Thursday, September 30, 2010

Needing Gentle Rest

I'm discouraged, Father...disheartened.

My mind is weary from searching for words of comfort and guidance. People need answers and encouragement for exhausted, hurting hearts, but there seems to be no discernment, no wisdom that I can offer that is enough to comfort them. My mind is cluttered and confused, overwhelmed, full of the words of bruised reeds.

My body is tired from fighting sickness. I am weak and worn, aging and hurting. I want to be strong and healthy, to take good care of myself, but it's so much easier to give up rather than to be disciplined and steadfast.

My spirit is broken from betrayal and disappointment in friends I thought I could trust to stand true. Where there once was laughter, confidence and fun there is now emptiness and vulnerability, loneliness.

My joy is resting, quieted, peaceful. Hope has floated in with the setting of the sun and the slowing down of the day. You hold on to me with everlasting love and I am not downcast, but I am discouraged and I am looking forward to Your healing.

Restore me, Father. Fill me up again and prepare me for noble purpose. Being with You is all I need. Lots and lots of just being with You.

There is a quiet place, far from the maddening pace, where You can soothe my troubled mind. Shady green pastures with cool waters and gentle rest...Can we go there now? Could we just go there?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Beyond Our Limitations

Lord, we need to move beyond
This place that we are in
To touch your very heart, O God
To have your love within.

We need to move beyond the limits
We’ve placed upon our lives
To move into more of you
Revealed through Jesus Christ.

Help us to keep pressing on
As, by faith, we take more steps
To really conquer our inner selves
To know you with more depth.

Help us Lord to overcome
To be focused more on you
No matter how hard it gets for us
We need to press on through.

Though Satan rises with hell’s fury
With vengeance to devour
We pray, O God, you’ll arise in us
And fight with holy power.

For greater are you within us
Than the enemy of our souls
For you have power and might, O God
And your Spirit is in control.

We know the victory shall be ours
Though for now the heat is on.
Help us Lord to not give up
For by this you make us strong.

You will sustain us in your love
Through what we’re going through
And deliver us the other side
Victorious in you!

© By M.S.Lowndes

Becoming A Woman Of Excellence

A woman of excellence
Is what I long to be
Filled with your godly wisdom
So it is part of me.

A woman of integrity
No matter what I face
Standing up for righteousness
And for your saving grace.

A woman of destiny
Living out your plan
Knowing where you’d have me walk
Being guided by your hand.

A woman of promise
Standing on your word
Holding on to all the truths
While carrying out your work.

A woman of compassion
For the ones in the dark
Those that do not know your love
And have darkness in their hearts.

A woman that will never
Compromise the faith
With what the world may offer
But will keep the narrow way.

A woman who loves Jesus
And will only follow Him
Gladly to give up the world
So His light can shine within.

Lord this is my earnest prayer
As a daughter by your grace
Grow in me these qualities
As I walk with you in faith.

© By M.S.Lowndes

Unchanging Love

Our Father which art in Heaven,
Your children are often troubled in mind,
hearing at once the affirmations of faith
and the accusations of conscience.
We are sure there is nothing in us that could
attract the love of one as holy and just as Thou art.
Yet Thou hast declared Thy unchanging love for us in Christ Jesus.
Nothing in us can win this love.
Nothing in the universe can prevent Thee from loving us.
Thy love is uncaused and undeserved.
Thou art Thyself the reason for the love
wherewith we are loved.
Help us to believe the intensity, the eternity, that has found us.
Then love will cast out fear and our troubled hearts will be at peace
trusting not in what we are but in what Thou hast declared thyself to be.
(Author unknown)

Therefore, the Lord longs to be gracious to you
and he waits on high to have compassion on you.
The Lord is a Lord of justice.
How blessed is the one who waits on Him!

G'night, Father

The stars sparkle like diamonds displayed on black velvet. Familiar constellations reassure me. Yet there are more stars in the sky than I could ever appreciate. Your ways are too wonderful for me. Your love is too wide and too high and too deep for me to fathom. Holy, holy, holy is Your Name.

And, yet, here You are...*smile...with me, in me, around me. It is in You that I live and move and have my being. I love how You love me. I love how You understand me. I love how You watch over me. I love how You are able to use me in spite of my weaknesses and sins. I'm trying so hard, but it's never going to be enough. That never bothers You and it amazes me!

When You asked me to come outside tonight to star gaze with You, I almost didn't come. I'm glad I did, though. I like being reminded of Your glory and majesty. You needed me to know that while I'm sleeping, You'll still be awake. You are the God who sees and the God who is able to keep that which I've committed to You. You see everything that pertains to me, that is important to me, and You hold it together in Your hands, working it all for my good. You are worthy of my trust, aren't You, Father?

You are the Author and the Finisher of my faith and Your grace is sufficient unto the needs of this day. Only You can see the future so I will leave it in Your hands. You give Your beloved sleep and I am grateful....G'night, Father.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Tea Party for Callie

Callie has lived a hard life. Smoking and poor nutrition have stolen her teeth. Meth has stolen her beauty. Cruel abuse ravaged her body and left her soul empty. Sin and hopelessness left her with shame beyond measure, a prisoner of sin before she was ever arrested and sent to prison.

And then Jesus came to the prison and set the captive free. She has been redeemed. Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice for Callie. She adores Him with incredible depth of passion. She sings to Him with fullness of joy. She talks about Him with confidence and radical faith.

Not only has Callie never been to a tea party, but she has never eaten a homecooked meal. Not only has she never been tucked into bed at night but she's never had a home where there was a bed.

"Prison has given me everything, Karen," she told me last night. "I'm safe and I have a bed and food and friends. Most of all I met Jesus here. I was never free until I got locked up! And when I get out of here someday, you and me and Jesus, we're gonna have us a big old tea party!"

Then he said to them, "Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all—he is the greatest." ~Luke 9:48

Callie makes that verse come to life for me. Most people would look at her as the least among us, but she is one of the riches women I know.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Reasons to Pray

To seek the face of the Lord and know Him better Psalm 27:8
To get your eyes off problems and on the Lord Psalm 121:1
To speak to God I Peter 3:12
To unburden your heart Psalm 142:1,2
To make your requests known to God Matthew 21:22
To hear God Proverbs 8:34
To be free from the burden of suffering James 5:13
To resist temptation Matthew 26:41
To be rescued from distress Psalm 107:19
To receive God’s reward Matthew 6:6
To withstand evil Ephesians 6:13
To have joy John 16:24
To get close to God Isaiah 64:7
To be healed emotionally
James 5:13
To have peace Philippians 4:6,7

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Rock for Eleanor Rose

The first time Ellie and I observed nature together, we talked about deciduous trees. Well, more accurately, I talked while she listened attentively. She was only a few weeks old and had decided the sermon that Sunday was not her cup of tea so we ditched church and headed outside to observe the leaves gently blowing in the soft breeze. She knew absolutely nothing about trees so we eagerly began her first nature lesson.

When Ellie was one we created her first painting by splashing paint into rainbows, trees and flowers. She shrieked in delight over the colors that God had used to paint our world.

When Ellie was two we painted rocks. We like rocks, Ellie and I, but when we find one in need of razzle dazzle we are quick to get creative and provide God with assistance.

When Ellie was three we took a nature walk. This took awhile because by this time she was well on her way to her life's calling of entomologist, but we took our time observing and using scientific vocabulary, wondering and wandering.

When Ellie was four we began to spend time in much deeper discussions about nature. I have to use my Golden Guides to understand her vocabulary because she uses big words, but I try to follow along and keep up.

This weekend I was studying insects, rocks and trees so I can draw them in my nature journal and impress Ellie. And, just between you and me, it postpones the day I have to study bats and rats which are so completely not my cup of tea but thrill her endlessly.

I was reminded of a God who knew before the foundations of the world who my little Ellie would become. Even as we waited, prayed and dreamed during the months that God was knitting her together in her mother's womb, God knew the ups and downs she would face. He knew her strengths and weaknesses, her likes and dislikes. He knew which bug she would notice and which rock she would treasure. He knew what would make her afraid and what would send her into a fit of giggles. He knew every word, every thought, every day, every year.

The God who from nothingness spoke insects, rocks and trees into being not only knew Ellie, but looked upon her with loving interest, compassionate tenderness and deep longing for relationship with her. And not only Ellie, but each of us.

There is nothing I would not do to protect, teach and provide for Ellie. I love her. I notice her. I enjoy her. I want a relationship with her. What a wonder that God the Creator, the Alpha and Omega, The Rock of the Ages, looks at us with those very same thoughts!

Rock of ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Good Morning

Some of you are reading this blog from your home computer in Vietnam or Israel. Maybe you are sitting beneath a shade tree in the middle of a university campus in Canada. Some of you are reading this on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean while others of you are right here in Missouri, USA, with me listening to the music of a rainstorm. What is happening in Europe now where so many of you live? What is on your mind as you sit in China and read this blog? What will you be doing today, beloved friend, living in Argentina?

I pray for you, my readers, every day. You are becoming more and more dear to me as we daily meet online for a visit over tea. I am in awe of the power we have at our fingertips to share our hearts and words and lives. I pray for you to be strong and faithful, to be encouraged, to be the lights of Jesus in dark places. How I would love to sit down with you over a cup of tea and a plate of scones and listen to your story!

How do we learn to truly love one another deeply from our hearts? My favorite way to learn about people is to ask them to tell their story. Would you tell me your story? What draws you here day after day?

Know that I sit at my table every morning and pray for you. You're not alone. You matter very much to me and you are loved....*smile....Good morning. How are you today?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

People Rock

Unique, beautiful and interesting rocks line the window ledge of my living room. Tuesday Carson arranged the rocks into order of his favorites. Yesterday John held and studied them before he lined them up the way he likes them best. Tonight after dinner Katherynn, in an effort to determine which was smooth and which was rough, hugged each one and set it gently into the place she chose.

"Are these rocks clean?" she asked.

"Yes," I told her. "My rocks are very clean because little children wash them for me. Lydia washed them the last time."

"I want to take them to my house."

"No. They stay here because then the other children can love them, too. You can love lots of things, but you don't have to own them. You can love them here and they won't be lost or broken."

"Okay," she cheerfully agreed, seeing the logic in my thoughts.

I enjoy my rocks, but they are not nearly so dear as the children in my life. I've been thinking about people, how intricately they’re created by God, how unique, how worthy of our time. Each one is special and beautiful just for being here.

How easily, because of my carelessness, like rocks, they can be lost or broken. And, yet, when loved, hugged, cleaned up and welcomed, they become timeless treasures.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Prayer Blessings

Blessing #1: A deeper relationship with God
-Prayer increases faith.
-Prayer provides a place to unload burdens.
-Prayer teaches us God is always near.
-Prayer trains us not to panic.
-Prayer changes lives.

Blessing #2: A greater purity
-Prayer produces spiritual growth, the process that builds purity
-Change happens in planned time spent in the presence of God
-Sin leads to confession which leads to purging and cleansing (I John 3:3)

Blessing #3: Improved Relationships
-You cannot think about yourself and others at the same time
- Rise up and invest yourself in the lives of others.

Blessing #4: Contentment
-No good thing will be withheld from those what walk uprightly (Psalm 84:11)
-I don’t want to miss any of the things God has set aside for my life. I want all he has to offer me. I want to become the woman he has planned for me to become…His woman…A woman after His own heart and made in His image.

Blessing #5: God-Confidence
-Divine assurance with every step we take because we are making prayerful decisions
-We can truly serve the Lord with gladness (Psalm 100:2)
-We can delight in doing His will (Psalm 40:8)
-We can gain boldness before the throne of God. (Hebrews 4:16)

Blessing #6: The Ministry of Prayer
"Interceding for other people makes a difference in the history of other people’s lives. Paul asked others to pray for him because he expected “a difference to take place…in answer to prayer. Paul expected history to be different because intercession was taken seriously as an important task. Prayer changes lives. It changes history!"
Edith Schaeffer, Common Sense Christian Living

Blessing #7: Abiding peace and an overflowing of joy
-Walking by faith rather than by sight is easier when our faith is strong.
-Knowing God loves us and has a plan for our welfare increases peace.
-We can know we are saved and our sins are as far as the east is from the west.
-We stop carrying our burdens alone so life is less frantic and joy can bubble up.
- Our priorities are in the right place.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Meatloaf and Apple Pie

Bites of almost fully cooked pizza or bites of blackened pizza were being brought to me routinely by an encouraging young son as he and my husband tried to keep up with their work and mine too while I was sick.

I awoke one morning with the strength and determination to, once again, enter my kitchen. Such joy bubbled up in me as I made an apple pie, my son’s favorite dessert. Nothing is so reassuring that life is back to normal for a young boy as a really scrumptious gooey pie. As it was baking I pulled out the antique yellow bowl that my grandma, my mom and I have always used to mix meatloaf. I'm positive the joy in using my special bowl adds to the flavor of my meal preparations every day.

My husband is quick to tell everyone that I make the best meatloaf in the world. How he knows this, having pretty much refused any other meatloaf during his adult life, I don’t know, but he truly believes it. However often I make it, I know he will be pleased, comforted and grateful.

The problem with this homey scene is that I really hate making meatloaf. There is something repulsive about sticking my hands in that messy goop to mix it up. I looked down at my hands that morning, covered in egg slime, catsup, oats and raw hamburger and the joy of giving drained right out of my heart. “Why do I do this?” I asked myself, knowing full well that many women open a box out of their freezer and instantly have a typical American meal.

Much we do, thankfully, is done out of habits that have been fine-tuned through the years. I knew exactly why I was making a meatloaf. Loving someone is not about what we get in return for our giving, but rather about serving unselfishly. I love my husband and he would enjoy a healthy dinner of meatloaf even if he would have to bake some potatoes and cook the peas because I needed a nap.

As I washed my hands after having finished the meatloaf I was filled with satisfaction for having completed the job, and bubbling over with joy because I did something for someone else just to serve them out of love. I had gone the extra mile by adding the delightful surprise of a special dessert and it would bless my family. How often had I missed out on the joy of giving simply because I didn't take the time or go the extra mile?

Suddenly, it was no longer a plain old meatloaf and apple pie, but a feast fit for the King.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Faithful in Little

God's story comes in, meets our story and changes it. Kaboom! God quake!

We're never the same again. We want to change the world, but in reality, historically, very few people ever really do. Most of us are struggling to get the house cleaned, the kids off to school, hold on to our job and meet the needs of others while still getting the lawn mowed. Life isn't long, but it's hard, in case you haven't caught the national news lately.

When we are faced with the AIDS crisis or slave trade, we pause, disappointed at the state of the world, then fight off those wayward, unruly, despotic things called thoughts that mess with our loftiest ideals. Before we know it, it has become quite easy to be cynical and negative, bored and lazy. We wanted to change the world, but the world has changed us.

"He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you?" ~Luke 16:10, 11

Changing the world is not about having a grand destiny and waiting wide-eyed until God shows you the big things He will do through you someday. Paul did what God called him to do each day. He wasn't negative and cynical about his circumstances or people. He didn't whine or create militant hurtful slogans. He didn't beat up the church for not being what he thought it should be.

He ran the race with his eyes on the prize. One day at a time, one person at a time, he saw a need and met it. When he finished his race, his life had mattered. God had changed the world through him.

Step up. Put a serving towel over your arm and minister to people out of the joy that God has given you. Will you change the world? Probably not. Very few people in history ever have, but you'll change your small corner of the world and even more importantly, it will change you.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Father Fun

You know, Father, one of the things I love best about You is that You're fun.

It's fun putting a simple dollar in little Devon's hands and knowing the ice cream cones he bought for himself and his mom helped make being abandoned by his dad in McDonald's a little easier to endure. It's fun knowing that Ladeena will have something to eat this weekend all because we tossed a box of macaroni and cheese into the shopping cart. It's fun to know that the bouquet of flowers we took to grumpy old Mr. Grayson made the frown he had when opening his door turn to laughter. It's fun knowing that the orange-cranberry scones we delivered to the hospital were enjoyed by nurses who thought coffee alone was going to keep them going during a tough shift.

It's no wonder You love a cheerful giver. It's just fun! A cheerful heart makes for a happy face and a cheerful heart has a continual feast. My heart is full. I'm satisfied. I like being with You and giving to other people.

I wish I could have known the little boy who gave You his five loaves of bread and 2 fishes to feed the 5,000 people. What a fun day for that kid! At Show and Tell the next day he surely pulled a small piece of that bread out of his pocket and said, "Check this out. " I'll bet it put a smile on the face of Jesus, too. I'll bet it was fun.

There's nothing funny about being hungry, homeless or lonely. It's not fun to be in prison or in the hospital, but it's fun being a part of ending those things one person at a time when we do it together.

So, what shall we do today, Papa God? We haven't made cinnamon rolls for the firemen lately. I've got some cookie dough. We could see if Heather feels like baking cookies for her kids. We could go to the nursing home and see if anyone wants to go for a walk. It's a pretty day to go to the park. We could take lunch and eat with people we meet...

Or I know...We could scrapbook some cards and leave notes around the neighborhood. Maybe even ring the doorbells and run, watching from behind the trees....Whatcha think? Want to? C'mon, it'll be fun!

Thursday, September 16, 2010


I gather thyme upon the sunny hills
And its pure fragrance ever gladdens me,
And in my mind having tranquility
I smile to see how my green basket fills.

~"Immalee," Christina Rossetti

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Letting God Out of the Box

When the curtain tore from top to bottom at the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, not only were we let into the Holy of Holies, but God was let out. His power. His presence. So, why is it that so many Christians are trying to hold Him back, put Him in a box, limit Him in their thinking and in their lives?

I say we let Him out of whatever box we've tried to keep Him in. Let Him loose in our hearts, in our homes, in our businesses. Let Him loose on our campus and in our city.

"Spiritual leadership is not the ability to know everything the future holds, it's the willingness to move forward when all we know is God." ~Jon Weece

Spiritual leadership is living life with daring faith. It's taking risks to walk new paths with old truths. It's living life with your eyes wide awake and your heart wide open, alert to opportunities. It's walking toward an open door and knowing, if I find Jesus on the inside, then I will walk in. No matter what is ahead.

What is God's vision for your life? Have you locked God in a box that leaves your life littered with hurtful words, militant attitudes and fruitless frustration? The bride of Christ is being bloodied and ripped by arguments, broken by duplicity and mediocrity. There are walls being built between the people of God's possession and the homeless, the sexually confused, those diseased or in prison, the broken masses yearning to be free.

Spiritual leadership is needed. Moses lived outside the box. Noah lived outside the box. Hannah lived outside the box. Mary and Joseph lived outside the box. The great crowd of witnesses is full of people who stepped out in faith and followed wherever God led them. I hear them cheering us on. They did and so can we!

I've been considering ending my blog. I got a little bit nervous about having over 1100 visits in my first 2 months. People in over 10 countries, (2 countries that I wasn't even aware existed on our planet) in nearly every continent, are reading this blog. I'm a simple person and complexity overwhelms me easily. But I'm taking my own advice. I want a life that makes a difference. I want to be a lead Christ-follower and go wherever He sends me.

Let's let God loose to amaze us with what His power can do!

Oh, Father, help us to bow our hearts and to surrender to Your vision! Teach us to see with Your eyes and to love with Your heart. We believe in Your people. We believe You are the God who sees and the God who is able. Make a difference in the church in this generation. We won't let Your church die. Not on our watch. Not in our town, not on our campus, not in our backyard.

Here am I. Send me. We will walk by faith and not sight. We will listen. Speak to us and speak through us. Help us to see the cross. Help us to remember the sacrifice that was paid, not just for us, but for others.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Think Fast

STEP 1: Set your objective.
Why are you fasting? Is it for spiritual renewal, for guidance, for healing, for the resolution of problems, for special grace to handle a difficult situation? Ask the Holy Spirit to clarify His leading and objectives for your prayer fast. This will enable you to pray more specifically and strategically.

STEP 2: Make your commitment.
Pray about the kind of fast you should undertake. Jesus implied that all of His followers should fast (Matthew 6:16-18; 9:14-15). For Him it was a matter of when believers should fast, not if they should do it. Before you fast, decide the following up front:
- How long you will fast – one meal, one day, a week
- (Beginners should start slowly, building up to longer fasts)
- The type of fast God wants you to undertake (such as water only, or water and juices; what kinds of juices you will drink and how often, etc.)
- What physical and social activities you will restrict
- How much time each day you will devote to prayer and God’s Word

STEP 3: Prepare Yourself Spiritually
- Confess every sin that the Holy Spirit calls to your remembrance and accept God’s forgiveness (I John 1:9)
- Seek forgiveness from all whom you have offended, and forgive all who have hurt you (Mark 11:25; Luke 11:4, 17:3-4)
- Make restitution as the Holy Spirit leads you
- Ask God to fill you with His Holy Spirit according to his command in Ephesians 5:18 and His promise in I John 5:14-15
- Surrender your life fully to Jesus Christ as your Lord and Master; refuse to obey your worldly nature (Romans 12:1-2)
- Meditate on the attributes of God, His love, sovereignty, power, wisdom, faithfulness, grace, compassion, and others (Psalm 48:9-10; 103:1-8; 11-13)
- Begin your time of fasting and prayer with an expectant heart (Hebrews 11:6)
- Do not underestimate spiritual opposition. Satan sometimes intensifies the natural battle between body and spirit (Galatians 5:16-17)

STEP 4: Prepare Yourself Physically
Fasting is a cleansing and healthful benefit as well as an expected part of spiritual discipline. Make the few meals before your fast light ones: fruit, vegetables, real foods rather than processed. Drink plenty of water so that your body is slowly preparing for the release of toxins during fasting. You will also want to break fast with the same lighter foods rather than a heavy meal. Usually people find that they no longer crave processed and poor food choices after they have cleansed their spirit and body and don’t want to break fast with heavy foods.

Other notes:
Fasting is a natural action. It is not something to dread or fear.

There may be medical reasons why you should not fast so be wise and talk to your doctor if you have medicines you’re taking or specific concerns. Most doctors understand the need for spiritual fasting and are willing to help you make good decisions so that your fast will be successful. (For example, some people with medicines that must be taken with food choose to add to their fast a little rice or egg to make this possible.) Grape juice feeds the blood and can be especially helpful.

If you are suffering from dizziness or nausea or continual headaches during a fast, this is reason to add some light foods or perhaps even stop your fast. These are reactions to detoxifying your body. Again, be wise in evaluating the extent of your discomfort. This is not a legalism. Starting with a short fast will help you learn to know your body and what to expect.

Pregnant women should never fast under any circumstances. Ask your accountability partner or husband to fast in your behalf while you pray if fasting seems necessary during pregnancy. Or try fasting from entertainment, news or something besides food.

It is helpful during your first attempts at fasting to do it with a friend. Whether you meet to pray together or not, it’s encouraging to have someone share your growth and experience. Your accountability partner, spiritual mother or husband is a good choice for this.

When you’re fasting, it’s natural to have questions and want to discuss fasting. Get all the encouragement and answers you need. Get extra babysitting if you need to so that you can focus on your fast and prayer. The topic of fasting is not a secret any more than prayer, giving or any other discipline is, so feel free to ask for help as you learn.

Set yourself up for success, not failure. This is not a legalism, it’s a spiritual discipline. It’s not a sin to fast and find you didn’t make it as long as you expected that you could. Prayer goals, study goals, solitude goals, in fact, all spiritual disciplines require practice. Fasting is no different.
If you fast more than one day be prepared for the second day to be the hardest. It’s not about battling food, then, but rather about battling the evil one. That second day he will be right in your face with full force and warfare. Stand firm. Be alert. Get your first line of defense people praying for you if you start receiving heavy artillery. Guard your heart and mind. Take every thought captive.

There will quite often be such a delight on the third day that you will never go back to a life without fasting. Seeing the truth of your victory in battle is faith building. The third day can be eye-opening indeed!

Monday, September 13, 2010

In Fall the breath comes wild and sweet

In Fall the breath comes wild and sweet,
The heart is swiftly drumming;
And birds who stay will oft' repeat,
Old Winter soon is coming.

A certain corner of the heart,
Crisp Fall with joy encroaches;
Though Summer's blooms must now depart,
And Winter fast approaches.

No other season ever knows
Such joy and melancholy,
As beauty in the eye swift flows
From bloom, to leaf, to holly.

(Tobias Walton, as told by Van Reid)

Van Reid, Author -

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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Hail, Hail, Lion of Judah

Holy Father,

You are too wonderful for me, too marvelous are your deeds! I cannot wrap my mind around what You are doing in my life and I absolutely cannot wrap my mind around who You are.

Earth, this tiny blue dot on the map of the universe, 93 million miles away from the sun in the Milky Way, is one of billions of galaxies with trillions of stars. You hold it all together in the palm of Your hands. Who am I that You would engrave my name in the palm of those all-powerful hands? Who am I that You would sit with me, speak to me, want to be with me?

You are the God who sees, the God who is able. How do I find words to dare speak to You, to enter Your presence? You, oh, God, are a consuming fire. I don't even know what that means! And now I'm trying to figure out intimacy with You? I'm overwhelmed by that, afraid of that.

Come, My child, let us reason together. You are the apple of My eye.
You are loved with an everlasting love.

Teach me to see the real You, the Lion of Judah. How did Moses feel in Your presence? And Noah? Hannah? Abraham? Teach me to tremble in Your presence, to recognize holy ground. Never let me forget that You are the Holy One of Israel. Teach my heart to bow before You and crown You the King.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Whatiffing Party Dance

Last night while I was laying in bed,
some whatiffs got stuck inside my head.

They danced and partied all night long,
and made up their own little whatiff song:

What if a piano falls on my head?
What if one day I wake up dead?
What if nobody likes my hair?
What if I never learn to share?
What if my cat gets hit by a car?
What if I wish on a shooting star?
What if I want to dance in the rain?
What if I can't get out that stain?
What if I happen to fall in love?
What if I get pooped on by a turtle dove?
What if I get taken for ransom?
What if I meat a boy and I think he's handsome?
What if I never go the extra mile?
What if I can't help but to smile?
What if I get hit by a bus?
What if I accidentally cuss?
What if the sun never sets?
What if I never own any pets?
What if the wind never blows?
What if I fall and break my nose?
Just when I think the whatiffs are gone,
they sneak in again and keep me up until dawn.

By Nicole Netti
Adapted from Shel Silverstein Shel

Happy Birth Day!

"Will you be my mentor?" she asked timidly, biting her lip.

I have loved my spiritual daughters through dating, marriage, childbearing and child raising. I have loved them through the difficult opportunities brought on by disease, poverty, broken bones, broken engagements, war, divorce, mental illness, prison stays and widowhood. I have loved them through the celebratory opportunities of engagements, weddings, missions, birthdays, singlehood, answered prayers, fame and riches.

I have prayed for daughters on 6 of the 7 continents and have one now who is dreaming of research in Antarctica. (And, no, I don't think I would visit her very often!) I've discovered the easiest lessons to teach are housekeeping and cooking while the most difficult to teach are faithfulness to committments and preparation for death.

The sacrifices are huge, beyond measure and frequent. The rewards are huge, beyond measure and frequent. I wouldn't have missed it for the world. I take my motivation and committment from a single man, the apostle Paul. It's a life committment, a father/son relationship through thick and thin that he offers Timothy. It's neither temporary nor easy, but it's wonderful.

Younger women are frustrated by the lack of older women who are busy with the jobs, hobbies, and activities they are able to enjoy in later years...older women who have known Father for decades, kept house, raised children and learned from life and marriage.

Older women confide their frustations. They would love to mentor someone, but nobody has ever asked them. What I know is this: The younger women are in their bedrooms crying, lost, hoping for a miracle that you will find them, love them, teach them. Be brave and compassionate enough to seek them.

If you are a woman who is seeking to love God with all your soul, then you are old enough and wise enough to teach a younger woman, to love her. Look for her. Find her. She's praying for a miracle. She may have been praying for you to come since she was a very little girl. She needs a spiritual mother. She needs you.

I looked deep into her big brown eyes, so hopeful, so trusting, so young. Her heart was wide open. So was mine. I didn't know her very well, yet I already loved her, wanted her. My heart tugged and I pulled her into my embrace. I watched as tender tears began to fill her eyes and, holding her face in my hands, I smiled at my newborn.

Congratulations, it's a girl! Happy Birth Day!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Got Tea?

Pretty china. Cloth napkins. Fresh flowers. Lilac Candle. Raspberry scones. Cinnamon rolls. Vegetable soup. Homemade quiche. Soft music.

I went the extra mile to treat a couple of my favorite students who came to brunch this week. We laughed and shared deeply from our hearts in the summer breeze, visiting over the lace tablecloth, feeling special just being together.

I have tea parties so frequently that it takes little effort because I'm always planning ahead so I can be spontaneous. The organization makes it easy to go the extra mile when I want to and also makes it easy to have a tea party on the spur of the moment. I love tea parties.

I've had tea parties in each of the 4 hospitals in Columbia, in most of the nursing homes and parks, at the mall, in parking lots, in schools and in homes. I've had tea parties dressed up fancy, dressed up silly, dressed in sweaty dirt and dressed in jammies. I have had tea parties with neighbors, friends, relatives and strangers. There have been tea parties with men, women, boys and girls, and once I had tea with a strange ugly dog who just seemed to need to relax with me and drink some tea. I have always wondered if it was an angel unaware, but who knows!

The thing I like most about tea parties is that no matter what the set-up, it's fun, refreshing, fulfilling, a blessing. People open up and smile and share what is in their hearts. Even people who don't like tea enjoy a tea party. I'm sure when the angels visited Abraham and told him a son would be born, Sarah Abraham served them tea. Would you like goat cream in your tea? One drop of honey or two?

Got tea? Have a tea party.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

My Kingdom

A little kingdom I posess where thoughts and feelings dwell
And very hard I find the task of governing it well;
For passion tempts and troubles me, a wayward will misleads,
And selfishness its shadow casts on all my words and deeds.

How can I learn to rule myself, to be the child I should,
Honest and brave, nor ever tire of trying to be good?
How can I keep a sunny soul to shine along life's way?
How can I tune my little heart to sweetly sing all day?

Dear Father, help me with the love that casteth out my fear;
Teach me to lean on Thee and feel that Thou art very near,
That no temptation is unseen, no childish grief too small,
Since Thou, with patience infinite doth soothe and comfort all.

I do not ask for any crown but that which all may win,
Nor seek to conquer any world except the one within;
Be Thou my guide until I find, led by a tender hand,
Thy happy kingdom in myself, and dare to take command.

(Written by Louisa May Alcott, age 12)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Running with Nathanael

To Nathanael, at age 4, life was a party and the only complication to this plan was the maintenance and structure that the adults in his life insisted was necessary. You know, things like eating, sleeping and working. Why lay down if you can sit up? Why sit up if you can hop? Why hop if you can run?

While exploring a nature trail one sunny afternoon, I was reminding his mother that children need new things to think about, new things to love and new things to do. Nathanael piped his wisdom into the discussion at full volumn by quoting the scripture, “His mercies are new every morning.” He then began hopping on down the trail, completely carefree, singing, "It's a new day! It's a new day!"

With a life-size example of the energy simplicity can offer, I filled up with joy. Nathanael stopped his hopping and took my hand, looking up with big eyes of wonder and said, "Let's run a race!" The tug on my arm was all I needed to run carefree alongside of him.

God’s mercies are indeed new every morning. If that became the focus of our day, perhaps we also would be quick to sit up and take notice of the wonderful life around us. We would dance for joy just because we can. We would run the race with passion and zeal.

Oh, Father, give me a childlike faith! Don’t let me complicate what You have made to be simple. Your mercies are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Prayer Perks

This is my list of ways to perk up my prayer life. Sometimes I want something new and different to do with Father, something that will increase my delight in time spent with Him. Just like in any relationship, conversation can become stale and tired. I always want the real me to be talking to the real Him. I want my relationship with Him to be creative, engaging and alive.

Write down the prayer.
Record your prayer.
Study the prayers in the Bible.
Pray from character lists.
List all the praises that come to mind.
Pray at a different time of day.
Give praying all night a try.
Read the Bible to God.
Pray in various poses.
Change where you pray.
List specific requests on a 3x5 card
List answered prayers.
Wrestle with Him over things that bring struggle in your life.
Pray the scriptures.
Pray from hymns and songs.
Memorize prayers of other Christians.
Search for practical solutions to your prayer requests.
Send notes to people you’re praying for to let them know.
Send prayers to people.
Read books on prayer to gain new insights and creativity.
Ask someone to be your prayer partner.
Fast for prayer guidance and growth.
Discuss prayer life with other Christians for ideas.
Sit quietly in a cemetery to meditate and pray.
Take a walk in the woods and look for details.
Choose a new area or topic of Bible study
Search the Word for new thoughts.
Post scriptures on your mirrors to motivate you.
Start a new prayer journal.
Memorize scriptures about prayer.
Browse through your prayer file.
Pray as many things as you can for yourself or another person.
Ask someone to pray for your prayer life to get out of its slump.
Wait. Be still and wait. Watch with alert anticipation.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A Prepared Heart

Father, please won't You open doors of conversation for me today? Help me to notice doors of opportunities that may one day lead to spiritual conversations; first encounters with people living far away from You that may one day lead to solid relationships.

Please go before me today swinging the doors wide open so I can walk in the ways You have prepared for me, your activities, for Your pleasure and purpose. Use my time and make it Yours. Use my gifts and make them Yours. Use my day and make it Yours.

Thank You for perpetual access to You whether I am in full battle or resting in cozy splendid surroundings. You are unlimited love. Every move I make I make in You for You are my everything. You remind me from Your Word what I will need to know for today and it gives strength, boldness and gentleness.

I am amazed by Your sweet devotion to me, Your beloved disciple. Thank You for Your willingness to teach me and guide me, a standing invitation to be with You.

Okay, Father. I think I'm ready to face the world now...Let's go.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Rolling with the Punches

My first homemade rolls were made alongside my cousin, Linda. She taught me the art of carefully kneading the dough, punching it down and rolling even tidy balls. If memory serves me right, her rolls were blue ribbon award winners at the county fair and knowing my precious family of "overachievers" they probably went on to the state fair. It was well over a decade when, in adulthood, I returned to that lovely art of bread making.

Lest ye become easily impressed, my rolls are made by the assistance of my bread machine. I never did get the art of punching down dough and the whole "kneading" thing annoys me. Knead is an unfortunate word to me - it just looks so..."overworked". (I know, I know, but it's truth.) Lucky for me I have serious pain in my hands from arthritis and can't do it anyway! Tweaking Linda's approach to bread-making made it possible for me to weekly make bread with success rather than frustration. I even went on to master cinnamon rolls.

Though I take a different approach and would never get blue ribbons, my rolls are heartily welcomed and quickly disappear. I have spent hours teaching younger women to roll even tidy balls of dough, hours teaching them to make cinnamon rolls. People quite often tell me my cinnamon rolls are the best they've ever eaten. It has everything to do with my bread machine and very little to do with me. Doesn't matter. Nothing tastes like lovin' quite like somethin' from the oven, right? What counts is not my skill, but my end product.

Trying a new way to do something that made frustration get the best of me, became a good enough success to delight others and be a blessing. We are all so slow to leave our comfort zones. How much we miss because we don't even try! We may not become the best at what we do and sometimes we have to tweak our skills or situation, but if we roll with the punches and keep trying, we will discover that God has created strength from our weakness.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Through the Fire

So many times I’ve questioned certain circumstances
Or things I could not understand.
Many times in trials, weakness blurs my vision
And my frustrations get so out of hand.
It’s then I am reminded I’ve never been forsaken
I’ve never had to stand the test alone.
As I look at all the victories, the Spirit rises up in me;
It’s through the fire my weakness is made strong

And He never promised the cross would not get heavy
and the hill would not be hard to climb.
He never offered victory without fighting,
but He said help would always come in time.
Just remember when you’re standing
in the valley of decision and the adversary says give in,
Just hold on, our Lord will show up and He will take you through the fire again.

I know within myself that I would surely perish,
but if I trust the hand of God, He’ll shield the flames again.

And He never promised the cross would not get heavy
and the hill would not be hard to climb.
Just hold on, our Lord will show up and
He will take you through the fire again.
Just hold on, our Lord will show up and He will take you through the fire again.

Lyrics by Randy Travis and the Crabb Family, "Glory Train"

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Ready Heart

I want a simple, childlike faith, Father, one that never wavers though circumstances and people disappoint and confuse me. There is so much I need to learn, so far for me to follow You until my faith is perfected. You are the author and finisher of my faith. Teach me to trust that You are pleased with Your work. You are able to do what say You can do.

Frustrated and weary I can nearly break under the stress of service for there is always something that needs to be done in the grown-up world. I want to be tuned to Your voice as a child must be tuned to listen to a parent for guidance, protection, understanding and security.

You are my stronghold and I don't need to be wary of lurking enemies. I can be brave for You hold my days in Your hands. I can keep a strong and steady pace because Your yoke is easy and Your burden is light.

My heart is open and ready to receive the changes that come through pastures-sweet and through fire-walks. You are gentle and humble in heart and You will not leave me. Your promises are true every morning and You are faithful.

You are my Rock and my Stronghold. Though I tremble and fall, the Rock I stand on never moves. Like a child, I stand fearless because my faith is in Your Potter's hands.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Angels in Action

"Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord
which He will accomplish for you today.
The Lord shall fight for you and ye shall hold your peace."
~Exodus 14:14
Early one morning after taking my husband and son to work, I was almost killed in an automobile crash. There is no logical, physical way that my car was not smashed between two trailer trucks. Time and vision blurred and I was simply no longer in their pathway. That it was not my fault would have been little comfort to the loved ones left in shock and grief without me.

I pulled over to the side of Interstate 70 to collect my thoughts and to pray. I turned off the engine with a shaking hand and rested my head against the seat rest, tearfully closing my eyes, welcoming stillness. As I always do when I am afraid, I went to the place in my heart that allows me to crawl into the lap of my Heavenly Father, my Papa-God, and feel completely safe. The knowledge that such a tremendous grief had so narrowly escaped the lives of the people who love me was overwhelming.

As human emotions began to subside and peaceful assurances took their place, I was once again filled with praise for a God who is big enough to hold me tight and comfort me, and to provide angels to guard my every step. Truly, He is the God who is able, the God who sees, the God who is in control of my days.

The world portrays angels as mystical, beautiful and fragile women. The evil one would like us to believe they are human-like or merely departed loved ones who watch out for us. Today I stood in the presence of angels in action. They stood powerfully strong, courageous, in complete control of the danger that I faced. These angels were real. They had nothing to do with human musings and everything to do with the glory of an awesome God who fights for me, a God who is able to accomplish what He says He will accomplish.

As I pulled back on to the interstate and headed for home, I shook my head in awe and smiled. What a mighty God we serve!