40:40 Day 37

Danielle and I became friends while arguing on Facebook.

A guy friend we had in common had put up a post about God, and Danielle, being a science-minded college student, was pushing back against each faith- based comment.

She and I got into it, respectfully, and we went in circles. Finally, I just said, “Hey, if you want to get together and talk about this stuff, I’d be down!”

She did, and we met in person for the first time on a Superbowl Sunday. We ditched the game and instead walked around Byrd Park, sharing our stories and comparing ideas, ideologies, and experiences.

I really liked her, and we hung out several times in the next few weeks. She even reluctantly came to our Community Group a couple times. She still wasn’t sold on the “God thing”,  but we loved getting to know her and being able to share who God was to us through our testimonies. 

One morning, out of the blue, Alicia called me and said she felt like God was laying it heavily on her heart to pray for Danielle, and she asked me to pray, too. Of course I agreed, but I was a bit mystified.

As I told y’all yesterday, my friend Alicia has a crazy connection with God, and when he tells her to pray, she takes it seriously, so I knew not to doubt her discernment.

That night, I got another phone call. It was Danielle. “Can you come over?”,she asked. “My fiance just broke off our engagement and I don’t know what to do. I’m so depressed!” 

I immediately drove to her house, and spent the next few hours just being there with her. She mentioned, in between sobs, that her period was four days late. I told her it was probably just irregular, or stress related. I’ve been known to be wrong.

A couple days later Danielle came out of the Starbucks bathroom with wide eyes. Rebekah and I were sitting with our beverages, waiting nervously for the news, and she showed us, trying not to let everyone and their mom see. Two sticks, both positive. She was definitely pregnant.

As if this crazy week hadn’t been tumultuous enough, as soon as Danielle told her family and the father of her baby, all help broke loose. Everyone, and I mean everyone, told her the only sensible thing to do was get an abortion. They said she’d be a fool to have a baby, and that she’d be ruining her life.

Our little circle was her only source of support, and man, were we praying and trying everything we knew how to encourage her to keep it. Our hearts would rise and fall as she went back and forth, with one little life hanging in the balance.

Against all odds, she made the decision to have her baby girl, and that ex-fiance married her five days later. They now have three children, and though life hasn’t always been easy, they are fantastic and loving parents.

I still can’t fathom any other explanation for how Alicia knew that Danielle needed prayer so badly that week. 

God spoke, and she listened, and love won out over fear and doubt. I find it absolutely amazing and awe-inspiring that God intervenes like that, and I’m so thankful that he does.

Prayer: For women who find themselves pregnant and alone to have a support system and love surrounding them.

*Miraculous and complete healing for J

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40:40 Day 36

My friend Alicia has the gifts of prayer and contagious laughter. Both equally important.

I knew she would set an alarm for some weird time, like 5:37 a.m., each morning and she would pray for Cyprus or whatever God was laying on her heart, and then go back to sleep. I really admired her dedication to prayer, but maybe thought she was going just a tad overboard sometimes.

Enter Roy. Roy was a homeless alcoholic man in his forties who started coming to our Sunday morning service at Aletheia. He ended up living with one of the college students from our church and growing in his relationship with the Lord, but every now and then would have a relapse.

One morning, out of the blue, Alicia texted me. “We need to be praying for Roy.” She wasn’t sure why, but God had clearly laid this burden on her heart.

A few days later we found out that Roy was missing. He turned up a week later at a hospital in Virginia Beach, badly beaten. He had been on a bender and ran into the wrong people. But, he was alive.

How did Alicia know???

The only explanation is that God told her, and that he uses prayer to move in our lives. It’s just how he works, and it’s pretty awesome.

Tomorrow, I will be sharing another Alicia prayer story, and it’s one that still fills me with joy and awe because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God cares deeply about us and all the stuff we face in this life. Each one is precious to him. Don’t miss it!
Prayer: For us to see God moving and answering prayer in mighty ways today!

*Complete healing for J and the mysterious knots in her back!

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40:40 Day 35

I’m telling you, I think God really shows up in my life in regards to car repair.

When I was living on my own my bills were overwhelming, so when the mechanic told me I needed an eighty dollar brake change, I cringed. It wasn’t necessary to pass inspection, but it was necessary none the less. “That’s fine,” I said, even though it wasn’t. 

I spent the next hour wandering around Barnes and Noble waiting for them to finish, hoping they wouldn’t take too long because I had to work that evening.

I called, they said it wasn’t quite ready yet. After another hour I was getting worried about the time so I called again. They said unfortunately they hadn’t been able to get to the brakes, but if I was in a hurry I couldn’t bring it back in the morning. 

I went back over to the auto shop, paid for my sixteen dollar inspection, and drove away. A few minutes later I got a phone call.

Apparently there has been some miscommunication, because one of the mechanics indeed had fixed my brakes. The man on the phone teased me, saying the police were going to come after me since I didn’t pay for it, but then good-naturedly told me that this one was on the house since it had been their mistake. 

Worked for me. I smiled and knew God had my back.

Prayer: For Christians to see God’s very real provision and presence in their life today,starting with me!

*Complete, miraculous healing for J 

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40:40 Day 34

Sometimes it’s the little things that let us know God is always there, always providing.
As you might know, my one and a half year old kitty Bentley has issues because he was hit by a car as a tiny kitten. We do squirty medicine every morning and night with a syringe.

His newest bottle came with a stopper that allowed me to tip the bottle upside down with the syringe inserted in the middle, but the very first time I tried to use it, it pushed down through the neck opening and now floats like a buoy in the orange, sticky goop. Super helpful.

I worked with it, tilting the bottle and not making too much if a mess, but the syringe was always sticky and gross. It was getting more and more difficult as the medicine got lower.

Just a week ago, I was going up to my room and I noticed a white cylinder on the floor in the hallway. I looked closer, and to my surprise it was another bottle stopper. I picked it up, rinsed it off and decided to see if it would fit in Bentley’s bottle. It was perfect.

I knew the pharmacy hadn’t given me an extra one, and the family I live with hadn’t had any out recently. I asked.

God knew what I needed, even something so small, and he provided. I love that!

Prayer:For God’s people to be shaken out of lives of apathy, starting with me!

*Complete healing for J and the knots in her back..praise..she is feeling much more energetic than she has been!

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40:40 Day 33

Miles’ visa took eight months to get approved , and it just happened to be  approved one day before the list was released.One day. Many families had been waiting for months for Dictator, I mean, President Joseph Kabila of the DRC to reopen the adoption gates. Chris and Julie knew it was God that had squeaked that visa in at the last possible moment, and their Congolese son’s name was finally, FINALLY, on the list of kids that were permitted to come home.
Next up was to apply for and receive  visas to get into Congo so they could get their children out of foster care (tons better than the abysmal orphanages they’d been in, but still) and finally start life together, as a family!

They were approved in a reasonable amount of time, and Chris and Julie went ahead and booked tickets for a one p.m. flight! This was it! The only problem was, their visas had been mailed but hadn’t quite made it to them yet. 

The day before they were scheduled to leave, Julie was a bundle of nerves as she checked the mailbox. Still no visa. They mail came around noon each day, and tomorrow was the last possible day it could come, and even then they probably would miss their flight.

Julie sent out a big prayer request through her adoption group on Facebook: “We need a miracle, guys. We need those visas in hand, and we kind of need our mailman to come early. Please pray!”

We did.

The next day, with their bags were loaded in the car, they started anxiously out the window. “Please, God, please, God” was murmured too many times to count.

At 11:02, the mail truck rumbled by, an hour early, and Chris and Julie ran down the driveway. Sure enough, God has come through, and with their visas firmly in hand and tears of gratitude in their eyes, they were off to the airport to go get their kids!

Prayer: For God’s protection and wisdom during times of trial and temptation, starting with me!!

*Miraculous, complete and total healing for J and the lumps in her back.

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40:40 Day 32

Alison is the most animated, joyful, crazy (in a good way) woman I’ve ever known. She IS the party, and for her the party is all about Jesus.

She’d been serving as a missionary in North Africa for three years when she met Brian at a wedding back stateside, and a slooooow romance began to unfold through phone calls, Skype, and eventually whirlwind visits in exotic locations.

A year later he proposed at a park in Rome, and as onlookers cheered a tearful Alison agreed to moving back to the U.S. and be his wife.

They obviously didn’t want a long engagement, because the wedding was to take place only four months after!

Alison had a lot to do, and since missionaries aren’t exactly rolling in the bucks, she wanted to keep costs as low as possible. Her sweet mom and sisters took care of so much, including preparing ALL of the wedding food, which was to be an enormous, delicious spread of heavy hors d’oeuvres and a full sit down dinner, and Melissa had even offered to bake the wedding cake! 

Of course, she still needed a dress. How do you pick one? Is it like finding a man, where you just know? And they aren’t cheap. Unfortunately, Alison didn’t have any seamstresses in the family, so off to the bridal boutique she went.

She tried on a few that were nice, but not quite right, and then she spotted a gorgeous, dramatically classic lace-backed sheath. It fit like a dream, but the price said “nightmare.” It was sixteen hundred dollars: way over her budget.

She said so, and the sales girl lowered her voice and let Alison in on a secret. “That dress is actually on hold, and someone’s paid half of the full price as a deposit. She never came to pick it up. We have to wait a year before we can let someone else have it, but that year is up in exactly one week. It fits you so perfectly, you wouldn’t even have to have it altered. That alone will save you an extra four to five hundred! This never happens. It’s pretty much a miracle. That dress is meant to be yours.”

So a week later, Alison claimed the wedding gift God had prepared for her, and she paid only $800.00 because some angel had paid the other half a year ago when she and Brian first met. 

Prayer: For us to have hearts of praise and gratitude, starting with me!

*Complete, miraculous healing for J

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40:40 Day 31

God knows I need help when something goes wrong with my car.
I had just finished a great lunch catching up with my friend Tiffany.
As I was sliding into my car,the older gentleman in the truck parked next to mine called out,”Excuse me, Miss! Did you know that you have a flat tire?”

I certainly hadn’t noticed that, but now that he’d pointed it out it was very obvious.

He got out of the truck, pushed up his immaculate dress shirt sleeves, and changed my tire for me.

I had been feeling far from God at the time, and it made me all the more grateful. “God is so good,” I told the man. “He’s there for us even when we don’t deserve it! Thank you so much! By the way, I’m Angela!”

He stuck out his hand. “Pastor Brown”.

Of course.

There, in the Chipotle parking lot, God showed me once again what a good and loving Father he is.

Prayer: For opportunities to speak love and truth to people who need to know God loves them!
*Miraculous, faith building healing for J!

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40:40 Day 30

Pramana had been born into a people group with a population of twenty-four million. In his people group, there were only three known followers of Jesus, and no church. The only religion that he had ever practiced or known while growing up had been a sort of folk Islam. Pramana knew the Quran by rote. He couldn’t actually speak Arabic, so he simply memorized the words of the book as if it was a part of some sort of magic formula. He knew the story of Mohammed, of course. But he had never heard of anybody called Jesus, never met a believer, and he had no idea what the Bible was.

” Five years ago, “he told me, “my life was in ruins. My wife and I were always fighting; I was ready to divorce a woman. My children were disrespectful. My animals were not growing or multiplying. My crops were dying in the field. 

 “So I went to the imam of the nearest mosque for help,” Pramana continued. 

 The imam, who also functioned as the local spiritualist, told him, “Okay, son, here is what you need to do. Go buy a white chicken. Bring it to me and I will sacrifice it on your behalf. Then, go back to your village to meditate and fast for three days and three nights. On the third day, you will receive the answer to all the problems that you are having with your wife, your children, your animals, and your crops.”

 Pramana did exactly as he was told. He went back to his village. He meditated, he fasted, and he waited. Then, as he explained it: “I’ll never forget, on the third night, a voice without a body came to me after midnight. That voice said,’Find Jesus, find the gospel.'”

This Muslim man had no clue what that even meant. He didn’t know if Jesus might be a fruit or a rock or a tree. Pramana told me that the voice with a body also said, “Get out of bed, go over the mountain, and walk down the coast to _______ ( a city where he had never been). When you get to that city at daybreak, you will see two men. When you see those men, ask them where _____ street is. They will show you the way. Walk up and down the street and look for this number. When you find the number, knock on the door. When the door opens, tell the person why you have come.”

 Pramana did not know that it was an option to be disobedient to the Holy Spirit. He simply assumed that he was required to obey what he had been instructed to do. So he went. He didn’t even tell his wife that he was leaving, let alone where he was going. It turns out that he would be gone for two full weeks. During that time, his family had no idea where he was. 

Pramana simply got out of bed, hiked over the mountain, trekked down the coast, and arrived in the specified city the next morning at daylight. He saw two men who told him where to find the street he wanted. He walked up and down that street until he found the building with the right number on it. He knocked on the door. A moment later, an older gentleman open the door and asked, “Can I help you?” 

 The younger man declared: “I have come to find Jesus; I have come to find the gospel! “In a flash, the old man’s hand shot out from the darkened doorway. He grabbed Pramana by the shirt, dragged him into the apartment, and slammed the door behind him. The old man released his grip and exclaimed, “You Muslims must think I am a fool to fall for trap as transparent as this! ” 

 The very startled and confused traveler replied, “I don’t know if you are a fool or not, sir. I just met you. But here is why I’ve come. “Then Pramana told the older man the story of how he had come to be there that day. 

 The Holy Spirit of the Living God had led this young Muslim man through his dream and vision and his obedience to the home of one of the three believers in his twenty-four million people group. Stunned, the older man explain the gospel to this young Muslim man and let him to Christ. 

This story is from Nik Ripken’s book “The Insanity of God”, which details his life as a missionary and student of the persecuted church in closed countries. I have met Nik and his wife Ruth several times (the first time was when they were having a dinner meeting with young missionaries at my work!), and can attest to their passion and commitment to the Lord’s command to go and see the Gospel transform hearts, lives, and eternities even in the darkest places. 

Check out the book for even more amazing stories of God’s work in the far corners of the world! He is doing big things through ordinary people!

Prayer: For God’s people to be willing (and joyful) to leave the known, and go out on the adventure God is calling them to, whatever that looks like, starting with me!

*Complete, miraculous healing for the masses growing in J’s back and for God to get the praise when he does it! Thanking him preemptively! 🙂

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40:40 Day 29

So I have a curse when it comes to cats.

My first cat, Tony ( short for Antonio Banderas), came home from Richmond Animal League at five months old and died a little over a year later of a freak blood clot that left both of his back legs suddenly paralyzed. The doctor said he would have a long, hard road ahead of him if he survived, and so I chose to not let him suffer. It broke my heart to let him go. I would never find a cat that played fetch like he did, or one with a crazy obsession for Q-tips. He was such a lovebug, and I still miss him.

I got five month old Sebastian a few days later. I had already paid the pet deposit, and had a home to give an animal in need, so my mom and I went to the Richmond SPCA and a sweet little tuxedo cat chose me. He was so affectionate and I just couldn’t leave him there. He got lost in my house for eighteen hours that first day and we finally discovered him in my roommate’s armoire the next morning snuggled under piles of sweaters. He had a cute “hee-hoo”meow and was very playful and sweet. He disappeared 11 months later right before Thanksgiving and though I posted signs everywhere I never saw him again.

On December 11, 2015 I brought home Bentley, a cute and rambunctious five month old grey tabby kitten from Richmond Animal Care and Control. The shelter director explained that he’d been hit by a car as a tiny kitten and had undergone pelvic reconstruction surgery, so could potentially have an issue later in life called megacolon that would call for him to be put to sleep.

I said that as long as he wouldn’t need extensive medical care, I could give him a good home and do the right thing if and when the time came. I took him home and promptly fell in love. So snuggly and sweet!

The time came exactly a year later. He started having a really hard time going number two, and three hundred dollars an x-Ray, and two enemas later, I was told he didn’t yet have megacolon but his colon had healed extremely narrow and he’d need stool softener twice a day and a wet food diet.I also had a lot of people praying for my little guy.

I did all these things, but a week later he was in a bad place again. Tearfully, I admitted to myself “the curse strikes again!” . Why did bad things keep happening to my pets? I called the vet and he agreed that it wasn’t a good sign. I asked if I could buy an enema from them, since I couldn’t afford another three hundred dollar visit. He said I could get two for ten dollars and to come pick them up in the morning.

I knew in my heart that if this last ditch attempt didn’t work, I would have to put him down. He was too uncomfortable. The thing that made me hopeful was that during the afternoon a phrase from a popular Christian song had popped into my head, “Even when you think you’re finished, it’s not over yet, it’s not over yet!” I also flipped to a Scripture in Psalm 145 that reminded me that the Lord is compassionate towards all he has made, and I prayed that Scripture and asked God to be compassionate towards Bentley. I glanced up at my bookshelf and a book title I’d forgotten about jumped out at me: “NOT OVER.” I felt God was affirming that he would let Bentley live. I hoped, at least.

The next day was rough on me, Bentley, and my friend AshCap who came over to help me administer the treatment. It was traumatic for all involved, and for the next couple days all I could do was wait and see if he would get stopped up again. 

I have never cheered so hard for a cat to poop in my life, but four months later we are still going strong! 

God answered, and it grew my faith. There’s no reason why the doctor’s treatment didn’t stick and mine did, but that’s exactly what happened and I know my God is able and willing to show up when we ask him to!

Prayer: For God to show up in big ways and heal our loved ones so that we may praise him and know he is God! Especially for my friend J!

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40:40 Day 28

Once upon a time I thought I was in love.

For once, it was with a man who loved Jesus.

Ok, so we weren’t dating. At all. 

But, everyone thought we would get together at any moment, including me.

We hung out ALL the time, mostly in groups but there was some alone time, too. 

The hot July weekend I was scheduled to get baptized,  I couldn’t help thinking about this man constantly, and Saturday night, driving home in my car I prayed and asked God to set my mind on Him instead, especially since this weekend was about my love for Jesus, not a med student.

That Sunday when I walked down to the river to proclaim my commitment to Christ, the pastor had a surprise for me. He called down my crush to baptize me.

I couldn’t have been more sure that God was confirming that what I wanted was what He wanted.

I remember one beautiful Sunday afternoon after church when he took me for a ride in the countryside on his motorcycle and we stopped in front of an idyllic farmhouse set back behind a picture-perfect pond. We both agreed this place had ” dream house” status. As we zoomed back towards the city down winding roads, tree branches heavy with deep green nodding overhead, my arms wrapped around him, I wanted to stay in the moment forever.

After another year of chemistry and “not-dates”, nothing progressed. It was one of the most frustrating experiences I’ve ever been through.

I still thought about him all the time,and one day I was so sick of the situation I prayed, “God, if this thing is hurting my relationship with you, please, just take it away from me!”

That night, during the biggest blizzard of the year, he started texting me, and through our conversation he mentioned that one of his friends had asked if he was pursuing me. He added, “Just as long as you know I’m not.”

My heart sunk through the floor and I texted back, hurt to the soul, that actually, it had been a bit unclear.

He tried to call me but I was in a house full of people with nowhere to go so I didn’t answer and instead I got really drunk off of an entire bottle of wine and cried myself to sleep.

Oh, my heart was broken.

I felt as if I was going through an actual break up, but apparently I was the only one in the relationship.

I know in my heart there was something there. I’d seen it in his eyes before, but apparently whatever he thought his wife should be, I wasn’t it.

 God had answered my prayer clearly that night, although it was the exact opposite of what I wanted. I had to let it go.

It was tough, guys. I had to still be in church and community with this guy. I had to forgive him for not wanting me. It taught me to guard my heart, because even Christian men can be thoughtless and clueless when it comes to how to treat women.

Fast forward six years. I’m STILL SINGLE. Ok, I’ve dated a good amount, but nothing with “future” written on it. He since moved away, got married and had a baby, whom he named after a long dead saint. Nope. The woman I have grown to be would not be able to vibe with whatever he’s got going on. We are both Christians, but I need a man who is moved by compassion to love others well, not just someone who knows the Nicene Creed. 

God knew what he was doing, and I have been blessed beyond measure in my current state of “unsettled-ness” by being able to grow relationships, travel (hopefully, Costa Rica this August!) , and seek after the Lord. I’ve also made plenty of dumb mistakes, but God is faithful to keep turning my eyes and my heart back to what really matters.

Prayer: Please take a moment to pray for my friend J who has been mysteriously ill for months with lumps growing deep in her back..She has three kids and we are asking God to heal her completely and miraculously!

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