Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanks Giving Back

Oh God, when I have food,
Help me to remember the hungry.

When I have work,
Help me to remember the jobless.

When I have a warm home,
Help me to remember the homeless.

When I am without pain,
Help me to remember those who suffer.

...And remembering, help me to destroy my complacency and stir up my compassion. Make me concerned enough to help, by word and deed, those who cry out for what we take for granted.

~Samuel F. Pugh

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Loving Joy

"We hunger for joy. 'Satisfy us in the morning,' writes the psalmist - but not with more money or power or applause. 'Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love so that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.'

Joyful people make us come alive.

When the book of law was read to the people in Nehemiah's day, they were overwhelmed by inadequacy and guilt. Nehemiah gave to them and us a remarkable statement: 'The joy of the Lord is your strength.' We know we love joy, but we often forget the power of joy. Joy gives us the strength to resist temptation. It brings the ability to persevere. Joy is the Velcro that makes relationships stick. Joy gives us energy to love. A person who brings joy to us is an oasis in a desert land. We don't just need air and food and water. We need joy."

John Ortberg, "The Me I Want to Be"

Father, won't You please cultivate joy in me? Fill the soil of my life with joy-seeds that grow stronger and healthier every day. Water my spirit with Your lovingkindness until I am dripping with grace. You are My Joy, My Strength and My Song. You are My Glory and the One who lifts my head to The Light.

The Lost Sheep


I don't know where my child is, but You are the God who knows. I can't see if he's hungry, cold or afraid, but You are the God who sees. I won't know when he cries himself to sleep or shakes from despair and loneliness, but You are the God who is able. Does he need for anything? Is he safe? You are Jehovah-Jireh, the God who provides.

Nothing is impossible for You, Father, but sometimes this is impossible for me. The pain of loss rips too deeply. Losing a child is too much to bear. Time does not heal all wounds.

I Am the God who cares. Remember the parable of the lost sheep.

The shepherd left the 99 in the fold to go search for the lost sheep, to bring him home. You are the God who searches for the lost sheep.

I am the Good Shepherd; I know my sheep and My sheep know Me. They hear My voice.

You were willing to lay down Your life for the sheep.

For every lost sheep. For every lost child.

Tonight I pray for every parent of a lost child. Give us faith to be strong. Give us hope while we wait.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The God Who Comforts

Oh, Father.


Hearts are breaking. Grieving. Death comes so suddenly sometimes that it takes my breath away. It leaves a gaping hole that burns.

My heart breaks first when sad things happen.

You could have stopped death from happening, but You didn't. I don't understand Your ways. They can bring disappointment, stir up anger and confusion.

I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in Me never dies.

You are the forever God. You allow what You hate to accomplish what You love. You create something out of nothing.

Every good and perfect gift comes from Me.

You give and take away. From everlasting to everlasting You are the God who reigns, the God who sees, the God who provides.

The God who comforts...The God who loves. The God who is faithful.

My God who is there and is not silent.

I Am the God who gives a song in the night. I will put a new song in your mouth, a song of praise to Me. Many will see, and fear and will trust in Me.

Heavenly peace, divinest comfort. That's where my heart can dwell during sorrow. That's where my heart can trust. That's where my soul can rest and find hope.

Life with Purpose

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
Because the LORD has anointed me
To bring good news to the afflicted;

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to captives
And freedom to prisoners;
To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD
And the day of vengeance of our God;

To comfort all who mourn,
To grant those who mourn in Zion,
Giving them a garland instead of ashes,
The oil of gladness instead of mourning,
The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting

So they will be called oaks of righteousness,
The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.

~Isaiah 61:1-3

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Road Not Taken

by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the tother, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less traveled by
And that has made all the difference.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanks Giving


I Am here.

I'm having some trouble being the person I want to be. The things I should do, I don't do and the things I shouldn't do, that's what I do. I want You to matter in my life more than anything else...more than my comfort, more than my opinions, more than my pride, more than my wants. I want You to have my whole heart.

I do have Your whole heart. You gave it to Me.

What do You see in there?

Broken dreams and broken schemes. Scars. Wounds. A lot of blood.

Sounds bad.

Healing blood. Redeeming blood.The blood is Mine, not yours.

If I confess my sins, You are faithful and just and will forgive my sins and cleanse me from all unrighteousness.

I Am faithful even when you are not faithful. My promises are new every morning.

All I have needed Your Hand has provided. Morning by morning new praises I see. Great is Your faithfulness, Lord, unto me.

Happy ThanksGiving, Daughter.

Happy ThanksGiving, Father.

Come, Little Leaves

"Come, little leaves,"
Said the wind one day.
"Come down to the meadow
...And we shall play.

Put on your dresses
Of red and gold,
For summer is past
And the days grow cold."

As soon as the leaves
Heard the wind's loud call,
Down they came fluttering,
One and all.

Over the meadow
They danced and flew,
All singing the soft
Little songs that they knew.

Dancing and leaping
The leaves went along,
Until winter called them
To end their sweet song.

Soon, fast asleep
In their earthy beds,
The snow lay a coverlet
Over their heads.

This is a song my Grandma sang with me when I was a little girl. It's a song for children written in the 1800's, though I do not know the author.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thank You Prayer Walks

A little prayer of "Thank you, God,"
Sets our thoughts aright.
Keeps us feeling all day long,
More positive and bright!

Have you ever tried to make a gratitude list? I made one with my Sunday School class of 4 and 5 years olds one winter and we easily filled both sides of a large poster paper. It's an activity that can be done in a few minutes or over the course of a lifetime.

Recently I've been taking a "Thank You Prayer Walk". It takes 7 minutes out and 7 minutes back. On the walk, I thank God for everything that comes to grass, cute shoes, laughter, strollers, cats, blue sky, rain drops. The most delight comes when I walk with a child or an elderly person because it gives a new perspective.

I love activities that are easy enough to do daily or weekly, even if you rush out early for work or have toddlers at home to take along. In a wheelchair? Roll along. Elderly and stiff? We'll walk slowly. Go as a famiy or alone. C'mon! It'll be fun!

"A walk in the dark with Daddy is the best sort of walk ever." ~Cody, age 4

Scone Recipe

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup plus 1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, frozen
1/2 cup raisins (or dried currants)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 large egg

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a medium bowl, mix flour, 1/3 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Grate butter into flour mixture on the large holes of a box grater; use your fingers to work in butter (mixture should resemble coarse meal), then stir in raisins.

In a small bowl, whisk sour cream and egg until smooth.

Using a fork, stir sour cream mixture into flour mixture until large dough clumps form. Use your hands to press the dough against the bowl into a ball. (The dough will be sticky in places, and there may not seem to be enough liquid at first, but as you press, the dough will come together.)

Place on a lightly floured surface and pat into a 7- to 8-inch circle about 3/4-inch thick. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tsp. of sugar. Use a sharp knife to cut into 8 triangles; place on a cookie sheet (preferably lined with parchment paper), about 1 inch apart. Bake until golden, about 15 to 17 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes and serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield: 8 scones.
Per scone: 317 calories, 5g protein, 41g carbohydrates, 15g fat (9g saturated), 1g fiber, 263mg sodium.

*Usually I cut these into smaller scones. When adding spices, flavorings and/or orange or lemon peel I mix it in with the sour cream mixture. When adding nuts, fruit, etc I add them instead of raisins. Fats and calories can be reduced by using a lighter choice than butter.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Turkey Shot Out of the Oven

By Jack Prelutsky
The turkey shot out of the oven
and rocketed into the air,
it knocked every plate off the table
and partly demolished a chair.

It ricocheted into a corner
and burst with deafening boom,
then splattered all over the kitchen,
completely obscuring the room.

It stuck to the walls and the windows,
it totally coated the floor,
there was turkey attached to the ceiling,
where there'd never been turkey before.

It blanketed every appliance,
it smeared every saucer and bowl,
there wasn't a way I could stop it,
that turkey was out of control.

I scraped and I scrubbed with displeasure,
and thought with chagrin as I mopped,
that I'd never again stuff a turkey
with popcorn that hadn't been popped.

Quotes To Inspire

"Ambition is putting a ladder against the sky." ~ American proverb

"Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved." -Helen Keller

"I seem to be a verb." ~Buckminster Fuller

“I like things to happen and if they don’t happen, I like to make them happen.” ~Winston Churchill

"Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly."
~Robert F. Kennedy, U.S. Senator

"We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us."~Joseph Campbell

"The secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes." ~Benjamin Disraeli, British author and politician

"You have to have confidence in your ability, and then be tough enough to follow through." ~Rosalynn Carter

"Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goals." ~ Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motors

"If it were not for hope, the heart would break." ~Thomas Fuller, English churchman and historian

"Success is going from failure to failure without lack of enthusiasm." ~Winston Churchill

What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Address

I left my purse in the shopping cart at the grocery market today. Rushing back to the store parking lot from across town numerous panicky thoughts zipped through my mind. Would it still be there? I had my debit card in my car with my phone, but what was in my purse?

Not much actually besides my driver's voting card, a gift card to Starbucks, spare change...and then the bad news hit me.

One of our dear friends had recently left prison and her address was in my purse. Why hadn't I written to her sooner?

The only hope I have of knowing how a friend is doing once they leave prison is a letter. Most of the time I never know how they're doing. I pray and remind myself that they know the God who sees and the God who is able. They know I love them.

Letters of encouragement are a lifeline to those in prison. Life after prison release can be even more difficult for the person. Being without a home, job, friends or church is a heavy burden for anyone, but when adding to that the stigma of a criminal record, depression and frustrations are intensified. They can be haunted by temptations to return to familiar friends and places. They remember that drugs and alcohol offer temporary relief from their pain. When you're hungry and cold, you remember that in prison you had a cot and 3 meals a day.

As soon as I got home I sat down and wrote my friend a letter. She will laugh at my panic and be glad that I retrieved my purse in the lost and found, but she will also pick up a pen and paper to write a letter to someone in prison.

Prayers matter. Letters matter. Who needs your prayers and letters?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Dip Your Bucket

Father, Your heart is a wellspring of abundant life. Complete joy. Restful Peace. Merciful Patience. Altogether lovely. Would You create in me a heart like Yours?

I am working on it.

You are the Author and Finisher of my faith, the God who sees me and the God who is able. Only You are the true God. Holy One of Israel. Ancient of Days. Master of the Universe. You are the God who reigns with thunder in Your footsteps and lightning in Your fists. You are a consuming fire. You are Lord over all the earth. Jehovah-Jireh, the Provider for the people of Your possession, Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End of all things.

I am the God who loves you with an unfailing love.

But I'm a mess. The older I get, the more I see that must be changed. It's a little scary and disheartening.

I am the God who sees you. Do not be afraid.

I know. I trust You. Create in me a clean heart, Oh, God. Renew a right spirit within me. Teach me Your ways, won't You? Soak me with Your words. Change me from the inside out. Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow. Your heart is a wellspring of abundant life. Teach me from Psalms to have a heart like King David's heart, a heart like Yours.

Dip Your bucket and draw forth.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Prayer Like Gingerbread

Renewed pleasure in reading the Psalms has motivated me to examine my prayer life. I believe that the effective, fervent prayer of the righteous accomplishes much. Why doesn't that prompt the devotion to prayer that it could?

"Your honest, heartfelt prayers today will impact the flow of history tomorrow." ~Max Lucado

Believing it is not enough. If I want to live out a life of prayer that impacts the flow of history, then I need to make some changes in my prayer life. The Bible says our prayers are a sweet aroma to God. God wired His people with power, but we have to turn on the switch. We need to be a people of prayer.

The heavenly scent of gingerbread welcomes the chilled, hungry children who stop by my house after school. Mattie treated her bite of gingerbread to a gulp of milk and suggested that school would be more fun if it could smell like gingerbread. Then she grinned. "I wish my whole life could smell like gingerbread!"

I want my whole life to smell like prayer the way Mattie wants her whole life to smell like gingerbread.

Father, draw close. Come quickly. Open your ears to my prayers ~it's my voice you're hearing. Make my life a prayer to You. Treat my prayers as sweet incense rising; the raised hands of my evening prayers.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Change for Peace

Father. Change is challenging.

Opportunity blooms freely in the rich soil of disappointment, failure and grief, doesn't it? I know Your grace is enough. I know You are walking alongside me.

But, Father, change is difficult. My heart aches with the heaviness of going through changes. Even changes that make life better can leave a trail of pain.

Find Your rest in Me. Seek peace. Pursue it. Someday complete peace will be available. You're not home yet, My child.

Others have to find their own way to You, too, don't they? Some burdens we can bear with one another, but some burdens are ours alone to carry.


You bear all the burdens with me, don't You? You are Lord over all the earth.


You allow the changes. You are Lord over change.


*smile...You are Lord over change.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Tea with Carson

As I wiped syrup from his pancaked-stuffed mouth, Carson grinned, giggled and went airborne. Summoning the agility of an athlete I caught him mid-leap, grimacing as little hands oozed church breakfast goo into my hair.

Once he was spit and polished I encouraged him toward his parents, picked up my cup of tea, and decided I should discover just how bad a hair day I was having that Sunday morning, but his little hand took mine and squeezed it. "Can I sit with you? Because we like that don't we?"

I agreed that he could and as we took our seats he continued, "You sit here and drink your tea and I'll sit here and drink your tea, too."

Our tea sharing began when he was so small he needed more milk than tea in his cup. He's four now and every cup of tea is a lesson in knowing his heart. Time to visit over a cup of tea is important because it warms our relationship the way tea warms the heart.

Opportunities to talk with children have to be created. God sends us into the lives of children to teach them He is real, to let them know He loves them, to guide them to truth.

Be the hands and feet of Jesus in the life of a child. By holding hands with you, he learns the calming tenderness of trusting in someone bigger and stronger. By following you he sees the determined confidence in someone who knows more and sees beyond the moment.

Friday, November 12, 2010

And Then My Nana Prayed

"Nana, what was your hardest thing ever?"

"I wanted to be a mother with a family full of children who love God."

My spiritual daughter laughed. In her eyes, my life bursts at the seams with the joy of children and mothering.

"No, I mean really, Nana."

So I explained about that day when my life was shattered and hope was gone. When reality washed over me and I knew the world is not a fairy tale, that little girl dreams don't always come true the way you had planned. My innocence and endless optimism were crushed, and I knew I would never be the same again.

She glanced over at her beautiful and healthy children and tears filled her eyes.
"So what did you do then?"

I smiled. "And then Nana prayed."

She smiled tenderly, sipped tepid tea from her china cup and said softly, "And then my Nana prayed."

"Though my weary steps may falter and my soul athirst may be,
Gushing from the Rock before me, Lo! A spring of joy I see!" ~Fanny Crosby

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Carson's Plan

Will you read books while I rest?" four year old Carson asked me.

"Yes," I assured him.

"Will you cuddle? I mean at the same time."

"Yes. We always do, Carson. Pick some books."

"I was just making sure you knew the plan."

We have cuddled and read books since before he was able to sit up on his own. "I know the plan," I assured him as he snuggled close to me.

"Because you know everything, right?" Serious blue eyes, full of trust, stared up at me.

"No. Just some things. God knows everything."

Carson took hold of my hand to calmly reassure me. "Well, He doesn't cuddle and read books and you do so that should make you feel better."

Knowing when I do something right does indeed make me feel better. More than anything I want to hear Father say, "Well done, my good and faithful servant. Enter into My eternal rest."

Finding rest with Carson calls for me to know his plan. Could it be that finding rest with God calls for me to know His plan?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Calico Surprise

A calico kitten returned to my garden this morning for a carefree romp. He halted, crouched and studied the terrain, confused by the changes in his playground. A barren garden mulched with straw was more disappointment than he wanted to accept.

Gone were the tomato vines where he could always find butterflies to worry. Shady zucchini vines, perfect for hiding from weary birds, had gone up in smoke. Rough stakes delightful for scratching and speedy pole racing lay neatly stacked beside the compost pile. His playground was closed for the winter and he hissed in frustration.

How to encourage a calico kitten?

I softly called and he scampered over to me, confident that I would provide stability and restore hope to his broken world. Maybe provide tuna and cheetos for some comfort food.

I reassured him with gentle words and tender petting. I picked up a ball and tossed it. He raced after it, pounced, wrestled it across the yard and finally subdued it. The playground was closed for the winter, but football season had begun! Run. Tackle. Wrestle. Subdue. Repeat.

No matter how disappointing and confusing life gets, finding the surprises God has tucked into the corners of the day redirects my thoughts and joy comes.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Cup of Words

Words lift us out of ourselves, transform us and encourage us. Words spoken to an invisible world created the visible world. Words are so important to God that not only did He create the world with them, but He made His Word become flesh to dwell among us.

He breathed out the words we read daily in the Bible and He continues to preserve and empower those words for each generation. The Word of God brought tidings of great joy to all people when Jesus was born into the world.

Our words have lost their weight. Social pages such as Facebook and the rapid increase of texting have brought concerning issues for the power of words in this generation. Futile words, hurtful words, uncensored words are replacing words of encouragement and positive insights.

Words are like a cup of tea. It all depends on how you make it.

Tea freshly brewed in pure water has depth and character. The flavor delights and warms the body. Savoring a cup of tea brings sweetness, restoration and even healing. How much more delicious to savor words that are pure and sweet, to hear words that have depth and character! Oh, beloved ones, what delightful flavor, warmth and healing you can offer with your words.

God says we will have to give an account for every word we have spoken whether good or bad. To dwell on such a truth overwhelms my heart because many are the useless, hurtful and untrue words I have spoken.

In many words there is much sin, but words aptly spoken are like apples of gold in settings of silver. A cup full of tea can brighten my day and warm my body. A cup full of words can brighten my world and warm my soul. Fill your cup up and let it overflow. Let it overflow with love.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Walking in a Wheelchair

Oh, that I might make an altar of remembrance out of the ruins of my life. That I might see, and thank Him for, the wiser choice, the better answer, the harder yet richer path.

Ah, this is the God I love.

The Center, the Peacemaker, the Passport to adventure, the Joyride, and the Answer to all our deepest longings...The Answer to all our fears,

Man of Sorrows and Lord of Joy...always permitting what He hates to accomplish something He loves.

And He has brought me here to this place in my life so I can declare to anyone within earshot of the whole universe, to anyone who might care, that, yes...

There are more important things in life than walking."

Joni Earickson Tada: A Lifetime of Walking with Jesus

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Cart and the Horse

When we put work before worship, we put the cart before the horse. The cart is important. So is the horse. But the horse must come first or we end up pulling the cart ourselves." ~Corrie ten Boom
Frustrated and weary we can nearly break under the pressure of service for there is always something that needs to be done. When we first spend time in Father's presence - when we take time to hear His voice - God provides the horsepower we need to pull the heaviest load. He saddles up grace and invites us to take a ride.

The only requirement for a deeper intimacy with God is showing up with a heart open and ready to receive. Lay aside the work, the noise and fray of life, and turn your whole heart toward worship.

"Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls." ~Jesus