Category Archives: Begin the Journey

21 Day Experiment-Day 2

It’s not too late to jump on board our 21 Day Experiment in Prayer.  We’re reading through John’s Gospel. Today is Chapter Two.  Each time I perform this experiment, I come away with eyes open to a deeper understanding of Jesus.

Years ago, I went from atheist to believer in one dramatic moment. A short time later, I met and married my minster husband. I left my corporate career and moved cross-country to serve God with David.  A whole lot of changes going on!

I loved my husband. Our new life was an adventure. But I was mystified by the Bible, baffled by prayer, and didn’t speak “Christian-ese.”

One day I came across the 21 Day Experiment in a book by a former atheist and newspaper reporter, Emily Gardiner Neal (The Healing Power of Christ ). Right up my alley. Continue reading


21 Day Experiment-Day 1

Welcome to Day 1 of the 21 Day Experiment in Prayer.  In prayer as in life, it helps to begin with the end in mind. What’s your goal? What do you hope will happen?

My goal is simple: I want to hear God’s voice. Why? So I can pray His will. Remember the second part of our Lord’s prayer , “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as in heaven.”  Just think.  Our prayers are part of the way God gets His work done here on earth!

I also want to hear God’s voice so I can do His will.  I want to follow his instructions, gain His insight, be protected from unseen snares, and delivered from the devil’s messes.

My short answer on how to know the voice of God is this:  “Read his words”. No kidding. God spent about 1469 pages (in my Bible) revealing His power, His plan, His pattern for living, and best of all, His promises.

But we must give God time to speak to us. A few minutes each day to read and reflect on His Word sharpens our “inner hearing.” Jesus says, “My sheep listen to my voice. I know them and they follow me” (John 10:27).

Each time I perform this 21 Day Experiment, God speaks in special ways.  More often a whisper than a shout, but always personal, just for me. I use a simple prayer method to go along with my daily reading in the Gospel of John.

My tools include a Bible, a fine point Sharpie, and an ordinary, wire-bound booklet of 3×5 cards, which I call my Chubby Book.  Now you’re set to go!

Ground rules:

  1. Set aside fifteen minutes each day to read one chapter of John’s Gospel.
  2. Pray for the Holy Spirit to impress one verse upon your mind for that day. Write the verse on a 3×5 card in your Chubby Book.
  3. List your prayers on the adjacent card.  I take my Chubby Book with me throughout the day.  I like to pray while going for a run or walk, waiting for an appointment, folding clothes.
  4. Ask God for practical ways to be a doer of His Word.

This morning, while reading John Chapter One, I was struck by Andrew’s reaction when he realized that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah:

Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who…followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus (John 1:40-41 NIV)

Did you catch that?  The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him about Jesus.

Be a doer of the Word:  Today, I’m prompted to pray for those in my own neighborhood–especially the young moms–who don’t  know the Lord:  Lord, show me some practical ways to “bring them to Jesus.” And like Andrew, may it be the first thing on my mind.


21 Day Experiment in Prayer

It’s one thing to talk to God.  But what do you do when He talks back? It’s a question I ask myself every day.

If you want to pray with power, you do need to talk to God.  But you also need to listen.  So how do we find time to listen to God in such a busy, noisy world? I’ve learned that if you truly commit to listening to God’s voice, amazing things can happen.

Now I’m just an ordinary wife and mother. I married the love of my life—a kind-hearted, basketball player-turned-preacher—over forty years ago. David and I have shared four awesome decades of marriage and ministry.  But my journey is not the one I originally planned for myself.

Years ago when I was in college, I vowed I would never become a Christian.  And most certainly, I would never, ever marry a minister.   Funny how things turn out, isn’t it?

Over the years, I’ve learned that listening to God is not simply a matter of hearing His voice. It’s also about doing His will.  One day I realized that my life was either a “so what?” or a “so that!” If listening to God took me no further than my own little world, then so what?

The whole point of hearing God’s voice is so that I’ll do His will.

So I told God I would devote myself to listening to Him and doing His will.  And I would pray not just for my own little world, but also for His larger world.  That’s when the real adventure began!

When you begin to be a listener and doer of God’s Word, you could end up traveling to genocide-torn regions in Africa as I did. Or you might come face-to-face with the needs of your neighbor next door. If your experience is anything like mine, you’ll meet people and go places you never knew existed—starting within your own neighborhood.

I invite you to join me in a 21-Day Experiment in Prayer:

Starting tomorrow, let’s read through the Gospel of John together.  It’s one of my favorite books in the Bible.  Plus, it has helped me learn to hear from the Holy Spirit.

Plan to devote fifteen minutes to reading one chapter each day.  John has exactly twenty one chapters so this works well.  Read slowly and thoughtfully, praying for God to help you understand what you’re reading.

Next, ask the Holy Spirit to impress one verse from that chapter on your mind.  I like to copy that verse on a 3×5 card in my Chubby Book (more about the Chubby Book tomorrow).  I simply ask God to show me one way to be a doer of His Word that day.  I  also list people and places that are on my heart  for prayer and carry the card with me.

This 21-Day Experiment sounds simple.  But I’ve discovered it can energize your prayers–and your life.  I know of no better way to learn to hear God’s voice than to read His words.   Something mysterious happens when we read and obey God’s Word.

Everyone’s journey will look different.  But I truly believe that if you listen to God and follow His leading right where you are, your ordinary days will no longer feel ordinary. I invite you to come journey with me!


Our Source of Strength-Day 11

Sometimes the journey to find strength is an uphill climb.  Especially when our hopes keep getting dashed, and we begin to wonder if this desire of our heart is truly from God.  My friend Bethany Kortekaas has watched God do amazing things to restore her strength in difficult places–especially during her hard fought hope of holding a baby in her arms.  Bethany has shared some of the heartaches and joys of her journey.  I believe you’ll be strengthened by her beautiful story of Resurrection Hope on this Easter Sunday!

GUEST BLOG:  Bethany Kortekaas

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1). 

“I would love to see Baby K grow into a young and beautiful version of the wonderful people that you and Adam are. We will be seeing you in just a couple of weeks now!” These were the words of the young lady who is giving us the gift of our baby girl.

Strength from the Lord comes in all kinds of vessels. There are no words to describe how I feel about this young mother who is willing to walk the hard road of a full-term unexpected pregnancy. In a time when everyone points to easy solutions, she was determined to bless us with this child regardless of what that meant for her.

See, strength is more than just muscles and a work ethic. Strength is the courage to stand when you want to hide. It is the willingness to walk when the way is not clear. It cannot be measured by outward appearance nor reserved for the privileged. It is turning everyday to something more than what is visible to others.

Adam and I have uncovered this strength in our path to parenthood. God provides Himself as a source of strength to each person. If you are willing to admit that you need it, He is willing to provide it. How do you cope with being single longer than you hoped to be? How do you respond to yet another round of infertility treatments? What do you do once you discover you have a brain tumor? Where do you turn when your adopted embryos die? When you miraculously get pregnant and then miscarry? Do you say yes to adopting a baby?

How do you keep praying, keep thanking God, and keep hoping? Our strength to answer these questions has come from God. He is the almighty, powerful Creator of all we know and the only trustworthy source of strength that can never run dry.

Our family has tapped into God’s strength through three main ways: reading the Bible, prayer, and community:

  1. There is a deep comfort when you pick up your Bible and read Jesus’ words in John 16:33, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” We read our Bible for encouragement, insight, and to learn more about our Father who loves us and wants the best for us even in the pain. The Bible reveals that there is more to our story than what we can see right now.
  2. Prayer is direct access to God. Because of Jesus, we have the freedom to talk openly with the One who created starfish, Jupiter, and all the synapses firing in our brains. In prayer is where we acknowledge that the world is outside of our control and we need more strength than we can muster up for ourselves. It is safe for me to cry, question, feel, and hope as I pray. Prayer is where we respond in relationship with a God who can provide strength in the waiting and in the wonder.
  3. God created community. He made it clear that it is not good for man to be alone and He reinforced this by how He instructed the people of Israel to work, worship, and celebrate together. Without our friends, family, and the community of believers around the world, we would be lost in this journey.

We have seen others adopt embryos because of our story. We have heard how God provided financially in other adoptions. We have felt overwhelmed by the love at our baby showers. We have even been strengthened by the very words of our future daughter’s birth mom.

God has given us vessels of His strength through promises like Psalm 46:1, through prayer, and through the give and take of community. By His strength, we can walk forward in confident hope toward our next adventure.


30 Days of Hopeful: day 17

Our God-given hopes and dreams can impact the entire direction of our life.  The Bible reminds us of the importance of dreams:  “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18 KJV).  Some of the most courageous women I know are mothers raising their children in fragile neighborhoods.  These moms know that dreams can divert their children from drugs, gangs, and prison.  Dreams mean survival.

My young friend Dominique was just ten when some gang members befriended him.  “I was kind of a mascot,” as he puts it.  But gang mascots eventually become gang members, and he was headed for trouble.  One day, Dominique discovered an online chess game.  He got the hang of it and became good—really good.  Before too long, he was “busy” when gang members called.  Dominique was way too busy finding his purpose to run with gangs.

By the time he was in high school, Dominique had become the top scholastic chess player in the state of North Carolina.  In his college application, Dominique wrote: “By getting closer to the One who allowed me this chance, and continuing with the plan that we dreamed up together when I was a young child, I feel that I will be able to help someone else and make a lasting impact.”

Dominique didn’t attend church growing up.  But as a small child he had a sense of God’s destiny and a mysterious awareness of His calling through his childhood dreams of playing chess.  And when he heard a clear presentation of the Gospel his first semester in college, the vibrant young man accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and savior.

Dominique recently graduated from college–the first to do so in his family.  He plans to pursue a master’s degree.  And he continues to play chess.   He’s made his way into the realm of international competition.  This week, he’s playing against some of the best in the world at a match in London.

One thing is clear. Dominique’s earthly dreams had eternal implications that went far beyond the mastery of chess.  A reminder to take seriously the hopes and dreams of those children entrusted to our care.  Mother Teresa put it this way: Tread gently around the dreams of a child.  You might be treading on the dreams of God.