Pour Out Your Problems

 Pour Out Your Problems Pour Out Your Problems

In times of trouble, it’s natural to pray…but do you pour out your problems to the Lord?

We have certainly been doing our fair share of praying over the past week since my father in law has been diagnosed with a brain tumor. Yet in my effort to feel like I’m the one who has to keep things together for our family, I can’t honestly say that I’ve poured out my problems to my Heavenly Father.

This was brought to my attention this morning as I was reading through my Daily Walk Bible, and the introduction to Psalm 102 described the Psalm in this way:
A prayer of one overwhelmed with trouble, pouring out problems before the Lord.

I actually haven’t read this particular Bible in awhile (moving hides things from you!), and I was equally taken aback with the overview for today, the day I happened to find it again, prefacing Psalms 98-103:

Perhaps no  other six psalm picture God’s praiseworthy character as graphically as the ones in today’s reading. God in his righteousness (Psalm 98), in his exalted place of authority (99), and in his everlasting mercy (100) demands and deserves admiration and adoration by his people. In view of God’s character, the psalmist pledges his obedience (101), expresses his dependence (102) and acknowledges his gratitude for God’s rich blessings (103). 

In fact, Psalm 102 begins like this:

Lord, hear my prayer! Listen to my plea!
Don’t turn away from me in my time of distress.
Bend down your ear and answer me quickly when I call to you…My hear is sick, withered like grass, and I have lost my appetite…

My translation:
Our prayers don’t have to be pretty. God wants us to be honest. He feels our heart.

This brings to mind another favorite verse of mind that echoes my translation, 1 Peter 5:7:
Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you…

Bottom line is this: don’t hold back from God.

When you hurt, He hurts. To the disbelief of some, it is possible to be sorrow-filled and still be spiritual. The difference lies in where you take that sorrow…

I think the degree of your “groanings” all depends on the depth of your anguish. That’s not to say that the Lord only answers the prayers of the pitiful, but rather, we become closer to God when we are utterly and completely honest with him in our prayer life.

So the next time you find yourself in a deep valley, “like an owl in the dessert” or  ”lonely as a solitary bird on the roof” (Psalm 102:6 & 7), pour our your problems before the Lord and don’t hold back! Our merciful, righteous and powerful God will meet you exactly where you are and bring you to where you need to be.

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I NEED you to do this, Lord

car window rain I NEED you to do this, Lord

image courtesy of www.sxc.hu

It’s not often that I asked the Lord for insanely practical things.

In fact, I hate to bother him with things that seem so trivial in light of all the world’s problems. But He does in fact want us to include him in all aspects of our lives and I was reminded of this in a very tangible way today

You may know that our min-van is currently stuck at home after breaking down Thursday night, so we are left having to share our 2001 Camry. Since my husband is typically the one that drives this car, I had forgotten some of its idiosyncrasies.

Case in point:
After finishing up at the radio station, I was on my way to drop the car off at his work since he has to be here late tonight. Our kids spent the day with friends, so Kristen was meeting me here to pick me up and take all of us back home.

Since I hadn’t had lunch and knew I wouldn’t be able to stop at the store today, I made a quick detour to get some chili in the Wendy’s drive thru. I knew the windows hadn’t been working well, but I had just witnessed my husband use them successfully the day before, so it never even crossed my mind to avoid this pitfall.

Yet sure enough, in the middle of a storm, the window went down perfectly fine, but did not respond at my attempt to roll it back up after paying. I dodged rain drops to get to window #2 and worked fervently to fix the wet situation.

No luck.

Knowing I couldn’t very well hang out in the Wendy’s drive thru for longer than 3 extra seconds, I jetted out and wildly went the wrong way into a neighboring bank’s drive thru (luckily, it was closed at the time).

Thankful for the dry oasis. I turned off the car and decided to let it “reboot”, so to speak (can you tell I spend too much time on a slow computer?). After another five minutes of trying every Jedi mind trick I could conjure up, I finally stopped, closed my eyes and prayed for God to help me in this situation.

After finishing the prayer, I opened my eyes, paused to take a deep breath and then said in my most convincing voice possible:
Lord, I NEED you to do this.”

I waited a few seconds just to make sure He heard me and then turned the car back on to try the window again.

IT WORKED!

Without over-spiritualizing the situation, it reminded me that all too often I try to do things on my own when God is ready, willing and very able to help…if only we’ll get over ourselves long enough to ask!

I was reminded of the story of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22 that essentially teaches us that when we simply trust God, He will supply all our needs, from the most critical to even the very trivial.

Our mini-van may not be operational yet, but at least we’re not left with a very wet interior for our one vehicle that does work!

Is there anything you need  to ask the Lord for today?

pin it button I NEED you to do this, Lord

Why did Drew leave Tenth Avenue North?

I find it interesting that the most popular search on this blog (my personal, family blog) is, “Why did Drew Middleton leave Tenth Avenue North?”

Perhaps because we bragged about our friend when he came to Nashville this past spring to claim his BMI Songwriter’s award for his work on the hit, “Love is Here”. After all, I’ve known Drew since he and the boys led worship for our church’s college group in Florida. As the female mentor for the ministry, I enjoyed worshipping with and watching the guys grow in the Lord.

It wasn’t until a few years later that I really got to know Drew.  I learned that he and some of the other ‘kids’ that I served with were getting married! Not only were they getting married, but many now held positions within the church. That meant that their new brides would be graduating college, moving out on their own for the first time AND becoming a pastor’s wife in a sense. Being a recent newlywed myself (just four years prior), my heart became burdened for these precious women (most of whom I’d not yet met!) and started a group to mentor these newlyweds. I met with the girls, my husband met with the guys, and we’d regularly all come together as couples…and it was awesome.

So while I’ve known Mike D. and the Tenth Ave gang for about ten years, it wasn’t until the past three that I’ve had the pleasure of really getting to know Drew and his precious wife, Shannon. You can imagine my surprise when, on a blog where I normally discuss funny things my kids say and my wonderment at the world around me,  there were daily searches on Tenth Avenue North, Drew Middleton and more specifically, why Drew left the band.

So I finally asked him.

It’s amazing how little I really knew about how the band got its start. I learned that it did in fact get its name from the road in Lake Worth where a few of the guys lived back when there were in college. I learned that Drew was not one of the original members of the band (he joined when they were all in college at PBA, not too long after he came in second place to their first place finish at a Battle of the Bands on campus). And I finally learned that Drew left the band because he felt God tugging on his heart to return to ministry at his local church.

“Through college, it was a good time – nothing that demanded our full time attention – if someone asked for a show we’d go play.” After he graduated, most of the guys worked part time at the church in the fall and winter and then the band went on tour in the off times and during the summer. However, after all the guys had worked at Christ Fellowship part time for a year, they went to the church to let them know they felt called to pursue the band full time. From that point in 2005 through 2006, Drew and the guys concentrated their full energies on the band, even releasing two full length albums and some EP’s.

So why did Drew walk away from it all?

“I felt this tug on my heart to go back to Christ Fellowship. I just knew it was what God was calling me to do, though at the time, I didn’t know why.”

Drew was engaged then and while he knew his future wife would always support him in whatever he felt God called him to do, Drew believed it was time for him to go back to the local church and lead worship. At the same time, his friend and fellow band-mate (Danny Zayas, who had just married his wife Renee a year earlier) approached Drew with a similar sentiment.

Ironically, things were starting to take off for the band. They had just met with some guys in Nashville and were considering what record label to sign with. “We were at a conference somewhere in Florida and were meeting as a band when Danny & I spoke up and said we felt called to bow-out of the band. Needless to say, the other guys were shocked.”

It was never their intent to deliver a double-whammy. They knew it would be a big deal to lose two members at once, but both Drew & Danny stayed on and played for several more months until their “Hello/Good-Bye Show” at City Place where they introduced Jeff (Owen) into the band and said goodbye to Drew & Danny.

Does Drew have any regrets about leaving the band?

“For the first two years after I left the band I had no regrets (even though they had a lot of success). I started feeling regret the last time I was in Nashville. Not because of the Dove Awards or the recognition or the hit song, I had regrets because being up there and hanging out with the guys again reminded me of the family nucleus we had as a band. More than friends, we were like a family church, constantly looking out for one another, encouraging each other and spurring one another on to do great things for God. Did we fight? Yeah. Were there times we wanted to rip each other’s faces off? Absolutely…but what a great group of guys. My regret is 50% because I know God has me here for this time and using me down in FL, but I think I’ll always vicariously live through them after being such a part of that band and that industry for 5-6- years. When that’s all you hang out with for so long, of course there’s going to be a tug.  All that to say my regret isn’t that I left the band and all this success; I miss the guys and that nucleus.”

So what’s next for Drew?
“You’re asking the wrong guy – it’s up to the Lord.
I can tell you what I’d like to be doing, but who knows if that’s what God has for me. I have some dreams and some ambitions, but God has his perfect will and I’m going to make sure I’m following that.”

Not to worry; the guys are still as close as brothers. They’ve sang at each other’s weddings, hang out together even when they’re not singing and are now welcoming children into the Tenth Avenue North Family.

While Drew isn’t welcoming any children of his own just yet, he does have some valuable advice for young ones looking to get into the music industry:
“Never give up playing or learning more about your craft. You constantly need to ask yourself, ‘How can I get better at what I’m doing – spiritually and musically?’”

To bands just getting started, Drew suggests the same as what kept his band so close: “Do whatever you can to encourage one another all the time. Get in the habit of speaking words of encouragement to your band-mates. It’s all too easy to get caught up in character flaws and focusing on the wrong (negative) thing.”

“When every band gets started, there seems to be a #1 goal of getting a record deal – don’t let that be your goal. That was never our goal (to be signed) and I think that’s why they (Tenth Avenue North) have achieved the success they have, because that was never our goal. God brought that to us, but we were never out searching for it. Don’t make getting signed your life ambition because:
1. It’s the wrong goal – your goal should be to uphold Christ above all else and pursue him.
2. What will you do after you get signed? Most have a plan but some don’t, so don’t get caught up in that rabbit trail.”

While he may be done with the road for now, music and songwriting is still an integral part of Drew’s life. He is now a worship pastor at Christ Fellowship church in Florida and is married to Shannon, a beautiful and talented girl in her own right (which I can say proudly because she’s such a good friend too!). Personally, I hope Drew continues to win many more awards for his amazing songs so that we get to see more of the Middletons in Nashville!

Thanks, Drew, for allowing me to dig a little deeper into your passions and for speaking so candidly. Ricky and I are so proud to call you friends and we pray many others will benefit and grow from reading your story and learning of your continuing faithfulness, both to God, your family and your craft!

To see some pictures of Drew’s winning moments (and his wonderful wife), click here to see my earlier post.

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