The First Hard Conversation + Autographed Giveaway by Lori Roeleveld

Lori Roeleveld

No one goes around looking to strike up a hard conversation.

And yet, I’m not sure we can expect to walk fully in light of the gospel without a willingness to do it. Thankfully, people like Lori Roeleveld are able to take not-so-comfortable conversations and break them into hearty, but bite-sized morsels.

For almost a decade, I’ve watched Lori’s life beautifully reflect her zeal for God and His Word. She’s the real deal and I’m honored to have her guest post today. In typical Lori fashion, she went above and beyond by offering an autographed copy of The Art of Hard Conversations to one blessed recipient. For now, be blessed as you read directly from Lori’s heart because that’s the kind of writer she is.

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If you’re anything like me, my prayer preparation for any conversation that I anticipate may be challenging or uncomfortable used to sound like this. “Please make this go away. Don’t make me be the one to discuss this. Please send someone else.” (Total transparency – sometimes they still sound like that.)

I comforted myself in that it sounded a lot like Moses, but really it was my “turtle” self, longing to escape my responsibility to speak truth, share my faith, encourage a struggling believer, or resolve a conflict.

 

Through years of engaging in all manner of hard conversations, I’ve learned that most effective ones begin with showing up for a “hard conversation” with God.

 

This is where I pour my heart out to Him in prayer about the situation first. I read relevant passages of Scripture and sit quietly while He helps me sort through my feelings, the facts, His truth, and my love for the other person in order to inform my approach, timing, and words.

There are many, many times when this time of prayer is the end of the matter. This is usually when I’ve taken some offense or harbor self-righteous anger about a situation. As I confess emotions that aren’t based in His Word and read what Scripture has to say about my words, I often realize that the log in my own eye is most of the problem.

 

Other times, this period of prayer highlights a lack of love on my part.

 

Love lapses are responsible for much of our lack of evangelism, internal church conflict, even family struggles. Too often, I try to operate solely from a foundation of my own human affection. God prods me, always, to rely on His perfect love to infuse me and inform my relationships with others, as described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. This gets worked out in this time of prayer.

Always, this time of prayer reduces my fear and reminds me of God’s presence with me and His desire to include me in His work. That’s exciting! Hard conversations may begin as a painful exercise, but often, they are the vehicles of transformation and breakthrough God desires and how blessed are we to be witness to that!

When I feel there may be a hard conversation in my future with another person, I pray for God to give me His heart for that person and let me see them through His eyes. I pray for their heart to be fertile soil and for God to go before my words to prepare the way. I pray for the right opportunity and timing to appear with clarity and favor. And, I ask God to remove any barriers in me and in the other person that may interfere with communication and with God’s Work in our hearts.

 

Preparatory prayer is as vital for hard conversations as it is at the beginning of any worthy endeavor.

 

If you anticipate a challenging chat – being open with someone about your faith or biblically-informed belief, confronting sin, working through a conflict, or sharing tough news – commit to daily prayer leading up to your tough talk.

 

Show up with God unguarded.

 

Read the Psalms and see how David exposed his messy heart to God in prayer. Doing this with friends is unproductive and sometimes sinful. Doing it with God is life-altering. Admit your anger, envy, self-righteousness, fear, or even your lack of faith that the conversation will make any difference. Receive His forgiveness and correction, knowing we all must keep growing until we are home with Him.

Keep the Word of God open before you and read several passages that pertain to the topic of your conversation or about what God expects of our words (such as James 1:19-25 or James 4:13-18). Confess thoughts or emotions that are not in line with God’s expectations for believers. Then pray those Scriptures for the person with whom you hope to speak.

 

Ask for God’s wisdom and then believe He’ll provide it.

 

Ask for Him to clearly provide an opportunity to speak and then, watch for it. Be persistent in prayer and see what God will do when you take the risk of engaging in an uncomfortable conversation to speak His truth into someone’s life.

Too often, I think everything there is to know about a situation is what I can see. Prayer reminds me there is an entire dimension – the spiritual realm – that is at work. It’s strengthening, encouraging, and informing when I connect with that dimension in prayer before I engage in conversation – hard or otherwise.

Do you want your next hard conversation to be effective? Show up for the first hard conversation by praying and inviting God into a tough talk with you. Then, watch how the adventure unfolds.

Lori RoeleveldLori Stanley Roeleveld is an author, speaker, and disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. She’s authored four encouraging, unsettling books. Her latest release is The Art of Hard Conversations: Biblical Tools for the Tough Talks that Matter. She speaks her mind at www.loriroeleveld.com.

 

 

To enter for an autographed copy of The Art of Hard Conversations, simply leave a comment below. A winner will be selected randomly on Sunday, March 3rd. Thank you for sharing a few minutes of your day in the Tiny House on the Hill.

 

 

How I Set Up My Prayer Journal for 2019 + A LePen Giveaway

Prayer Journaling

I want to be that woman⏤the one who swirls her colored pencils, creating a design befitting a beautiful prayer journal.

 

But I’m not.

 

Instead, I buy pencils and markers in an array of colors, along with hand-lettering books, to feel like the woman who does such things. Truth is, I buy a fetching three-ring binder from Target, a pack of College-ruled notebook paper, and new for 2019⏤a pack of LePens. (Hey, if I can’t create a design, I can at least write in fabulous colors.)

Years ago, I searched for crisply lined journals with lovely covers to write poetry, but creativity clutched my brain like a toddler to a mother’s leg, refusing to let loose. Don’t write a word on that gilded line until you have the perfect word. Needless to say, few poems made their way to the pages. But somewhere along the way, I started using plain ol’ notebooks to record my poetic thoughts. It’s a mental game, of course, teasing the brain that it’s okay to write away because it’s a throwaway notebook.

 

For me, it’s the same with prayer journals.

 

God isn’t expecting or seeking perfection in the words poured out onto the page. He’s not moved by the handwriting, but rather, the heart that is writing. When I use a three-ring binder stocked with loose-leaf paper and four tabs, I feel free to write, cross out words, jot down scripture references, and scribble sideways when necessary.

In the past, I’ve journaled prayers using My Prayer Partner Notebook by Becky Tirabassi, fancified journals with life-giving words on the cover, and five-subject notebooks. But one small important distinction between using journals/notebooks and three-ring binders/loose-leaf paper is the ability to add loose paper to specific sections, as needed.

 

Sections, you say. Why, yes.

 

On one sheet of loose-leaf paper, at the front of the binder, I create a cover page that lists specific needs I can pray over each day of the week.

  • Sunday – our church, pastors
  • Monday – our children, grandchildren, and family
  • Tuesday – Hope*Writer and Facebook requests
  • Wednesday – our small group
  • Thursday – missions
  • Friday – the lost
  • Saturday – fellow writers and their work

After the cover page, I have tabs that vary in subject at times, but these are the standard four:

 

First Section :: Adoration

“Ascribe to the LORD the glory due to His name…” Psalm 29:2

I see this different from a time of praise. It’s a specific space to declare my awe and wonder of God — who He is, not what He does for me in specific situations. I read through a Psalm, choose one specific characteristic and write out the verse. Sometimes that’s the only thing written. When I allow myself to meditate on this truth of who God is, it becomes more about being (still) and less about doing.

 

Second Section :: Thanksgiving

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” 1 Chronicles 16:34

Because focusing on God’s characteristics can’t help but lead to a grateful heart, it’s here I write the ways I’m thankful for God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. It’s also the place I record the specific why behind the gratitude, helping to take it the gratefulness to a deeper, more personal level.

 

Third Section :: Search and Find

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23, 24 NIV

It’s here I pause and ask God to search my heart, confident there are sins and struggles I simply don’t see. I usually write them down, but sometimes I don’t, refusing to be legalistic about my time with God. The main point is to have a searchable heart that results in confession, cleansing, and sweet restoration.

 

Fourth Section :: Intercession

“Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open.” Ephesians 6:18 The Message

I like to divide this section into two: one for friends struggling with long-term issues like sickness, ongoing marriage or children issues. The other, for short-term requests. Pocket Prayers are also used for both when I’m in a pinch for time. Not sure what those are? I share more in the post How to Pocket Your Prayers.

 

Quick Tips:

  • Date your entries. You’ll appreciate pinpointing the date of original prayers and praises in the future.
  • I address entries to my heavenly Father. People have shared how this one point often trips them up in prayer journaling — not knowing how to direct their prayers on paper. Again, it’s not about the paper, but the heart.
  • Leave ample space beside requests for praise and answers to prayer. Pray expectantly!
  • Recording God’s answers to prayer will not only heighten appreciation, but it will also serve as a journal of God’s faithfulness for future generations.
  • There may be times when you need to write something so personal that the thought of anyone reading it tempts you not to record it. Go ahead, write it⏤get it out⏤on a separate sheet of loose paper in your binder, pray through it, and then throw it away.

 

Oh my, how I’d love to say I journal every day, but I don’t. On those days I miss, I rest in knowing that my prayers⏤my connection with God⏤isn’t limited to ink that flows onto man-made pages. Our prayers go wherever we go.

Journaling is simply a tool to slow us down and focus, helping us to become more intentional about prayer in a world that wants us to be anything but.

So, how about you? Do you journal your prayers? If so, what type of book do you use? If not, is this something you will consider doing in 2019?

 

A Prayer Filled 2019

I’m loving my new LePens so much (thank you Amazon Lightning Deal) that I’d like to give away a three-pack in celebration of journaling our prayers in 2019. Simply answer the question above (or just pop in and say hello) to be entered in the giveaway. The winner will be randomly selected via miniwebtool.com on Saturday, January 5th.

Thank you for joining me on this *tiny* journey in 2018. Lord willing, this new year will see a completed Tiny House on the Hill, a small space that I pray will magnify our great God for years to come.

Blessings to you and yours in 2019!

3 Action Steps + A Prayer For Those Days When Disappointment Strikes

When You're Disappointed

Since returning from the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, my days have had more twists and turns than Disney World’s Thunder Mountain.

 

On my ride home from the conference, I could barely see the ground for all the clouds. Two weeks later, I was sniffing dirt.

 

Two weeks after that, I was back to downing coffee, tweaking chapters and polishing an introduction, only to dust the dirt off my dreams once again. I think the word disappointment sums it up pretty well.

 

Somehow I feel like I’m not alone.

 

Disappointment is one of the most common emotions we experience. A dream job fizzles, friends let us down, or life simply takes unexpected detours. One doesn’t have to look far to find unmet expectations.

 

And yet, it’s what we choose to do with this disappointment that determines our next steps, and even our future.

 

“Don’t ever let today’s disappointment cast a shadow on tomorrow’s dream.” – Unknown

From Genesis to Revelation, we read of the disappointed. Moses, David, Rachel, Hannah, and poor Elijah was so downhearted, he asked God to take his life. Disappointment can dim our perspective, resulting in long-term discouragement, the too-early release of a ministry, the loss of relationships, depression, etc.

Perhaps it’s my own struggle with depression that alerts me to its danger, inspiring me to remember the following. I hope in some small way, it will help you too.

 

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BE KIND TO YOURSELF

 

Imagine telling a friend to “get over it” when the disappointment is so new it cries when spanked. So why would we treat ourselves any differently? I gave myself three days:

  • Day 1: Embrace the numbness. It tends to clip the heels of disappointment.
  • Day 2: Engage in prayer.
  • Day 3: Write down the next right thing to do and the specific steps required to move forward.

This structure proved helpful for my situation. Obviously, there are no time constraints for the grieving or 1-2-3 formulas for deeper disappointments.

Maybe you’re wondering why I didn’t devote the first day to prayer? It’s not that I wouldn’t or didn’t want to, but in a way, I couldn’t. Numb is numb. Instead of beating myself up for it (which I’ve done in the past), I embraced it as tightly as I did my heavenly Father’s love.

 

God knows the time required for filtering our emotions down to the point of an offering.

 

PRAY IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION

 

On the second day, and the following few, I noticed how my prayers were laser-focused on writing. Such as, What can I learn from these experiences? How should I proceed with the book? Should I proceed with the book?

There’s nothing wrong with these prayers. And yet at that moment, I realized my focus was more on the writing and less on the Author. I paused, thanking God for reminding me that He’s not nearly as interested in my writing as He is with me, His daughter. It’s my heart He desires above all, not my fingertips.

 

REMEMBER, GOD WASTES NOTHING

 

“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

It’s this truth I cling to above most else when struggling with disappointment. When spitting dirt, it’s hard for us to imagine how God might use such an experience for good.

But the kingdom of God specializes in the redemption of dirt. Jesus spat on it to create mud that healed the blind man in John 9:6. Nothing is wasted when God is in the mix.

 

A Prayer for the Disappointed

 

Heavenly Father,
You know the words that linger in my mind but have yet to be spoken.
Nothing I say, think, or feel catches You by surprise.
You know me full well…and love me still.

Transparency is a glorious privilege. Every speck of disappointment, confusion, and frustration is not only heard but also received, and molded into glory.

Take all my expectations, Lord — the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Tuck them safely beneath Your authority,
the only place where they find true purpose, redemption, and rest.

Amen.

 

My disappointment quickly faded and I’m now working on new projects. Every word is for His glory regardless of the type of book that holds them. And if I had to do it all over again, I’d still climb into the rollercoaster because some lessons can only be learned from a heavenly perspective.

  • How do you handle disappointment? Please share in the comment section. Encourage away!
  • If you’re the one struggling today, know that I would count it a privilege to pray with, and for you.
  • Or maybe you know someone who would be encouraged by this post. Feel free to forward it and/or share.

 

Thank you for stopping by!

 

Why Be Yourself When You Can Be So Much More? + Starbucks Valentine’s Day Giveaway!

Becoming a Swan

Be yourself, but always your better self. Karl G. Maeser

I received the call on a blazing hot afternoon⏤family was coming for an overnight stay. While I was thrilled with the idea of seeing them, I began stressing over details that multiplied quicker than the bunny next door.

At one point, I was convinced that my innate Southern hospitality would override the anxiety. I mean, surely I could put on a smile like the one I do when walking into church after arguing with Brian all the way there. *wink*

 

Or, I could be myself⏤a woman who deeply desires to love others without surrendering to anxiety.

 

The inner struggle continued up to a mere hour before their arrival.

Brian wasn’t home and I was scurrying from room to room trying to convince myself I could cover all evidence of the ever-encroaching anxiety. But God wasn’t having it. I slowly made my way to the couch, plopped down, and stayed quiet until this prayer emerged from my weary soul:

 

Father, help me to be who I cannot be without You.
Father, help me to be who I cannot be without You. Click To Tweet

God knew my heart. He knew I wanted to love and enjoy my guests. He knew I wanted them to feel welcomed. But He also knew my limitations, struggles, and above all, my sinful nature that often desires comfort at any cost. Even at the cost of loving others well.

I can only say (due to the wonder of it all) that at one point during their visit, Brian looked over and asked what I’d done with his wife. You see, my hubby is also well acquainted with the struggle between my desire to be the woman God created me to be and the anxiety. Too often, he’s seen the latter win the battles. He could barely recognize a win.

I’ve prayed the same prayer more than once since that summer afternoon, not because those eleven words help me to be a better me, but because the sincere desire releases God’s power to help me be more like Him.

I wish I could say that all my desires are this pure, but they’re not. I am what God calls a WIP — Work In Progress. Maybe this is why we like hanging out together. 🙂

If so, this is my prayer for us:

 

A Prayer for 2018

 

Is there a particular role in your life that longs for God’s leading?

 

Valentine's Day

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I thought I’d share a little yummy-licious giveaway today! I wish I could give one to every gracious person who takes time to read what the Lord lays on my heart to share but since I can’t *sigh*, I’ll randomly draw a name from the comment section this Friday. I hope you’ll take a moment to leave a comment because if your name is drawn, you’ll win this nifty Starbucks reusable cup (=discounted coffee) and a 5.00 cup o’ coffee gift card.

Starbucks Giveaway

 

 

 

Swan Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Hibernate in Prayer to Awaken Your Soul in 2018

Hibernate in Prayer

There once was a man who loved Jesus with his whole heart. He also loved his family, served the church faithfully, and gave sacrificially, often in secret. When an evangelist joined his family for dinner the night before a revival, this man confided in the evangelist that he felt uncomfortable praying aloud in church. So, what did the evangelist do? He called on this man to pray during the revival. The congregation closed their eyes on cue but the man stood up and politely said, “No thank you” and sat back down.

That man was my paternal grandfather and I’m quite proud of him. Proud, you say? Yep. He wasn’t a hypocrite. Sure, he could’ve stood up, put on a certain air of confidence and spurted out eloquent words in an attempt to save face, but I suppose that prayer would’ve only reached the height of the chandeliers dangling overhead.

 

Jesus has something to say about those kinds of prayers.

 

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 5:5-6

Jesus doesn’t deny the need for public prayer. He prayed publicly, as did the early church. And there’s nothing wrong if someone hears us pray. Jesus is simply getting to the heart of the matter: The motive.

“Do not have as your motive the desire to be known as a praying man. Get an inner chamber in which to pray where no one knows you are praying, shut the door, and talk to God in secret.” Oswald Chambers

God meets us in the secret place. It’s there we hibernate⏤where we are not seen, just as God is not seen. The King James Version refers to this place as a closet.

 

I don’t know about you, but my closet isn’t the first place that comes to mind when I think of meeting God in prayer.

 

I’m more liable to get a concussion from falling debris than I am finishing my prayer. Thankfully, we’re not bound to a closet or a particular room. Maybe it’s a corner, or a desk, outside, or in an outdoor shed. It’s more about finding a place to pray that’s free from distractions and the temptation to be heard. {Party of two, please!}

But it’s not just any prayer meeting. The word Jesus uses in Matthew 5 to describe the room or closet is derived from the word tamion, which makes me a tad giddy because it describes the inner rooms of ancient Hebrew homes that were used as a storehouse or a place of protection.

 

When we hibernate in prayer, we come to a place of abundance, not scarcity.

 

God is our storehouse. We step foot into our own tamion and find He is already there. We ask for wisdom. James 1:5 says God gives it to us generously without finding fault. We ask for physical healing, financial provision, boldness to share the gospel, or the return of a wayward child.

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.” Ephesians 3:20

“God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, but you may be aware of three of them.” John Piper

God is our place of protection. Spiritual attacks, temptation, anxiety⏤whatever requires His protection this side of heaven, God stands ready to provide it from a place of abundance.

We have God’s full attention and He has ours, there in the secret place. But first, we must come.

How to Hibernate in Prayer During Every Season in Life

Jot down hibernation dates on your calendar.

The power of prayer floods the heavenlies, whether it’s done publicly, privately, or spontaneously. It’s all biblical. But hibernating in prayer requires intentionality⏤giving a hint as to its power. When we are deliberate in making time to meet with God we can testify that unexpected circumstances begin to happen. Our perspective becomes sharper, our hope takes flight, and we move through our days with deeper purpose.

Be content with a heavenly reward.

Yes, those rewards which bring immediate gratification like a slick, newly painted wall are enjoyable but they’re temporal. Those who pray “the right words” in order to impress others receive their reward right there on the spot. When we pray in secret with pure motives, God says He will reward us. I tend to believe the reward is the fact that our almighty God bends to hear the quiet desires of His children, and answers those prayers for our ultimate good. But perhaps there’s even more?

Pray aloud.

So, how do we know if we’re hibernating in the right spot? We’ll feel comfortable praying aloud. I can’t explain it, but when audible words meet the inaudible desires of my heart it feels as if a victorious tag-team is taking place in my soul. And yet, there will be days when we have no words, and that’s okay, too. Romans 8:26 says the Holy Spirit stands ready to intercede for us with groanings too deep for words. There is no right or wrong way to pray in our Father’s presence.

When we intentionally spend time with God in secret, our soul awakens to divine possibilities that surround us every day. Maybe we’ll discover that it’s possible to spontaneously pray for the weary mom behind us in the check-out line. Or to become who God created us to be, flaws and all, for His glory. Or maybe, just maybe, we find the courage to pray aloud in a church gathering.

“Awake, my soul!” Psalm 57:8

What’s one thing you are praying for yourself in 2018?

 

How to Pocket Your Prayers

Pocket Prayers

I’m thankful the act of prayer isn’t limited to bent knees, closed eyes, or hushed silence.

Prayer is simply conversing with our heavenly Father. I use the word simply because, in the past, I’ve made it much more complicated than I believe God ever intended. Guilt whispered if my prayers weren’t long enough⏤whatever that means⏤or if I failed to use what I call “pretty” words. Let’s face it, we all know someone who prays so eloquently that we peek in the middle of her prayer in hopes of catching a glimpse of angel wings hidden beneath the “I Love Clemson” sweatshirt. (What can I say, my someone loves her tigers!)

I’m not an eloquent pray-er. After over two decades of praying aloud, I still stumble through the words, especially when I pray with others. At home, my eyes are open and my voice is loud. For some reason though, I always shut my eyes in a crowd, leading to a major distraction when my eyes start simmering from the mascara slowly melding my eyelashes together. But I digress.

As a new believer, I began to journal my prayers. My first journal was a $1.99 three-subject stark green notebook from Walmart. l still have it today, twenty-five years later. Since then, I’ve varied prayer formats. Sometimes I list out my prayers and other times I use paragraphs or even, well…doodles. These days, I use a plain ole blank steno from Barnes and Noble. I think we can agree that in the end, it’s not so much about the method of our prayers but the heart from which they are prayed.

In prayer, it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart. John Bunyan Click To Tweet

When I received the Giving Shawl for my birthday, prayer ideas soon began to emerge. (Maybe I should re-name it the Prayer Shawl!) One idea I’m currently giving a whirl is what I call pocket prayers. I cut small pieces of paper, and on each piece, I write the name of one person from my list. The prayed-over congregate in an owl-cloaked pencil case.

Want to give pocket prayers a try?

Prayer for my pocket

Two Ways to Pocket Your Prayers

On the mornings I mull over my prayer list and pray, the power of prayer extends for one person/group on the list by choosing a piece of paper from the case. Sometimes the Holy Spirit burdens the heart for one particular person but if not, it’s a random draw (at least on my part.) The piece of paper is then tucked in my pocket for the day.

On the hectic mull-less mornings, I open the envelope, pull out a name/group and slip it in my pocket so I can pray for him/her throughout the day.

Either way, that person or group remains with me both physically and spiritually. Most importantly, I’m reminded to pray for them each time I reach into my pocket. Maybe it’s for the keys, a grocery list, or the extra packs of Stevia stowed away for my coffee stop on the way home. Or perhaps it’s not the touch of the paper that reminds me to pray but the sound of crinkled paper in my coat pocket.

(If you’re pocket-less, try writing the name on a sticky notepad and placing it somewhere you’ll see it throughout the day. If the desire is there, the ideas will follow.)

To some, an idea like this might seem so simple that it’s silly. But I venture to say there’s nothing silly about becoming more intentional in praying for another person. I just need tangible reminders and maybe I’m not alone.

“Prayer should not be regarded as a duty which must be performed, but rather as a privilege to be enjoyed, a rare delight that is always revealing some new beauty.” – E.M. Bounds, Crosswalk

How can I pray for you today?

 

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