Cry, Pray, Trust: for when you’re stuck in a season of waiting and need a reminder of God’s faithfulness.

Cry, Pray, Trust

Sometimes all you can do is cry, and pray, and wait. And trust that God is in control, even when it takes every ounce of faith inside you to catch even a glimpse of that.

 

*

 

I wish I could say I spend my New Year’s Eve in a glamorous way. I didn’t.

 

At 10 pm on Sunday night, my family went to bed, and I washed dishes alone, in my kitchen. I played a worship album two times over, and fell to my knees and cried all the tears I’d been holding in for a week. I prayer journaled and dedicated my year to Jesus, and tiptoed into my living room to watch the ball drop in the darkness of my house, holding a flute of formerly-sparkling cider.

 

3…2…1…and, it’s 2018. Everyone celebrate with your friends and lovers, but I’m still over here alone. I flicked on Netflix to numb my thoughts, and played that worship album again as I drifted off to sleep.

 

*

 

God is faithful. The words echo in my head, and as I think about one word that would define 2017, it’s that one – faithful.

 

Over and over, God spoke. Both in the loud and in the quiet, in rooms full of worshipers and in the solitude of my bedroom, He confirmed those three little words, time and time again – I. Am. Faithful.

 

Gracious, good, perfect God, remind me again what Your faithfulness looks like, won’t you? Because I’m stuck in a long, hard season of waiting right now, like I’m teetering on the edge of a cliff, and gravity hasn’t yet decided if I’m going to stay or if I’m going to fall. Oh, how I need you.

Continue reading “Cry, Pray, Trust: for when you’re stuck in a season of waiting and need a reminder of God’s faithfulness.”

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How to Help a Hurting Friend

How to Help a Hurting Friend

Maybe I talk about hurt too much. Maybe I’ve mentioned depression and stress and anxiety and failure so often that I sound like I need serious help.

 

If I do, I’m sorry.

 

But we can’t ignore pain.

 

As I sit here at my computer, I’m gazing out the window at the wet earth around me.

It’s been raining for days. A bone-chilling draft penetrates my skin, enough so that nothing warms me, not even my cup of coffee, and my beef stew is long-since hot.

 

Sometimes, that’s what hurt feels like, whether it’s mental, emotional, or physical.

 

It’s uncomfortable, and not something easily shaken away. Pain lingers, with no button to press or Band-Aid to put on to make it all better.

 

I’ve been on both sides of hurt. I’ve had friends in need, and I myself have had times like those as well.

 

Perhaps you’re mainly on the other side of things; watching friends suffer, and not knowing how to help them. Or maybe you’re the hurting one. Maybe people see you in need of help and ask, “What can I do for you?” and you simply respond, “Nothing, I’m good,” with a fake smile plastered on, reminiscent of Barbie.

 

But no matter how strong we are, or at least how strong we pretend to be, we’re all weak on the inside. We all need people around us to support us and help us to heal.

 

Are you wondering how to help a hurting friend? Here are three ways.

 

Pray For Them.

 

There’s nothing more beautiful and powerful than prayer. When a friend tells you, “I’ve been praying for you,” it’s touching. To think that someone would take the time to implore the Creator of the universe on our behalf is one of the kindest things we can hear.

Yes, because it’s a thoughtful gesture, but more so because we know that prayer works. Perhaps not always in the fix-it-quick way we might think, but in the way that God knows is best.

 

Sometimes, I can feel that someone’s been praying for me, when a weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I just feel free.

It’s a blessing to get a text a little while later, saying, “Hey Amanda, I prayed for you today. How are you doing?”

 

Wow.

 

James 5:16

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

 

Stay With Them.

 

It’s almost hypocrisy to flee upon finding out someone’s aching, after promising to be there for them.

 

It’s easy to walk out of a friendship when the person’s fallen into difficult days, for it requires no energy on our part.

But please, I beg of you, if you want to help your hurting friend, stick by them. Stay alongside them when they tell you they’re “fine.” Don’t judge them when they refuse help – sometimes, they’re just testing you to see if you’ll remain by their side, because it’s what they really need.

 

Don’t give up on your friend. Forgive them if they’ve damaged your friendship. Keep loving them, even when they act like they don’t want to be loved. Trust me, they do.

 

Proverbs 17:17

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

 

Galatians 6:2

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

 

Encourage Them.

 

Encouragement is incredible. It has an innate power to keep us running when we want to give up. It inspires us to push on toward our goals. It motivates us to get out of bed in the morning because we know we are cared for.

 

Whether sharing Bible verses, sweet, comforting words, sending a care package or letter, or just letting someone know that they’re not alone, encouragement of all kinds is a blessing.

 

To your hurting friend (or perhaps even you), it may mean the world.

 

And don’t give up. Keep encouraging them and lavishing the love of Christ on your friend.

 

1 Thessalonians 5:11

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”

 

*aj

How to Read the Bible {effectively spending time with our Heavenly Father}

How to Read the Bible

I’m back! It’s good to be back. On Saturday, I promised to teach us how to implement reading the Bible into our daily lives. I wrote a post about why it’s important (read it here), but I didn’t tell you where to start. And that, my friends, is the objective of this post.

 

On January 1st, 2013, I started reading 4 chapters of the Bible every day, in order, and finished in October. I’d write a sentence or two about what the theme was, and then I was done. I won’t undermine what I did, because it definitely helped me get into the habit of reading my Bible, but I know I could have gone deeper.

 

Once October hit, I switched gears. I had a pretty little journal lying around and begging to be written in. This is what I did, and it worked for me for a while.

 

Instead of continuing on with four chapters a day (which became overwhelming as the chapters got longer!), I studied one a day instead. I skipped to Romans instead of starting over from Genesis, because as much as the entire Bible is important, we aren’t to take the Old Testament as our life manual – it’s different now, in light of Jesus. We aren’t restricted by the same laws and we have a different focus.

 

I took each chapter one by one, reading through it once, then going back and reading through it once more. I took a few verses and wrote my own commentary on them. Of course, my parents (the Bible experts, haha, love you Mom and Dad) are usually around to ask if I don’t understand something, but there are some good commentaries out there for reference. Check out the Bible Gateway app (which has the Bible in many different translations, audio versions, dramatized Bible, commentaries, dictionaries, reminder notifications for your phone to read the Bible, reading plans, everything), which I love and use all the time.

 

Continuing on with my method.

 

I read each chapter thoroughly, and took a lot of notes. The point here isn’t to read a lot, but to comprehend and take to heart what you’re reading. That, friends, is what it’s about.

 

I’ve used an array of different methods. Please note that there is no right or wrong. All that’s important is growth in your faith and getting to know God better. Whatever works for you is fantastic.

 

This year, I’m reading two chapters out of the New Testament and writing a page-long prayer (something I’ve never done before) every day. Not sure why exactly I haven’t “prayed on paper” before, but this year I thought it’d be interesting to see what I prayed and how God answered those prayers. And I’m glad I decided to go through with it! I’m enjoying writing to God every day and seeing the thoughts on paper that I haven’t gotten outside of my head until now.

 

Something I’ve discovered as I’ve walked this Bible-studying journey is that having time is important. I don’t mean that we should all be monks and nuns and read the Bible for twenty-three hours a day and sleep on cold stone floors for one hour. But setting aside 15-30ish minutes a day to read or even listen to the Bible while eating, (or cleaning, or doing those other things that nobody really wants to do but they have to do anyway) will make a huge difference. There’s 1,440 minutes in a day. If you’re okay with staying up until 2am late watching TV, reading a novel, or browsing the internet, then you really do have 15 minutes at some point in the day to cultivate your faith. Trust me, it is so worth it.

 

So, here. Here’s what you can do.

 

You can read. Read like your life depends on it. Read like the Bible is your food. Read it and take it in, take it apart, and find something to take away.

 

And write. Write verses that are significant to you. Write words that stick out. Write letters to God, being honest, and asking Him to reveal Himself to you. And I promise, He will.

 

Pray. Pray because God knows your heart and delights for you to want to know Him too. Thank Him for what He’s done in your life and what He is continuing to do. Pray continually, because God is our Father, and He wants to have an open relationship with us.

 

I said this already, and I mean it, so I’ll repeat myself. There is no wrong way to spend time with God, the whole thing is about spending time with Him in the first place. When you’re with friends, it’s just good to be together, regardless of what you’re doing. Same with our Heavenly Father. And the more you read, the more you’ll desire to. Really.

 

Resources:

A Project Inspired article about cool ways to study the Bible: http://www.projectinspired.com/bible-study-hacks-you-wish-youd-thought-of/

 

Tips for studying the Bible effectively:

http://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-study/tips/3-simple-steps-for-studying-the-bible.html

 

Topical search through the Bible:

http://www.openbible.info/topics/

 

The Bible in countless translations and languages:

https://www.biblegateway.com

 

Have a great week, and I’ll be back Saturday!

 

*aj