Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers
Remember when you're talkin' to the man upstairs
That just because he doesn't answer doesn't mean he don't care
Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers
I do thank Him for the unanswered prayer for a marriage partner. Yes, my father always told me to marry rich because of my expensive taste, but God introduced me to a chemist who, though the title sounds like it would be great, doesn’t see nearly as much salary as I had hoped for. But I’m in love with him, and he’s a huge reason I’ve become so close to God. He’s truly helped me in my faith walk, and he's my best friend. We have three beautiful children together, a house in what I call “suburbia in the country,” aka. a housing development in a rural town with a cornfield at the end of the street, good schools, a great church, and the list goes on. Thank you, Lord, for that unanswered prayer.
Oh, but this isn’t about unanswered prayers. Nope. This post is about an answered prayer that, well, I really didn’t want answered. Or maybe I did, but I think He answered too quickly for me. Yeah, maybe that’s it. Anyway, let me start from the beginning, or at least a beginning.
In January 2009 I decided that I was just too fat. The scale read the numbers I never fathomed I would be reading on a scale. I had three kids, no exercise regimen, and poor eating habits. I was over 200 pounds. 214 to be exact. Not cool. In an online forum-based mom’s group I was a member of at that time a new forum called “Biggest Loser” was created. It was based on the popular TV show of the same name, and anyone in the group who wanted to take part in this private forum could do so. We shared recipes, gave each other exercise and eating tips, and really motivated each other. Through that group I was introduced to an exercise program I could do on my Wii, and I fell in love with a healthy living website called SparkPeople (www.sparkpeople.com). By April I had lost 40 pounds. I dropped from a size 20/22 pants to a size 14, and my next goal was a size 12. I loved the way I was starting to look in the mirror. I could smile at my reflection. I was happy, and my mood and my energy were far better than they had been.
Then May hit. On May 3rd my father died suddenly of a massive heart attack on the 4th green at his favorite 9 hole golf course. Following his death I became addicted to coffee. No, not just coffee. Specialty coffee. Oh so yummy sugar and fat filled coffees found a McDonalds and Starbucks (I hadn’t yet started my love for Tim Hortons). I would make any excuse to stop. I was so bad that when I would drive home from my mom’s or the mall (two towns over) I would pull into the McDonalds parking lot that just so happened to be on my way, pull up to the drive-thru, and order a medium mocha. Sometimes a large, never a small. If my kids were in the car I’d feel bad, so I would ask if they wanted chicken nuggets. Way to go mom! Yes! Yeah…..
So my fattening coffee addiction was under way. Then, in September my five-year-old son was diagnosed with cancer. We lived in the hospital for the first month, eating oh so healthy hospital food. Oh, and in the lobby? My now favorite coffee of all time: Finger Lakes Coffee Roasters. I had such wonderful friends through my mommy group, and they bestowed upon me little gift certificates and a punch card for the coffee stand in the lobby. Or the one near the green elevators. Didn’t matter, they were both the same. And of course his treatments took three months to fully finish, plus every other month for a while after we had to go back for CTs and blood work. I looked forward to those visits. Mmmm…. Yes, bad mom.
Needless to say, my healthy eating habits deteriorated. I still made healthy meals at times, but too often we were eating pizza, Chinese take-out, eating out at different restaurants (I don’t need to tell you what that did to our finances), and stopping through the drive-thrus. Oh how I watched for Starbucks drive-thrus on our way to different vacation spots. I would have to come up with an excuse, typically, “I’m tired because of traveling and really need a pick-me-up.” My husband knew better, and more than once he just kept on driving. Good boy.
So where is this long winded story going? It’s going to get even longer.
I’ve tried, and failed, to get back into the eating right and exercising routine. I have put my 14s on hold for a while and have been praying that I don’t go above 16. I’m holding steady, but those 16s have started to get a little tight. Not good. It doesn’t help that I would sit on the couch all day (not every day, but once or twice a week when I decided to have a lazy day) and watch about 5 episodes of a K-drama. K-dramas are dramas from Korea, spoken in Korean with English subtitles. Hey, I was getting some reading done! Did I forget to mention that each episode was about 1 hour and 15 minutes long? I’m not proud of that, I admit it. So my whole day was wasted on the lives of made up characters in a country halfway around the world, wishing I had a life like they did. All this while eating a tub of hummus with pretzel chips or pita chips (it’s healthy, right?).
Yeah, I probably knew I was gaining weight, but I didn’t care. Until I did. In my church the new year always starts off with a 21 day fast. My husband and I tried the Daniel Fast one year, decided it was too costly to do in the winter time, and gave up. That was two years ago. Last year I was bound and determined to do some fast, but I don’t even think I made it two days. This year I made a more realistic goal for myself, and I’ve been doing well. I allow myself only one cup of coffee a day, and not the specialty kind. One cup (in the morning) from my Keurig, and I can only put skim milk and sugar (or Splenda) in it. No International Delight creamers. I’m learning to drink tea now, and I don’t allow myself to put anything in it. I don’t snack in between meals unless I really need something because time between lunch and dinner is extended for some reason, but only a healthy snack (a truly healthy one) is allowed. I don’t play games on my phone, and I don’t watch anime or K-dramas. And you know what? I feel amazing! I’m reading my Bible still, making healthier decisions for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and I’m reading “Made to Crave” by Lysa Terkeurst (http://madetocrave.org/). LOVE that book. If you’re looking for a way to make your body healthier while at the same time drawing closer to God, this book is the one to go to.
So what does this have to do with answered prayers? Well, since I started reading Lysa’s book I’ve been more motivated. I wanted to start slow, and that’s what I did. I started just with eating better. Exercise would come shortly. I started officially exercising (oh, who am I kidding, I started exercising) this past Friday, but I knew it was coming. Lysa had written in her book about finding a friend to be accountable to, and even to exercise with. Well, I don’t really have anyone like that, so that wasn’t an easy chapter for me to read. But, I took it to God, and I asked that He put someone in my life whom I could do this with. More to the point, I had, back in 2010, taken a running class with a friend through a fitness store, and the “graduation” was a 5k. My first and only. I had actually enjoyed getting up early on Saturdays to run with the group. Unfortunately, it was just too much to keep driving the distance I had to to do this, and my friend lives just as far. I just wanted something close by, someone to run, or even walk, with.
Small groups! Our church has two semesters each year of small groups, and this past Fall they tried something new. Instead of going to your normal “Life group” as they had been called, you now got to see what each group was offering that semester by way of content, and you could decide what you wanted to do. In Fall it was fairly easy. It was a tossup between the book of Ruth or C.S. Lewis’ book The Screw Tape Letters. My husband and I opted for Ruth, and it was great. This semester, however, I wasn’t so thrilled about the picks. It wasn’t a matter of, “which one should I choose,” but a matter of, “I hate them all. I don’t want to do any of them. Couldn’t someone have picked something good?”
Wow. If anyone is reading this who actually is a leader of one of those groups, please don’t take offense. It’s not you. It’s me. I knew that there were quite a few there that I would have loved to have done, but because I was being led in a direction I didn’t want to go, nothing looked appealing. One of those groups was called Run for God (through www.runforgod.com). The group will meet on Tuesday nights, and there’s an optional Saturday morning run/walk. Nope. Not gonna do it. My husband is doing the men’s group on Tuesday night, and we wanted to do our groups on different nights so the kids didn’t have to go out. Yeah, so what if the leaders house is right across the street from the street my kids’ friends live on? Nope. Not doing it. I’m not getting up early on a Saturday. I LIKE sleeping in on Saturdays. Nope. Not gonna do it. I was so mad and practically in tears as I was talking to my husband about how terrible the picks were this time around for groups. I told him that maybe this was God’s way of telling me to take a semester off. But then I could see myself sitting in church, my pastor praising the small groups and asking who was already in one. I could see my husband’s hand go up, but not my own, and I knew I’d be missing out on something. OK. So then, what do I pick? I decided I would look through the paper again with the descriptions of all groups and try to find one “open mindedly” that I could see myself going to. I looked at the paper, read through it twice, and then put it back down. Maybe I’ll pray about it tonight.
And that’s what I did. I asked God to show me what group I was supposed to be in. I didn’t expect Him to answer right away, but He did anyway. I’m a very visual person, and He showed me a picture of the cute stick figure logo on the Run for God website (which I had checked out previously). So, that was my answer. I said, “Alright, I get it. I’ll join that group.” And I’ve been at peace since. This Sunday I signed up at the Run for God table. Well, to be honest, my husband signed me up because I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it to church because of my son, but that’s another story. He signed me up for the Tuesday night meetings before church, and at the end of church I signed myself up for the Saturday morning walk/run. Now I’m waiting for the student book that I ordered online, and am actually looking forward to the start of the semester.
I could end this by saying, “be careful what you pray for,” but I know that’s not what I need to say. Just a little friendly reminder that God hears us, and He has a plan for us. We learned at church recently that we have a journey we’re on. It’s not a ‘to-do’ list, nor is it a check list. I took that to heart this Sunday when the associate pastor was talking to us about this, and I know that he’s right. I knew already that I had been on a journey, one that is bringing me closer to God. He has been putting things in my path, and it’s up to me to pick them up and add them to my pack as I walk. He gave me the fast, then the book Made to Crave, and then the Run for God group. He answered my prayer of having someone (heck, this is a group of someones) to run or walk with on Saturday mornings. Go figure. Praise Him for all prayers answered and unanswered, and don’t resist Him when He does answer that one prayer that you maybe could have held off on a little bit longer.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Dear Heavenly Father, I praise You and thank You for all that You have done, for all the prayers that You have answered for me, and for those left unanswered. Only You know the path I need to take, for You have set it in front of me. Keep my foot from slipping. And may all that I do be for the glory of Your great name, and not for me.