Quiet – The Internet Can’t Do This

Quiet – The internet doesn’t do quiet. It’s good for a lot of things, but quiet is not one of them. The internet overflows with information. It is loud and noisy. It’s a million voices. It’s full of people. (Many who would never be so obnoxious in person.) This can be a great thing. Sometimes, we need sensory overload and we need to fill our brains. Only then, can we sort through it all and make sense of the world around us.

Unfortunately, we need quiet for that part to happen. We can’t live our lives fully online, ’cause the internet doesn’t do quiet. When we’re online, we don’t see the long, quiet, thoughtful moments where people wrestled with themselves or with God or with other people. No one communicates the deep unsure quiet space where they work through things…..where they pray or where they seek guidance, but we need these times to sort through all the noise and settle in on the quiet where we find the “still small voice.”

I studied under Mike Ayers in college and he used to say, “A leader needs time to sit and stare out the window.” We’ve all got to have time to stare and imagine what life “could” be like and maybe more importantly, how it “should” be. Staring out the window gives us a chance to imagine and create a way to get to these new places, how build something new, to develop a new strategy. It allows us space to dream. Maybe daydreaming should be a bit of a discipline? When we need to make big/important decisions we need space and margin. We need quiet. Internet can’t do this.

Confession: Quiet is what I need. Soccer games, and football practices, and dance classes, and church responsibilities, and work, and family, and lifegroup, and, and, and. It all just overwhelms me. My life seems like a lot of noise. Then I come home to the internet……and it’s just more noise, more information, more, more, more. The stress builds and just piles on. I feel like screaming. I just want it to stop. I need quiet. I need margin and space so I am working on it. As a family, we are taking January off from sports – no soccer games or practices. We didn’t sign up for basketball. We’re planning to go camping. I’m also refraining from tv and much of the internet – planning to read more and write (on this blog) – to contemplate and sit and “stare out the window.” Pray for me.

I’d also encourage you to do the same – take a break from the internet. Disconnect and I believe you’ll find real connections – deep connections which the internet cannot provide. Get quiet. Listen to God. He is so much better than the internet. He has real answers without the booming voice – without all the sensory overload and confusion. He is the “still small voice.” (1 Kings 19:12)

Small Prayers

Over the last couple of years, I’ve been praying for a job. I prayed that prayer for so long and with such desperation that I quit praying for smaller things. I was focused. I knew that God would provide, but as often as I was reminded of my situation, I prayed for it. And in the end, God proved Himself once again to be faithful as our provider.

However, now that my prayers aren’t as desperate, my prayer life has changed. I got out of the habit of praying for smaller things, cause I had one really big thing to pray about. It’s not that I didn’t believe God could do something about those smaller things, it’s just that I had different priorities. I wasn’t sweating the small stuff ’cause the BIG thing was overwhelming me.

As a result, I don’t find myself praying for the smaller things now either – I almost feel guilty doing so. I mean, I know other people in desperate situations too. How can I spend time praying for a better parking space or for there to be one more sausage biscuit in the fridge when I get up in the morning? When there are so many real issues, these things seem so trivial. But here’s what I’m discovering – well. . . discovering again: If I’m not praying for the little things, and I don’t have a BIG thing, then I’m simply not praying at all. And if I’m not praying at all, then I’m not growing closer to the LORD. Maybe these little prayers help me stay close to Him. Maybe they keep me grounded and remind me that He is ALWAYS present. He is Consistently Emmanuel – Always with me.

If I’m praying small prayers, ‘it’s cause I believe God is in control of everything and that He wants to be involved in the details of it all. I love when my kids ask me to help them put their shoes on or brush their teeth. Why wouldn’t God love to help us (His children) with our little things? Of course He would. He loves us. If He’s anything like me, not only does He enjoy helping, but He also feels honored to help. Maybe our asking Him to help us with the small things is another form of worship. If He is honored and glorified in it, then that sounds like worship to me.

Prayer: LORD, help me to prayer smaller prayers. I’m great at BIG desperate prayers, but need help when it comes to small things. You are always God – always sovereign – always concerned about Your kids. Teach me to come to You as a child and to honor You by praying crazy little prayers. AMEN.

Prayer is Christmas

Christmas is the celebration of the incarnation. Jesus became a man and came to dwell on the earth as Emmanuel – “God with us.” In his book, “A Praying Life” Paul E. Miller says,

“Prayer is a moment of incarnation – God with us.” ~ Paul E. Miller

So here’s the breakdown:

Christmas = Incarnation
Prayer = Incarnation
Prayer is Christmas.

I love this idea!! We can have a little bit of Christmas…Wait…No, ALL of God means ALL of Christmas…We can have Christmas every day of the year as we spend time with God in prayer!!

In the Master’s Name

“All this we ask in the Master’s name. AMEN.” is a phrase I heard over and over as a kid – every time my family would sit down to eat. Both my parents ended their prayers with this phrase each and every night. I’m not sure if it was passed down to them or if they created it themselves, but. . . Well, I’m glad they used it. There’s just something about the way it rolled off their lips. To this day, I listen for it when my mom prays.

I wonder if there will be phrases that will remind my kids of the faith that I carry and cling to?? What will those phrases be?? Will I pass along a legacy of prayer and faith like my parents did??

PS: I asked my mom where the phrase originated, and she isn’t sure either. We’ve heard my grandmother, (mom’s mom) use it too, so our best guess is that it came from her side of the family. I wonder how far back it goes? Did my great grandmother use that phrase too? (Mom keeps forgetting to ask my grandmother, so I’m going to post this without knowing where it originated.)

Prayer & Groans

mikeA friend of mine, Michael Chapman is going through a tough time right now – watching his mother die. She’s been whispering to someone while she’s in a out of consciousness over the past few days. Mike wrote a blog describing it and shared this quote:

In his book, Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC, Frederick Buechner says this about prayer: “Everybody prays whether we think of it as praying or not. The odd silence you fall into when something very beautiful is happening or something very good or very bad. The ah-h-h-h! that sometimes floats up out of you as out of a Fourth of July crowd when the sky-rocket bursts over the water. The stammer of pain at somebody else’s pain. The stammer of joy at somebody else’s joy. Whatever words or sounds you use for sighing with over your own life. These are all prayers in their way.”

What a beautiful way to describe prayer. It reminds me of Romans 8:26, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” He knows our hearts and hears our prayers even when they’re not spoken, but the even better news is that He “groans” for us too!! I also love the imagery of the phrase in the quote saying the . . . . . “that floats up out of you.” Could that be the Spirit at work within us? I hope so.

Sometimes I close my posts with a prayer. Today, I’ll just say that something seems to be “floating up out of me” as I think about Mike’s mom, Jan. Maybe that’s the best prayer I can offer.

True Fear

KasenMiranda asked a simple question. “Where is Kasen?” I didn’t know. We had been home for a few hours from our vacation and were relaxing on the floor of the living room. Kasen had been right there with us just minutes before. We yelled for him. . . No answer or any noises from other parts of the house. We got up and started looking. There are only a couple of places he could be – the living room, the kitchen, his room, our room. (He can’t open doors yet and we keep the rest of them closed.) In a matter of seconds we had searched the whole house – panic was quick to follow. Miranda and I both were yelling his name. I checked behind the closed doors. And then the closets. Fear escalated. I remembered a story of a friend who had climbed in a trunk (Caylin Brashear) and I checked our trunk – then Kasen’s toybox. Miranda was screaming with a voice I had never heard. Shrieks. Her breathing had an unnerving “ohhh. . .” sound. She met me in the hall and screamed, “the pool.” Kasen loves the “poo” – maybe he could be there?.?. but logically, he couldn’t get the back door open. Could someone have come in the house and taken him? Could he have somehow gotten a door open? My mind raced. I was desperate. . .I ran outside slamming my face into the patio door. No. . .he wasn’t in the pool. . . Heart racing, I ran back inside.

Miranda was holding him and yelling to me that she found him. Evidently, he had been laying in his bed the whole time with his covers over his head. We had each been in his room multiple time during those moments. He likes to take Kesleigh’s binky and then run and hide getting his little oral fix ’cause he knows he’s not allowed to have one. Evidently, that’s what he had done and probably fallen asleep. Or maybe he didn’t answer our calls ’cause he was hiding.

Either way, it couldn’t have been more than 3 minutes total. But it was enough. Enough to realize how quickly things can go downhill. Enough to realize how great our love for our children is and how quickly it can turn into fear. This kind of experience changes a man.

As I look back on it I wonder, “Where was my faith during these moments? What happened to trusting in the Lord? Why did I panic so quickly?” I am a weak man. Sinful. Even at my best, I am still very frail. I need God.

Prayer: Lord, take care of my children. You have given them to me for a few years and I truly want to be a good steward. I want to be a great father and a good example. I want to protect them. I want to represent You to them. All of these things are noble thoughts, but the bottom line is that I can’t do any of these things near as well as You. Lord, cover them with Yourself. Protect them when I fail them. Hold them close and keep them safe. Lord, in the same moment that I pray for their protection, I also pray that You will ultimately use them in mighty ways. May they be arrows (Psalm 127) that break into enemy territory taking ground for Your kingdom. May they understand You and the strength they have in You so well that they are willing to follow You into situations that may even seem dangerous to others. May they be in Your hands at all times, with or without me, in every situation – that’s the safest place to be. AMEN.

Tents & a 1½-Yr-Old

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OK – he’s only 16 months, but close enough. Kasen loves tents! When we go to the Bass Pro Shop, one of his favorite things to do is to run in and out of all the display tents.

Our small group went camping at Brazos Bend this week for Spring Break so Kasen and I made a quick day trip up to spend a night with them. He loved it! His first tent camping experience was a huge success. He went on a bike ride, played with his friends, helped find a geocache, fell asleep by the campfire, and slept til about 3am. He woke up and looked around a bit then snuggled back down into his sleeping bag for the rest of the night. He was still up like an alarm clock at 7am, but it was a good night.

100_54731Side note: We did have a little scare. Kesleigh had a skin infection and we were told we might need to take her to the hospital. The good news is that the antibiotics are working. Pray for her to have continued improving health.

I’m also grateful that we were also surrounded by great, caring friends (our small group) who prayed for her and engaged in some incredible conversations around the campfire. There’s just something about a campfire that brings those things out.