I got a late night phone call from my son who just adopted three children all at one time. We chatted for a bit, then he said with a very sincere voice, “I need to apologize.” Caught off guard, I asked, “What for?” He told me he wanted to say he was sorry for all the grief he caused me when he was young. I started laughing, saying I didn’t think I would get this phone call until the teen years! He and his lovely wife had just got home from what must have been a wild grocery store trip with the kids. I know what he’s talking about. You don’t realize how much your parents sacrificed until you are a parent.
I’ve often thought that’s why You let us become parents. You let us share in the joy of creating children out of love (or adopting them out of love). You created us to fall in love with them because they are part of us. Then come all the joys and trials. Then come the loud demands for what they think they can’t live without. Then come the expectations that you need to supply all their needs without one thought of a parent’s needs. Later come the panicked calls for help, just knowing everything will be dropped to rescue. Then come the ungrateful, demanding, sometimes ugly fit-throwing when they don’t get their way. At times, there are no phone calls, visits or even acknowledgement that we gave all we had for our children. It can seem like we do not even exist…but we never ever quit loving them.
How precious it is, no matter what age our child is, to get a spontaneous hug, written note, a helping hand—or to see our children loving one another and getting along instead of fighting. One precious sincere moment can make up for a lot of fits. Yes, Lord, I can see now how precious my parents have been in my life. Even more, I see how You love us through some of the ugliest times in our lives. You always see the best in us. You believe in us. Even while we were sinning, You sent Your pure Son Jesus Christ to take our punishment—so we could live with You forever and ever. Lord, I’m sorry for my un-thoughtful ungrateful attitude towards You. You have loved me far greater than I can ever repay. I choose to accept the un-repayable love You have given me through Jesus by loving You and others for all eternity.
“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and all the creatures who move along the ground.’ So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.’” Genesis 1:26-28
“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
“”Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy. It does not boas, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails…When I was a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we will see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-9, 11-12
Heavenly Father, I am sorry for…
Our son and his lovely wife recently legally adopted three siblings. It’s a beautiful story of how You took the deep heartache of two people who were unable to have children of their own and called upon their hearts to foster-to-adopt. They thought they would just get one child. Instead, You filled their hearts with three little children all at once. There have been labor pains along the way as these three have been in their home for a year as foster children, dealing with the roller coaster ride of the system. They had each been adopted into our hearts long before it became legal. They are now part of our forever family. No doubt there will be a lot more challenges ahead as there are with raising any children. But these parents are totally committed to these children—and the kids are totally bonded with their parents (and the rest of the family).
They have been saved from a life unkind, and placed in a larger family than they can imagine. Not only do they have parents who are willing to sacrifice, provide, love and guide them in Your ways—but they have cousins, uncles, aunts, grandparents and a huge host of God’s family who will all be a part of their lives from now through forever. Father, I pray for their biological family. May they find peace in knowing these children are loved and cared for. I pray that they find an ever deeper relationship with You through Jesus Christ so they can be reunited, if not here on earth—then in heaven.
Father, I thank You so much for adopting us into Your forever family. You sent Your own Son Jesus Christ to sacrifice His precious innocent blood to make it official. All we have to do is believe and accept Your eternal love and commitment to us. You long to have us in Your family with all the eternal benefits. You love us with a love that can never be measured or returned. We are Your children when we take upon Jesus’ name by believing in His birth, death and resurrection to seal us in Your family. Lord, what a beautiful big family we inherit when that happens. Thank You for saving me and making me Yours!
“Praise be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love, He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ in accordance with His pleasure and will—to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us, in the One He loves.” Ephesians 1:3-6
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1
“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” John 1:12-13
Father, thank You for adopting me. It means…
I am going to truly savor this moment because I will never have it again. Each moment is beautiful and unique in its own way. Most of all, it becomes priceless when I share it with You. It will only last a second but it becomes eternal when I live it with You. My awareness of Your very presence changes everything. I’ve been told that You, Lord God Almighty, created me and have been with me since the beginning; yet when I draw close to You in the present moment, my moments become eternal filled with purpose, joy and completeness. The only way I can draw close to You without sin is through Jesus Christ.
Any moment can become holy when I live it with You: when I look at an angry fit-throwing toddler and see through Your eyes the need for love and guidance; when I stand at the washer sorting through another mountain of dirty socks and underwear, I am humbled by the tender ways You continually care for us; when a dear family I love is spending what seems to be the last days of a loved one’s life, I know each moment is precious, short and eternal all at the same time; when I sit on the patio with a cup of coffee and am quiet in Your presence, You fill me, refresh and restore me; when I am stuck in traffic and I’m late to get to my destination, I am grateful for Your reminder to slow down and enjoy the moment; when someone is rude, You give me insight they need extra prayer; when I hear bad news, I stop and turn to You and recall that You are in control and will work all things together for good for those who love You; when I start to worry about one of my children or grandchildren, You remind me of how You helped me through all my trials and drew me closer to You—I can trust You to do that with them, as well; when I hear of riots, earthquakes, and hurricanes, I know there will be many turning to You in the midst of those painful disasters; when I see a single flower bloom, or trees swaying in the breeze, I revel in Your glory that surrounds us with such beauty.
Any moment becomes holy and eternal with You, Lord. All I have to do is stop and turn to You. It can be a dull boring moment, a scary moment, a painful moment, a tearful moment, a peaceful moment, a confusing moment, a weary moment… all moments are given by You and can become holy just by turning to You. Most of all, I thank You for that eternal moment when You sent Jesus to die for my sins and be raised again so I could choose to live forever with You. That moment changed everything! May all my moments be lived with You—forever!
“But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Jesus Christ, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” 2 Timothy 1:8b—10
“But I trust in You, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in Your hands…” Psalm 31:14—15a
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
Heavenly Father, help me share this moment with You…
Music expresses more than the mind can describe, the heart feels and the soul longs to say. I have been very blessed in my life to be surrounded by love songs. My first husband who died at age 37, spent 20 years writing and singing love songs to me. If I didn’t feel loved before, there is no way I could not believe I was loved after all that. Before he died, we were talking about his music and he said that all love songs come from God. The longer I live, the more I believe him…
My present husband started out our marriage by singing his first-ever solo at our wedding! Of course, it was a song of love. It took a lot of courage and I know he really meant what he sang! There are lullabies sung by parents and grandparents that convey an indescribable love. Teachers sing silly-little songs to help children learn the alphabet, months, manners and how to dance the wiggles out. Those little ditties are filled with love for their students. Care-givers sing songs along with patients with Alzheimer’s or dementia or brain injuries who are basically unable to speak. Those patients will belt out a song they’ve sung all their lives though they may not be able to answer simple questions. There is nothing more moving than being in a group where everyone is singing a song of love to You, Lord, with all their heart, like they really mean it. I can feel all our love rising up like a beautiful sacrifice of praise straight to Your heart. I know it blesses You more than we know.
There’s one verse in the Bible that has always stopped me in my tracks—that is where You say You sing songs over us! That really amazes me! Do You have just the right song at just the right time for each of us? A lullaby when we need rest; a teaching song when we need to remember; a battle song when we need to fight; a peaceful song when we need to rest in Your presence; a song of grace when we need to be assured of Your forgiveness; a strong song when we need to overcome fear; a tender song reminding us to trust You no matter what; a song of promise that You will never leave us; a song of joy when we do right; a song of Your immeasurable, everlasting love for us that tells us that You delight in us! I am overcome by Your love—that You would be willing to love me when I was a sinner–enough to send Jesus to die in my place so I could choose to live with You forever and ever—that You continually woo me with love songs.
“The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17
“For the Lord takes delight in His people; He crowns the humble with salvation. Let the saints rejoice in this honor and sing for joy on their beds.” Psalm 149:4-5
“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.” Psalm 100
Father, help me be still and hear Your songs, and let me sing love songs to You—no matter what…
As we get reports on different stories coming out of the devastation from Hurricane Harvey dumping torrential rains and causing widespread flooding, I am once again reminded of Your eternal presence no matter what we have to go through. So far, I have heard of 15 deaths and over 500 deep water rescues. Countless homes, schools, churches and communities are under water right now. Businesses, earthly investments, and worldly dreams may have been blown apart or drowned in the powerful winds and deep waters…but even more valuable eternal riches are being discovered in a new way.
When our earthly security is shaken, we often turn more fully to You, Lord, for our eternal security. We may lose everything including our home, only to find that You are our everlasting shelter. We could lose a loved one, and find that You never ever leave us. Our dream of a business might be washed away, but hopefully we find Your kingdom which stands forever. We, or someone we know, may have come eerily close to death, only to find eternal life through Jesus Christ.
We will continue to see and hear more reports of devastation and rescues from this tropical storm. As we watch and pray, may we be reminded that what looks like the end is often the beginning. As we pray for those in the midst of pain and suffering, may we pray with confidence that You are right there with them- each in a very personal way, coaching them on, opening their eyes to the eternal new life before them found in Jesus Christ. Some hurricanes come in the form of water, others come in the form of cancer, chronic or terminal illness, death of a loved one, financial ruin, divorce, a lost job, a legal mess, a broken relationship…It may truly appear as the end for those going through it; but I pray it is just the beginning of an ever deepening relationship with You. That’s what true life is. I love You, Lord.
“You will hear of wars and rumors of war, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pangs.” Matthew 24:6-8
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are Mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.” Isaiah 43:1-2
“A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. The disciples went and woke Him, saying ‘Master, Master, we’re going to drown!’ He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. ‘Where is your faith? He asked the disciples.” Luke 8:23-25
Father, I pray for those going through the flooding from the hurricane…and for me to see You in my own hurricane…
I just spent last week at an awesome church camp (four nights and 5 days at a 4th-5th grade camp and then a day camp for K-1st grade). The most miraculous things happen at church camp which makes up for the hard waterproof mattresses on old squeaky bunk beds, the dirt that totally covers your body from the dust stirred up by so many feet, late nights with giggly girls, stinky boys who pride themselves on no showers, wet clothes thrown all over cabin floors, wet swimsuits which fall off the line and get dirt mixed together with snow cone and ice cream drippings, a few cases of homesickness or real sickness, several real or imagined boo-boos, and being asked a million times “What’s next?”
The eternal benefits far outweigh the downside. I want to thank You, Lord for a few of the miracles I had the privilege of witnessing this year: the boy whose family just moved to a small town in OK and attended church for the first time. His mom heard them talking about leaving for church camp and wished out loud her son could go to meet new friends. In less than an hour, he was packed and back at church to go to camp with people he didn’t know. He ended up getting baptized and camper of the week!…the very smart but extremely shy girl who fought through tears and fear to say memory verses in front of the whole crowd and discovered You are with her and will help her…4th and 5th grade kids who happily gave up their “canteen money” to donate to the mission of building chapels in OK prisons. They broke the record by giving $1000 towards helping inmates know about Jesus inside prison walls… the unbridled worship of children who sing to You with all their heart, minds and soul…
Lord, I was overcome by the history of this small church camp that gets city kids out in the country, that makes children forget all about TV, video games and cell phones. Many of the adult sponsors grew up going to camp there. That’s where they came to know You. I wonder how many of the 9 baptisms in the swimming pool last week will end up as pastors, teachers and living long lives for You. I have no way of knowing how many lives have been changed eternally through this one humble church camp serving a group of OK churches. Not only are the kids’ lives impacted for Your kingdom, adults are drawn closer to You as well. I know I found time to be still and quiet before You this week. I grew in Your word, Your presence and in sweet fellowship with big and little brothers and sisters-in-Christ. May we all take our renewed fire for You back to our daily lives and shine brilliantly with the Light of Jesus Christ! Thank You, Lord, for letting me be a part of church camp.
“He (Jesus) took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in His arms, He said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes one of these little children in My name welcomes Me; and whoever welcomes Me does not welcome Me but the one who sent Me.’” Mark 9:36-37
“Let the little children come to ME, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Mark 10:14b-15
Father, show me how I can worship, obey and live with You like a child…
Part of my nature wants to put down roots and stay in one place forever. I fall in love with people very easily. You have shown me how to love You with all my heart… and to love others deeply. That’s why it is so challenging to leave a place filled with those I cherish. You are calling us to step away from the local church we love and to follow You into the unknown once again. I still recall walking down the aisle and making a commitment to be a part of this church we have grown to love so dearly. You had just called us from another church we dearly loved and led us into the unknown that time, as well. Little did I know that three of our young sons would marry wonderful girls they met in the youth group at this church…that more of our family would surrender their lives to You while at this church…that we would bond with the most amazing generous believers…that we would grow in prayer, study, worship and fellowship together…that we would share the joy and hard work of ministering to literally thousands of travelers through our annual Journey to Bethlehem… that we would witness the births and deaths of those we love…that we would see so many find new life through Jesus Christ…that we would see preschoolers and elementary children we helped teach grow into strong servants of Jesus.
Who would have known at that first “hello” that we would be forever changed through our encounters with these incredible people? You did, didn’t You, Lord?! You knew the plans You had to use them to affect our lives and our lives to affect theirs. That’s how You work! “Helloes” are far more significant than we could ever realize- whether they are for a short time or a lifetime. I’ve seen what happens when You work through a “hello” to a stranger off the street, a neighbor, a co-worker, a future spouse, a newborn grandbaby, a foster child, in-laws, someone I’ve stood in line with at the grocery store, a teacher, a student… Those first encounters are ripe with eternal possibilities when You are involved.
That’s why “Goodbye” is so hard to say. Yet a goodbye blessed by You is also filled with eternal promise. I think of the times I’ve had to say “goodbye” as my children left home, as my husband or other dear family and friends passed from this life to the next, as students move up, as You move us apart from people we love, as we start a new chapter… You are enlarging Your kingdom, spreading Your love and truth, planting new seeds while letting the ones left behind mature and scatter their own seed. “Helloes” and “goodbyes” are both part of Your design and both are filled with eternal hope. I’m just so grateful that You will never ever say “Goodbye” to me and that each day holds a precious new “hello” from You as we grow closer to You and to Your eternal Home where there will finally be no more “Goodbyes.”
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” 2 Corinthians 13:14
Father, thank You for the eternal “helloes” You’ve had me say to…
And for the promise of no more “goodbyes” to….
Today marks the next step on an incredible journey with You, Lord. What a joy to go to sleep at night and know that not only will You be with me all night…but You already have this day and all the rest of my days covered as well. I can truly relax and enjoy the adventure. I know I haven’t always trusted You as much on my journey as I do now…and I’m sure my trust will continue to grow as we continue on this expedition. I can remember many times of panic when I came upon a deep pit in the road. I couldn’t see the bottom of that hole and there seemed no way across it or around it…but over and over again- You have made a way where there was no way. There have been times I stood at the base of steep cliffs or a treacherous uphill climb. You know I’m terrified of heights; yet You tenderly encouraged me to start the climb, one step at a time when I could not even see the top of the mountain. You have helped me do what was humanly impossible to do on my own.
What a thrill to make it to the top of arduous climb, trusting You one foot hold at a time. The view at the top showing both how far I had come- along with a peek at the road ahead was breath-taking. You have led me through valleys with the shadow of death darkening my way only to bring Your glorious light for every step the way. You have arranged for me to lie down in lush green pastures with You when I needed rest and recuperation more than I knew. You have been my oasis in the desert when there was no relief of shade or drink in sight and given me living water to restore my soul so I could tread through the desert one step at a time.
The times I have kept my eyes on You instead of the obstacles, You have pointed out beauty all along the journey- sights I might have missed or taken for granted if I wasn’t following Your lead. Not only have You shared magnificent sunrises and sunsets at just the right time; You point out babies’ first smiles, sweet moments with friends and family, divine encounters with strangers, doves sitting above me, children running to hug me, love in the eyes of my grown children for their spouses and children, strength in the weak, hope in the weary, new life in those left for dead, peace in last breaths, the surprise of Your presence at every turn in some new way. I love the journey with You…most of all- because You love me and I love You. So I find joy in Your presence! Hmmm…what will today bring? More of You.
“Thomas said to Him, ‘Lord, we don’t know where You are going, so how can we know the way?’ Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” John 14:5-6
“Show me Your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths; guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long.” Psalm 25:4-5
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
Father, help me keep my eyes on Jesus today as we go…
After going through a really hard time leaving me exhausted and weary, I woke up suddenly this morning with my eyes wide open. I found myself singing, “O what a beautiful morning; O what a beautiful day! I’ve got a wonderful feeling…everything is going God’s way!” The joy in my heart, the peace in my spirit, the words of the song don’t make sense in the light of the painful situation and deep wounds of so many people I care so much about. But I’ve been through many battles before and I know that what Satan meant for division, destruction and death will never win out when we trust in You, Lord. You always have the final say and can turn absolutely any hopeless looking situation into something far greater than we could ever hope for!
And You don’t just work in one heart. You love each and every one of us and want the very best for each of us…You work Your miraculous goodness in each and every soul that loves You and waits upon You to do Your awesome work. You use the situation to point out both goodness and darkness; You use the circumstances to strengthen the weak and prune away our pride; You use the trial to prune away the dead and useless parts and bring out strong branches we never knew were there; You use the division to bring about a unity we didn’t know was possible because it is in You. You can take the worst of enemies and turn them into brothers through the love and power of Jesus Christ. I look forward to seeing the good that You will create from this hard blow…(pause for real time interruptions)
Well, I didn’t have to wait very long! Even in the midst of this prayer, I was ministered to by my daughter who has become an incredible follower of Jesus. (What a blessing after so many years of praying for her salvation!) Right after that, I got a message from a dear sweet sister-in-Christ caught in the same battle. This quiet person who has needed so much prayer in her own life recently called for us to all gather to pray! I have already witnessed unity, forgiveness and love being birthed from this deep divide…and I know You are far from finished, Lord! That’s why I love You. That’s why You are my most perfect Valentine. You send Your heart dripping with the incredibly powerful blood and love of Jesus Christ!
“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:6-8a
“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith- of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire- may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:6-9
Father, help me hold fast to You during….
O Lord, my God!
Here I come once again to be alone with You. I am battle-weary. I need some spiritual first aid from You, Lord. There are times it is very evident that this world is not my home. Some days the arguments, misunderstandings, name-calling and lack of love simply wear me down. Sometimes the attacks are not necessarily aimed at me but there are so many arrows flying in all directions that I am caught in the crossfire. I realize I am in enemy territory. Other times the attacks are not towards me personally but are aimed at all those who are called by Your name. It’s hard not to take them personally because I belong to You.
The attacks which probably take me most off-guard are the ones that come through people I love and trust. They blindside me and knock me for a deep blow. My first thought is to put up my defenses and wallow in the pain. Then You help me remember that my enemy is not flesh and blood. You remind me that the true enemy is easily defeated with the name of Jesus Christ. Your love and grace immediately begin to heal the wound that left alone would fester with unforgiveness.
Lord, I am incredibly grateful that I can run to You for shelter and refuge any time anywhere. I’m thankful that Jesus warned us we would have such attacks so we wouldn’t be surprised. I love that You restore my soul and fill me up so I can forgive, pray for and love those who have been instruments in the enemies hand’s. Give me the love of Jesus which prays, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Father, thank You for Your loving shelter where I find all I could ever need. Once again, You’ve restored my soul and now I can go back out into this world ready to share Your love.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 5:12
“But I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:44-45
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23
Father, I am wounded. This is who I need You to help me pray for and love…