TO SCHEDULE: “You, My child, are My favorite.”

I have one younger sister, Kerry. Our dad, who loves us completely and totally and with an unconditional love, has a standing joke when we call: “Is this the pretty one or the smart one?” After all these years, it still makes me laugh, and depending on how I feel that day, I give him ...

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I have one younger sister, Kerry. Our dad, who loves us completely and totally and with an unconditional love, has a standing joke when we call: “Is this the pretty one or the smart one?” After all these years, it still makes me laugh, and depending on how I feel that day, I give him a different answer. We both know he thinks both of us are pretty and smart. My dad has found a way to always let us know we’re special to him. If you would ask Kerry, she’d claim she’s his favorite. I, of course, know better. (Because I’m pretty and smart.)

One night, when my friend Sandee and I were talking, she said, “Don’t you ever, sometimes, imagine that you are God’s favorite—just for that moment?” At the time, I couldn’t say that I did. I wasn’t important enough. I didn’t know Him well enough. The only thing I knew was that I was jealous. I didn’t even know I wanted that special distinction until I heard her talk about it.

And yet, in spite of my actual qualifications, God looks at me and says, “Is this the pretty one or the smart one? The faithful one or the prodigal? The one who’s with Me all the time or the one who just found her way back?” And whatever the answer, it doesn’t matter. He already knows. He holds out His arms in welcome and says, “You, My child, are My favorite.”

How can that be? It makes no sense to us, particularly as women who are conditioned to compare ourselves to others (usually finding ourselves lacking in the ways we measure up). We’re too fat, too short, too insecure. We’ve become conditioned to expecting the reward to be commensurate with our abilities. If we’re talented, we will succeed. If we’re pretty, we will find a man.

It’s a short step to apply that concept to “if we’re faithful, God will like us.”

God wants us to be more like Him, but He takes us just as we are—and multiplies what we have into something more. I love color and words and design. To me, there’s nothing more exciting than hearing people’s stories about God, but I’m an introvert. So God has filled my life with clients who have become friends and provided opportunities to talk about Him. He’s used my love of design and writing to allow me to tell people about Him without having to stand in front of crowds on a stage. Of course, He’s given me opportunities to do that, too, because He sees potential even when we do not.

Romans 12:6-8 says, “In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.”

See? He doesn’t want to make you into something you’re not. He wants to make you into the most-fully-you possible. Don’t shy away from that. Figure out what you’re good at, what you love, what you need, and embrace it. It is only when we fully express ourselves, pouring it all out for Him, that we become fully alive. When we operate from that place, God becomes visible. Removes obstacles. Relieves fears. Opens doors.

And shows Himself to be more than we ever hoped.


Pray with me? Heavenly Father, as we’re starting a new year, help us embrace who we are—who You made us to be. Let us relinquish control and let You lead. Help us to humble ourselves and step back to let You shine. You can take what meager things we have to offer and make something spectacular. You’re the one who can change lives—but we pray that You will use us as instruments of that change. Thank You for the individual, personal, unique gifts You have given to each of us; help us remember that they’re all gifts from You, and one person’s gifts aren’t better than another’s. Let us be content in the way You made us and know You love us, just as we are. Help us to love others with the kind of unconditional, generous love You show us. And let us believe that we are all that You say we are. That we are pretty, and smart. That we are loved. That we are yours. No matter what we do or don’t do, no matter how outstanding or inadequate our abilities are.

Together, Lord, we will do amazing things. Thank You for letting me walk with You. Amen.


This is an excerpt from my book, Designed to Pray, with a new prayer added. It first appeared on Internet Café Devotions.

Prayer for the new year

Oh, Lord, You are so beautiful. You are the Lord of Light. The Giver of Life. The Lover of my soul. The Hope of all generations. And yet we are living in a day that seems dark. Bleak and without redemption. We see hatred spewed online and in newscasts. Distrust in the unknown and unfamiliar. We’re noticing the ...

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Oh, Lord, You are so beautiful. You are the Lord of Light. The Giver of Life. The Lover of my soul. The Hope of all generations.

And yet we are living in a day that seems dark. Bleak and without redemption.

We see hatred spewed online and in newscasts. Distrust in the unknown and unfamiliar. We’re noticing the ugly, the divisive, the discouraging and demeaning.

We’re not looking in the right direction.

We’ve forgotten that You are in everything. That You can be found everywhere. That there is nowhere we can go to escape You. We cannot do anything too bad to be denied Your presence.

I know this. I do. And still I find myself retreating, harboring distrust, feeling uneasy. The world is scary. There is so much hurt. Anger and pain.

But You, Lord, are good. No matter how much bad I see, that does not detract from Your goodness. You feel the sorrow and despair. Know it. Redeem it. And ease the pain of it. You will never let go. You are supremely able. Completely in control. Utterly trustworthy. Thoroughly loving.

There is nothing that we will ever experience alone.

Lord, I don’t know what to do about all the hurt and hatred. I don’t know how to break addictions, heal divisions, restore relationships, bring peace, provide homes, or retrieve the lost.

All I can do is counter it with love.

And since You are the very definition of love, help me to lean on You when I feel too weak to stand alone. When I hunger for fairness, peace, or kindness, feed my parched soul with Your Word and nurture my faith with Your presence. Let me wholeheartedly believe that the world has not spun out of Your reach but that You are perfectly aware, perfectly able, and working towards something ultimately better than anything I can imagine now. When I doubt, assure me that You know more than I do. When I can’t see beauty, remind me that You see farther, hope deeper, love better.

Let me see You, Lord. Let us all see You. Let us remember who You are, and let us go into this year surrounded by Your beauty. Revived by Your strength. Renewed by Your hope. Exultant in possibility. Emboldened by Your truth. Rejoicing in Certainty that You love us and will never leave us.

Because You are God. And somehow, miraculously, defying all logic, You love us. And You are with us.

And that makes this new year one to celebrate. No matter what.

Amen.

Starting over in prayer

Is anyone else surprised to discover that it’s almost 2016? Somehow, every year I’m surprised by how close together Christmas and New Year’s Eve are. Yeah, I know. It’s the same every. single. year. So better get this printed out and hung on your fridge… or your mirror… or wedged into the center console of ...

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Is anyone else surprised to discover that it’s almost 2016? Somehow, every year I’m surprised by how close together Christmas and New Year’s Eve are.
Yeah, I know. It’s the same every. single. year.

So better get this printed out and hung on your fridge… or your mirror… or wedged into the center console of your car. This blog, and my book, are all about prayer. But do I consider myself a dedicated or accomplished pray-er? Not so much. I’ll gladly share my best secret tip, though: Try again. Didn’t pray this morning? Try this afternoon. Didn’t pray today? Try again tomorrow.

I fall short all the time. But instead of beating myself up, I just keep trying. I ask God to help me and to forgive my lack of interest. I ask Him to renew me, to help me focus. And then tomorrow, if I find myself in the same place, I stop for a moment. Say a short prayer, and ask for help. At that point, I’ve already prayed more than the day before. And I do that, over and over again. And you know what? Over time, I grow. Over time, I desire more of God. Over time, I discover that I’ve spent more time with God than I thought.

God’s always listening, even if it doesn’t feel like it.

Even if you forget to talk.

So let go of your guilt, and let’s start fresh again together. In January of 2016. Which is less than two days away.
[ w o w ]

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Happy New Year!

Turn: my word for the year in 2014

I’m reading all sorts of updates—heart-warming, faith-building accounts of how a single word guided someone for the whole year. Which reminds me. I failed miserably. I lost my focus on this word, forgot all about it except for this update in Sept. And yet. When God is behind something, it’s more about Him than about ...

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I’m reading all sorts of updates—heart-warming, faith-building accounts of how a single word guided someone for the whole year. Which reminds me. I failed miserably. I lost my focus on this word, forgot all about it except for this update in Sept.

And yet. When God is behind something, it’s more about Him than about me. I may not always be faithful, but He is.

When I think about turning, I think about change. About a whirlwind of motion. An ever-changing view. And I had that. He gave me that.

My dad was diagnosed with cancer. But his last biopsy and scope showed no cancer cells. Tim was unemployed half the year, and was over-employed (tons of hours) the second half. I worked so hard and so fast that I could barely make out the view of the things whirling by me.

And my mind—it never stopped spinning. I wrote and rewrote, and edited again. I learned and listened. I read and read and questioned and reasoned. I planned and developed. I will soon be releasing a book that is so much denser, so much richer, than I ever imagined.

This was not a year for me to close in, to focus internally. It was a year of movement. A year of spinning, careening, from one place to the next. Good emotions to bad. Intense, powerful moments with God and days, weeks of hardly noticing Him. But here’s what I found in the midst of that fast pace: We don’t have to be sitting alone in a quiet room, eyes closed, to meet God. I think sometimes we should focus more on doing for Him, not preparing to do. Don’t talk about writing. Just write. Don’t talk about serving. Get out there and talk to people, and opportunities to serve will present themselves. Don’t hold God back for yourself. Interact with people and let them see Him.

I’m not in any way saying that quiet times are bad. Nor am I suggesting filling your schedule with too many activities. Maybe I’m attempting to justify my less-than-ideal discipline. But deep down, I believe that God orchestrated the events and activities and people that filled my year. He opened up possibilities, revealed new insights, and answered prayers at every turn—above and beyond, in most cases. I don’t expect to have “one word” for 2015. But I do know, already, that for me this will be a year of prayer. Of seeking Him, and receiving answers. Of drawing close to the people taking this journey with me and lifting them up to the One who can help. Of praying that my book will soften hearts, reveal God, inspire and change. Of praying that other people find in my words what I found when I wrote them: God, through and through. Always changing, ever-present, moving and transforming, turning what is broken and hurting into something whole. A veritable whirlwind of light and love and power.

And all God’s people said AMEN.

 

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