Waiting and the Gift of Unanswered Prayer

I’m always honored to write for Desiring God;
this is the start of my newest article for them.
You can read the whole of the article here!

The Gift of Unanswered Prayer at www.annswindell.com

I have been praying the same prayer for healing for more than twenty years.

If you’ve been praying for one particular thing over months or years or decades, then you know how exhausting and difficult it can feel to keep returning to God with the same petition.

I was just a child when I developed trichotillomania — a hair-pulling condition — and while it’s not a life-threatening condition, it has been life-altering for me. Imagine not being able to stop pulling out your own hair, even though you hate how it makes you look — and feel. That’s been my daily experience for more than half of my life.

I’ve been asking God to do what no doctor, therapy, or medication can: heal me. I have tried various therapies and supplements, and I continue to seek to walk in healing, but there’s no clear “cure” for trichotillomania. I know that if I’m going to be healed, I will need a gift of grace from God himself. And while I wholeheartedly believe in God’s ability to heal me, I also know that he hasn’t healed me over these last two decades. Not yet.

Therefore, I wait.

Why Waiting Hurts

 If I’m honest, waiting is something I would prefer to avoid on any level, from waiting for a prayer to be answered all the way down to waiting in line at the grocery store. Why? Because waiting elicits the feeling of helplessness — of having to rely on someone else to act on my behalf.


Waiting forces me to come to terms with my own weakness.
It’s what waiting does to all of us: when we can’t work harder to get what we want, or when we can’t manipulate life to turn out the way we want it to, or when we can’t pay enough money or get enough help to achieve what our heart desperately desires, we are left with the truth of our own insufficiency: we are weak.

God is with you in your waiting: he has heard every prayer, listened to every cry, kept track of every sorrow. Click To Tweet

And we aren’t in control. Not even a little bit. We have to rely on someone else — on God — to act on our behalf.

It’s difficult and humbling to come to terms with our own inability to make anything happen. When we have prayed and longed and hoped and begged and done all that we can and still — still — there is no change in our circumstances, we are forced to stop our striving and simply wait, in large part because there is nothing else for us to do. We must stop and pause and look to God to act. And in that waiting, at the end of our proverbial rope, we will become aware of our inability to attain anything of lasting value on our own.

Read the rest of the article here, at Desiring God!

Waiting with Hope Devotional by Ann Swindell www.annswindell.com

Transformed by the Bible

This is my newest piece for incourage.
You can read the whole article here!

How Reading the Bible Will Transform You www.annswindell.com

I was twenty years old, fresh into my junior year at my Christian college, when Dr. Dorsett — an aging professor with a shock of white hair and thick spectacles — startled me into paying attention.

He held a Bible above his head and asked us, “How can you call yourself a Christian if you haven’t read every page of this book? If you don’t even know what’s in here?” His tone was kind, but his words were piercing. He was asking us to own our faith.

His words dumbfounded me.

I had grown up in the church, and had read parts of the Bible during my growing-up years. But here, as a young woman, I realized that I hadn’t ever read the Bible cover-to-cover. I’d read bits here and chapters there, but I hadn’t read much of the Old Testament, and I’d never read all of the New. It dawned on me, there in that class, that I was basing my life on a book that I hadn’t fully read — and suddenly, that admission stunned me. Who bases their life on a book but doesn’t read all of it? Did I even know what I believed?

Who bases their life on a book but doesn’t read all of it? Did I even know what I believed? Click To Tweet

And so, that very week, I started a one-year Bible-reading plan and began my journey into reading the Bible all the way through.

At first, reading several chapters a day felt overwhelming — going from reading a few verses here and there to actually reading whole chunks of the Word felt like going from talking a walk around the block to training for a marathon. My spiritual muscles were weak, and it was difficult on many days to keep my mind and heart engaged. Don’t even get me started on the book of Numbers; it’s a miracle I kept going!

But what I found, as I kept my nose in the folds of those crinkly, thin pages of my Bible, was that I was meeting God—actually meeting with Him! I wasn’t solely reading about Him or learning about Him: I was encountering the Lord on every page.

You can read the rest of the article here, at incourage!

Still Waiting by Ann Swindell

Do You Have a Book Inside of You?

The Writing with Grace: Book Proposal Workshop is open! I couldn’t be more excited!

Ann Swindell, author and speaker www.annswindell.com

Do you have a book inside of you? 
Do you have a plan to make that book a reality?
To move from ideas and drafts to chapters and cover design?

If you’re writing a book, or if you want to write a book, crafting a powerful book proposal is possibly the BEST tool for clarifying your core message, solidifying your structure, and moving forward to make your book a reality.

But where do you start?

Book proposals are huge undertakings. After having written four proposals, I know how intensive–and confusing–the process can feel. I remember trying to shuffle through multiple resources, and I kept hoping that I was doing things the right way. It became overwhelming at times, but I knew that if I didn’t have a strong book proposal, my book idea would never actually become a reality. The proposal is necessary–and central to the process of writing a book.

Do you have a book inside of you? Don't miss this! #amwriting Click To Tweet

That’s why I’m teaching a Writing with Grace Book Proposal Workshop at the end of this month! This will be a one-day, three-hour workshop in which we’ll cover the nonnegotiable elements of a powerful proposal AND how to execute those elements. Plus, we will hear from a literary agent in the Christian publishing industry.

If you’re aiming to write a book, you must write a book proposal, and this workshop is going to give you the tools that you need to make your proposal shine!

Registration is open now, and you can use the code BLOGREADER to save 10% on the cost of the course!

We’re going to have a wonderful time together on July 29th, and if you can’t come live, don’t worry–the recording will be available immediately afterwards for you to watch on your own time.

So, do you have a book inside of you? If you do, this is your next step.

Come join me over at Writing with Grace for all the details–I can’t wait to see you there!

Do you have a book inside of you? www.writingwithgrace.com

When Waiting Wears You Down and Out

This is my newest piece for Proverbs 31 Ministries.
You can read the full article here!

When Waiting Wears You Down at annswindell.com

 

I sat on the bed and unclenched my hands, trying to pray. From my perspective, the past season had gone painfully wrong.

My work was overwhelming, with deadlines that came too fast and too often. My womb had filled with life and then emptied twice in a handful of months, as we suffered two miscarriages back-to-back. Our daughter visited the ER for a sickness that lingered and broke up our sleep like shattered chalk, and I was wrestling with a physical condition that wore me down every day.

Then, unexpectedly, we found ourselves moving a week before Christmas, which meant a broken lease and high fines, as well as transitioning to a city where friendships would have to be built afresh.

Externally, I was busier than I’d ever been, but on the inside, my soul was barely limping along.

The more I tried to fix things, the more they fell apart. But God meets us in our struggle... Click To Tweet

So I did what I always do — I tried to figure out how to fix everything. Maybe if I rearranged my work calendar, or if we saw a specialist or made more money or could get my daughter healthy — maybe then, things would get better. Easier. More hopeful.

But the more I tried to figure things out, the more overwhelmed I became. I started crying out to the Lord, asking the unanswerable question of why: Why were things so hard? Why was there such loss? Why did I feel so stuck?

Read the rest of the article here, at Proverbs 31 Ministries!

 

Still Waiting by Ann Swindell

 

Five Ways to Grow Spiritually this Summer

This is from my newest article at RELEVANT. You can read the entire article here!

5 Ways to Grow Spiritually This Summer

With summer in full swing, it’s easy to get into the rhythm of letting the days slip by without much intentionality. The sun shines longer, we play harder and many of us take extra days off of work. But while we may want to let go of some stressors during the summer, one thing we don’t want to let go of is our spiritual growth.

Here are five ways to keep growing spiritually during the summer months:

1.) Get Outside!
With nicer weather comes great opportunity to experience God’s beauty in creation and let it shape our prayers and our worship. Take a prayer walk around your neighborhood, asking God to give you His heart for your city and the people there—and let the sights and sounds of where you live inspire your prayers. Or go on a hike and take your Bible with you and read Psalm 19 or Psalm 8 out loud, thanking God for how He’s created the earth and given you life. Swim in the ocean (or the pool!) and break to read John 7:37-39, considering the living water that Christ gives to us that sustains our very spirit.

Don't let your faith slide this summer. Five ways to grow with God right now! #faith #summer Click To Tweet

2.) Make the Effort to Get to Church.
I know, I know. With summer travel, vacations and holidays, it’s easy to blow off church on the weekends. But even if you’re traveling, find a church in town you can attend on Sunday. It’s a wonderful way to continue to growing in relationship with God, to get to know other believers and to experience church in a new way. God’s people are worshipping all over the world—go ahead and join them, wherever you are!

Read the rest of the article–including mixing up your Bible-reading routine and serving in a new way–here, at RELEVANT!

Still Waiting by Ann Swindell

The Summer the Roof Blew Off My House

Home has always been a central theme in my life, and today
I’m honored to be sharing about home over at Jen Michel’s wonderful blog.
Join me there!

To be human is to long for home. www.annswindell.com guest posting for Jen Pollock Michel

The summer the roof blew off my house also happened to be the summer I was away, studying abroad in England during college. All of it was an enormous surprise; there was no plan for a microburst to heave the roof off in July. When I left in June there was no warning about what was coming.

That house—the one that lost its roof—has been in my family for four generations. My great-grandfather was an architect; he designed the home. My grandfather laid the bricks, my father moved in at the age of four in 1954, and I was brought home thirty years later. The maple trees, just saplings when my father moved into the house, now tower twenty feet high.

I always knew those trees as tall. I slept in the bedroom that my father slept in as a boy, ate in the same kitchen, played basketball in the same backyard. Every story that belonged to the house also belonged to my family; the people and the place, wedded.

Into the house itself, my great-grandfather cemented a reminder of the family sentiment. He set odd-colored stones in the brick fireplace, uneven and small, jutting out in unlikely places.  Their colors do not match. These stones are from his travels to the Pyramids, the Coliseum, the Acropolis. He brought them back from those places to mortar them into the hearth, a reminder that though you travel far, you always, always circle back to where you started.

We are homebodies, embodied in a home that helps us know ourselves. Generations stay, or they come back.

I heard about the roof blowing off my house when I was in Oxford. My mother called from across the Atlantic with the news…

Read the rest of the story here, at Jen’s blog!