Heavenly Father,

In this day and age, most of us have chaotic lives with hectic schedules. Every day I see parents picking up their children and rushing to a practice or a game. They barely have time to say “hello” or share the happenings of the day. Meals are fast, often in the car on the way to another location. Every moment of “off time” from work or school is packed with entertainment, chores, errands or activities. Every space is filled with noise from the nonstop blare of TV, radio, news, video games or social media. All that noise fills us with worries of crime, terrorists, financial woes, relationship concerns, what we might be doing wrong, and the terrible shape of the world. We are driven to make more money so we can spend more and then we worry over more bills. We want larger homes then it takes more time to maintain them. It can, indeed, be a chaotic world. Most everyone longs for a more simple life with less stress.

It is up to us to slow down and simplify our lives. We have a choice to answer Your call to “Be still and know that You are God.”  Those quiet times with You certainly simplify our lives. When we consistently take time to be still in Your presence, You help us to get our priorities straight. You show us what needs to be cut out so we are not overwhelmed. You remind us You have a plan for our lives…and it is not to add more stress but to give us Your peace. Lord, You open up a way when it seems there is no way out. You restore and refresh our souls. You teach us how to truly love and enjoy the moments with our families and those You put in our path. You let us know what we need to handle  and what we need to simply place in Your masterful hands. You open our eyes to see the beauty we would be too busy to notice if we weren’t still with You. You reveal more and more of Yourself as we seek these simple times with You.

Lord, help me to consistently choose a more simple life with You. Let me seek You and love You with all my heart, mind, soul and strength. You sent Jesus to give me a more abundant life. The more I simplify my life and seek You, the more blessings are multiplied. You are all I need. You are far more than I could ever hope for. It’s simple…I choose You!

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“The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.”    Psalm 19:7

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”  Matthew 6:33

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”   John 10:10

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Prayer Prompt-

Heavenly Father, help me seek  You first and above all…

All-Knowing Heavenly Father,

It takes holiness to hold back sometimes. I’m seeing that more and more as I get older. I certainly didn’t understand when I was young. When I was younger, it seemed everything revolved around me. When I wanted a certain toy or dress, I thought I should get it right then. It appeared to me that my parents were being cruel or unreasonable to say “No” to my current whim. As I became a parent, I had to learn to hold back on granting my children’s every wish or demand. I knew what was best for them in the long run. Their development of good character was far more important than giving them momentary satisfaction. What a reward for one of my grown sons (after becoming a dad and admitting he used to get mad at us) to come back and genuinely thank us for not letting him watch certain movies, go to uncertain parties or play games with unstable morals. The greatest reward is seeing his awesome character.

Through the years, I’ve struggled with seeing those I care about in pain. At times, it’s been my husband, children, grandchildren or people who are grieving a death or a loss that has rocked their world. I just want to take away their suffering. But You have shown me the eternal value of holding back. If I tried to fix it, they might gain momentary relief…but if I hold back and simply stand with them in the pain and let You fix it in all Your holiness- there will be eternal results. You, Lord, are the only One who can see the whole picture. You, alone know the good which will come from holding back. That is why it is always better for me to wait upon You and Your perfect ways.

It is comforting to know that it must have been hard for You to hold back when Your Son Jesus struggled in the garden, was falsely accused, condemned to die an unjust death, whipped beyond recognition and hung on a cross to die. It was all part of Your plan to give us eternal life. It was part of Your plan since the very beginning. I can’t imagine the holy love it took for You to hold back when Jesus cried out in forsaken agony on the cross. He died alone without You for our sakes so we would never have to live without You. It would have been easy for You to take the cup from Him; to relieve His pain and suffering…yet You held back. You knew what His death and resurrection would mean to each of us. Father, help me hold back when it is part of Your plan …but let me hold nothing back when it comes to worshipping, loving, obeying and following You!

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“Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from Him. ‘Abba, Father,’ He said, ‘everything is possible for You. Take this cup from Me. Yet not what I will, but what You will.’”  Mark 14:35-36

“From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” – which means, “my God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”   Mathew 27:45

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.”   James 1:12

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Prayer Prompt-

Most Holy Father, thank You for holding back when I ask for the wrong thing like…

Heavenly Father,

The last few months I’ve been doing a lot of pruning on trees and bushes. I grew up watching my horticulturist dad prune. He taught me well. If someone watching me didn’t trust my pruning abilities, they might think I was butchering if not killing the poor tree. If the tree could talk, it might be screaming out- not understanding what the beloved gardener is doing. It appears to be harmful when the cutting starts, but pruning in the hands of a gardener who knows what they are doing is an art. There is a vision of what that tree is capable of becoming. It may be the same tree, but the pruner sees a new creation in an ever-better form. The selective surgery is done, knowing it might take seasons (or perhaps years) to fully develop into the design the gardener has in mind. But the gardener is willing to wait for it to grow into its design.

Father, You are the Master Gardener! You have been doing some major pruning lately. Though it might hurt for a while, I trust what You are doing. I trust the fresh strong growth You are bringing out. I submit to Your design for my life and those who I care deeply for. There are times You cut out a perfectly healthy branch because You know another new fresh branch will come out where the other was cut away. You cut out the dead wood that’s just taking up space and not producing any new life. You cut away one branch where two are rubbing against each other. The constant friction will rub open wounds on both branches, giving entry ways for all kinds of diseases and insects. Then there are times You simply dig up a shrub after pruning and move it to a new location where You need it         to flourish and produce.

Lord, though I may squirm or even wrestle under Your pruning; though I hear the cries of those I love who are undergoing pruning- I am already seeing new shoots of life coming out where the pruning took place. Those new buds will make strong branches which will produce much fruit in Your kingdom. Thank You, Lord, for the loving way You tenderly prune with such beauty and purpose in mind. Let me submit willingly to Your Master hand. You made me and You know what You designed me and those around me for. Let us flourish and blossom under Your all-knowing care. I love you , Lord, even when there’s pruning!

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“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.”   John 15:1-5

“And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way; bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”   Colossians 1:10-14

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Prayer Prompt-

Lord, where are You pruning me? Help me submit to You loving design…

Heavenly Father,

What a beautiful sight to wake up to…pure white snow blanketing everything. All the mess; all the brown piles of dried up leaves; all the trash cans; dirty cars and broken fences- they were all transformed into beautiful sparkling pure white snow still untouched by humans hands and feet. I happened to be one of the first to drive on it yesterday morning. Though the sun had not quite risen, the undisturbed cover laid out in front of me glowing in the soft pre-dawn light. The atmosphere was filled with peace with the muffled softness of sound from piles of brilliant fresh- fallen snow. The morning almost had a sacred feel to it…until I walked into work where they had to salt the sidewalk for the safety of incoming feet. What a mess! The salt and slush was tracked all over in no time at all!

I watched the snow out the window as the day went by. It was too cold to go outside and play in it so for the most part, it lay undisturbed! On the drive home, the dirty ruts of tires spoiled the pure whiteness. Though I ‘d admired the pure clean snow, I couldn’t help but think how my very best attempts at pure holiness on my own are filthy and impure compared to Your holiness. There is not one iota of meanness or manipulation or spot of impurity in You, Lord! You are more holy than the cleanest whitest snow.

You, Lord, are untouched by my filthy sin which somehow always makes its way through as I go through the fiery trials of this life. I cannot blemish Your holiness…but You can completely cover my sin. You did it once and for all by sending Your Son Jesus Christ to die for us on the cross. He came quietly, softly and let His pure blood cover and cleanse every bit of ugly rebellious sin. I may still feel the sin pop through, but I believe You look at me and see the beautiful holy covering of Jesus’ blood that makes me pure so I can live with You for all eternity. You not only cover me but make me new from the inside out!

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“But we all are as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness is as filthy rags; and we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”  Isaiah 64:6

“Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord. Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Isaiah 1:18

“as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”  Psalm 103:12

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, I need the pure holy saving grace of Jesus. Forgive me and cleanse me from…

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Heavenly Father,

It is so fun living with You, learning from You and growing in You! Lately, I’ve been seeing how much fun it can be to trust You! Of course, I wouldn’t have always described trusting You as fun. At times, it has been a little like jumping out of an airplane for the first time (I’ve never done it but I have trusted You on some issues that were very similar!) There have been times I have known exactly what You wanted and my trust in Your goodness led me forward with confidence. There have been a few times, it seemed You asked me to do something and I wanted to say, “You’ve got to be kidding! You want me to what?!!”

My old human self was filled with fear. I was the furthest from an adventurous risk-taker there could be. I still like my feet on solid ground as opposed to deep water or icy slopes. Yet those years of trusting You have changed me. It all started long ago, with me truly trusting that You sent Jesus to save me and to give me eternal life. All my years since have been spent learning to trust You more and more in every situation- in little things and huge issues- with circumstances and with people. Some things have been easier to trust You on than others. I cannot count the times I held on with all my might before simply letting go and trusting You.

Yet, oh the joy that comes from trusting You. A sweet peace comes from trusting that You are in charge and have good plans despite what any situation looks like. What confidence to be able to go through a challenging situation, knowing You have the final say in the outcome…and Your love and goodness can be absolutely trusted! What joy that comes in waiting upon You, trusting You through whatever comes my way…and then getting to share in the amazing way in which You work. I love watching You work, Lord! I love getting to be a part of it even when it can look dark at times. I love trusting You through it and seeing the outcome! I get to share in Your joy! It’s the joy of loving You, trusting You, following You, living with You, sharing in Your goodness and in Your eternal work. Yet the joy is not my only reward. My true reward is You!

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“Come and share your Master’s happiness!”   Matthew 25:23b

“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. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world but to save the world through Him.”  John 3:16-17

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”  Hebrews 11:6

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, show me how I can trust You more…

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Heavenly Father,

I’ve run out of gas. My energy is all used up. My body, mind and spirit are setting on empty. I don’t want to talk or move. It’s OK, though. I’ve run out of steam before. It’s not the worst thing in the world because I know where to go to get filled back up. In fact, I believe it may be good for us to experience our own weakness now and again. It is a reminder of how much we need You, Lord!

So here I sit, quietly in Your Holy presence holding my empty tank before You…

I don’t want to try to take another step, make another plan, or talk to another person til I am filled up again. If I try to go on an empty tank, I will just sputter and stop. It might even do more damage than good if I attempt to go under my own power instead of Your’s.

Even now, as I am still before You and thirsting for more of You, I can tell You are gently filling me up. Being in Your presence is refreshing and renewing. You restore me. I am not in a hurry to get going again. It is beautiful to be filled by You. I was made to be filled by You. We were all designed to be filled with You. My joy, my peace, my strength, my purpose are all found in You through Jesus Christ. Fill me up!

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“He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul.”  Psalm 23:2-3a

“I have made You known to them, and will continue to make You known in order that the love You have for Me may be in them and that I Myself may be in them.”    John 17:26

“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.”   Romans 15:13

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Prayer Prompt-

Father God, I want to be filled with…

 

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Heavenly Father,

Recently, I had my last meeting with a young woman I’ve had the honor of ministering for over a year. A crazy but beautiful friendship has developed during our regularly scheduled times.  I have to admit, I steered clear of her for a while. I was a little guarded around her. I recall telling You she was too much for me. She was not living in reality and had some of the strangest ideas about spirituality. I believe I even told You that she was not near ready to change her life. Did You just smile, Lord? Anyway, I was kind to her and prayed for her- yet kept a wall up for a while.  She had a way of trying to shock me with her ideas and history. Nothing took away my resolve to keep bringing her to You. A lot has happened in the past fourteen months.

There was never a sudden dramatic change but a steady slow metamorphosis which has taken place right before my eyes. It was nothing that I could do or the program she was in could accomplish… although I know the prayers we all prayed for her made a difference. As I met with her for the last time, this tough young woman tried to act like she was not afraid, but I believe she was worried about leaving the safe cocoon she’s been in. As we visited, hope for the future came alive as we discussed her next step. We both came into the meeting with a little trepidation about her going out into the world. But as always, when You are at work, things turn out completely different than what we can imagine or plan.

By the time we both left, we were a little sad to think of no more regular times together…but we were both filled with hope for her future. We were both sure it was time to move forward. We hugged and prayed a precious goodbye. Afterward, my husband drove me to the lake just in time to catch the most glorious sunset. It was like Your way of saying it was the end of a beautiful chapter. Lord! Yet sunsets are always followed by sunrises- a new beginning. Father, may she shine out with Your glory as she steps into her new beginning. In fact, I have a new beginning, as well. We all do!

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“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy: I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”     John 10:10

“He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then He said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ He said to me: ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End.’”   Revelation 21:5-6

“Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”  Mark 10:27

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, what do I need to say goodbye to so I can have even more life with You?…

 

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Heavenly Father,

As I was working on a new flower bed for our church’s landscape, a young woman came looking for help…any kind of help. This thin girl said she was in her twenties but I felt like she could have easily been a teen run-away. She had come to our church before and showered and been given food. I happened to be by myself last Saturday so though I wanted to help her, I also needed to be on extra alert. Her words were jumbled and at times did not make any sense. It was hard to say if there were mental issues as well as drug problems. I continued to work as I listened to her talk, trying to assess the situation. I quietly asked for Your wisdom, protection and guidance.

She was living on the streets or wherever she could find. It’s such a dangerous life and she was so young. Throughout our conversation, she kept asking for water, food, a shower, make-up, a backpack, shampoo. She must have asked for water at least 20 times. Even after taking a shower in our church and giving her a large drink of water (part of which was thrown out), she continued to ask for water. It must be an obsession. What she really needs is Living Water.  She mumbled something about having to have water to survive. Father, unless something changes, she might not survive the streets. Yet she wouldn’t let me take her to a shelter. I know many people who choose this way of life. I kept asking about her family- who she could go back to and find shelter. When she told me of her mom, I dialed her number in another state. She was at least able to leave a voicemail for her mom.

I told her all the things she was asking for were only temporary help. What she really needed was a brand new clean life with Jesus Christ.  As much as I wanted to save her from the life she is living, I couldn’t keep her from choosing a path that leads to a deeper walk into death- away from You, Lord. She is living in survival mode, trapped in a life of hell. It’s going to get worse before it gets better. I prayed with her. I was overwhelmed with Your love for her and the grace You long to give her for all the things she’s done. As much as I longed to help her make that step into new life, You desire it for her even more. You sacrificed Your very own Son so she could have eternal life…but she’s not ready to accept it. How sad it was to watch her walk away. Father, I know You will be with her, continually calling her home to You.

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I’m praying for this to happen to her: “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father.

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fatted calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. So they began to celebrate.”   Luke 15:17-24

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, give me a heart like Yours for the lost…

 

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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!

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“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

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Prayer Prompt-

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

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Heavenly Father,

One month ago my son and daughter-in-law who live in Arkansas called to tell us they were expecting their third baby! I was overjoyed- just as they were. One week later, they called back to say it was a miscarriage. I grieved with them though long distance. It was hard because they had already told their two other children. The kids had each used fabric markers to make a tiny shirt for their new baby. My granddaughter had been hugging and patting her mom’s tummy. It seemed like all their hopes and dreams were gone. This family turned to You together to help them through their loss.

They came to visit us this last weekend. The kids brought the little memory books they had made about their baby sibling they had hoped to hold, play with and tease one day. I was deeply moved by their drawings and thoughts. My daughter-in-law seemed to still be having physical issues with the miscarriage while they were here, so my son took her to the Emergency Room. After telling their story, the doctor ordered blood work and other tests. I waited up late to hear what they found out. When they came back, they sat down with a stunned look on their faces and blurted out, “We’re still pregnant…and further along than we thought!” With shocked voices, they explained how the ultrasound tech moved the scanner over her body and showed where her bladder and everything else was, then pointed at the screen and said, “And there’s your baby with a healthy heartbeat!” They both had to lean way over to see for themselves. What they thought was dead was fully alive! And they found this out on the week of Resurrection Day!

Holy Week leading up to Resurrection Day is always my favorite Holy-day. The greatest thing to ever happen is celebrated today.  When Jesus died on the cross, it seemed all hope was lost, but He overcame death for us …and is fully alive! He is born in us when we surrender to Him. His Spirit inside us grows until nothing can hold it back. How do I know He lives? I once was dead yet now I live a full, abundant, overflowing, ever-growing eternal life in You, Lord!

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“In reply Jesus declared, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.’ ‘How can a man be born when he is old?’ Nicodemus asked. ‘Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.’”   John 3:3-6

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy, H has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead…”   1 Peter 1:3

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Prayer Peek & Prompt-

Father, Let me be willing to die to myself so Your Spirit may give birth to new life in my spirit