The Messenger

conversationsI was taking prayer requests one day several months ago. It was the normal “please pray my tooth falls out”, “please help my parents have a good day”, “please heal my scratch”, and the ever so popular request with first graders, “please help my (insert pet of choice) not get lost”.

As I was writing the request on the board I was having my own dialogue in my head, I’m sure none of you ever do this, but this happens to me on a regular basis. It went something like this: “I should add Scott to the list. No, because then I’ll have to answer all the questions first graders have.  Thankfully God hears all prayers even those not spoken.”

It was at this point that someone else joined my conversation. “Does God really hear your prayers? You’ve been praying and asking for healing for Scott for many years.”

I responded, “Yes, I’m sure. “

“Oh, then why are you and your family struggling once again? Your husband’s neuropathy has gotten so bad he cannot work. He is applying for disability, it can take years. How are you going to make it on just your salary for years?” The uninvited guest responded.

“Oh Lord, hear my cry. I know you are our provider and you hear me.” I prayed.

However, the seed of doubt was planted.

Yes, I did this all while I was taking my students prayer requests. I was writing the last request down, and still hearing the uninvited guest’s voice in my head.

I turned the volume down on his voice and asked my students, “Anyone else have a request?”

The girl who had the first request raised her hand,  “Yes, Sweetie, do you have another request?”

“Can I pray for you and Mrs. Smith?” she asked.

I was taken back because they usually don’t ask, they just pray that I have a good day or that I’m able to teach everything that I need to.

“Of course you can pray for me. What is your request?” I responded.

“I pray that Mr. Smith has a good day and he feels good”, she stated with a big smile on her face.

At that moment I heard a soft, kind voice say, “Yes, I hear your prayers, I have you my child.”

“That’s not for Mrs. Smith, that’s for her husband!”, another student yelled. Trying to hold back the tears, I said, “a prayer for Mr. Smith is a prayer for me too.”

Later that day I sat and thanked God for answering my prayer. My student’s prayer for Scott was a prayer for me. Scott was on the list, I didn’t have to answer all the questions of why, and most importantly it shut up the voice of the uninvited guest. God did hear my prayers and He is always listening.

God spoke to me through a six-year-old little girl. She prayed my prayer for me. While I struggled with putting my request on the list and Satan trying to put doubts in my head, God prompted this little girl to pray for me. He planted my very prayer request within her on my behalf.

That night on the way home the DJ on the radio station read these verses from Philippians 4:6-7, NIV, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

I started to cry. I didn’t need to worry about Scott, money, and most of all about whether or not God heard my prayers.  There is no doubt in mind He does hear all prayers. At that moment I thanked God again and I knew that everything was going to be ok.

Oh, Heavenly Father, I thank you that you hear our prayers, and that we can come to you with ALL things. I’m also thankful that you use those around us as your messengers. I ask you to help us be ready to hear those messages from you. I pray that we can be observant and open to hear what you want us to hear. Amen.

Shannon Smith

Shannon is the mother to three wonderful children and wife to Scott for almost sixteen years.  Together their family makes their home in northern Minnesota on a 40 acre farm.  They love all things outdoors including hunting and fishing and taking care of their chickens and cow.  Shannon’s passion lies in teaching her students, writing and reading.  One day, it is her dream to write a children’s book.  Shannon’s heart is to love the Lord and be used of Him.  Shannon has her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Bemidji State University.

Shannon is the mother to three wonderful children and wife to Scott for almost sixteen years. Together their family makes their home in northern Minnesota on a 40 acre farm. They love all things outdoors including hunting and fishing and taking care of their chickens and cow. Shannon’s passion lies in teaching her students, writing and reading. One day, it is her dream to write a children’s book. Shannon’s heart is to love the Lord and be used of Him. Shannon has her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Bemidji State University.

Discouragement

Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.  For the Lord is your life… Deuteronomy 30:19b-20

discouragement1_edited-1

I went to bed last night a bit depressed and discouraged.  I tried to pray, read the Bible, and read a book that encourages me, but I fell asleep without peace.  So this morning, before I got out of bed, I asked the Lord to help me.  That’s it.  Nothing profound or highly spiritual.

And I remembered Nehemiah.  When he was discouraged, he got proactive.  He reminded the people that they had God on their side, that they could and needed to fight, and that they shouldn’t fight alone (Nehemiah 4).  So I needed to be proactive, but how?!

I had a text from a friend asking how things were going, telling me she was praying for us.  Which reminded me that I had promised to make plans with another girlfriend to go for a visit…so I sent her a text.

Then I received a text from one of my sons, sharing from his morning devotions.  It was one of the “7 Hebrew Words Every Christian Should Know” from the Bible App.  The word today was “mah” which means chaos.  The devotion was about the time that Jesus sent his disciples out across the Sea of Galilee during a storm, alone.  He sent them into chaos, but then He came to help them by walking on top of the water, showing that He is in total control of all chaos, all the storms of life (John 6).  It reminded me that we’ve been through chaos and storms before and Jesus has led us through them all.  Note that those storms didn’t go away, but we got through them by keeping our eyes on Jesus, not looking at our circumstances, but at Him, because ultimately He controls everything.

Next was my morning tea and my time in the sunshine to read the Bible.  Before I even opened the Bible I had a sip of tea and the Holy Spirit brought Anna to mind, I haven’t thought of her for years.  Anna was our next door neighbor growing up in the early 70’s.  She was my port in every storm.  She had been married to two alcoholics, both abusive men.  She had three girls from her first marriage (all teens at that time) and three boys from her second marriage (all around my age).  She was a “single parent or dual-role parent” before those phrases became popular.  She was on welfare and seldom had much food.  Her house was a mess.  Not messy or dirty, it was destroyed.  Holes in the wall, wrecked furniture, pipes leaking, and on and on.  She had no money to fix things, she had no one to help her with her kids (who were a bit out of control), and she didn’t have Jesus (yet).  But she opened her home and her heart to me whenever I needed her.  From the time I can remember, I would visit Anna every day and have a cup of tea (Red Rose, hot water cooked on the stove in a pan, not a tea kettle).  We would talk about anything and everything.  And to this day…I am a serious tea drinker.  And if things are difficult, tea is a necessity.  Thinking about Anna made me realize all the blessings I have and how strong a woman can be when she needs to be.

As I read from Deuteronomy 27:10 “Obey the Lord” I saw in the margin that at some point I had written “what we DO shows what we believe” and I thought to myself…really?  I can’t DO anything about the situation.  And then…it all came together.

I am doing, being proactive just like Nehemiah.  I am reading God’s Word, reminding myself that He is for us and He never leaves us alone. I am fasting and praying at lunch for 40 days, fighting for my family against our enemy.  I am reaching out to my friends, asking for prayer and seeking comfort and empathy as only girlfriends who have had troubles know how to do.  One of my other girlfriends reminded me recently that every time I say “I can’t take one more thing” – I do.  I take it and wrestle with it, ultimately knowing that He is in control and it’s going to be okay in the end.  One way or another.

I am actively looking at Jesus walking on the water, having faith, trusting that He is working in the chaos.  So what I’m DOING does show what I BELIEVE.  I believe that Jesus is Lord and God is sovereign, and the Holy Spirit is here with me, helping me.  Whether I feel it or not.  I don’t need to accept my discouragement and wallow in it.  I need to act on what I believe and the feelings may come, or they may not.  But right now, I’m better, and I can handle one more thing because with Christ all things are possible (Philippians 4:13).

Lord, You are the God of hope.  Please fill us with all joy and peace as we trust in You, so that we may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. AMEN!  (Romans 15:13)

Stacey Ray

Stacey is the mother to four sons ages 15 to 21, and the wife to Rex, one very understanding husband.  Stacey has a passion to help people become the best that they can be and she currently does that as a community college instructor in psychology and human development.  With this same passion in mind, her family supports many other outreaches including Children’s Vision in Bogota, Columbia (an orphanage and school) and She is Safe, India (a ministry empowering women and children to avoid human trafficking by giving them value and worth in their communities). Originally from California, Stacey and her family currently make their home in northern Minnesota where they are actively involved in their church’s mission of seeing real people make real change. Stacey’s favorite quote is by Chip Ingram:  “I am nothing without Jesus. But in Him and through Him I can do great things!”

Stacey is the mother to four sons ages 15 to 21, and the wife to Rex, one very understanding husband. Stacey has a passion to help people become the best that they can be and she currently does that as a community college instructor in psychology and human development. With this same passion in mind, her family supports many other outreaches including Children’s Vision in Bogota, Columbia (an orphanage and school) and She is Safe, India (a ministry empowering women and children to avoid human trafficking by giving them value and worth in their communities). Originally from California, Stacey and her family currently make their home in northern Minnesota where they are actively involved in their church’s mission of seeing real people make real change. Stacey’s favorite quote is by Chip Ingram: “I am nothing without Jesus. But in Him and through Him I can do great things!”

 

A Godly Heritage

This past week and a half my boys and I have been able to spend some precious time with my parents, sister, Karalyn, and her two kids. We only see each other once or maybe twice a year, so these are precious and cherished days for us as a family. We try to fit in as much shopping, talking, and playing as we can to try to catch up for all the time we have missed. However, these days can also get frustrating and exhausting and just plain crazy at times (how could you possible escape the crazy when you are crammed into a small house with four young children for three weeks?) 🙂 But to us, it’s SO worth it. For the most part, we enjoy each other and get along and we try to cherish every second of togetherness we are given.
One of the things I love while I’m here is being able to see my Grandma, my mom’s mom, who is going to be ninety-four years young next week. She’s now in the nursing home and can’t communicate much verbally, but she still knows who we are, and when we talk to her, we can see in her eyes how much she loves us and how delighted she is that we have come to see her. Growing up, my sister and I have beyond wonderful memories of summer days spent at her house, picking fresh raspberries with her and then making fresh raspberry ice cream. Watching Little House on the Prairie and I Love Lucy on her huge bean bag, playing foosball and pool, eating push-ups and ice cream sundae cups. Going to church, out to eat and shopping, running through the sprinkler, celebrating my birthday and riding tricycles and watching fireworks.
I could go on and on sharing these kinds of things, but the one thing that began to be so precious to me the older I got was how much my Grandma loved Jesus. From her earliest days, she loved and served Him and strived to share Him with others. As a young housewife and mother she taught Sunday School, hosted missionaries, prayed for people at church revival services, and sought God with all of her heart. She lived a life full of His love and kindness that touched everyone around her, including my mom and my sister and I. She read her Bible every day and as we got older, we would have family devotions with her and then pray together. One of my most precious memories is her sharing stories with me of the things God had done in her and through her. I remember listening in awe as she shared the time she was very sick and actually left her body for a few minutes. She told me she went up through a tunnel with light at the end, and when she arrived she saw a gate and a Jew singing, “When the redeemed are gathering in…” She wanted to stay, but God had other plans and she came back and made a full recovery. I was amazed as she talked of the time her and her friend were walking home from church one night when they saw a man walking quickly toward them with his hand tucked into his coat, as if hiding a gun. They began to pray in the Spirit and suddenly the man looked behind them in terror, high over their heads. In that instant, he turned around and ran away as fast as he could. She never saw what he saw, but she is confident it was an angel sent to protect them from harm. Yet in another story she told of how she had three baby boys before my mom and at least two of them died because she had rH negative blood and it caused her body to reject them. She prayed, asking and believing God for a child, and then her blood type changed miraculously on its own (this was medically documented) and she was able to get pregnant with my mom and carry her to full term successfully, as well as my aunt and uncle following some years later. As I grew I appreciated these stories even more. The things she shared inspired me, made me want to seek God myself and see His power in my own life (which I have, another article for another day!). In large part because of her, I had faith from an early age to believe in the miraculous. I stood in awe of the God she served, who was so real and so close and so personal, and Who used her to prove to me how deeply He cares about every detail of our lives. In fact, I am most likely serving Jesus today because of her example and influence. She has started a godly heritage in our family that has passed down to my mom, and now to my sister and I. And I pray we will see that continue in our children as well. What a blessing and a gift from God, to have a heritage of faith and trust in Him!
I can’t help but think of Psalm 61:5-8 when I think of my grandmother, for she is a living example of these verses:
“For You, O God, have heard my vows. You have given me the heritage of those who fear Your name. You will prolong the King’s life, his years as many generations. He shall abide before God forever. Oh, prepare mercy and truth, which shall preserve him! So I will sing praise to Your name forever…”
I am so, so thankful for God’s word and His faithfulness to those who love Him! He preserves those who trust in Him, and gives them strength and health and life for each day. So even if you have not come from a family like mine, be encouraged today that YOU can be the first to begin a godly heritage in yours! Make it your number one priority to walk with the King of Kings. To listen to Him and share His love with those you meet. To love your family with HIS love. As a quote I recently read said, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” God’s love never fails and there is no greater gift you can give to the future generation than to give them a godly heritage. So pray and love and give and be, not perfect, but perfectly in love with Jesus. Then rest in Him and watch Him work in your family. Those who trust in Him will never be put to shame, and their prayers will never go unanswered.
Sharilyn Edgerle
Sharilyn is the mother to two adorable little boys and met her husband, Enoch, through eHarmony in. She grew up and graduated high school in Montana. Together they make their home in Michigan. Sharilyn’s passion rests in sharing the love of Jesus with others through evangelism, music and writing. She has recently been asked to lead worship for a local church and started writing for the Titus II Woman blog team. Sharilyn is a graduate of Trinity Bible College with an Associates of Arts degree in Music Performance. Jeremiah 29:11-14, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord.”

Sharilyn is the mother to two adorable little boys and met her husband, Enoch, through eHarmony in. She grew up and graduated high school in Montana. Together they make their home in Michigan. Sharilyn’s passion rests in sharing the love of Jesus with others through evangelism, music and writing. She has recently been asked to lead worship for a local church and started writing for the Titus II Woman blog team. Sharilyn is a graduate of Trinity Bible College with an Associates of Arts degree in Music Performance. Jeremiah 29:11-14, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord.”