13256461_10206575267396078_3180023032522853306_n

 

Heavenly Father,

My double brother and sister are leaving this week to go as missionaries to Trinidad/Tabago. They are our double siblings because they are both brother and sister by marriage and through Christ! My husband and I had the honor of going to their commissioning Sunday evening. Their relatively small church sends out missionaries around the world. In fact, the long hallway is filled with photos and information about each missionary and where they are serving. One of the main goals of this small church is to send out missionaries around the world and support them through prayer and finances.  A few faithful people in this church are making an eternal impact for God’s kingdom around the world. That includes through  my husband’s brother and his wife!

Having been involved in the sending- out of missions the last several years, I’ve had the honor of making forever friendships with many serving on mission in foreign lands. We get to hear of their day-to-day struggles and triumphs. I have felt for them as their children grow up on foreign soil, then leave them to come back to the states. I‘ve helped pray through the struggles as these children caught between two worlds have to adjust to a new culture. I feel for my friends who are countries apart from their grandchildren while I enjoy the nearness of mine. I watch as young parents raise their kids in a land without all the conveniences and comforts of America. We’ve prayed through malaria, arrests due to beliefs, scary ordeals, VISA issues and corruption in the governments they live under. These missionaries don’t always have someone they can share their conflicts and joys with. They can feel isolated and under stress. Yet they continue! My double brother and sister could have easily lived on his military retirement, but instead they felt the call of God to be sent out. They answered. We’ll be praying and encouraging them along with their home church.

It was a little strange to hear them being commissioned and sent out by their local church. I felt the call on my own heart to be sent out; perhaps not to a foreign field but in the mission field right where I am. It all starts with You, Father! You sent Jesus from heaven to us. Jesus sends us to be the light of the world and salt of the earth. Father, I accept my calling, too. Let us all go out into the world with the saving grace of Jesus Christ. After all, we’ve been commissioned by Your Son!

***********

“Again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’” John 20:21

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Don and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”        Matthew 28:19-20

“When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field.’”    Matthew 9:36-38

**********

Prayer Prompt-

Father, where do you want to send me?

 

110131_hands_keyboard_istock_328

Heavenly Father,

Today I am writing the next-to-the -last chapter of a book  I thought was ready to be written 20 years ago…but Your timing is always so much better than mine! You might have given me the vision twenty years ago, but there’s much more You planned to happen before the words could be written. Although I’m writing it, I feel like You are the true author, Lord. You just write in lives instead of on pages. If I would have tried to write this book earlier, it would have been me trying to push my words through. Now, it flows out and I’m surprised at what is written down. I know how Mother Theresa felt when she once said, “I am but a little pencil in the hand of God.”

The title of this book will be MY FOREVER MEMORIES OF YOU. If it was written too soon, I would have concentrated on the story my first husband and I went through as he endured a traumatic terminal illness and all the incredible things that happened as we faced life and death together.  It would have been a memory book of our intertwined lives and the way You worked in them. Then I began a 20 year journey of helping others through grief as they faced the death of their loved ones.  I realized our story was not the only lives You work through. If I had written this book even then, it would have been too soon. I would have added helpful information that has helped so many others through the deepest part of their grief. However, You knew it wasn’t ready yet.

Through the years, You have placed a deep compassion in my spirit for those who are heart-broken at the death of a loved one. How I longed to help them. I can share my experiences and all the proven ways that help grievers through that dark valley of the shadow of death, but I know the only One who can truly help them is You. They each need to express their story, memories, loss, and cries. In this book, they will read parts of my story and will find practical ideas that will really help; but this book will also be written by the griever. What started out as a memory book of my first husband, along with helpful ideas, will also be written by the griever as they share memories of their loved one. As they tell their own story of the deep void from the relationship they are grieving, they will discover (as I have) You are with them and will never ever leave them. The true story is still being authored. It is the never-ending love story You have for us that transcends death and brings eternal life. It goes far beyond what any book can contain.

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

“Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down. I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” John 21:25

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2

“We write this to make our joy complete.” 1 John1:4

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

Prayer Prompt-

Heavenly Father, show me how to live out Your word in my life so I may be in the Book of Life…

cut flowers

Heavenly Father,

I do not want to be cut from the vine! As much as I love having fresh cut flowers straight from my garden on my table, I realize their beauty won’t last long. They’ve been cut from their life source. I can keep the water fresh in the vase to make them last a little longer. I can add a little packet of food, sugar or bleach to the water to try to extend their beauty, but since they’ve been cut off the plant, they are destined to wither up.

This spring I‘ve done a lot of pruning. Once a branch is cut off from the main tree, shrub or plant, it cannot continue to thrive or live. The cut branch certainly cannot produce any blooms or fruit. It might as well end up in the trash or compost pile. As long as the main plant is supplying the life, it will send out new branches- but those branches cannot make new leaves or flowers once they are cut off. Only the main plant can supply the life.

Father, I never want to try to do anything apart from You. It will not last. No matter how spectacular something I do on my own might appear, it will wither up. That’s why I come to You again this morning. I need to stay connected to Jesus who is my vine. Only with the Holy Spirit flowing from You through Jesus and then through me can my tiny branch live and thrive. If I am not rooted in Jesus, I can produce nothing eternal. Yet with Your life flowing through me, You can take this insignificant little twig and make it produce exactly what You designed it to do. Some little branches might produce a radiant flower to brighten someone’s life; other little branches might produce juicy fruit to feed hungry souls; some branches may provide shelter and shade to weary souls. Yet none of the branches can cause any of this eternal life on their own. That’s why I want to live in You and You live in me. Lord, flow through my little branch today and produce something eternal that I could never ever produce on my own…like love!

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

 

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me.

                I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples.”   John 15:1-8

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

Prayer Prompt-

Father, this is how I can remain in You…

clematis

Heavenly Father,

We are drawn to Your beauty wherever it shows up! I am especially drawn to flowers. It’s like opening a special gift You’ve given me just for today. This time of year, You surround us with gifts of Your beautiful love. Everywhere I look I see flowers with more unfolding flowers. Some are so vivid and spectacular they show up just driving by. Others need to be viewed for their intricate detail. Some don’t stand out from afar but how dainty and refreshing to get a close up view. Then there’s those who blooms we never notice, but the new growth feeds our souls. There’s something soothing and restoring about being surrounded by the earthly garden You have placed us in.

My horticulturist daddy started teaching me at a young age what is needed to produce a flower: sun, water and oxygen. Yet that doesn’t explain the thousands of species and varieties in the world. Even the same plant never produces the same exact bloom every time. How can there be so much varied beauty in this world? Each new flower, every tiny leaf, every molecule blade of grass is a tender love thought from You! It can only occur because of the life You’ve breathed into it!

Lord, I want to come to You first thing this morning. I want to soak up Your Son, drink from the Living Water and Breathe in Your Holy Spirit. There is no way I can thrive, grow or bloom without You. I know You will give me what I need on this day to produce whatever bloom is needed today. I know I wither, dry up and die without You. I chose to live abundantly, fully by coming to You to receive all I need to bloom where You need me to. I love You, Lord. Let Your love and life flow through me today to draw someone to You!

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

 

“Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon dressed in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith!”  Luke 12:27-28

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me, you can do nothing.”   John 15:5

“The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.”   Revelation 21:23

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

 

Prayer Prompt-

Father, help me be still and soak up the Light of Jesus today by…

sunglasses

Heavenly Father,

There are some moments that are without a doubt orchestrated by You. In truth, there are probably many more such encounters than we can count or imagine. But there have been many highly noticeable such meetings in a row the last couple of days. One of the first came when both of us ended up at Walmart, of all places. My husband never shops at Walmart, but he wanted to get something. They didn’t have it, so we started to leave. On the spur of the moment, I asked him if he wanted to get a pair of sunglasses. We headed to the twirling rack to pick out a pair. As the display turned, a familiar face jumped out at me on the other side of the rack! I hadn’t seen her at church lately. She was just as surprised to see me. She also was heading for the cashier but at the last minute stopped in the same area at the perfect time. She had quit coming to church over some hurt feelings. We had a wonderful conversation. Just as I was about to hug her and say goodbye, she spoke out loud, “OK!!! I got the message! I will be there Sunday!” I think she was talking to You, Lord, and not to me for I hadn’t coerced her at all. However, she was in church today and was happier than ever!

Then as I turned to say hi to people during the Meet & Greet segment of worship, someone grabbed my hand and asked me to come talk. It turns out, this friend was facing a monumental task that You were obviously calling her to. She knew she would obey, but needed prayer to remind her where she gets her strength when she feels weak. I had just read a short scripture before church that reminded us of Your power and authority. It was what we both needed. I know You will work through her weakness (and mine) to show Your strength! …Then a friend shared a moving song with me after a baby shower today that ministered to me and in return, I will use it to help others…As I was leaving the baby shower,  I just happened to run into another friend that was waiting on her husband who was in a meeting. We hadn’t had time to talk in a while. She shared what You are doing in their lives and the big step of faith they have taken. Not only was it a joy to hear her testimony, it again ministered to me as I take my own big step of faith.

Father, I love to see You move in people and situations to bring about eternal results. You are so much more involved in our lives than we can comprehend. Your timing is perfect. There is nothing that can happen that You cannot turn into good. The more I live with You, the more I see these divine moments. The more I see You work, the more I trust You. The more I am willing to die to my old self, the more I know You are with me.  I love encountering You everywhere I go! I love You every moment!

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

 

“Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”   John 21:25

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

 

Prayer Prompt-

Father, help me live with You every moment and begin sharing eternal moments with You even now. These are some ways I’ve seen You work lately…

thUGWT9RFT

Heavenly Father,

With Spring here, I have a whole list of projects I would like to complete…painting the house, redoing the fence, painting the ceilings, building a new stone flowerbed, repairing a brick retaining wall… The list goes on and on. I can envision all these projects completed but there is never enough time. There are projects to do at home, at church, at work, at relative’s homes… Yet each of these worthy efforts take a back seat when I stop and spend time with You. It seems You always help me see more important priorities than just my planned projects.

Although it might make me feel good to complete something I work so hard on, to see something I planned work its way to a grand finale, I know those projects will not last forever. A drought could kill a landscape. The paint will peel. The fence will rot. I can recall pouring my energy and time into creating a wonderful landscape only to drive by after moving away and see everything mowed over. It is a fact how easy it is for one of MY projects to become too important. Maybe that’s part of the issue. It’s about me and what I can do! All my projects will not last forever…but relationships will!

Lord, help me seek to love first and foremost. After all, that’s what You call me to do. The two greatest projects (no- commandments) are to love You with all my heart, mind and strength…and to love my neighbor (everybody) as myself. Love takes time, energy, work, prayer, commitment, forgiveness… Father, help me be willing to invest more in relationships with You and others. Any projects I attempt to do without love are just empty and irritating… but anything that has love invested in it will last forever! Thank You that I am more than a project to You. Thank You, Lord, for loving me as I learn more about You!

*********

 

“’Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ Jesus replied, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.’”     Matthew 22:36-39

“And now I will show you the most excellent way. If I speak in the tongues of men and angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal…And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”   1 Corinthians 12:31b-13:1, 13

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”   John 13:34

********

 

Prayer Prompt-

Father, All love flows from You. How can I show more love to You? To others?

th

Heavenly Father,

A young woman I’ve been working with for quite a while, who is recovering from substance abuse, recently confided in me. It’s been an incredible journey to watch her come from out of the deep dark grip of hell into the light. The changes in her life have gone far past what I imagined possible. When I first met her, I remember telling You that I thought she was too far gone. In fact, I must confess I held her at a distance for a while…that is until over time You showed me glimmers of hope in her! You have shown me no one is too far gone for You!! It has been incredible watching her slowly transform and timidly grow towards You. It’s been a beautiful reminder that it is You who does the work… I just show up willing to do Your bidding.

That’s why it broke my heart me when she confided she had given into temptation. She tried to justify that it wasn’t bad; that she needed it to soothe her nerves…and many other justifications until we really began to dig into the slippery slope she was already sliding down… back into the dark pit she had come from.  At least she knew to reach out immediately! I was so devastated that I wasn’t sure how to handle it. It’s a good thing I had prayed and asked You to lead because You surely did! Being under the influence of anything other than You leads to destruction. There is no way she or I or anyone else can overcome temptations without being under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Jesus overcame and HE gives us what we need to overcome.

We need to always be on guard against the sneaky slithery attacks that try to lure us away from You. Those temptations can appear pretty good at times, but they are full of lies and deceit. They can even come from people we love. Whatever the temptation is, it will not fulfill us, soothe us, or help us. Those temptations will pull us away from You- the very One who made us, designed us, longs to complete us, and has good plans for us. You sent Jesus to give us abundant everlasting eternal life. When we stay submitted to You through Him, we are under the most powerful and life-giving influence there is! Father, thank You for what You did for both of us as we trusted You and watched the dark deadly influence of a favorite tool of our enemy (drugs and alcohol) fall in defeat under the influence of the Holy Spirit! I am forever dependent upon Your holy influence!

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

“Don’t drink too much wine. That cheapens your life. Drink the Spirit of God, huge draughts of Him. Sing hymns instead of drinking songs! Sing songs from your heart to Christ. Sing praises over everything, any excuse for a song to God the Father in the name of our Master, Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:18 (MSG)

“And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.”   Acts 13:52

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”   1Corinthians 6:19-20

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

Prayer Prompt-

Father, let me be under You influence alone. Help me be alert against the influence of….

th

Heavenly Father,

Two of my grandkids were pretty impressed by the number of people “following me” on a social media. On a whim, I made an account on Instagram, but have never used it. My granddaughter checked my account and said, “How did you do that?! You only have one post. It was up for 2 weeks and you are way ahead of me!” (She hacked my phone and posted the one picture on my account!) What she doesn’t realize is the older I get, the more people I have made contact with in my life. Her social circle at this point is primarily family, school and church friends. Lord, You have put me in contact with an ever- broadening amount of people in my ever-growing longer lifetime. It’s not that I’m famous; it’s simply a reminder of how many people have crossed my path in my lifetime. It is amazing how many chances we get to touch someone else’s life… and they ours- some just for a moment, others for a lifetime.

“Following” someone in todays’ world is as easy as clicking on an icon. Yet we need to be extremely cautious who we follow in real life. Someone may sound good, have great photos and ideas but who are they really? Who are they following? Who am I following? Will my main life purpose be to gather followers, share recipes, crafts and photos? Will my focus in life be to sway others to my way of thinking? If so, what difference will that make in my life or in others’ lives? Who I follow is critical in my life.

Father, I chose a while back to follow Jesus. I continue to choose to follow Him every day. I don’t want anyone to follow me just for the sake of following my thoughts and ideas (or even my life) if it is not going somewhere good. If anyone is following me, I pray it is because they know I am following Jesus…and He leads us to eternal life with You. Let me be purposeful in living my life, for I never know who might be watching and following me even if just for a moment. I pray they only follow me long enough to follow Jesus for themselves!

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

“’Come, follow Me,’ Jesus said. ‘And I will make you fishers of men.’” Matthew 4:19

“Then He said to them all: ‘If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?’” Luke 9:23-25

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

 

Prayer Prompt-

Father, who am I following? Who is following me?

18212023-new-year-s-resolution

Heavenly Father,

We have a wipe-off board posted on the back of the door at work in the ladies’ restroom that is used for fun communication. Someone starts a sentence. Throughout the day, everyone who visits the bathroom who wants to can add their thought to the ongoing list. Yesterday, on the last day of the year, someone wrote “What is your New Year’s resolution?” One of my co-workers started off the list with “Eat more junk food!” I have a pretty good idea who wrote that! Being a bit more on the serious side most of the time, I wrote “Love more deeply.” Over 35 years ago, I asked You to help me learn to love…and You have taught me more each year. I know it will happen in this new year as well. I want to love You more deeply… and love everyone else more deeply, too.

A Christian radio station has been inviting listeners to go to their website to list their resolutions. The DJ reported that the overwhelming theme is people want to spend more time with You, Lord. Obviously, the best way to share love is to share time and life together. In the last couple of weeks surrounding Christmas, I asked quite a few people, “If you could give anything to Jesus for His birthday, what would you give Him?” The main gifts mentioned were time and attention. Isn’t that what we all want from those we love?

Father, I can resolve to love You more deeply but as hard as I could possibly try, I can’t love without Your help. All love flows from You. You love each of us so much more deeply than we could ever comprehend. We will be discovering the depth of Your love for all eternity. I can spend more time with You and give You more attention: listen to You, follow You, enjoy You, obey You, worship You and willingly submit to You. As I spend more time with You, I will naturally fall more in love with You and will have an ever-growing love for others! So I joyfully resolve to surrender more of my life to You this year and watch expectantly as You help me love more deeply!

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

 

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed His love among us; He sent His One and Only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us…We love because He first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And He has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” 1 John 4:7-12, 19-21

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

 

Prayer Prompt-

Father, help me with my new year’s resolution to…

12239542_10205350446256315_2229992938343308932_n

Heavenly Father,

My granddaughter is learning to do tricks on a balance beam along with a whole menagerie of spectacular flips and bends. Hours are spent in practice to keep her focus intent so her balance and skill improve. She did not inherit even a tiny bit of her athletic balancing skill from me. I seem to have a knack for tripping very ungracefully. Yet as clumsy as I am, I can testify it also takes practice to train our spiritual eyes on You, Lord. When I fix my heart, mind and soul on You, I can do amazing things far beyond my own capabilities.

There are times I know I am “walking on water” so to so speak (like Peter did when he crawled over the side of the boat and walked out on the lake to Jesus). When I find myself truly focused on You, Lord, I can glide above the most turbulent waves unruffled and do what seems impossible. I know it’s  because I have my eyes glued to You. I’m walking (perhaps even soaring) towards You and nothing can stop me…until I take my eyes off You. It only takes a second to shift my gaze from You to what seems total chaos around me. I suddenly realize there is no possible way for me to be doing what I’m doing. There is danger all around. There are voices of fear and mockery telling me I can’t walk above crashing waves of finances, health, future plans, the world situation, looming disasters…When I look at the circumstances, my mind sees there is nothing to hold me up and I cry out “Help me, Jesus!”

You pick me back up, set me back on my feet, and remind me to keep looking at You. I watch my gymnast granddaughter fall and get back up and keep practicing until she perfects her focus. Father, I may not be able to do gymnastics, but I can tell my spiritual focus is improving. The fears and loud crashing waves of the world don’t disturb or distract me so easily—at least as long as I keep my focus on You. Father, keep training me to look at You all the time.

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

During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them , walking on the lake. When the disciples saw Him walking on the lake, they were terrified. ‘It’s a ghost,’ they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’ ‘Lord, if it’s you’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to You on the water.’ ‘Come,’ He said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came towards Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ He said, ‘why did you doubt?’” Matthew 14:25-31

 

“I pray also that the eyes of your heart might be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you; the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparable great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of His mighty strength, which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given not only in the present age but also in the one to come.”   Ephesians 1:18-21