Guys, why am I already on the verge of tears? I am writing this intro having not even cracked open my prayer journals to see what God has done, but it’s already welling up because to make space to reflect on what God has done over a year is opening the floodgates held back for too long. I know He did a lot. And the thing is, I look back on each month so this isn’t foreign. But still? How sweet would it be to do this in some small way each day?
I think one reason this is so special to do is because it humbles me like nothing else to feel loved by our Creator in tangible ways.
So there’s that, but I’m also not so dense to think that everyone saw answered prayers they hoped for this year. This is about more than me getting to celebrate what God did, which I could do in the privacy of my own little world. I hope anyone who feels they’re missing out on what God is doing will read this post, and be assured He is real and at work in their own life too.
So we kick our annual goal series (sign up here to make sure you don’t miss a post!) with a bang and one of my favorite posts of the year.
Friends, if I can get even more dramatic for a minute….what are we doing with our lives if we aren’t shouting from the rooftops what God is doing in our lives? Like what are we actually doing if we aren’t pointing our fingers and telling anyone who will listen that God is good and real and present in our lives?
That’s huge! And instead, we’re asking what our friends’ takes are on Travis Kelce and Taylor dating (it’s me 🙋♀️I did that). Sigh.
We’ve got more important things to discuss and I pray this blog post is just a hint of the conversations around answered prayers that you have this week. Grab some friends, send a group text, and ask “What did God do in your life in 2023? What prayers did He answer?”
Now that I’m sufficiently riled up, let’s talk answered prayers of 2023.
- First, I am not sharing EVERYthing. Many answered prayers were personal for someone else.
- I have no idea if this will sound lame or impressive. I have no idea where your personal line is for what counts as an answered prayer but I hope reading this will inspire you to probably give more credit than you think God deserves. Yikes. I said that. But yikes! We do that. I used to put an answered prayer through the gauntlet. Would this have happened if I hadn’t prayed? Is it a coincidence? No more! God gets all the glory and I get less stingy with the praise.
Ready to do this?
1. Vana made a profession of faith and we’ve seen sweet fruit from that this year. 🙂
2. Tyler’s Paw Paw passed away and his funeral was so inspiring. I know this is a strange answered prayer but I was just reflecting the other day on what a legacy of faith Tyler has come from and all the decisions his parents and grandparents have made that have blessed our life immensely. The many prayers prayed by Paw Paw and Maw Maw over the years are being answered even today.
3. Though we got Covid and pinkeye, we learned a ton of patience and flexibility as a family and laughed a lot. It was funny to look back at my prayers for no sickness mixed in with flexibility, praise, and quality time and see how God used sickness to answer the other requests.
4. We also had a friend commit His life to Christ! 🙂
5. Less spasms! A symptom that had plagued me for over a year!
6. Fresh motivation for VMP! Despite health taking its toll on my energy with VMP, this month the Lord gave me a fresh vision for our future!
7. Safe delivery for my niece Piper and successful VBAC for my sister-in-law Maddie!
8. My friend found the best little warehouse for us to operate from.
9. Hiring Betsy as shipping manager! I don’t know if y’all know this but I was shipping manager from about mid-October through February! This meant that on top of what I was supposed to be doing for VMP, I was also handling each and every package (with the help of a few friends) through the busiest months of the year. I mentioned in last year’s post that I thought we found the right employee and I felt very strongly it wasn’t the right fit and let her go in early December (AKA the dumbest time to turn down help) but the Lord was so faithful to send us Betsy! She was made for this job and we are grateful to have her!
10. Kara leaving. Kara, my right-hand gal for 5 years let me know she needed to leave VMP and focus on her growing family. Although I wouldn’t have chosen this as an answered prayer, I know how much prayer went into this decision and that this was the right decision for Kara’s family and God has answered my prayers of hiring Alissia to fill her shoes!
11. Less judgmental heart. As a perfectionist who is naturally hard on myself, it always means I can be hard on others. The Lord has freed me from this in a big way this year.
12. Big answered prayers for our church. Many people had been praying for months on how to handle a situation and were in unity in God’s direction. There was a ton of confirmation after the decision was made that it was the right decision.
13. Tyler became interim pastor. I don’t even know what to say about this. I was not praying for this to happen. 🙃But over the last few years, Tyler has been saying yes and serving and learning in the church and I feel I’m getting to see Tyler use gifts that God is cultivating as he keeps choosing selflessly. Watching Him preach with so little experience makes it even more clear it’s the Lord’s favor. Funny enough, I had this in last year’s post for Jan 2023. Oh to know where we’d be now! “Tyler preached his first sermon at church and did really well!”
14. Our journals were shared at SBC national conference luncheon for 2,000 pastor’s wives. They finalized approval for the purchase about 12 hours after Tyler was named interim pastor so I felt a strange new bond and understanding with these women who were getting our journals.
15. Vana can read! Last year Vana was diagnosed with dyslexia and worked really hard with her teacher and a tutor at school and shows very few signs of dyslexia now! 😉
16. Roadtrip safety and provision. Our church’s staff and a few spouses attended the Watermark Conference in Dallas. We hopped in a few cars and headed there. On the way, our van basically died and we thankfully broke down close to an auto shop and thankfully we were able to pile in tightly to the other two cars because the town was literally out of rental cars!! We arrived a few hours late but the weekend was so refreshing and just what the staff needed after a tough few months.
17. Vivi got baptized!
18. Working with Saffron Avenue on our logo! I don’t know if I actually shared this but we had hired another sweet designer to create our logo and website and it just didn’t work out at all. Angela was about to go on maternity leave and had this semi-custom design I had been eyeing but was sold out. I think I emailed just assuming it wouldn’t work out and when she said yes, it was a major answer to prayer! I am so pleased with how the branding came out!
19. Vivi tested negative for mono and Epstein Barr. For obvious reasons, we were grateful the tests came back negative but also, we were preparing for our 2-week trip and coming to terms with how a positive diagnosis would change things.
20. Our June trip! We spent a few days with Diana Kerr and her family and it was so sweet to hang out in person.
21.Progress with Vivi. We had a rough first part of the year and butted heads like crazy because we’re sooooo similar but we turned a corner this month and it was purely the Lord.
22. Freedom and forgiveness. I’ve honestly never been so challenged with the need to forgive someone. I struggled with wanting to make sure the truth was known and getting angry when lies were spread, but it was a time that required my silence and not trying to prove anything. This was hard, y’all. I’d take two steps forward, one step back constantly. But at some point, I was able to release it. It still creeps up a little, which I think is common for many working through forgiveness, but I am not entangled by it daily like I had been for months!
23. Samples of our Rhythms and 2024 Signature colors came in correctly and on time. When you print thousands and thousands of something, you kind of hold your breath until the proof comes in.
24. Safe delivery for my nephew Scottie! As much as we tried to plan our big annual photoshoot around Scottie’s arrival, he was delivered smack dab in the middle of it! 😉 I headed to the hospital to hang with my sister as long as I could before our shoot started, then headed to the shoot. When they texted that he arrived I just burst into tears and peaced out for a quick visit while Betsy held down the fort at the shoot.
25. Summer study. I hosted a Bible study of Jennie Allen’s book, Find Your People and it was the sweetest start to some new friendships that have been growing and growing!! A major answered prayer!
26. I had been praying for an opportunity to mentor someone and the Lord opened a door. Not every opportunity feels like the right fit but the Lord put such a passion on my heart to carve out time for this person and it has blessed me so much.
27. Sister-in-law pregnant! BIG, HUGE answered prayer!
28. We celebrated 10 years since our first prayer journals! As I’ve seen shop after shop closing its doors the last few months, it’s not lost on me that we survived not only Covid and a weird economy but also not being the young new thing on the market. Having staying power in our shiny object world is only by the grace of God and I truly believe only because these journals are actually helping so many people find focus in prayer! To date, we sold over 150,000 prayer journals and given nearly $600,000 to charity. And that is literally not possible in my own strength.
29. Journals arriving intact. Our journals went on a crazy adventure to reach us this year! Soo many weird delays and things that would sound made up, but they made it!
30. Saying “yes” to pray at an event. This might seem like a small thing to some but I can’t think of anything more stomach-turning than a microphone in my hand. 😉 I said yes, didn’t overthink it and the Lord provided peace.
31. Major progress in my mindset and reframing a negative attitude. More on this in the Life-changers posts on Friday!
32. Hard conversation that was fruitful. I tend to avoid the hard conversations and part ways if it gets too hard but I got some encouragement to have the hard conversation and it pretty much saved a friendship that is precious to me!
33. Healing of my nervous system! My family and I drove to Cleveland (yes, 40 hours round trip) in 4 days to see a doctor that I had Facetimed with and had heard from a friend that he could really help some of my issues. There wasn’t a lightning bolt of miraculous healing but instead, I feel free from the fight-or-flight I have been living in constantly. I feel much steadier and like I can come down from a stressful situation much quicker. The cysts that had been growing pretty quickly stayed the same after our visit as well instead of doubling in size like it had the previous month! We all had appointments and he said Vivi had some nerve damage in her neck that he was able to correct so I think some of the benefits we may never know about because we simply won’t have issues that would have come up had we not gone.
34. Successful Black Friday – Cyber Monday. Our sales had been a little lower than normal this year but in early November, it took a hard turn for the positive and have been growing again!
35. Successful surgery to remove two ovarian cysts. I’ll be honest, my experience started off pretty rough the day of my but recovery has been much better than recovery from my previous time having this same surgery which gave me a lot of PTSD. So greatful to be almost good as new! 😉
36. Creativity and ideas. I am bursting with words and ideas again and I’m just so grateful! Writing has always been a really worshipful experience. I feel God’s presence so richly when I’m in a flow of writing and it almost feels like the faucet is backed up and sputtering out. I’m the most excited I’ve been in years for what’s next with VMP!
YET TO BE ANSWERED PRAYERS
- Tyler’s future. He is still interim and what’s next is not set in stone. We’d LOVE prayers!
- Our church’s future. We’re in so much transition! Prayers for unity and the right team to come together!
Okay friends, if you haven’t yet, take your prayer journal or notebook you’ve written prayers in and go back through every square inch and reflect on what the Lord has done!! Do not pass GO, do not plan 2024 without this step. It’s so important that if we’re going to have faith in God for the unknown future, we need to know how faithful He has been.
Don’t have a record of what God’s been doing in your life? It’s never too late to start!! Grab a Rhythms Prayer Journal or Signature Prayer Journal and next year, you’ll be joining in on this reflection!!
1 Chronicles 16:8-12 says, “Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced.”
Leave a comment of one of your greatest answered prayers of 2023 that will propel your prayer life in 2024.
Save the date! On January 10 at noon CST we will have our Where Prayer Meets Science live class. Banishing anxiety and stress aren’t just for the mindset gurus. There is a sound theological base and we’ll talk it through and how to transform our minds through prayer. Sign up here!