Joy in 2016

JOY. It surpasses circumstances; it’s greater than happiness. Happiness is based on happenings, but joy comes straight from God. (Fruit of the Spirit, yo!)

I’ve been reflecting a lot on this in the past year. I’ve had so many reasons for joy; not just happiness. Though my grandpa died in January, I experienced joy knowing that he went to heaven and joined my grandma. Though I had many physical obstacles, I overcame them. I was confined to a wheelchair for a long time. But I became able to walk with a walker! I cried when, at my home church, I made it up the stairs to sing with the choir. What joy was brought to our lives when my healthy little daughter joined us at the beginning of September! She brings us more reason to smile every day.

One of the worst moments of my year—not all that many people know this—was the last time I went to the hospital at the beginning of October. We’d been keeping an eye on my rising fever, and when it hit 106, we called 911. By this time, I was septic: paralyzed in strength and my speech was slurred. Both Doug and I thought I was going to die. But God was not done with me yet. Over the next week in the hospital, I was not sad at the fact that I almost died and with my current state. Instead, I was joyful for the little things.

Doug and I had recently watched the movie “Miracles from Heaven.” In the movie, the mom, who tells the story, tells of the everyday miracles she realized she had witnessed over the whole trial. So I started keeping track of the miracles I saw every day. It really puts life into perspective. There are lists for each day I was in the hospital, and though I don’t make a list every day anymore, I am conscious of all the miracles around me. We are financially okay even though Doug is in his third year of med school, and I’m not working. Both sets of our parents are a huge help to us. There are two wonderful caretakers who come and help take care of me and Lydia when Doug is away. I am still walking with a walker, but my physical therapist, Judy, thinks I’ll be able to walk without it (as is my goal)! I AM getting stronger. I cannot take care of Lydia by myself yet, but I can do so much more with her than I could when she was more than half the weight she is now!

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance” (James 1:2-3). I have had MS a long time. I know that the joy in me wouldn’t be near what it is now if I had been free of this disease. I’m not saying it’s because of the MS my faith is where it is today; I’m just saying that even though I have MS, God has used it for good. I’ve got joy down in my heart, as the song says. Joy is greater than happiness.

-Anna

P.S: I do have to share the HAPPY news that Lydia finally rolled over today! Yay!

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Letter to Grandpa Kenny

Dear Grandpa Kenny,

You don’t remember me, but you recognize me. Either that, or you can still pretend to know people pretty well. You came to my wedding last year. You knew before I did that I was going to marry Doug. You told my dad that “I think the grandkids are getting married” because “they seemed like they were hiding something from me” when we brought you back to the assisted living facility after Thanksgiving dinner in 2013. You knew who I was then, although my name had slipped your memory. You figured out who Doug was, too. We all took pictures with you before everyone scattered for the rest of December. You had gotten worn out, trying to remember things. That happens faster now.

I remember doing so much with you as I was growing up—it helped that you were right here in Cottonwood. I don’t know how many times you “retired” from farming, but you didn’t stop until you realized that you were forgetting too many things to continue. I respect that you voluntarily stepped out. It takes courage! Your wit has always been so quick, and I’m so glad that it stayed as long as it did!

The way you loved and cared for Grandma Lois was…inspiring. You and Grandma went through some pretty hard stuff in your years here in Cottonwood. I am so proud of you. Now, living in a memory care unit, not remembering many things, you are making do. You are living your life as best you can. You recognize people you see every day, and you are still you. You are still my grandpa. Forever and always.

Sometimes, I wonder what it would be like if I could talk to you and you knew what is going on. If you could answer questions. If you could tell me about meeting your sons- and daughter- in laws. If you could tell me about work on the farm in your day compared to what it is now. What would your opinion be on all of the issues going on in the world? Would your wit be even more on top of things than I remember? What advice would you be able to give me? My dad wonders it, too. Was he this much like Laura when he was starting to take on responsibilities of the farm? What would you tell her? Or Christina? Or me? Would you watch my life as I lived it and smile? Would you have ideas of what else I could do? Now I wonder how much longer you’ll be here with us. Will you live to see a great-grandchild? Would you comprehend that a baby was your great-grandchild? (Not that any of your grandkids have started making babies, but give it time.)

It’s hard watching age catch up with you. I had never seen a gray hair until you stopped greasing your hair every morning when you moved to assisted living. But your smile, though now faded slightly, always puts a smile on my own face. You and Grandma were like that—smiling, joking, loving. Do you miss Grandma? I miss both her and you. We are all growing older now. I have to do grown-up things like pay bills, schedule doctor’s appointments, clean house, etc. Katrina, your oldest granddaughter, got married last week. Mine was the only grandchild wedding you will be present for, and I am both honored and saddened by that. I am so glad that you still welcome my hugs when I give you one, because I think that would hurt worse. I love you, Grandpa. I won’t get to see you for a while now, and I’m a little bit nervous at what I’ll find next time. But I love you, the memory of who you were, and the very being you still are today, though it doesn’t remember as much.

See you soon,

You Favorite Meyer Granddaughter (though you may only remember me as your favorite Olson Granddaughter…..),

Anna

The Spoon Theory

“The Spoon Theory” was thought up by an individual with Lupus. It always makes me sad to think about, because I don’t have to plan life as much as she does. She has to plan around her ability to button shirts in the morning or take extra time to look presentable if there are bruises on her arms or if her hair is falling out. You can view her original story here. Anyway, I was thinking about this as I read the article to Dr. Wile E. Coyote yesterday morning, and I wanted to create my own spoon theory. Anyone who is physically disabled or has an illness such as MS, fibromyalgia, Lupus, no matter how severe or not, can relate to the Spoon Theory.

spoonEach spoon represents energy that I have in my day. People who are not sick have an unlimited number of spoons, and even if they use them all up in a day, many are regained with a good night’s sleep. This analogy also works well with a gas tank, that once you run out, it takes another night’s sleep to gain it back. But for the sake of this post, I will stick to spoons.

I’ll begin this illustration by handing you, my reader, twelve spoons.

“Only 12?” You ask suspiciously. Yes. Only 12. Let us begin the day.

At 2, 4, and 7 am, we get up to go to the bathroom, so it is really hard to get up later. Luckily, I do not work in the morning, so if I don’t get up until 8:30 or 9, it’s okay. But I’m already behind. But I have 12 spoons. At 8:47am, I get out of bed. I get up, shuffle through the clothes in my closet, and get dressed. I go to the bathroom to take my medicine, brush my teeth, put on some makeup, and just in general be ready for the day. I then go and put a bowl and some cereal on the table, make a pot of coffee, and sit down to eat breakfast. Oops, there are only 11 spoons in our hands now. I was standing for much too long this morning. Unlike others who have central nervous system diseases, I don’t notice when a spoon is missing until I sit down and relax for a moment. You can see how this may be hard when I am go-go-go for too long. It also doesn’t help how stubborn I am at times.

After breakfast, I sit down with my Bible, journal, and cup of coffee to spend some quality time with Jesus. I love doing this daily for a few reasons: 1) It starts off my day with eternal thinking, which always puts me in a better mindset when it comes to other things. And 2) It doesn’t cost a spoon. : ) Then I go ahead and do some chores. I put some clothes in the wash, and I decide to get some supper started in the crock pot while I’m up and on my feet right now. If I went and sat back down now, I would not lose a spoon, but because I have all this energy and am motivated and already here, I shall continue—but I lost another spoon. After supper is started and clothes are put in the drier some 20 minutes later, I sit back down in my spot to rest and catch up on some writing or reading or something else on my computer. I have 10 spoons. I wanted to go shopping today, but I also have to work today. Shopping usually costs about 3 spoons, so I decide to go tomorrow. We’re out of milk, but Dr. Coyote will make eggs or something for breakfast for himself. Shoot, we’re out of eggs, too. “Well, then, I shouldn’t have done laundry and started supper if I wanted to do all those things today!” I say frustratedly to myself. I look at my schedule the rest of the day and plan it out.

I leave at 11am to go grocery shopping, and after I decide something, I’ll do it, even if I…shouldn’t. If I leave at 11, I know Dr. Coyote will be out of class in time to help me unload groceries (because I texted him as I left). But as I’m grocery shopping, I have to back track because I forgot that something on my list was in the second aisle, not the second-to-last like in my hometown. I skipped getting another thing that I really did forget on my list simply because I didn’t want to lose another spoon. I have 6 spoons when I get inside the hot car, and 5 spoons before the car cools down enough where I feel like I’m breathing fresh air and my body temp goes down.

As soon as I get home, I climb the stairs with eggs in my hand, put the eggs away, and sit down, exhausted, with 4 spoons left. I didn’t take as long as I thought I might, so it’s not even noon yet when I crash. I listen as Dr. Coyote gets home and heads right for the car, taking as many groceries in his hands each trip as he can. He then starts putting groceries away (because he is such a sweet guy like that). At 12:18, I get up to help with the last few things. I now have 5 spoons again, because that sitting break is exactly what I needed.

“What do you want for lunch?” I ask my husband. He has to leave for class again at 12:55, so that doesn’t leave us much time. Had I not went grocery shopping, I could have had lunch started, or even finished by now. I beat myself for it, but Dr. Coyote tells me to go sit down again, because he has an idea for lunch.

I join Dr. Coyote at the table as he finishes putting together salads on two different plates, thanking him for carrying up the groceries and for making lunch. We eat and visit. I still have 5 spoons left, but I think I can get another back before I need to go to work.

That is just the first half of my day, but I do have to plan a little more. These are some recent examples of some harder days I’ve had. But I learn from my mistakes. I haven’t always planned enough in my day, but I know what I can and cannot do. Unfortunately, I’ve had to learn a lot of that through trial-and-error, but I don’t make the same mistakes forever. I’m not always aware when I’ve just dropped a spoon or took one away until after it has happened. Sometimes, I take tomorrow’s spoons by mistake, and have a harder day tomorrow.

Dr. Wile E. Coyote is learning more about MS in me and MS in general, as well. I share with him little bits, but it wasn’t until I read him the original spoon theory article that he really understood. Reading articles from the MS Society, I do know that people who have MS use 5x more energy than people without. We have to think as we walk. I have a limp, and need to lift up my left leg, even when it feels s o   h e a v y at times.

In an article I read by Cathy Chester yesterday morning, I learned that there are a few different kinds of fatigue. There is primary MS fatigue, which Chester described as “waking up feeling somewhat energized, then feeling tired in the afternoon and less tired in the evening.”  There are also different forms of secondary MS fatigue. Nerve fiber fatigue is when you are doing something, like walking or playing the piano, and suddenly your legs or your fingers feel weak. Both of these happen to me personally. There is fatigue of walking with a disability, which I have already discussed. There is fatigue caused by disrupted sleep. I have experienced this, as well, as urinary problems and other digestive problems have woken me up in the night repeatedly. To learn more about MS fatigue and what you can do about it, read the article I read yesterday here. I have found that planning, as well as rest breaks, work for me. I have jobs where I can sit while I work, and I have family, friends, and an amazing husband who will all help me out when needed. They don’t even know when they step up and rescue me, but God knows what I need and makes sure I get it.

I felt like I should write this so that my friends and family can understand me better. I have told this story to one friend, who had tears in her eyes as I finished, because she simply hadn’t understood before. I don’t want people to always feel like they need to help me, because I am independent and can do plenty of things on my own. But when I can’t do everything that one might expect, this is why. I haven’t completely understood how to explain, nor have I wanted the sympathy that stories like this sometimes bring. But I have come to a place where I would just like you to understand.

I’d like to hear from you: If you have an illness, do you have to plan your day around your illness? What kinds of things do you do to help yourself? If you don’t have an illness, does the spoon theory help you understand other illnesses better?

With love,

Anna Meyer

Poem: GOD Brings Success

Goals and expectations, I set them.

When they pop into my head, I take hold.

I try my best to meet each one,

Forgetting who really controls.

When I fail to meet my mark—

The one that I decided and I set—

Feeling like a failure, I cry.

But I am my biggest threat.

Why do I try these things myself?

As if, by doing more and more, I win?

I surrendered these things yesterday,

But today, I’ve lost before I begin.

“Those who don’t do can’t succeed,”

I hear it over and over again.

But all this focus on “me”?

It causes struggle now and then.

I can’t do anything on my own.

I know this to be true!

Which is why I need God’s help;

And he ALWAYS comes through!

We aren’t supposed to live the Christian life ourselves;

It’s only possible with Christ in us.

So why should I succeed myself?

This is what we need to discuss.

“May I never boast except in the cross,”

The Galatians are told by Paul.

We could never save ourselves,

Nevertheless with success, which makes us fall!

But when I give it back to God?

I let him do his work through me?

Then I am not the one glorified.

It is CHRIST, do you agree?

So may I fail when I try myself,

Because it shows my weakness.

But in my weakness, Christ is made strong.

And in HIS strength, we’ll joyfully confess:

To HIM be the glory forever and ever,

Amen!

Resting in my Heavenly Father’s Embrace

“Abba!” I cry as I reach my hands up, wanting to be held, but unsure of where my daddy is. “Where are you?”

“I am right here, my child,” comes the reply as he picks me up into his arms and holds me in a hug.

“I am so stressed out,” I say to his shoulder. But he comforts me. He puts his hand gently on my back.

“There is no need,” God tells me softly into my ear. “I’ve got this.”

I nod my head. “I don’t want to do today on my own. It’s too heavy.”

“My dear, all you have to do is ask.”

“Will you……?”

“Will I….what?”

“Will you take this day from me? And here is my to-do list. It is overwhelming. I can’t……”

“Don’t worry, my child.”

“But what if I take it back?”

“Then just give it to me once more.”

I let out a sigh as I burry my face in my Heavenly Father’s shoulder.

Yesterday was a hard day. So much going on, so much disappointment and discouragement. In church last Sunday, we talked about how the devil goes about discouraging us all. Because even if we don’t fall for his other schemes, discouragement pushes us into despair and trouble better than anything else. And now that I recognize it, I see it all over.

“Disappointments come in threes,” a Mary Kay leader once said, “but blessings come by the thousands.” I can feel that God is opening the floodgates for blessings with this Mary Kay job of mine. It is going to affect my job at Sound House, as well. Sometimes, I can’t sleep because I am just imagining possibilities. Now that yesterday is just that—yesterday, in the past, history, I am ready to look ahead and keep moving forward.

Dr. Wile E. Coyote had me listen to a voicemail I’d left him a few weeks ago, telling him how excited I was that the father of one of my music students thanked me for teaching his daughter, and getting her excited about the piano. We do that for each other—haul one another up and out of the pity party we are trying to throw ourselves. I look at all my goals and the reasons that I am doing this Mary Kay job, as well. I want to bless other women by introducing them to a product that makes them feel good and look good on top of it; by giving them the same job opportunity I had, one that many women are praying for but don’t even know exist. I want to share my faith and pour into other women, just as I have been so poured into!

My dad giving me a hug the day of my wedding.
My dad giving me a hug the day of my wedding.

“Hey, God,” I say as he sets me down and takes my hand.

“Yes?” he asks with a small smile on his face.

“I know that the rest of this month will be better, so…thank you!”

“You know?”

“I TRUST.”

Have a great day, everyone!

Anna E Meyer

Cloud 9 has just landed in the real world. Gulp.

Today, it hit us.  All these changes?  Everything that’s going on?  Here is what we’re dealing with this year: first year of marriage, first year in a new culture, first year of med school, first year of my job.  New friends, new church family, new place to live.  All of this is catching up and trying to drag us down.  We’re not used to being married yet.  We’ve been married for a little over a month.  We broke down Dr. Wile E. Coyote’s schedule yesterday, and it looked great on paper.  But today, the FIRST day, it is a whole lot harder than it first seemed.  I don’t like when Dr. Coyote puts so much pressure on himself, and is that normal for med students?  And the headache that always comes with switching infusion sites, sending orders, and getting authorization AND insurance right where they are supposed to be has arrived.  I have gone more than two weeks past the last time I was supposed to recieve my medicine, and my symptoms are getting worse.  I have to be extra careful now.
But you know what?  It wasn’t long after we got here that we found friends and a church family.  They already love us and lift us up in prayer– I’m speechless.  And all the people at home that are praying for us?  We are so blessed.  I feel like that has been the theme of my life as of late: seeing all of God’s blessings in my life.  And, to top it all off, I started reading Ephesians today.  God chose us and predestined us as his adopted children.  He lavishes his grace upon us all, and we, his children, have access to his mighty power!  God takes every trial or bad thing that happens to us and uses it for his glory!  Not even the best author ever could do that!  Just God.  God, who loved us so much that he sent his son, who came to us and taught us and DIED for us.  When I love someone and I don’t see them for awhile, I might send them a Christmas card, but this?  Unheard of.  Everything God’s about is totally opposite of this world, and it’s quite amazing.
I have been warned by Dr. Wile E. Coyote himself that his appetite will be going through the roof (make four servings of every meal- two for Dr. Coyote during dinner, one for me during dinner, and one for my lunch the next day.  Got it!).  I have also been noticing that he is the best procrastinator ever (he is currently running a neck ahead of one of my sisters, who won’t read this blog post anyway).  Reason numero uno why he left his video game systems at home.  My husband is going to be an awesome doctor once he finishes up this adventure that he just began.  He is the only one I know that tells me excitedly, “I love this.  It’s biology all the time! Woo!”  He came home for lunch today, and I didn’t even get a chance to say much, because he was excitedly telling me what he had been learning that morning.  Everyone nerds out about something.  (What do YOU nerd out about?)
Prayers would be much appreciated for Dr. Wile E. Coyote and his studying, my MS, and my job.  We are trying to be spouses to each other at the same time as encourage one another and get things done.

I love you all, my readers!
Anna

“A Blessing in the Dust”

A Blessing in the Dust
From Jan Richardson’s Painted Prayer Book

You thought the blessing
would come
in the staying.
In casting your lot
with this place,
these people.
In learning the art
of remaining,
of abiding.

And now you stand
on the threshold
again.
The home you had
hoped for,
had ached for,
is behind you-
not yours, after all.

The clarity comes
as small comfort,
perhaps,
but it comes:
illumination enough
for the next step.

As you go,
may you feel
the full weight
of your gifts
gathered up
in your two hands,
the complete measure
of their grace
in your heart that knows
there is a place
for them,
for the treasure
that you bear.

I promise you
there is a blessing
in the leaving,
in the dust shed
from your shoes
as you walk toward home-
not the one you left
but the one that waits ahead,
the one that already
reaches out for you
in welcome, in gladness
for the gifts
that none but you
could bring.

 

My cousin Katrina shared this on her blog, thinking about the friends who became family over the last year.  This spoke to me, especially, because of the move Dr. Wile E. Coyote and I will be making to Kentucky to begin our lives together after we are married.  I have always had the opinion that the people you are with make the places you go special. I love the flat prairies of home, while even a trip to the Black Hills of South Dakota can wear me out.  Who knows what living in the mountains of Kentucky will be like.  There are blessings in the dust– in the little things, wherever you go and wherever you leave.  This path where life has taken me is great, and I am so excited to see what comes next.  Oh, the places we’ll go!

I won’t say too much, because too many thoughts and emotions come to my head to write about decently.  I see blessings everywhere.  In the coming, in the going….even when you wanted to leave but you stay (last summer) or you wanted to stay and you leave.  In the smiles that greet you different places you go, in the familiar or new things you experience.  It’s just great.

 

Blissfully,

Anna

he’s waiting for you

I read this awesome post yesterday by my friend Amy that was about drawing closer to God.  In all my busyness and getting ready to come home and DISTRACTION, I kind of forgot that God and his word come first.  I love when people tell me what to do.  I seek their advice before I look for answers from the word.  Advice from people is more likely to be direct: “I think you should do this and that.”  Done.  Advice from the word?  Not as easy to interpret.  There IS a character named Anna, but she was real old and got to see Jesus and praise him.  Nowhere in the Bible does it say, “Anna, go here and do this.”  Which is not so helpful.  But the Word DOES say that God will provide; that he’ll be with us wherever we go, and that he’s got plans for each of us.  He knows what will happen before it happens.  Predestination or not, God already knows what we’ll chose, and what he’ll do next to try and draw our gaze toward him.  God works through people who are also full of the Spirit.  Like there’s this one guy who I’ve talked a lot about here in the last few months, and I emailed him yesterday when he was at work.  And then the Lord was totally working through him as he typed out a reply.  And so I spent some time this morning to draw closer to the Lord.  I’m very self-critical, but God’s all like, “Why?  You are my MASTERPIECE.  What I have given you, such as comfort and blessings, so I ask that you give it to others, that all may know of my comfort and be blessed.  I am stronger than you, because I am GOD.  I made you, that you may love me and praise me and honor me in all that you do.”  So, I’m like, “Okay, God, you’ve got me.  Seriously.  I’m yours.”  But God doesn’t stop, like, ever.  He continues to love on me through people I love in return.  He blesses me and shows me his love and provision again and again.

Many of us are getting home for the holidays or preparing to go.  This season is about CHRIST.  Before we all get so wrapped up in him, I encourage you all to draw closer to him.  Because he is waiting for you.  His arms are outstretched, and he’s waiting for you to run into his arms.  To cuddle and to draw your gaze to his.  But since he can’t really touch us in the physical sense, he sends the perfect people to cuddle with us.  My favorite part of the Christmas season is getting together with family that we don’t get to see all the time.  In the midst of it all is Christ, blessing us and making our favorite parts of Christmas realized.  What is your favorite part of Christmas?  How do you see the Lord working in the midst of it all? 

 

Anna

Wee! God is Great!

I feel like I should write a post today.  I dunno, I’m just giddy, I guess.  Does anyone else say “Wee!” when they’re super excited, or is that just me?  So many things have been pretty awesome lately.  Codename “Dr. Wile E. Coyote” and I became Facebook official yesterday.  We met on Summer Project in Milwaukee, like, two years ago.  Not that we’ve spent much time in the same place since then.  Unless you count Skype?  No, I didn’t think so.  But, some of our friends from Project those few years ago weren’t at all surprised.  Is it weird when everyone else catches something, but it takes the actual people a while to figure it out?  Anyway, moving on.  This post is not just about Dr. Wile E.  J  At the beginning of the summer, I prayed for a friend.  Well, it’s the end of the summer, but I totally found one.  She’s going to PT school, and this morning over breakfast told me all about what part of the brain affected what, and she tried things and watched me walk and stuff like a physical therapist does.  She asked me if she could do tests on me, because studying on a live person is way better than flashcards.  So, she’s gonna work on rehab stuff with me, strengthening and walking right again.  I’m pretty excited.  I like hearing about what other people know a lot about and are interested in.  I asked my friend Marissa last year about WWI, and her being a history nerd completely, was super excited that I was actually interested and genuinely wanted to know.  Kind of like Sarah this morning.  She told me to stop her if I didn’t want to hear that stuff, but I was really excited.  She told me where she thought some of my lesions might be and why.  When I was first diagnosed, I didn’t care about these things whatsoever.  A teenager who didn’t care where the heck the lesions were, just that they were there?  I find talk about the complexity of the human body very interesting.  And bam, Dr. Wile E. isn’t a doctor, yet, but he’s applying to med schools, and warned me that I’d hear a lot about what he’s learning when he does start school.  I’m not a science person, but I do find it interesting.  I’m a music and writing-type person.  The fine arts are my specialty.  Everything else?  Well, that’s why we’re all so different.

I’m also super excited, because on Monday, I’m going to be going over my story with Jody, and she’ll be done copy-editing.  Dr. Wile E. says he wants to be done going through it around then, too.  Wee!  My cousins are back from being camp counselors at Christikan (I may have spelled that wrong), and I got to help my aunt Sally set up her first-grade classroom yesterday.  Reading through some psalms just makes me excited about Jesus, too.  He has done so many great things, from Abraham to Moses, and now for us, it’s so amazing.  He is perfect and just and righteous.  David’s psalms of praise reflect the praises of my heart.  I write psalms, too, but not very many are so wonderfully worded.  Just READING the Word instead of writing is like a hug from God, and it’s all I need.  I write as a form of praise to him, also, but no words nor songs nor works can ever thank him enough for all he is and does.  He’s just great.  Wee!

Anna

A Post about Prayer (it’s cool!)

Prayer.  It’s kind of normal to talk about in the Christian-sphere, but it goes a bit beyond our understanding.  We’ve been given the Lord’s prayer, by the Lord himself.  Some churches have prayers pre-written, some people like to come up with words of the top of their head.  Prayer isn’t about impressing God with our words and making sure you word things right so something else doesn’t happen.  There is no right and wrong way to pray.  We won’t change his mind, it’s already made up.  So why should we pray?  Pastor Jim talked about prayer on Sunday morning.  Don’t you think that God likes to hear what we think?  I journal a lot of my prayers and have plenty of talks at God.  He doesn’t mind.  But he tells us to listen, too (harder for me sometimes).  That’s what the Word is for.  What if prayer is for us?  In Genesis 18, God tells Abraham about the outcry against Sodom.  Abraham banters with God (not the joking-kind of banter, but the negotiating-kind of banter).  “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?  If there were fifty righteous people, will you destroy it?”  God tells him that he won’t.  Proceed long bantering until Abraham brings the number down to ten.  Still, God won’t destroy it, he tells Abraham, if there are only ten righteous people with the wicked.  Did Abraham change God’s mind?  Perhaps.  Abraham was satisfied.  He had been heard by God, who took time to talk with him.  And God DID save the righteous in Sodom.  In Luke 11, after Jesus gives the disciples the Lord’s prayer (not on a notebook page so it can be remembered, but just talked and told, ‘cuz people could remember better back then than apparently I do), he compares our asking for something in prayer like a child asking his or her parent for something.  “Even the wicked give their children good gifts,” Jesus tells his listeners.  “Of course your Father in heaven will give so much more to those who ask him!”  I paraphrased a little, but you know what I’m saying, I hope.  The kicker is to ASK.  That’s the active part of the incredible relationship we have with the Creator of Everything.  But, you also have to thank for what you’ve already received.  We all know the person who asks and asks and asks and gets and gets and gets but keeps asking for more.  If we don’t, we can imagine the annoyance.  What if you ask a couple times (‘cuz we’re told to be persistent), and then THANK God what else he’s been doing?  I really love talking about what God’s been doing in someone else’s life.  I think that some people I know purposely skirt around that question because it’s just different.  But what if we all really looked at what God has done for us each day?  What joy we would find!  “Today, I made this mistake, but I didn’t die when I accidentally ran that light.  Thanks, God!”  That was vague.  ‘Cuz I’ve…never…ran…a light.  But seriously.  I try and look at the positives.  Maybe because I’m an optimist.  I went in the ditch and hit a pole in high school, but I didn’t total the car or die and my parents got the car fixed.  Or, I accidentally paid the wrong person August’s rent, but she didn’t do anything to it and I got it back right away to give to the correct roommate I hadn’t met yet.  Whoops.  I make a lot of mistakes, but they could be so much worse.

A few days ago, I was thinking about how blessed I am.  Seriously.  I live in America where we are not physically persecuted for our faith, and my entire family has such an amazing faith and I can talk about it with them.  In the post “God’s Summer School,” I kind of talked about what God has been doing for me this summer.  He really has done just as much for me since I can remember.  His hand has been protecting me.  The other day, I was reading about Hannah in 1 Samuel 1.  God let Hannah reach a point of desperation when she was weeping like crazy and crying out to him.  But then he answered her prayer.  Why did he wait until she reached the point of desperation?  Would she have known the significance of his hearing her prayer if he hadn’t?  We don’t notice little things, this is true.  But what if we looked for the little things?  I encourage you to pray for eyes to see those little things.  It really is transforming, and I don’t even see very much!  But I see more than nothing.

Last week I’m like, “Lord, what did I do to deserve all these blessings from you?”  And as soon as I said it, I’m like “Gah!” because we didn’t do ANYTHING.  The biggest blessing and gift of grace was Christ dying on the cross, that we can have eternal life with HIM.  We certainly didn’t do anything to deserve that.

This is getting to be a long post with a bunch of tangents, but I digress.  Prayer is such a big deal because the Holy Spirit intercedes for us.  How crazy is it that we humans, flesh and bone, can just talk to the God of the Universe whenever?  And he LISTENS?  Not only that, but he promises:

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Luke 11:9-10

How cool is that!? (smiley face)

Anna