What Answered Prayer Looks Like

Rainbow sm
The drought is over as of 1:30 am this morning!

I was witness to this miracle yesterday evening while dining out with two dear friends to celebrate my birthday a little early.  Looking to the east where our water supply lake is, this storm was the one that ended our drought.  The lake received over seven billion gallons of water in 36 hours, *in just the right spot,* and it is now full and flowing over the spillway to send even more water downstream.  We have witnessed the tremendous power of water flowing in the Brazos River once again, which immediately came up thirteen feet as the rains hit.

The last two days have been quite an epic sight to witness, and my heart is so full of gratitude, especially as I can finally mark this prayer request as “answered” after four long years.   The lake was officially documented as “full” at 1:30 am while we were asleep, but this was the very first news story I heard when I turned on our local news earlier today.  I even got the picture last evening to document this wonderful event!

Thank you, God, for the rain!  West Texas is so grateful today.  What an understatement!  I never cease to be amazed at how God answers prayer when we least suspect it or are even looking for it.  I’ve had a big lesson in the power of prayer through all this after an excruciating four years of drought, and my prayer life is better for it.  😀

Update: WordPress just informed me that this is also my 200th post! What a great way to hit that small milestone today!

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The Blessing of Waiting

For some reason, the post that I published earlier today is not showing in my WordPress Reader.  So, I would like to invite you to read today’s post, The Blessing of Waiting.  I believe it was successfully published via email, so I’m not sure what the issue is with the Reader.  Thank you, dear readers!

If for some reason it was actually published in your own Reader earlier, please accept my sincere apologies for sharing this again.  It did not show up in mine after almost three hours.

The Blessing of Waiting

Earlier this week, we once again had some unexpected drama and excitement in our neighborhood from one of our neighbor families nearby.  This is a fairly common occurrence with this family, too.  As I was preparing to leave the house that morning to run a couple of quick errands, I happened to look out one of our front windows to see two police cars out front.  Based on previous experiences like this, I knew right away which house they were visiting.  I just did not know the cause this time.

It did not take long to figure out that the youngest grown son, who lives with his parents and older brother in the home, was in what my beloved grandmother would have called “a heap of trouble.”  One policeman was attempting to talk to him at the edge of the street while the other policeman was talking to his parents in their front yard.  The young man was extremely upset, to a point that did not seem normal to me when talking to a police officer.  So, that may be a bit of evidence as to the problem at hand, although I still have no clue what his real issue was.  After an hour of obviously heated discussions between officers and family members, the officers finally handcuffed the young man, frisked him and took him away in the first police vehicle.

I prayed for this family once again during that hour as I watched out my window, as well as praying for the officers and their safety.  It was obviously a very bad day for this family.  The husband has shared that their older son has been in prison twice, most recently being released earlier this year on a federal crime conviction.  Now, it seems they may walk a similar path with their younger child, too.  This family has deep, deep issues, and I pray that God will bring them all to a place of peace, reconciliation, healing and obedience soon. Hubby is good to talk to the husband fairly regularly, as he seems to be the only member of the family that is ever interested in being somewhat neighborly, and I am sure Hubby will continue to be open to talking with this man as the occasion presents itself.  I pray that God will bring others into their life that can offer real help, too.

My family also walked a very difficult path together for a time over ten years ago, and I know the feeling of having my own world turned upside down in an instant, not having a clue if the next day would even remotely resemble the days of my life that I had known to that point.  When I now see other families in turmoil, I can relate in a very real way.  It was, by far, the worst time of my life, and it all came to full fruition in the week of the 9-11 attacks, too.  I just do not think that life could have been much worse at that time, and I still feel that way today.  It was rock-bottom for me, if not for our entire family.  I’m sure our neighbors likely know this same feeling right about now, as having one or more family members with serious issues is probably one of the most stressful situations any of us will ever deal with in our lives.

In so many ways, that time period in our lives seems like a fleeting bad dream to me now.  I can hardly recognize our life as it was back then, based on the happily imperfect life we happily live today.  God performed what I consider to be a miracle healing in a family member, and my own spiritual walk forever changed, too.  If it took this nightmarish turn of events to bring me to the place I am today, then so be it.  Gods timing is always perfect, and families can (and do) heal!

One of the most difficult aspects of that time period was the endless waiting.  Waiting for breakthroughs.  Waiting for resolutions.  Waiting for God to bring clarity to that whole situation.  Waiting for just one day that was not tumultuous.  Waiting for the right people and groups to come into our lives to help.  Waiting… waiting… endless waiting.  It was maddening for me so many times.  But, I learned so much about the blessing of waiting, too.   Yes, it was a blessing to wait.  I know that now.

Bible and Cross

“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”  — Isaiah 40:31 ESV 

That hard-learned “boot-camp” lesson on waiting continues to serve me well in my life today, although I must confess that it is still so very hard at times, especially where our loved ones are concerned.  But, I also know that God is there in a very real way in every minute of that hard wait, too.  The verse above demonstrates how actively waiting on God is a productive exercise and does not constitute cowering in a closet with heads held in shame or fear.  This is my “go to” verse when I am waiting in a particular area of my life, and I frequently find myself waiting these days in one way or another.  Certainly, there are times to act, but active waiting is a big part of life now, it seems, and I don’t think that should be a big surprise.

Active waiting has been a tremendous growth opportunity for me, and slowly but surely, God is good to help me realize the true blessing of waiting.  I cannot control others when I actively wait and let God do his thing, and that is so often the lesson God has for me in many situations.  Wait… pray… have faith… trust… act only when appropriate, not nearly so often as I want to think… trust again… pray endlessly… give thanks.  What a huge lesson this has been and continues to be, and not an easy one, for sure.  But, it is the real deal.  Just read how many times in the Bible we are told to wait.  Waiting is this way is not an idle, unproductive time, as we like to define productive so many times.  It is a highly active pursuit.

In the past few years, I have been extremely blessed to have the opportunity to work directly with some ladies who have since found themselves in the position I was in back in the fall of 2001.  I will never be able to adequately put into words how this honor has impacted my life.  Each instance has been a definite God-thing, and my life is so much fuller for being a part of the lives of these special ladies during their own times of waiting.  I can hardly speak about it without welling up in tears.

Starting today, and through the entire month of November, I am going to add a personal prayer request twice a day for families that are in turmoil, especially due to drug and alcohol issues, and waiting in their own ways.  I believe that is the take-away for me from witnessing this event in my own neighborhood this week.  While this is a personal thing for me, I hope you will consider joining me, too.  I find it interesting that this will also take place in the month of Thanksgiving, and how deeply that fact speaks to me in all of this today.

Give thanks in everything…

every… single… thing.

Yes, God… with your help.

Dear God, thank you for your unbelievable grace in our lives.  May I be an instrument of your love in a tangible way today, and help me to continue to believe in and expect unbelievable miracles.

10/24/2014 Update: Sometimes God just blows me away.  One of my online “mentors” (Beth Moore) posted this on her Twitter feed on the very day this all came down.  I just saw it this morning for the first time.  It truly got my attention once again.  Praying hard for these families.

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Thanksgiving Thoughts

I am in uncharted territory right now.  I am *not* cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year.

Actually, this is not totally uncharted territory, I guess, as we opted to go out to eat one other time about five years ago when a lot of other things were happening in our family.  But, it just feels quite different this time, since we are doing this more by our choice and not by necessity.  Plus, I think I should admit that I’m feeling a little unappreciated right now as well.  It has just been a tough year as far as some local family relationships are concerned in a couple of respects.  I actually miss the cooking that I normally would be doing this week, but at least for this year, I am also enjoying some other preparations right now, as we have decided to head out-of-town to go camping on Thanksgiving afternoon for a few days once again.  We did this last year after I cooked our big feast for lunch, and it was a real treat for us.

I have also been focusing on my own “attitude of gratitude” even more this year, as I have mentioned here in earlier posts.  As I contemplate on how to really be thankful, the thought of sitting around with a few other family members and watching football and perusing Black Friday ads for hours on Thanksgiving afternoon just isn’t sitting well with me.  For me, Thanksgiving has almost eroded into a pre-Christmas shopping feast that has little resemblance to our celebrations decades ago where we got together for a big extended family celebration and spent time playing games together and really enjoyed each other’s company.  I’ve made a couple of attempts to turn the TV off, but it just has not worked.  Frankly, I’m just pretty tired of it all, to be honest.  I’m wondering if this also resonates with anyone else these days.

Last year, getting away to a remote state park really did the trick for me as far as enjoying Thanksgiving and having time to relax and really count my many blessings.  Just getting out in nature helps, for sure, but completely getting out of that old routine of football games and Black Friday ads really helped most of all.  It’s like we made a conscious choice to give that up to honor God and take some time to really be thankful, and it did so much for my soul.  It also helped me to get in a better frame of mind to keep the Christmas holiday in a proper perspective as well.  I don’t think we would have to get away to do this either if we could just turn the TV off and do some things together instead, but that just has not happened and likely will not happen, unfortunately.

I am so very blessed, and it seems appropriate to take some quality time to acknowledge these blessings at Thanksgiving.  I will also begin anew my daily gratitude list for the next year, since for me, Thanksgiving is also a wrap-up time to summarize my year of personal Thanksgiving that I’ve done in a smaller way each day, and for me, that is really something to celebrate.

Here are my Three Little Thankfuls for today.

— Freshness in the air after a wonderful and unexpected rain shower

— A perfect cup of hazelnut coffee this morning

— Black-eyed peas that I put up fresh in the summer that are now cooking on my stove

Feel free to chime in with your own Three Little Thankfuls, if you would like, too.

I am certainly looking forward to enjoying a good meal (cooked by someone else) with some family members at lunch on Thanksgiving, and we will certainly be thinking of and praying for those that are not as fortunate this year, especially those impacted by Hurricane Sandy in the northeast.  I will also continue in prayer for the restoration of family relationships that have suffered this past year, both for us and some other family members.

I wish for your, dear readers, a most blessed and happy Thanksgiving, and I invite you to begin a full-year of sincerely counting your own blessings each day, too.  If you would like a good book to help you get started, I highly recommend One Thousand Gifts from Ann Voskamp.

Evening update:  Once again, God has spoken to my heart, as I read the following passage tonight.

“We only enter into the full life if our faith gives thanks. Because how else do we accept His free gift of salvation if not with thanksgiving? Thanksgiving is the evidence of our acceptance of whatever He gives. Thanksgiving is the manifestation of our Yes! to His grace.”
Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Ar

Tuesday morning update:  This article just came out this morning in the NY Post, by Archbishop Timothy Dolan, an excellent read.

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