My sun porch

My sun porch

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Praying through the...

"But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:31

Ok...those of you who read my blog often know that I use a part of speech called the ellipsis a lot in my writing. You may not know what it is called, but you probably noticed the dot, dot dot. My writing is very conversational, and the ... just helps me convey a pause. It is more effective than a comma or a period. I use it for dramatic effect. In the past year though, I learned that I may use it too much.

The book that I wrote with my two pastors this past year contained a lot of my blog posts. I compiled and organized them into chapters with themes that worked for the devotional book we were working on. We had a member of our congregation who is a retired teacher edit the book for us. He contacted me one day and asked me to fix something. He suggested that I used the ellipsis a bit too many times. It seemed to lose the dramatic effect I had in my daily blog posts. So, using the "find and replace" tool in Microsoft Word, I found that I DID use this grammatical tool a lot...419 times in 134 pages!

This morning, the book that I am reading, The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson, has a whole section devoted to the ellipsis! Since I am such a fan of the ... this caught my attention!

My prayer list is long. There are things that I have been praying about for years, with no real answer from God. There have been times in my life that I just stopped praying for certain things because, honestly, I guess I just believed they could and would not ever happen. There are things that I want for my life and have been waiting for that just never seem to happen, no matter how hard I wish for them or pray for them, but the WANT and the DESIRE for them are still there. I think I just assumed that if they haven't happened yet, they aren't going to happen. I think I give up too soon. There seems to be something hanging on in my heart...

It's that ...that is the hardest. The waiting. The wanting. The feeling that there is something missing or that there is more yet to come. Mark Batterson suggests that we DO give up too easily and that we should continue to circle those prayers AND those promises that God gives us about our prayers.

"And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive." Matthew 21:22

"Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it." John 14:13-14

"If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you." John 15:7

While I don't think these promises give us the right to make a "Christmas wish list" of things we want, such as winning the lottery, being famous, or getting a new car, I do think that if we are asking God for things that are in line with his will for us, than he will give them to His own time.

There it is again, that dot, dot, dot that makes us wait! We don't want to wait for the things we want, do we? His own time. God promises that he WILL answer our prayers, but HIS timing may be completely different than ours.

So what to do with that ... time? I am just trying to PRAY my way through it and LEAN on the promise that God WILL answer and I WILL see his glory when the promises come true!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

You ARE special!

"However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and compete the task the Lord Jesus has given me - the task of testifying to the good news of God's grace." -- Acts 20:24

I read an interesting article yesterday about Generation Y, those people born from 1970-the early 90's. The article talks about how this group "the Yuppies" are unhappy. They are unfulfilled, bored, and unhappy with their lives. The author states that because of how their parents, "The Baby Boomers" brought them up, their expectations for their lives were unrealistic. Yuppies were brought up to think they are special. Yes, everyone may find a good career, but YOU, my child will outshine and stand high above everyone in your chosen career. The point of this being that because they ALL think they are special, and EVERYONE can't be special, they think they are not living up to their own expectations and they are disappointed and dissatisfied.

Well, I was born a couple of years before 1970, but I was raised by my Baby Boomer parents to believe that I could do anything I put my mind to...and I HAVE done many things! But, sometimes I do think that I get dissatisfied with my life because it isn't turning out exactly as I dreamed it would be. I work hard, I dream big, I am ambitious, and I want more. I think sometimes I do think I am special. If everyone thinks they are special, than nobody is special, right?

Nope! I believe that in God's eyes, each one of us IS special. He created each one of us for a reason...He knows how many hairs are on our heads and has each of our names written in the palm of his hand! He has a purpose for each of us, and when we give up our own selfish desires and start truly searching for what God wants for us and start working toward that, then we find we ARE special! In God's eyes, when we are following his lead then each one of us can be top achievers and stand at the top of our field!

Don't you want to be special? You ARE! Ask God to show you HIS plans for your life and then work hard on those plans. Finish HIS race and then complete the task Jesus gives you -- tell others about God's plan and how HE gave you the grace you needed!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Praying in Circles

"So do not throw away your confidence: it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised." -- Hebrews 10:35-36

My church is reading The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson and I have started to pray in circles. I am getting specific about my prayers and about what I am asking God for. I went through my Bible and looked for every promise and every God statement about being a good wife and having a good marriage. I circled all of those promises, (I found 12 -- there may be more). Then I wrote down those promises and what they mean for me. They were action steps for me. I circled all of those action steps on the paper and prayed that I would DO the things I need to do to be THAT Godly wife for my husband.

I am not done circling. I wrote down some things that seem impossible to me...things that I have been praying for for a long time, but things that I haven't seen happen yet. I circled those things over and over and will continue to circle them each day until they happen. That old acronym PUSH (Pray Until Something Happens) is true for me, but this time I am not just asking, I am BELIEVING that God will fulfill his promises.

Does that mean I think those things will happen tomorrow? Well, I would really LOVE that, but I know God has His own timing. So, I will just keep right on circling and believing. It might mean that my pencil circles so much it goes through the paper...I'll get more paper. It might mean that I grow weary of praying those circles...I'll buck up and keep circling. I am holding God accountable. He promised that if I ask, I will receive. He promised if I seek Him, I will find Him. A few of the things I am praying for are big, so big that if and when they do happen, it will be a MIRACLE! I believe in a God who can and does make miracles happen!

By circling my prayers, I am focusing on them and focusing on God and what he can do. I am not a pastor or a Biblical expert and I don't have all the answers, but I DO believe in God and crying out to Him in the name of Jesus. I believe because I have seen Him keep promises before. I have received answered prayers. I know in my heart that God is listening to my prayers. So I will keep circling, keep doing God's will and have confidence that God CAN make miracles happen in my life!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Laughing Jesus...



"I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete." -- John 15:11

There is no evidence in the Bible that Jesus laughed. I looked. However, in my heart, I know that Jesus must have had a good belly laugh from time to time, even if he is sometimes called "the man of sorrows."

Yes, He did carry the weight of the world on his shoulders in his 33 years here on earth, but he also lived as we live, and must have had some moments of pure joy as well. He loved to have children around him. Think about the smiles and laughter that must have brought! Children were sitting on his lap and standing around him, telling him things that were important to them. We all know the funny things kids can say.

I am thinking about this today because this picture of laughing Jesus was my friend Carol's favorite image of Jesus. She gave me a little card of the picture several years ago and I still carry it in my wallet. It is comforting to know that our loving Savior, who took on our sins so we could be free, found joy in this world.

Joy is sometimes very hard to find in our busy work-a-day lives. I think we think and feel that our joy comes from others...our spouse, our children, our coworkers, our friends. If people treat me right and do what I want, I will be happy, right? Well, I have discovered that my joy comes from my own beliefs and more importantly, my own attitude. If I WANT to be happy about my life and LIVE like I want to be happy, then I find reasons to be joyful. The opposite is true too, however. I can find plenty of reasons to be miserable in this world too...if WANT to be miserable and LIVE like a am miserable, then I certainly will be.

My friend Carol as been in my thoughts a lot lately, since she is no longer there for me to call and laugh with. She had plenty of reasons to be miserable in the last few years. Her sister died of cancer a year ago and her own cancer came on with a vengeance, stealing her ability to stand, and do the things she so wanted to do. But, the last visit I had with her in the hospital a week or so before her death was one of the best conversations we ever had. Yes, she was worried about things, but she also found plenty of reasons to laugh. We laughed A LOT in that hour-long visit. She even had her nurse laughing so hard she cried! Carol loved Jesus so much, and I am comforted in the belief that she is laughing WITH Jesus now and has eternity to be joyful with him in heaven!

I'm going to carry that picture of laughing Jesus with me today as I go out into the not-so-joyful world. I am going to look for reasons to be happy and laugh! Laughter IS infectious! I hope everyone around me gets it too!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Wake up! Pray!

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified. Do not be discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9

This morning I was part of a prayer vigil. Members of my church signed up to pray for 15 minute time slots over a period of 24 hours. I chose 5:00 am on Sunday morning. I am a morning person, so waking up at 5:00 am is nothing new or anything difficult for me. I USED to be in the habit of getting up every morning and having my quiet devotional, "God time," but in the past year, for some reason , I got out of the habit. I got busy...I wasn't sleeping enough...I can think of many reasons why I stopped. But I have missed it. This morning made me remember why I loved my "God time" so much and made me want to refresh that habit.

I wasn't sure exactly what we were supposed to pray for in my 15 minutes, so I improvised. I just started talking to God and asked him to bless our church and the pastors and leaders. I then listed every ministry I could think of within our church and asked God to bless those ministries, the people leading them and the people who might possibly be touched by them. My 15 minutes went by so quickly!

I then thought of the Bible verse that I will be teaching kids in KidsPraise today: Joshua 1:9. I believe God wants us to be bold and vigilant, but it takes courage to be bold for God in today's scary world. It is so very easy to become discouraged, frustrated and sad when looking at the pain, suffering and evil that appears before us every day we open our eyes. This verse is a reminder that we CAN be courageous and bold because God IS with us!

Don't be terrified! Wherever you go, whatever you do, God is with you! So, be bold! Pray! Pray for God's will in your life and then start praying for others. If each one of us that believes in the awesome power of God and the life-saving power of Jesus Christ will pray boldly, there is no telling what amazing blessings will happen!

Dear God, I thank you for my 15 minutes of prayer this morning! It has refreshed my soul! I ask that you bless me today so that I can be a blessing to others. Help me to live boldly today and give me the courage that comes from knowing that you are with me wherever I go. Amen