3 Ways to Pray When Your Mama Heart Hurts

"When Your Mama Heart Hurts" was one of the most-loved posts on the blog last year.  And you know what?  It was one of my favorites to write, too, because it's something that's often on my heart.

From physical infirmity to spiritual struggle, there's no shortage of heartache that we as parents go through as we watch our children suffer.  That's simply life in our broken, fallen state.

But for the believing parent, there is always hope.  And I've come to realize that there are three very specific ways we can pray when our mama hearts hurt.


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Day 9: Read the Psalms

Day 9: read the Psalms I have a confession to make:  when I was younger, I didn't care much for the Psalms or for King David.  He came across like a "woe is me" kind of guy, and I thought his Psalms sounded like he was whining.

I wasn't terribly sympathetic, was I?

When I was growing up, we lived comfortably.  My parents weren't wealthy, but my dad had a steady job, and he and Mom enjoyed a rock-solid marriage (they still do!).  Certainly, there were hardships - my grandma developed a fatal brain tumor; one of my brothers ended up needing an emergency appendectomy; and my other brother underwent several surgeries when he was little.  But compared to many people, I was blessed with an easy and ideal childhood.

When I was younger, I just couldn't relate to someone who had gone through the difficulties that King David experienced.  Now that I've been through a few hallways in my adult life, though, I find so much solace and comfort in the Psalms and in reading through David's life.  I have a much better understanding of the trials he experienced and why he wrote about them the way he did.

If anyone knew what it was to experience hardship and heartache, it was King David.  He had marital problems.  He had sin issues.  He lost a child.  His enemies were constantly attacking him.  He was at odds with his grown son.  He was wrongly accused.  His best friend was killed in battle.

The Psalms he wrote show the wide range of emotions he experienced.  But even the Psalms written at the depth of his despair end with, "I will choose to praise You, O my God."  (See Psalms 56 and 142.)  No matter what he went through in life, David chose to find his hope in the Lord.

No wonder he was considered to be "a man after God's own heart" (Acts 13:22)!

We can read the Psalms to help us follow David's example of finding our hope, joy, and peace in God even when circumstances aren't what we wish they were.  We can pray through the promises we find in the Psalms.  And we can take comfort in knowing that God placed the Psalms in His Word as a means of comfort for us.

Today's action steps:  Read the Psalms.  You can read one a day or several in a sitting.  It's up to you!  As you read through, jot down the ones that impact you the most so that you can re-read them later on.  I hope you'll develop a life-long love of the Psalms!

Day 9: read the Psalms


Day 5: Fix Your Eyes on Christ

Day 5: fix your eyes on Christ We've made it to Day 5 of the 31 Days to Hallway Praise challenge!

Today's goal is a big one:  Fix your eyes on Christ.

It might seem odd that I've kept this one for Day 5 instead of using it on Day 1.  I mean, isn't fixing our eyes on Jesus the number one goal in our Christian faith?  Yes, it is, but I've saved this gem for today for a purpose.

On the first day of our challenge, we made it a goal to pray every day.  On Day 2, we decided to memorize Scripture.  (By the way, what passage did you choose to memorize?  Leave a comment and let me know!)

Prayer and Scripture memory are two excellent ways to help keep our eyes focused on the Savior.  Now that we've had a few days to start making these part of our daily routine (for those who weren't already doing them), we've built up some spiritual tools to help us fix our eyes on the cross and not the crisis.

Friends, it is so - SO - easy to do what Peter did in Matthew 14:28-33 and let the storms of this life prevent us from looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-2).  We need to spend time in prayer and in God's Word in order to forget about the wind and the waves and to think only of the Lord.  It's not an easy task.

My trials loom largest when I'm staring them in the face.  They seem most overwhelming when I fully focus on them to the exclusion of everything else.  And I feel the most overwhelmed when I allow them to engulf me.

How about you?  When are your hardships the most difficult to handle?  I'd guess that the same is true for you: when they take your complete focus, they appear to be insurmountable.

Thankfully, there is a way to combat the overwhelm:

Fix your eyes on Christ.

Take your gaze away from your trials and look to Jesus.

But we can only do this through the help of the Holy Spirit, through prayer, and through feasting on the Word of God.

Today's action steps:  Start focusing on what God can do and stop worrying about what you can't.  Continue to immerse yourself in prayer and the Scriptures.  Fix your eyes on Christ.

Day 5: fix your eyes on Christ

31 Days to Hallway Praise Challenge

31 days to hallway praise Rejoice always.

Give thanks.

Be content in all circumstances.

At first glance, these Biblical mandates might seem simple enough.  But for those going through tremendous hardship, it can seem impossible to find joy of any kind, let alone being able to praise the Lord through it all.

If you're a Christian struggling with a trial right now and feel like you've lost your joy, may I offer you some encouragement?  It may not seem like it right now, but with the Holy Spirit's help, you can find joy in Christ.  In fact, during the month of October, I'm going to tackle this very topic with my newest blog series:  "31 Days to Hallway Praise."

My goal is to offer you 31 ideas to help you praise the Lord during hardship.  It won't necessarily be easy, and it will require a lot of work, but I'm convinced that no matter what you're facing right now, you can choose joy.  You can choose to praise God.  You can choose to give thanks, not only for what appears to be good, but also for the very trial itself.

I'm not an expert in praising the Lord during hardship - far from it.  But with the Holy Spirit's help, I know it can be done.

Are you willing to join me on this journey?  If so, I have just one challenge for you today:  decide that you'll finish the challenge, all 31 days.  Some of the assignments might seem simple, especially if they're already part of your normal routines.  Other tasks will be more difficult, but none will be impossible if you rely on the Lord for the strength to do them.

If you're in a season of life where things are going well and you're not facing hardship at the moment, I would still invite you to join us as well!  There is always room to deepen your faith, prepare for the next trial, or become better equipped to help out someone else who is suffering.

This is the post where I will be adding each day's link.  Feel free to check back here any time you want to re-read a day's post or catch up if you fall behind.

One last thing:  will you pray for me as I write out this challenge and go through it with you?  Sometimes it's easy to think that bloggers have everything together, and maybe a few really do.  But I'm not one of them!  I've worked in advance on this project, but it's far from finished.  I'm eager to see how the Lord uses this in both your life and my own.  But I'm also nervous about committing to writing each day for 31 days straight, too.  Your prayers mean the world to me and will help me to stay diligent to this commitment.

I'm so excited about this 31-day challenge.  Let's do this together!

Day 1:  Pray without ceasing

Day 2:  Memorize Scripture

Day 3:  Keep A Gratitude Journal

Day 4:  Make Your Bed

Day 5:  Fix Your Eyes on Christ

Day 6:  Drink Water

Day 7:  Stay in Church

Day 8:  Make Time for Exercise

Day 9:  Read the Psalms

Day 10:  Participate in A Bible Study

Day 11:  Do Something Lovely

Day 12:  Find Your Paul

Day 13:  Find Your Timothy

Day 14:  Find Your Barnabas

Day 15:  Clean Something

Day 16:  Be Thankful for Your Glass

Day 17:  Know Your Enemy

Day 18:  Find Bible Characters You Resonate With

Day 19:  Serve In Some Capacity

Day 20:  Try Something New

Day 21:  Read Revelation

Day 22:  Remember Christ's Sacrifice

Day 23:  Sing Out Loud

Day 24:  Declutter

Day 25:  Read Missionary Stories

Day 26:  Read Uplifting Books

Day 27:  Read Uplifting Blogs

Day 28:  Read Through Hymns

Day 29:  Remain Faithful

Day 30:  Choose to Wait Well

Day 31:  Track Your Progress

Linking up at Faith 'N FriendsFresh Market Friday, Grace and Truth, and Sitting Among Friends.

31 days to hallway praise













Loving My Lazarus Experience

Loving My Lazarus Experience Throughout Scripture, we see over and over how Jesus worked through hopeless situations in order to display God's glory.  The man born blind went 40 years without sight before Jesus opened his eyes.  A sick woman suffered for 12 years before Jesus healed her.  Countless parents went through untold agony as evil spirits tried to kill their children before Jesus cast out the demons.  Even Jesus' close friend Lazarus died before Jesus performed a miracle and raised him back to life.  As unpleasant as suffering is, often it serves to heighten the relief when it does come.

When the blind man was a child, I'm sure he had no clue that one day he'd meet the Son of God and have his sight restored.  The blind man had to wait for four decades before he fully understood the purpose of his suffering.  And when Jesus' friend Lazarus died, many asked, "if Jesus could heal all those others, why couldn't He have prevented Lazarus from dying?"  Of course, those who questioned Jesus' ability didn't know that the best was yet to come when Jesus raised him from the dead instead of simply healing him from his infirmity.

2013 was the hardest year for me to date (2008 takes a close second when, 2 months after we bought our house, Jon lost his job, the car died, and we found out that Lauren was on the way - all within the same week).  Although I'd give anything to change the fact that Tyler has diabetes and has to inject insulin multiple times a day, I love what this year has taught me about trusting in God's sovereignty and seeing how He's working everything together for my good and to His glory.

When life began unraveling the summer of 2013, I couldn't see past putting one foot in front of the other.  When Lazarus grew sick and died, I don't think Lazarus' sisters Mary and Martha could have predicted that they'd see their brother alive on earth after he died, either.

And yet, for each difficulty this year, God provided me the measure of grace needed to get through the current hallway.  His timing was perfect.  He had plans bigger than any I could have imagined.  When He allowed Lazarus to die, He allowed it so that that His glory might shine more fully and so that more people would put their faith in Him.  When the frustrations of 2013 hit us, it was so that we'd more fully comprehend the greatness of our God and would better understand His kindness and grace, so that we would trust more readily that His way is far better than our own.

A familiar quote from C.S. Lewis appropriately sums up the lessons from our suffering:  "I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer.  You are Yourself the answer.  Before Your face questions die away.  What other answer could suffice?"  I didn't necessarily question why He allowed the trials that He did, but I am finding that He Himself silences any questions that might try to surface.

I don't have to love the fact that Tyler has diabetes or that Jon thought he would lose his job (it's now going much better).  But I do love the Lord more for His care for me during these and other trials that we faced this year.  I can love the lessons that each Lazarus experience brings, because they bring me closer to the One Who brought back Lazarus from the dead.

Your turn:  What hallways are you facing right now?  What parts of Scripture are encouraging you?  Share with me in the comments so that I can better pray for you!

Loving My Lazarus Experience