Flash Fiction Challenge

Today’s post is a fun one! It is in response to a challenge from one of my fellow bloggers. Stephen and his family live in Ireland and he writes one of the most honest blogs I’ve ever read! He is also on the tail end of writing a novel and he runs marathons! Check out his blog at https://fracturedfaithblog.com

The Challenge? To write a short story (Or flash fiction piece) based on a discarded receipt he found, while wandering the stores of Belfast. This particular person purchased a peeler, and two prepared fruit cups. Interesting combo. Here’s my take on what happened:

That One Stinkin’, Waste of My Time, Rotten Apple

It all started with that one rotten apple. And my kid of course. I swear, this kid is going to make me loose my mind (or quite possibly a limb for that matter).

We have pop tarts for crying out loud! But what does the two-year-old want?

“Apo! Apo!”

Try to get him to eat something healthy any other day and it gets chucked across the room… anything we don’t have time for, I guess!

OK…maybe it started a little earlier than the apple.

I wake to a horn beeping loudly outside my apartment. Groggily opening my eyes, panick sets in as I realize I slept in an hour later than anticipated. Great. I had precisely fifteen minutes to get out of bed, throw our clothes on, eat, drop the kid off at daycare and be at work. As a single mom to the world most stubborn two year old IN THE WORLD, this is definitely NOT happening.

I should’ve used my better sense and just called in sick, but I like a good challenge, so why not give it a shot?

First step? Wake the beast. Before he can even get the second eye open he’s asking for cartoons. Fine. Cheap babysitting, so I can get ready. I’m dressed, hair done, make up done in three minutes flat. What can I say? I’ve had practice. Now for the hard part.

I pick up his favourite T-shirt, a pair of jeans and some socks. I don’t want any struggles today. He takes one glance at my selection as I approach him, promptly removes his thumb from his mouth and says, “No.”

No??? I roll my eyes. I want to shake the kid.

Instead I respond, “Then you pick your shirt sweetie.”

Thumb comes out again: “No.”

Oh for crying out loud! I glance at the time. We have now have eight minutes to go. I’m out of breath by the time I come back, holding at least a dozen selections of outfits. Surely one of them…

He proceeds to pick up each one and throw them on the floor. This takes two minutes. Finally…are you kidding me? He picks the one I brought in the first place!

Whatever! We have to go. I change him in a record breaking 35 seconds.

I pull out a pop tart for him to munch on the way. He spies the package in my and and begins shaking his head. No buddy! Not now…Please no!

“Apo” he points to one of the apples on our counter. Fine. I pick it up and hand it to him.

“We got to go now bud! Come on!”

Suddenly he holds it out. What now??

“Ucky peel! Ucky peel.”

Seriously. Who raised this kid? Don’t answer that.

I look all over. Where is that peeler? Today of all days!! I now have one minute to get on the car. Finally I grab a knife, it’s a dull one but it’ll have to do. I begin to peel at lightening speeds, we are going to make…it.

I see it before I feel it. My knuckle is half gone. Blood is everywhere. On the knife. On the counter. On that one, stinkin’, waste-of-my-time, rotten apple.

I stumble hastily around the kitchen, looking for something to stop the blood. A box of tissues. Perfect. I wrap my hand in 20 of them. The blood is just pouring through. My kitchen looks like a scene from a Stephen King novel. As best I can, I cast up my hand in more tissues and quickly seal the masterpiece with…with what?

I desperately felt around with my good hand in a drawer filled with odds and ends. Finally, I find the duct tape. Wrapping and cutting my with my left hand certainly isn’t a walk in the park but I do my best. And hey, on the bright side, I now have an excuse for being late. I watch as the tissue around my hand begins to turn red… This will definitely need a visit to the ER.

After another painful two minutes (literally) I coax my favourite (and least favourite at the moment) kiddo onto the car. I now just need to drop him off at daycare and get to the ER.

“I’m hungry!” Comes the cry from the backseat.

Right.

In all the chaos I forgot to feed the boy. I look around me. Drive through? Nope, none close by. Then I spot it: The Tesco express.

I don’t even bother to blink. The car behind me slams on its horn. But I don’t care. I am a woman on a mission. I pull directly in front of the store and put on the four ways…no time to park, my bandages are now leaking. Slinging my child over my shoulder like a sack of flour, I march into the store.

Just my luck. Prepared fruit right at the side. I grab two cases one for me and the little tyke. Then I march to the check out. On display as I move to the line is the deal of the week. Of course it’s a peeler. I shake my head, chuckling to myself as I add it to my purchase.

The cashier looks at my blood soaked wrappings, and then her eyes slowly drift to the peeler. As if maybe she shouldn’t let me through.

“Just don’t ask.” I say.

 

Advertisements

Skeletons at a Buffet- A Reflection on the Summer Prayer Challenge

I love camping.

I hate camping for too long.

Presently, I smell like a mix of campfire, dirty dishrag, wet dog and human body odour. My lower back cramps and aches as I adjust to life without a pillow top mattress and goose down pillows. Instead of my usual devotional palace, I am sitting in a crowded bed, with a mug of terrible tasting coffee in hand, grasped by a finger which was sliced open and wrapped tightly in bandages (the consequence of groping around in the darkness and finding a razor instead of my flashlight.) My body is feeling the effects of living through seven nights of restless, short nights. In fact, before I hid myself in this cramped but quiet space, it was more dangerous to come across my path than any of the creatures you may find out here in the wild. I am irritable when my body feels uncomfortable.

And yet, now as I rest with Jesus, the comfort in my soul overflows. For this summer I have learnt the secret to thankfulness.

And it’s easy: Ungratefulness comes from staring at my problems. A heart of gratitude comes from staring at God.

It’s really that simple.

It’s as though I was stuck in this depressive state because I really did have a load of very real, very heavy burdens. It was a load far too heavy for me to carry and now and then, when I find myself picking it up again, I wonder how in the world it didn’t altogether crush me.

We weren’t meant to carry these things; we were meant to walk with God, to stare at him like the father he is and simply, trusting like a child watch him as he saves the day. Over and over and over again.

Helpless, but completely trusting, exactly like a child.

Some of you may think that I’m over simplifying things, I would respond that maybe we are so stressed and overwhelmed because we over complicate things.

Bad things happen to good people.  According to God‘s word, this shouldn’t surprise us…yet it does! Time and time again it causes us to question God’s love, God’s goodness.

Perhaps, instead of asking ourselves: “Why is God allowing this to happen?”  We should be asking God: “What are you trying to teach me through this situation?”

I’m starting to see that God allows these trials not for us just to survive but to shape us, to grow us for OUR good. Hebrews 2:10 says that through suffering, Jesus became a perfect leader! If Jesus, who is without sin, needed to suffer, how much more do we need suffering to learn!

But how do we learn what God is trying to teach us instead of being crushed underneath the weight of our trials? It’s all about the gift of the Holy Spirit and Prayer.

Picture a starving man who has survived outside of a buffet restaurant by digging through the dumpsters and finding scraps of leftovers to gourge on.

One day the owner of the buffet notices him and stops him. “Come!” The owner calls to him, “Come and eat all you could ever want! For free! All I ask is that you work for me, here at the buffet, and bring others in to eat!”

The skeleton comes in to dine for a while, but soon forgets about this offer and goes back to digging through dumpsters, only going in once and a while to eat when the hunger pains get overwhelming.

This is essentially how we treat Christ. Here we are, tired and half starved. We know that something’s not right yet we continue to feed on our garbage over and over again: worry, planning, stress, coping mechanisms and bad habits to drown out our sorrows, addictions, media and entertainment to distract our anxious minds…But we refuse to go to the buffet. We refuse to eat the real food! We refuse to ask God for peace which he longs to give us! We forget the times in the past where God has filled us fuller than we could ever imagine.

Some of us may not eat out of the dumpsters, but we rely on others to bring us their leftovers. They’ve spent the time in God’s presence and we live off of the crumbs they bring back to us.

Why not go for ourselves to meet with God?

It’s all right here. Look to Christ and worship. See the magnitude of who he is! Read his word in wonder! Remember what he has done in the past. Remember that he is not in the business of bringing us comfort and wealth, but in shaping us to look like him. Don’t just come when you’re starving, come daily to eat. He longs to provide for your needs. Ask him the hard questions. Trust in his answers.

The last two weeks of the prayer challenge were spent hidden away from the social media side of it, because I need this for me. I long for this to become so much more than just ten weeks of prayer; for it to turn into a year, a decade, a lifetime prayer challenge! No longer a skeleton bent on survival, but a healthy thriving individual able to bring others to the buffet.

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let anyone who hears this say, “Come.” Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life.” Revelation 22:17

Summer Prayer Challenge – Week 8

This week, I feel something shifting in my heart. It’s that struggle again…This was no easy challenge for me. I am tired of posting. My insomnia has returned this past week, which means my early quiet times with God are usually cut quite short. My prayers are scattered throughout the day, often interrupted by our busy schedule or children’s needs.

For those of you thinking I must be someone super spiritual, or amazing to pull this one off, trust me: I am NOT super anything. 

I am simply determined.

And desperate.

And somewhat needy.

What I long for is a touch from God. Without soaking in his love each day, I feel empty. I naturally become someone who works and works and works, yet find myself unsatisfied and wondering if I am doing enough. Wondering: Am I enough?

Last week, I found social media was draining me. I was exhausted and saddened at the hours I was throwing away, and while some of those hours spent online have been super productive; encouraging, connecting and building others up…other hours were spent not so wisely…checking out “likes”, getting sucked in to reading the comment wars on other posts.

SOOOO, I took a break. A glorious break from the pressure of daily posts.

And I’m back again for this next weeks challenge. Did I mention only three weeks left? Summer passed by so CRAZY fast!!

Please, please, PLEASE, above all, soak in God’s love. Thank him for his blessings. Remind yourself of all his benefits. Remind yourself of his goodness. These prayer lists are just lists without connection. Prayer becomes tiring, burdensome even, without true friendship. Oh God, if I could ask you for one thing this week for everyone reading this, it would be that they would experience you this week. May they encounter your deep, unfailing love, which is poured out on us regardless of what we have done. You loved us enough to come and die, while we were still your enemies. In fact, you knew all along that we would turn on your son and kill him. But still, you came in love.

That, is true love. That is the kind of God we serve. That is the One we long to meet with when we come to pray.

Pray for your family next. Your spouse. Your children. Your parents. Pray for brothers or sisters. Anyone God puts on your heart.

Then pray each day for the following:

Monday: Our pastors and their families – Previously I have mentioned how there is tremendous pressure on them and their families to “have it all together”. What a difficult burden to bear! Pray for our leaders to be free of this unreasonable expectation of perfection. Pray for them to be able to be open and vulnerable. Pray for close friendships, for people to walk beside them and be forgiving and gracious to their faults. Pray for purity in their lives, for them to have a fear of the Lord and walk in humility before Him. Pray for protection over your pastor and their family, as the devil would like nothing more than to see your leader fall.  Pray for them to speak the truth of God boldly, and to not fear what people think of them, but to care more about what God thinks. Pray for their marriages, for their family time, for their children. Pray for them to have wisdom in each situation, and to have a Shepherd’s heart for people.

Tuesday- The Global Church – This week I want to pray for a group of churches we often write off as hopeless. We see their crowds, we see through the “feel-good” messages and we shake our heads in disgust.

But Jesus LOVES them.

He LOVES his church, even lukewarm/seeker-friendly ones. And he weeps for them as they shut His truth out of their lives.

Last week I read this verse in Hebrews 1:3- “He holds everything together with his powerful Word.” Think about that for a minute. That means EVERYTHING is held together by the truth: His Word. It’s no wonder then, as we see churches erasing the “offensive” parts of God’s word, that they begin to fall apart. They become corrupt and sinful. They can not survive without God’s Word. It holds all things together. This is why societies that get rid of God, who become proud and discard his word as unnecessary eventually collapse. They all end in ruin. We don’t want him in our courts, in our laws, in our politics, or in our schools…and yet His Word is what holds it all together!! Pray along these lines today.

Wednesday: Mental Health – God’s Truth vs. Satan’s Lies: Satan is the father of lies. When we are at our weakest, he knows when and how to attack us. He knows exactly how to speak a devastating lie to our souls when we are already about to fall. Struggles with mental health are in the mind. This is why I believe those living with a mental illness are the most susceptible to believing these lies. I have found the ONLY way to fight back against such lies (which can even be spoken through words others have said to us), is to combat them with God’s truth. Pray that we would learn to hear his TRUTH! How life giving it is when someone who has believed the lie: “I’m unlovable” hears the TRUTH: “You are absolutely, entirely, and perfectly LOVED.” OR someone who has heard: “I’m not worth caring for,” hears God speak over them: “You are worth FAR more than any precious gold or diamonds!” How about the lie, “I don’t belong.” It has no power when God says, “You belong to Me!” Pray that we would speak God’s truth over those lies. Pray that those living with mental illness would be able to hear and accept God’s truth spoken over them.

Thursday: Idols – Sports/Entertainment – Pray today, that we would not live to be entertained, but that we would live ONLY for Jesus. It’s so easy to waste hours in front of a screen. It’s easy to spend hundreds of dollars on sporting events or even for our children’s teams… what if, we spent this much time and effort on Christ? Let’s be honest here! Think about it.

I’m not calling sports or entertainment evil, but picture for a moment how different our lives would look if instead of running to two soccer practises and a game each week, then crashing on the couch for two hours and watching some mind numbing show, we would spend those hours meeting with Jesus, memorizing his word, praying for others, and serving. What if we turned off the screen and actually talked with our families? What if we visited the sick? What if we stopped watching shows that glorify the very evil that Jesus died for? How different would our relationships be? Pray that we would turn from anything that takes precedence over Christ in our lives. Pray that we would desire that which can truly satisfy. Pray that we would come and drink the living water. Confess today the ways that you have failed in this area. Pray for us to use these things, not as a way of filling ourselves but as further opportunities to enjoy life in Christ.

Friday: Our government – We Need a Law: Sanctity of Life/Caring for the Forgotten – Right now, in my country it is legal to kill a human being. In fact, it is paid for, by the people through taxes. This is astounding to me. One one hand, a window washing company in Winnipeg made headlines for breaking a birds nest off a building. It wasn’t a rare or special nest. It didn’t hold an endangered species. It was an ordinary birds nest. The people liked watching those eggs and were outraged when the nest was destroyed. They called for apologies, for the people to boycott the company. Because of birds eggs. But tear an unborn baby from it’s mother’s womb, limb from limb, and somehow all these people shrug and say: “But who am I to judge…Woman’s rights!”

THIS IS NOT OK. It’s not ok. It’s not ok that unborn crows are more dear to us than unborn children.

Now let’s talk about Euthanasia for a second…

From a CBC article: As of October 2017, More than 2,000 Canadians have ended their lives legally with the help of a doctor. According to the latest report from Health Canada, there were 1,982 medically assisted deaths in the one-year period after it became legal in June 2016. There have been another 167 in Quebec since it was legalized in that province in December 2015, the report said. The total has been rising faster, with 803 assisted deaths in the first six months after it became legal nationally and 1,179 in the following six months from January to June 2017. That marks a 47 per cent increase. 

And we sigh and say: “Well, it’s their choice!”

You know why we don’t fight to save these precious souls? Because we do not care about them. It is much easier, cheaper and efficient to just kill the unwanted, the suffering. Caring for those who can’t care for themselves is FAR too big of a burden for us to bear.

And most of these subjects are taboo, even in Christain circles. What can we do about our country’s complete disregard for the sanity of life?!? PRAY. It’s time to pray. Pray that God would soften our hardened hearts. Pray that God would open up our blinded eyes. Pray that he would make all our self deceiving lies fall hopelessly short in the light of the TRUTH. May we begin to care about people, created in his image, enough to care for them to the end. Even in suffering. May we give them a death with dignity by tending in love to their needs, rather than shoving them into hospitals or nursing homes and forgetting them. Pray that the church would begin to take in unwanted children by the hundreds, by the thousands, so that every argument about “too many in foster care” would fall short. Pray that we would love the unloved, that we would want the unwanted. Pray that we would value life. May we see each and every person as precious in God’s sight.

Saturday: Outreach– You Can’t See Poverty if Your Gate’s too High One thing that often stops us from reaching out to those in need is failing to step out in the world. It feels so safe to find the best neighbourhood to live in. It feels safe to surround ourselves with Christain friends. It feels safe to stay in the better, more well-to-do areas of town. Now what I’m not suggesting is to go out and be careless…but really, should we be shutting out all the people God really wants us to be bringing in? I sometimes go months in my comfortable little life without coming across (or taking time to see) someone in need. Jesus gave his LIFE for us, can we not go out of our way to at least bless them in some way? Jesus came to seek and FIND the lost. Pray that we, the church would be willing to go and find the lost, instead of waiting for them to come to us.

CHALLENGE: Go out of your way to find someone in need and bless them. You can do this anonymously or in person! Ex: Drive around a poorer area of your city until you actually fins a homeless person, or a beggar bless. Make blessing bags and handout or give them a gift card. Anonymously drop a gift card/package on a struggling families doorstep or mailbox. Find someone who has been going through a difficult time and drop off a meal.

Sunday: God’s Healing Presence in our Walls – Pray today that God would heal our congregations. There is so much pain, so much hurt, so much loneliness and struggle. Pray that God would move powerfully so we may be healed from our pain. So we would let go of our sins, our bitterness, our burdens, our worries, our grudges and find freedom and great joy in him!!!

Thank you for joining with me in another week of prayer. May God bless you richly!

Love always, Heather

A Short Summer, A Long Bucket List and Three Half Finished Novels…

Summer is almost over.

Since when do I literally panic at those words?!? I have a real desire to move somewhere hot for September, October and November and live in denial that it will ever end.

Summer in Canada is ridiculously short, but like most things, that’s what makes it so irresistibly sweet. We bear through a bitter six months of winter – half hibernating, half shriveling away in the arctic air and then after being soaked in the rain for a month or two, we finally can enjoy SUMMER. Children burst out of their homes, not a minute to lose! Playgrounds which were eerily empty and abandoned for the frosty months come to life. White legs stampede to the beaches. We book our holidays months in advance, being sure to make the most of every single second.

For the past two years, my kids and I have made a summer bucket list. It’s nothing crazy, no big life changing events are on the list, but it’s about 25 activities long and therefore, always is a rush to complete.

42A2E69B-8D67-418F-A77D-E33B39D0DC73

This time, however, it isn’t so much the weather change that I am dreading, or even failing to check off every box on our list; it’s the realization that summer is almost gone and with it another year of my failed goal: to finish my first novel.

Oh, by the way, I am writing a book.

Actually three.

Cue the awkward pause as people nod politely and change the subject…

And in many ways I don’t blame themPublishing a novel and making any sort of career out of it, never mind actually becoming a bestselling author is almost like a child claiming they’ll grow up to be a movie star…😏 “Mmmhmmm, sure sweetie, you do that!”

Yet I have had this desire from the moment I could write words on a page and form them into something resembling a sentence.

I remember writing my first story in grade 2. My peers wrote their opening words, the only ones that could possibly be used to start a story at that age: “Once upon a time…” And I knew even then that that didn’t cut it. Already, at age seven, I knew that wasn’t the way to write a book. Not a good one. I still remember my teacher’s surprise when she read my opening line: “The sun shone warmly on little Jessica’s face, her dark hair blowing in the summer breeze…”  I remember her reading it to the class, devouring my writing as if it were a rare exotic treat. I felt gifted, as if I were a prodigy of writing, sure to blow the rest of the world away with my cleverly thought out plots and well-structured sentences. Only to find out in my teens that I actually had a long way to go before I would ever publish my work.

But maybe that’s why I’ve always loved it. It’s challenging, and still relaxing for me. It takes effort, yet is in some ways rather effortless. Not to mention, it is also the only talent I ever remember being noticed for in school.

But the funny thing is, I’ve never finished a full novel.  I’ve had countless ideas, some that eventually fell rather flat, some that took off. Until, well… I got near the end.  Every single time I’ve come close to finishing, I give up.  Eventually, after years of sitting in an unopened file on my computer I click delete.

I don’t really know why. But it’s as if I fear what will happen if I finish. So I finish…then what?

Perhaps, it’s partly because I think it’s childish, this dream to write.  Because writing isn’t a real job, right? More like an eccentric hobby for the most lonely of introverts, those crazy ones, who’ve never quite given up their childish imagination.

But even scarier to me is the thought that keeps plaguing me: If I do in fact finish it, will anyone actually read my book? Will they have any interest? Or will I finally be publicly exposed for the wannabe writer that I really am? Should I just grow up already and let go of my childish dreams?

However this time, I am further than I’ve ever been before. In all three books. And even though I’ve been working on them for months (ok one of them I’ve been working on for years!), I feel like I actually really like my work. I am proud of the writing I’ve done. And I feel like others may like them as well.

So summer, please stay a little longer. Don’t hurry away. Let the days slow down and the workload pause. Let me finish the bucket list. Let me enjoy my kiddos. Let me finish my novels. Ok, maybe just one of them.

Because I really want to know how it ends, and, even more so, if others will enjoy reading it as much as I do.

Summer Prayer Challenge- Week 7

This afternoon I dropped off my sweet nine-year-old boy at church to be brought to camp. It’s always hard for me to let him go. Some people who know my relationship with Jonas might smirk at this, because our personalities often clash, but it is absolutely 100% true, he’s always the hardest for me to leave.

I see him there, standing among the boys his age. I see the nervousness in his face, which I so relate to. BUT in spite his struggles with social settings, I see him TRYING. He waves at a boy who doesn’t see him. He awkwardly puts his hand down and waits, unsure of what to do next. He inches closer and calls out the boys name, waving again. The boy casually smiles and nods at him. Jonas’ face lights up with relief.

He belongs. This time he was not rejected. These types of settings are hard for him. I blink back tears because I can feel every emotion in this little boy and I pray for his protection this week as if I’m praying for my own.

This is essentially what I’ve discovered intercession to be: seeing, experiencing, empathizing and then bringing all these thoughts and emotions to Jesus.

Some of those following this challenge have sent private prayer requests, some of you have commented and shared publicly and I want to say THANK YOU! That is what prayer is for, carrying each others burdens and lifting them up to Christ. Please do not hesitate to share! I love to pray for each one of you and with you! I cry with your heartache! I hurt with you in your pain and struggles. I rejoice with you in your triumphs! This is the body of Christ!

Here’s what we’ll be praying for this week.

Monday: Summer Camps – I already posted this on Facebook/ Instagram yesterday but pray for specific bible camps you know of. For Jesus to meet the children. For safety, for protection, for belonging, for the staff, etc. The specific camps on my heart this week are Eagle Lake Bible Camp (my childhood camp), Bird River Bible Camp (my current church’s camp, where my son will be attending) and Roseau River Camp (my kids have also attended this camp).

Tuesday: Specific churches in our areas – Praying for our own churches is essential. But praying for other churches in our area to grow in numbers, in love, in gifts, in character is super important! We are not competitors, we are a team. Let me say that again, WE ARE NOT ON OPPOSITE SIDES. We are actually part of the same body. So that means if the church down the road is suffering, I don’t look down on them and say “at least my church isn’t…”

NO!!! We ALL are the church. We need to get this “us” and “them” mentality out of our heads. May we pray that God purifies our desires so that we rejoice when others are lifted up and that we weep when others are torn down or fall apart. Pray for truth to be taught in our churches. Pray for unity. Pray for healing and forgiveness. Pray for joy! Pray for connection and friendships. Pray for loyalty. Let’s lift our community churches up instead of bringing them down!

Wednesday: Mental Health – Insight into Roots of Depression/Road to Healing – Where there is hurt or pain there is a cause. Pray that we would have eyes to see into the roots of mental illness, whether physical, spiritual or emotional and that we would have grace and wisdom in dealing with each unique situation, so that true healing can be found.

Thursday: Returning to Our First Love – This week more specifically I want to pray into our attitudes as believers. Often we really want the world around us to change this or that – but are we ourselves open to change? Are we willing to stay true to God, no matter what the world around us begins to look like? Even if they DON’T change?? Pray for this kind of faith amoung believers.

Friday: Religious Rights and Freedoms – That God would protect our rights as Christians in our country. Right now we still have a lot of freedoms, but this is changing. Pray that our country would once again value what Christianity and see our rights as ones worth protecting. Pray that those in government positions who believe in God would stand strong and be a testimony to the world of righteousness and integrity.

Saturday: A Heart for the Homeless – Be Ready – A few months ago I was doing a devotional/journal our church put out called the “Abide Journal”. During one of the weeks God spoke clearly to me about my attitude towards the homeless. You see, I was always filled with good intentions to help, but when I would see a need I never had time. So my excuse to not stop and help was, “God, I guess I’m just too busy in this stage of life with my kids.” 

And God quietly spoke to my heart, “If you’re to busy in the moment, why don’t you prepare ahead of time?” I was speechless. Because God had, in his gentle way, revealed the real reason for me not helping: I was too lazy. So that week, me and my kids put together a bunch of “blessing bags” to be kept in the car. These bags contain little melt-proof snacks, gift cards, mini bibles with a note explaining my testimony and the difference Christ has made in my life, sanitary products and other little items to make someones day. The kids had a blast! And now I am ALWAYS ready!

1 Peter 3:15 says: “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.”

Pray that we, the body wouldn’t be lazy about sharing Christ. Pray that we would be prepare to love, to give, to share the gospel!

CHALLENGE: I bet you can guess today’s challenge…Make a Blessing Bag or Buy a few gift cards to keep in your vehicle! Always be ready to share the good news!

Sunday: Popular or True? I absolutely LOVE that many churches have the desire to be as welcoming to everyone as possible! But loving people and connecting with them means that we absolutely must be willing to tell them the whole truth of the gospel, not just the easy parts. Pray that churches would fearlessly preach the word of God in its entirety. This includes teaching about the hard things: for without hell there was no need for the cross. Without confronting sin, there is no repentance or forgiveness. Without a heart change, there is no salvation. This doesn’t mean that we elevate certain sins and cover over others we feel are less important. Pray that our churches today wouldn’t be concerned about popularity or gaining numbers, but that they would speak the truth completely – unwilling to be ashamed of Jesus or his Word!

Bless you as you seek God with me!

Summer Prayer Challenge – Week 6

This post marks the halfway point of this challenge AND summer holidays!

SAY WHAT?!?

How is it that February feels like it lasts 100 days and summer feels like 20 days?

Last night I had a dream about wasting my summer…I woke up to realize that I need to spend time with my kids NOW. Isaiah, my oldest is 12. That means that counting this one, I only have 6 summers left with him before he’s 18.

Now that’s an eye opening thought.

One that prompted me to get up in the night and make a note to myself to be with my kiddos. I don’t need to go on an extravagant vacation or expensive outings.

Isaiah loves running with me and playing dodgeball with the family. Bella likes reading side by side and drawing together. Easy enough! I like the same things! Jonas likes biking with me, he also loves doing crazy tricks and dares…which is not me at all, but I can watch him get hurt…nooooo problem. 😜 Dallas is my game guy; he LOVES any card or board game. He’s also a huge sports fan: soccer, badminton, baseball, anything really! And Emerson, he doesn’t really care what we do, he just likes being with me.

What are your kids like? What do you do together? I’d love to hear!

One of the most important parts of parenting is connecting with each individual child…but each day, it starts with connecting to God and praying for them.

Here’s the prayer topics and Saturday’s challenge for this week:

Monday- Pray today for your home church that you attend.

Tuesday- Pray for the persecuted church again. These suffering brothers and sisters NEED our prayers!

Wednesday- Pray for Mental Health. Specifically, for God to provide godly councillors and intercessors for those struggling.

Thursday- Pray for us believers to return to our first love: Jesus. This week specifically (and maybe ironically???), I’m focusing on praying into our idols of social media/smart phones.

Friday- Pray for our Countries. I’ll be praying about Canada’s outright flaunting and celebrating of sexual sin, confessing my part in this and asking God for a desire to walk in purity and holiness with him.

Saturday-  Those Who Have Not Heard. Basically I’ll be praying for the unreached and also those who have maybe heard of Jesus, but don’t really know his message.

CHALLENGE: God didn’t leave his followers on earth for them to sit back and live comfortably until his return. That’s just not what scripture teaches. He chose to leave it up to his followers to share with the world our amazing hope, the message of the cross. Ask God: How can I share the gospel in my workplace? In my neighborhood? In my city? Am I ashamed of you Jesus? Am I afraid because of how it may look? Am I closing my eyes to those around me who are starving to hear the message of hope? Obey what you feel the Lord speaking to you!

Sunday – Lay Down Your Hurt And COME. There are many reasons a lot of Christians have stopped attending church. Maybe thy’ve been hurt by the church or people in the church in some way. Maybe they’ve become bitter or angry at God. Maybe they don’t feel good enough or worthy. This week I want pray for them.

You can also follow along on Facebook or Instagram for more insight into each prayer for the day. Find me as everysmallvoice on IG and Heather Bergen on FB. Love doing this together 💕

– Heather

 

Summer Prayer Challenge – Week 5

I know many of you who follow my blog also read my posts on social media, so as this one is a complete copy of all I’ve already posted this week you can skip this one 🙂

BUT to those of you following solely on my blog, I apologize for this post being so late. I already put the previous days’ prayer topics on Facebook/Instagram, however, this week was a busy one for me and I hardly had a minute to spare.

Better late than never right??

Thank you for joining me in this challenge!!

Here’s the overview of the prayer focuses for this week:

Remember above the lists, to meet with Jesus. Experience his love for you. Allow yourself to relax and thank him for all of his many blessings. Turn your mind off all the business of your day and just think about Jesus: Who he is. His wonderful character. Pray for your spouse and individual family members by name.

Monday: Our Pastors/ Families – Today pray for protection for them. Each time I see a news article of a fallen pastor or a new “church scandal” my heart sinks. Are our first thoughts of them: “How DARE they? How could a godly leader do this?” Do these things really surprise us? Satan well knows that if he can hurt the head, he can cripple the whole church… “Strike the shepherd and the sheep will scatter.” Today, pray for your pastor and their family. For God to put his hand of protection on them. That they wouldn’t feel the need to look “strong” in the face of trials or temptations but that they would be able to have trusted people around them to share with and be supported by. Ask God to give our pastors renewal each day. May they never have to feel like they are in this alone. Ask God to give them hunger and a desire to walk closely beside him, spending time in his presence each day. Pray that they would overcome evil by the power of his blood. Pray that they would be quick to repent and to ask for help, that God would keep them from pride. Pray for their families, that they would not feel the burden of always having to look put together, but that we would view them as God’s children in need of his grace as well. Pray that God would give us, the church body, MUCH grace for our leaders. May we always be a support to them, ready to protect and believe the best in them instead of always looking for the next thing to complain about. God, may we be a church that is a delight, not a burden, to lead.

Tuesday: Philippians 3 for the Church

Today as I pray for the body of believers across the world, that is, in every nation, tribe and tongue, I am drawn to Philippians 3.

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”

What if every believer lived like this? As if everything else was garbage compared to Christ? That knowing Christ would become the biggest priority. Truly believing that all our righteousness isn’t because of our good works, but because of Christ! I tell you: we would judge less, hate less, sacrifice more, we would forgive, we would let go of our idols, we would live for Christ’s mission and not our own. Pray for these things!!

“For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things.”

Oh that we would not live as enemies of the cross! Pray that we would take our eyes off of earthly things and remember that our citizenship is in heaven! Pray that our glory wouldn’t be in our temporary idols. God, bring us into the joy of your presence!

Wednesday: Mental Health – Just why did I decide to devote one day a week this summer to pray into mental health issues? Was it just because I am coming out of a long season of depression?? Being diagnosed and then talking about it, completely opened my eyes to how HUGE this is. EVERYONE I talked to could relate in some way. “Wait. Did you just say EVERYONE?? You’re not truly saying that you believe everyone has a mental disorder do you?!?” No I am not. But everyone has mental health and physical health. And everyone I know has experienced sickness in some sort of way, so it would be naive to say that not everyone has experienced, to a degree, some hopelessness, depression, anxiety, etc. Here’s the thing: we feel ashamed to talk about it, as if we would be more righteous if we were just happy all the time. You know what has helped me the most? TALKING about it and finding people who will compassionately listen without judging or accusing me based on my feelings. Because feelings aren’t wrong, it’s what we do with them in our thought life and actions that matter. Today pray for those living with mental illness to be able to talk, to not lie to themselves and others about how they’re really doing, but to be open. When we are open, others feel free to be open as well. Pray for wisdom in responding to and dealing with these feelings. Pray that those who need medication for their illness would not be shamed because of it. Pray that they would also be open to Jesus, for he is the ultimate healer. Oh that we would find deep comfort in running to his arms and sharing the negative thoughts and feelings that torment us. He has promised to carry our burdens, if we only let him! Pray for our focus to daily be taken off our earthly situation and to be focused onto the Lord Jesus Christ. Pray for thanksgiving to flow from the lips of those who are struggling, for a thankful heart is a joyful one. Pray for mental illness to become a topic that we no longer fear. And thank Jesus that it is becoming easier to talk about. Thank him for the many ways he is already answering these prayers.

Thursday:  The Attack on the Family – Today, I am praying about the attack the church is facing in homes. Pray for marriages/families in the church. Thursday’s we pray for returning to our first love and I believe a part of this is strongly connected to what we do with Jesus in our homes. One of the ways we can show Jesus our love for him is to prioritize what HE does. And we have not prioritized the family. We have not taken seriously the marriage covenants we made before him. Today, pray for broken families, broken marriages, broken children in the church. Pray that we would learn to see the importance of those nearest to us. That the church would become known for a place where families thrive. Pray for parents to be willing to pour in the time it takes to raise children for the Lord. That we would not try to put this responsibility onto others/the church but that we would begin to seek God together, serve together, do devos together. May our families honor God and be a reflection of our love/devotion to him.

Friday: Our Nation

For me that is Canada. And there is something that deeply grieves my heart in this beautiful, multicultural country and that is the fact that racism is still strong and present. Many would deny this. But bring up the relationship between the white folk and the first nations and the air becomes eerily quiet.

Not all is well.

There is so much brokenness. So much pain. So much anger, hate and unforgiveness. So much judgement and jealousy. Conditions for most of those living on reserves is terrible. Many families are broken. And the most heartbreaking thing is that everyone know there is no really good solution. What has been done in the past is now done. It can not fully be restored. From a human standpoint, improvement in this area is impossible…but with God, ALL things are possible.

This is my prayer today for Canada and the indigenous peoples:

“God, heal what has been broken. Restore what has been lost. Bring comfort to all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve. Bestow on them a crown of beauty, instead of ashes. The oil of joy, instead of mourning and a garment of praise, instead of a spirit of despair. Father bring the indigenous people out victorious! May they be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendour. Oh God, bring compassion and forgiveness on both sides, soften our hearts toward each other. Money can never right the wrongs that have been done in the past. Only you can bring restoration. Come Lord Jesus.”

Saturday: I’m MUCH too Righteous for THEM!!! 

Outreach is one of the most important callings of the church, but I believe it is widely the most neglected one. Many, many Christian’s have no heart whatsoever for the lost.

I sometimes wonder if I do?

Do I care if people spend an eternity without Jesus? Do I care about the hopelessness that many people feel day after day after day? Or…do I deep down feel that some of these “sinners” deserve to live in pain? Alone. Forgotten.

Do I somehow feel that I’ve earned the right to walk with Christ, to know him? Today pray about this attitude. The attitude of thinking: if they would just smarten up, then they would be able to find Christ and turn their life around! You know the thing about lost people? They’re LOST! Lost people need help to find their way. LOTS of help. I needed lots of help. You needed lots of help. Think of the people who have all poured into your life. Where would you be without them? Pray for patience and a willingness to not just share the gospel, but to walk with those living in darkness. They NEED you to help them see! Pray that we would become so thankful for our blessings in Christ that we could not help but share them with the world!

  • CHALLENGE: Reflect on your attitude to those around you. Are there those who you don’t associate with because of something you feel they’ve done? Talk to someone you may have misjudged. Remember and imitate your Heavenly Father who “causes the rain to fall on the good and the bad.” Bless them in some way.

Sunday: Love for those Hypocrites/Sinners – As we gather together in our services, pray that our eyes would see those around us through the eyes of Christ. Often I believe many Christians are hindered in worship because they are so distracted by “those sinners/hypocrites” around them.  May we realize, but we are also among the sinners and hypocrites. Not one of us is 100% consistent with everything we believe. Not one of us always does the right thing and this attitude needs to go. Come and worship. Come and love. Come and receive grace and forgiveness. Come and serve others. Come and connect. Just come!

God bless you this week!