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UNDAUNTED
For a few very hard years this word was my mantra.
The word means
-undismayed; not discouraged; not forced to abandon purpose or effort
-undiminished in courage or valor; not giving way to fear
But the truth is, I was often dismayed by everything that had taken place, and I did battle discouragement. I battled fear and doubts. I hurt and was angry, and sometimes "undaunted" sounded more like a mockery than a mantra, and I was determined to be real about all of it in these posts, thus the name, Undaunted Reality. More than that, though, I was determined to live undaunted, not because I'm so great or strong, but because my God is, and no matter what this world looks like, He is the only reality that matters.
I pray I live the reality of Him beautifully undaunted.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

A Prayer for You During the Holidays

I just want you to know I'm praying for you. I know the holidays are weird. They are stressful and crazy and sometimes emotionally crushing. I'm praying...
...you have wisdom to not burden yourself with debt.
...you and your loved ones know the power of presence over presents.
...you find wonder.
...you look beyond yourself and your circle of family and friends to see others' needs.
...you put down what you have to in orde to simply get through the holidays.
...you reach out to someone when you need to because there is no shame in letting someone hold you up when you are sinking.
...you are able to feel God's love for you no matter what this year (or lifetime) has held.
...you are able to feel hope and hold onto it.
May our God be with you in all of your comings and goings, and may His hand guide you. May His Spirit comfort you, and may you know personally His Son who saves you.
Amen.

Prayer for Those Awake in the Middle of the Night

Father,
It's 2:00 in the morning, and intead of sleeping, I am thinking of other folks who aren't sleeping.
I'm thinking of folks who are carrying incredibly burdens that won't let their minds rest, so their bodies are walking around exhausted but following the heavy thoughts.
I'm thinking of folks in hospitals sitting by the sides of loved ones, praying for miracles, thanking you that it wasn't worse, watching the sheet rise and fall knowing it won't belong before it no longer does.
I'm thinking of parents who would give everything they own to be rocking their baby right now but will never get that blessing again.
I'm thinking of spouses who are reaching across the bed with their foot only to find a cold spot.
I'm thinking of children wondering why Mom and Dad can't get along.
Lord, I'm thinking of the person who is hurting too much to sleep, not because their body hurts but because their mind and sould does.
Father, I am asking you in your infinite, mysterious power to step into the lives of these people and comfort them. Settle their minds. Soothe their hearts. Give them hope. You are the only source of hope in situaitons where there is no fix. You are the only comfort when the heart is crushed beyond repair. You are the only one who can carry people through some of the grief and pain they carry. I ask you to do that.
And I ask that you would bring them to this page, so they can see that YOU SEE THEM. They really need to know that. Because, Lord, I know when you are up in the middle of the night and your heart is hurting so much your body aches with it, you want to know God hears. You want to know He cares. You want to know that you matter, and, Father, these beautiful people matter. They are so precious. They are so valuable.
Father, be their peace and comfort. Be the one who gives them rest. Be the one who gives them hope. Strengthen them to keep moving through the pain and doubts and questions. And, Lord, when they don't know how to hold onto you, hold onto them. Oh, God, hold onto them.
Bring the people to be the hands and feet of Christ in their lives. Bring the words and the "signs" that give them hope and strength. Be the voice they may not really even be able to hear that tells them to hold on and not let go, to think beyond themselves, to realize they are loved and needed by others. Give them the ability not to be consumed by the loss or the pain or the anger.
Father, thank you that you are a God that keeps your eyes upon your people, even in the middle of the night, even when they rage against you, even when they hurt so much they don't know how to find you through the pain. Thank you for your love and mercy. Thank you that you are ever pursuing them. Thank you that you are a God who loves so deeply and personally.
Thank you for hearing my prayers on behalf of these very precious people. May they find you in the dark. I pray these in the name of Jesus, the Light that has come into the world that those in darkness may not be left there, Amen

Monday, December 5, 2016

A Prayer for Monday...and Everyday

Glorious King,
Prepare my heart today to serve you. Show me all things that keep me from fully serving you and help me put them down.
I ask you to be glorified in me. Speak your will and word into my life in ways I could not imagine or dream, not for what I get, but so people see who you are. Father, be exalted in me.
I ask you to show me concerns and anxieties and traditions of this life that prevent me from thinking on you and focusing on. I ask you to settle my spirit and mind that I would not be burdened by life here but that I would enjoy the pleasant blessings you give.
I ask you to open my eyes to the people around me who need a kind word, a hug, a pat on the back. Give me words to encourage. Show me how to live my faith in you and your power to change lives.
Father, for all those reading this, I pray that you would remind them that you meet people right where they are, but that isn't a pass to remain as they are because honestly, you have something SO much more wonderful than the way it has been. You have so much more for them than the way they have been. I pray that you would give them courage to believe they can be more, can live bigger.
I pray that you would put a lock on my mouth today and not let discouraging, critical, judgmental words come through. This is something I really don't like about myself, and this is something I really desire to be different about me. I see the imperfections and focus on those instead of seeing the progress. Change my perspective according to what you desire spoken into someone's life and someone's heart. Give me your heart because you always speak life. Forgive me for my critical discouraging outlook, I pray, and purify me from all unrighteousness as you promise in your word.
Father, I thank you for this day and your plans for it. I pray that I would not be so fixated on my plans that I miss yours or dismiss yours. Instead, I ask you to disciple and train me to keep my mind fixed on your plans so that we work together for your will and purpose.
I praise you, Lord, for you are so worthy of my greatest praise and my deepest gratitude. You are overwhelming with your beauty and kindness, and my heart is to love you and you alone.
I lay these petitions before you in the almighty name of Jesus, Amen

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Why I Don't Think I Will Ever Look at Christmas Trees the Same Again

 As I write this, I am looking at what may very well be the most beautiful Christmas tree I have ever seen.

It's awkward with clumpy limbs, the limbs that are there, and bare spots where the limbs aren't there. It's possibly 20 years old, maybe more. Most people would say it has seen better days. I would say it has seen no day more glorious than today.

The last time we made any real effort to put up a Christmas tree was six years ago. The lack of a tree isn't a rage against commercialism or due to a move away from the mainstream Christian holidays in order to embrace Judaic truth over Roman institutionalization of Christianity. The lack of a tree is more because it is sometimes hard to rejoice with the babe in the manger when your heart feels the weight of the tomb.

Some folks found the lack of a tree disturbing because after all, this is Christmas. To not have a tree on Christmas? When I said we weren't interested, the general response was "But you have to have a tree at Christmas." Actually, you don't. Because here is the real Truth.

Christmas is about the Christ, not a tree, so for these years we've clung to Christ and ditched the tree, and it has been far more healing to forego a tree than it is to perform the "all is fine" fantasy dance.


About a month ago, I was rummaging through the shed of the house I re-obtained, and there it was. The Christmas tree we left there when we moved, the tree I had left for the couple who didn't have a tree of their own. We weren't interested in the tree, and I figured if we ever decided to do a tree again, I'd buy a new one, a smaller one. But there sat this tree with its stand, and I knew. In that very instant, I knew. This year, there would be a tree.

Three weeks or so, it happened. My inbox became home to a Christmas list from WonderGirl. A few days later, WonderBoy's followed. Doesn't sound like a big deal. It's Christmas after all. Except this is the first year the kids were engaging the holiday instead of letting it slip silently by. They were ready to rejoin the hope of Christmas, the hope that things can still be what they want and not what they have endured.

While some are celebrating Christmas, we are walking right into a beautiful Christ mass with all the anticipation and hope that it holds.

Last week WonderGirl asked me if I would mind if she bought a small tree at one of the local stores, and I smiled. She didn't want anything big, just something small so she could string popcorn, put on some candy canes, and cover it with lights. I told her no. I already had the tree. Her face lit up.

So instead of going to the curb the tree went into my truck to come home with me, and today we went to the store and bought ornaments, tinsel, and lights. Then we came home and celebrated.
 WonderBoy likes birds, so he picked a "doofy owl", as he calls him.
 WonderGirl picked her favorite Captain America.


At the top of the tree, we have the story it is all about.

 If you look really closely at the picture above, you can see our ornaments, the things that represent us, but mostly what you see is the important thing. The lights that shine in the darkness. Why is that the most important thing?

Because the Light is everything.

What ornament did I get? I got a lantern. Simple. Plain, but do you see the light in it? That is actually the lights on the tree shining through the lantern. Really, what you see is Jesus shining through this whole tree because without the healing and restoring of hope He has done in us, there would be no tree. This tree isn't just a place for us to put a bunch of lights. This tree is because we have the Light.


So why the lantern? Because in our lives and in our story, I really hope people see the Light and His story. And it just so happens that this year, the story includes the most beautiful Christmas tree I think I have ever seen.




Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A Prayer of Gratitude...with Sniffles and Sneezes on the Side

Father God, I have a head cold, and my sinuses are miserable. My eye is watering. My nose is running, and I can't sleep because of the pressure in my head.
And you know what, Father?
I am thankful.
I am thankful for the warmth of my home and the hot water that runs in my shower where I can stand and let steam be one of my favorite things. I am thankful for hot soup and cold ice water.
I am thankful for the sun that comes up in the morning, and the stars that fill the night.
I am thankful for you and the to-the-core knowing that you love me because that really does help.
I am thankful for a recliner where I can rest and doze.
I feel extremely blessed to have my life, my children, my friends. I feel blessed to be loved by wonderful people. I feel blessed that when I am too miserable to read anything or even watch anything, I can lie with my eyes closed and just spend time with you.
Father, I have a very good life. Thank you.
In Jesus' name, I offer this deep gratitude to you.
Amen

Sunday, November 27, 2016

A Prayer for Folks Getting Through the Holidays

Father God,

 I lift up every reader of this message today, and I ask you to bless them. I ask you to comfort them in ways beyond human ability. For those who just got through one holiday and are looking at the Mt. Everest of holidays before them, I ask you to give them joy and show them how to walk in it.
For those who were disappointed due to broken personal relationships, I ask you to show them how they can be an answer and comfort them where they can't.

For those who have questions about the reality this may be a "last holiday season", give them comfort in a way only you can. Show them how to make this a joy and not a season of fear and grief. Show them how to be fierce in finding joy despite the grief.

For those who just had a great day and nothing new is going on because life is just totally amazing, thank you. Thank you for giving them the joy and peace of your blessings. I ask you to speak to them about intimacy with you and how to increase that intimacy. You always want to be more intimate with us, and that is a crazy amazing thing.

Father, thank you for our lives, for the ups and downs, crazy turns and twists, for the hope in the midst of the grief. Thank you that you still have plans for us. I know you do because we are still reading this, and I thank you because there is not one person reading this that is beyond your ability to forgive, save, redeem, and restore.

I thank you because you are God and you love us even when we really aren't deserving of that love, and I thank you that because of that love you gave your Son Jesus as a sacrifice for all of us and in HIm is salvation for anyone who believes in Him as Savior and Lord. Father, thank you for your comfort, for your mercy, for your kindness. Thank you for tending our hearts when they ache and bringing joy in the hard places.

Father, I ask you to show us where we do not serve you well, where we want you as Savior but dismiss you as Lord. I pray that in your great mercy you would reveal the disconnect so we do not stand before you and hear, "I never knew you." Father, lead us into repentance that we would be forgiven from our sins and purified from all unrighteousness.

Be glorified in us.

I praise you Lord for your goodness, for your love, for the very wonder of you. I lay my petitions before you in the holy and all-powerful name of Jesus, Amen
 

Praising God in the Hazy Silence

Father God,
I praise you today because you are worthy of my praise. In fact, you alone are worthy to receive praise from my lips. You alone are worthy of my worship.
Father, as I sit here looking through my huge window into the grey outside, I am in awe of you. I am in awe of the trees you grew, and I am in awe of the brilliant colors you compel them to turn each fall. Who but you could have such an amazing idea? And I wonder, did you do that for them so they could do that for you? Did you give them a way of giving back a gift of brilliance to you? Is this part of creation's worship of you?
I look at the fog settled thick across the pastures, and the beauty of the haze leaves me amazed. Who knew making things so hard to see clearly could also make them so beautiful? In photography, we are taught to make things crisp and clear so a person can see them clearly, and you slip in this haze that blurs everything, and in it, you can be seen clearly.
And in this quiet that surrounds me, I hear you. I hear the hugeness of you. I hear the absolute presence of you even in the absence of sound.
Lord, I pray for those who are looking for you but can't find you because they are looking for you in human wisdom and in human ways. I pray they would find you in the bareness of trees that slip off their leaves know you will breathe on them new in the spring. I pray they find you in the haze and that in the fuzziness of it all, they would see you clearly, and I pray that in the silence, they would hear you speak clearly to them.
Father, take the things that look so unlike you and show things about yourself these precious folks need to see so clearly.
Thank you for being a God who seeks us in ways that look...like we sometimes feel and can't find our way out of.
You are so worthy of our praise, of our worship, and I offer you my praise, and I worship you alone as God.
In Jesus, name I pray,
Amen