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Close the Door and Open Your Heart

Get naked before God


Where do you like to pray? I prefer praying at my dining room table or in a corner plantation chair in my living room.


Whether at the table or in my chair, I try to get away from screaming kids, piled-up dishes, unmade beds, and all sorts of luring—or ringing–electronic devices. It’s not always possible—my Bible is on my tablet. But I try.


Most Bible translations say to go into your inner room or closet. Unfortunately for me—and maybe for you, if I go into my closet, I’ll wind up being distracted by all the things out of place, all the things I want to buy, the things that don’t fit, so on and so on. So I skip my closet.


For me, going into a quiet place isn’t so much to get away from distractions—although that certainly helps. Listen to what Jesus said:


Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace. (Matthew 6:6)



Going to a quiet place is also about opening the inner rooms and dark corners of our hearts. It’s about getting real—taking off the masks and facing our denial. It’s about closing the door to pride, hypocrisy, and role-playing and opening our hearts to our innermost desires; secret longings; and private hurts, heartaches, and habits.


We can pray in public and with others—and God encourages us to do so—but in private…oh, in private, we are naked before God. He already knows our hearts but still leans in to take notice of our secret prayers. What comfort!


It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear (Isaiah 65:24).



Consider this: Shortly before going to the cross, Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. He took three disciples with him and started to feel sad and troubled. He told the three men, “My soul is very sad. I feel close to death. Stay here. Keep watch with me.” He shared his suffering with close friends—a prayer request of sorts. But… “He went a little farther. Then he fell with his face to the ground. He prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, take this cup of suffering away from me. But let what you want be done, not what I want'” (Matthew 26:36-39).


Jesus prayed in private. He bared his soul in private. God honored Him in public.


We, too, have that promise. He will reward our honesty before Him—with His comfort, His blessings, and His presence. In the end, He will reward us before all men.


Let’s start today. Let’s close the door and open our hearts.


Come alongside… Have you been praying in private? Where do you like to pray and why? What masks do you need to take off in prayer?



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Complain, Lament, Whatever You Call it… Just Do It!

Thank you to everyone who commented on my latest poll about complaining to God. We had great discussions—not only on this blog but also on Facebook and on LinkedIn.


Like most of you, I would give this question a 5—I completely believe it’s okay to complain to God. In fact, the Bible is full of complaints—and even laments—to God:

  • Job
  • Psalms
  • Jeremiah
  • And of course, Lamentations!


Rest assured, dear ones: We can approach God with our complaints—especially when we don’t understand why something is happening or why things aren’t working out the way we had planned or hoped.

  • Marriage.
  • Career.
  • Illness.
  • Life in general.


When we complain to God with humility—when we empty our innermost feelings to God, He leans down from His throne, positions His ears to our lips, and comforts us like only He can. He heals us and gives us hope (Psalm 10:17).


It’s tempting to “sterilize” our feelings when we approach our Heavenly Father, dear ones. But listen to great men of the Bible, as they brought their raw feelings to God Almighty:

  • O God, listen to my complaint (Psalm 64:1).
  • I spill out all my complaints before him, and spell out my troubles in detail (Psalm 142:2).
  • And so I’m not keeping one bit of this quiet, I’m laying it all out on the table; my complaining to high heaven is bitter, but honest (Job 7:11).


What a relief to know that we don’t have to “clean up” before talking to Him–before complaining, lamenting, mourning—even grieving in His presence. He already knows about it. Listen to Psalm 139:


I’m an open book to you; even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking…. You know everything I’m going to say before I start the first sentence….


Let’s be that open book to God, dear ones. Let’s not cower away from our God. Let’s long for that intimacy with our Lord. Do you want it? I do.

God wants to hear our complaints—however “small.” He is the God of the forest—and the God of the trees. When we talk things out with Him, He brings us comfort, wisdom, and peace.


Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life (Philippians 4:6-7).



Peace can come to you when you complain to Him.


In fact, several years ago, I went through a very difficult—and lengthy—time of illness.  I was consumed with anger, but I wouldn’t show it. After weeks and months of barely scratching the surface of my feelings, I had enough. I told God—more like yelled in my frustration, “I’m so angry with you!” Immediately, I felt in my spirit a loving voice that said, “That’s what I’ve been waiting for. Now we can move forward.”


Do you want to move forward? Don’t bury those frustrations. Voice those to God–He can handle it. He wants that intimacy with you. That’s what He’s been waiting for.


You don't have to clean up before talking to God.


Complain, lament, whatever you call it… just do it!


Come alongside…What are you frustrated about? Have you complained to God? What’s holding you back?


Do you have a song?

Do you have a song that moves you to the core?


A song that makes you raise your hands in utter abandonment?


A song that makes you bow your head with gratitude?



Do you have a song?



I have several.


We sang one at church on Sunday: “Beautiful the Blood” by Steve Fee.


Every time I hear this song, I wish I could show God how thankful I am for Jesus’ death on the cross. But all I can do is bow my head or raise my hands toward Him. The weight of what Jesus did for me–how He gave himself to rescue me, to free me from a life of darkness and deep depression–it overwhelms me.


I have a song. I want to share it with you today.



Come alongside…Do you have a song? Will you share it with us? Will you share this post with someone who needs to hear the love of Jesus today?

(Remember… January is book giveaway month. The more you comment below, the more chances you have to win a copy of my new book, Women of the Secret Place.)

Playing Tug-of-War with Angels

“Right now, we’re just playing tug-of-war with angels.”


The doctor’s voice ushered in reality for us. Our NeeNee–the matriarch in the family–was dying. Doctors resuscitated her numerous times that morning–the day before  Thanksgiving.


It was now our decision: To sign or not to sign the DNR form.


My husband, his step-mom Tracy, and I. No one else in the family had made it to the hospital yet.


The three of us looked at each other, tears streaming down our faces.


“We hate to do this to you,” said the doctor, “but we need to know now.”


We knew NeeNee wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. She was ready to go home.


“Do not resuscitate.”


I walked behind the doctor to the room where NeeNee lay, Tracy beside me. My husband left to pick up family  members.


Our NeeNee lay motionless in the bed. I held her left hand while Tracy held her right hand. We cried alongside her, prayed over her, but most of all, we loved on her. She was non-responsive, even before the doctors disconnected the machinery. But we knew she could hear us.


Periodically, we watched her vitals, slowing with each passing moment.


Still, she held on.


A chaplain came and prayed with us.


We waited for the others to arrive. Minutes seemed like hours, but Tracy and I treasured every moment with our NeeNee. She took deep breaths every once in awhile, as we reassured her, “It’s okay. Go on home.”


I caressed her hair and rubbed my index finger on her cheek. Every once in awhile, I leaned in to kiss her and tell her I loved her. Her vitals would spike and then slowly decline again.


“It’s okay, NeeNee. Go on home.”


I held her hand and remembered the day I met her–a beautiful smile that welcomed me into her family. She knew no strangers and loved all who came around her. She was the family historian–a storyteller who could take a 5-minute tale and turn it into a 30-minute epic. She remembered everyone’s birthday and anniversary and freely gave out of the little she herself possessed. Her heart was toward her family.


Now her heart was failing her. She was tired and ready–ready to leave this world of physical pain and enter into paradise with her Savior. Her sister, mother, and father would be waiting for her there too.


And yet, the angels tugged at her. We tugged as well.







Outside the room, I heard a noise. Turned around to see some of our family members. “They’re here,” I said.








I bowed my head and cried. She waited. They arrived. She let go of the rope. Quietly, peacefully, she entered eternity. No more pain, no more exhaustion. God, in His mercy, extended her the ultimate gift–not only the freedom from pain and exhaustion, but also the gift of Himself.


But why grant me such a gift? Why would God grant me the gift of ushering a beautiful soul into His presence? To witness the passing of a Godly woman–a daughter, a sister, a wife, an aunt and friend to many? Why would He have me share this life-changing occasion with Tracy? Why?




The love that took NeeNee home is the same love that shone down on me that day. It’s the same generous love God shines down on me every moment, every day (Psalm 84:11). God’s perfect love transcends suffering and pain–NeeNee’s and mine.


In death and in life, we play tug-of-war with angels. In death and in life, I want to let go of the rope.


We love you, NeeNee, and we’ll see you soon.




Come alongside… In what ways are you playing tug-of-war with God? How can you let go of the rope?


Adoption is Final

Some of you know that my husband and I are in the process of adopting. We’re in the final stages of our training and are starting to consider and pursue specific children.


Throughout the ten weeks of training, I’ve learned many things.


  • There are 107,000 children in foster care waiting to be adopted.
  • If these children reach adulthood without having been adopted, they will undoubtedly face difficulties coping with life’s demands.
  • Like all children–orphans want love and acceptance from a family–their forever family.
  • Instead, they are bounced from foster home to foster home, many times for no fault of their own.
  • If they are matched with a family, the fear still lingers–they might be “sent back.”


Truth is… They can’t be sent back. Adoption is final.


Dear one, God wants to adopt you.


Because of his love, God had already decided to make us his own children through Jesus Christ. That was what He wanted and what pleased him, and it brings praise to God because of his wonderful grace. God gave that grace to us freely, in Christ, the One he loves. Ephesians 1:5-6


Isn’t this wonderful news? God decided before the foundations of the earth that He wanted us to be His.


  • He chose us!
  • He chose me!
  • He chose you!


But there’s one other thing I’ve learned in adoption class: Adoption is a mutual selection. That’s right. My husband and I can choose to adopt a child, but that child must also choose to be adopted by us. It’s the same with our Heavenly Father. He’s already chosen us; all we have to do is choose Him.


Have you chosen to be adopted by Him, my friend? Have you accepted His blessing of love through Jesus Christ and become His son or His daughter? If you have, then celebrate! Your adoption is final!


  • If you have not accepted His love…
  • If you have not acknowledged at some specific moment in your life, “Yes, I choose to be adopted by you, God, through Jesus Christ’s love on the cross” …
  • If you have not made the adoption choice a mutual one…


I invite you to do so.


Once you’re part of God’s family, you will never be alone. You will never be fatherless. You will never be without His love. You will not be sent back.


For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39


Dear one, take this moment to make it mutual. Say a simple, heartfelt prayer to God:


God, I’ve been fatherless. I’ve sought love and acceptance in many ways that have grieved you–my Heavenly Father. But no more! Today, I choose to be adopted by you. I choose to be your son–your daughter. I choose to be part of your large family through Jesus Christ. Today, I choose You–my one and only Heavenly Father.


Thank you that I am no longer fatherless. Thank you that I am no longer alone. Thank you for blessing me with brothers and sisters to come alongside me every step of the way. Thank you that even after I die, I will live with you forever.


Thank you for Jesus!


Love, Your new son or daughter.


Congratulations! Your adoption is final!


I hope you will join your new brothers and sisters in a Bible-believing church. Use Church Angel to find a good church wherever you live.


By the way, welcome to the family!


Come alongside… Tell us your story of your spiritual adoption. Who needs to hear that they have a Heavenly Father and brothers and sisters waiting to welcome them to His family? Will you share this post with them?

Affiliate Disclosure

Daphne Tarango is a participant in affiliate programs with Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, DaySpring, Church Source, Hazelden, Christian Strong (via Conversant and ShareASale). These advertising services are designed to provide a means for sites like to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to said merchants. Some images and articles may contain links to products on merchant sites. Should you choose to make purchases through those links, please understand that I will receive a small commission. Please do not feel like you need to use these links to make any purchases. The links are only for your convenience. Thank you.

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