Praises and Prayers For a New Baby

I can’t remember how I connected with Rachel, but I’m glad I did! She’s a blogging buddy, fellow mom, and Christ-follower. Plus she has great taste in burger places… (If you’re ever near Seattle Pacific University, don’t miss Red Mill Burgers.) I am so pleased she agreed to guest post and I’m totally blessed by her sweet spirit. Make sure to check out her blog – Mason Jar Values!

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If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that Em was expecting a baby boy right around now. He’s here (woohoo!) and I wanted to share some prayers you can offer up along side me as the new mom and dad get settled in to their new rhythms of parenting. ~Rachel at Mason Jar Values

praises and prayers for a new baby

Lord, we first want to thank you and praise You for little James Atticus! Thank you for giving his mama the strength to bring him safely into this world and for blessing his daddy to be just the right encourager for the delivery.

We also lift up James’ continual growth and development in this fourth trimester, the first 12 weeks of life during which so much adjustment takes place.

Jesus, we pray for Tim and Em’s marriage, that they would continually set aside regular time to work on their relationship, being intentional even when it feels like the demands on their time are at their peak.

Keep Your hand on Em’s spiritual, mental, and emotional well-being during this time of profound change, especially as her hormones realign and she deals with the emotions surrounding being a new mom.

Lord, thank You for making Em’s body strong and able to deliver James. In these days of recovery, give her the rest she needs to heal and bounce back. Thank You for making her a beautiful woman and remind her of that as she adjusts to her post-baby body.

We pray for Tim’s heart as he leads his growing family in this dynamic time of change. Give him Your strength and wisdom to support and encourage Em as she cares for James and learns the rhythms of being a mother. Guide his thoughts, words, and actions and continue to bring alongside men to support him in this new venture as dad.

Jesus, thank you for this incredible blessing and for giving James such capable and loving parents. Bless them through the sleepless nights, the uncharted territory of new parenthood, and the wondrous creation of new life.

Amen.

Rachel Zupke

My name is Rachel and I’m a stay at home mom to a toddler.  My husband brings home the big bucks as a high school science teacher and I help out $wise by coaching girls basketball and coed rowing as well as substitute teaching at my hubby’s high school (I taught HS science pre-baby).   I write about life – Jesus and family, homemaking, real food and natural living, outdoor adventures with our Siberian Husky, and local happenings.

The Power of Prayer

I’m a journaler. There’s a box in our garage that contains a mismatched pile of diaries, notebooks, and journals from junior high forward. Some of them I’m tempted to throw away because they are so very embarrassing, but then I think about what all those words represent, even the humiliating ones. Those words represent a journey, a mind and heart being molded along the primitive roads of life. All the emotions and thoughts, pain and joy found on those pages are part of a process that never really ends.

Aside from the ocasional embarrassment, I truly enjoy rereading my old journals. More often then not, God uses past struggles or epiphanies to encourage me in the present. This happened recently as I was flipping through my current journal.

prayer

February 12th, 2013 (my momma’s birthday!!)

Sometimes I look at the date and just stare, amazed at how quickly the days progress, making November slide right into February.

I have vastly underestimated the power of prayer. I’m very aware that God answers prayer and that it’s a powerful tool to see change and miracles happen. But prayer goes beyond God’s actions. Prayer isn’t about cause and effect. Prayer is about submission and community, intimacy and surrender to the Lord Almighty. Prayer is less about God moving in our circumstances and more about God moving in our hearts. ( <– Tweet this! )

I was just lost in time for a moment, taken back to the year I was living on the Central Coast of California, working as an innkeeper at The Cass House. I was fresh out of college and the job, living situation and location just fell into my lap – absolutely a God thing. 

After acknowledging how He orchestrated my circumstances, I left Him out of my daily life. I mastered life in Cayucos on my own and then became discontent when things didn’t go my way. I didn’t meet the love of my life, community took effort I wasn’t used to giving, and I missed my family. Instead of brining those feelings to God consistently, I let them stew and grow until the aroma dominated all of my senses.

I was still pursuing God and He did great things in my heart during that time, but I can’t help but wonder what would have happened had I not been so intent on directing my own life. I fI had been bringing my desires to God, maybe heartbreak would have been easier. If I had sought God for comfort and community, maybe I wouldn’t have felt so isolated. If I had been pursuing God’s plan, maybe I would have had more peace about making tough decisions. 

Being a woman dedicated to sharing her heart with her Abba may not have changed my circumstances – and that’s certainly alright when I reflect on what I did experience – but I would have had a heart yielded to God’s will instead of a striving heart trying to manipulate God’s will.

Prayer puts us in a position to be transformed by God. It may not alter our circumstances, but it will alter our hearts. ( <– Tweet this! )

I generally always need to be reminded not to strive or manipulate, but I really needed to be reminded that prayer does more for our hearts than our circumstances. Prayer binds us to our Heavenly Father and brings peace and comfort. I need that.

photo credit: bingbing via photopin cc

Praying For Protection

Praying For ProtectionEvery time I leave for a work trip, I am reminded of a powerful passage in Francis Chan’s book Crazy Love {which is a phenomenal read} about what and why we pray for certain things – like safety.

I was convicted when I read it years ago and am convicted by the echo of his words today.

Haven’t we all prayed the following prayer? “Lord, we pray for safety as we travel. We ask that no one gets hurt on this trip. Please keep everyone safe until we return, and bring us back safely. In Jesus name we pray, amen.” The exact wording may vary a bit, but that is the standard prayer we recite before leaving on mission trips, retreats, vacations, and business trips.

We are consumed by safety. Obsessed with it, actually. Now, I’m not saying it is wrong to pray for God’s protection, but I am questioning how we’ve made safety our highest priority. We’ve elevated safety to the neglect of whatever would accomplish His purposes in our lives and in the world.

Francis Chan | Crazy Love | 133

This makes my mind reel with questions. What’s my motivation for praying for protection? Isn’t God bigger than my safety? Is safety what we are on Earth for? Don’t I trust God with His plans for my life, even if it includes harm? {or an untimely death, which is the underlying factor in my safety anxiety.} I wrestle with those questions every time I perceive my circumstances to be dangerous.

One hint of turbulence and I’m praying for God’s hands to surround that hunk of metal zooming through the clouds at 30,000 feet. When I take a wrong turn and wind up where lone females {especially ones that look confused and lost} shouldn’t be, I pray for a shield around my car.

Praying for protection isn’t inherently wrong. God asks that we bring everything to Him as a  prayerful sacrifice, but we are also asked to trust and not try to manipulate God through our prayers. (<— tweet this)

Right after I breathe frightened entreaties, I am hit with Francis’ words that never seem to leave the back of my mind.

People who are obsessed with Jesus aren’t consumed with their personal safety and comfort above all else. Obsessed people care more about God’s kingdom coming to this earth than their own lives being shielded from pain or distress.

Francis Chan | Crazy Love | 133

God’s plan is sovereign. Prayer is a way we partner with God, which leads to opened eyes and hearts to the wonderful ways He works in our lives and in the world around us. We pray so we can acknowledge God’s work not so we can take control of our circumstances. (<— tweet this)

God loves when we bring our troubles, joys, successes, and failures to His feet, but He wants us to offer them as pieces of our hearts and accept whatever may come.

When I am scared for my life, whether the threat is real or imagined, I’m often praying to rid myself of the undesirable circumstances, not for peace and courage to meet the circumstances with God as my strength. My fear is born from a lack of trust and confidence in God’s provision and perfect plan.

Francis Chan

I was in Orlando last week and had convinced myself one night that I was sure to be murdered in my hotel room {in my defense, someone had mistakenly tried to open my door rather forcefully around 11 pm which is what started this train of thought}.

Following the unsettling event, my sweet husband suggested {via Facetime} that I read Psalm 27. The Psalms are my safe zone, my spiritual third place, and I was reminded again why I find such comfort in the Psalms as I read over David’s words. David is an emotive and volatile personality who cries out to God in every sort of emotional state. I can relate…

Unlike me, David generally has a god grasp of God’s place in his life’s purpose and plan. David knows that God is eternal and He views His children with an eternal perspective. God answers prayers and gives protection with the eternal in mind, while I am often stuck in the present. (<— tweet this)

I’m familiar with Psalm 27, especially the beginning and the end. {The Lord is my light and my salvation: Whom shall I fear?…Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall stregthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!} What I found in the middle, however, showed David’s grasp of God’s sovereignty in the midst of his fear.

For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock.

Psalm 27:5

David trusts that God will protect him in times of trouble, but He doesn’t limit that protection to his earthly home. I love that David doesn’t specify where the protection takes place. Whether he is hidden in God’s physical tabernacle on earth or in His heavenly dwelling, David knows that he will be taken care of.

Safety comes in all shapes and sizes – in God’s world, it doesn’t always look like the safety we expect the police to provide. The next time I’m boarding an airplane or sending my husband off on a ministry trip, I want my prayers to be more “Your will be done” and less “safety first”.

Listen up, it’s Luke!

service&prayer

I like Luke.

He’s a doctor – always a plus.

He’s a details guy – and isn’t ashamed of his knack for keeping facts straight.

He’s confident – not ashamed to share his gifts.

In a letter to Theophilus, he makes a bold statement:

It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very frist, to write to you an orderly account…that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed. {Luke 1:3-4}

I don’t know about Theophilus, but I’m paying attention!

With that type of introduction, you better believe I’m going to note every detail Luke records.

Luke1-3-4Luke doesn’t begin his Gospel account with Jesus, but with the birth narrative of John the Baptist. I picture John’s soon-to-be parents, Zacharias and Elizabeth, as the older couple at church who immediately give you grandparent vibes.  Their faith was time tested and earnest, their hearts full of a genuine love for God.

But, they didn’t have kids.  Children seemed like a dream of the past since they were both pretty old.  God performs a miracle in Elizabeth’s barren womb and she gives birth to the man who would “go before [Jesus] in the spirit and power of Elijah…to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

In just a few paragraphs, Luke shares these happenings and I’m struck by the details he deems important enough to include. Luke pays attention to the circumstances surrounding Gabriel, an angel of the the Lord, appearing to Zacharias to tell him the news of Elizabeth’s pregnancy- therefore, so do I.

  • “So it was, that while he was serving…” (1:8) – Zacharias was fulfilling his priestly duties.  He was actively doing what God had called him to do – serve in the temple.  I may not be a priest, but I am certainly called to serve God, serve the body of Christ, and serve my family. Am I doing that actively, regardless of my current circumstances?
  • “And the whole multitude of people was praying outside…” (1:10) – Last time I checked, a multitude was a whole ton of people.  This large group of people weren’t chatting or sitting idly, they were praying.  God is visible through prayer.  I need to pray.  We need to pray.  Do I live a lifestyle of prayer?  Am I encouraging my community to pray?

Luke used 15 percent of this story to communicate these actions.  He could have focused on Elizabeth’s feelings or the town’s reaction.  Instead, he devotes space in his narrative to emphasize the power of service and prayer.

Pray For A Blog?

I finally did it, an act of surrender that God was prompting with very vivid lessons in patience and perseverance.

I prayed over my blog.

Where fingers usually skim across the black keys, taping out words as quick as they come to mind, my hand rested with fingers still on the keyboard. Where eyes are usually trained with focus and attention, my head bowed with eyes closed before the opened screen.

I felt pretty silly sitting there, silent and unseeing, with laptop on my knees. I was secretly pleased Tim wasn’t there to observe my unusual posture.

That posture was long in coming, and I regret that it had not been executed earlier.

I was finally praying that Primitive Roads would be completely placed in God’s hands.  I view this blog as ministry just as much as I view it as a hobby.  I so want it to be a space where people experience and know God, not just read about Him.

It took the process of switching Primitive Roads from wordpress.com to wordpress.org for me to realize that my blog had become just that – MY blog.

Though I am pleased that Primitive Roads has survived the migration, it has certainly endured much troubleshooting, adjusting, and overall technical fine tuning in the process.

I spent hours on Live Chat with Host Gator (PS – they are awesome!) fixing URL problems on top of the hours I spent manually (I now realize there are plugins that can do these things…) redirecting links and minimizing photo file sizes.

If I wasn’t wanting to throw a brick through my computer when I first started the transfer, by the end I was sending my blood pressure sky-high with frustration at my lack of blogging tech-savvy.  My mind would not turn off with updates and corrections I needed to make, and I was so disheartened as traffic began to drop.

As feelings of defeat crept in, the biggest problem became apparent – I was striving for success, success for myself.

Primitive Roads had become all about me. I wanted people to read MY words and make MY recipes and subscribe to MY blog.

And that’s why I found myself with palms open on my keyboard, praying for Primitive Roads.

This is a little of how my prayer went:

Primitive Roads is YOURS!  Do with my words as YOU please.  Let my striving be for YOUR glory.  If I boast in anything, let me boast in YOU and what YOU have done.

Lord, Primitive Roads isn’t about me.  It’s about YOU.  May my choices, time, and words in blogging reflect my love for You and Your love for us.

Help me to maintain good boundaries and priorities.  You first. Tim second.  Ministry third.

Please continue to give me Your vision as we navigate these primitive roads together!

Your daughter,

Emily

It may be weird, to pray for a blog, to pray with hands laid on a computer, but I will continue to be weird.

How do you keep your ministry surrendered to God?