Tuesday, November 10, 2015

November Prayer 10 (when I want to bad-mouth others)

Lord, I get so frustrated at people sometimes. Don't they SEE what they are doing? Oh Lord, put a clamp over my mouth so I do not expose my family or friends or acquaintances to others. Let me open my mouth before You and cry out to You for justice instead of venting every detail to another human being. The tongue is powerful, Lord, and I always regret what I say, even if emotionally it felt like I needed to get it out. Teach me more self-control and more dependence on You for my verbal processing of frustration. Show me what to do with my frustration. In Jesus' name, Amen.

November Prayer 9 (for those struggling with being critical)

"You'll not get your man to be the man you want him to be by being critical of him. It doesn't work. You can't criticize him into his destiny." --Miles Weiss

Lord God, You say that he who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord (Proverbs 18:22). But You also say that it is better to dwell in the corner of a housetop or in a wilderness than with a contentious, nagging woman (Proverbs 19:13, 21:9, 19). Lord, You know my tendencies. You know the tendencies of the single and married women I know. Lord, we are dripping-faucet women by nature, picking at and trying to change the men in our lives. Father, first I ask that You would teach us to pray. Teach us, married and unmarried, to hold our tongues, wait on You, and seek Your face and Your power for the change we want. It is not by our might to coerce, manipulate, or sanctify, but by Your spirit. Give us discernment when to stay silent, because honestly I struggle knowing what is helpful to say so he knows what I'm thinking (because he can't read my mind) and knowing what is better left unsaid.

I also pray You would teach us contentment. Oh Lord, I struggle so hard with accepting a man how he is. I need You to change me in that area. I want to love and accept a man the way I love and accept a friend--annoyances and all. I want to love him because I love him, not because he meets every qualification. Help my married friends and family to accept their husbands, even if they at times do or say something annoying. Empower us to extend grace. In Jesus' name, Amen.

This prayer was inspired by the following Elizabeth Barret Browning poem, believe it or not!

If thou must love me, let it be for nought
Except for love's sake only. Do not say
'I love her for her smile . . her look . . her way
Of speaking gently, . . for a trick of thought
That falls in well with mine, and certes brought
A sense of pleasant ease on such a day'--
For these things in themselves, Beloved, may
Be changed, or change for thee,
--and love so wrought,
May be unwrought so. Neither love me for
Thine own dear pity's wiping my cheeks dry,
A creature might forget to weep, who bore
Thy comfort long, and lose thy love thereby.
But love me for love's sake, that evermore
Thou may'st love on though love's eternity.

Monday, November 9, 2015

November Prayer 8 (to see reality)

This is what I pray. Teach me, gradually, slowly, as I mature in You, what real truth looks like. Let me not accept material reality's view of truth--because that's sometimes depressing--or wishful thinking's view of truth--because that is false hope. Teach me to see beyond the present, beyond my desires, beyond the natural to the greater purposes, greater joy, greater glory of You. I am not capable of knowing that kind of truth apart from You. I don't want to be depressed, and I don't want to swallow a pixie lie as a charm against depression. I don't want to live in realism, and I don't want to accept that You don't do the miraculous because I believe You still do. But let me not have to believe in fairies and Neverland stories to delight in something as big as my imagination, in something supernaturally, magically wonderful. Let me not only see You in Your all-powerful grandeur but in the playful little everyday miracles--when You see and I see but no one else would understand how wonderful You just were to me. Teach me what Your supernatural--apart from what I would usually understand--reality looks like.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

November Prayer 7 (for those of us who tend to keep our love in reserve)

Lord, I pray You would expand our love. Gently take down any wall we may have up from thinking we won't know true love until we get married. From reserving our love until then.

Open our hearts that feel like it doesn't make sense to love someone that is not permanently in our lives. Expand our love for the children we know, for people from church who could use a friend, for relatives we take for granted. Protect our hearts, yes, but, Lord, let us experience the glories of loving someone! Open us up for people we don't absolutely need to survive, and for those we do. Expand our capacity, add depths to our caring, overflow our sincerity of feeling, show us how to put feet to pursuing relationships with people. Let us be willing to "waste" love on temporary relationships, people who will come and go from our lives. To put ourselves out there. Teach us to love more than we do now.

It is never a bad thing to love (Your way) more. Fill our well-preserved-for-the-future hearts with true (not crushing or emotionalistic or trendy) love.

The other day I asked one of my student-girls for a hug. After our squeeze, I went for my other girl and got a hug from her. These were my new students (versus ones I had last year) who transferred to my class a month late. It struck me that I love these girls now. And I love my other students. Love does not come naturally to me--I don't build relationships quickly. So whenever I look into my heart and see love blossoming, it's an unexpected, happy thing. I've always felt that what convinced me to take my dog Bella was God telling me that it's never a bad thing to love more. I think God must be growing my capacity to love.

November Prayer 6 (when a friend miscarries)

Lord, comfort her. I don't know how to pray for someone who has miscarried. I think they feel it more deeply that I understand. It's heartbreak and mourning a death. Please help the couple heal. Help them know how to comfort each other. Please provide them another baby. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Friday, November 6, 2015

November Prayer 5 (a reminder that we are known)

I don't know if this is a prayer or a reminder to store up for the days when one needs reminding. Instead of using the plural pronoun "we" or "they," I chose the singular pronoun "I" because there was no other way it could have been written.

Lord, sometimes I don't know who I am or what I want or where I'm going. Sometimes I am confused and just want someone to know me. Lord, John 10 says twice that You are the good shepherd, and verse 11 says that you know Your sheep. Verse 3 says that You call Your own sheep by name. You know my inward parts. Is it possible that You know me better than I know myself? That You know my desires as well, and even better, and more truly than I do? You, oh Lord, know me, not only in the way that the Knower of All Things knows. For lack of a better way of putting it, You have taken the time to know me, like a shepherd knows the individual idiosyncrasies of each of his sheep. You know me because You have watched me from birth. You have drawn me. You have chosen me. How great are the sum of Your thoughts towards me. You have searched me. You understand my thought afar off. You understand my path--You! Someone! understands my path and are acquainted with all my ways. But You have not only known me, but You have hedged me, enclosed me, behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me (Psalm 139). You show me Your ways, teach me Your paths, lead me in Your truth, and teach me (Psalm 25:4-5). You teach me the sound of Your voice, and I know You. I might not always like what You say. I may sometimes mistake Your voice and have to learn the hard way. But You never forsake me. You never stop loving me. I am Yours.

Whether today I am happy with life or miserable, confident in my trajectory or feeling like I'm living Plan C-, I am known and I am cared for. That is truth.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

161: arranged marriage

At the recent Homeschool Alumni reunion I went to, I kinda contradicted myself: "I still like arranged marriages," and then later, "oh, and just so you know, I'm not for arranged marriages anymore."


But in my mind it does make sense, and since this is a blog about singleness and relationships, I figured I would clarify my stance on arranged marriages/marriages of convenience.


To explain why this came up...

Last year at the reunion those in charge put together a survey to spark discussion. One of the questions must have been about our preferred means of making it to marriage because a handful of people actually clicked the option "Arranged Marriage." A handful meaning me and a few others.


This year we were reminiscing about that and that's around when I contradicted myself. To clarify, I'm against it logically and for it emotionally.

For a person like me, arranged marriage is an attempt to escape the discomfort of trying to figure out if the person I'm dating is a good fit for me (or to bypass the whole irrational crush thing and just get hitched). But as the Lord reminded me several months ago, what if He gives me a fellow with whom I can enjoy a beautiful courtship of being wooed and falling in love? I don't want to miss that. Also, just because someone's a great guy doesn't mean he's a great guy for you. Seriously. You need the dating process to figure that out.

On the other side though, in the land of make-believe, I think arranged marriages/marriages of convenience some of the most appealing, romantic love stories (think Hallmark's Love Comes Softly, The Magic of Ordinary Days, or Loving Leah). I can't help it! I like the idea of circumstances throwing you together and you slowly being drawn to each other. In real life, I'm guessing it might not be quite so romantic, or guaranteed. Maybe I'd end up with someone I would really regret...maybe it's not so easy to fall in love with someone you're stuck with...maybe I should stop wishing it would happen to me.



Check out my book reviews for Mary Connealy's Now & Forever and Fire & Ice for more fictional marriage of convenience stories. And then, who can read Elisabeth Elliot's Quest for Love and not remember that such things have worked in real life?