Monthly Archives: October 2013

Prayer’s Power in Friendship

I know that I missed a week in posting a friendship challenge post. It’s not that i haven’t thought about it every single day, but last week was one of those weeks where I couldn’t write. When time allowed, the words weren’t there.

I’ve learned a lot over the past couple of years when it comes to writing, and one of the most important things is to not publish blog posts unless I feel God guiding and inspiring me to do so. There have been far too many times in everyday life that I have talked for the sake of talking and done damage with my words, and that’s one of the things I love about writing. It’s a chance for me to really think before I “speak.”

As we enter into the last few days of October, I want to finish off this challenge with a excerpt from my book, Trend Breakers: Discovering and Choosing True Friendship in a Lonely World. I have grown to value prayer more and more each year that I live and in each challenge that arises in my life and the lives of those I love. It’s vital! My challenge to you this week is to ask God who He would have you earnestly pray for this week. I can’t begin to tell you how honored I would be if you would send me an email letting me know how I can pray for you as well.

Friends Challenge

Now here’s some more thoughts on the power of prayer in friendships:

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people.  ~1 Timothy 2:1

I remember being a newlywed sitting next to my husband in Sunday school class. Our teacher began the lesson by sharing a realization that had struck him that week, and it immediately spoke to me as well. He had run into a friend who had recently requested that he pray for a certain request. Our teacher realized as soon as he saw the friend that he hadn’t been praying as he promised because it slipped his mind, and he knew that he had to begin changing this problem.

As I listened to my teacher’s account, I felt the sadness wash over me. I was guilty of the exact same “I’ll pray for you as long as I don’t forget” syndrome, and it broke my heart. Far too often, “I’ll pray for you” becomes a Christian catch phrase with no merit behind it, and I will no longer settle for it. From that time, I’ve made it a point to not make that statement without actually doing it first. If it’s a situation that requires continued intercession, I write it down so I do not forget.

In those times when I don’t know how to help a friend with a certain situation she is facing, prayer is honestly the greatest gift I can offer. Let’s look back at Jesus. In the hours before His arrest and subsequent crucifixion, He took His disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane and asked all of them to pray with Him. (Matt 26:36-44)

Prayer for friends works. Even when the circumstances seem dire, God is there to honor our faithfulness to pray for others.

Take Job for example. The man’s story is familiar: he was wealthy beyond description, lost it all in one day, and then had some well-meaning friends come in and offer their advice. In the end, Job got real with God and in the process heard the LORD’s humbling and moving reply about what our roles are versus God’s. If you’ve heard the story then you know that it ends happily: God restores Job’s riches to him twofold. But did you know that nestled in the beginning of this happy ending for Job there is a profound revelation to glean about prayer in friendship?

The poor counsel brought to Job by his three friends did not go unnoticed by God. In fact, in Job 42:7, God told the three men that He was angry at them for speaking in a way that failed to honor and portray Him correctly. He then ordered them to present a sacrifice before God in the presence of Job and to allow Job to pray on their behalf.

There are a myriad of lessons regarding friendship to learn from this particular account in Job. The three friends were dead wrong, and they chose to acknowledge their mistakes and humbly present themselves before God in the presence of the very person whom they wronged. What a humbling experience for the three friends! Then there’s Job. If I were him, I would undoubtedly be nursing some hurt feelings towards these three. Legitimately hurt, Job received from God the responsibility to pray on their behalf.

While this wouldn’t be my initial reaction, God didn’t consult Job on what he felt like doing. An infinitely wise God understood that to pray for someone truly does begin mending the hurts in our own hearts. God wanted to punish the men, but He left their fate up to the prayer of Job. While He made clear that they deserved severe punishment, God expected Job to pray for mercy for his friends, otherwise He would punish them as they deserved. (Job 42:8)

When Job made the decision to move past his own hurt feelings and pray for God’s mercy on the three men, God immediately took action. He accepted Job’s prayer: something for which the three were grateful, I’m sure.

Then, God went a step further. Read carefully this verse to see what God did next.

“And the LORD restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends.” (Job 42:10)

When did God choose to restore Job’s blessings? When he prayed for his friends. Not immediately after He and Job had their personal connection or when Job had completed a list of repentant steps. After all that Job went through, God chose to bless him after he prayed for his friends.

Can you apply this to your life? Is there a friend who, if you are being honest, has hurt you more than you can express? Perhaps they meant well just as Job’s friends did, but their advice wasn’t what you needed to hear. Whatever the case may be for you, I believe that God made sure this portion of Job’s story was included so that we could learn an important lesson: Pray for our friends, even when it isn’t easy. Not only will they receive blessings from it, but we cannot comprehend what kinds of blessings God will bestow upon us for bringing their needs before His throne.

Want to read more of Trend Breakers? It is currently available for the Kindle here, but if you are interested in reading it on another digital device, please contact me at kwesterf@gmail.com and I can email it to you as well.

Forgetting the Crazy, Remembering the Joy

When I think of words to describe this season of my life, crazy is definitely one of them. Some days are so crazy, in fact, that I can’t for the life of me remember what made them that way when I try to recall it the next day.

sibling love blog

I won’t remember that today I got to play Lego Star Wars with a certain four-year-old. BUT, I will remember and continue to cherish his love for the back story in every game he plays. Some may think Angry Birds is a mindless game, but he knows why the birds are angry and takes great pains to recreate the scenes of how they rescue their poor eggs from those mean pigs before bringing justice to all involved.

turtle blog

I likely won’t remember that we sat down to watch a rainy-day movie and everything seemed perfect to my mama-sentimental heart. Mom & son curled up under a blanket in our sweats and my coffee, except when the show got started, Daisy woke up from her nap and brought her sweet, beautiful chaos to the bookshelves and DVD cases after I changed her diaper instead of still being under the cozy blanket. Then Dash decided he’d rather play Lego’s with me, and I felt that incredible depth of blessed that comes with knowing he desired to play with me rather than sit through a silly movie we rented from the Red Box, as he calls it.

I won’t remember that in 30 minutes time, I dodged a curious crawler and a boy with a light saber while I tried vacuuming the floors. Then I gave baby a bath and set up boy with bath crayons only to have to dislodge a piece of one of the crayons from his nose. Curiosity sure can be our enemy sometimes, you know? 😉

I won’t remember exactly how it feels to hold a baby who fights falling asleep. The way she arches her back and pretends to detest a pacifier only to give in seconds later to a sweet, exhausted embrace in the rocking chair.

I may not remember the way that Daddy ran into her room and snatched her up for snuggles before I had a chance to go in and comfort her. Will I remember the look of adoring pride in his smile when I peeked in a few minutes later to see her contentedly asleep on his lap? Probably.

tuckered out blog

I won’t remember all of the details years from now, but I hope that I remember how much I love this time in my life. Both the insanity and the sweetness. The loud cacophony of father and son wrestling as well as the sweet silence of a sleeping baby in my arms. I do my best to make each hug I give and receive really count for something.

Today those hugs counted for a lot. I won’t remember the details of the crazy or all of the ludicrous mom statements I make like, “Don’t let your sister lick your foot!” I will, however, continue to cherish every single hug those sweet kids give me through each stage of their life, and I have a feeling that I’ll love a 12-year-old’s hug just as much as I love a 4-year-old’s.

kisses for mommy blog

Focus on Friendship Challenge 3

How’s the challenge to be intentional with friendships going for you?

Friends Challenge

Even if you’ve missed the first couple, that doesn’t mean you have to sit this challenge out. You can still catch up, or you can just pick up on this week’s challenge.

Speaking of which, have you ever read something that someone else wrote that helped you become a better person? Perhaps you were part of a classroom or audience where the speaker in the front of the room said something that has always stuck with you. Words are one of the most powerful things in this world! In this technology-driven world, we see, skim, read, become offended or inspired by many words.

Sometimes it’s noisy. Too noisy. Other times, though, you happen upon some precious nugget that makes you stop and think about how you’re living or viewing life and it inspires you to change for the better. Maybe you read something that makes you realize that you’re not alone in whatever you’re facing in life. Perhaps your pastor gave an illustration that stopped you in your tracks and pointed you in the right direction.

This week’s challenge is a little different than what you’d probably expect, but it’s important even still. Who knows? In addition to blessing and encouraging someone else, you might end up with a new friend, too!

Take time to write to an individual – be it an author, speaker, teacher, pastor, etc. – who has inspired, encouraged, and made you a better person.

As a former teacher and someone who currently dabbles in the blogging and writing world, I can testify that every last person you could think of in this realm of service is a real person. Crazy right? Anyone who makes an effort to put his or herself and his or her stories out there to encourage others does a ton of behind the scenes work. It’s also likely that they’ve all had to overcome some pretty big struggles to get to the end result that you have had the opportunity to learn from. You may even feel like their friend because you know their stories, but I guarantee they would LOVE to hear yours, too.

We all need encouragement from time to time. If someone has helped you in your quest to be a better wife, friend, mom, whatever and they are still around today – TELL them!

If it’s someone you don’t know personally, it only takes a few minutes to send an email, and finding their email address is usually pretty simple if they have a website or a Facebook page, which most public figures do.

Step outside your everyday routine and say thank you to someone who has invested in you! Have a great week, and get busy writing your note of encouragement! 🙂

Surviving the Fire

It would do us all a lot of good to remember that the classic Bible stories many of us heard as children are not fairy tales. A boy really did face an actual giant and defeated him with a stone to the head. God really did demonstrate grace through a man named Noah who looked like a lunatic while he spent decades building an ark. And Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego actually stood up to a king – a real, arrogant, and powerful emperor whose hurt pride and temper sentenced them to a fiery furnace.

Has someone ever sentenced you to a fiery furnace? Is there an enemy far more influential than you know how to handle threatening to destroy life as you know it?

If those three Jewish boys were here today they’d likely sit down with you and empathize.

“We’ve been there,” they’d say, “And by God’s grace, we survived the fire.”

The literal fire. Let’s take a second and acknowledge that, shall we?

There are times in all of our lives when we feel the heat from whatever furnace we currently feel trapped inside, and it’s unbearable.  To make it more intense, those of us who are believers sense that added pressure in knowing that we are being observed while we endure the flames. Our enemies watch on with an air of satisfaction while those who care for us stand by attempting to make things more bearable with their water buckets of encouragement.

Some fires can be doused by those precious buckets, but others are furnace fires enclosed by bricks that shield the flames from being quenched by anything but divine intervention.

And that’s when we must do just what those three young men were forced to do when they found themselves in the furnace. They just sat there, helpless and surrendered to God’s plan for their life’s situation.

Their enemy had one plan when he had them discarded into the flames, but God had a greater plan.

Do you find yourself in a furnace in recent days? Take heart, remember that others have gone before you in the flames, and they weren’t incinerated. In fact, God used the very things Satan intended to cause ruin to bring good.

Satan intends to destroy us in the furnaces we face in our lives, but God chooses to use the furnace to refine us.

Less of us. More of Him.

Purging the baggage that brings us pain and draws our attention off of Him and His plan and requiring us to give Him our all.

Furnaces make us forget about all other distractions. As much as they hurt, we need them in our lives to remind our forgetful hearts that we are not the ones in control and that our ways are not the best ways.

Take a minute and relate with those whose stories God chose to include in the Bible. They’re there to encourage us in our own lives. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were undoubtedly refined through their fiery furnace encounter – not because they were super human, but because they made the choice we all can make to trust God in the hard times, and He is worth trusting. Always!

Focus on Friendship Challenge 2

If you missed what’s going on around here this month on the blog, you can get caught up here and here.

How did week one of the challenge go for you? As of Sunday evening, I have the plan in place and the supplies I need to complete my little project for the friend God brought to mind, but I haven’t been able to deliver it yet. So don’t give up if you haven’t gotten yours done yet! I’m not going to hand over grade cards or tardy slips. I promise. 🙂

Friends Challenge

Now let’s move on to this week’s challenge! This one is big! Huge, actually, yet it won’t cost you a penny to complete. Are you ready for it?

This week, commit to pray for your friends. Don’t skip this one! Make a list of friends in your life and spend intentional time each day this week praying for them. Pray specifically for any needs you know they have. Pray blessings on them and their families. Pray for health and/or healing in their lives.

Can I encourage you to take it a step further and let them know you’re praying? Let’s face it. Far too often, the good intentions to pray for others don’t lead to accomplishing the intercession because we are forgetful people. However, if I send someone a message letting her know that I’m going to be praying for her that day, then I will remember to follow through because I don’t want to go back on my word about something as important as praying for others.

So pick a person or small group of people to pray for each day, let them know that you will be praying, ask them if they have any specific requests, and then pray for your friends as often as the LORD brings them to your mind over the course of the day.

 “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.” James 5:16

Okay. It’s time to get started! Don’t make it complicated; just go pray. It really, truly, without a doubt will make a difference in the lives of others this week.