Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

Okay, yep . . . it's that time of year. I know everyone is making them only to fall short on keeping them! NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS. I love to set goals, make lists, evaluate, reflect, etc. So that's what I've been doing anticpating this new year. However, I know that when I do this, they tend to become more of a "weight" than a goal. So I'm reflecting and evaluating.

What would I like to 2011 to be like? What will I do different next year? What are some new things I'd like to try? How can I live in a way that brings more honor and glory to God?

So here are my goals for 2011:
1. Simplicity. Resting. Remaining. Abiding. Fullness in Him!

2. Live intentionally. How can I be intentional in spending my time? Having conversations? Sharing God's love? Serving others? Doing life with purpose and passion?

3. Be healthy. All around.
Spiritually-keep Jesus the main thing. Know Him . . . Make Him known.
Physically-sleep, exercise, healthy eating (these are the things I'm the worst at).
Relationally-God first, Santino second, figure out the rest :)

4. Try new things. In 2010 it was painting. 2011, maybe sewing, photography, new recipes??

5. Read. More Bible-transform and renew my mind daily (Romans 12:1-2). Read the books on my shelf that have been waiting for me! And seriously, I'm not buying another book until these 16 on my shelf are read (unless I see a good one).

So some are broad, some are simple, some are fun! Balance. These are my goals. Now I seek the Lord and say, what are your goals for me this year?

The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD. All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the spirit. Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established. (Proverbs 16:1-3)

Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. (Psalm 37:4-5)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


I just read ahead in my devotional “Comforts from the Cross” by Elyse Fitzpatrick because tomorrow’s topic was on prayer. Prayer. . . what a struggle! While I enjoy it, and long for moments of stillness and silence before the Lord, some days it is such a struggle. She says there are 2 reasons we don’t pray, both rooted in not fully believing the gospel:

1) We don’t really think we need to (self reliance)
2) We don’t feel comfortable in the presence of God (shame and guilt).

I think there is a 3rd reason too . . . we don’t know how! I really think the struggle in prayer is just getting there. We don’t need to read a book on prayer, listen to a sermon on prayer, or talk about prayer, we just need to pray!

When I first started to pray I think I read 10 books on prayer. There are so many thoughts on prayer, “how to pray. . . start like this . . . ask in this way”, etc. I started to feel like a robot in my prayer time and like I was doing it “wrong”. It was too formulaic for me. So I finally put down all the books on prayer. I went to God and said “I love to pray, but I have no idea what I’m doing! Is it okay if I just talk to you?” I started to imagine myself at coffee with Jesus or resting in the arms of my Heavenly Father . . . and it was like a weight lifted off of me!

I’m reminded of Romans 8:26-27 “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” We don’t know how to pray, the Word of God says so himself!

Even as I’m writing this, so much scripture is coming to mind about prayer. Abraham asking God to save Lot; Moses interceding for the people-God relents; Hannah praying for a baby-He answers; Daniel praying, and the angel reminds him God has heard, but there is a battle going on in the heavenlies delaying the answer; Psalms-David sometimes crying out, sometimes praising, sometimes confessing anger and fear; Jeremiah praying for mercy on the people, God says stop praying, it’s time for judgment; Paul teaches us in Colossians to pray watchfully and thankfully; Jesus teaches us to pray humbly, yet also telling the story of the persistent widow to continue asking, etc.

So, I don’t have a formula. I believe Jesus taught his disciples to pray a certain way-Praising the Father, praying for His will and provision, and to be humble before the Lord with our sin. But, I don’t think it was to show them how to get what they want from the Father, as much as it is getting the Father-fellowship and communion with Him. His will for us is not to give us the idols we crave (health, wealth, relationship, jobs, etc.). His will is for us to be sanctified to look more like His Son. His will is that we know Him and make Him known!

Which is why we don’t know how to pray. We don’t know how to ask for things like that! We wouldn’t, we are in too much pursuit of self, to pursue Him and His kingdom.

So can I encourage you to be honest about prayer with our Heavenly Father? “I don’t know what I’m doing, I don’t know what to ask for”, and bring yourself to the place where his disciples were, where I am regularly and say . . . “Lord, teach me to pray.” I sort of think that’s what He wants from us anyway-to be like Mary, to sit and listen, to have a teachable and humble heart, and submit to His way.

Let us be intentional about carving out time for the Lord, be honest with Him when we go to the Throne of Grace that we don’t know how to pray and then just start talking. No need to be intimidated, God already knows your heart. No need to feel like you don’t know how, none of us do (Romans 8:26). All we need is to be intentional and honest, to go to the throne of grace and . . . pray.

Practical Tips
(Just some things that have helped me when I’m stuck in a rut in my prayer life.)
1. Start with just 2 minutes a day. Don’t overwhelm yourself thinking you have to pray for 3 hours, the hardest discipline is doing it daily. Pick a consistent time each day for 2 minutes.
2. Read a Psalm or listening to worship music before you begin. Get the attitude of your heart right before going into his presence.
3. Be honest-don’t add fluff, don’t recite quotes you’ve heard people say. Talk to him the way you would talk to a friend on the phone. (Not that you don’t revere Him, He is the Lord, but be real and pure before Him too.)
4. Keep a notepad next to you if anything pops up while you pray (groceries, etc.). The enemy will try to distract you, write it down, and persevere!

Prayer: A Holy Occupation
by Oswald Chambers
Alone with God by John MacArthur
Genesis 18-19 , Exodus 32-33, Daniel 9, Nehemiah 1, Matthew 6-7, Luke 1, 11, 18, John 17, Colossians 4, Ephesians 3, Romans 8

Leave a comment with some things that have helped your prayer life too!

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Trust in His love.
Delight in His ways.
Hope in His promise.
Rest in His grace.
Joy in His presence.
Know Him. Make Him known.
Refreshing. Fulfilling. Satisfying.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

He Hears

A few weeks ago I saw the grandmother of one of my former students. She shared that she was going back to court soon to try and get custody of her 3 grandkids (10 yrs, 5yrs, and 8 mths). The father of my former student was shot and killed years ago, and the mother has spent the last few years in and out of jail, on drugs, etc. and she is now missing.

I was so inspired for her love for her grandkids. She does not have much, and is even disabled, and I know providing and caring for them is difficult. I talked with some of my friends from life group and asked if they would want to pitch in to give her some gifts for her grandkids.

Well time went by and I didn’t go shopping. So I decided to just get a gift card to Target that way she could buy whatever she thought they’d need or want. I had plans to deliver it early in the week, but didn’t send the gift card home until Thursday afternoon.

Yesterday, she came to my classroom weeping! She said she spent all of Thursday morning crying because she had no money to buy Christmas gifts. She told her kids they would have to wait for presents until January. She said all morning she was crying and praying and then my former student came home with the gift card. She said she couldn’t believe it! She never thought God would hear and provide the way He did! She said she was overwhelmed and so excited, she was able to go out and buy her kids gifts! We were both crying as she told me, it was amazing.

I thought about how perfect God’s timing is. I had not had time to go shopping, which is why she didn’t get the card until Thursday. If I had given it sooner, she wouldn’t have been able to praise God for answering her prayer! It was just amazing to praise the LORD together and confess together that God hears prayers. He proves again, that He is able to do immeasurably more than we might ask or think . . . He hears, He provides, He loves.

Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause (Isaiah 1:17). Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you (Psalm 55:22). Blessed be the LORD, Because He has heard the voice of my supplication. The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him (Psalm 28:6-7).

For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure(Philippians 2:13). Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights (James 1:17). Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to HIM be glory (Ephesians 3:20-21).

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Proclaim the Excellencies of Him

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9)

I want my life to proclaim the excellencies of Him . . . how he has chosen me and called me out of darkness and into light. I want that to be on my lips, on my mind, on my heart, and worked out with my hands and feet daily.


Praiseworthy & Excellent.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Scripture 20

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:1-2)

I literally just wrote the word endurance on the board today in my classroom during a "teachable moment". We were learning a difficult skill and I could see my kids getting frustrated, shutting down, and giving up. So I stopped, and told them not to give up, to have "endurance"! Being the teacher, I knew that it would be hard at first but if they would just hang in there, they'd get the lesson and learn the skill!

I taught them that having endurance means to keep trying even when it's too hard, to never give up! All the while, I'm preaching to them to endure when times are difficult, realizing that I was full of hypocrisy! I know when the LORD is bringing me through something difficult, that I don't understand, or feel like is just "too hard" for me to go through, I get frustrated, shut down, and want to give up too.

So once again, the Lord teaches me through His word (and through these precious little children) a great life lesson. Just as I know when I am teaching them something difficult, it's for their own good. It may seem too hard at first, but they will learn and it will be for their benefit. They can't see beyond the task, the circumstance. Just like me. When our Heavenly Father, the Good Teacher, is teaching me, I can't see beyond my circumstance. All the while, He is reminding me to endure and keep my eyes fixed on Him.

Oh that I would lay aside every weight, look to Jesus, and trust Him all the more!

"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance" (James 1:2-3)

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)