45 Days

“If you don’t know the Lord, we’ve been praying for you for 45 days.”

A few weeks ago, I posted that our church was observing Lent this season as a way to pray for the lost. I have been eagerly awaiting this post to tell you just how much of an impact it had.

So often, our hard work includes a lot of sowing but less reaping. We may plant seeds in God’s name, and have to trust that He has a plan for fruition. Other times, beauty grows right before our eyes. Our pastor stood with tears in his eyes last Easter Sunday morning as he told us of two men in the lives of our members who made decisions to follow Christ. Men in their sixties and seventies who have skirted the edges of relationship with God. Men who have been around Godly examples–immersed even, yet they did not take the plunge. In these 45 days, they said yes.

I had the privilege of seeing one of these men baptized this morning. His excitement brought him across the country to be with us today. It didn’t take a major life event, just lots of prayers and fasting of the faithful. Our sacrifice of soft drinks, candy, peanut butter, fast food, etc. were not in vain. Although with the eternal significance of their omission, they sound so trivial.

One man does appear to have a more urgent need to call Jesus His Savior. Just like we prayed for his salvation, we now pray for healing and comfort.

Our church is a body of praying people. If you have ever been the recipient of these prayers, you know this well. It was amazing to see how God answered us when we kicked it up a notch. My prayer life will be forever changed, and I will always practice fasting during Lent. Jesus tells us in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” As for the other countless people, named and unnamed, they have been prayed over for forty-five days by a whole congregation of believers. I fully believe we have only seen the beginning of the fruit.

Our baptisms are concluded with the words, “Many have come, and yet the pool is still not full”. We have a lot of work to do! Matthew 17:20 talks about moving mountains with our faith. Many of our family members and friends who do not know Christ can seem like mountains. They may have placed their faith in something else, or they may be missing the mark by a mile. These “mountains” can certainly be moved. God is still in the business of performing miracles. Commit yourself to praying for these people. Pray Scripture over them. Fast for them. We serve a faithful God who wants every last one of us to come to Him. Our prayers will not be in vain.

We praise God for His faithfulness, for answered prayers, and for our new brothers in Christ.

If you don’t know Christ, you’ve been prayed over for 45 days. And we aren’t stopping now.

29 Before 30

I’m closing out a decade of life. I’m turning thirty tomorrow, and I’m okay with it. I have a feeling thirty will be good. As Jenna Rink says, “thirty, flirty, and thriving”.

So many of us are scared to get a year older. We panic when our children start growing up or we grow a year closer to the senior citizen’s discount at Applebee’s. But I’m so thankful that I’m not who I was ten or fifteen years ago. I’m grateful for the lessons, even the hard ones, that have molded me into who I am today. So here are twenty-nine things I have learned before I turned thirty.

  1. It really doesn’t matter what people think. In the words of my friend, Maddie, “You do you, boo”. You want to be a vegetarian? Awesome! You want to get a tattoo? Cool. Breastfeed? Bottle feed? Have pets? Take medicine? Go on vacation? Do it. What you decide is best for you and your family is what’s best for you and your family. Everyone has an opinion, especially behind the veil of a computer screen, but their opinions are just that. Pray about your decisions, discuss them with a trusted friend who can hold you accountable, and live your life. In the words of Dr. Seuss, “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
  2. Be careful when ordering online. Still waiting on a dress from Hong Kong, circa 2010. Check the reviews. This applies to hotels too. I’m looking at you, Jo Ann and Polly. (My bad.)
  3. Go see live music. Something about hearing a band play live is good for the soul. If you love listening to a band, find out where they are playing, and go. Support their efforts. Traveling to see them adds another layer of adventure. I highly recommend it. And get good seats.
  4. Go to the theater. We need some culture in our lives! Get dressed up, feel fancy, and see a play on stage. You can find one for just about anyone. I took Hudson to see Dancing with the Stars at the Saenger in New Orleans a few months ago, and I’m so glad I did. He and I put on our Sunday best, and Daniel taught him to hold the door for me and pay for our snacks. It was a perfect lesson in being a gentleman, and we loved every minute of it.
  5. Dance! This goes back to not caring about what people think, but I’ve had to learn to let go. Some of my favorite nights are when our family turns up the music and lets loose. Is it something I would want on YouTube? No! But we enjoy ourselves without embarrassment. We laugh until our sides hurt, and it helps let go of the stress of the day.
  6. Don’t text and drive.
  7. Life isn’t easy, but it’s good. Thirty years of living has brought its fair share of heartache, but there have been lessons learned in each step of of the way. Some of the darker moments I would never ask to repeat, but I’m grateful to a God who makes beauty from our ashes (see Isaiah 61:3).
  8. Call your grandma. You don’t have forever. There are innumerable words of wisdom from this generation. Collect them now.
  9. What you eat is important. We only get one body; take care of it. Moderation is key, so enjoy the foods you eat without obsessing over calories. But make your meals count, and pay attention to labels. Grow your own produce when possible, or buy locally.
  10. Find a job you love. It may not be what you went to college for, but find that job that makes you happy to come to work each day. Being miserable is no way to live. If finances are the issue, make a goal, and do what you need to do to accomplish it.
  11. Don’t rely on credit. Remember when you were a kid, and you had to actually save money to buy something? It was such a cool feeling to finally have enough money to buy what you wanted. It also showed us what we really wanted and what was fleeting. We should do that more, too.
  12. Set goals and work to meet them. Our busy lives tend to push us toward instant gratification. We want likes right away. We want food right away. We want results right away. But good things take time. Just ask April the giraffe. If you want to accomplish something, discipline yourself to make it happen. Run a 5K or a half marathon, learn how to play piano, lose twenty pounds, learn a language, publish a book. We can’t do these things overnight, and I think we need more of that. Philippians 3:14 tells us, “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Above all, make glorifying God your highest goal.
  13. Say thank you.
  14. Read the Bible to understand it, not to check it off a list. Truly study the Bible. Pray over scripture, memorize it, ask God for understanding, and do it consistently. Not once a week, not on holidays, every day. We serve a mighty God, who has allowed us to communicate with Him whenever we want. Take advantage of that! His Word provides help in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1) and lights the way to go (Psalm 119:105).
  15. Seek purity over boundaries. We focus a lot on the rules rather than the heart. Pure hearts are shaped by what we look at, what we hear, and what we do. God’s commands aren’t to keep us from having fun, it’s to guard our hearts and mold us into Christ’s image. Check your heart before the rulebook.
  16. Apologize and forgive. Don’t hold onto bitterness and don’t be the reason someone harbors resentment. (see Ephesians 4:26, Colossians 3:13.)
  17. Spend time outside. We really need to appreciate what God created a lot more often. Fluorescent lights are depressing. But wear sunscreen.
  18. You have a voice. If you need to speak, speak up. If you have something to add, if you can advocate for someone, if you can share Jesus with someone, say it loud and proud. Don’t hide in embarrassment or shame. Use your God-given voice.
  19. It never hurts to ask. You already have a no.
  20. Pay attention to people. Let someone know you noticed her haircut. Compliment your friend’s new shirt. If your coworker lost ten pounds, tell her the hard work has paid off! Follow up with someone if he or she expressed a hardship going on-it’s not only about us.
  21. Always acknowledge when someone enters the room. I read this advice before I got married as a suggestion for a happy marriage. Even if it’s a smile with eye contact, recognize the other person’s presence. Say good morning to your coworkers when you get the office. Be a good human.
  22. Share. We have too much. If someone needs a baby crib and you’re not having children, let someone else use it. Let your neighbors share your lawn mower. Bring meals to the hungry. Let your friends borrow your tools and books. Let’s go back to community.
  23. A tattoo won’t ruin your life. I don’t have one, but I love people who do.
  24. If you want to know what’s going on in the lives of people at church, ask for prayer requests in children’s church.
  25. There is always something to be grateful for.
  26. It’s okay to cry. (I’m still working on this.)
  27. People may not remember your name, but they will remember how you treated them. For the longest time, a similar quote hung in the break room at work. And it’s true. When you genuinely care for someone, that’s hard to forget. Make an impact with your words and actions, not your name tag.
  28. Don’t be too serious all the time. Play, create, laugh, smile. It’s okay and encouraged to have fun.
  29. Do your best. No matter what happens, as long as you give it your all, that’s all you can do. You cannot give 110%.

Age is just a number, right?

A great way to say Happy Birthday!