Posts

sharing hope

 

Almighty Father God!

There is so much winter debris that needs to be cleaned out of my gardens. The late record-breaking deep freezes left a big overwhelming mess behind. There were 3-foot-high piles of broken branches from the ice storm that completely covered the front of our yard (which finally got picked up by the city). Spring just kind of snuck up on me because of how much winter we had to deal with this year. The last couple of days, I have raked out a lot of the fallen brown leaves from my flower beds. As I carefully pull out the crisp brown trash, I am finding all kinds of delightful new growth that was hidden under all the damage. My heart surges with the promise of Spring and new life! Every day is a surprise with new growth revealing itself.

Our 25-foot tall Live Oak is usually covered with evergreen leaves, but the winter was so harsh this year that there is not even one green leaf to be found…YET! This is the same tree that has survived many other storms and disasters. It provides the main shade for our patio area. It might appear dead, but I am almost positive it will bud out- maybe a bit later than usual. I am definitely waiting with anticipation for new signs of life. It can’t be rushed! We just have to wait upon it to recover and for the sap to rise and surge new life through the dead-looking branches.

Father, as much as I love to grow plants, trees, and flowers—I know that I am not the one who created them and gives them all they need to grow. I cannot force daffodil bulbs to spring up from a bulb to shoot new growth up towards the sky…and then bloom in glorious yellows! I can’t make my large holly bushes that got hurt in the winter produce new growth from where their stems got knocked back by the freeze. I cannot simply tell perennials to rise up from their roots and grow an even larger plant than last year!

All life flows from You alone, Lord! Sometimes a winter season or storm can make someone feel dead and hopeless, but if we wait upon You, You will pour Your Spirit into that person and new signs of life begin sprouting up to produce glorious new life. I’ve had it happen to me over and over. I pray for anyone reading this who feels stuck in a dead -looking winter season to wait and be still as You help them through and bring new life where it seemed impossible! All glory to You, Lord God, who makes all things new through Jesus Christ!

 

********

 

“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 the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.”     Revelation 21:5-6

 

“Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain, and a path for the thunderstorm, to water a land where no one lives, an uninhabited desert, to satisfy a desolate wasteland and make it sprout with grass?”    Job 38:25-27

 

“For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.”     Isaiah 61:11

 

**********

 

Your prayer prompt-

Father, Let me seek You even in my winter season and wait upon You to restore life….

Heavenly Father,

 

There are few things as silent as snow falling. And there is nothing like snow to cause life to come to a stop- at least here in Oklahoma where it is a rare occurrence. This year the pandemic has slowed life down in many ways… and snow slows it down even more. When I look out the window at the soft snow falling without a sound, I am reminded once again how sweet it is to sit silently in Your presence and be covered by Your pure holiness.

 

So much happens when I’m still with You. It’s not so much that You speak in a booming voice, but as I sit still in Your presence, so much takes place in that stillness. Your Spirit falls softly in my very soul to calm me in Your heavenly peace. It’s not so much that You tell me where I should go or what I should do, but You are with me. You permeate me with Your very being and restore my soul. All my fears and anxieties are covered fresh with Your peaceful Spirit as I sit in silent trust in You.

 

Lord, You are pure and holy and good! There is no darkness in You at all. All Your plans and motives are much more pure than the glistening white flakes floating down from above. When I am finally silent and still before You- when I finally stop telling You what I want- when I am ready and willing to let Your will cover me, I become as fresh and new as that pure fresh snow I see outside. Yet I need You every single day, because we all know how dirty and messy snow can get as the day goes by.  So I sit quietly in Your presence today. Fall fresh on me…

 

*******

 

“Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.”    Psalm 51:7

 

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

 

“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater…”   Isaiah 55:10

 

********

 

Father, help me be still before You…

all things work together for good
all things work together for good

All things work together for good

My Prayer Peek/ your prayer prompt [blessings in a pandemic]

 

Most Holy Father,

 

Over and over again, I hear how horrible this year has been…and I have to admit, personally it has been challenging with the loss of dear friends and family members (two due to suicide which carries it’s own heartbreak), loss of income, not being able to accompany family members or them with me in medical crisis, not being able to gather as a family, or even to worship as I am accustomed to. Yet, oh my sweet Lord, how I see You at work with blessings overflowing in the midst of what some are calling “the worst year ever.” Having gone through my share of many trials, I have to say, once again, Lord, You make beauty from ashes, and it is definitely true that You create good out of what seems the worst when we have eyes to see…

 

                Some of the sweet blessings I see developing out of a year of world-wide pandemic include:

  • A slowing down of the fast-paced driven society that leaves little time for deepening relationships and simply enjoying one another.
  • Parents spending more time with their children with bike rides, walks, games, fishing and other non-stress activities.
  • With the real threat of death due to this virus, people are reviewing and simplifying their lives to savor the most important treasures which are relationships. Even the healthy are realizing today could be their last day. It changes the way we live.
  • More time to sit quietly and share all our heart with You, Lord, through prayer.
  • Letting go of things we have no control over and trusting You to make good come from our current situation—no matter how dire.
  • Learning to live with less since this pandemic has created a shortage of many things.
  • Holding our dear loved ones before You and realizing You love them even more than we ever could, and You want more for them than we could ever ask for or imagine.
  • Realizing You love us just because of who we are, and not for what we can do for You and Your Kingdom.
  • Believing that this dark and hopeless world needs the Light You give us through our relationship with Jesus Christ now more than ever. Our answer of hope, when we are hit with dark fear and hopelessness, does far more than we can imagine—even if we don’t see immediate results. The hope we share is eternal and stands for all time.
  • Doctors cannot save everyone, but You long to give us eternal life.
  • If and when I die from Covid-19 or any other cause- I know I will live forever with You! I am ready.

 

Thank You, Lord, for the countless rich blessings You are showering us with even in this horrible pandemic. Open our eyes to see them and thank You for them.

 

 

*******

 

“to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”    Isaiah 61:3

 

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”  Matthew 5:14-16

 

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”  1 Peter 3:15

 

******

 

Your prayer prompt-

Father, open my eyes through Jesus Christ to see You and Your glory in the midst of ….

God's presence
God's presence

privilege of being still in His presence

My Prayer Peek/your prayer prompt [sit in Your presence]

Most Glorious Lord,

My favorite thing is to sit in Your presence and just soak up Your glory! There are times I have to work harder at leaving all the distractions, worries, to-do lists, and urgent calls upon my heart to simply sit and be still before You. The more I am still with You, the more I want to do it more. In fact, once I am sitting still before You, I can feel Your presence all around. I know You are blessing me and filling me and doing much more than I could possibly know during this precious time together. Often, I don’t even want to leave this wonderful place where we simply sit in quiet union in an eternal space where time does not matter.

 

Having been brought up as a worker and a doer, there are times I must fight against the guilty sense of what looks like doing nothing. But, oh Lord, I have discovered it is the most important thing I could ever do. There is so much that goes on being in Your presence than I could ever comprehend in this life. In Your presence, I find all I could ever need: reassurance, comfort, wisdom, complete forgiveness, understanding, direction, peace, vision, eternal hope, tender correction, renewed strength, refreshment for my weary soul…

 

There may not be many words but much happens in this quiet time I spend just savoring the mighty miraculous gift of the presence of the Most High in a very intimate way in my little insignificant heart. It seems I have all the attention of the Great I Am…yet I know You share Your presence with whoever accepts Jesus as the way. Lord, not only do I know I can sit in Your presence now and forever, but I want to walk with You, dwell with You and abide with You as I go about living out my limited time in this limited form. You can do much more when I spend more time in Your presence and less time doing things on my own. Help me to learn to sit, walk and live in Your glorious presence- even in the most mundane activities!

 

*******

 

“As Jesus and His disciples were on their way, He came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to Him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’ ‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’”  Luke 10:38-42

 

“Remain in me, as I also 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.”  John 15:4

 

********

 

Your prayer prompt-

Lord, help me be still in Your presence (thanks to Jesus’ sacrifice for this eternal privilege)…

praise God
praise God

God is worthy to be praised

My Prayer Peek/your prayer prompt [power of praise]

Most Glorious Father God!

My prayers used to start out with desperate pleas to give me this or that or help me get out of another mess. There is nothing wrong with those frantic calls for help, for You most certainly answer them in some of the most unusual ways. But through the years, I have discovered the amazing power of praising You, Lord! It is not due to my eloquent or specific words. It is not about MY praising…it is because You are God and You are worthy of all our praise. When we turn our thoughts, minds and spirit to who You really are; as we seek some adequate way to praise Your greatness—something incredible happens…

 

Our pride, hurt feelings, fears, anxieties, plans, desire for control all melt away like mist in the glory of who You are! As we acknowledge Your Almighty power, Your reign over all, Your faithfulness, the fact that You govern heaven and earth and that all powers must answer to You, we are filled with the sweetness of Your joy and peace that signal our trust in who You are. ..as You call Yourself “I AM that I AM.”

 

You are far more wonderful than any words that we can express, yet we are the only ones who can express our personal praise to You- whether it be through music, dance, face down in submission and surrender. Worshipping You in spirit and truth is to recognize You know better than we do, that we belong to You forever and ever, that You loved us so much that You sent Jesus to die for our sins, that we can live with You  though we cannot see You, that You dwell in the praises of Your people, and that we can make it through whatever temporary trials this world offers as we travel in faith toward our everlasting Home with You. Then we will see You in all Your glory and our praises will be absolutely pure and a blessing to You, Lord. Help me praise You more even now- no matter what today looks like!

 

********

 

“My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you— I whom you have delivered.”   Psalm 71:23

 

“Praise the Lord. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him!”   Psalm 147:1

 

“Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying: ‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!’ Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!’”     Revelation 5:11-13

 

*******

 

Your prayer prompt:

Most Holy Father God, I praise You for at least 10 things that describe who You are…

prayer for pruning
prayer for pruning

prayer for pruning

 

My Prayer Peek/your prayer prompt [Pruning might hurt]

Heavenly Father,

 

My husband smiles when he sees me with a pair of pruners in my hand. He knows it’s one of my favorite parts of gardening (not the picking up the debris left behind—but the vision of the beauty to come.) I enjoy bringing new life to an old overgrown specimen that someone else may even want to take out. I’ve seen it many times before. The gasp that comes when pruning occurs. The prized rose, tree or shrub is cut back to half its size. The panic on someone’s face is expected when they don’t realize the good that will come from cutting out the extra growth even though it might look healthy–even though it has been coddled, fed, watered and celebrated. In order for the plant to keep healthy and produce the fruit, blossoms or desired effect. It must undergo the cutting eye of the gardener.

 

The other day, my neighbor came to me worried about how the small tree she had watched grow looked after her new tenant “cut it back.” I sympathized with her concern but knew it was the best thing. It was what I would have done. As I got to know her new renter (my new neighbor), I discovered he grew up on an apple tree farm and knows all about pruning. There is a lot to be said about trusting the Pruner.

 

Lord, You are my Master Gardener! You have been doing some extra pruning on me lately. I don’t have Your vision for my life. I don’t know how You are using me in Your landscape. I may wince under the knife as You cut out this activity, or that attitude, or even what seems a healthy-looking ministry…but I have learned to trust You. I submit to Your excellent pruning and Your knowledge of me and what You are needing me for. I will not yell or complain or doubt Your vision.  Here I am. Prune me. I love the pruners in Your hands even better than in mine.

 

******

 

“For, before the harvest, when the blossom is gone

    and the flower becomes a ripening grape,

he will cut off the shoots with pruning knives,

    and cut down and take away the spreading branches.”   Isaiah 18:5

 

““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.”   John 15:1-2

******

 

Your prayer prompt-

Lord, do I trust Your pruning in my life?…

realize weakness
realize weakness

When I am Weak

Heavenly Father,

 

I have discovered what a great thing it is to be weak…like when I am faced with a gigantic situation that I have absolutely no idea how to get out of…or when the job looming in front of me requires much more talent and strength than I could ever muster…or when my exhausted body cannot take even one more step…or the problem standing in my way requires more brain power than I possess. Those situations that highlight my weakness used to frighten me, but I have a whole different perspective now. It is wonderful to realize my weakness. That’s when I am finally ready to acknowledge Your strength, Lord…

 

Too many times, I have relied on my own strength—my own will power—my own ideas. They might even appear to work for a while, but sooner or later, I will be back at the place where I am smacked in the face with my weakness. It’s happened enough times now that I have come to see that realizing my weakness is a good thing. The sooner I get that and believe it, the more quickly I can rely on Your strength, Lord.

 

So here I am again today, realizing and acknowledging my complete weakness and dependence upon You. Lord, I can’t even breathe without Your help, let alone know the best way through today. I am so happy to be weak and needy. Lord, I bow before You asking Your strength (which manifests itself in amazing ways) to flow in and through me. I’m so glad it doesn’t depend on me but on You. I’m feeling incredibly weak today so I know Your strength through Jesus Christ will give me all I need.

 

******

 

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.”       Isaiah 40:29

 

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”    Romans 8:26

 

“’But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”   2 Corinthians 12:9

 

******

 

Your prayer prompt-

Father, I feel so weak due to…

I need Your strength…

 

evajuliuson

 

Heavenly Father,

The most challenging, heart-breaking and fulfilling job I’ve ever had is being a parent. In the days my children were still living at home, it was a 24-hour-per-day job. No matter how you are feeling, you have a huge responsibility. There are few breaks; when you do take a break, you are continually concerned about your kids. The cost is great with many sacrifices along the way. Now, with the pandemic, parents are put even more into the position of teaching their children.

 

It might seem a bad thing, but in many ways—it is bringing more responsibility back to parents. Many times, through my years as a mom, I have thought You made us parents so we would understand You more fully. You truly are our Father. You are so smart. You knit our children together, then hand them to us when they are cute and adorable so we fall in love with them before some of the hardest stuff starts. How else would I understand pure unconditional love, or patience as my child tries to grasp a lesson or impatience as they should have learned it by now. Being a parent means pouring out your life and soul without any guarantees of gratitude. I’m sure You feel this way often, Lord. You have taught me so much about You just by making me a parent.

 

Parents have their children longer than any other teacher. They have the larger responsibility of teaching their children how to be respectful and kind to others, how to share, how to meet life’s obstacles, how to persevere, how to have courage even when afraid, when to speak up and when to be quiet… Father, I pray for all the parents still on active duty, to take their job as their child’s first-string teacher seriously. There will be many mistakes, distractions, losses and victories. It is worth all the investment and sacrifices. That’s how You teach us. When we ask, You instruct us each step of the way as we teach our children.

 

*******

 

“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Remember the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when he said to me, ‘Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children.’”       Deuteronomy 4:9-10

 

“Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”   Deuteronomy 11;18-19

“Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.”    Psalm 34:11

 

********

 

Your prayer prompt-

Father, thank You for teaching me. Now, help me teach  the children You’ve given me….

Heavenly Father,

Sometimes we feel completely alone in the world. It can happen when we feel disconnected to our family, when we have to face a huge challenge without any help, when we are grieving a loved one, when friends and family have let us down, when it seems no one understands us, when we are sick and there is no one to care for us…We can even feel completely alone while in a crowd or even sitting next to our best friend. Although loneliness may be really painful, it is not necessarily the worst thing that can happen to us. It can be in our deepest loneliness that we discover we are never alone…

 

When those we have depended on have been stripped from us, You are still with us, Lord.

When no one has the right answers to help us, You patiently wait for us to ask You.

When it seems the whole world is against us, You are for us!

When we are misunderstood and judged by all those around us, You know us batter than we know ourselves.

When we are facing the biggest battle of our lives, You fight for us.

In the middle of the night when no one is around, You shine out for us.

 

Lord, we can fill up our lives with so much stuff, busyness, entertainment, news, friends…that we can easily forget You are here. Perhaps it is good for us to sometimes feel alone so we can once again, realize our great need for You. You are the only One who truly never leaves us or forsakes us. You are the only One who fills us overflowing, wants the very best for us, knows us, forgives us, encourages us, corrects us and restores our soul.  I am never alone because of Your gift of Jesus. All I need is found in Him, alone. How I long for everyone else to discover You in their aloneness.

 

*******

 

“Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.”   Psalm 25:16

 

“Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.”    Psalm 16:5

 

“Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart

    and free me from my anguish.”  Psalm 25:16-17

 

*******

 

Your prayer prompt-

Father, I feel so alone in this world. I need You…

Heavenly Father,

Most people have had a dream of being found naked and exposed in public. We see our flaws and try to cover them up so no one else does. What about that first time we expose ourselves completely to the one we love? They may not love us if they see our warts, wrinkles, scars or blemishes. What if all our secret thoughts and actions were caught on video for all the world to see? No one could possibly like us if they knew our deepest thoughts. Most Holy Father, You know me far better than I know myself. There is nothing hidden from You…and yet You still love me! What an amazing love!

 

You created us to live unashamed with You, but sin gets in the way and reveals our guilt and shame. We try to hide from You and even attempt to blame others or our circumstances. All along, You see our sin and know it keeps us from the sweet intimacy of eternal life with You. As a young girl, I recall thinking that I didn’t have sin—that I was a good girl. It didn’t take long to see glimpses of sin in my life. In fact, after all these years, You still expose sin in my life that I didn’t even know was there. Yet now, I can stand unashamed before You, resting sure that Your love is absolutely true and covers all my known and yet unknown sin.

 

You knew not even one of us is without sin. You knew there was no other way to wash us clean except by the innocent blood of Your Son Jesus Christ. You knew He had to be born as one of us, tempted to sin but remaining pure and holy all the way to the cross where He willingly died for my sin (and everyone else’s).  That is true love! You not only love me despite my sin and imperfection- You made a way to take it completely away. I can now come before You unashamed. In fact, I love the way You still expose my unclean thoughts and actions. You gently remind me that I am covered with radiant garments because I have accepted and trust in the sweet sacrifice of love You have given me through Jesus Christ!

 

*********

 

“You have searched me, Lord, and You know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue You, Lord, know it completely.”   Psalm 139:1-4

 

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:8

 

“And now, dear children, continue in Him, so that when He appears we may be confident and unashamed before Him at his coming.”  1 John 2:28

 

***********

 

Your prayer prompt-

Father, I believe that Jesus died to cover my sin so I can stand unashamed before You…