Category Archives: wait training

30 Days of Hopeful: Day 2

What is your “big ask?”  A big ask is the dream your heart most desires.  Your deepest longing.  Sometimes, the only One who knows your big ask is God.  But now and then, God asks us to wait for our big ask to come true.  And sometimes He changes our heart’s desire altogether, or gives us a new dream.  The Bible reminds us that God’s ways are higher than our ways….and often a whole lot messier!

We can help each other stand strong during our times of waiting.  A friend recently referred to me as her prayer coach—but the truth is, we help each other.  We encourage each other during times of weakness.  Holding onto hope, especially when what we see with our natural eyes looks discouraging, can be a hard fight.  It’s my prayer that something you read during our 30 Days of Hopeful will help you stand strong in your battle to believe.

Here are some practical tips I’ve discovered that help me hold onto hope, while waiting for my dream:

1. I meditate on my “watchwords.”  A watchword is simply a verse or two of Scripture that speaks directly to my heart.  It’s my practice  to read a chapter of the Bible each day.  I’ve discovered that the Holy Spirit has a way of illuminating a special watchword that gives the strength I need to keep my faith strong and my hope alive. I like to write the watchword in what I call my Chubby Book, a wire-bound booklet of 3×5 cards.

2. I keep my prayer list beside me while I fold the laundry.  I list the items on the page next to my watchword.  I then pray for each item on my list, sometimes pausing to reflect on the watchword. This practice has made laundry, a chore I used to loathe, into something I actually like.  A miracle in itself!

Chubby Book


3. I take my Chubby Book on my jog and pray for those on my list. My neighborhood has some steep hills. While going uphill, I pray for our friends suffering in difficult places. In some small way, this allows me to feel a solidarity with their suffering. Why not pray during your own exercise time? Or turn your daily walk into a “prayer walk.”

It doesn’t matter if we walk, run, or fold clothes. Our minutes matter to God. And minute-by-minute, as we hold onto our hope, our battle may be leading us to an eventual breakthrough in our big ask.  To God be the Glory!

The Secret Mailbox


Friendship belongs to those who fear the Lord.  With them He shares His secrets… (Psalm 25:14 TLB)

I love a good secret, don’t you?  Keeping a secret requires that we remain on our guard.  We don’t  want to “spill the beans” in a thoughtless moment. The Bible tells that God has secrets–and shares His secrets with His friends.  Jesus said, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you (John 15:15).  Prayer is kind of like keeping a secret with God.  We take our secret requests to Him and remain alert to His voice–ready to take action as He leads.

When our children were small, I made up a little game called the “Secret Mailbox Club” to help them get a picture of what it means to entrust our secret hopes and dreams into God’s hands.  I reminded them that when I put mail in our family’s mailbox, I put the flag up and walk away.  I don’t pitch a tent and wait anxiously for the mailman.

I encouraged the children to draw a picture of their heart’s desire, a secret hope, a cherished  dream.  We  put these “prayers” into our handmade construction paper mailbox and put the flag up.  “Now, let’s trust God with our secret prayers,” I ‘d tell them. “We can be sure He will send the answers in His way and in His time.”

This little game helped them (and me) grasp the concept of trust, and what it means to “cast our cares on Him…” (1 Peter 5:7).   If we truly trust in the character of our loving, all-powerful God, we can pray and walk away knowing that He knows what’s best for us.  Our hopes and dreams are now safely in His hands.   And we’ll rest secure as we wait for our “mail” to arrive.

30 Days of Thankful: Day 25

If you’ve ever wanted to know whether God is in the details, you’ll be inspired by my friend Allie’s adoption story.  I hope her words encourage you to reflect–and  give thanks–for the times you’ve experienced God’s guidance in your own life.

GUEST BLOG: Allie Osman

Throughout our journey of adopting our two-year-old son Peter, God repeatedly reminded me that as we follow His will and allow Him to order our steps, He is in control. For that I am filled with thankfulness.

God was in control of every part of the process: the timing, communications with agency personnel and doctors, the administrative paperwork, all the details. He chose Peter, cared for him, and delivered him into our arms. On so many occasions during the time-sensitive process, I stressed over the administrative details, about whether certain meetings would take place on time, about whether I’d be able to communicate with certain people, about whether I’d be able to find out critical information. What God showed me over and over again was that He is with me and the adoption was in His hands. He always provided what we needed when we needed it.

Right before Thanksgiving 2014, we were officially matched with Peter by the adoption agency months sooner than expected. Then, in February 2015, we were issued our Letter of Approval (LOA) from the Chinese government authorizing us to adopt Peter. We were told the average time frame for a family to receive an LOA is two to four months after Log in Date (when the Chinese upload into their system a family’s Letter of Intent to adopt a specific child).

We had been praying that we would receive our LOA in two months. Not only did God provide, but He provided abundantly. We were issued our LOA five days before the two-month mark! Then, our agency said we would most likely receive the remainder of our documentation from the Chinese government in time to travel to China to bring Peter home in June. We prayed that we would travel in May, bringing Peter home as soon as possible. Yet again, God’s timing prevailed and we had Peter in our arms May 11, 2015. All evidence that God was driving this adoption.

In the five months since we brought Peter home, God has blessed us over and over again with Peter’s health and development. Each medical test has yielded perfect results. He is in excellent health and is developmentally delayed simply as a result of institutionalization, which he will overcome over time.

Peter’s rapid physical and motor progress reminds us daily of God’s blessings and His provisions. Although Peter is almost three years old and not yet speaking, he is demonstrating great progress with comprehension and some progress with making sounds. We have no doubt that he will learn to talk in God’s timing. Our hearts are filled with thankfulness and we praise the Lord for bringing this sweet, lovable little boy into our family.

30 Days of Thankful: Day 23

My friend Leslie’s beautiful transparency challenge me to realize that a thankless heart is no small thing. Her words inspire me to be ruthless with those things in my life that get in the way of a thankful heart!

GUEST BLOG: By Leslie Long

Recently I was reading in Genesis 3. I watch the serpent lead Eve into doubts about God and what He really commanded her and Adam not to do. Once she is thoroughly distracted with desire, Satan convinces Eve that if she eats the fruit of the forbidden tree, she will actually become like God.

The couple, unlike the serpent, had been made in the image of God. Adam and Eve were already like God! Satan’s play at tempting Eve to get the only thing God withheld caused her to stumble. She forgot that she already had something far better than what Satan was offering. I imagine God giving Eve the world, and with a thankless, calloused heart, she refuses it and demands more.

It’s as if I’m looking into a mirror and find that so it is with me. I’ve come to learn that I simply cannot give thanks or live in joy when my heart is ravaged with discontentment.

Satan gives voice in my own heart to the lies he told Eve thousands of years ago and I stumble into my old ways, forgetting the good gifts given to me. Instead of giving thanks, I turn my nose up to what my Father has offered and implore He give me more.

If only my marriage were easier, I’d praise you more. If you made me look like her, I’d have no problem being joyful. If I didn’t struggle with anxiety, then I’d be free. If you made my calling clear, then I would be more advanced in my career. This is the hard, honest truth of my childish heart. I hardly notice the treasure He has laid before me because I, like Eve, am distracted by Satan’s devices.

But what about the unseen good gifts of refining that God did through a tough first year of marriage? Or in the battle with self-image? Or in trusting Him with my anxiety? What about the beauty He may create there? Isn’t that the gift He promises? To be with us through the trial, continuing His work in us?

I’m too busy being discontented to see that these are the things He is calling me to be thankful for! And the truth hits me: This life is about God’s glory, not my ease and happiness. In His kindness, He is drawing me near and through these hard things and by His grace, I’m finding out who He really is.

He goes even further and creates such rich eternal beauty in me. Had he catered to my pleas and removed me from these hard places, I wouldn’t experience this newness in intimacy with the Lord.

In her foreword to the book, Choosing Gratitude, Joni Eareckson Tada writes, “I give God thanks in my wheelchair…I’m grateful for my quadriplegia. It’s a bruising of a blessing. A gift wrapped in black. It’s the shadowy companion that walks with me daily, pulling and pushing me into the arms of my Saviour. And that’s where the joy is…”

These days, God’s kindness in the midst of my sin leads me to repentance. I find myself saying a simple prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to do what I cannot: “Please, Lord, help me to trust when I cannot see. Will you help me remember you have given me exactly what I need? Would you create a more thankful heart in me?  And when it is hard to see, I pray to remember the beauty into which you’ve folded and encompassed me: covered in righteousness, lavished with grace, claimed as beautiful daughter with a strong eternal Hope waiting beneath every fear, concern and struggle- like a rush of relief that reminds, this is not the end of the story!” Thank God.


30 Days of Thankful: Day 17

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thess. 5:16-18 NIV).

I don’t know about you but I am beginning to notice some changes during our 30 Days of Thankful. The changes aren’t huge ones—more like a shift in the atmosphere. But they’re real nonetheless.

For example, yesterday I noticed a softening in a very difficult extended family member’s attitude. And a friend who I’ve been reaching out to for years is becoming more tender to the gospel. Just the other day, I experienced an unexplainable feeling of hope in a long-standing problem that had begun to feel hopeless. I wonder if you’ve noticed some changes, too?

As I become more thankful, I’m more aware of God’s blessings all around me.  And no wonder, since the words in the New Testament for thank and bless are practically the same. Both can be used to translate the Greek word eulogeo, which means “to speak well of or to give praise.”  More thanksgiving naturally leads to a greater sensitivity to my blessings.

But the vagueness of praying for God to “bless” my food, my friends, or my family was a problem until I learned a simple tip from our friend John DeVries, founder of Mission India.

In his wonderful book, Why Pray?  DeVries recommends praying for blessings by focusing on five areas which correspond with the letters for B-L-E-S-S:

B – Body – For physical health, safety, strength

L – Labors – For the success and prospering of their work

E – Emotions – For emotional health, peace and joy to replace fear and anxiety

S – Social life – For social relationships, family to have love and unity

S – Spiritual life – For each to know Jesus personally and grow in their spiritual lives

I set my cell phone each day to remind me to pray for several special people. And I pray the BLESS prayer when someone comes to mind and I’m not sure how to specifically pray for them.  Why not take a minute right now to B-L-E-S-S a friend, a family member, a government leader, or even the ruler of a nation.  And while you’re at it, be thankful in advance for what God will do in response to your prayer.