What Role Do We Play After We Pray?


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 So they broke camp to cross the Jordan River. The priests who carried the ark of the promise went ahead of the people. (The Jordan overflows all its banks during the harvest season.) When the priests who were carrying the ark came to the edge of the Jordan River and set foot in the water, the water stopped flowing from upstream. The water rose up like a dam as far away as the city of Adam near Zarethan. The water flowing down toward the Sea of the Plains (the Dead Sea) was completely cut off. Then the people crossed from the east side of the Jordan River directly opposite Jericho. The priests who carried the ark of the Lord’s promise stood firmly on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan until the whole nation of Israel had crossed the Jordan River on dry ground.

Joshua 3:14-17

Trusting in God means we lay our requests at his feet before moving. Then we get up and take the next step, then the next, then the next. We take those steps no matter the obstacle we see in front of us. No matter the terrifying terrain ahead. We move expecting that as we move with God, God will move before us.

Each time our family has relocated to a new state, we’ve learned to trust God in a deeper way. We’ve learned that He is completely faithful. Each move God has showered us with rich relationships. Of course He would. God is relational. He created us to be first in relationship with Him, second with others. His desire is to be glorified in and through our relationships with His people.

Because of this, one of our top prayer requests since moving a year ago revolved around friendships.

I think sometimes we pray for situations then we simply sit back not realizing we might need to take an active role. Over time we see nothing happening and we become frustrated or disillusioned. We believe the lie that God doesn’t hear us.

We desire the miracle, yet we don’t always fully trust the Miracle Maker.

One of our greatest privileges as parents is to cultivate a wonder for the God of miracles in the hearts of our children. If my children develop an attitude of God as a far off God in the sky who may or may not listen when we speak, that will be a tragedy.

I delight with each opportunity to point the hearts of my children to their Creator. To teach them to watch and wait with excited expectation just how He will respond. And He will respond.

Sometimes to see God’s answers requires active participation. God created humans, not robots and puppets.

God invites us into His great big story. We have a choice in how we will play our role.

At some point a few months into new life in Nebraska, a friend invited me to a meeting about a homeschool group for teens wanting to serve the community. I showed up late to the meeting and quietly slipped into a seat in the back of the room.

I listened with interest but quickly discovered the dates wouldn’t work with our other homeschool group commitments.

I knew God had me at that meeting for a reason.

A woman sat in that meeting with her three boys. They looked about the same ages as my boys, who were not with me at the time. They seemed to be respectful and kind boys. I noticed they actually listened during the meeting rather than distract themselves in the world of phones. I wanted to meet this family.

As the meeting drew to a close, I wrote my phone number on a slip of paper and stalked the woman to her car.

She might have thought I was crazy, but the way I looked at the situation is like this – I’ve been praying for friends for my boys and here might be some. Now is my opportunity to actively participate with God.

I caught up with this woman in the parking lot, told her we had just moved to Nebraska, were fairly new to homeschooling, and we’d love to have their family over.

Then she and I actually followed up with each other. We invited them over. They came. Then another outing and another. Fast forward many months and this family, and these boys, have become friendships we absolutely treasure.

This is what I want my boys to see. God is a God of abundance. He does nothing on a small scale. Everything He does is miraculous and other-worldly. We can expect with 100% confidence that when we ask according to His will, He will respond with a resounding YES.

Now this is the confidence we have before Him: Whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked Him for.”

1 John 5:14-15

When we asked for rich friendships, we already knew God said yes. The exciting part is waiting and watching as His yes after yes unfolds.

The day I met my new friend, I came home elated. Not because I knew I had a new friend (though this was exciting to be sure) but because I had just tasted the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living.

“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.”

Psalm 27:13

Nothing lights my fire like seeing God at work. Nothing.

When my faith fire dwindles, all I need to do is blow on that flickering flame with my whispered request. He answers by setting that fire ablaze all over again. Those sparks spread to my family.

I view my primary role as mom to be teaching my children to know God truly. Not the version the world has created, but the actual One True God. The only God. Yahweh.

The way to know Him is through His Word. First and foremost. The Word is first a story of who God is. Once we meet Him there, it’s easy to see Him everywhere in our world.

And so on a Friday night, a year into moving across the country, Steve and I sat on the sofas of our family room. I curled with a book listening with contented peace to the loud ruckus in the basement as 6 boys played ping pong, basketball, wrestled, ate pizza and brownies, and ended their night with a movie.

I marveled at the graciousness of God.

When God, with supernatural speed, brought us a buyer on our North Carolina home, He blessed us with a home in Nebraska with a basement of our dreams that we knew exactly what to do with. That basement and this home would be a place to invite people in as often as they would say yes. To fill it with love and laughter, gifts from our Father. To have a home to graciously and generously show the love of the Father.

The key in parenting is connecting the dots of God for our kids until they learn to do this on their own. Actively participating with God is drawing it out for them until they learn to connect their own dots.

“Boys, remember how we prayed and have continued to pray for friends? Well, think back to how we met this family to begin with. We prayed, but then we had to take a step. We had to place ourselves in places where we’d want to meet friends. And then when we noticed people the Lord was divinely bringing our way, we had to step again.”

I explained to the boys that the day I followed my friend to her car, I could have simply left the meeting that day, never crossing paths with her again. I wouldn’t know what I had missed. It makes me never want to miss an opportunity the Lord puts in front of me.

He answered my prayers for friends by nudging me to the meeting, bringing our families together, but it took a step only I could take to bring it to fruition. How cool is God?

This is what I desire my kids know. God is real. He is alive and active. He inclines His ear toward us. He desires to pour out His blessings.

If only the whole world knew the God He really is. I can’t change the world, but I can influence the very ones He has placed in my life. For as long as I have breath, I will proclaim His goodness.

“Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits–“

Psalm 103:2

I have created a tool to help our souls forget not all His benefits. Illuminate – Seeing God by the Light of His Word releases soon. You can find more information here including a video trailer. Illuminate is for us all. Women, men, and parents who desire to remember who the Lord is. It’s to encourage us to create the discipline of keeping our eyes fixed on who God is. Practicing the art of remembrance.

In our home, we’ve used this as a time of family devotion. Gathering in the family room and listening together. Continuing the conversation throughout the week.

It’s 14 days that I believe will change your life. It’s changed mine because it’s gotten me into His Word to seek out His character as revealed by Him.

“Renee Robinson has used her gifts to bring us one – a 14 day primer for anyone desiring to go deeper as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Unwrap it and be blessed.”

–Tara McClary Reeves, speaker and author of Is Your Dad a Pirate and Point Me to Jesus.




My near-death experience


Saturday I had a near-death experience. Or it felt that way at the time, and even more so as I reflect back on the event. I can’t help but wonder what I will never know. Were we spared because we prayed?

This question is tough and unanswerable. We all know someone who prayed for protection or safety, yet the Lord called them home despite their prayers.  We’ve all faced circumstances where we prayed for healing and healing didn’t come. We’ve all received no’s to some of our prayers.

What we don’t know is how many yes’s we’ve received in the invisible world. How many times did we pray for hedges of protection, and in the spiritual realm those hedges are the very thing that saved our lives, but we never knew.

Identifying the no prayers seems a bit easier than identifying the yes prayers. The no’s are clear and obvious. The yes’s can be categorized as coincidence or “luck”.

If our eyes were opened to all the yes’s we’ve received, would we ever forget to pray again? I wonder.

Do we pray like our very lives depend on it? Do we believe it? Or have our prayers become an act of religion?

We took a trip to Georgia to celebrate my nephew’s graduation. Visiting my sister is a treat because their house is a true experience. Farm, land, 4 wheelers, pool, trampoline, and lots of wide open exploring. A boy’s dream.

As I walked outside her house, the warm Georgia sunshine hit me full on. Sounds of summer and celebration took all anxious thoughts and cares right away. Beach tunes, splashing kids, adult conversations weaving in and out, the smell of charcoal, and the sound of 4 wheelers coming and going. Activity swirled at a pace set to relaxation.

Steve and Zachary pulled into the front yard on the 4 wheeler. I took note how big Zachary is on the 4 wheeler. Gone are the days his little body fit snug into Steve’s as he held tight. Zachary hopped off, and with his still boyish grin, Steve nodded my way, “Hop on and let’s go for a ride.”

My nephew may have graduated but I’m not too old for some 4 wheeling fun. I climbed on for a ride on a freshly created trail. It was nice not clinging for dear life. The trail was fairly narrow and bumpy, so our speed stayed in my safe zone.

Steve has learned the hard way that I’m not much fun when I’m scared, and because he wants me to join him on his little adventures, he is wise to use caution.

I don’t know if I said this out loud to Steve or only thought it, but there were lots of small stumps and bigger than sticks smaller than logs obstacles. I noted how we had to be quite careful because these small innocent stumps could likely do some damage. About 1 second later it happened.

We took a turn at a safe speed, but the back tire hit a stump on the side of the trail. As Steve steered left, our left rear tire hit a stump and it pushed us right. Right at the time Steve was accelerating for the upcoming straightaway.

Everything happened so fast, I remember having all of these thoughts and questions quick firing. It likely took 1-2 seconds for us to hit the tree, but it felt like longer as I watched us accelerate to the tree. I remember not being scared because I thought when you hit a tree you stop, but the 4 wheeler performed what it was made for. It climbed right up that tree like it was climbing the side of a mountain. I fell off the rear, landing flat on my back, and I know Steve fell off and landed on top of me. What I can’t figure out for the life of me is how in the world the 4 wheeler didn’t crush us.

The details in the moments after falling are foggy to both of us. I remember lying on my back, looking straight up and seeing the 4 wheeler in a vertical position. 2 wheels in the air, 2 wheels on the ground, headlights shining to heaven.

I remember Steve being somewhat on top of me, but also somewhat holding the full weight of the 4 wheeler up, protecting me. I can only imagine what fear he saw on my face. I must have looked in shock.

Steve said, “You’re ok. You’re ok. Now move. Move!”

In that instant I realized I hadn’t died, but if I didn’t move fast, I might die. At any moment, that 4 wheeler could fall back on me with a crushing force.

Steve holding it up seemed supernatural. There is no way he could brace that 4 wheeler from his back the way he did. I mean he’s strong and all, but not that strong. Right then he was my hero.

I scurried to my feet and retreated to a safe distance to watch the 4 wheeler roll over and down, dumping chains and first aid kits from hidden compartments.

That’s when I started to tremble. It was only then that I felt the fear. We could’ve died. As hard as we hit the ground, had there been a rock instead of dirt, everything could have been different. Had Steve not held up the 4 wheeler, it could’ve crushed us.

I wish I could say that was the end, I thought it was the end. I thought that was the worst part, we’d be back to my sister’s in no time.

I had no choice but to get back on, though I had hoped I’d never have to again. Somehow we ended up off trail in a part of the woods that I saw no way out of. We were in deep, no carved trail, and steep hills that seemed impossible to a 4 wheeler.

I jumped off and walked while Steve rode up the ravine that felt impossible. I watched it flip a couple more times.

I was taken by his calmness. I felt a basket case, but I was too terrified to even speak. I thank God Steve handled each step with a quiet calm that hushed my fears.

As I watched him riding up what looked impossible, I prayed out loud for God to do the impossible and to protect Steve in the process.

Eventually, we made it out unharmed and the 4 wheeler still works. It did the job well.

As I have thought on that incident, I go back to the day before we left when the boys and I prayed while we packed and cleaned in preparation for the trip. We prayed for safety and protection, for hedges to be placed around us.

I must admit, I often pray these prayers out of habit and duty. I wonder if I pray them in disbelief even at times. I’m sure I do. What if we hadn’t prayed? How do we know if it wasn’t us calling on the power of God for protection that saved our lives that day?

I’ll never know that answer, and that is ok.

This isn’t the first time I’ve wondered this. I looked back at my prayer journal prior to Zachary’s Lyme diagnosis and read specific prayers for the strengthening of his body and immune system. This was before he had any symptoms. What if those prayers hadn’t been released to God? We just don’t know, so why take the chance? He’s placed power closer than a whisper’s reach.

What God has impressed on my heart is a desire to deepen my prayer life. To opening my eyes for a moment by moment need for Him. He actually has been stirring this in my heart for weeks. I’ve been reading a few books on prayer, I’ve been spending more time throughout the day simply talking to God. I’m finding constant companionship with Him is a treat I’ve been missing out on in the busyness of life.

Summer seems a good time for slowing down and praying more. Each moment I encounter is shaped by prayer. If we are given that kind of power, we’d be crazy not to use it.

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Answered Prayers, Unexpected Gifts, and Lyme Disease


If you have been reading along our health journey with my 9-year-old, you know that we have had 3 instances of unexplained knee swelling over the course of 2 1/2 years. Each swelling worse than the one before. He showed no other symptoms. He is a healthy boy, very active and bright. The most recent knee swelling proved to be the toughest we’ve faced. At the worst point, he was unable to walk.

Each trip to the doctor left us still searching for answers. What was causing this knee swelling? The doctors were genuinely puzzled. So we prayed. And we enlisted an army of believers to lift Zachary up to our Heavenly Father. Our prayers have been answered.

12 days ago Zachary and I spent all day at the Rheumatologist and the Orthopedic. Ten vials of blood and 2 bags of knee fluid later, we left with more questions. MRI, X-Ray, blood work, labs on fluids. Everything continued to show a healthy child.

But we were praying. And we had an army of believers placing requests on Zachary’s behalf at the Father’s feet. Specifically, we were praying God would grant wisdom to the doctors treating Zachary, that God would grant healing, that God would bring us the answer to the root cause of the swelling.

Four days after blood was drawn by the Rheumatologist, she called and asked if Zachary had been exposed to a tick bite. It was possible. I mean he is a boy, he lives outside, he loves the woods. I’ve never seen a tick on him, but anything is possible. Answered prayer #1- wisdom to the doctor. She had no good reason to test for Lyme because he showed no symptoms and we live in North Carolina. She didn’t know we lived in Virginia for 2.5 years. She could have fit him into a type of arthritis and treated him. But God heard our prayers, and He granted wisdom to that doctor.

Sometimes God is answering our prayers in stages, yet we move about life unaware of Him.

Lord, let me never become unaware of your constant provision.

Yesterday afternoon the rheumatologist’s nurse called. “Great news! Zachary’s blood work looks beautiful. He is one healthy boy.” I hung up with feelings of relief mixed with more questions. Thirty minutes later the doctor herself called to let me know Zachary tested positive for Lyme Disease. “I’m shocked,” she told me.

Answered prayer #2 – Answers. We can move forward with treatment.

Answered prayers #3 – God has been protecting Zachary’s body from some of the more severe symptoms of Lyme for the 3 years he has had this disease unknown to us. Praise God!

We are thankful for the multitude of people who have been praying for us, and we continue to ask for your prayers. Lyme can be a long road.

People continue to ask me how Zachary is handling this. On the drive to school, he said, “Mom, I think God allowed me to have Lyme so I can help the world.” Amen, sweet boy, amen. This child is tender to the Holy Spirit. He has a heart for Jesus like I aspire to have. He sees the hand of God at every turn along his journey of life. I’m confident that God will use Zachary to bring comfort or encouragement to someone else with Lyme. Or he may just use Zachary to shine a light for Christ to someone who needs to see beyond the illness and pain that plagues our world.

In the midst of all this, a friend contacted me Sunday and offered to volunteer several hours a week for the next 4 weeks to help me with my ministry. Friends! God provided for me before He brought me this news of Lyme. He is always taking care of us. He is always at work in our lives. When she contacted me, I sat at my kitchen table with no words. Why would she offer to help me during the busiest time of the year? She doesn’t even really know me. Why? Because we serve a compassionate God who loves us more than we can fathom. He placed on her heart to help me, and she followed the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Last night I researched online about Lyme. The more I read, the more fear began to speak into my heart. Fear is not welcome here. Fear and faith are at odds with each other. The best way to fight fear is with the Word of God.


2 Timothy 1:7 

For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

We head into Thanksgiving, and our hearts of full. Thursday we celebrate our youngest turning 6. Not possible!  We have much to give thanks for.

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31 Ways To Pray For Your Kids


In May I attended a writers conference and had the honor of meeting an author I admire and respect so much. He ended up being one of my favorite instructors at the conference with his humor and wit. Bob Hostetler has a new app available to help us parents pray intentionally for our kids.

I love that each day has a specific prayer topic, a beautiful picture, and a verse to pray along with. The app allows you to set a reminder, which was very helpful for me. I start out my day praying for my children, but often intend to pray for them throughout the day only to find the day became busier than I intended, and time slipped away. No matter how busy I found myself, the alarm would sound, I’d open the app, and I’d take a moment to pray specifically for each of my children.

This app gave me topics to pray for my kids that I had not been praying about. It helped me to move outside of my “normal” prayer topics to go a little deeper in my prayer life for my kids. Some days I simply breathed out the verse of the day in prayer for my kids. Other days, the app provided a springboard for me to dive deeper into a prayer topic.

I highly recommend this app if you find yourself wanting to become more intentional in your prayer life for your children.

You can download 31 Ways To Pray For Your Kids here.


Bob Hostetler is an award-winning writer, editor, and speaker from southwestern Ohio. His books, which include the award-winning Don’t Check Your Brains at the Door (co-authored with Josh McDowell) and The Red Letter Life, have sold over 3 million copies. He has won two Gold Medallion Awards, four Ohio Associated Press awards, and an Amy Foundation Award. He is the founding pastor of Cobblestone Community Church in Oxford, Ohio. He and his wife Robin have two grown children, Aubrey and Aaron, who have given them five beautiful grandchildren.




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When We Need A Do-Over


Glancing at my watch as I exited the banquet hall, I knew I needed to hurry home.  Exhaustion prevailed.  3 full days of a conference wiped me out.

Despite my best intentions, the magnetic pull of the dessert table triumphed.  Just a quick nibble from the turtle cheesecake, and I’d be on my way.

A glance to my left derailed that plan.  My favorite author, Lysa Terkeurst, sat at a table only steps away.   Not a soul in line yet.  As if riding on one of those moving airport sidewalks, my body glided straight over to her table.

Clearly, my mind lingered a little too long at the dessert table.  Mouth opened.  Words spilled out.  Her kind eyes engaged mine.  The words wouldn’t stop tumbling forth.

“Hi, Lysa…….I loved your sessions….blah, blah, blah…..I loved your book Who Holds The Key To Your Heart…, blah, blah, blah……more blah, blah, blah.”  Stop talking!!!  Seriously, what are you saying right now?  You are sounding like a rambling idiot.  Someone put me out of my misery.  Can she see my hands shaking?   This is RIDICULOUS!  

My mouth and mind simply refused to cooperate.  She graciously engaged in my nonsense babble, proving to be exactly who I expected her to be. Her eye contact said, “I care what you are saying.”

As I half-jogged to my car, all I could hear in my head was, “What a waste of an opportunity.  Seriously, Renee?  That’s all you got?  For someone who has written books that impacted your life, you said that?!!”

I wanted to hit rewind.  I wanted a do-over.

I wanted to confidently approach Lysa and say, “Thank you for being obedient in your calling as a writer and speaker.  Your words have greatly impacted my life.  Every time I read one of your books or your devotions, I feel as if I’m reading about myself.”

But I wouldn’t get that do-over.  And I couldn’t stop beating myself up.  My cheeks burned as I drove home. The tape played over and over and over and over again.

I couldn’t hit rewind, but I sure knew how to hit replay.

Have you ever felt like that?  Like you just wish you could have a do-over.  Say it right.  Do it right.

On any given day I find myself in a mess of sin.  Why did I do that?  Why didn’t I do that?  Why did they do that to me?  Why do I want to say that to them?  The tapes play or replay far too often.  We heap guilt on ourselves and regret our actions.  In our hearts we know that forgiveness for sins is available through Christ.  We know it.  But do we live it?

How many times have I entered into conflict with a friend or loved one and rehashed the scenario in my mind a hundred different ways?  How many times have I messed up with my kids and allowed the guilt to cover me rather than determining to seek forgiveness and ask God for help?  How many times have I hurt someone, and allowed my pride to dominate humility causing anxiety and guilt to reign in my heart?

What if I hit the pause button instead?

Pause and pray:  God please intervene like only You can.  Give me a humble heart that seeks reconciliation.  Lord, my feelings are so hurt.  Heal my wounds and help me move out of this place.  Lord- I messed up.  Please forgive me.  Help me to live under your forgiveness rather than my guilt.

The enemy loves to hit replay for us.  God loves to play a new tape.  One that whispers this:

Lamentations 3:22-24 “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

He is faithful.  His mercies are new every single day.  God gives do-overs.  His mercies never come to an end.