Hearing from God, Honesty, HOPE

Corona…Ug

It seems everyone has a take on this pandemic. Everyone who’s anyone has spoken their piece. It’s all we’ve heard about for 5+ weeks. I’m going to be so real here: I’m tired of it. I’m exhausted with all of the conversations, questions and speculations, worries and doubts. My email box is full of “updates” and my IG feed is a bit redundant. I’m spent with committing to social distancing and wondering how much it really matters and quitting so I can go to the store then receiving guilt and speculation only to recommit again. I’ve had enough of it ALL!

Then I realize how outwardly I’m looking. It truly is exhausting to take in everyone else’s reactions. It really is too much to try to absorb and care about every take on this situation. It’s too much for any one person, really. And so I turn inward to hear the voice of my Father again. I need to hear His opinion and that’s it. I need to hear His perspective and take it on as my own. I need to be still and rest without letting my brain run away with me!

Time to “see the forest through the trees”!

“God is moving.” A theme I have heard over and over among the Christian crowd. He is doing an “unprecedented work”. I know… He is always moving and always amazing His people with new wonders and acts of kindness. That is who our God is! But in this moment, I need a specific word. One just for ME. I need a fresh perspective that narrows my outlook to take on each day – one at a time – and not a big picture that causes me to dream (and anyway, who can dream without being able to plan a darn thing!?). My brain usually works the other way around: I am not a detail person, I like dreaming. Now this time, I’m trading in my kaleidoscope for a magnifying glass. I want to see the details and hear the step by step instructions from the Creator of the universe, the One who made every molecule of this planet from nothing and mapped out a future full of good things for each one of us.

And so I am leaning in closer. I am hanging on His every word. I anticipate God’s very breath and listen closely for His heartbeat. I am chasing Jesus down with every fiber of my being. Prayer service? I’m there. 6 am? I’m up. Early to bed so I can rise? Yep. Bible reading WITH commentaries. All in. Good Sunday sermon? I’m listening again! What else could I possibly have that’s more important than this? What else do I want my family to know that I value most? And what else would I rather be doing WITH them? Sure we’re still eating family dinner and riding our bikes on every trail and reading alllllllll the books. And my goodness, are we ever enjoying turning our kitchen into a science lab!? (Follow along on FB for those posts.) But more than anything, I want this “break” to be about following Jesus. I want it to be about leaning into the Father and resting in His lap. I want our time to be fear-LESS and prayer-FULL. I want us all to remember WORSHIPING not worrying. I want to hear the voice of the One who calms the storm and not hear the raging sea of the media or the “masses”.

So what does it look like to lean in? Listening for God is actually something I seem to talk about it a lot, haha! It may be the single most important thing I’ve learned in my life. (And the thing that I need to practice the most!) So here’s a few previous posts on Love For All To See about LISTENING:

  • An Introduction to Hearing God: Learning more about HOW God speaks to each of us in different & unique ways.
  • Little Games I play with God Part A and Part B: Some simple ways to practice hearing from God on your own AND with the family!
  • Raising Up Prayer Warriors: More ways to pray with and FOR our kiddos and practicing hearing God’s thoughts about the future generation of warriors.
  • Learning to Listen: Prioritizing time in the new year for my resolution to LISTEN to God consistently and focusing on Him despite distraction.
  • And lastly, A Dream: A beautiful example to give us all hope that despite how much we do or don’t get the hang of listening, God still speaks… even in our dreams.

So let’s all dive in!! Please, oh please tell me what YOU hear God saying! A message meant for you might just as well speak to all of us❤❤❤

Hearing from God, Honesty, Prayer, Simplifying

Learning to Listen

We’re officially one month into 2020. It’s safe to say if you decided to do something new, you know by now whether or not you will actually be doing it for a year. Haha! Who here got a gym membership for the year and used it for a week? {Guilty!} Fortunately, I’ve got a ACTUAL new year’s resolution. One that so far I have followed through on: I committed to a practice of listening to God. This is what it looks like:

  • Spending daily time in God’s word & prayer
  • Thinking before I speak
  • Listening more than I talk {to others}
  • Listening more than I talk to God {My prayer life is getting better and better, but hearing what God has to say takes practice (& patience)!}
  • When I do have a prompting from the Holy Spirit….actually DOing it
  • Bravely speaking when I feel a word from God for others

So how’s it going? It’s hard. I have spent a bit of time avoiding the quiet. It’s much easier to talk than listen! It’s easier to hear your own voice or the voice of the real live people next to you. It’s also very easy to doubt that still, small voice.

Have you read the story of Elijah recently? He has such a unique experience hearing God.

“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. 

I Kings 19:11&12

I love how God chooses to speak to Elijah. God can certainly speak in a fire or wind or earthquake. God often speaks in nature and beauty. God speaks through other people ALL the TIME. But when God speaks through that still small voice, it’s so perfectly attuned to your heart and what you need to hear… it’s worth the work of being still and patiently waiting.

When I read the book of Revelation in the Message version of the Bible, one phrase jumps off the page over and over. John is sending 7 letters to 7 churches and he ends every letter the same. He says 7 times: “Are your ears awake? Listen. Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches.” I love the invitation to listen! And the fact that God repeats himself 7 times is no coincidence. In Hebrew, the number 7 is perfect, completion, heavenly – all reflecting back to God’s creation. Seven times God reminds us that He is always speaking. He is speaking in that still small voice through people and circumstances and everyday occurrences.

Each day I listen for what God has to say, and I act on what I hear. It’s should be as simple as that! Unfortunately, I struggle mostly with my own ideas and inhibitions. I fight myself at every turn. It’s my sin nature. I doubt and question and second-guess but it’s getting easier. I’m getting braver and God’s voice is getting louder. {Either that or it’s just more familiar! You know how a loved one’s voice can stand out over a crowd? You know when they says your name, even if dozens of other people are talking. I want God’s voice to be familiar like that! I want to hear it over a crowd. I want to know what he means when he says something because of all the time we’ve spent together practicing the same language.}

Well, friends. What was your new year’s resolution? Have you followed through? What’s the hardest part of listening for you? And how do you practice listening to God?

Fostering, Hearing from God, Honesty, Prayer, Raising Warriors, Self-Care, Simplifying

Defining the Season You’re In

I don’t know about you, but I often think of life as divided into ever-changing seasons just like my beloved Michigan. I love LoVe LOVE having all four seasons in *almost* equal parts. I love to see the new growth in spring with the hopes of warm weather and something {ANYthing} green. Summer and it’s sunshine blow me away with endless opportunities to be outdoors and do life with the people around me. Fall brings on the cozy, soul-food, fall sports weather and glorious colors. Then winter inspires me to be more whimsical and playful as the whole world turns white and crisp and enchanting with each snowfall.

Yet somehow, as much as I love change I also have a little trouble with it. I kinda don’t want where I am to end. I enjoy something new. I even seek it out- like anticipating the changes in weather every few months or calling my girl Marilee for spur-of-the-moment hair makeover. But when it comes to actually walking through a life change, I flounder. I look for affirmation that I’m moving in the right direction. Then I hold out for one more *something* from my previous season like a last summer bouquet in the fall… just in case. Am I alone here?

Here’s my real-life example of difficult change: Our family was a licensed foster family for several years. When our family closed our foster license it was a huge change in seasons. We had been working towards our license or taking placements for so many years! It was a vision that became a mission that became our everything. We ate, slept {or in our case DIDN’T sleep!} and breathed advocating for children in their hour of need. It was a trying, beautiful, and soul-shaping season for our whole family. Then it stopped. It was our decision, but that didn’t change the fact that I woke up wondering what I was going to do that day since I wasn’t “changing the world for one” anymore.

Obviously, we still had kiddos in our lives that needed us to change the world each day- both biological and adopted. And honestly, I still carry each one of those foster kiddos with me in my heart every single day! But the season had changed without me putting into words a vision for the next season.

Wishing it was Summer in South Haven but it’s Mid-December?

My dearest friend Megan tells me “The way you end one season is how you start another” and that’s true! We ended foster care stunned and aimless so we entered our season of rest {as we’ve now defined it!} the same way.

To say that we all floundered for a bit is an understatement. But after a little while, we were able to celebrate the accomplishment of that amazing season. We took a little trip and told each other “well-done!” We had set out to change the world for one and ended up with 6! Six kiddos that we got to love and hold and tuck in at night and pray for for the rest of our lives whether we ever see them again or not. Each of us also grew personally and in relationship with each other and with God. Those are pretty good reasons to celebrate! We let loose and got goofy and adventured in the wilderness all while eating really good food… and that was a true Schuiteboer-style party.

Our celebration was a turning point. We needed it to find closure and while we put our feet in post-summer Lake Superior, hiked the UP and camped without a toilet, we laughed and made new memories to build on. We redefined our idea of family from an open-door concept of inviting everyone in to a protective stance of caring for ourselves and letting God heal our hearts with lots of quiet and empty space. It’s not going to be that way forever, but for us and for a season, it was just right.

Each week after our original shift in seasons, our family would realize we needed to pull back from another commitment and that added boundaries and definition to our season. We trusted God to lead our decisions because we constantly put ourselves in His hands and offered Him our everything {and our nothing too}. At first guilt persistently knocked on my door and then comparison: “No one else seems to need rest.” “Look at all the fun they’re having.” “Everyone else is still changing the world.” {Lies! All lies!}

When I realized that what I NEEDED was rest -as essentially as the air I was breathing- and what my family needed was rest, it suddenly seemed permissible to do “nothing”. When I wrote a letter to school saying I couldn’t help in the classroom this year and we quit volunteering at church and I said no to every invite under the sun, we took all that time to breath and nap and connect with each other and do nothing. We had all sorts of space for our minds to wander and think. And we started to heal. It seemed like every time I took a step toward rest, God showed me so much more was possible! We slowly sank into a rhythm of relaxing and restoring and the season became even more sweet.

We all know change is necessary, but we still need help to do it. Supportive friends, healthy boundaries, and journaling words of definition help me to view these ever-changing seasons of life as beautiful. It also helps to look to my community to help answer the hard questions: What has my life looked like from the outside? What are my strengths & weaknesses? Do you see a theme in my life recently?

Of course no season lasts forever. It may feel like it at times, but it’s still a season and by definition must change. I think the key is to keep talking to God and then listening. Keep asking questions and hearing when He sends you answers – sometimes through a friend, a verse, an inkling or even the weather. That still, small voice that you hear in the back of your mind, it has power! God speaks specifically and strategically. He knows what we need and He knows how to communicate that need to us so we can live the journey He set before us.

The treasured perfectly shaped red leaf!

So how about you? Can you name the season you’re in? Ask God to talk to you about it and then share with us! I want to hear where you’re at and how God is moving ❤

Community, Hearing from God, HOPE, Prayer, Uncategorized

Powerful Prayer Part 4 ~ What To Do When Doubt Creeps In

Well now that you’re becoming a crazy prayer WARRIOR, you’ll undoubtedly join the ranks of those who’s faith has fallen and risen again and fallen and risen again. The truth of the matter is: The more you pray, the more likely you are to see miracles (yay!!) and the more likely you are to have questions, fears and doubt.

I love this quote from Shauna Niequist’s Savor:

“The  question is not, will my life be easy or will my heart break? But rather, when my heart breaks, will I choose to grow?”

We all have our moments of doubt. We start to think that maybe God doesn’t want to answer our prayer, or maybe He just won’t. Maybe it’s Him, maybe it’s us, but for some unknown and invisible reason, the answer is no. Honestly, the bigger your faith is, the bigger your questions will become – which is good! With questioning, and voicing our fears, comes a strengthening of our beliefs as we seek the word of God and our faith community for the answers. This actually deepens our resolve in what we believe and why – instead of just taking it at face value.

Buuuuuuut, what do we often do when faced with dissappointment, fear or doubt? We have a little temper tantrum. Yep, so often when I see my youngest lay herself down on the floor for a good scream or stamp that little foot and scrunch up her face into a pout, I think: I bet that’s what I look like when I hear “no” from God, haha!

So as I tell Miss Mya so often “Please, just use your words to tell me how you feel!” And I put on my big girl britches and “choose to grow”. I tell God my doubt and fear. Sometimes this process takes me days. The worries or anger oozes out of me from so many unknown places I never realized it had been building up so much! Sometimes it’s one good cry or shouting session and I can feel the release of my angst and put words to my fear to see it’s only that: fear. There’s no truth in it at all!

OK, but what if your fear and doubt is beyond words? What if those lies have run so deep that they’re mixed up with truth and experience and perhaps even trauma (eek!) and you have nowhere to begin and no way to start? What if you feel hopeless about a thing you hold so dear and it hurts to talk about it – even to God? What if you’re scared or lost or broken or fragile? I think we may all have such an area or season in our hearts if we are truly being honest. You are not the first, nor the last to enter this place.

This is where I have found 3 things to be helpful. (Hint: they all start with my own humility!) Essentially, I admit that I have nothing- not even the words to express my heart. I alone have no power to bring change to the world or my situation and I honestly cannot even change my beliefs. If you are still in the struggle and haven’t reached the bottom yet, this is a difficult thing! If you’re already at ground zero, it somehow seems a little easier. So, on to three things:

#1 : The Fake-It-‘Till-You-Make-It Approach

Maybe it’s not even faking anything, but just pressing forward in the direction you want to go whether you feel it or not! I surround myself with truth. I want to move toward faith so I listen to speakers of faith. I spend time with people who have big faith! I post scripture on every surface of my room/house/car/office and read or listen to TRUTH on auto-pilot until some of the thoughts I’ve chosen to “fake” become my own. (Does this qualify as self-brainwashing? If so, it works!)

#2 : Praying Scripture/Praying in the Spirit.

When I have no words, I have nothing to pray. I admit, I don’t have the answers or the solution and I get to a point where I don’t even know what I’m asking for anymore. This is where the Bible says “the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” (Romans 8:26-27) These groanings of the Spirit can be so many things. Sometimes my creative side comes through and I can paint, draw or even dance. Sometimes praying in tongues is a way to allow the spirit to do the talking and my heart finds peace. Another way is to play some soaking music and allow the Lord to speak as you rest in His presence. Just allow yourself to be.

Praying scripture is the most powerful way to fight the enemy. There is nothing stronger (especially when I have no words) than the very word of God! Our pastor just gave an incredible sermon referencing this very thing and it might just be the truth you need to fake-till-you-can-make-it! Another great resource for Praying Scripture is Beth Moore’s Praying God’s Word. Her book is an incredible list of scriptures organized by topic. If you want to pray for your marriage/anxiety/co-worker, she’s got God’s word ready for you to search and speak. I encourage you to seek the scripture and find a verse, story, or chapter that speaks to where you are right now and pray that! Our pastor gave Psalm 32 and 51 as launching points for prayer and it’s a great place to start.

#3 : Worship & Thankfulness

Worship while we’re waiting, of course! Worship fills my mind and the atmosphere around me with hope even when I’m not feeling it. It’s true that silence can be healing as well, but perhaps a balance of both is what you need?

Thankfulness is a practice of positivity. If I’ve been focusing on the negative, just naming three things I’m thankful for will switch my brain and change the focus from “Woe is me” to “Whoa, I’m blessed!” There is loads of actual research supporting this, but I’m sure you’ve heard it. Play the “Glad Game” you Pollyanna fans!

Now I have a choice, I’ve unloaded on God. (I often view it as a spew or vomit, but perhaps you’d prefer to see it as leaving baggage or burdens at the feet of a wise and capable King.) I’ve surrounded myself with what I WANT to believe and chosen to look for the good. So what next? I can leave His presence and I am truly better for the time I’ve spent. I feel lighter and less overcome already. OR I can stay there. I can choose to let Him speak truth over me. I can listen for the refreshing truth that replaces those ugly burdens. This practice can change the way my brain works to renounce those lies in the FUTURE too! I want to prevent myself from coming back to this place of doubt and despair.

Hebrews 6:19-20 The Message (MSG)

“We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It’s an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God where Jesus, running on ahead of us, has taken up his permanent post as high priest for us…”

No matter which avenue you choose, (one or all three!) just keep moving forward. Do what needs to be done so that you are choosing to GROW. As long as we trust God and HIS plan, we will come out as victors- no matter how long it takes to get there and how much “faking” it takes to finally believe.

So what are you trusting God for? What fight are you holding out hope for? What brings you back from a place of doubt? Please share so we can all stand together in faith and even benefit from other’s great ideas!!

Adoption, Fostering, Hearing from God, Prayer

Powerful Prayers Part 3 -Raising Up Prayer Warriors

Our kids are seriously powerful. Their innocence and gargantuan faith are a perfect pair when it comes to experiencing and believing God! Things that we adults just dismiss or reason away, they are able to fully embrace. I’ve got a few examples of my kids’ prayers and I hope it will inspire you to have faith as big as theirs as well as speak that same faith into the kids in your life!

When Makenna was first healed I was shocked at how she OWNED her healing. She never once hesitated telling someone she was a miracle and God was the only one who could explain it. She also immediately started praying for her 3 year old friend Caroline and believing that God had the same healing for her too. They were both 3 and Makenna told me that she wanted to hold Caroline’s hand so she could pass the healing over to her while they walked. What!? A three year old version of laying hands <3<3 Caroline hasn’t been healed yet, but we haven’t given up hope!

As we started fostering kiddos, we knew we needed to be praying for each placement before receiving them. We wanted to be sure we were leaning into God and His plans, not our own. AND we wanted to know God’s heart for each child. As a family, we asked God for a word for each child and continuously declared it over them while they were in our home. It was so fun to do this with the “existing” kiddos! I was shocked how often our words/pictures lined up or complimented each other.

Our first placement (Insert Miss Mya here!) was a difficult beginning. She cried night & day and day & night. She screamed until she had completely lost her voice and continued squeaking with her mouth wide open. I remember Makenna looking into her eyes and saying “I think her heart hurts.” She felt the heart of God in that moment when all I wanted to do was send her outside for a moment of peace.

I cannot even grasp the beauty of these two sisters!!

Another time I needed encouragement in the Mya-arena was when she was 3 and REALLY butting heads with Carter. They are both genetically first-borns and it has been a constant struggle for the whole family. I was giving Carter the pep-talk and I was honestly out of words. “Nope it’s not fair.” “Yes, she was wrong and still refuses to apologize.” “Nope, it probably won’t change EVER I mean, anytime soon…” What else could I say?? And God gave me these words: “I know you see her as bossy and stubborn, but how does God see her??” We prayed right then and there and asked God to give us both a picture. Carter was super quiet and I was doubting his investment in this exercise. Then He looked up with such a peaceful face (all anger gone!) and described Mya all grown up but with the characteristics that he usually liked about her: “Poofy hair, loud laugh…” and God showed Carter a picture of Mya being successful and filled with compassion and grace. Needless to say, his heart changed for her that day and it is a moment we STILL refer back to when things get rough between them! (Truth: The battle of the firstborns is still a constant struggle in our household!)

Another example: when our Chelsey struck out on her own and started making grown up decisions. The others were praying for her. They ask me if she’s still praying or going to church and when will she ever wear a seat belt!? And I say: “Talk to God, I’m not sure.” Then our girl will come to a basketball game and she’ll mention “You know, I’ve been watching church online and I like the story about David.” One day she even called and said “I was in a car accident and the car is totaled, but tell Carter: I was wearing my seat belt so don’t worry about me!” I’ll be honest, I never prayed for the seat belt. (Somehow I seemed to have bigger worries, ha!) But God knew what a big deal it was to Carter because Carter was telling Him all about it and I love how God proved the strength of Carter’s prayers by answering them so clearly!

One last example: our family is praying specifically for a family of 5 kids aged 6-19 at Exodus House Orphanage. Mya has remembered every single night and prayed that “they could find their father if he’s alive or he could come back to life if he’s dead.” This blows me away because the rest of us never even had such hope. We’ve been asking for a family to adopt them or for the older kids to find good jobs and take care of the rest. But I’ll admit after hearing months of Mya’s prayer, I’ve started to ask for it too. Wouldn’t it be just like God to give the very best solution!?

So let’s look for opportunities to pray with our kids. Let’s pray for crazy and outlandish things! Let’s tell our kids that their prayers change the world. What if they believed that truth and lived accordingly!? What if WE did as adults?? What if we take the time to pray for bugs on the sidewalk so that when our kids grow up they use the same habits we’ve instilled in them to pray for friends or world events? I don’t know about you, but I’m believing my kids can hold on to their innocent faith and carry it into adulthood- trusting that God will both bring people back from the dead and inspire a teenager to wear a seat belt. I want my kids to surpass my faith and change the world with their prayers even more than I want to change the world with my own prayers! Their hearts literally multiply the effects of my heart (partially because there’s 5 of them, but also because of God’s power in their lives.)

These are my prayer warriors in our favorite place to pray!
(I’m pretty sure Lake Michigan is a little corner of heaven stretched down to earth)

Intentional Ways to Pray with Kids:

  • Pray together every day without fail! (before bed, during the drive to school, before dinner) Make it routine.
  • Ask God for a specific thing for your family to pray for each day/month (Sunday: Your Pastors/Church, Monday:
    Refugees, Tuesday: Their School/Teachers, etc) Or a theme for the year. Practice being intentional so prayer doesn’t become stale or repetitive
  • Practice Prayer Coloring: color a picture of your prayers or just doodle while listening to worship music
  • Have a dance party to Bethel Kids Radio or your fave worship list and everyone decide to pray/praise God for one thing while going crazy.
  • Start a family prayer journal to keep track of your prayers. We often include prayer coloring or thoughts/words we hear from God. Remember to date it so you can look back on how God has answered your prayers!
  • Declare together every day that “My/Your Prayers Change the World!” I declare this over my kiddos while they’re sleeping and I often remind them of this when they’re worrying or upset.

A note of simplicity and encouragement: Don’t try to do it all at once! We have prayed all of these ways at some point but never all in one season. If you already pray with your kiddos daily, try adding in a worship/dance party or declaration. Prayer is not about perfection. It’s a practice just like Yoga. Take a deep breath and keep moving forward. ❤

Adoption, Hearing from God, Prayer

Powerful Prayers Part 2 -Little Games to Play with God.

I’ve gotten a lot of good feedback about Poweful Prayers, thank you all so much! Of course I’m writing for the therapy for myself and because I feel like God asked me to, but it really is encouraging to engage with all of you and hear how God has touched you or is working in your lives too!! Please keep commenting on and sharing these posts!

So now that we understand some of the basics of how God speaks, let’s practice hearing God! Let’s learn to dive into this two-way conversation and take advantage of the intimacy Jesus died to give us!

(Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com)

Probably the simplest way to learn to hear God’s voice is with immediate affirmation.  The goal of these games is to have that so you can KNOW you’re hearing God.

Right now, I want you to invite God to speak you. Pray & ask Him to speak clearly and straight to your heart. Then think of a Bible verse (You’ll think of it just like the birthday song!) and look it up. Does it speak to you? Sometimes right away you’ll think “Awesome! This has everything to do with what’s on my heart!” You know God is speaking. Sometimes not. At this point, just ask God to keep speaking throughout the day. Chances are, by the end of the day, if you look back at that verse, you’ll think “Ohhhhh that’s what He meant.” It now applies to something you’ve experienced. If not, keep asking for clarification, write it down and come back to it, maybe tomorrow. I do this with Bible verses or chapters all the time. Scripture is the most powerful truth in the world and the greatest weapon against the enemy. {You simply cannot have too much BIBLE in your life!}

Another aspect of this same game is with a favorite devo. (That’s out-dated Christian speak for a book of short “devotional” thoughts or verses… Usually a-page-a-day type of book.) I have a few favorite authors whose writing consistently speak truth to me. (My current top 2: Come Away My Beloved by Frances J Roberts & Savor by Shauna Niequist) I ask the Lord for a page number and look it up. This is my “thought for the day”. I pray and ask God to speak more about it in my heart. Sometimes it’s a wise word about something I’ve been worrying over or if a big situation happens in my day, I have that encouragement in advance to help carry me through. (Bonus if the page # is a recipe in Shauna’s Savor! Aaaaaaand now I have a meal plan.)

board center chalk chalkboard

(Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com)

So that game is full of little thoughts to you from God and you know you can trust them because it’s based in scripture. You can’t lose! However, the more you play, the more intimately God can speak and direct your heart. And the more YOU trust what you’re hearing, the more likely you are to ask specific questions.

~ Personal Experience~ I have asked God “Is my Elisee EVER going to come home!?” Honestly, I’ve doubted the word I heard from the Lord 10 years ago since it’s been so long and we’re not seeing movement or even hope. And the verses I received: John 14:18 “I will not leave you as Orphans. I will come for you”.  And Isaiah 43:5-7 “So don’t be afraid: I’m with you. I’ll round up all your scattered children, pull them in from east and west. I’ll send orders north and south: ‘Send them back. Return my sons from distant lands, my daughters from faraway places. I want them back, every last one who bears my name, every man, woman, and child Whom I created for my glory, yes, personally formed and made each one.’” Well that’s pretty specific! I guess I’ll keep hoping, haha.

Back to our game: one more level up… Take this same idea and play with a friend! Do you know someone needing encouragement? Are you having a coffee date/playdate this week? Or just to show some love!! Ask God to speak a verse for someone else. I encourage you to pre-read the verse and check with your heart. Is this an encouraging word from the Lord for this person? Yes? Send it! Maybe/Maybe Not? Ask God to clarify – did you find the right verse? Or ask Him to give you a thought or picture to send with it.) Wouldn’t you love to receive a call or text like this out of the blue!?

Guys, this is not too hard. You don’t have to be crazy to hear voices. It’s a simple little game with exponential benefits. You’ve got nothing to lose. And don’t tell me you “just don’t have the gift.” God speaks to all of His children. What kind of parent would God be to only speak to some of His kids!? You’ll hear him. Trust your gut and have a little faith. God’s going to do big things in your heart this week!

Aaaaaaaand there’s another game coming soon… 🙂

Hearing from God, Prayer

Powerful Prayers Part 2b -Little Games I Play with God



Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

I have another fun game: Treasure Hunting! This is a fun way to activate your “holy imagination” or the mental pictures that God speaks with. It could take a few minutes or a few hours for the whole exercise, so make sure you have a little extra time or some leeway in your schedule to stop if you find your treasure.

Start off by asking God for a picture of something in your mind. Sometimes a description is just as good: an orange rock, a red raincoat, a certain intersection on your drive to work. Ask for more details to be sure you’re not looking for just any old rock or tree or person. Imagine it, then ask God for a message. This may seem more difficult, but if you saw a tall woman in a red raincoat, then what would God want to say to that person? If you imagined that busy street corner downtown, what would God want you to pray for in that place? If you saw a pair of earrings, who made them or who would God want you to gift them to and why?

Next, put it on paper! The picture/description AND the message. (The very best part is when you come back after your treasure hunt and see how specific God is!!)

Now you get to hunt. Go throughout your day or head out on the adventure (this is so fun with a friend!) and keep and eye out for that person/thing/place you saw in your mind. When you find it, act on it!

The rest is up to God. Don’t expect to have the opportunity to share the Romans’ Road every time you find a treasured person and you don’t have to have an earth shattering revelation every time you pray in a new place. You are hearing God and discovering His treasure. That’s enough. Be prepared for the miraculous, of course, but know that just aligning your mind with that of Christ is the gift of a treasure hunt.

Photo by N. on Unsplash


{ Introverts!! Here is your pep talk: You’ve got guts, this is not scary. You are brave. Speak that truth to someone, give them the note, pray in that place, give the gift. Nothing bad can come of this: You are delivering God’s love to that treasure. How amazing to be God’s hands and feet! }

Need a few more simple game ideas? Write down a word or verse for each day of the week or month of the year and check in on occasion to see if God is speaking something in your heart that lines up with that word. Ask God for a word for each of your neighbors or a few of your friends. Now pray about that word in their lives. A fun follow up to this is calling those peeps and asking “Hey, what’s God doing in your life lately?” *wink*wink* Sometimes I’ll color or doodle words while I pray and send the picture to whomever I’m praying for. This is also amazing to do if you’ve got kiddos. My kids and I will pray & color together then mail out a whole packet of prayer drawings to someone. It’s like a rainbow-crayon-bomb of God’s love!

**True story: One time we all ended up drawing birds of some sort and writing something about flying and freedom. Crazy enough the person we sent the pictures to called right when she got them and said she had a dream the night before about God releasing a cage full of doves! The combination really affirmed what God was teaching her about being a voice of freedom to people who were enslaved by fear. How incredible to call out a person’s true identity in Christ!!**

So the whole idea of playing games with God is to learn how to hear God’s voice more clearly. I want to press in and learn what His heart is saying and what His hands are doing, don’t you? We want to join Him in building His Kingdom on Earth and the more frequently we listen, the more easily we hear Him, and the more we’ll be on the same page with Him! Guys, I have so many more games, I could write forever but I know this is a stolen moment where you get a break from the daily crazy to read and breathe, so I’ll keep it short. Honestly the sky is the limit!

Use your holy imagination and run wild!!

Hearing from God, Prayer

Powerful Prayers Part 1 – An Introduction to Hearing God

You guys, I just love prayer. It changes me! It changes the way I see the world. It changes how my day goes. When I pray God shifts my perspective so I can begin to understand what HE is doing all around me! I love talking to God and unloading my “stuff” into His lap, I love reading the Word with fresh understanding and I love listening to Him speak and share His heart.

My quiet time is my favorite time of the day. Of course, I’m nowhere near perfect and some days it is a sTrUgGlE to get 5 minutes with Him. Many days I completely miss out. But that’s the truth: I miss it!! I fall asleep regretting my missed opportunities and I wake up EAGER to try again because I know it’s going to be so goooooood.

As people who believe in God, we know that God wants relationship with us. He wants to teach us through His word and He hears every prayer we think or speak. I also believe God speaks directly to us.

When Jesus died on the cross the veil in the temple was torn. No longer do we need a priest to go to God on our behalf. No more sacrifices to be cleansed so that God can hear our prayers. Jesus’ blood cleansed us once and for all- no matter what we’ve done. God is accessible to every single man/woman/child on this planet…PERSONALLY. My kids will often ask me to pray with them (and I love that!) but God hears them just as well without me. And He offers them the same peace in their hearts when they pray alone than when I say the words. (Of course this does not diminish the truth of “Where two or three gather together in my name, there I am with them” Matt 18:20 & “…A cord of three strands is not easily broken”! Ecc 4:12)

We’ve established the fact that nothing comes between God and us- His people. I want to also make clear that God is alive and active in our lives. There may have been 400 years of silence between the Old and New Testament but that will never happen again. Just as God gave a rainbow of promise to Noah that the previous destruction wouldn’t return, He gave the Holy Spirit to us. A dove of peace and intercession has landed on each person who gives their heart to God. God will not be silent.

So HOW does God speak?

One practice of learning to hear God was taught to me like this: Think of the Happy Birthday Song. Maybe hum along silently in your head. Got it? Ok, sometimes God sounds like that. He’s like an almost subconscious thought that passes through your mind- familiar and peaceful. Occasionally I hear God speak this way and it’s just one word, or a song, or a sentence, or a story. I also have practiced writing like this. I’ll ask God a question and then just write without thinking and when I go back to read it, I often feel as if I’ve received a revelation from God. It stands out as something I wouldn’t have thought of but rings so true in my heart.

My beloved Smokeys❤

Another way God speaks is in pictures. Have you ever imagined your favorite vacation destination when the opposite is actually reality? Like this week when it’s snowing and blowing in Michigan, I’d like to picture the hills of Tennessee. I love the mountains and rivers and rocks when everything is green. I love the humidity and warm stillness in the forests. I can see and feel it already! Really, this is a holy imagination.

One more way we can hear from God is a little harder to describe but when God speaks through FEELING, you know it! Have you ever entered a scary situation but felt peace? Have you been too excited to sleep but felt God give you supernatural rest? I have felt sadness in a room full of happy people but when I asked God why, He brought to mind a person who might be feeling that sadness and when I prayed for them, the feeling left. This is a unique way to hear God’s heart.

Ya’ll, I’m praying this gives you inspiration to jump into prayer if you have 5 minutes and see what God says. Practice asking Him questions and listening for answers. In the next post I’ll have more fun ways for you to play games with God and keep practicing hearing him. The goal, of course, is deeper intimacy with the Father who loves us and pours out His heart for us every day.

(Please note that it’s always important to find scripture to back up what you’re hearing. Search that Bible! Check in with a friend and be sure it really sounds like something a loving and true God would say. Be sure it’s only truth you’re embracing!)

So how do you spend time with God? When do you fit it into your schedule Does it leave you feeling refilled and renewed? Does it take a lot of effort? Sometimes it just does. I get it.