Prayer Strategy

Hi ladies!

It seems all I find myself doing in my free time is praying although sometimes it just doesn’t feel like I am doing it right. I wanted to be more prolific in my prayer life so I decided to attempt to model it after Mrs. Clara’s prayer life in War Room. However, when I began to research ways to improve my prayer life it took me awhile to find suggestions that I actually thought were in the direction I wanted to go in. When I did find it I needed some way to organize my thoughts. So, I put together this little prayer strategy sheet to help me out and thought it might be beneficial to y’all as well. Enjoy!

Love,

Shiann

 

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Download here:

Prayer Strategy-Blank

If you need guidance filling it out this amazing article is where I got my inspiration for this worksheet!

http://www.rosilindjukic.com/write-prayer-strategy-war-room/

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I Fear for the Likes of my Generation

As a young dating adult I am slightly intimidated by the odds marriages have of surviving these days. I’ve never been one to shy away from a challenge but the thing with marriage is it takes two people with the same heart and desire to do whatever it takes to make things work. The majority of the research I’ve read claims that 50% of marriages are expected to end in divorce, something that has haunted me as I have begun to think about that part of my life.

I was fortunate enough to come from a home where my parents did everything they had to to make it work. They set a great example for my brother and I to look on. I realized at one point that I came from a family who would rather fix things than throw it away. For the people who know my family and I, I’m sure they would tend to agree by the amount of broken down equipment found around our place that hasn’t been fixed just yet.

Yes, I have my parents to thank for a wonderful upbringing but I’m frightened at the thought that someone else may not have the same mindset as me and my family; those kind of people are becoming harder and harder to find.

As I began adulthood my dad told me that everyone of my decisions from this point forward affects my future family and that remains in the back of my mind as I make life choices. For these reasons I have begun praying for my future marriage. I pray that God sends me someone who will put God #1 and his family #2. Someone who is the Christian leader of our household. I pray God sends me someone tough enough to take care of his family and the hurdles life throws at him, yet gentle enough to dry his daughter’s tears. A man who will show her how she should be treated and how his son should treat a woman by treating her mother with the utmost respect. But I am concerned for the people of my generation. I am concerned that they have grown too accustomed to thinking there’s always greener grass on the other side of the fence when problems arise. I’m concerned that they don’t know how to put others before themselves and I’m concerned that they don’t know how nor want to fix things when they’re broken. I’m concerned, that by my parents definition, the people of my generation do not know how to love.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

I know that all things will work together for good of those that love God (Rom. 8:28) and so I believe that God will put that kind of man into my life but I encourage other young adults to begin praying for your future spouse. God molds and shapes us into the people he desires us to be by taking us through the valleys; pray that your future spouse makes it through those valleys. Pray that their heart is open to receive God’s corrective guidance and ultimately his abounding blessings by putting someone as wonderful as you in their life.

Love,

Shiann

A Letter to the Dating Farm Girl

Dear farm girl,

For you dating sucks. You’re constantly caught between educating people (guys) how to do things and deciding whether to open your mouth at all. You’ve been told your standards are too high because you want someone who can help you fix fence (even if they have to learn) because let’s be real we don’t want to drive a t-post unless we have to. You want someone who will make late night trips hauling cattle and let you sleep in the passenger seat. Someone who says, “We will manage if I have to get another job” when the cattle market falls out. Someone who would go without sleep for 2 days because he had to work the night shift of that job he had to get but he wanted to be at his kids’ livestock show. Why? Because this is the man we grew up with and we called him dad.

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We owe a lot to him for making us into the women we are today. He taught us how to be independent and take care of ourselves. Just like him, you’ll try to fix it yourself before you take it to someone else. But let me let you in on a piece of advice that I’ve learned over my few short years:

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“For You formed my inward parts;

You covered me in my mother’s womb.

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” Psalm 13-14a

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Darling, just be you. God made you just like you are. You are fearfully and wonderfully made and the right man will see that. God will put him in front of you and he will be in complete awe of the woman God designed you to be. You may not be perfect, but you’ll be perfect for him. So, don’t settle for anything less than a Godly designed relationship. To the right man, you won’t be intimidating, he’ll laugh at your little hot head, and he’ll appreciate your dad for raising you like he did. To the right man you’ll be fearfully and wonderfully made.

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We can’t forget to thank mom for making sure dad didn’t take over and we still turned out like a lady as well, but that’s an entirely different post!

Love,

Shiann

P.S. I write this as I am waiting for molasses to run on my 2 out of 3 batches of feed for the morning.

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Blessings in Disguise

It never fails when something bad happens we tend to blame God but I’ve always been told that God is in charge of the good and Satan the bad. However, God can use/ turn those bad situations into good. Tonight my heart is broken. Tonight I put down my companion. The one who has been by my side as I moved hundreds of miles away from the only place I’ve known as home, the one who comforted me through a really terrible breakup, and the one who always erased my bad days and dried any tears. It was weird. It was without warning, and it hurt. Satan tried to attack me tonight by making me feel like I am not going to escape the rut of unfortunate events that seems like a common occurrence within the last several months, but I refused to let him win. Tonight I realized something: God has immensely blessed me. That’s right in the midst of my suffering I realized God has blessed me. How? Let me explain.

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Tonight I had five people take turns digging a hole to bury my furry friend in. Five friends who stood in a circle holding hands as one of them prayed over Newt and I. Five friends who hugged me and let me cry on their shoulder. And numerous other friends who checked on me after they heard the news and asked if there was anything they could do for me. Tonight I realized God has blessed me not only with amazing friends but a family away from home. I have known these people for about 5 months now and the outpour of love that has been shown to me in my time here has been astonishing. God knew exactly where he was putting me. I fought coming here to New Mexico so hard and once I arrived I didn’t want to stay, but I knew in my heart this is where God wanted me. So, against my will he kept me right here and for that I am beyond grateful.

DSC_0224“A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

We can fight God but we are not nearly big enough to stop his plans from happening and in the end I believe that we are happier with God’s path than our own anyhow. Maybe when bad things occur in life we should change our perspective. I think my New Year Resolution is to try to look at life with the glass half full more often.

Blessings,

Shiann

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I Still Need My Father

Driving always gives me time to think and pray about the things that have been occurring in my life. Today as I started my 8 hour journey north God and I had a little chat. This semester has been extremely emotionally challenging and for the majority of the semester I turned to God to help me get through the tough times, right up until everything exploded and I began to heal again. I was reading my bible every night, doing multiple daily devotional, spending a significant amount of time in prayer, attending weekly bible study, and having in depth conversations with fellow Christians, all of which was truly helping me grow in my walk with Christ. But, as I began healing from the stress that I faced these past few months all of those things began to fall to the wayside. I was so emotionally exhausted that I essentially began putting off my walk with Christ. This morning during my prayers I asked God what I needed to do and for him to help guide me to get my walk back on track. A moment later the song Fix My Eyes comes on the radio. I just smiled and said, “I hear ya, Father.”

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life. You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes; with your right hand you save me.” Psalm 138:7

Time doesn’t heal us, God does. I had made the tragic mistake of focusing on healing instead of serving my Father and I overlooked the fact that serving Him would heal me. I prayed to be shown what to do, what to say, how to act and through this song God showed me that too: “Love like you’re not scared, give when it’s not fair, live life for another, take time for a brother. Fight for the weak ones, speak out for freedom, stand tall but above it all fix my eyes, my eyes on you.”

When we fail to put God #1 we miss out on, or prolong, the blessings that He has for us.

“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

No matter how many times I try to do things on my own I always come to the same conclusion: I am always happier when I do everything with God, in his way, in his time. Everything always works out according to his plan. Although, remember to keep an open mind, often his plan is different than our own.

“A man’s heart plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

I never thought in a million years I would end up in Las Cruces; 12 hours from everyone I love. Although I fought it, God made sure I made it here. I have learned so much from this journey, made some amazing friends, and grown way more through this transition than I could have ever imagined.

“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8

I have found that Cruces is a blessing and there is a reason that God wanted me here. No, life isn’t troublesome free but it never will be. There will always be challenges to face in our lives. Our attention will always be spread between careers, loved ones, making ends meet, and the curve balls life tends to throw at us. But if we turn to God for every situation in life we will handle these situations much more gracefully.

Dry Bones

“We call out to dry bones come alive, we call out to dead hearts come alive.”

When I first heard Come Alive by Lauren Daigle I was in complete awe. The song struck a cord with me. I couldn’t shake it. I sang it over and over in my head, listened to it on repeat, and belted it around my house more times than I care to admit. It just moved me! Although, until I heard Lauren explain it herself I am unsure that I was completely clear on what the song was saying.

“Lets write this song for that mom who is praying for her son. That mom that is sitting there every night just weeping before the Lord saying, “God take my son back into your arms.””

Then it clicked why I connected with this song so much. I have been vigorously praying for lost loved ones. The writers wanted to put courage into those, like me, who are actively watching the prodigals around them, fervently praying for the Lord to bring them back. The theme of the song, dry bones, came from Ezekiel 37:

“The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
So I answered, “O Lord God, You know.”
Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord God to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.”’”
So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them.
Also He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.”’” So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.” Ezekiel 37:1-10

As I set and ponder life this morning I have come to a realization: as Christians, we ask big things of God. Why shouldn’t we? After all he is a BIG God. We ask him to do things such as healing sick loved ones, changing someone’s heart, bringing prodigals home, and so much more. The aweing thing is, so often he does it, at least in a round about way. So, then why are we so appalled when He asks us to do big things? How big are those things he really asks us to do compared to the things we ask of Him?

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20

With the help of God Ezekiel literally brought an army back from the grave. If God can ask something so big of Ezekiel and Ezekiel act in complete trust of God than surely we can do the same. Surely, we can do something so small as to love and forgive others. Christ calls us to love and forgive. We as humans find this so incredibly difficult to accomplish. We fail to look past human mistakes yet we all make them. It’s a part of how we are wired. In our human eyes, some mistakes are bigger than others however, in God’s eyes, they are all equal. A mistake is a mistake and a sin is a sin; it is all the same to Him.

We hear all of the testimonies of the struggles some Christians have faced in their lives. Liars, cheaters, addicts, judgers of men, and so many more heart breaking testimonies. God changed their hearts and looking at them now you would never imagine the life paths they have been down but just as importantly you can’t fathom the things that the people who love them went through also. God asked those people to do big things and they had faith and took on the challenge. As Christians we have to take off our colored glasses, soften our hearts, and love those around us. He is asking us to have faith that through him we can do big things, just like Ezekiel. God is asking us to call out to dry bones.

Washed White as Snow

Nowhere in the bible did God say that it would be easy. Following God’s will for your life, not easy. Each step in God’s direction is another target Satan puts on your back. Living for God when everyone else wants to live of the world, not easy. Put downs can flood your way when you are trying to live for Christ because the things of this world are “so satisfying”. Having a Christ like heart, not easy. That heart that forgives and loves others so much is sure to be broken. No following God is far from easy, that is why many simply do not do it or only do it half way. As we recollect on the stories from the bible it is easy to see that having faith isn’t easy. God promises big things and if we believe in the world than it is hard to imagine seeing those things He has promised come to fruition. God promised Sarai a child well into her old age. It would have been so easy for her to laugh at God and believe it not possible from her earthly perspective.

Believing God would follow through on his promise to Sarai, not easy, however, he did just that. He followed through on his promise even after Sarai disobeyed and tried to take matters into her own hands as she handed over her maidservant to have a child with her own husband. She tried to speed God’s process along yet, she only brought more pain and suffering to herself and lengthened the process. Even so, God still blessed Sarai with a child, just as he promised. This brings me to my second point: if we truly have a heart for Christ, than we are not big enough to mess up God’s plans for us. We make take a few wrong turns here and there but God can always bring us back to His path if our heart is willing to let him.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:23-24

As humans we are destined to sin and fall short of the glory of God but our God is a big God and through grace alone he can restore us. If you have been faced with trials, have made a wrong turn, or have made mistakes remember that God forgives.

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. Isaiah 1:18

He loves all his children equally no matter their wrong doings. Just like the prodigal son He wants His children to return home. Remember, you can always turn back to Christ and make your way pure again!

 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”  Luke 15:31-32

Pray About It

I am constantly in awe of God. I see miracles happen constantly and every time I am in awe at just how awesome our God is. Lets just say my life has been rough lately, to put it lightly. I moved 12 hours away from my beloved home and loved ones, only for things at home to go completely awry shortly after I settled in here at Las Cruces. On top of that I am a fixer. I tend to want to take charge and “mother hen” the situation. I want to take care of my loved ones and fix the situations. That gets complicated when you are 12 hours away, and things are more than slightly out of your control anyways. And let me tell you I am not good with out of control. I like for everything to have its place, I want a plan. I want to know what is going on. I like everything neatly packaged with a nice little bow but basically, life is anything but neatly packaged with a nice little bow. I think it is easy to say that what I am currently going through is the roughest time of my young life but God has done something amazing for me.

Let me rewind for a second. I want to share a snippet of my testimony because, to me, it is just so aweing. I had an unofficial deal worked out so that I would be able to get my Masters at Oklahoma State, and then it fell through; little did I know God was at work. A few weeks later I would board a plane for a conference with the Auburn Animal Science Department Head. The next morning I received an email from a professor there with a graduate offer. The following week I was in Alabama. Several days after receiving this offer, before I made my voyage to Auburn I had also received an offer to New Mexico State with my current undergraduate advisors from OSU. So, I had a lot to contemplate on this 13-hour journey. I knew immediately that Auburn was not for me. Nothing against the school, the campus was gorgeous and the people were great, but I just knew. Shortly after, I made my visit to New Mexico and fell in love. The tell-tell sign that gave it away was I saw my opportunity in my meeting to bring up churches in the area, to which the professor replied, “I am glad you asked! Many of us go to church together and one of the professors holds bible study at his house every week for the graduate students.” I was sold. This is where God wanted me. But God had to take me to Auburn to open my heart up to be willing to move to New Mexico (I tend to want to keep my feet firmly planted at home). The fact that God took all of these intricate steps to get my heart in the right place is just astounding to me.

Now back to the original story. It is these amazing people at this amazing bible study that have not only helped me through this tough time but also opened my eyes. When I came to them with my difficult situation there was nothing but wide-open, loving arms, and acceptance and ever since then the advice has always been to “follow God, listen to what he has to say, and pray.” Wow! I am literally surrounded by such a great cohort (yes, this is an animal science term, I had to throw it in there somewhere) of people that I get to call my friends. They have truly opened my eyes to how I want to be. I was once the opinionated person that when someone would come to me for advice I had no problem giving it to them but I am learning to simply listen and provide the kind words that simply say “pray about it”.

“Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God.” Philippians 4:6

Life is tough. We live in a new day and age where we as young adults are experiencing challenges that the older generation doesn’t really know how to cope with. Life simply isn’t black and white and to learn how to deal with the gray we have to turn to God. I have been blessed to be surrounded by so many open minded, loving, Godly people. Not only here at NMSU but literally around the U.S. In bible study this week we read a passage from Job where his friend is essentially telling him he is a sinner and he should repent. His friend thought he was giving Godly advice. However, this friend didn’t know the full situation, only God did. To me this was a reminder to keep an open mind and to not only turn to God for advice but to also remember to advise others to seek God’s advice instead of interjecting my own. You never know what is going on behind the scenes, just like with Job. Only you know what God is speaking to you. In closing, I’ll leave you this:

“The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:31

If Time were Money, How Would You Spend Yours?

Time. It never seems as though there is enough time in a day to accomplish all that we hope to accomplish. But what if time were like money? If you could accumulate and spend your time as you chose, would you spend it wisely or would you blow your time on silly things? It’s a nice thought, however we are only given a limited amount of time on this Earth; how are you spending yours?

What makes time valuable? For me it’s the people in my life. What use would it be to have all the time in the world but no one to share it with? So often, we as humans get caught up in life and fall into the trap of believing that we don’t have time and somehow through the process our priorities get twisted out of order. Jesus spent 33 years on this Earth, yet the most important were his last three. In those last three he didn’t hole up in constant prayer and wait for God to work for him. No, he developed relationships. He knew that what was most important was spending time and loving others. A common phrase most of us heard while growing up is: “Why put off for tomorrow what you could do today?” There were good intentions behind this phrase however as I have grown older I’ve realized that there are occasions where you can put off work for tomorrow so that you can spend time with those that you love today. Our loved ones are so important. God literally calls us to love one another.

“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” John 13:34

God did not design us to be alone he designed us for relationships. God literally took a rib from Adam to create Eve so that Adam wouldn’t be alone. We need relationships with Christian people to help hold us accountable. We need relationships with people so that we can let our guard down and share the deepest struggles of our lives so that we don’t have to go through it alone. Sharing with others doesn’t make you look weak it makes you human and allows you to have a hand to hold when times get tough. It allows you to have a person that will always point you to God to help you stay on his path. Relationships can be hard, especially when you are harboring hurts from the past but in the end they are so worth the comfort and peace they provide when it is a Godly relationship. So, make time for relationships. Put people first just as our Savior did. Show the people you love how much they mean to you by making time for them. Time is one of our most precious assets. There are 86,400 seconds in a day how are you going to spend them?

Christ led me to a sermon this morning that inspired this. Take a moment to check it out. I hope it works on your heart just as it did mine.

http://harvestok.com/messages/a-heart-to-grow-part-3-scotty-haynes/

Godly Control

I have always liked to be in control, it’s really nothing new. Not being in control frightens me. It worries me. It makes me angry. Most of all, it makes me immeasurably impatient. Which is precisely what God tells us not to do. I consider myself a Christian, I pursue Christ daily, nonetheless I undoubtedly fall short on a regular basis. Which is okay because I am forgiven, but I wasn’t doing anything to change either. Suddenly, I realized that God is continually putting me in situations where I don’t have control, he is trying to teach me and, to put it mildly, and I am not handling it well.

“Then great multitudes came to Him, having with them the lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many others; and they laid them down at Jesus’ feet, and He healed them.” Matthew 15:30

We are told to lay all of our troubles at the feet of Jesus but somewhere along the way I had forgotten that. When I’m faced with trouble I pray fervently but I am a failure when it comes to laying it down at the feet of Christ. I never fully allow God to take control. I know he has my best interest at heart. I know all of the verses about not having worry, fear, anger, or anxiousness. BUT I DO IT ALL ANYWAYS!!! I do it all anyways because I AM IMPATIENT. I am so impatient and because we have free will God lets me take over until I am ready to fully give the reigns over to him. How easy it would be to just ask God to take care of it and go on about our daily lives!!! Instead I fight God for control. It seems so silly when I stop to think about it “I legitimately fight God for control.” In Matthew 6:26 we are told:

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”

How wonderful is it to know that the King of Kings cares for us and watches over us daily? I have found that I need God continually from the time I wake up in the morning to when I lay down at night. I continually struggle to allow God full control of every situation. I continually struggle with patience, but I am reminding myself to lay it all at His feet.

“God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation” James 1:12

I can stress but my God is the only one who can lift me up. I will patiently wait (or at least work on being patient) on a the Father whose knowledge is significantly greater than my own.

 

Just a few helpful verses:

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

“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