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"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil,
to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV)

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Always pray (and don't give up)

From Proverbs 31 Ministries:

Rachel Olsen
September 17, 2012
By Rachel Olsen

"Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up." Luke 18:1 (NIV)

bam, bam ... bam, bam, bam, bam, bam ... bam ... bam, bam

The noise slowly fills my consciousness.
What is that?
I rub my eyes and look at the clock: 5:51 AM.
Sounds like ... hammering. Who is hammering something at 6 o'clock in the morning? Outside? On a Saturday?

I get up and peer through the blinds, straining on my tiptoes to see through the branches to my neighbor's backyard. And I wonder, should I see someone hammering will I walk out there - pink jammies, tousled hair and all - and say something about poor timing?
I'm really not very confrontational that way. But nor am I a morning person.

bam, bam, bam, bam ... bam ... bam, bam

I wake my husband Rick with my movement at the window, the rising sunlight breeching the bedroom.
"Do you hear that noise? What is that, Rick? It sounds like hammering—at 6 o'clock in the morning!"
Rick listens then announces confidently, "It's a woodpecker."
Anticipating my response he adds, "You can't stop him."
I can't stop him? That sounds like a challenge. As Rick drifts back into dreams, I head to the backyard to find this bird. I spot it hanging off the side of my house, pelting holes into the wood trim by my bedroom window.
I try scaring it away. I scream at it. I throw sticks toward it. Don't worry, animal lovers, I throw like a girl.

It turns out Rick was right, I couldn't stop the bird.
The woodpecker returned over several days. At first, I continued my antics. Parading onto the back patio in the dawn to scream and throw things at a bird. The woodpecker remained undeterred. Occasionally he'd fly off to a neighboring tree only to fly back and peck the side of my house again once I returned to my pillow.

So finally, I granted him the right to peck in peace. It's not what I wanted to do, but he wore down my resistance. He was unstoppable.

Interestingly enough, Jesus told a story of a woman who had woodpecker-like faith. Woodpecker-like persistence. You just couldn't stop her.
With the parable in Luke 18:1-8 Jesus teaches His disciples to always pray and never give up:
He said: "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, 'Grant me justice against my adversary.'
"For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, 'Even though I don't fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually come and attack me!'
"And the Lord said, 'Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?'" (vs. 2-8 NIV)
The woman came to this judge so often and so boldly that he thought she would slap wear him out!

Is that us? Do we constantly seek God, asking Him repeatedly in faith for what we need?
Jesus didn't speak of this judge to portray God as unwilling or easily exhausted—the judge doesn't represent God in this story. Jesus was saying that if an unjust judge would eventually grant the request of this woman, how much more will our gracious Father grant His children's requests!

God is willing to answer—to help, to restore, to vindicate and redeem. But we must have faith. And we must ask Him. Sometimes—oftentimes—repeatedly.
You and I need the kind of faith that will not give up. The kind of faith you just cannot stop. The kind of faith that prays always.
We need woodpecker faith.
Dear Lord, hear my prayers today about _________ and thank You in advance for Your answers. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Rachel's blog for more help in praying and not giving up.
Reflect and Respond:
What prayer would you like answered? What injustice do you need righted?
Persist in prayer for this today, tomorrow, this week ... as long as it takes.
Power Verses:
Mark 9:22b-23, "'But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.' 'If you can?' said Jesus. 'Everything is possible for one who believes.'" (NIV)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

It's September 11

I wanted to post something patriotic and found this on the Autism Speaks Blog. I have posted it exactly as it was posted, with no editorial changes. I hope you find it a blessing to your life and momentum for this journey.


Posted: 10 Sep 2012 12:57 PM PDT
This post is by Alexis Wineman, Miss Montana
Every person on the face of the Earth has to work to get where they want to go in life. The same goes for people with autism; the only difference is that autistics have to work harder, a lot harder. Hello, my name is Alexis Wineman and this is just my story. When I was born I was just your typical baby but around the age of 2, I started signs of my disorder. However I wasn’t officially diagnosed until I was 11. After all that time, my parents were relieved to finally have an answer. As for me, I couldn’t have cared less. I hardly had any friends, I was teased and picked on almost every day, and I was way behind in all of my classes. Autistic? Great, another name for people to call me other than retarded. Whatever this autism thing was, it ruined my life before I had a chance to live it. But to my surprise things started to get better in high school. People started to back off and through programs like speech & drama and cross country I was able to make some great friends. Graduation became possible and I finished high school with high grades. When I told my parents that I wanted to compete in the Miss Montana program it was a complete shock to them. I grew up hating anything that resembled a pageant. I remember how I would watch the Miss America program when I was younger and seeing those beautiful, intelligent women who, no matter the outcome, had a great future ahead of them. I thought that I could never have a future worth looking forward to and I thought that the confidence and grace these women had was too out of my reach. Looking back, I realize how foolish I was. I have already done so many things I never thought I could do. I’ve run three miles without stopping, spoken in front of many people, qualified for the National Honor Society, and was able to graduate high school with an acceptance to college. So I thought I would try Miss Montana and see if it was something that I might enjoy. It’s a good thing I did because I was crowned a week later! Though it has only been two months since my crowning night I have been constantly on the go. I have met so many amazing people through my appearances. This has been nothing but a wonderful experience and I am looking forward to the rest of the year, including representing Montana at the Miss America program in Las Vegas in January!

In the Miss America program it is required the each contestant have a personal platform or issue that they plan to bring attention to. I decided that mine should be autism awareness and acceptance and I titled it “Normal is just a Dryer Setting-Living with Autism.” I have already had the privilege of speaking at a couple conferences and I was able to share my story with those who were willing to listen. I was so excited when I heard that Montana was going to finally have a Autism Walk. Montana doesn't have many programs or resources to help children with autism but this walk should bring more attention to this cause. I am so excited to be involved with the walk and just as honored to speak at it.

I hope to be a positive face for those who feel lost and hopeless, whether they are autistic or not. I want to show people that being on the spectrum is not a death sentence but a life adventure.