If we were on a coffee date, I’d probably be drinking hot tea, even though the humidity is high and the weather warm here in Kentucky. If we wanted to sit outside, though, I’d go for an iced tea latte. It would be a toss up over an iced chai latte with soy milk or an iced green tea latte with coconut milk. No matter what, my order is coming up tea. Always.
If we were on a coffee date, I’d tell you that my favorite tea is Bewley’s Gold Blend, a black tea from Ireland. I had it for the first time on my visit to Dublin in 2011, and since then I’ve been enjoying it almost every morning for years. You can find it at international stores, on Amazon, and sometimes in local coffee shops. I drink mine with a splash of unsweetened vanilla almond milk and it’s so rich and smooth!
If we were on a coffee date, I’d ask you how your heart is after the tragedies of the last week. I’d tell you how my own heart turned, sick and saddened, at each unfolding tragedy, and how I dove in to hashtags and my friends’ posts to listen, to learn, to gain new perspective. I’d tell you it took me over an hour to write and share the simplest Facebook post with my friends, fighting the tensions of finding the words and being brave enough to say them. I’d ask you if you were able to watch the IF:Gathering Unity discussion, Priscilla Shirer’s Periscope, “Talking and praying”, or my friend Retha’s Journey to Balance podcast episode about Latasha Morrison’s call to racial reconciliation within the Church body. I’d tell you that my eyes welled up, my throat got a little tight, and my heart was moved when a simple text message to one of my black friends to say I loved her and was praying for her on Thursday was received with such deep gratitude and kindness. I’d confess that I noticed a deeper level of the whiteness of my world, and started processing with the Lord what to do about it. I would tell you I’ve been studying Romans 12 and it’s so timely; that my pastor was preaching from the book of Judges yesterday, but intentionally turned there and encouraged us to be the Church as pictured in that passage and my heart rejoiced. I’d confess that I logged off of my social media (except for Snapchat, which I put in its own category for some reason) for the weekend and tell you it was so refreshing for my soul.
If we were on a coffee date, I’d tell you how much I love learning about prayer. I’ve been diving in to prayer with the Lord lately, and it’s been so sweet. He’s been showing me how well He can handle my whole being – each and every feeling, thought, confession, and request. He’s been leading me into a greater intentionality with it – praying for friends via the U.S. Postal Service, sending prayer texts, processing life with Him in prayer privately inside of my journal, praying through His Word. As I read books on prayer and continue in the Word, I feel like my soul is expanding and being filled all at the same time. It’s beautiful.
If we were on a coffee date, I’d confess that I’ve had random bouts of body image issues over the last week. After a month of being sick – of not moving much and of eating ice cream (because when you’re sick, what’s better than ice cream?) – I find myself feeling “puffy” off and on and struggling to fit into certain pieces of clothing that used to fit just fine. I’d confess that I know the insecurity is a lie and I’m actually quite lovely. I know I am fearfully and wonderfully made, knit together in the image of God. I know this. But even still, I’ve had to pray against the thoughts that bubble up about shorts that don’t want to button comfortably right now, photos where I think I have “fat-face,” and whether or not it’s okay for me to eat a cookie when I’m trying to bounce back to my healthier lifestyle. I’d also tell you that I ate the cookie – two others, even – and had no regrets. That I looked at the photos again this morning and didn’t see “fat-face” but the light in my eyes and joy in my smile. That I’ve been practicing yoga, going for walks, eating my veggies, taking vitamins, and doing my best to stay healthy. I’d tell you that the best thing I think we can do when we feel insecure is to run to the Father in prayer and confess all our junk and let Him wrap us in truth and in love.
If we were on a coffee date and you asked me to share three things I’m hoping to do this summer, I’d say: dive deep into my local community, develop a consistent yoga practice again, and downsize my belongings. I’ve already done a few rounds of purging, but I’m hoping to tackle my closet, clothing, and desk area again. I feel the need to have less lately. My yoga practice is my primary goal for Do Summer 2016 (the secondary one is writing). So far I’ve completed almost three hours of practice (in just over a week), and it’s felt so wonderful to get back to it! As far as community goes, I’m being more intentional with people – making sure I’m at church gatherings, going to community group, initiating time with friends, and saying yes to being with others when I can. Community is important to me, and I want my life to reflect that.
It’s not because the city has a unique vibe and so much to offer. I go to Nashville because my friend, Kathleen – my Tennessee bestie, is there. Sure, I can expect to have brunch, do a little exploring of the city, and see new sites with her. But that’s just icing. I am perfectly content with the cake – to sit on her couch and talk heart-speak with her as we drink water out of mason jars. To catch up on a walk with her wee man in the stroller, even if we struggle to find any shade. To settle in and see how we’re doing in ways Snapchat, text messages and phone calls can’t quite touch in the same way.
So on my way home from a Chattanooga retreat, I took the long way home – through Nashville. I sat on Kathleen’s couch with her for hours and walked her neighborhood in the brightest of sun. And I enjoyed every minute of it.
With her wee man nestled in the backseat, we made our way outside of Nashville to Castalian Springs, Tennessee. Kelley’s Berry Farm is there and was our destination for gathering strawberries on a warm Sunday evening. The farm offers strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and peaches. Strawberry season is normally through May and June; but with the warm weather, they were able to open early. I’m so glad they did!
It was beautiful out there – row after row of strawberries under a bright blue sky. With Wee Man wrapped up against his mama, Kathleen and I walked the rows and plucked the strawberries that were just the right shade of red. We sampled one each and oh, were they as good as they looked! There’s something about being farm-fresh, you know? 🙂
Of course, both of us having photography backgrounds, we needed to stop and snap a few photos of our little adventure. I took a few of Kathleen and Wee Man, and she took a few of me. It felt nice to do some impromptu portraits again!
I’m hoping that next time I visit, it will still be fruit-picking season. There’s something so relaxing about walking those rows and finding little treasures! And hey, if you’re ever in the Nashville area, head out to Kelley’s Berry Farm and see what delicious fruit you can pick yourself. 🙂
I’d been thinking about prayer and interceding for others and what that looked like in my own life. I do a lot of prayer journaling, but it’s not as often that I take the time to intentionally and faithfully pray over others’ specific needs. Not as much as I’d like, anyway.
One day last Spring, I felt this stirring to write out prayers for people. It’s a habit I’d pick up and set aside— a prayer text to a friend here, an Instagram comment there, within Facebook groups or emails. But it had never been an intentional, regular part of my prayer life. This day, though, I felt like God was calling me to commit to praying for one person in particular. And not just to pray over her, but to write the prayers out and send them via email.
I wrote an email to her, and just told her what I felt the Lord was telling me. “I choose you,” I said. “I can’t explain why, but you’re the first one I thought of for this thing and I’m going to choose to believe that it’s a Holy Spirit thing and just go with it.”
And for about six months, I did. I’d sit with my laptop or phone and write up a prayer in an email composer once a month. Then I’d press send and my friend would have a prayer waiting for her in her inbox.
I know there’s power in any prayer. I wholeheartedly believe that to be the case. But I also believe there’s something so special, so powerful about receiving a prayer you can hold on to. When you can remember the words, re-reading them from time to time… I think that’s a beautiful picture of how prayer works— outside of time, because it’s heard by a God who knew it would be prayed, a God who is moving in those situations and people, a God who sees the victory before we’ve even thought to pray for it.
I know how much it’s meant to me to receive prayer over text, email, Skype, and in person. I know how much it means to hear the other person’s actual Spirit-led words over you.
The dawning of 2016 was an exciting new season for me. It felt like the best sort of fresh start. And as I sat, considering the year before and the people who walked through it with me, I began to make a list. It wasn’t anything fancy, just names as they popped into my head, written down on a small 4×6 notecard I had lying around. I thought I was going to send each of them a thank you card, to let them know how grateful I was for them and their friendship.
I felt a whisper in my spirit, though, that it would be more than that.
So I did. I grabbed a stack of notebook paper and one-by-one, I started writing out a prayer for each of my people on this list. When I was finished writing the prayer, I’d write them a separate note on a card, and tuck the notebook paper with my prayer written on it inside of the card. Then I would set it aside until I could put it in the mail.
The reactions have been amazing – so humbling and so beautiful. I have been told that my prayer was received on the perfect day, that the prayer was going to be kept inside of their Bible, that they sobbed because the words were exactly what they needed to hear. I have been told that it is the kindest thing anyone has ever done for them, that I should never stop doing this project because it was such an encouragement to them and they want others to receive the same thing. And it was from those reactions, that I decided to share about this growing work God has been writing in me as I have been writing up prayers.
Imagine how powerful it would be if each of us wrote a prayer to even one other person and mailed it to them. Imagine that person, holding the envelope in their hand, delighted to have received some “happy mail.” Imagine their reaction as they see that you took the time to send them not only a note of encouragement, but also a bold prayer written out by hand.
If you’d like to join me in growing in prayer, in being intentional with your intercession, and in flooding the USPS with prayer-mail — I’d love to have you start to write your own postmarked prayers.
1. Sit with an empty piece of paper or notecard. Pray and ask the Lord to show you who should be on your list. I was surprised by a few of the names that popped up on my list at first! I know it was the Holy Spirit who chose them and it’s so amazing to see that play out!
2. Take a sheet of paper and write the date at the top. I like to write the start time (and come back to write the end time). I’ve had moments where I know that someone is praying for me, and I know how neat it is to find out who was praying over you at that exact time!
3. Start writing your prayer. I like to start with thanking the Lord for that person by name. I tend to write a whole thanksgiving paragraph, then move on to needs. Is this person single, engaged, married, have kids? I pray over those things. Does this person have a specific need right now? Are they waiting on something? Starting something new in life, family, or business? I pray over that. Is the Holy Spirit prompting you to pray for anything in particular? Pay attention to that and write it out!
4. Write up a little note card to tell the person that you’re thinking of them, that you love them, that you’re thankful for them. Whatever encouraging word is on your heart, share it!
5. Tuck the prayer inside the card. Seal it up, address it, put your stamp on it and send it out!
6. Pray and ask God to show you who to write to next!
One of the most beautiful things about this to me is that it’s all God. He gives the names and shows you when to write them a prayer. He guides you to put it in the mail at the right time and He makes sure it’s delivered exactly when it’s meant to arrive to each person. As I hear from my friends, I am so encouraged, so humbled, and so blessed by what God is doing. I know you will be, too.
If you do decide to be apart of the Postmarked Prayers project, I would love to hear about your experience! Send me a note, share on social media with #PostmarkedPrayers, or comment on this post. I’d love to praise the Lord with you over what He’s doing! 🙂
Looking for a little more encouragement these days? I’ll send you an email every now and then with a note to encourage you to press on in what you’re doing. You can join that community here.
Home to Nashville to Georgia to Nashville to home. It was just me, Jesus, and my little blue car. I spent three to four hour trips at a time in prayer, singing along to the radio, and processing. There was laughter when I completely botched the high notes in sing-a-long songs. There were tears when Jesus and worship lyrics got the best of me. There were moments of bold prayer and moments of ridiculous car dancing.
It ran deep to my soul and healed the jagged edges of my heart. He loves me and I have His approval. It’s not based on me and my efforts or on the approval or lack thereof from other people. It’s based solely and completely on God. He created me in His image. He gathered me up and said, “this one is Mine,” redeeming me on the cross and breathing new life into me. He delights in me and the relationship we have. He is continually working in me to make me a new creation, day by day. He’s not angry with me or searching to find fault in me the way I’ve so desperately searched myself. He isn’t speaking accusation over me; He is rejoicing over me with singing. He is gentle and kind, and His kindness leads to my repentance when I do fall short.
I was so excited when Retha Nichole asked me to be a guest on her podcast, Journey to Balance! We spent some time together one morning, talking about being brave, spending time with the Lord, red lipstick and hot tea. I shared about some of my work as a virtual assistant, my writing, and fighting the desire to hide. We also laughed – a lot – and I had such a great time having this conversation with Retha. I hope this podcast episode will be a blessing to you!
Be sure to check out other episodes of Journey to Balance for encouragement in living a balanced and whole life. I’ve been so encouraged by these conversations and I know you will be, too. Enjoy!