it is impossible to argue him out of something he’s already made up his mind about. I tend to not respond well when I feel like he’s just trying to persuade me to agree with a decision he’s already made on his own, especially when it’s a family matter.
Late at night. I am too tired late at night. That’s just me. After nine o’clock, it’s not a good idea to bring up any kind of complicated conversation with me.
With criticism. Criticism in communication takes my focus away from the topic and immediately puts me on the defensive. If I feel like I’m under attack, it can undermine the trust that is crucial to healthy relationships.
With thousands of words. If Mark starts pontificating in a conversation, I get worn out listening. I need him to get to the point, or I will get lost in all of the words.
Mark can be a great communicator, and encouraging that leads to better results—for both of us! I like to give Mark positive examples of how I want to be spoken to. It helps him understand what sounds good to me, and it affirms him. For example, “When you asked me what I thought about that idea before telling me why it’s great, it really freed me up to be honest about my concerns.” Or, “Thank you for noticing that I was exhausted and asking me how you could help even though you were also busy.” It’s so important to be able to point to concrete examples of good communication!
Neither of us has mastered marriage communication, but we both try hard. Learning how we should and should not communicate with each other has been key.
How do you talk about communication in your marriage? Let us know in the comments below!
|Posted On: August 21, 2015 Marriage||Leave a comment|