Taking my own advice (Be still, part 2)

This spring, I bought a convertible. It wasn’t because I was rolling in the dough from the release of my new book… or, really, from anything. No dough around here. Mid-life crisis, some might suggest. Maybe so. But I see it as a response to the fact that most days, it is only Bobby and ...

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This spring, I bought a convertible. It wasn’t because I was rolling in the dough from the release of my new book… or, really, from anything. No dough around here. Mid-life crisis, some might suggest. Maybe so. But I see it as a response to the fact that most days, it is only Bobby and me in the car. Tim has a practical vehicle which holds our whole family. Both of my girls, who are in college, have four-door sedans. Tim works long hours, but when he’s home, we have his car. And when the girls are home, we have theirs. And why not? Why not enjoy all the time I spend running between point A and point B? OK, I won’t continue to justify it any longer, except to say that 1) I dearly love it, and 2) it cost less than the Volkswagen sedan I was considering instead.

Anyway… Saturday I drove two hours to Decatur, IL, to attend an art show of my dad’s. I got in the car, and it was dark and rainy so I couldn’t put the top down. But that’s OK. I plugged in my phone, set it to Pandora’s Third Day channel, and started driving.

And I took a deep breath. And another. I noticed the shapes of the trees and the geometry of the rows of crops. I pondered deep questions, sang really loud (and rather off-key), scribbled notes about future blog posts and (possibly) my next book, and prayed.

And then I thought (in a very profound and enlightened manner), Duh! All through my book, I say to keep your eyes open. To watch. To consider the unexpected.

But did I? Not so much. All this time I’ve been feeling like I haven’t had any quiet time this summer, but I was wrong.

No wonder I jump at every chance to run to the store. Or drive an hour to Indy. Or two hours to an art show. This might explain why I’ve never bothered to sync my phone through Bluetooth—I just don’t answer when I’m driving. Because I desperately need that alone time with God. It revives and rejuvenates, restores and replenishes. Am I sitting in my living room, eyes closed, communing with God before the rest of the world awakens? Not so much. But am I still communing with God? Absolutely.

It just looks different than I was expecting.

So thankful for this revelation. Does it let me off the hook? Not at all. I still need to always look for those moments. I still need that time with God. I need to try to be more mindful about it—not because it’s a requirement or because God is mad at me, but just because it is what I need. More of Him lets me find more of me. I am in Him and He is in me. How wondrous, how amazing, is that knowledge?

I sit and revel in the awe of it. Even if it’s from the driver’s seat of my car.


The book Walk Through Fire, written by Carly Bowers (the woman who guest posted here last week), is now available on Amazon. Click here to order and read this inspiring story.

 

Why my posts have been erratic this summer

Sorry my blog posting this summer has been so erratic. This post will be, too, but wanted to send a quick update and ask you to please hang on because I will be back soon! I’ll sum up recent events in just a few short categories—most of which seem contradictory. And yet, I guess that’s simply ...

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Sorry my blog posting this summer has been so erratic. This post will be, too, but wanted to send a quick update and ask you to please hang on because I will be back soon! I’ll sum up recent events in just a few short categories—most of which seem contradictory. And yet, I guess that’s simply life.

Grieving/Celebrating Our lives got a bit topsy-turvy this week. In the interest of time, I’m pasting my Facebook status about it below:

100_1071They say that if you want to know what kind of man your husband will become, look at his father. So I did, and I saw a strong, handsome man with beautiful blue eyes and a ready laugh. I watched him grow deeper and deeper in his faith. I saw how he loved his family. I saw a good, good man.

So this is heartbreaking to report.

Last night we lost Tim’s dad. He’d been fighting cancer, but this was pneumonia taking over his compromised body with a vengeance. Every hour the news became more and more devastating, and he passed away around 6:30 pm. Coincidentally (if you know me, you know I don’t believe in coincidence), Tim was off work and the girls, Tim and I were already in Indianapolis for an appointment, so we were able to be there.

As he lay in bed fighting to beat the blasted infection, I prayed this Psalm over him: “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, oh Lord, make me dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:8) Sleep peacefully, Loren Stanley, and enjoy eternity walking beside your God. We will miss you, sweet man.

Visitation is Sunday afternoon and the funeral on Monday. As sad as we are, we’ll be celebrating a really beautiful life.

Writing/Not Writing My second book—which I’m very excited about but still haven’t talked much about—is due to Tyndale on August 30. It was a fast turnaround commitment, and as you can imagine, I haven’t been able to do much writing. So please pray for me as I head towards the finish line. And give thanks for the amazing editors they have, because they’ll be able to take my words and make them coherent and engaging. (I’m counting on it.) And I’ll tell you more about it then :-).

IMG_0380Talking/Listening One of my favorite interviews about Praying Upside Down is now available. I haven’t met Ryan Huguley in person, but I SO enjoyed talking with him. Hope you’ll enjoy it too—listen to it here.

Praying I’m excited to announce an upcoming prayer workshop. If you can be in the Lafayette, IN area on October 10th, I’d love to have you join us! We’ll meet from 10-2 that day. Fee of $25 includes a copy of Praying Upside Down and lunch. Get the registration form and info here. If you can’t come to that, I’d love to talk to you about setting one up in your area. I’m also available to speak at retreats, small groups, book clubs, Sunday school classes and Bible study groups.

And now it’s your turn. Any topics you’d like me to explore? Anything you’d like to read about? Any questions about prayer or faith? I want to give you what you are looking for here, so please, reach out to me if you have any suggestions. And now I must get back to my writing. Have a great weekend.

Why am I surprised when God answers my prayers?

I read through some old journals tonight and rediscovered why I love keeping journals. Our memories are so fickle. But our entries are indisputable records of what we saw or knew or felt at a given time. In the middle of a bunch of angsty entries that made me roll my eyes, among lots of words ...

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GRAPHIC God can use fumbling

I read through some old journals tonight and rediscovered why I love keeping journals. Our memories are so fickle. But our entries are indisputable records of what we saw or knew or felt at a given time.

In the middle of a bunch of angsty entries that made me roll my eyes, among lots of words and questions and awkward play-by-plays of my spiritual growth as I saw it at the time, I found this.

I don’t remember asking God for this, at least not twelve years ago. I always thought I started asking God to use my writing about five years ago, and that I had never really thought that my focus would be on prayer. And yet look what I wrote on July 13, 2003. If you’re in a hurry, just read the bold parts.


I want so badly for God to use me, to keep working through me. I feel him doing that, and I am so honored and touched and moved by it that I cry whenever it hits me. It overwhelms me and scares me. I want to be a servant but I don’t feel like I know how to serve. I’ve always thought of myself more as a leader. I feel like I’m out of my element, a beginner, fumbling along towards the light. Sometimes I feel so close to God, and sometimes I feel like I know nothing.

…I need to be open and willing so that people will continue to turn to me, and I keep praying for God to give me the words. I never feel like I know what to say—but God can even use an awkward, fumbling person like me for good. I thank him for that! The days when I feel like I’m being used in that way are wonderful, and I wish I could serve like that all the time.

I never would have believed there would be some kind of ministry role in my life, but there is. I feel so moved to pray and to help. If my role is to somehow lighten people’s burdens, I take it gladly. Lord, please help me. I pray that you will continue to let me feel useful and good, but more important, that you will use me to make a difference, to show other people how brightly your love shines in my life. I love you and want to worship you, and I want people to see and feel your touch in their lives. Thank you for finding ways to let me do that.

I thank you, Lord, for all these things and more. I thank you for this time I have spent talking with you, and I thank you for caring enough about me to take the time to be with me. I’ve basked in the glow of your presence long enough, seeking the good feelings and chills down my spine, but not really offering anything back to you. I pray that this is just the start of it. I pray that I will find new and more ways to offer my life back to you. I love you, sweet Jesus. I love you.


 

Oh, Lord, You have been so good to me. Thank You for knowing the desires of my heart, even before I knew them myself. Thank You for letting me write, pray, and help people pray—and for allowing me to tell them about the things You have done. Thank You for giving me the opportunity to write Praying Upside Down. For accepting my offering to You, my whole-hearted act of worship. For being in the middle of it and showing me the fruit of my labors through sweet messages and encouraging notes from readers. Don’t ever let me stop worshipping and praising and offering myself to you. It would be impossible for me to ever thank You enough. In your sweet name I pray. Amen.

Don’t do it

Don’t ever fall into the trap of believing that God won’t come through because of your current (or past) failings. Or that what you have to offer isn’t enough. ~Praying Upside Down Remember this: Nothing can separate us from the love of God. Nothing. Romans 8:38-39 in the NIV reads, “For I am convinced that ...

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PUD book quotes-19Don’t ever fall into the trap of believing that God won’t come through because of your current (or past) failings. Or that what you have to offer isn’t enough. ~Praying Upside Down


Remember this: Nothing can separate us from the love of God. Nothing. Romans 8:38-39 in the NIV reads, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Which is amazing. Wonderful. Right?

But read it in The Message: “None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.”

That’s right. Nothing. Maybe today we can all sit back for a moment and let that sink in: There is nothing that can get in the way of our finding everything. Thank You, Lord!


Remember the giveaway I posted a couple weeks ago for those who wrote reviews of Praying Upside Down? First, I want you to know how grateful I am for each one of you who took the time to post a review. It means so much. And second, here are the prizes and the names of the winners. Please email me your mailing addresses so I can get you your prizes!

Where are you?

When I pull farther away from God, His size, importance, and abilities seem smaller. But when I draw in close, He becomes magnified. He becomes everything to me. ~Praying Upside Down   Have you seen this play out in your life? What did you do to draw in close again?  ...

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When I pull farther away from God, His size, importance, and abilities seem smaller. But when I draw in close, He becomes magnified. He becomes everything to me. ~Praying Upside Down


 

Have you seen this play out in your life? What did you do to draw in close again?

 

Look around

Ask God to show you where He is in anything you witness, study, or participate in. Inspiration—creative and spiritual—is everywhere. ~Praying Upside Down Anyone willing to share with the rest of us? Where have you found inspiration lately? What are you reading? Listening to? Learning? Absorbing? Watching? Discovering? It’s not too late to download this ...

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PUD book quotes-12Ask God to show you where He is in anything you witness, study, or participate in. Inspiration—creative and spiritual—is everywhere. ~Praying Upside Down


Anyone willing to share with the rest of us? Where have you found inspiration lately? What are you reading? Listening to? Learning? Absorbing? Watching? Discovering?


It’s not too late to download this June calendar to use as a daily reminder to pray… or to help you pray for something different. It’s free to all blog subscribers!

 

Facing Stories with Kelsey Timmerman

In which I yell at Kelsey and he looks very afraid. Even if that’s not exactly what happened. Because a picture is worth a thousand words, and this one seems to tell its own story. But if you have lots of time, click “play” because we talked about story, and community, and writing the book ...

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In which I yell at Kelsey and he looks very afraid.

Even if that’s not exactly what happened. Because a picture is worth a thousand words, and this one seems to tell its own story.

But if you have lots of time, click “play” because we talked about story, and community, and writing the book Praying Upside Down. And, based on the length of the video, it seems we talked a lot. But it was fun for me—as long as I don’t have to watch or listen to myself. I hope you’ll enjoy it, too.

Interview, review, and a giveaway

Courtney DeFeo is a friend of my agent, and that’s how we connected, but it seems we have lots in common. One of her creations is Alphabet Scripture Cards, which are pretty cool. Her bio describes her better than I could: Courtney DeFeo believes our kids can light up the world. As a former marketing ...

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Courtney DeFeo is a friend of my agent, and that’s how we connected, but it seems we have lots in common. One of her creations is Alphabet Scripture Cards, which are pretty cool.

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Her bio describes her better than I could:

Courtney DeFeo believes our kids can light up the world. As a former marketing professional, she lives in a constant brainstorm with herself and suspects it’s the route of her migraines. She wants her little light to shine so that her family knows Jesus intimately and others might see His love in the process. She is the creator of ABC Scripture Cards, Light ‘Em Up and Conversation Cups – and author of In This House, We Will Giggle. Her house is a wreck and she hates to cook. She adores her hot, patient husband. She posts entirely too many photos of her girls on Instagram. Connect with Courtney anytime: TwitterWebsiteFacebookInstagram.

I was so happy to be interviewed for her site. Head over there to read our conversation—or leave a comment on the post on her site in order to enter for a giveaway of a copy of my book.


I was so moved by this review of my book, and blown away when I realized the author is 15 years old. I can’t imagine being so…well, amazing…at that age. (Or any other, quite frankly!) I hope you’ll hop over there to read her lovely review and check out the rest of her blog while you’re at it. Besides, you’ve gotta love this pic.

 

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I’m supposed to be a word person, right? So why can’t I find words to describe how it feels to hear other people talk about Praying Upside Down? Why can’t I figure out how to convey my sense of awe? How can I express the humility I feel, coupled with giddy exhilaration that someone got it, that someone heard from God or turned towards Him in a new way? I’ve known all along that if anyone hears God through those words, it’s because God is drawing them, not because I’m anything remarkable. But just to be able to be a part of that process? As I said a whole paragraph ago, I just have no words to describe it. (Apparently, though, I have plenty of words to describe the ways in which I cannot describe it. Go figure.) To all of you who have reached out in some way to share your experience,  T H A N K   Y O U . xo

And now? I’m tired.

After all the build-up, it’s here. Past here, if you want to be technical. Praying Upside Down is officially available everywhere (or nearly so). And has been since May 1. In fact, my girls went to Indianapolis this weekend and decided to swing by the Carmel, IN, Barnes and Noble store to see if they had it. ...

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After all the build-up, it’s here. Past here, if you want to be technical. Praying Upside Down is officially available everywhere (or nearly so). And has been since May 1. In fact, my girls went to Indianapolis this weekend and decided to swing by the Carmel, IN, Barnes and Noble store to see if they had it.

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Not to be outdone, after my son Bobby’s soccer game on Sunday, my husband took me by another store, this one in Plainfield, and guess what we found there?

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I didn’t even have to turn the covers facing out. Some kind employee had already done that for me. I don’t know who it was, but he or she is my favorite person today.

No, actually I have lots of favorites today. I’m just oozing gratitude. Which doesn’t sound pretty, I have to admit. I read comments people had made on a couple of my recent guest posts, and I was struck by how vulnerable they were. Being willing to share their hearts with a stranger. Taking time to send encouraging words to someone they don’t know. Being moved enough by something I wrote that they reach out, wanting to share their experience, their weaknesses, their longings. Sometimes they’re hurt or lonely, sometimes in a place of comfortable companionship with God, and occasionally desperate to find Him.

In all cases, though, they’re hungry for more. I’m overwhelmed by the simple beauty of that. Because that is where we connect. It’s what we share. And it’s what will enable us to find Him. Together. More and more of Him, going ever deeper and deeper. Oh, Lord, continue to draw us to You. Keep our eyes wide open so that we might see You. Amen.

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The book launch party was one of the most fun nights of my life. Before the party even started, my daughter Anna presented us with shirts she had made to celebrate.

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So many surprises—friends from college, from my first real grown-up job, from book club and my prayer group and friends of my parents. So many of my mom’s close friends were there, and every one of them whispered, “Your mom would be so proud of you!”

We had something like 170 people stop by. The only thing that could have made it better was actually having time to talk to those of you I don’t get to see regularly.

book signing collage

Many of you have asked, did my book-signing hand get cramped? The answer is no. I could sign a million more. And I hope I get to.

The big surprise of the night, though, was when the Cool Kids, my phenomenal group of writer friends, walked in. Three of them drove from Grand Rapids, Michigan. Two from Muncie. And one from Greenfield. I did not know they were coming. I know how busy everyone is, and I knew it was a long way to come, so I believed them when messages started trickling in with apologies for having to miss the party.

Big fat liars.

I’m so glad they fibbed. Because that moment when I saw Terri, and Irene, and Joe, and then Sarah walking around the corner?

I may have squealed like a teenage girl spotting Adam Levine. (Actually, this 47-year-old woman might squeal if she spotted Adam Levine, too.) Let’s just say there were tears.

Because these lovely people were the only thing that had been missing from that perfect night.

11143159_852773624809691_7140311110286137327_nHaving them in my life is more than just good fortune or lucky coincidence. God knew how important they would be to me, and every single one of them is a gift to me. They “get” me. Know me. And love me anyway, without reservation.

I definitely hit the jackpot when it comes to friends. So many different groups of people, and all are so open and generous and fun. Not to get all corny and sentimental, but I feel that way about those of you reading this right now, too. I’m so thankful to have found you. You’ve read my words and heard some of my stories. I hope I’ll get the chance to learn your stories, too.


This post is sort of a hodge-podge. Tomorrow you’ll see another guest-post, and over the next couple weeks I’ll be sharing some more of those with you. But before I go, I want to share a link to a contest on Facebook to win a $25 Amazon gift card. All you have to do to enter is post a short review on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Goodreads. Having a large number of good reviews is critical, and it’s one of the best things you can do to help. Even if you don’t do this for me, please, do it for another writer. I’ll even wait while you hop on over there and do it.


 

See? That was pretty painless. Thanks. One last request? Say some prayers for me over the next couple weeks. I have several podcast and radio interviews scheduled and I want to be able to gather my thoughts, be succinct and clear, and actually say something worth listening to. In other words, I want God to shine instead of me. Because as He knows all too well, when I’m left to my own devices, well, it’s not pretty.

Confessions From a So-Called “Prayer Expert”

The lovely Jennifer Dukes Lee, author of Love Idol and one of the most uplifting, encouraging people I know, is featuring me on her blog today. I wrote about what an inspirational example I am. What a good prayer expert I am. (Or, perhaps, I wrote about how I am the exact opposite of that.) ...

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The lovely Jennifer Dukes Lee, author of Love Idol and one of the most uplifting, encouraging people I know, is featuring me on her blog today. I wrote about what an inspirational example I am. What a good prayer expert I am.

(Or, perhaps, I wrote about how I am the exact opposite of that.)

Join me over there?

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Whenever someone refers to me as an expert on prayer, I want to laugh out loud. Then I feel embarrassed for being such a hypocrite—after all, I did write a book about prayer. It’s not an illogical conclusion. Yet I’m not comfortable with that praise. Finally, I open my mouth to try to speak—and close it again without saying a thing. Eventually, I usually move forward as though I didn’t hear that comment after all.

Because if there’s one thing I’m not, it’s an expert.

I start to pray in the shower, often making it only as far as “Dear Lord…” before << read more >>


P.S. The book launch party was fabulous and I’ll be posting soon, possibly tomorrow, with pictures and other info :-).

 

 

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