A Forward Prayer for 2020

light in handsPrayer.

In our easy-peasy, set-it-and-forget-it culture, we have made prayer pretty easy. And essentially, it IS easy.

Prayer = talking to God.  Conversation.

But maybe sometimes I have made it into a thing God did not intend it to be… honey-do lists of needs, wants, and wishes.

“Heal my boo-boo.”

“Help me find a good parking spot.”

“Make my spouse listen to me.”

All okay prayers perhaps.  But what if God’s people really prayed?

Pressed in. Interceded. Waged war.

What if we did less talking, more listening, and learned to be still in His presence?  Maybe give him time to do a little work.

In me. Around me. Through me.

What if we prayed things like:

“Help me to see people with your eyes?” 

“Put someone in my path to help today.”

Your will, not mine.”

I am guilty of uttering bold words and then fearfully and momentarily thinking, “Did I really just pray that?”  In the moment, it sounded super spiritual and profound. But then He actually did it.  And why should I be surprised? He listens. He hears. God honors big prayers offered in the face of hard things.  Sometimes answered just the way we hoped. Sometimes not. But always answered in our best interest, because He sees what we cannot.


We pray all sorts of gallant, dangerous prayers, but often not expecting God to actually show up and deliver. Prayer can be hard and sometimes it hurts.

Remember Jesus’ example of prayer in the Garden. He labored. He wrestled. He literally sweat blood under the duress of intense prayer. Luke 22:44 says, “And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” 

The Greek word for earnestly (ektenos) literally means “to stretch out the hand.”  To pray “fully-stretched, without slack, extended.”

I want to




Prayer is so much more than a conversation (although it can be a good place to start). It is where battles are won. Prodigal souls are called home. And true intimacy with God can be found.

And in this new year, I want to pray adventurously. I want to pray things that scare me a little. More than “God bless my food” and a little more like “Make me your instrument.”

Fervent prayers.

Faith-fueled prayers.

Followed-through prayers.

Now is the time to pray BIG. Because He can do it.

Happy New year, Friends!

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” 1 John 5:14 (NIV)


Gather In

It was the Gathering Place for every moment that meant something.  Grandma’s house.  Dad, Mom, my sisters and I would pull up to the old house with the free-roaming ducks, high-strung dog (that only seemed to love Grandma), and the bunny barn.  We chased the ducks, avoided the dog, and ran to the barn to snuggle the baby bunnies. And after the animals had been properly greeted, we ran to the house.

The door opened directly into the kitchen where culinary aromas would tease the senses upon arrival.  Grandma’s modest kitchen was nothing short of a miracle-making place.  It may be argued, however, that the more significant miracle was in the sheer number of people that managed to gather in that house.  Or more specifically, the kitchen.  But somehow there was always just room enough.

My father’s family is not small.  He has one brother and three sisters.  And their spouses.  And their kids.  The house would run amok with cousins while Grandma fussed in the kitchen and Grandpa entertained with his Iowa farm-boy banter.  It was a lovely place to be.  It was the only place I wanted to be.

But there was more.  Because among all the blood relations, there was yet another crowd gathered in that kitchen.

In addition to maintaining a bustling extended family, she also worked in a recovery program. Grandma spent every day working with desperate people aspiring to overcome addictions.  And when the holidays came around, some of them could not go home.  Some of them did not have anyone who wanted them home.  And some did not have a home call their own.

But Grandma saw fit to make sure there was room at our family table.  The old house did not feel so big during the holidays.  We often devoured holiday turkey, potatoes, and pies with elbows pressing together, yet hearts overflowing.  There was sweet contentment in knowing that someone had saved a place for me.  And not just any place.  An incredible place at Grandma’s table, where a feast lay spread in anticipation for all who would come.  And everyone at the table was invited and important. Nothing was required, but to come.  (Unless you were one of my hunting uncles where fresh deer jerky was absolutely a requirement for the feast.)

There are so many people who do not have such a place. Or maybe you are the one without a place.

Here is the good news: There is already a place prepared and the invitation has already been extended.  And there is always room at the table.  God looks on you with delight and invites you to sit at His table, breathe in His presence, and taste of His glory.  The one who knows your name has also prepared a feast of extraordinary things for you.

You are invited to come and gather at the table of God’s unimaginable grace, where there awaits a seat with your very own name.  Come freely.  Come expectantly.  Come quickly.

As we enter into the season of thanks and giving, who can you invite to the table?  To God’s table?  To your table?


“… ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.’  Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”  John 7:37b-38



Love Story.

“I love you.”

The words hung over the phone line as the strong arm of silence gripped me.  In that moment, I could not utter the same.  For three perfect weeks, I had been dancing through life on the wings of an idyllic song.  I knew not whether I was here nor there. Was I even earthbound?  I nearly felt as though I was drifting in the space between heaven and dirt, scarcely aware of life outside of him.  I knew only that the loveliest sort of person had walked into my space and things were every sort of different than before.  But… “I love you?”  Why must he say this thing so soon?  I had heard such a profession before, yet found only disappointment in the frailty of it.  Perhaps this euphoric season was all but lost in an illusion of a similar fate.

Love. A frightening thought at times.  A word so easily tossed, often stripped of authenticity and riddled with ulterior motives. For some love can symbolize pain of the ugliest kind. Love is often hastily defined by the world in which we live.

What is love?  A dozen red roses, Hallmark greetings, and a romantic dinner?  Or perhaps expensive chocolate and diamonds?  Reckless promises and foolhardy words?

I have since learned that love is not feelings, gifts, and conditions.  And without it? You can do all kinds of angelic things, but without love, God is not impressed.  Love is so much more than a swoon at the wedding altar or the off-handed comment made to end a phone call to your mother. (“Love you. Bye.”)

Love is the character of God living within us and exhibited through every move we make.  Put simply, love is a verb signifying action.  It is His nature.  When we choose to align our lives to His grand design, this supernatural love-nature affects our behavior in the greatest way.  And because it His very essence to love… You are chosen to love and be loved. Yes, you.

And how blessed am I?

To be loved by God. And loved by the man who also chose me for his bride. I see the God-nature in him.  He mirrors the love of God to me as he leads our home and covers me with prayer.

Love protects. Love endures. Love keeps no record of wrongs.

Because in the end, I was able to reciprocate his robust profession. “I love you, too.”

Because we are better together.

Because we are blissfully bound by a covenant before God.

And Because we said so.

And I still do.

Happy Anniversary, Love. You are the one my heart calls home.  16 years and counting.


“Place me like a seal over your heart,

    like a seal on your arm;

for love is as strong as death,

    its jealousy unyielding as the grave.

It burns like blazing fire,

    like a mighty flame.

 Many waters cannot quench love;

    rivers cannot sweep it away…”

Song of Songs 8:6-7b


Embracing Autumn: Dying to Live Again

Embracing Autumn photo


Harvest.  The time is nearly here.  And when you live deep in the heart of an Iowa cornfield, it is especially hard not to notice.  There is a marked chill in the air and the corn stalks wave valiantly in stunning shades of gold.  Change is coming.

Summer colors fade as a majestic show of warm hues settle across the countryside. Heavenly aromas waft from the kitchen: maple syrup, pumpkin spice, and cinnamon.  So many lovely things happen in the fall as the whole world prepares to hibernate for a season.

I am not a country girl by nature, yet somehow my husband convinced me several years ago that buying an acreage in rural Iowa would be a good thing.  And mostly it is.  There is much to be done to ready for the impending cold season.  Firewood must be split and piled. Produce must be canned and frozen.  Pies must be baked and devoured.  And there is a cozy, old farmhouse to be cleaned and decorated as we retreat for a season to the indoors for hot apple ciders, fuzzy socks, and comfort suppers.

And Autumn comes. It is the dying of something good, to make way for something new.  The “autumns” of life may bring sorrow, despair, and loneliness, but there is always hope.  Always.

Even within the throes of an “Autumn” season, God is there, all the while, waiting to be noticed.  I imagine He is saying something like, “Hello?  Remember me?  King of the Universe?  If you would stop hyperventilating for just a second, I would like to invite you to be a part of something bigger than you are.  Bigger than you dreamed.  Bigger because I am God and I can do it if you would just trust me for a moment.”

So we wait.  And pray.  And wait some more.  And pray some more.  And sometimes pretty big, hopeful things fall through, but God knows better.

And the heavenly winds shift, and though physical circumstances may remain unchanged for the moment, the heart softens into a sweet surrender to a compassionate God who knows what He is doing after all.  It is the Lord’s plans that prevail, not ever our own, yet I am prone to forget.

To everything there is a season.  The living and the dying.  Everything.

May we experience the impending winter as a season of rest rather than merely death.  For all that dies become new again.  The seed falls, withers, and dies. Dormant. But in due time lives again, stronger than before.

In the crisp of an autumn breeze tumbling over the horizon, He whispers… “I make all things new.” 

For the one who is tired… “New.”

For the one who feels less-than… “All. New.”

For the one who cries out from an overwhelmed heart… “I. Make. All. Things. New.”

May we seek and find God in every season.  Consider it pure joy, Friends.


What have you learned from the “autumns” of your life?  How did God restore in “winter?” Take time to thank God for the “new” things He is preparing for you.


“The grass withers, and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.” Isaiah 40:8 (NIV)

When I Look For Him

KHavemeier - When I Look For Him photo


She eagerly approached me on a fresh Sunday morning, arms out-stretched, eyes aglow, with a familiar warm smile. She wanted to hold my baby, and I was happy to oblige her deep-seated tendency to nurture. Although her face was beautifully worn and her gait slightly off-kilter, her nails were perfectly manicured and hair done just-so. Just like every Sunday. Later I would recount our meeting to my husband and longingly remark, “She reminds me of Grandma.”

Upon entering the grocery store, out of pure happenstance, I ran into yet another delightful woman from church, hair silvered, glasses bi-focaled, and smelling of an old-timey, flowery perfume. Yes, that fragrance. She embraced me tightly, complimented my scarf, and we chatted about the weather. As she floated away, in that moment, I found myself deeply longing, “I wish she were mine. I wish she would stay. She reminds me of Grandma.”

And it did not stop there. A former president’s wife. The woman at the farmer’s market. The not-so-clean comedian on the TV. They all remind me of her.  My husband noticed. “Really? Everyone reminds you of Grandma.”

But I cannot help myself. Six years gone and I still miss her. There is a hole left gaping. There are stories I cannot remember. There are melodies that do not sound as full without her throaty alto. There is a heart-attack inducing macaroni cheese dish that I will never get quite right, because the dementia took her before I could perfect her recipe.

And there are certain times where I long so much for her presence, that I seem to find her in just about anyone or anything. I see her everywhere.

And God, too.  The world aches. Humanity groans. Headlines birth turmoil amid fearful hearts.    And I long for Him. More so than Grandma. I pine for His presence amid restlessness. I look for Him. I find Him. The fears that crush, the anxiety that suffocates, the worry that constricts; these things, they fade away in the presence of an almighty God that promises to be found when we only look for Him. Everywhere I turn, there are signs of Him.

There is no joy apart from Him. There is no peace without His presence. There is no rest without His love. Like a bride who dreams of one day being united with her groom, I wait. I press in, seeking.  And where do I find Him?

I find Him here:  In late summer sunrise. The promise of a new day, a secure future, an everlasting love.

I find Him here:  The embrace of my beloved. God’s love modeled, protected, lavished.

I find Him here:  The sacred altar. Remembrance, reverence, a fresh start.

I find Him here:  In the roaring laughter of a child. Life bubbling over, joy unspeakable, infinite beauty.

I even find Him here:  The muddy shoe prints in the hallway. Full lives, happy children, time together.

And so, I invite you to find Him. One only needs to look. He is there. He is here. And He is waiting.

Where do you expect to find Him today?  How did He surprise you?  And where will you look for Him tomorrow?


“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”  Jeremiah 29.13 (NIV)