Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Day Thirty One: Encouragement, Guidance, Adventure

I had an answer to prayer yesterday. It's a funny one, utterly silly. But exactly what I needed to remind me that God hears ALL our prayers and cares about every teeny aspect of our lives.

Here's the background: When I was getting ready to go on the tour for my book, I looked around and realized that most people weren't spending their days in jeans and a t-shirt. I needed to raise my game from the "slovenly writer at home" look I'd been sporting for the past two years. So I did a bit of shopping, and Steve expressed great delight at seeing his wife in fabrics other than cotton. Along with the new outfits, I got some cute jewelry. Costume pieces--nothing fancy--but totally fun. So fun, in fact, that I can't bring myself to tuck them away. I'm afraid I'll forget about them and return to my frumpy past. So, to remind me that bling is back, I've had that jewelry strewn out across my dresser and closet for the past three months. But now that I'm back home and not darting off to the airport every three days, it seems silly to have all my bedazzled items sitting around in piles. So I prayed: God, please show me where and how to store these things. Absurd, right? But then again, why NOT pray for jewelry storage solutions???

That was a couple of weeks ago. Yesterday, I went on a major cleaning binge. I'd purchased a black leather box in the office accessories section of Marshalls for Steve to put his various papers, etc. in. As I pulled it from the bag, I discovered that inside were two divided trays that would be PERFECT to hold my faux jewelry. PRAYER ANSWERED!

And as bizarre as this sounds, this discovery gave a much-needed jump-start to my flagging faith for bigger prayers. I feel like I'm back in the game. Let's pray for all kinds of stuff... God has all kinds of answers!

On a related note, I heard the cry out for thoughts about how God guides us. Fabulous, important question. I have three things to offer on these lines this morning:

First, I gave a talk on exactly this topic Sunday. Here is the link. (I sound a bit deranged with the first "Thank yooooou..." but after that, things pick up!)

Second, today's passage in Acts shows Paul & Co. receiving guidance: "Don't go there. Go here instead." It's kind of wild to see the different ways the Holy Spirit directs them.

Third, something I read today totally busted me: It asked, "What are you praying for?" and asked me to write it down, so I did. Then it said, "What Bible passages are you standing on as you pray?" Hmmm. Interesting. Embarrassing, too. I knew vaguely that the Bible says some stuff about the items on my prayer list, but in that moment, I couldn't tell you what they were. So I pulled out my Bible and looked them up.

So I'll ask you: What Bible passages are you standing on as you pray?
God makes us some great promises in the Bible, but if we don't know them, we're missing out on a chance to line our prayers up directly with his will.

A tip, if you want to try this. My FAVORITE Bible for finding stuff is Zondervan's NIV Study Bible. It has the best concordance (index) in the back that I've ever seen. That's where I was this morning, flipping through trying to find the places where God's will aligns with my dreams.

If you're new to this, or would like some help, email me (trishryanonline AT gmail DOT com) If you give me a sense of what you're praying for, I'll do my best to find you some Bible passages to stand on :)

Today's song: Wide, Wide World by Erin O'Donnell. The line "Don't let me miss my chance" is a regular on my prayer list.

It's adventure that we want
And it's what we finally get
There's nothing safe about You
But sometimes I forget
So lead me into the wide world
Don't let me miss my chance
Cause I'll blink and it will be over
And I won't pass here again.


Accidental Admin. said...

I don't know what Bible verse to stand on, but I can say that I have direction in my big wish--that husband thing that everyone's praying for.

A little back story: there is someone who I have known since childhood, who I will just call BOY. He is the first crush I ever had, and the first person who I ever thought "oh shit I am in love with this person." Even though that was not reciprocated and even though, as a silly 12 year old, everyone would have told me "girl, you don't know what that means..." had I articulated it. We were friends. His older brother was friends with my older brother, his little sister an absolute sweetheart who has grown into a wonderful woman. Our parents were--and still are--very close friends. And we grew up in the same Greek Orthodox church. BOY and I would talk on the phone and hang out whenever our families got together, and after church while our parents were still yapping away with all of the other people at church.

He turned into a rebellious Greek boy filled with angst and frustration and anger for the world far before my rebellious phase set in, and we stopped talking right around the time he told me to go drop acid because it would calm me down. I got all huffy puffy and he started skipping school and church and that was that. We did our own thing, hardly saw each other, drifted, and then went off to our respective colleges and had our respective life journeys.

Over the last couple of years, I have felt such overwhelming isolation and alone-ness and this sense of "maybe there is no God." (Because for me, the BIGGEST thing about God and faith was that no matter what I had gone through, I had this unmistakable feeling inside me that I was not entirely out on my own to create my own glory or downfall...I was watched out for, someone--some force--the God I believed in--had my back. No matter what. And I trusted in that, that all of the bad stuff was part of a plan and all of the good stuff I earned from the lessons I learned and the patience I learned through the bad stuff. And that was all part of God...)I was never really ready to say that there is *absolutely* no God; any time I would articulate it, the sadness at that thought was too huge inside me for me to believe in Godlessness. Somewhere in the fall, I began to question this greatly diminished faith I have. I didn't know what to do with it, and the question was on repeat like a broken record.

In December, I found BOY again. I found him through the internet. It's strange that I found him as I was questioning this "do I really not believe in God? Am I really entirely alone out here, to create my life as I go? what the heck is UP with that?" I say this because I had been looking for BOY quite consistently FOR YEARS. But I found him in December. He lives within a couple of hours' drive of where I grew up, just a bit south of that part of NJ (which is so far from where I am--Boston--and from where I am moving--Missouri). I found his username for a chat room. I found him online.

We talked through instant message conversations. The brief "hey, is this you? Are you still alive?" turned into many, many hours of talking and catching each other up on our lives--the good stuff and the bad stuff that our families either 1. do not know about or 2. know about and try to sweep under the rug--and at the end of it all, what I got from BOY is this unmistakable, huge, and absolute sense of acceptance for who I am, for the life I have lived, and for what I want for myself. I found myself accepting him--all of his mistakes and all--and I found something far greater than anything I had ever anticipated: the unmistakable belief that I am entirely not alone in this world.

No one knows me, or has known me for as long, as BOY knows me. He knows me from being a 10 year old kid into my teenage years, when I started to question the world around me and realize that there is something called "not enough" and "not right" and "what I want." He knows the very core of my heart that has not changed through all of my conditions and circumstances. And he knows me now--the unchanged me and the changed me.

Over this past weekend, I had this half-asleep moment on the bus coming home from the cafe where I was sitting down in air conditioning and doing work on my laptop. I had a very distinct image of me and BOY on our wedding day. I had a distinct image of the Greek Orthodox wedding ceremony that is so much a natural part of our lives and upbringing, and a much bigger image of the celebration afterwards. It wasn't about how big it was or what I was wearing or who was there or what the menu was like or any of the other things girls (ahem--women) often tend to dream of, but it was a moment when people give the toasts. Before I stood up to give my toast to life and love and dreams, I leaned over to him and told him that I loved him the moment I met him, when I was a little girl, and that if there is one constant in my life it's the way I know myself through him.'

I'm not ready for THAT just yet. I think I need a couple of years. I think HE needs a couple of years. But I am OK with that. I feel more peace around men and dating and love and BOY and the idea of getting married than I have ever felt in any point in my life. It's sort of a miracle that I feel any peace whatsoever in ANY area of my life in the middle of a crazy crazy move away from a well-paying job to the life of a graduate student and away from the life I know and a city where I have spent 1/3 of my life to a small college town in the middle of Missouri.

For all of the things I don't know that I will have worked out for a while about god and Jesus and the Bible and organized religion and whatnot, all of this moves me in a way that I can not quite articulate. (I am sitting here in my cubicle crying. My boss, thankfully, is on vacation and won't even know that his assistant is batty this morning) All I can say is that I know this is greater than me. I assign it to God. And I know that in all of this--in this strange strange journey with BOY and our on and off conversations over the last few months--the answer to my greater question, the "is there a God? What is UP with this lack of belief, anyway?" is answered.

I've got a lot of other stuff to figure out. I've got to grapple with the idea of belief and faith as a long-standing thing that can take the peacefulness I feel right now over BOY and over what I am ready for and not yet ready for instead of letting it be fleeting. I know I am not so small as to just stop there with the insight and the inspiration and the questions being answered. I know that this is only a beginning. And it calls into action so much else inside the head and heart. And now's the time to start jumping into it all.

I know this was long. I hope y'all found something worthwhile. And I thank you all for reading.

Liza said...

accidental admin, I'll pray that you and Boy get to the same place at the same time.

I'm also praying for a husband. All of my friends are married now and I really don't hang out in many places with single men. I know that I'm waiting ont God's time, but it gets harder the older I get(I'm 36), since I hope to one day have children too.

the teacher said...

today's post was wonderful, but i think the thing that i needed the most was to hear your talk trish. i feel like i do specifically ask God whether or not something is right for me or it is in His will. i have trouble listening. i listen to things that i think are signs, but may not be. i will try again, and again, ask the Lord to show me in ways that i can decipher.

stay strong ladies. i know we are praying for ourselves, but we are also praying for each other.

heiress said...

As I pray and ask God for a husband, house, and the right job, one of my favorite Bible versus is Mark 11:24 “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” I try to keep this scripture planted in my spirit at all times. Some other scriptures I like are Luke 11:9 & 18:41; Phil 1:6 & 4:6; Ep 6:18; Heb 11:1; Mat 7:7-8.

I was reading this article about “How to get your Prayers Answered” and here are some of the principles it stated:

1.Find scriptures that definitely promise you the specific thing you are praying for.

2.You must ask God for what you want and believe that you receive it. Be Specific.

3.Thank God for the answer, before you can see it.

4.Let every thought affirm that you have the answer to your prayer. Keep your mind positive.

Kim said...

what a wonderful story. It is awesome to see God's hand at work in all of our lives. Blessings to you. I hope things work out with you and your BOY.

ForstRose said...

For the job situation I stand on Psalm 23 especially vs 1, I shall not want and vs 5, You prepare a table... but the entire chapter presents the Lord as my guide and provider.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. ...

1Tim 6:17 ...nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.

and Malachi 3:10-12 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this," says the Lord of hosts, "if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it. ...

For my second prayer that I would continue to grow in my relationship with the Lord and other areas where it is needed so I can be His best for a future mate and that I will recognize the future mate that is His best for me, I am standing on several of the previous verses regarding blessings and provision from God
but I am standing especially on Psalm 37:3-6 ... Dwell in the land and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord. Trust also in Him. ...

I would like to post these passages in their entirety here rather than just snippets but due to space and time I tried to pick the phrases and sentences that are applicable to my situation in terms of who God is and therefore His nature will ultimately bring those things my way that are truly necessary and if He chooses to bless me beyond those things it will be in His wisdom that He does so which far surpasses any human wisdom.

Anyways I want to encourage everyone to look up any of these passages that pique theor interest and read not only the verses I have listed but the entire paragraph or stanza or chapter or thought flow containing them in order to get the bigger picture of context. Again the portions I have actually typed out are not the passages I listed in their entirety. Feel free to use your preferred translation when looking up these citations but FYI I am pulling from the New King James version in case anyone wonders why the wording doesn't match exactly to whatever version they may be looking at.


Sarakastic said...

I've been thinking about what Bible verse I should stand on & wasn't coming up with much until I came back & read all of the comments. Now I just have to choose which one of the great suggestions I want to use.

I love Psalm 23:1 as suggested by forstrose because I'm also praying for a job situation & the verse is profound but still easy for me to remember.

Larramie said...

This feels most appropriate:
Whatever you ask for in Prayer with faith you will receive.
Matthew 21:22