May 25, 2015

Heavenly Father,

 

In some ways, it’s kind of nice to have a saturated Memorial Day! Instead of having a day filled up with fun in the sun, there’s a little more time to think of all those who have fought the good fight and gone on before me. They have each left an eternal foothold for me to keep climbing onward and upward towards Home! As I visit the cemetery, memories flood my mind and soak my soul of those whom I have loved so dearly and others I never knew…all who have left an eternal impact upon me!

 

As I enter the memorial grounds, a monument stands with the names of all those who have served in the military who are buried in that particular cemetery (including the names of several of my own relatives). I can’t help but be incredibly grateful for all those who fought so my children and I could live in freedom. Some gave their lives in the fight; while others lived on bearing the seen and unseen wounds of war. I can’t help but think of the price their families paid for our freedom, as well. Then I drive to the grave of my first husband, who lived life so fully with us and for You, Lord- even while battling a ravaging illness so bravely. He, too, lived and died for me and others to find a greater freedom in You. Then as my mom and I place flowers on other family member’s graves, I see a plaque on my great grandmother’s plot that shows she was a pioneer in the Oklahoma land run. Another plaque is on my great great grandfather’s grave as he served in the civil war and was shot in the leg while climbing a tree to get a better look for his company. The stories of all these lives and so many more family, friends and even strangers whose lives were lived in such a way to make a difference in my life…even the stories of saints in the Bible and in books I’ve read and testimonies I’ve seen and heard. Lord, You somehow use all these others to help make me who I am.

 

Father, You have created us all as individuals yet we are all united through Jesus Christ.  So many of those who have gone on before me, might not have realized how they could possibly impact future generations. They simply lived their lives for You. Yet they are all part of my “cloud of witnesses” who urge me on towards my eternal Home with You! Their suffering, their testimony, their faith in You has left steps for me to follow… None so great as Jesus’ nail-pierced feet that call out to follow Him! He is the way! Makes me wonder, how will the future generations benefit from my life? What kind of footprints am I leaving right now? Does my everyday life follow Jesus so others will see the way?

 

 

 

******************

 

 

 

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”   Hebrews 12:1-3

 

“For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.”  1 Corinthians 3:9-11

 

“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself, as the chief cornerstone. In Him, the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit.”   Ephesians 2:19-22

May 21, 2015

Heavenly Father,

 

I was so mad when I got home and read the book of James! Many years ago, I was going through some what seemed like end-of-the-world troubles. I was a very young adult facing life, so I went to talk to my dad about them. He calmly listened. I’m sure he wished he could take my troubles away but knew he couldn’t. So he suggested I go home and read the book of James from the Bible. I didn’t read too far before I got really mad…because it said “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds…”  WHAT?!!! How could I be joyful when I was going through such dreadful circumstances? I was certain no one in the world had ever had to face anything like this before! I might not have considered the challenges joy then…but I sure can now some 30 plus years later!

 

Some of the trials I’ve gone through in my life were a result of my poor decisions; some were unwarranted because I was completely  innocent but still had to endure; some were attacks from others; some were financial, health, relationships, dreams shattered, fire, deaths, loss … but now I count every single one as a joy! Really!! Because of those different trials I had to endure, I can say with absolute certainty that You are with me… and nothing or no one in all creation can come against me and succeed! Because of what I’ve been through, my love for You and my trust in You has grown- because You went through it with me, Lord!  Because of those troubles I’ve gone through, I can look past the present discomfort to the absolute promise of trouble-free life with You! Because of what I’ve gone through, I can comfort others going through hard times with the comfort and hope I’ve been given by You!

 

Since that time long ago, I have come to know, that my troubles are light and temporary and that others have endured far more than I have. Since that time, I have seen many times how You take what our enemy means for destruction and turn it into something glorious and eternal when we love and trust You. I am so incredibly blessed because You have helped me through so much…but also because I see You help others through so much. I rarely panic at troubles (mine or others now) for I know it is a beautiful opportunity for You to make something glorious out of even the most horrible of troubles and trials the enemy throws our way. Lord, it’s been a great blessing lately, to be able to point others to the book of James lately and tell them to consider their trials pure joy! (Even if it makes them mad at first!)

 

 

********************

 

 

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed  by the wind. That man should not receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.”     James 1:2-8

 

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him. When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me,’ for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone; but each is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed, Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to si; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like the shifting shadows.”   James 1:12-17

 

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”   Romans 8:28

May 20, 2015

Heavenly Father,

 

I’ve been praying a lot for parents lately. It is an incredibly hard job but probably the very most important one they have. It is way too easy to judge the way other people parent until you’ve been where they are. I vividly recall thinking in my heart that if some friends of mine just did a better job of parenting, their preschool child wouldn’t be so wild. Not long after, I was blessed with my own bundle of raw energy to try to tame! I also remember being given tons of advice on one of my teens who went through a very rough time. It was very discouraging to have others tell me what I was doing wrong with the child I had given birth to, raised, knew better than anyone else, and believed in.  Now that I deal with watching my own children raise their kids and the parents of children I work with raise theirs, I’m not so quick to judge. Instead, I trust that You, Lord, have put the perfect parents with their children because they become experts on their child! No one knows their children or loves them like they do!

 

Of course, parents and children all make mistakes and learn as we grow. Some of us realize that You have given us the responsibility for our children’s nurturing and training. Some are just realizing. I work with a group of wonderful young women, most who have temporarily lost guardianship of their children because of mistakes and wrong choices they made that put their kids at risk. I see them deal with the heart-breaking regret and watch them do everything possible to work to become better parents. I even have the joy of keeping up with some who go on to become some of the best mothers you can imagine! Being a parent is one of the most rewarding and most painful roles we will ever have.

 

Father, this morning I want to pray for parents who are getting ready to give birth for the first time, for those whose whole lives are turned upside down by a tiny little person who demands everything, for those who are trying to keep up with youngsters with extra energy, for parents whose child has severe challenges, for parents who feel inadequate and for those who think they know it all, for parents in those bittersweet years when their children struggle for independence, and for parents whose kids seem to never want to leave. Father, it’s really amazing that You would entrust us with lives of children when we are so imperfect as parents. It’s like You know it will give us better understanding of Your love for us as Your children. I’m so glad that even though we feel like imperfect parents that we can count on You, our perfect Father, to help us

 

 

************************

 

 

“Love the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give to you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”  Deuteronomy 6:5-7

 

“Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it.”   Proverbs 22:6

 

”Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”   Luke 11:11-13

May 15, 2015

Heavenly Father!

 

Sunflower seeds are great to munch on, but they sure take a lot of work to get to the tiny seed! They can be a tad messy! I know! My daughter left cups filled with shells all over the place when she was growing up! Even more fun than eating them (and certainly more exciting than cleaning up the spit-out shells) is watching them grow. Those itsy bitty seeds grow into the most massive plants! Who would think that such a small seed could produce such a gigantic plant with dinner-plate sized flowers…which in turn produce hundreds more seeds….which grow more plants which produce more seeds…and on and on! Lord, lately You have been showing me how significant our tiny little actions are when they are done with You!

 

I think back to how often I wanted to do something really great and important for Your kingdom- like develop great ministries with outstanding programs which would help thousands of people…or write best-selling books which would draw millions of people to You… I’ve had my share of great visions and even spent a lot of energy into developing some of those. But it just wasn’t Your plan for me. It was my plan. Lately, I’ve learned to be still and content in doing many small things daily, faithfully, consistently while keeping my eyes on You. You have been showing me how those tiny obedient efforts are producing something larger than I will ever know. It’s all because of You. My job is to stay rooted in Jesus Christ, let Him live in me, and keep my eyes always on You. Just like a sunflower blossom that holds its face ever towards the sun. It “wakes up” looking to the east and follows the sun all day until it goes down at night in the west. It reflects the beauty and glory of who You are just by looking at You! It doesn’t run all over the place trying to produce what it cannot on its own. It looks to You and soaks You up and grows. You are the only One who causes it to flower and produce seed which will produce more life!

 

I don’t have to make anything happen. I need to let You live in and through me. Though I don’t need to know how You use me, there are little glimpses You give me to encourage me to keep my eyes on You. Someone will thank me for some little insignificant thing I did that I don’t even remember. I am always taken off guard, because it was hardly anything at all…yet You took my little obedience and tiny faith in You and produced some eternal growth. To You, Your Son and the Holy Spirit be all glory and honor and beauty and joy forever and ever!!! Keep me grounded and rooted in You so that tiny seeds may fall and produce eternal life that comes only from You! Take the shell of my sometimes messy little efforts and let Your glorious eternal life come out and grow!

 

************************

 

 

 

“He (Jesus) told them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.’”   Matthew 13:31-32

 

 

“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times; having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: ‘He who has scattered abroad his gifts; his righteousness endures forever.’ Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”   2 Corinthians 9:6-11

May 13, 2015

Heavenly Father,

 

My trust in you has grown so much since I made that first little leap of faith…and it just keeps on growing! The more I know and love You, the more I trust You. Lord, who else could I completely trust?!!! You created all that there is! The sun, moon and stars hang in space and move at Your command. You keep all the galaxies spinning in just the right order … and keep the seasons coming and going to provide life and beauty for us. I can count on You to keep nature going to sustain us in our earthly home as long as is needed (despite what environmental dooms day-ers might say). I can trust You to provide food, oxygen, light, water and beautiful flowers and trees for our bodies and souls.

 

I can trust You with those I love-my husband, children and grandchildren. You gave them to me so I could experience more of Your love. Yet You love them far more than I could ever dream of. Though I may not always understand why they must go through certain things, I know You are with them and have the most perfect plans for them. I can trust You with my friends- dear ones who have moved away from me, or entered into their heavenly life with You. I know You working in and through them. I know they are never alone. Since You are with them, and I am with You, we are forever joined through Jesus Christ!

 

I can trust You with my finances, with my health, with my relationships, my future…even if I have to go through some challenging times. I know You know what You are doing! There is no doubt You can take even my poor decisions and turn them into something good as long as I love You and stay with You! I trust You with my life! Use it as You see fit…for Your ways are so high above my inferior plans. Send me where You need me. Use me how You need me. I know You love me, Lord! I trust You will take my simple obedience and use my persistent willingness and empower it with Your awesome power to accomplish more eternally than I can imagine. Father, I trust You more and more! I pray that You can trust me more and more.

 

 

 

 

 

**************************

 

 

 

“When I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?”    Psalm 56:3-4

 

Jesus said to us in John 14:1    “Do not let your hearts be troubled; trust in God, trust also in Me.”

 

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”     Hebrews 15:13

May 6, 2015

Heavenly Father,

 

There is a row of red plastic cups sitting in a row in the window of one of the rooms where I teach preschool children. We’ve all been watching them. For a while, it wasn’t too exciting because we were mostly watching dirt! Little children (and the rest of us) don’t have a lot of patience so the watching went by the wayside…until one by one, little green leaves peeked up out of the cups! The acorns that were planted finally sprouted and are growing into baby trees!! We didn’t make the acorns. We couldn’t make them grow. We simply placed them in soil, watered ever once in a while- and new life is growing! A few of the seedlings already look like little oaks; others just have a tiny sprout; and still others haven’t come up yet. It is crazy to think that if those preschool kids plant them in outside in the right place, by the time those kids reach their teen years, those tiny seedlings will be producing not only shade but their own little acorn seeds! Seeds carry life!

 

Springtime makes me think of my mom and dad a lot. I can’t help but be overwhelmed by the sheer number of seeds they’ve planted in their lifetimes. My dad is now with You, Lord…and my mom is still sowing seeds of all kinds! My dad used to study all the latest seed catalogues for the newest and most unusual variety of seeds so he could grow crops. My parents were pioneers of horticulture in Oklahoma! There were always flats of seeds germinating, waiting to be “potted up” into the next size containers as they grew. There is no way anyone could ever count the number of seeds that were started by my parents and shared across Oklahoma! My dad was always giving me lessons about plants. I vividly recall him telling me how some seeds germinate very quickly and grow fast; others take a few weeks; and still others can remain dormant on the ground for years. Some seeds have shells so hard that it takes forest fires, winters and force to soften the outer covering so the plant inside can burst out. Then it has to have fertile soil to flourish in.

 

Father, I want to sow millions of seeds just like my parents did! Not so much the botanical variety- but the spiritual kind! I can’t create the seed. Your word is the seed! I can’t make it grow or come to life. Jesus brings new life! But I can scatter seeds every single day- through hugs, encouraging words, listening eyes, scripture, prayer, teaching, mothering, grandmothering, friendship, sharing the truth, pointing towards You. I may not get to see all the seeds grow. Some may sprout before my eyes. Others might lie dormant for years. I have no control over the growth…but I can scatter seeds that carry Your  eternal life every single day. Some will take root and grow and produce more and more seeds. I am just one little tree that can drop seeds…You are the One who brings life!

 

***********************

 

 

Jesus told this parable in Matthew 13:3-9:

“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering hi seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop- a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. He who has ears, let him hear.”

 

Jesus explains the parable in Matthew 13:18-23:

“Listen to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was son in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away. The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”