I met Leah in Boston! It has been one of my favorite speaking stops to date – because Boston is not in the Bible belt. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience in a culture different than my own. And they are the only family to attack me with silly string after I spoke at their church. Enjoy this beautiful guest post from a new, dear friend who does Light ‘Em Up – snow style. – Courtney
Do you consider the NO’s in your life a PRAISE
by Leah Miller
Our family has been working through Courtney’s book, In This House We Will Giggle, one virtue at a time. If you haven’t read it yet, you must. It’s so good! One of my favorite family activity ideas from the book is from chapter 4 on how to teach faith to your family. Courtney suggests sharing about your family’s faith in an “Our Heritage of Faith” journal. I couldn’t wait to have a family faith journal to pass down to our kids and someday their kids!
As I started planning our journal, I knew that one of the key messages I wanted to include was something I’ve learned only recently: how to recognize God’s presence and direction in our lives, even when He doesn’t seem to answer our prayers. I’ve come to call this process “Tracing the NO’s.”
It all started because of my prayer ring. It’s just a key ring filled with small luggage-sized tags where I write down prayer requests. I keep it with my Bible as a tangible reminder to pray.
Whenever I consider a prayer answered, I write PRAISE on the tag and physically move that tag to the front. Seeing all those praise tags each time I move a new one has been a huge faith builder in my life.
One day, however, I realized I was writing PRAISE only when God said YES to my request. For example: “New job for my husband.” PRAISE! I moved that baby to the front when he accepted his new job. But what about all those tags still left hanging, with no praise? I felt God asking me to go deeper with Him. I felt Him asking me to consider His NO’s as answered prayers as well. That is when I began to trace my NO’s from the Lord.
One of the first NO’s my children will learn about in our faith journal happened a long time ago, but it’s a big one. The summer after my junior year in college, I applied to be a summer orientation leader. I thought I was a shoo-in for this position. I LOVED my school and I am pretty perky, if I do say so myself. Well, they clearly did not want my kind of perky representing their school to incoming freshman. I didn’t get in, and I have to admit, it was a serious blow to my ego at the time. So, I had to figure out alternate plans for that summer and I ended up with a demanding internship instead. Now, here’s where it gets interesting.
The following year, I started interviewing for my first job out of college. I applied for a position with a prestigious consulting firm in New York City and I was considered a candidate for the job only because of this specific internship experience. Simply put, I got the job…and guess where I met my husband? That’s right — at that firm in NYC! I could literally trace it all back to God saying NO to the orientation leader position at my college.
God said NO, but only because He wanted to lead me to the love of my life, the single most important blessing I’ve ever received, and the reason I have the privilege of a family to teach about faith!
Once I started looking at God’s NO’s in my life, I found many more examples of how He led me to better things. I just had to trace them. One very difficult NO was when we were praying for a family. God said NO to our desire to have a baby for over two years. It was so painful and discouraging. But when I trace it back, I realize that so much good came out of that waiting period for me and for us as a couple. First and foremost, I appreciate the gift of motherhood so much more than I could have if He answered me YES right away. I traced that NO through two years of growth that I needed in order to become the mother He had planned me to be.
I have come to see God’s NO’s as another way in which God expresses His overwhelming love for me. I can imagine how powerful it will be when one of my children comes to me with a seemingly unanswered prayer request and I can share one of my NO stories from the Lord with them. If my children can learn from me that God is there and always working in our best interests — no matter how He answers our prayers at first — their faith will be so much stronger.
We all want our kids to know that God does not make mistakes! What are some of the NO’s from God that you can trace and share with your kids? What current NO are you experiencing? How can you lean on your understanding of your past NO’s to help you through this current NO?