Stories of faith, life, and love

Tag: prayer

There Goes My Groove

Scene from Emperor's New Groove. I'm sorry but you've thrown off the emperor's groove.

I know I usually start with a quote from a children’s book or about writing or reading, but this one is from a children’s movie. That counts, right? Besides, this quote sums up my current life situation. Let me explain.

For the last several years my husband has worked two jobs, not including pastoring and teaching martial arts. This has been difficult on the family in many ways, but we’ve made it work. God recently opened up the opportunity for a new job which allowed him to quit his part-time position. Yay!

I’m thankful for this change. I’ve been praying for this change. I know it will open him up for more time with ministry and family. It will reduce his stress levels. It will allow him to do things around the house that have been neglected for far too long.

It’s been a while since he was home regularly at night, and a lot has changed. We have only one child still living at home. He is the one child we’ve never had to do extra running for, no practices and no volunteer hours. We joke that all you have to do is occasionally throw cheese crackers into his room to keep him happy. The stress of the previous years of running has dissipated as our empty nest grows closer.

Another major change is my writing. In the last few years, I’ve moved from struggling writer to, well, still struggling writer. But now I’m a struggling published writer. With two published books and a third due to release in June 2020, I’ve added a slew of new activities to my writing resume.

No longer do I simply write and research markets. I have to do those things, learn more of the craft of writing, grow my presence in front of my intended audience, learn marketing information and techniques I never cared about before, and take care of the business side of writing. It’s a tall order, especially when I just quit my full-time job as a receptionist to help provide at-home care for my grandmother with dementia.

I had gotten into a groove. I knew when I needed to write on my manuscript. I understood when that had to be put aside to finish the day’s blog post. Research, classes, and business development all had their places. I came home from my day job tired, but most nights, I could focus and get done what needed doing. Then came the change.

With my husband home, everything is different. He asks what’s for supper. He never did that before because he got home late enough that he didn’t eat. If I suggest leftovers, he asks me if it’s because I “have to write or just because”. Does it matter? But now supper is on my to-do list.

He’s home before I am in the evenings. I feel like I should be spending time with him. But if I do, I won’t get my writing or anything else writing related done. It’s a tricky situation without a clear answer. He’s not against me writing. He’s my biggest supporter. But I struggle with drawing that line now that he’s home.

Add to this the mental and emotional strain of caring for someone with dementia, and I find myself without motivation at the end of the day. Making dinner, spending time with the husband, and needing a mental break form a perfect cocktail of reasons to choose the living room sofa instead of the office chair each night.

I’ll be honest. I don’t know the answer to my current situation. Time? It’ll probably help. Long talks about what is expected with my husband? That would probably help too, though I know it’s not high on his list of things to do! Prayer? Always a great place to start. And so I ask you to pray with me. Pray God shows me how to handle this new stage in my writing life. Pray He helps me find my groove again so I can get back to doing this thing He’s put in my heart to do.

Praying for You

Prayer has always been an important part of my life as a believer. I wouldn’t necessarily classify myself as a prayer warrior. And I’m probably not going to be the one who stops to pray with you in the middle of Wal-mart when we run into each other, unless you ask. Then I will. Otherwise, I’ll take your concern home with me and include it in my daily times of prayer. But despite these shortcomings in my praying, I know how vital prayer can be in our lives.

I’ve seen God work through prayer time and again in my own life and the lives of those around me. I’ve seen God change circumstances. I’ve seen God heal. I’ve seen God provide, lead, and strengthen through prayer. More often than not, I’ve experienced God changing my heart and mind about things through prayer. I’ve drawn close to Him through worshipful prayer. I’ve cried to Him in my darkest times. I’ve surrendered my dreams, my desires for my family, and my will to His many times through prayer. Prayer is powerful.

Prayer is also a gift. It’s our way to come to our heavenly Father with the good, the bad, and the ugly and watch what He does with it. And it’s a gift we’re meant to share with others. Scripture tells us to bear one another’s burdens and to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. One of the best ways we can do this is by taking one another to God in prayer. Consider how often Paul spoke of keeping fellow believers in prayer. It was important then, and it is important now.

Prayer isn’t like wishing on a star or rubbing the genie’s lamp. We don’t throw out everything we want and sit back and watch it fall from the sky. God’s hears and answers the prayers of those who follow Him. Scripture promises that. What it doesn’t promise is that our prayers will be answered exactly how we think it should be done. It says if we ask anything according to His will God hears us. That’s probably the hardest part of prayer. Telling God what our very human selves want out of a situation but accepting the attitude of “not my will but Yours be done” in our hearts. Those are some of the times when God’s answer might be a change of heart instead of a change of circumstance.

Another time we might require an attitude check is when God’s plan takes time. My mother and I have met daily for almost a year for prayer together. There was a family situation that came up that drove us to our knees. There was nothing we could do to change it, and the throne of God was the best place for it anyway. Like I said, it’s been almost a year. We’ve seen God moving in the situation through that time, but we’ve only recently seen more substantial change in what’s happening. We continue to pray trusting it to work out God’s will, God’s way. We’ve grown a lot through the year. So has our list of people and situations to pray for. Even when this situation is fully resolved, we will continue praying for the needs of our friends and family and praising God for what He has done, is doing, and will do in the future.

As a writer of faith, I covet your prayers for my writing ministry. I desire to do only what God would have me do in the way He would have me do it. But I also want to encourage and lift up my readers, both of my blog and my books. To do so, I’m going to ask for prayer requests during the last week of each month. I will use whatever prayer requests and praises you pass on in my prayer times during the next month. I will start with the month of August. You can put your requests and praises in the comments, or you can message me with them anytime. I look forward to praying for you!

My People

Calendar Board with Business Cards.jpgWe were created for community. We were created for relationships and interaction. It seems strange to say that as a card-carrying introvert. More than many, I value my time alone. I use time without the pressures of social interaction to recharge my batteries. But as much as I need my quiet time, I cannot deny the need to connect with people on a personal level.

My love language (and if you’ve not read the book, The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, you really should) is quality time. Sitting in front of the television together doesn’t count. I need to really connect with those I love, and that same principle carries over into my friendships. I’m happiest in social interactions when I can share something I love with others. And I don’t think I’m that different from everyone else.

As believers, God has given us the church to fill this need. Scriptures throughout the New Testament reinforce the idea that believers need each other. In Acts, the first church sold their worldly possessions to join resources with the other believers. They relied on each other for everything. In Romans, Ephesians, and Corinthians we’re told that believers are all one body made up of many parts working together for the good of everyone and the glory of God. And Hebrews tells us not to avoid coming together in worship and support of each other. We are supposed to “rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep”. (Romans 12:15).

First and foremost, I am a believer. However, it goes beyond that. I said the body is made of many members. Some of us are teachers through writing. Whether non-fiction or fiction, there is a message God has placed in our hearts to share with others. It doesn’t matter if the message is one of challenge, correction, or encouragement. It’s a message God has entrusted with us to share with other believers in a way we are passionate about. He has given us the ministry of writing to come alongside others in their journey of faith. These Christian writers are my people.

I had the opportunity to spend last week with my people, and I have never felt more at home. I wish it could’ve continued indefinitely. There were over 500 people who understood my struggles, my hopes, and my successes. They’ve faced the same frustrations and celebrated the same accomplishments. We worshiped together, learned together, and shared fellowship all week. It was an amazing time, and I don’t want to forget it.

More than the experience, I don’t want to forget the connections. God put each person I came in contact with at the conference in my life for a reason. We do understand each other, and with that shared understanding comes a responsibility. It is the same responsibility I have to the believers in my life at home. It is the call to share in each other’s successes and sorrows. It is the call to lift each one up in prayer.

I left the conference with several business cards. A lot of them have pictures on them, and, as an introvert who isn’t given to remembering names, I’m thankful for that. I’ve tacked several to the calendar boards in my office. I want to keep them handy for business needs, but it is more than that. I want to keep them in front of myself daily. I want the gentle reminder to pray for these people who have the same faith I do and the passion for sharing it through the written word. These are my people, and I need to remember to lift them up to God just as I hope they are doing for me.

By the Book: Think about the body of believers God has placed in your life. What similarities knit you together? What can you do to remind yourself to pray for them each day?

Crooked Calendars in 2019

calendarChristmas gifts added several things to my writing space this year. I got a new lap desk to use with my lap top, almost a necessity since I refuse to write at an actual desk. Although it arrived a few days after Christmas, I received the latest edition of The Christian Writers Market Guide. And even though it couldn’t be wrapped up in a shiny box under the tree, I was also given membership in ACFW. Now, if I can just find time to use the site to its fullest potential, it will help me in my writing journey.

I asked for all of these things because I believe they will be beneficial to me as an author. But there is one gift, or maybe four depending on how you look at it, that has already started helping me in more ways than I originally hoped it would. I spent part of the day after Christmas hanging four dry-erase wall calendars on my office wall behind my writing chair. Four? Yes, four. If I wanted to track that many months at a time, why didn’t I simply get a planner? I’m horrible with using planners. I start off with great intentions, but I fail before I’m out of January. Dry erase boards are different.

These four calendars help me track a quarter of the year at a time. And I put them up for a specific purpose. One of my goals for 2019 is to improve in my marketing ability. With a full-time non-writing job, it’s hard to keep on top of things. With purple representing people scheduled to be guests on my blog and orange showing times I’m scheduled to appear on other people’s blogs, a quick look at my calendars can give me all the information I need to determine where I need to step up my game and where I’m doing alright.

I also don’t have to find my calendar every time I want to record something. I grab a marker out of the marker basket hanging on the wall and fill in as much or as little detail as I want. A planner is always a bit inconvenient. You have to carry it with you at all times or go find it every time you need it. I don’t have time for that. Besides, I’m notorious for losing things. I can’t count the number of times in a week I have to grab my spare keys because my main set is not where I thought I left it.

I asked for these four calendar boards for these reasons, but they’ve also proved useful in an unexpected way. If you actually look at the boards hanging on the wall, you can see the boards on the right are about ¼ of an inch away from being level. I purposely hung the bottom right one that way so it matched the top right one. I figured it would bother me less that way! But originally, all four boards were meant to be straight and level. I measured each one with a tape measure and pencil. I even measured multiple times before drilling the holes I needed in the wall. My first attempt left me feeling pretty good about my abilities. I placed the calendar on the hooks, and it lined up perfectly. The second one deflated my ego a bit as I realized I’d miscalculated somewhere. Maybe I stepped on the end of the tape measure with more pressure and forced it further into the carpet? I don’t know. But it’s a little off.

Why didn’t I use a laser level to project a beautifully, perfectly straight line on my wall to mark my drilling spots? It makes sense. It would have been nice. My calendars would all be straight. There was just one problem. I don’t own a level. The tool I needed to do my job efficiently and completely successfully was missing from my tool box. The result is a functional wall of calendars that would drive some people crazy due to ¼ of an inch.

When I look at my calendar, I’m reminded how important the proper tools can be. In writing this doesn’t mean I can’t write without the physical tools like my wall calendars or my lap desk. These are frills that make things easier, but they aren’t the tools that will improve me as an author. Taking time to learn from and network with other authors who are farther into their writing journey can help tremendously. Reading books on the craft of writing and the marketing side of writing will help equip me to be more proficient and efficient in what I do. Taking part in local writing groups, interacting on ACFW boards, and attending conferences are all tools authors have available to do their job and do it well.

As we come into a new year, I want to become better about using the tools I have as a writer. But more important than that, I want to apply the lesson to my faith walk. I’ve been given all the tools I need to live a life of faith that will add up to hearing “well done good and faithful servant” when my time on earth is done. There are churches on every corner, apps let us take the Bible with us everywhere, devotions and Christian living books are easily found on every topic, Christian radio can fill our cars and homes with praise, and guided journals provide easy ways to track our ups and downs. But all of these are just the extras. They aren’t the tools we have to have. They are the tools we use to make the journey a more pleasant experience. They help us, but just like my tape measure and pencil were not the perfect tools for hanging my calendars, these tools alone are not the perfect tools for growing my faith. When Jesus went back to heaven, He promised help in the form of the Holy Spirit to live in the heart of each believer. The Holy Spirit teaches and corrects us. I need to commit to listening to His quiet voice with more consistency. God gave us prayer as the way to communicate directly with Him.  It’s a powerful tool that too often gets relegated to the equivalent of rubbing a genie’s lamp and making a wish. I need to be vigilant to fashion my prayers and my reasons for them after the examples given in scripture. And that’s the final tool I need in my toolbox of faith, God’s word. Without scripture we can’t get the full picture of who God is. Scripture is able to cut to the heart of the matter and show us where our motivations fall short of our loving God. It is God’s word to us about how to live like Jesus lived. It gives us encouragement, strength, comfort, and correction. It doesn’t stop at leading us to salvation. It provides the instruction we need to live a life of faith and walk in close communion with God.

Have I been using these tools the way God intended when He gifted them to me? Do I study His word, listen to the Holy Spirit, and pray with the motives of His will being done? I have all the right tools. I need to use them. What about you?

By the Book: Read the following scriptures referenced in this devotion. Matthew 25:14-23, Luke 22:41-42, John 15:26, Acts 1:8, Hebrews 4:12, 2 Timothy 3:16

© 2020 Heather Greer

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑