RelateHER

Lessons I Learned From a Wounded Black Bird

By Danielle Macaulay

I was standing at my kitchen sink, scrubbing yesterday's pots and pans and staring off into space. The house was quiet, as the boys were out back squeezing in the last few moments of summer. Dan was in the sunroom staring off into his own kind of space - his laptop screen. It had been a peaceful summer, but those warm sunny days were a healing balm to an unexpected springtime wound.

As I unfolded a kitchen towel onto the counter to place the dripping dishes on, my trance was interrupted by a startling bang. My attention turned to the back window. It happened so fast, but out of the corner of my eye, I saw a big black bird smack hard into our sunroom window, become disoriented, and then turn around and fly off.

"Did you see that!?" I shouted to Dan.

"See what?"

Apparently he had been very deep into space.

"You mean, you didn't hear that big bang on the window?!" He hadn't, but I sure did.

That poor bird, flying free, minding it's own business, and them WHAM. He wouldn’t have known what hit him. It was seemingly clear skies in front of him, after all.

As fast and sudden as that bird was put to a halt, the Lord spoke to me, clear as that window.

You see, earlier that spring, Dan and I were flying high. We were on cloud nine, hopeful about a new opportunity. We were soaring in the right direction, or so we thought.

This new opportunity was exactly what we had dreamed of and what we had prayed for.  It was going to solve all of our problems. It was idyllic; a gift. From every angle, it seemed perfect. We thanked God that he was giving us our heart's desires.... and then, BAM.

God said "No."

Like that black bird's flight had been abruptly ended by a smack against our window, the hopeful journey we were on had been suddenly replaced with a startling and devastating ending. Like the bird, we felt smacked in the face, shocked, disoriented and wounded.

We didn't understand. We asked God "Why?" We cried as we absorbed the pain. We did our best to trust in the face of devastation and the unknown, but we were hurt and confused.

I wonder what that black bird was flying to. Where did he want to land? Did something desirable in our sunroom catch his attention?

God, who whispers in our ear (or, sometimes bangs it on our windows) was letting me know that day, that the bird was better off outside where he could fly free. If he made it to whatever was luring him in, he might not have made his way out again. He thought he wanted in, he didn't belong there. He would have become a caged bird.

Though that invisible window pane caused some temporary pain, it was keeping the bird out for his own good. It was put there to keep him out, to keep him flying free. God made that bird, and He knows how, and where it should fly.

And, God knows which path is best for me to take as well. You too.

That day, God assured me that the painful and confusing "No" was for our own good and for our protection. He cares deeply for me, and for you, my friend. God knows the path that we should take. When we veer from that, He will course correct. If that involves pain, be assured that He will nurse your wound back to health. Sometimes He allows pain, but He will take care of you through it. You are more valuable to Him than you'll ever know.

"Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" - Matthew 6:26


The Two-Word Prayer That Changed My Life

Written By: Julianne August, Prayer Catalyst | Gather Women

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"Jesus help."

These are not just any two words; rather a simple two-word prayer offered up to heaven over twenty years ago that changed my life. I remember the moment vividly, the smell of newly laid carpet not far from my nose as I fell down on my knees in utter desperation and cried out like a child, to the God I met as a child.

“Jesus help.”

Two words and He answered.

What a gift it is to know that our prayers are heard whether they are short and to the point, long and flowery, filled with doubts and questions, spoken silently or out loud, read from a book, messy or imperfect because as I have come to learn, the Spirit intercedes for us when we don’t know what to pray. (Romans 8:26)

As I began to follow Jesus and gathered with women in a local church, I was fascinated by this thing they called prayer. I had my own preconceived definition of the word at the time and listened through the filter of what I thought it was. To my surprise, I became both fearful and fascinated by what I heard. Fascinated by the honesty of women who talked to Jesus in front of each other and by the beauty of their words often repeated from the Bible. I became especially fascinated by the way women seemed to just talk to God like they were having a conversation with a friend at a coffee shop. It was like nothing I had ever heard before.

But then I became fearful. Afraid that I couldn’t talk like them - goodness, I was just learning Bible verses, how could I pray them? Their prayerful conversation seemed effortless and just rolled off their tongues – what would I say? How would I sound? What would these new friends think of me? I became so afraid that one day when our leader asked us to turn to the person on our right and pray with them I froze, panicked and ran to the bathroom where I let anger bubble up inside of me. As I paced the bathroom floor, I thought to myself, how dare someone put me in that position?! Feeling disappointed in myself, I was determined not to let fear get the best of me, so the next week I returned with a one sentence prayer scribbled on a tiny piece of paper and hidden in my pocket to read just in case it happened again.

It did, and there began a beautiful journey of a praying life: mine.

As I have grown in my knowledge of who God is, my prayer life has grown too and I can accept myself in light of who God says I am. Fear has been replaced by a deep trust in the character, nature and promises of a loving God that have changed the way I ask in prayer. A praying life is an abiding life lived in partnership with and dependence on the living God. It is both deeply personal yet something to be shared and celebrated with others.

No matter where you are on your journey with Jesus or the journey of cultivating your own prayer life, I want to invite you to join the Gather Women Prayer Movement.  Gather Women is thrilled to bring Canadian Christian women together coast to coast through the power of prayer! We deeply desire to see women live their faith and put their faith in action to transform our nation. Prayer is just one of the ways we put our faith to action!

As we seek to join women across Canada in prayer I am struck by the enormity of it all.

So my simple two-word prayer remains.

Jesus help.

Help us to seek you and your Kingdom first in prayer.
Help us to replace fear with faith and ask boldly in prayer.
Help us to humble ourselves in prayer.
Help us to pray with hearts of praise and thanksgiving.
Help us to pray with childlike faith and persistence.
Help us to pray the promises and truths of Scripture.
Help us to have the heart of a warrior in prayer.
Help us to pray for one another and the needs of our nation faithfully.

As part of our nation wide prayer movement you will receive regular monthly emails in your inbox with prayer requests for Canada, the Gather Women movement, events, leadership, and for women across Canada asking for specific prayer. From time to time we may send emails during a current crisis within our nation needing immediate prayer. Follow along on Facebook and Instagram as we post weekly prayers for you written by women across Canada.
Together, we have the privilege of seeking our God who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine and infinitely more than our greatest request.

Will you join us?

Sign up for the Gather Women Prayer Movement list.
If you have a personal prayer request please email prayer@gatherwomen.com.

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RelateHER: Comparison Kills

Written By: Brenda Drost

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Comparison kills.  Comparison is a stealth thief and a ruthless killer. It sneaks up on us at the most unsuspecting times and robs us of our personal peace, our daily joy, and sometimes even our hopes and dreams.

We’ve all been there... we lay our head on the pillow at night and scroll through Instagram to see what our friends were up to today, and then boom. There it is. The perfect body, the beautiful selfie, the job promotion, the luxurious vacation, the engagement announcement... that thing you wish was yours. In an instant, an otherwise peaceful day ends with the bitter pangs of comparison.

Comparison brings along with it the shame and disappointment of a life we long for but will never live. It whispers to us that we are not enough, that there is something wrong or broken about us that will never be made right. It keeps us in a place of wounded defeat, and pounces every time we attempt to stretch ourselves and experience something beyond our comfort zone.

Even worse, comparison threatens to keep us from living out our hopes and dreams by convincing us that we don’t have what it takes to achieve it. But if God has put a dream in your heart, it’s for a specific purpose that he wants to fulfill in your life. If God has given you a dream it’s because you have everything it will take to achieve it and more. If God has given you a dream it’s because he is willing to equip and empower you to carry it through to completion.

All too often we allow the voice of comparison to rob us of new opportunities, promotions or connections that would move us towards our dreams because we are trapped by the negative narrative of fear, doubt and insecurity.

Comparison also longs to keep us isolated and incapable of working together effectively with other women. We need to dig down deep and expose the lies of comparison in our lives in order to move past the rhetoric in our own heads and move into the plans and purposes of God.

When it comes to chasing our God-sized dreams, there are three very specific ways that comparison can quickly get us off track.

Natural talent and ability. We look at other women who are more naturally gifted or talented than we are and we instinctively shy away from the opportunity to shine because we believe we are not as good as someone else. There will always be someone who is better at your craft but God isn’t interested in pure talent alone, but in those who are humble enough to learn and grow.

Resources. Sometimes we look at the resources others have and believe that because we don’t have the same amount of money, time or connections that we won’t be able to accomplish similar goals. We forget that our God has unlimited resources and he is capable of bringing the right things at the right time in order to encourage you and help you to walk step by step into your dream. But often we won’t see everything we need before we start, because the journey requires faith.

Experience. Life teaches us some of the greatest lessons and equips us to walk in the purposes God has called us to individually. We can never compare our journey to someone else’s when attempting to live out our God dreams. Your past does not need to limit your future.

Each one of us is unique in how we are wired to serve God and the very things that make you unique are of the greatest value to God. He can use you just as you are and right where you are to reach people who need to hear your story. You don’t need to be more or do more, you need only be open and willing to every opportunity that comes your way in humility and faith.

Galatians 5:26 MSG:

We will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.

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