photo by Emily Juliuson

Heavenly Father,
Our pastor gave an excellent message on spiritual transformation today…and I couldn’t help thinking about the three caterpillars I found in my yard on my parsley plant about six weeks ago. I carefully put them in jars and gave one to three of our families to watch transform into butterflies. I wanted them to watch the miracle of transformation take place in front of their eyes. I knew they would need to be patient because it wouldn’t happen fast like the video games they are accustomed to. I have to admit I was a little nervous, hoping they would all make it, since there was only one caterpillar in each home. It seemed extra important for my family who had just lost a baby to watch the transformation that happens when the caterpillar appears to die, and then it is transformed and flies free.

I got fairly regular reports of how they each had to add more parsley when those hungry caterpillars ate everything and were about to burst. One by one, they let me know the crawly critters stopped crawling and attached themselves to something to form a chrysalis. Apparently, every day these wild little boys each watched the non-moving bag with great interest. (That’s a miracle considering the action they crave!) Finally, I began hearing of the first—then several days later, the second—and more days later, the third all had transformed into new creatures! They watched a fuzzy worm turn into an exquisite butterfly and fly away! Who but You, Lord, can do that?!!

It wasn’t an animated or computerized car transforming into a giant robot—it was a living, breathing creature. No matter how hard we try; no matter how many self-help books we read; no matter who we listen to—we can never transform ourselves from one creation to a new creature. We can only be truly transformed by dying to ourselves and letting Jesus Christ live in us through the Holy Spirit.

Lord, I know you made the old me. You breathed life into me and knit me together in my mother’s womb and said it was good. I am incredibly grateful You didn’t stop there. I am even more grateful to be made into a new creation through Jesus Christ. You have made me brand new. You are still making me, transforming me from glory to glory! I look back to my old self and I can see how completely I’ve been changed. I can now fly free with You. Thank You, Lord, that You are continually transforming me into a new creature who glorifies You!

 

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“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

 

“We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” Romans 6:4

 

“He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making all things new!’” Revelation 21:5

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Your Prayer Prompt-
Father, do I need spiritual transformation?….

Glorious Heavenly Father,
It has been a joy to work with children most all my life in one form or another. They amaze me with their thoughts (and keep me humble with their truth, and wear me out with their energy!) I have served as a licensed child care provider, early education teacher, Wee Worship and Vacation Bible School teacher as well as mom and grandmother to many. I have learned much more than I could ever teach these precious children. I can see why Jesus said we need to be child-like to be part of His Kingdom. I’m not talking about the screaming melt-downs in the grocery-store aisle, or the demanding “I want’s,” or the irritating tattling (though I’ve learned a lot about how we act towards You from those episodes. too)—I’m speaking of the trusting nature of a child’s faith which I see over and over again…

• My young friend, a 4 year-old hyper boy who invited his preschool teacher to the Thanksgiving church dinner and worship service without anyone telling him to! (Thank You, Lord, for that sweet loving teacher who came and was drug around church all morning being proudly introduced by her wild-hearted little student!)

• The precious 8 year old boy who came to me Sunday with a little notepad and asked if I had a prayer request. I don’t think I’ve ever been asked to be prayed for by someone so young. (I was able to give him a request that I have really been praying about–which he promptly wrote down. I just regret that I didn’t think to ask if he had one. Yet I know something dear to his heart I will pray about!)

• A teenaged grandson who began praying to You even before he could talk. He has blessed many with his fervent prayers as he grew. I think he may be slipping from that closeness with You as he grows, yet I know he knows Your call on his heart and will return.

• The tried and tested faith of a young grandson who I believe cried out to Jesus to save him and his sisters from danger. He knows who saved him and placed him in a new loving family where he and his sisters could stay together. (I am humbled by his faith in You and his deep compassion at such a tender age.)

• For a “special needs” great grandson, who ever so often displays special insight into You, the only One who truly understands him.

• Babies and toddlers- I often see a built-in faith in these fresh new lives who can somehow tell who to trust. They seem to be able to sense who is safe fairly quickly—who will care for them, love and protect them.

 

Father, help me to know, just as these children know, that I need help; that I can’t survive on my own; that I don’t know what is best for me; that my demands could be the worst thing; that all my deepest needs and desires are fully met through Jesus Christ so I can know a loving relationship with You—my Heavenly Father, the one I can fully place my faith in for all eternity. I am so thankful to be your child!

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“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith…” Galatians 3:26

 

“He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’” Matthew 18:2

 

“The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Romans 8:15-17

 

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Your Prayer Prompt-
Father God, show me where I do not trust You as my Good Father…

 

Dear Friends,
With the holidays approaching, extra anxiety can set in for those who are dreading going through them without their loved one. No matter how much you want time to stop, the holidays will come whether you want them to or not. Some people truly wish they could just skip over Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years due to the fear of facing these special days without the one they love by their side. There are some specific plans you can make to ease your way through these special days that are filled with memories, emotion, family and the very obvious void of your loved one.

Make Realistic Plans
Even without grief, holidays can be stressful with so many things to do on your list. You may want to consider paring down your list to take some of the stress off and leave yourself extra room for grieving. Consider writing down all the ways you usually celebrate (putting lights up, sending cards, shopping, baking, wrapping…) Take a good look at the list and take some of those items off the list this year. The world will not end if you do not do everything you usually do. On the other hand, there may be some things you’ve done every year that you know are important to continue. Focus on those fewer traditions or ask for help on some of your tasks.

Acknowledge Your Loss and Celebrate Them
You do not have to act like nothing has happened. Find a creative way to honor your loved one this season. Make a special ornament; give a gift that you would have bought for your loved one and give to someone in need; set a place at the table for them; light a candle and have everyone tell something they admired about your loved one; print a card to send out to share thoughts of your loved one; give a framed photo with family members; make a pillow from old shirts to give to a family member; read something they wrote… You know your loved one and can plan a special personalized way to celebrate them during this holiday season.

Stay Flexible During this Season
You may get invited to parties and gatherings. You may want to accept them with the understanding that you have no idea how you will feel that day. Explain that you may need to cancel or leave early. Grief, as you know by now, is unpredictable. It could hit hard without warning, so leave yourself an out to leave if you need to. It may be a good idea to come up with a planned answer for those you see during the holidays who ask how you are doing. You may feel like talking about your loved one and you may not. Feel free to have an answer ready such as, “It is still very hard but I don’t feel like talking about it right now.”

Sometimes the anxiety about the holidays turns out to be much harder than actually going through them. Prepare your loose plans. Give yourself permission to take extra time to remember the special gift of your loved one. Keep a journal or have a safe trusted friend you can share your heart with. Don’t forget to celebrate the real reason we have these “holy-days” in the first place. They just might become more precious than ever before as you discover in a new way that “God is with us” through Jesus Christ.

Love and prayers,
Eva

 

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“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.” Luke 2:14

 


Lord God Almighty,
There is not one person who was created, who was not created by You. That includes every single person who ever served in the military or is serving now. You created them with a desire to stand for what they believe in, to fight against threats, and to protect their loved ones and countrymen. Because today is Veteran’s Day in the United States of America, I want to lift up veterans and their families before You now:
• Those who are deployed right now- who will miss the holidays, birthdays, birth of their baby, death of a family member, cuddling in a cozy home with their spouse, a warm shower, their child’s games, a quiet walk in the woods…
• Those who fought off very real threats to our country since its beginning- the war for our freedom to govern our own country to the more current threat of terrorists…
• Those who gave their lives for the sake of truth and liberty… and for the families who must learn to live on without them…
• Those who were wounded while fighting; who must learn to live without limbs, eyesight, or even movement…
• Those who might have come home in one piece physically, but are tormented by the deeper emotional and mental wounds of war…
• Those who left their homes to fight so we could all live safely, yet live on the streets in fear of their safety…
• Those spouses, children and parents who watch a passionate warrior leave to willingly protect with their life, yet miss out on years of time with their personal hero…
• Those in military authority who make decisions which mean life or death to their beloved “men” and have to live with those choices…
• Those who carry gratitude, guilt and memories all the days of their lives because they made it home while some of their “brothers-in arms” did not…
• Those families who have graves to visit and those who never received a body to mourn…
• Those who continue to support their fellow veterans through Veteran programs, small groups and national groups…
Lord, I pray that each of these precious veterans and their family members find all the peace they need in You. I look forward to the day when all weapons and fighting will no longer be needed as the new Heaven and earth is revealed…when even enemies who fought against one another will embrace and worship You as our One True God. Lord Jesus, bless the veterans and their families who sacrifice so much. Let them bask in the glory of the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ who conquered sin and death so we might live.
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“Moses answered the people, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today…The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.’” Exodus 14:13, 14
“Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take you stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, by against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” Ephesians 6:10-13
“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13
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Your Prayer Prompt-
Who has laid down His life for me? How can I show my gratitude?