Category Archives: Prayer and Meditation

Father, Thank You

Woman on pier.  Text reads "Father Thank You"

by Lydia Floren

The following prayer is on the first page of my thanksgiving journal. It blesses me, and I thought it might bless you too.

Father, Thank You…

  • You give me identity. You made me and gifted me with all the wonderful qualities I possess.  You have helped me see them and explore them. To understand them better. To cement them into a better understanding of who I am. 
  • You give me belonging. My place to belong. With no judgment or condemnation. Just acceptance, love, arms open wide. This place/home is

– with You. Every day. Where I am, there You are as well. And where You lead me to be is where I belong at the moment. And I am safe wherever that is.

– with other true believers, including those who have gone before, (like Nouwen, C.S. Lewis, Solzhenitsyn, St. Francis, Brother Lawrence, Hannah Whitehall Smith), and those in the Bible. And those in my life right now.

– And in eternity, my forever home.

And because of this true place that I belong, I can be content in the place that I am, wherever You have led me to be that day.

  • You give me immeasurable value, an innate sense of true worth that has nothing to do with any accomplishment. Just with the reality of who I am – my inherent and unique spirit. You didn’t come to save me for my usefulness, but simply because I am important to you. I was worth coming for and dying for, simply for the joy of my company with You forever.
  • You give me a sense of significance. A unique place of service and influence in this world. You invite me into the world every day to love people, and to serve them and minister to them. To be a part of what You are doing to redeem the world, and to restore it.  In Your power. By Your direction. With Your wisdom and discernment. And because it is in Your power, and by Your direction, I don’t need to fret about the details. I can just trust the process and the plan I have prayed thru with You, knowing that You will adjust and redirect me when needed.
  • You give me safety and provision. Protection. Safe passage wherever You lead me in life. And the understanding that You will provide everything that I need, including contentment in whatever circumstance I find myself. And the ability to face pain and walk through it. And You give me the security of knowing that You will come find me if I wander off the path, and will lead me back in the direction I need to go.
  • You give me guidance, and fellowship/company along the path You have set out for me, every day practical guidance in healing, in ministry, in growth, in self-care, in tending what I have been given. Even guidance in how to plan, to strategize. Guidance in the spontaneous. Guidance in how You want to work thru me to bless others.
  • You give me Yourself.  The greatest and best gift, and the most enduring one. The ongoing joy of knowing that I am continually in Your presence/company. Continually loved/cherished. Continually wanted, and included. Continually protected. Continually supplied with everything that I need. Continually being healed, renewed, empowered, challenged, encouraged.

Father, thank You for the joy of knowing that I can trust You with my whole heart and my whole life. 

But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth.  John 16:8 

Getting Away

12216-getting-awayGetting Away

by Lydia Floren

I  remember first getting away by myself when I was a resident in Jacksonville, Florida.  Medical training was pretty intense, and I found myself needing a true break. So, periodically, I would pack an overnight bag, and head to the nearby beach, where I’d rent a cheap mom-and-pop type hotel room for a night or two. Other than the usual essentials, I would take only my Bible and my journal.  I’d sleep for long stretches, take walks by the ocean, praying to the sound of crashing waves.  It was truly restorative.

A few years later, when I was married and mostly staying at home with little ones, I’d occasionally talk my husband into childcare duty and check into a nearby B and B.  I was amazed at how different a night or two would make me feel—refreshed, renewed, settled. Resting and reconnecting with God (and myself) did that for me. My husband noticed the difference too, and started to encourage me to take some personal time, on occasion. In fact, just a couple of weeks ago he pulled me aside and asked   “Hon, do you need to get away for a couple of days?”

The location and timespan of these little solo retreats has varied over the years, but some things have remained pretty constant.  Rest. Solitude. Silence (including all electronics). Prayer (both talking and listening). Bible reading. Journaling.

Until recently, I’d never met anyone else who did this sort of thing.  Well, Jesus did it.  And while writers such as Henri Nouwen and Brennan Manning have mentioned their own such experiences in passing, I had never seen, much less read, a whole book dedicated to this topic.

Until now. My dear (and fairly new ☺) friend Tish just published a wonderful book about taking a personal retreat called Getaway with GodI met Tish at a writer’s conference (Write to Publish) a couple of years ago. I liked her immediately. Tish is a gentle, Godly woman, and her book reflects her heart. It also provides some great resources and insights into planning your own personal retreat.

Getting away with God–the Person who knows you best and loves you most. Doesn’t that sound amazing? Especially this time of year? Maybe it’s time to give yourself a gift.  Mark your calendar and make your own plans for some personal rest and renewal.  (And maybe pick up a copy of Getway With God while you are at it.)

Best. Christmas present. Ever.

PS. For the chance for a free signed copy of Tish’s book, just respond to this post on the blog Belovedlove.org/reflections, message or post on our Facebook page @ Belovedlove, or on Twitter @bebelovedlove!

p.s.  I took the above picture at my friend’s Northwoods cabin. The one below is from another friend’s low-country retreat in South Carolina.

12216-restores-my-soul

The Lord is my Shepherd

the-lord-is-my-shepherd-

the Lord is my shepherd I shall not want

The Lord is my Shepherd

by Lydia Floren

This week’s blog is the first in of a series of pictoral blogs on Psalm 23. Take a moment to think about this phrase this week.  What does it mean for THE lord to be your shepherd?  What pictures or scenes make you think of the phrase “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want”?  

Snap a picture, or jot a few words down, and share it with the rest of us.  It’s easy–simply post it on the Belovedlove Facebook page. (with photos, if you have time include a few words about your photo, such as why you chose it, or where you took it.)

Everyone’s eye is so different, and God speaks to each of us in special ways!  Thank you for sharing part of your world with the rest of us!

Lydia

I thank God in all my remembrance of you!

pay-attention-4x6

 

An Invitation

9:1:16 Invitationby Lydia Floren

Pictures are such a big part of our lives, aren’t they? In the last couple of years, I have enjoyed taking pictures, and then pairing them with a saying or verse. I call them “Sunrays” because they shine a little truth into my life. For example, this photo of a lava tunnel (basically, a big hole in a rock) I took in Maui, Hawaii, always speaks to me of how powerful God is. He really can make a way where there is no way.9:1:16 Make A WayOver the next few weeks, I am planning to post pictures of various scenes (primarily in nature) illustrating phrases from Psalm 23. Would you be willing to help?

An Invitation: Share your photos of Psalm 23 with us!

  • Take some time to think about Psalm 23 (see below), maybe while spending time out in nature, and/or scrolling through old pictures.
  • Pick out one or more favorite photos that speak to you in some way about these wonderful words.
  • And then forward them to me via email, or simply post them on the Belovedlove Facebook page. (If you have time, include a few words about your photo, such as why you chose it, or where you took it.)

I look forward to hearing from you, and seeing a little of your world. And then passing that blessing along to many others.

Thank you! You are such a blessing to me!

Lydia Floren

“I thank God in all of my remembrance of you.”

Psalm 23

“The LORD is my shepherd,
 I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
 He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul;
 He guides me in the paths of righteousness
 for His name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
 I fear no evil, for You are with me;
 Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil;
 my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
 and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”

Overwhelming GRACE

0verwhelming GRACE

overwhelming GRACE

Overwhelming GRACE

by Lydia Floren

When life seems overwhelming, it is hard to wait on God. And even when we choose to be still,  our minds can continue to race, robbing us of this precious time to re-energize and refocus.

Praying GRACE is an awesome way to break free of swirling thoughts, and drink in God’s peace and love.

Give thanks:

Thank you, God, that you are here. You love me, and those Iove. You know exactly what is going on. You meet me right where I am and are leading me in the next step. You are powerful and have everything under control. I am safe.

Release:

Father, you know all of these things swirling around in my head. I just leave them one by one at your feet. You are in control. I don’t need to be, and frankly, I can’t be.  Thank you for helping me to see that. Forgive me when I try to take control instead of trusting you.

Accept:

Father, I accept the lighter load of following you, instead of trying to figure out everything on my own. I accept Your leadership and direction. Right now I choose to listen as you speak through your word, and your still small voice within me.

Continue:

God, I choose to continue moving forward in the way you have already led me, trusting you to make clear any changes that need to be made.  Thank you that even if/when things don’t seem clear, you will open doors, close others, helping me to see plainly which way to go.

Enjoy:

Father thank you that I can just enjoy the day in front of me, knowing that You’re with me–reassuring, guiding, loving. I can enjoy each moment knowing that you’re taking care of everything, and that you have the big picture in mind.

                This is the day which the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

you are lovely, and loved.

God's grace is overwhelming

Prepping for Success

3:9:16 Prepping for successby Lydia Floren

It is always soul-enriching, being with God. Why do I wait? What could possibly give me more life than spending time in His presence? Having those moments that soak into my soul?

Nothing.

Prepping for success

How can we be prepping for success? How do we minimize distractions first thing in the morning, and optimize our chances of success, in this all important meeting with The Person Who Loves Us Most? Here are a few thoughts that have helped me:

1. Restrict my daily “To Do” list to 5 items. I only allow 5 things on my to do list every day, and #1 is “Be loved by God, and listen.“

2. Plan and Prepare the night before:

  • Straighten up the night before, especially the area where I have my prayer/time with God.
  • Make this area inviting—soothing, peaceful. Pictures, flowers, music at the ready.
  • Get coffee set up to go automatically.
  • Have my journal/Bible/materials set out.
  • Go to bed on time, and set my alarm.

2. Keep a running task list handy. When things I need to do, or ideas I have, start crowding my mind, I can write them down and get them out of my head.

3. Continue reviewing my priorities and goals, so other things don’t creep into my life and
rob me of the most important things.

What do you do to stay focused in your daily meeting with God? Please share! I would love to hear from you!

What Should I Do Now? Making Plans

2:25:16 What should I do Nowby Lydia Floren

Last week in “What Should I Do Next?”, I wrote about making plans. I’m not going to lie. Planning takes time and perseverance. It is hard to make myself take a chunk of time to pray through and decide what is the best way to spend my time and resources.

But tough choices aren’t just limited to making plans.

When we face dilemmas, we ask ourselves, “What should I do now?
Many times we are faced with dilemmas in life – difficult relationships, career decisions, parenting concerns. Everything seems muddled. We can feel totally at a loss about how to respond, or which way to go. And it stresses us out. We need wisdom beyond our own understanding.

Proverbs 2 has some great insight:
“If you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.” Prov. 2:1-5

Here’s another way to say these verses:

Steps Toward Wisdom (paraphrase of Prov. 2:1-5)

  • Accept and store up God’s word:  make a practice of exposing yourself to the truth of God’s word and God’s presence every day. Respect it. Let it sink into your heart and spirit.
  • Listen: Pay attention to how God might be speaking to you in your situation. Do your best to try to understand what He is saying in your heart through His word and His presence.
  •  ASK HIM for His perspective on your situation. Plead with Him to increase your understanding beyond what you can do on your own.
  • Search for God’s wisdom. Actively look for His insight. Let that be the most important thing to you, more important than the facts that you have gathered, your own conclusions, or the opinions others.

When you do these things, you will find the knowledge you seek about what your next steps should be. And you will experience just how amazing God is.

Remembering our highest priority keeps everything in perspective.
When we make our relationship with God our highest priority, He helps us put everything in perspective, and gives us wisdom beyond our own understanding.

Is your relationship with God your highest priority in life? How do your choices of how you spend your time and resources reflect that priority? What plans/steps can you make to better accept, listen, ask and search for God’s wisdom?

“And you will seek me and find me, when you search for me with all your heart. And I will be found by you, declares the Lord.”  Jer. 29:12

Pray Plan Pray

2:5:16 Pray Plan Prayby Lydia Floren

On my recent trip to India, one of the leaders of IBL had these three words at the top of his whiteboard:  “Pray Plan Pray.”

I love this!  Pray first, then plan, and then pray through your plans.

You know, the New Year is just getting underway. This is an excellent time to look back and forward, and “pray plan pray.”

Here is one way you can do this:

Praying GRACE for the New Year

Give thanks for…

  • Right now.
  • Your life:  The past year.  The coming one.
  • God’s presence and His goodness.
  • All God has been doing, and all He continues to do.

Release…

  • The past.  Disappointments.  Pain.  Resentment.  Regret.  Sin.  Shame.  Guilt.
  • Expectations you have of others.  And that others might have of you.
  • The future.  Fear.  Worry.  Uncertainty.

Accept…

  • Where you are right now.
  • Yourself as you are:  imperfect and in process.
  • God’s love and forgiveness.
  • God’s wisdom/direction for the coming year.
  • Responsibilities God has already given you.
  • Ownership of your life and your decisions.

Continue…

  • Praying about your priorities and goals.
  • Listening for God’s direction.
  • Outlining plans for the year.
  • Deciding which one or two habits to cultivate in the coming year.

Enjoy…

  • Each day, recognizing it for the gift that it is.
  • The process of prayerful planning.
  • God’s constant presence with you, within you – loving you, leading you, touching others through you.

Praying GRACE is a wonderful way to start the year. But however you choose to dive in to 2016, don’t forget to Pray Plan Pray.

What plans have you made for the coming year?

Spring In The North Woods

Title

by Lydia Floren

Spring is different in the North Woods, more than any other place I have lived.  It is greatly anticipated by all who live here (especially a southerner like me) but still arrives unexpectedly.

One day it is winter.

Winter

The next day, spring.

Spring

Overnight—or so it seems–tulips bravely push past the cold. Green grass peaks through melting snow.

Flowers

The woods blush with leaf-buds.

tree

And then apple trees blossom.

Apple Blossom

And lilacs.

Lilacs

Wisconsin spring is beautiful.  And brief. Almost in the blink of an eye the flowers fade, the woods unfurl a startling array of greens.

Green Trees

Summer.

Wisconsin summers take my breath away.  The days are warm, but not scorching. The grass is a lush carpet, caressing my bare feet.  The cool evenings stretch until 9:30 or 10, inviting me to linger on the back porch to watch the dusk settle, feel the breeze, listen to the fading echoes of children at play.

I am ashamed to say that even in summer, I can become inured, and then immune to the season’s magnificence. But the change of seasons in the North woods stops me in my tracks. Every year. Every season. The shifts–winter to spring to summer to fall–shout God’s greatness, His creativeness, His startling sense of beauty.

I can’t help but wonder. And awe. And give thanks, not only for the beauty surrounding me, but for the God who made all of this—who made each of us, His pinnacle creations.

I will give thanks to you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.

Happy summer!