Shift your focus to faith

To me, every hour of the day and night is an unspeakably perfect miracle.
– Walt Whitman

To fully experience the joy a life of faith can offer, we must cultivate a spirit of gratitude. Life can be hard, but the truth is: God is walking with us through it all, whether our hearts are open enough to appreciate His works and wonders or not.

Personally, I’ve been blessed to witness the mind blowing, faith-enhancing miraculous healing of my middle child from kidney disease, which doctor’s thought he’d have for his whole life.

Daniel 4:2-3: “It has seemed good to me to declare the signs and wonders which the Most High God has done for me. “How great are His signs And how mighty are His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom And His dominion is from generation to generation.”

I’ve also struggled through seasons of sorrow, where my heartfelt prayers seemed powerless to change a harsh reality I was facing.

John 16:33: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Through it all, my faith has grown into a deep appreciation not only for the awe-inspiring ways God blesses us with the desires of our hearts but also for the ways God purifies our souls through trials and tribulation.

James 1:2-4: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

I have questioned deeply what the most powerful way to share faith is. How can I share the joy of my spirituality and belief in miracles, while also being real about struggles? Let’s face it, many parts of our faith journey involve waiting on the Lord, which can feel excruciating.

We know “all things work for the good of those, who love God and are called according to His purposes,” but how do we experience this in our daily lives when we’re struggling?

This is a big question with many answers I hope to blog about over time. One thing I think helps tremendously is to cultivate a miraculous mindset.

A miraculous mindset is just a choice to intentionally focus on all the serendipitous encounters, moments of grace and mini miracles of daily life.  They’re there if we look for them, but all to often we fail to notice. 

The more we focus on God’s actions in our lives, the more we witness them and appreciate His steadfast presence in good times and bad. This increases our faith and naturally motivates us to praise Him and pray, which starts a ripple effect of receiving increasingly more grace and miracles over time. It’s that simple!

Prayer works, but we have to wait sometimes. And one way to keep our spirits up is to focus on the good and miraculous things God is doing for us in daily life.

So, the question is: what wonders is God working in your life lately? Has He given you perfect weather and sweet words from a toddler you love or arranged a chance meeting with an old friend that meant a lot to you? Has He given you a sense of His loving spiritual presence or performed a dramatic miraculous healing in your life? (I can vouch that they happen!)

To get you thinking, here are some miniature miracles I’ve experienced in recent weeks. These are actually what I consider big ones, praise God for having an amazing couple of weeks!

On a recent trip to the ocean, on our first night there we saw whales spouting from our living room window in the distance and were able to cuddle up as a family and watch them for hours. This was a total dream come true and a magical memory our whole family will always treasure. I had prayed that God show us the wonders of nature, and I believe He orchestrated that to razzle dazzle us on night one, which he proceeded to do for the entire trip. I actually think even just getting away for a vacation to such a beautiful place was a miracle with our busy lives. I cannot tell you how grateful I am for the priceless experiences we shared.

Just yesterday, I received a snail mail letter of love, appreciation and encouragement from a dear friend, as if her consistent loving presence in my life isn’t enough of a gift from God. This letter melted my heart in a big way. I’m someone, who has walked through seasons of  loneliness and experienced extreme lack of supportive community. Though I now see how God used those times to forge a deeper relationship directly with Him, they were very hard at the time. So now after all these years to be nourished with so much support from faith-filled friends is truly a miracle to me, I am so grateful!

These are just a few personal examples! I could go on about all the sweet miraculous moments of everyday life as a mother, even though my kids truly drive me crazy very often. I’ll save the grit and grace of praying through motherhood for another blog post!

But I write this to help YOU get thinking about the miniature miracles in your own life.

Prayer
God bless anyone reading this to receive an outpouring of the Holy Spirit and to be filled with the grace to realize Your Powerful Presence in every aspect of their lives. Bless them immeasurably and help them to appreciate all the gifts you are constantly pouring into them.

Reflection Questions
What beautiful thing happened to you lately that you couldn’t have orchestrated yourself? How does God work through the people and experiences of your life to bless you through good times and bad? 

Action Step
Start a gratitude journal! Write three loving things God did for you every single day before you go to bed, and watch your perception of life shift. Miracles truly are a mindset you can cultivate with a little intentionality, and you will be so glad you did. 

Share a mini miracle you’ve experienced in the comments below. We’ll praise God for all the ways He’s blessing your life and pray for you to receive ever-more grace from Him.

Do you know the feeling of being uplifted?

Christ Gave Me Wings

Did you know that poetry can be considered contemplative prayer on paper? Or in this case, contemplative prayer on a computer screen;) Dive a little bit deeper into your life of faith by pondering the meaning of the words below and reflecting on the questions afterwards. God bless you on your spiritual journey!

This poem explores themes of friendship, Christian community and taking leaps of faith. Enjoy! 

Christ gave me wings

Christ gave me wings even though I’m still on earth,
only they’re not made of feathers but friends.
They shimmer with inside jokes and thoughtful gestures.
They’re colored with personalities,
laughter and support.
If you look closely, you’ll see how glittering prayer and inspiration
are woven into their core,
strengthening them into communities and families that are powerful.
They lift me up and strengthen me to lift others too.

Christ gave me wings even though I’m still on earth,
not because I’m an angel though.
I think it’s because I stood on the edge of a cliff looking up at the stars and
down at the valley below sensing something more.
Alone and wondering what was next,
I believed in the very depth of my soul I had a future to soar to –
So I jumped,
and all these people appeared out of thin air.

I don’t have to be an angel to know the feeling of being uplifted.
It’s funny the way people can’t fly, but we do.
When we’re guided by our spirits;
When we’re brave enough to trust that invisible sense He gives us –
we find each other,
and we rise above it alldo-you-believe-god-has-a-plan-fo-ryour-life-are-you-willing-to-leap-into-the-unknown

Reflection: Do you have a strong sense of community in your life right now? Are you willing to step out of your comfort zone to surround yourself with supportive network of like minded people? I hope and pray that you are. Everyone deserves friends, who truly care about you and lift your spirits. I encourage you to keep the faith and keep searching until you find a strong sense of community!

Prayer: God bless anyone reading this to find a loving, supportive faith community to learn and celebrate life with!!

Gorgeous Chaos

Did you know that poetry can be considered contemplative prayer on paper? Or in this case, contemplative prayer on a computer screen;) Dive a little bit deeper into your life of faith by pondering the meaning of the words below and reflecting on the questions afterwards. God bless you on your spiritual journey! 

This poem explores the benefits of letting go of control to trust God with our lives. It also encourages us to live in the present moment and have gratitude for the little blessings life offers us. 

Gorgeous Chaos

There are some things we want
that we can’t work for to get.

Snow falls down from the sky on a Tuesday
and stops
that night without ever asking if we had enough
or even if we wanted it in the first place.

Of course, we did.
at least a part of us did;
the part that likes to gaze out the window at fluffy beauty raining down like joy …
the open part of us,
the awe and wonder.
The stalwart core of us that’s willing to embrace the cold and bundle up
to experience magic first hand at a moment’s notice,
oblivious to the bitter chill in the air.

www-uniteinprayer-org-8

There are things we can work for too.
we can set goals and accomplish them.
we can make money and keep things orderly.
we can stick to the plan no matter what’s falling from the sky.

I think we have a choice to make when snow comes.
It makes sense to decide it’s too cold and wet to go outside;
There really will be too much laundry.
But will we reject an outpouring of gifts from the heavens because of a little mess?

Who created this gorgeous chaos anyway?
Don’t you think He wants us to experience it?

who-created-this-gorgeous-chaos-anyway

I opened up the deepest chamber of my heart and made a choice.
Then suddenly, I felt something in my soul hop on her sled.
She slipped down to the edge of the yard faster than she expected.
I found her beaming at the bottom of the hill
with fluffy flakes swirling around her face like a picture frame,
expressing the purest joy.

Reflection: This poem is not about the snow!  It’s about accepting God’s grace, which isn’t always easy or practical. We all know God’s plan for our lives is more amazing than we can imagine, but we don’t all have the courage to follow it. Are you open to the gorgeous chaos of God’s vision for your life? Or are you missing the blessings because you’re so focused on being in control?

Prayer: God, give us the eyes to see the gifts and guidance you give us and the courage to accept them with open hearts and minds. Amen. 

 

Prayer After Loss of Father

God, please uplift those who are grieving the loss of their father today.

Help them capture favorite memories of him.

Crystalize his most distinctive characteristics in their minds.

Help them to experience the essence of who He is in their hearts, so they realize that He will always be with them in a spiritual way.

Quickly bring healing to any painful memories and bring forgiveness to any mistakes he made in his humanity.

Fill their hearts with confidence they’ll see him in heaven someday.

Through this time of loss, help them gain a deeper realization of Your love, which will always be with them.

Draw them closer to You, and surprise them with experiences of Your fatherly love here on earth.

Support them powerfully through friends and family members as they grieve.

Strengthen their relationships through this difficult time.

Inspire them to make the most of their own precious lives.

Bless their father on His journey to heaven.

In Jesus name, we pray.

Are you grieving the loss of your father today? Please share your story, and we’ll lift you all up in prayers too. 

Prayer for Unity in America

Prayer for Unity in America

For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall. – Ephesians 2:14

“We are each other’s harvest; we are each other’s business; we are each other’s magnitude and bond.”  – Gwendolyn Brooks

As a nation, we are hurting. We’ve been through so much together through this election cycle, and we’re all processing it in different ways.

God, help us begin to heal and move forward.

Where the sting of grief weighs down our souls, bring Your comfort.

Where fear of discrimination disturbs our peace of mind, fill us with trust in You.

Where unfair judgements shroud our ability to see the good in each other, help us connect at the heart of our common humanity.

Where the darkness of hatred hides within us, bring it to light and replace it with Your love.

Unite in Prayer

Remove the blinders of predjudice from our eyes; help us to see each other clearly as Your beloved children..

Give us the courage to be accountable for our actions and attitudes which harm others, and give us the strength to forgive those, who have wounded us.

Open our hearts to be kind to one another, as we learn and grow.

Strengthen us in our most broken places; Make something beautiful out of our pain.

Illuminate our minds with Your Truth.

We need Your justice, mercy and love more than ever, Lord.

We need Your wisdom, guidance and vision for the future.

We need You to create a new path for us, and fill us with the grace to follow it.

Though it feels like we’re being torn apart at the seams, we know You are with us.

Help us to rise as a stronger, more empathic people.

Awaken a Holy passion and conviction of what is right in us.

Help us unite in our desires for peace.

Give us the strength to work together for the common good.

We praise You, we thank You and we aspire only to do Your will!

In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

Please share your prayers for unity below, and we will lift them with you!

kitchen table blessing

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live. The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.
– Joy Harjo

Give us this day our daily bread
– Matthew 6:11

Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the Father’s mouth
-Matthew 4:4

God, we cannot thank you enough for the gift of our family and our home.

You know the kitchen table is  where we spend most of our time together; it is an important place to us, even sacred in our hearts.

I want to take a moment to ask if You will bless it in a special way today.

Nourish our bodies at this table. Fill our food with Your Grace, so it can give us what we need to thrive in every way.

Guide our choices to be healthy and forgive us when we don’t. Help us to remember that it’s You who sustains us, even more than the food we eat.

Infuse Your Life into our the smells, tastes and sense of togetherness we enjoy here. Make ordinary moments an extraordinary foundation for our family, Lord. Create an unshakable bond between us.

Infuse us with laughter, peace and memories to last a lifetime here, Lord.

Give us a sense of Your Presence with us and guide our conversations, so they can reflect Your Love and Goodness always.

Give us the grace to see and hear each other in an essential way, that each member of our family can feel deeply loved and appreciated for the unique spirit You created in each of us.

Fill us with gratitude, Lord for this time we share here, which is so easy to take for granted in the rush of our daily lives.

Give us patience at this table, Lord. When we drive each other crazy in the daily grind, give us the Grace for a deep breath, a kind word and forgiveness, always forgiveness.

Help us to be kind to one another Lord, give us the strength to lean into each other’s pain with compassion and empathy, no matter how we are feeling in that moment.

Make our family a blessing to others here, Lord. Open our hearts, and inspire us welcome others into this circle of trust You’re building in our family. Give us the courage to include friends and families, and help everyone here to feel blessed by Your love in a special way.

Help us to remember those who are gone here, to include family members past present and future in our conversations, to appreciate the legacy that lives on in us, that everything can be created new through Your love of us, nothing is lost, all is good.

In Jesus Name we Pray, Amen

What are your family prayer rituals around the kitchen table? We’re all in this together.

Photo credit: http://www.freeimages.com