My Boldest Prayer

Just over a year ago, I prayed the boldest prayer I’ve ever prayed. And I’ve prayed a lot of prayers. But this one was life-changing in ways I could never have imagined. And I did ask for it.

I’d just boarded a plane headed east to meet my youngest grandson for the first time. Exhausted, I opted for a silent flight. No music. No internet. Not even a book or magazine. Just my earplugs … and 4+ hours of quiet time with the Lord.

What should we talk about?

Prayer changes things. And people.

As you know from reading My Story, my life has been one challenge after another. Many of my lifelong dreams have remained just out of reach. Even now, I consider only a few of my endeavors to have been successful ones.

  • My three amazing sons (grown with their own families)
  • My three psychology degrees (BA, MA, PsyD)

It was July by now, and for several months the Lord had been talking to me about establishing a Christian Couples Retreat Center. [You can read the back story here.] The ideas flooded in as fast as I could write them down. “No one is doing anything like this,” I quickly realized. “The concept is totally unique, Lord! Very romantic and exciting!”

There were just a few problems, however.

Although I certainly have the training for it, I couldn’t help but wonder. Why on earth would the Lord give such An Amazing Vision – such a unique and brilliant concept –

  • to a woman who has been divorced twice,
  • a woman who is clearly no longer a Spring Chick,
  • and who has very little in terms of material resources?

Seriously. No one has that kind of money these days.

But if God wants it, He certainly can make it happen. Right? But why me, Lord? What have I ever done? Yet who am I to question God’s choices for leadership in His Kingdom?

He’s picked a lot of unlikely candidates to advance the Kingdom throughout history.

  • Abraham (an old dude with no kids … at first)
  • Jacob (second-born son who’d been a liar and a cheat)
  • Joseph (a bragger who lived the life of a slave and prisoner)
  • Moses (another old dude … this one with a stick and a stutter)
  • Esther (an orphaned Jewish girl who became Queen of Persia)
  • David (a scrawny shepherd boy who failed to fit the armor, but became King)
  • and Paul (who persecuted Christians … then wrote most of the New Testament)

… just to name just a random few.

So why NOT Dr. Debi (an old dudette)? “Ok, Lord,” I prayed on the plane that day. “I’ve been reminding You of how old I am, and You keep ignoring me.

“Your idea for this Christian Couples Retreat Center is so far beyond anything I’ve ever done. So – assuming You really want me to do this – You’re going to have to put me on The Fast Track.”

“I know I’ve played it safe all my life. But from here on out, you call the shots, Papa. All of them. Let’s make the Second Half of My Life a Real Adventure! You write the script. I’ll follow Your direction and do whatever You ask of me. Whatever You ask.”

At the time, “The Fast Track” I had in mind meant He’d have to start teaching me a ton-at-a-time about how to run the multi-dimensional business that He’d shown me.

Nope. Not even close.

What He’s done is put me on His Fast Track. He’s challenging me like I’d never imagined possible. And refining me in ways I didn’t know I needed to be refined. Here are just a few things I’m learning at a deeper level … so far.

  • Submit to His Lordship. If He’s in charge, then He’s in charge. Follow Him always.
  • Trust in His Goodness. For everything. I mean literally. Everything. Anxious for nothing. I mean literally. Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
  • Stand on His Promises. I’m learning to hear His voice best and to take Him at His Word. Always. Because He never lies. Never. And nothing is too hard for Him.

Is this a new thing? I suspect it’s something He’s had planned all along.

I’ve always wanted to make a difference. And that was my goal when I began college as a single mom [and later, graduate school]. I wanted to help at least one person live a better life. But was that a new thought for me at age 40?

No, indeed. I recently recalled a time in junior high school. Yes, that’s when it was. Though I don’t remember the specific context, I’m sure it was during my Youth Group. The passion of it all – still fresh on my mind today – as I eagerly responded – even as Isaiah did – to the voice of the Lord. And I don’t think He’s ever forgotten it either.

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying,
“Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)

QUESTIONS: What Passionate Pursuit have you had on hold? How long has Your Dream been waiting for you? And what would it take to get you going again?

Can Women Be Trusted with a Man’s Heart?

“Wondering Wounded” asked:

“I would like your interpretation of a man who seems more interested in spending his time with other men.

“I went out with him a few times and we really hit it off, but he suddenly withdrew without much explanation.

“He spends most of his time on hobby of Ham Radio consisting of mostly men friends, and he also spends much time going to Tradorees and trading and selling vintage Boy Scout patches (once again mostly men and boys attend these). Most of (90%) the friends he has on social networking sites are also men. He does not go out with women often in fact it is rare. Do these things indicate he might be gay?”

Dear “Wondering Wounded,”

No, they don’t. In fact, there are many, many reasons a man would prefer to be alone … or in the company of other men. Most have to do with issues of safety.

Dr. Stephen Bergman described a common emotional experience he refers to as male relational dread. This fear is characterized by a sense of inevitable, never-ending disaster and an expectation of immense and irreparable damage. The closer a man feels to a woman, the more intense his dread. He feels unsafe, guilty, incompetent, and ashamed in this uncharted territory.

Under the pressure of needing to fix things, he is overcome by an exponential increase in his dread. Even though he may desperately want connection, a man may interfere with activation of his own attachment system by

“withdrawing, striking out, tuning out, changing the subject, joking, being nice, falling silent” (Bergman, 1995, p. 83).

As Dr. Bergman has observed in his workshops, men may have sufficient experiential evidence that disconnection is the better, safer, way to go.

“The men—sometimes with good reason—did not trust the women to let go of their images of men and to accept male vulnerability” (Bergman, 1995, p. 83).

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Your Spiritual Heritage & Knowing God Today

Church was always a big part of our family life, even when my parents were together. Sunday mornings, Sunday evenings, Wednesday night prayer meetings.

I remember asking Jesus into my heart during Vacation Bible School one summer, and true to His Word, He came in to stay.

But other than going to church, Mom didn’t contribute much to our spiritual understanding or growth.

I don’t remember ever hearing my mother pray, though she did read her Bible a lot. In fact, she kept it near her rocking chair and underlined her favorite verses with a pen.

Sadly, that was her only testimony.

Like most adolescents, I had a hard time during junior high. Thankfully, our ultra-conservative Midwestern church provided the Rules for Living, and we had the world’s absolute best youth group. We went roller skating, camping, boating, and for hayrides. But we never engaged in my favorite sport: dancing.

Trying to make sense of it all as an adult, I composed a brief bio that I shared with folks who asked about my religious upbringing. My early Spiritual Formation went something like this:

  • My dad was Pentecostal, and my mom was Baptist. Their marriage didn’t last. Go figure.
  • We moved into a house between the First Baptist Church and the Nazarene Church, and my mom chose the Nazarenes. So I was raised a Nazarene by a Baptist mom. Go figure.
  • I married a Lutheran when I was 18 years old, and we became United Methodists. Our marriage didn’t last either. Go figure.
  • Yet the Lord has remained faithful to me. Hallelujah!

QUESTIONS: What’s your spiritual heritage? How has your understanding of God changed over the years?