Wednesday, March 05, 2014
Today is the beginning of the Lenten season. This year instead of giving up chocolate (what I used to give up as a teen), we’re adding a 40 Day Prayer Challenge book by Mark Batterson. (Draw the Circle, The 40 Day Prayer Challenge)
We’re praying for God to use us to do impossible things. One of which is for God to use us and our friends to raise an impossible amount of money for World Vision.
Here’s some background…
On April 18th, 2013 God asked my three children and me to join Him in an impossible task.
God placed on our hearts a truly impossible - by human means- goal to raise $14,437 for World Vision for these items below.
To date (March 2014) we have, along with some friends, donated $100 toward a deep well, purchased a mom and baby kit, donated $50 for a share of an orphanage, and 1/2 of a bicycle for a girl.
Most of this money came from our food budget. We choose to skip treats or purchase less to save money each month to donate to World Vision.
Please join us in praying God will provide and meet these needs! And that God would amaze my children with His provision and His using them to do something so big only God could do it!
Giving is easy. Just go to http://mygiftcatalog.worldvision.org/goto/wallacefamily
Then choose an item to give and checkout.
Please pray and give and let's together praise God for His marvelous love and provision.
Mom and baby kit- $77
Bicycle for safe travel for a young girl to school- $85
Oxen and plow- $575
Deep well and pump- $13,700
Monday, March 03, 2014
Who am I?
I'm a mom, a daughter, a friend, a sister, an aunt, a writer, an instructor, a runner, and a whole host of other things.
But who I am is so much more than the sum of my titles.
Who am I?
I survived a broken home, abuse, and so many more horrific things.
Those things are part of who I am too.
I've won awards, helped people meet Jesus, touched heaven in prayer, helped save lives, and helped point people back to Jesus.
Those amazing moments make up part of who I am too.
Who am I?
I'm the daughter of the King of kings, I'm a beloved child of my heavenly Father, and I have a Daddy who sings over me and rejoices that He made me.
I wish only that last paragraph defined me all the time.
But it doesn't.
Too often what most defines me is who I believe I am, how I see myself.
And too often I take my cues from what someone else said I am.
A failed marriage.
A lost friendship.
I listen to the whisper under the words of all the people who walked out on me.
You'll never measure up.
You'll never be good enough.
Why do I listen to that voice when I know it belongs to the father of lies?
Because it sounds like the voices of people who promised to stay and didn't. Who were supposed to love me but didn't.
And I sometimes wonder if I'll ever learn to listen to the Voice of Truth.
The One who never breaks His promises and never walks away.
I think the voices the enemy of our soul uses are too familiar. Maybe that's why we listen.
I know I'm not alone.
I've taught too many writers about lies we and our characters believe and watched eyes mist over and heads nod.
I've listened to many friends and many teens say some of the same words I said above.
The good news is I know the way out of the lie pit, the self pity pit, and the dark place where only hurt seems to define a person.
It's simple...but not easy.
And it starts with asking the right person one simple question- who am I?
But then you have to listen.
First to who you say you are. Not who you want to believe you are, but who deep down you believe you are.
Who your past seems to scream you are.
The little kid who remembers hearing he was a mistake. Or a disappointment. Or a failure. Or to blame.
The teen some boy said wasn't pretty enough or some girl said wasn't worth her time.
The young adult so bent of proving her worth, she forgot to believe it for herself.
The adult who got traded in for a new model, passed over for a promotion, or just feels invisible.
See, I can quote chapter and verse to myself and to you about who God says we are.
But until we look at who we really believe we are, until we expose those other voices for what they are- lies- we won't hear the One Voice that has so much good to say.
So my challenge this week is to get alone and get quiet long enough to ask yourself: who am I?
Who did my family say I was? Who do other voices in the past say I am? Who do I really believe I am?
Make yourself listen.
Let yourself cry.
Then get ready.
Because the next question can change everything. But only if you've gotten honest with yourself and allowed God to show you what's really in your heart.
Once you've acknowledged the lies and poured out the pain, you're ready for an even more important question.
Who do You say I am, God?
Make yourself listen.
Let yourself cry.
Then keep listening. Because this Voice is Truth. And He has so much good to say.
Monday, February 17, 2014
I hope you all were able to consider what love has to do with your everyday actions and to see much good come from those ponderings.
So my question for you this week is a simple one: how do you show love?
Agape love. God's love.
What are some practical ways to serve that, once infused with love, can change the world?
As a single, I'm learning how God can use my singleness to serve others.
Without the life I have now, I wouldn't have gone back to teaching. And I love teaching. Every week I get to pray over my students and inspire them to seek God's heart. Not just for their writing, but for their lives.
I fully believe God is changing the world for good through my teaching, both at home and at work.
For those of you who are single, how is God changing the world through you?
As a parent, we have the awesome privilege and responsibility to show and teach our children how to love with God's love. We can point them to Jesus every day- through the things that go well and through our failures too.
God uses all things to teach us and teach through us.
One way my family loves and serves together is through supporting ministries that serve the least of these: Samaritans Purse, Compassion, World Vision, Operation Christmas Child, and giving to local food banks and shelters.
Something we started doing years ago was to keep some cash in the van to give to people our paths cross who are in need. This year my children bought gloves, scarves, and hats to give away too.
I've taught my children to look people in the eyes as they give to them and to listen. Those short moments of respect are moments I pray will touch their hearts as much as the physical things we give.
It's not much at all, but these are tangible ways to say to someone that they are important and loved.
So how is God using you as a parent to inspire your family to love others through serving?
How about you teens? How can God show love through you?
So many of my students and other young people I know go on mission trips around the world or in their hometowns.
The teen and college years are amazing times of opportunity to love others through service.
But in all honesty, at every age and stage in life there are things we can do to love and serve others.
So how about you? How is God loving through you right now?
Monday, February 10, 2014
|Bible Verse Pictures|
What's love got to do with it?
Who's singing the Tina Turner song along with me? :-)
Seriously though, as thoughts turn to Valentine's Day this Friday, my thoughts are turning to this question- how much of what I do is done with love?
What does love really have to do with it?
My days include teaching my children, laughing with my kiddos, teaching high schoolers online, grading papers, talking with friends, praying, Bible study, fixing broken things around the house, exercise, training for a marathon, square dancing classes, writing, Writer's Club, grocery runs, church activities, bills, emails, meal prep, and occasionally sleeping...and sundry tasks that come up unexpectedly.
I'm sure your days are equally packed.
Have you ever considered what portion of your daily tasks are done with intentional love?
If I'm honest, too much of what I do is rote and required. I don't like that.
Thankfully, God has been changing this over the last few years of learning to be single.
For one, I no longer pay bills by rote. It is an exercise in faith and love and praise when the bills are paid and the pantry is full.
Grocery runs are a chance to crunch numbers and comparison shop to find a way to bring home a treat for my kiddos that makes them smile. Last week it was cheddar popcorn on sale that we enjoyed while laughing at a favorite TV show.
Family activities are chosen with care now. Not just because of finances, but so that the time we spend relaxing is really that- relaxing, a chance to laugh together and grow closer.
Home schooling is now a daily reminder that God provides. It's not a task but a privilege. It's always been a calling and a gift to me, but now it's even more. It's an act of faith and hope and joy to see God provide a way.
But then I think about things that have been a part of my life for so long that I do them by rote. Going to church, reading my Bible, sometimes even prayer.
There have been so many days on this path where I did these things because I had nowhere else to go, no one else to turn to.
And I'm so thankful that even when my heart hurt too much to be fully engaged, God met me there.
Now I'm finally at a place again where I'm doing these things because I love Jesus. Because I'm learning to be intentional and thoughtful and aware of what motivates me.
Of course there are still those days when I hit the alarm and beg for a few more hours sleep or a day when the responsibilities of it all don't rest on my shoulders.
And there are still days I sleep walk through, and when the day is over, I've never even thought about why I did what I did.
Then one of my kiddos stops me for a hug or a Bible verse breaks through my muddled mind or someone asks for prayer, and my heart catches- this is a chance to show love.
However you will celebrate Valentine's Day, I pray you view it as a chance to show love to someone- a child, a friend, a coworker, a stranger, yourself ...God.
Stop and consider that you are loved beyond your greatest dreams and childhood hopes. God knows all about you and rejoices over you and invites you to come and experience His forever faithful love. Each and every day.
I also pray you'll join me in considering what love has to do with it...every day.
May more and more of our everyday activities be transformed by the amazing gift and beautiful fragrance of love.
Love that makes even the smallest acts treasures.
Monday, February 03, 2014
Our next dangerous prayer is a fitting one for February: Love through me.
At first glance this prayer doesn't seem dangerous at all. Not like praying for God to change us.
But think about it a minute.
Who do you not want God to ask you to love?
If I'm gut level honest, there are people I'd rather not love. People who have hurt me so badly that I'd prefer to pray certain Psalms for but not welcome them into my life again.
So during a month where Hallmark dominates our thoughts, God loves me- and you- too much to let me ignore this selective love problem.
I wonder if I'm alone in this.
I think the first problem with my thinking here is that when I think of love, I think of the people I love the most and define love by the way I love them- I would give my life and everything I have if they need it. I can't wait to see or talk to them. I write them notes and sing goofy songs to them. I snuggle with them anytime they come near. We have silly jokes and crazy sayings that make us laugh anytime we think of them.
I'm of course talking about my children.
I also define love in terms of my family and friends- I'd do anything in my power for them. I pray for them and can't wait to see them. And I know I will continue to love them and they will love me even when they hurt me or I hurt them because forgiveness is part of real love.
But love- Biblical love- isn't butterflies and beautiful memories. Not always.
The Bible is pretty clear on what love is- love is laying down your life.
Love is dying to self so that God is glorified.
Biblical love is the cross.
Love is messy and heartbreaking and hard.
Love is sacrifice.
It's sometimes unreciprocated.
Love is God. Love is Jesus. Love is the Holy Spirit.
We have to be very careful defining love without some clear words about what love isn't.
In fact, there are some important things love isn't. Love isn't abuse- emotional, physical, or spiritual. Love isn't manipulation.
Love doesn't ignore sin or make excuses for sin- yours or someone else's.
Love isn't a doormat or a punching bag.
Love doesn't wear itself to the bone or work itself to death.
These are just my thoughts on what love is or isn't. And sometimes they get me into trouble.
Especially when I argue with God about what it means to love those I'd rather not love.
So maybe the best place to go is to the Truth. The very definition of Love- God.
He says if we love Him, we will obey Him. John 14:23
In other words, when God says do this or that, I must do it. Even if I don't want to.
Sometimes love has to let go and hand a person bound in sin over to God. And that's hard. Loving someone who doesn't love you back.
That's when love is a cross.
And I don't like it. I'd rather define love as butterflies and beautiful memories, silly songs and snuggles.
Until I get on my knees to ask forgiveness.
Then I'm overwhelmed and thankful that love is the cross, and Jesus bore it for me long before I came to be.
I'm also thankful love is so beautifully portrayed in 1 Corinthians 13...
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endure through every circumstance.....Love lasts forever. 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8
I think silly songs and snuggles pass the Biblical test. Just like wiping fevered brows and praying at bedsides.
But most of all...love is God and God is love.
How do you define love?
Monday, January 27, 2014
So far, I've shared questions and ponderings on praying dangerously. And challenged all of us, me included, to pray this first dangerous prayer:
I surrender. Continue Your good work in me. Change me.
What I'd like to do today is offer an answer to one of my deepest questions and then ask you to join me and share with others where you need prayer.
I'd love the honor of praying for you and knowing we are lifting each other up to our Lord, who is Himself the answer.
My question: How do we change what needs changing in us?
I could offer many "ten steps to a new you" lists, some of which have helped me and some have not.
I could say exercise, read the Bible more, reach out to others. All of which are good, very good, things to do.
But many of us have tried various ways to accomplish those things and many more things...and failed.
I'd like to offer another suggestion.
It's not original. It's not a life-shattering revelation.
It is where I am and what I've seen work in my life more than anything else I've ever done.
Believe in Christ and pray God's Word and don't give up.
Simple. Not easy.
Prayer is the work.
It's not all the work because sometimes we have to put feet to our faith, but prayer is what focuses us on what God wants and on who He is.
John 6:29 "Jesus told them, 'This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the One He has sent.'"
1 Thessalonians 5:17 "Never stop praying."
Something I've started that keeps me from constantly begging God for relief or provision is to pray His Word for my children and myself.
For example: We have all struggled with anger over various injustices in our life situation. So I went to the Word and asked God what to pray about this issue. Then I wrote out a prayer based on Ephesians 4:26, 1 Peter 2:23, and Romans 12:17-21.
"May my children not sin by letting anger control them, but instead entrust themselves to God who judges justly. May they not seek revenge but leave it to the Lord, and may they overcome evil with good."
It settles my heart to pray this way. To believe God hears, is good, and will answer according to His character and His will and His perfect timing.
The praying isn't the hard part for me. The believing is. Which is why I go back to the Word and affirm the truth, no matter what I feel.
Simple. Not easy.
None of us will be perfect in this...or anything else. Which is one reason we don't give up. And we look forward to heaven when the imperfect disappears, and we will see the Perfect One face to face.
So there's my answer. I hope it encourages you and inspires you to dig into the Word and pray.
Now I'd like to ask what to pray for you...and yes, I mean you.
What burden can you share that we can help you bear up under? What need do you have that we can pray God's Word for you?
Father, thank You that You hear the cries and joys and fears and hopes of Your people and are already at work in all of our circumstances. Thank You that You capture every tear in a bottle, and You treasure every one of Your children. We are noticed and cared for and cherished, even when we don't feel it. You rejoice over us, You hold us in the palm of Your hand, and You promised You will never abandon us. May we draw near to You as individuals and as a group of pray-ers, lifting each other to You. You inhabit the praises and hear the prayers of Your people, so we come and thank You for who You are and what You will do in and through and for us. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
Sunday, January 26, 2014
There's an idea I've been wrestling with for some time now that I would love to discuss...
What does it mean to live with eternity in mind?
The idea both thrills and terrifies me.
Thrills because it means having my focus on Jesus and living in His peace because I know the end of my story - the second I leave this world, I'll be forever in the presence of my holy and loving God. Until then, somehow my life will make sense, and the ugly and the joyful moments will all mix together to create something beautiful.
It's the somehow that gets me.
It scares me because unlike church rules there are no boundaries to living this life. It means staying open to whatever God wants me to do whenever He wants me to do it. And trusting Him alone to take care of me.
I don't know about you, but that blank check kind of living is hard. It's not my first choice.
I know it's what surrender means- that God is in charge and I'm not.
But how do you really live that way? At peace like Jesus in a boat in the midst of a storm.
I feel like I'm living in the eye of a hurricane right now. It's peaceful at this moment, but something more is coming that could capsize my world. It's how I've lived these last few years.
I want to be at peace and trust God has it all under control. Because His Word says He does. But it doesn't always look like He does.
Life doesn't make sense.
How do you live with eternity in mind in the midst of a crazy, uncertain world?
After years of not knowing what tomorrow will bring, I'd really like a life where I know where my next meal is coming from, that I'll have a roof over my head, where my job is secure and pays the bills, where my kids and I are safe, where I have medical insurance and can afford my insulin, and where I can serve God in a way that brings joy to others and my heart.
But life's not like that.
It's messy and unpredictable and unknown.
The reality is we don't know more than we know.
Does living with eternity in mind mean not focusing on or ignoring the messy unknown but choosing to look higher? To a reality beyond our five senses? To the things that I know are true because God said they are true?
"So we don't look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on the things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever." 2 Corinthians 4:18
What does living with eternity in mind mean?
I hope you'll join me in this dialogue. I want to learn more. You all have so much to teach.
I won't ask for a show of hands for how many people this week prayed our first dangerous prayer- I surrender. Continue Your good work in me. Change me.
I do want to ask a follow up question related to last week.
What is your big question to God?
Last week, I listed a lot of questions I've asked or am asking God...
Why? Are You really? Do You care? Do You really? Am I really? Will You really?
This week, I'm asking you... What's your big question to God? And how will His answer change you?
At the core, the big question for me is either Why? or Do I matter?
I'd love to say my big question to God is what- what do You want me to do, Lord?
That feels like a more mature, more grounded question. And in some ways it is. It's a great question.
But I think most of us have to settle some other questions first.
And those questions are important to God.
God's Word tells us to come to Him. He can handle our doubts and questions.
He already knows the deep questions of our hearts.
So I ask God questions. A lot of questions. Often.
It's no surprise to me that I have three very inquisitive children. I love that...most of the time.
I'm thankful God invites me to come and ask, knock, seek...all of the time.
Sometimes, however, God asks me to be still. To live with no answers. No game plan. No understanding of my situation and no answer to my why questions.
I wonder if sometimes the lack of answers changes me more than the answers.
The silence challenges me to be still and remember what I know.
God is good.
God loves me. Unconditionally. Forever.
God will provide.
God is for me.
God promises my life has a purpose and He has a plan.
I also wonder if what changes me most is asking the questions and continuing to ask of God until I find a place of peace in His arms. Answers or not.
So I come.
Matthew 11:28-29, "Then Jesus said, 'Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.'"
Change me, Lord.
Our first dangerous, open-ended prayer. If we are going to see the God of the impossible do what only He can do, we need our eyes and hearts open to see and receive.
I don't know about you, but I have a laundry list of things I know need to change in me before I can really see.
Questions I don't like to admit I ask.
And things I'd rather God left alone or changed in other people.
So maybe before we even start praying for God to change us, we need to get honest about what really needs to change.
Here's my list of what I'd like God to change in me:
Help me lose ten pounds.
Make me quicker to praise than complain.
Help me see people the way God sees them.
Help me forgive the way God forgives.
Make me not focused on myself but focused on Him and others.
Help me trust Him to do the impossible for me.
Help me believe God really does have a purpose and plan for my life.
Let me be even more transparent here...under those honest requests are some huge hurts.
God, do You think I'm beautiful? Is that enough?
Why does life hurt so much? Are You really at work in the mess? Do You care?
How do You really see me?
Do You really not see my sin when You look at me? Am I really completely forgiven? I don't deserve it, how is it possible?
Do You care about all of me, so much that I can rest in Your care and not worry about what I need?
Do You really love me and not just put up with me because You're God and You sort of have to love me?
Will You really use someone with my life story to change the world?
Maybe you've never asked those questions. I hope you haven't. Those questions come from deep hurt, not theological doubt.
Because even though my head and sometimes my heart knows the truth, and I can quote the Scriptures that answer those questions, there's still a frightened little girl inside who didn't get protected and wonders if there really is that protection available...for me.
See, I believe without a hint of doubt that God loves my children, my family, my friends, and others with a miraculous, unconditional love. A love that is immeasurably more than can be imagined.
I'm afraid to believe that God loves me like that because that...would change everything.
A love like that would change how I see myself. Accepted. Cherished. Precious. And in turn how I see and treat others.
A love like that would change how I think and speak, how I see circumstances.
A love like that would change how I forgive.
In a love like that I would find security that all I need will be provided because God promised. Then I would share that love with others.
A love like that would change....everything.
And it has.
But there's still more that needs to change.
Praise God His Word promises, "I am certain that God, who began the good work in you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns." Philippians 1: 6
So maybe our first dangerous prayer is better stated...
I surrender. Continue Your good work in me. Change me.
What about you? What must change in You? How will you pray?