The act of writing, of sharing the circumstances, the gifts and the graces planned and carried out by my Savior and God brings joy, peace, and contentment to know that He has my life in His hands. My prayer for those who read, who share in what I continue to learn each day, many times through my weakness, is that you will be encouraged to look for God's presence and grace in your life also.

Monday, April 30, 2012

What if......?

[all the pictures are from the ones I took on the cruise]

I heard a quote the other day that went something like this:
"What if I wake up tomorrow and all I have left is what I gave thanks for today?"

That is powerful.  I mean do I really realize that everything I have....EVERY THING... is from God..  Without His provision in my life, His providence, His provision, His creation, His sustenance, His grace, I would have nothing, zippo, nauda, not one thing--not even life..

And that is a truth we don't really grasp because we think He is too great to be really involved in the little, mundane things of life.We give thanks for the "big" things but when we start writing down the little things, like toothpaste, or giggles, or yellow, or purple, or the smell of rhubarb-strawberry pie baking, we feel silly.

Sometimes we think about God's attributes describing Him with words like: Holiness, Omniscience, Omnipotence, Omnipresence, Almighty Creator, Everlasting, and so on.  Words that are high and lifted up.  Words that almost seem to separate Him from us.  Words that describe something far beyond my comprehension.

From those thoughts, we go on to feel like He is far from us, that we actually need to keep Him at a distance because He is so much higher than us.  We feel like since He is God Almighty and Holy and set apart, we have to come to Him with kid gloves on...we need to be careful how we approach Him for fear of His disapproval, or even worse we fear that He won't listen to us, He won't hear our prayers, our giving of thanks unless we do it right....unless we are righteous and treat Him according to His Divine nature.

And so we don't come, or we seldom come.  Our giving of thanks is only for who He is, for what He has done for us in salvation, in sending His only Son to die for us.  We thank Him for the big things--life, health, sovereignty.  We only really pray when we are rested up so we can focus; when we are in a mood to worship Him as He should be worshiped; when we know exactly what we need to pray for.

And so we don't give thanks much and we really don't pray much.  Perhaps we are afraid that He will actually hear us or worse yet, we really don't believe He hears us because we aren't doing it right.

This morning our pastor said "Whatever is worth doing, is worth doing badly." and I'm sure that applies to the counting of gifts, the giving of thanks and to prayer.

And so I am once again challenged to "just do-it!"  Begin working more and more on that list of 1000 gifts that includes the good, the bad, the ugly, the mundane, the silly, the fun and the not so fun...just begin looking and writing. I need to begin being thankful to Him.

And again, as I am rereading A Praying Life in connection with a community of women, I want to pray...how?
   About everything....
         Everywhere I am......
               For specific people......
                     For my church, my pastors, my elders, my friends, my enemies, my family...
                           For my world, the starving, the cold, the hurt, the athiests--especially the athiests...
                                  For my brothers and sisters all over the world who are hurting and dying...
                                        For the unloved and the lonely
                                             For you and for me

Oh, God, I just want to talk to you, to share with you my hurts, my loniliness, my frustrations;
I need to listen to you as you tell me of your love, your grace, your compassion, your peace.

Father, help me to see your Holiness, your Divine Power, your Omniscience, Omnipotence, Omnipresence, your Providence in every single second of my day in all the little things, the silly things.

Help me to understand that you are both High and Lifted Up and that you are lowly and meek, a friend of sinners.

You are my friend, my confidant, my comforter.  You love me...me who has been covered in the righteousness of your only Beloved Son. And yet You are my GOD, the creator of the universe that is beyond my comprehension, my understanding.

O God, you are my God!! and I will ever praise you for ALL of it!! for ALL I see around me.

Thank You, FATHER!! for...

#441...For colorful birds...that eat apples out of  hands (mine) in the Bahamas

#442...For violas...hundreds of them...in soil, in rocks, in sand, in water...everywhere...tougher than nails at home

#443...For Iris's blooming, early, always early

$444...For cameras to capture to beauty of your world at home and in the Bahamas

#445...For blankets to curl up under and be warm

#446...For others who want to grow in you and your word and pray more

#447...For a perfect day to sit on the deck with others and share what you are teaching us about prayer

#448...For baby sitters to care for the young children while we shared

#449...For water...water to drink, to shower with, to flush toilets with, to fill the pond, to water grass and flowers with, to clean with, to freeze into ice-cubes...for WATER, pure and refreshing

#450...For beautiful spring days blooming with green...grass, flowers, trees, birds, and sweet smells

#451...For lilacs.....the color, the smell, the tiny blooms

#452...For a trip...to refresh....to enjoy...to see new things

#453...For Your Word...to convict...to comfort...to cherish because every Word is from YOU!

Monday, April 23, 2012

And my list to 1000 continues...

Continuing with my 1000 Gifts
"I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart, 
In the company of the upright and in the assembly.
Great are the works of the LORD; 
They are studied by all who delight in them.
Splendid and majestic is His work;
And His righteousness endures forever.
He has made his wonders to be remembered;
The LORD is gracious and compassionate.
He has given food to those who fear Him;
He will remember His covenant forever.
He has made known to His people the power of His works,
In giving them the heritage of the nations."
Psalm 111:1-6

#421...Rain, snow, white little balls....all moisture. Thank YOU!!

#422...Encouragement and kind words from those reading last post...love shown and received.

#423...Your Word...to pray for others knowing IT is to be applied to life.

#424...Blooming flowers to buy and put in ground.

#425...Seeds to plant and wait for the promise that will come...

#426...Baked potato lunch with community...conversation and care.

#427...Kendra's wonderful talk showing Jesus in Proverbs click here—click on Proverbs Wrap Up to listen and be blessed.

#428...Gals in Bible Study group who not only love and care but they share...

#429...Each woman who wants her prayer life to get better. Interested? Book Study

#430...Snow...once again on Pikes Peak...beautiful

#431...Anticipation for what is coming...cruise, wedding, visit from friend, teas

#432...Clean air...tree pollens disapating.

#433...Sermon on the Mount—69 verses down....conviction soars along with amazement.

#434...Answered prayer for others surgeries—for healing.

#435...Sponsored children to write letters too.  To feel needed.

#436...Pastors, teaching truth even when it is hard and out of our comfort zone.

#437...A cruise...beautiful sunrises and sunsets, ocean waves forever, being rocked to sleep--enjoyed it all with my daughter.

#438...Laughter, sun, laughter, ice cream, laughter, good times.

#439...Computer failure...causing me to really ask YOU for help to know what to buy....and praying for recovery of info off the failed...

#440...Sister and son to take care of Larry while we were gone.

[Sorry for the lack of new pictures...computer is not working...the Lord willing, I will have cruise pictures in a few days and will write about that.]

Friday, April 13, 2012

When we think God made a mistake...

 Twelve years ago this year I left a job, a community, a culture that had been part of my life for 17 years....17 really good years doing something I absolutely loved—pouring my life into teenagers in the capacity of teaching them English, journalism, drama and speech, while I invested into their lives what God had taught me through the circumstances of my life.

I didn't leave because I wanted to....you see I am one of those people who is faithful to a fault.  I will give a job, a cause, a town, whatever I am involved in everything I have—forever—to make "it" the best I can.  And that is what I had tried to do there—I gave it my all.

But it was time for me to leave—to move—to let God take us into another part of the plan He had for us. But He had to bring people and their decisions to move us out—I need writing on the wall.

The writing on the wall came in the form of a letter telling me Larry was no longer welcome at school. His being able to come to school with me each day had been a condition 17 years before to my teaching.  He spent his day in the lunch room, office, library or my classroom interacting with students and staff. He couldn't be home alone.

 I was angry, hurt—actually devastated. I was extremely upset with the people whose actions "forced" me to leave and others that let it happen.  Deep down I knew it was God's plan, after all He is sovereign, but I didn't like it much and I really thought He had made a mistake.  I felt like I was leaving my calling in life—I left my identity on that campus when we pulled out of the campus that day in June.

But I was coming home....back to Colorado where I had grown up. To cooler summers, warmer winters, much lower humidity, wonderful tasting water and family....lots of family—brothers, a sister, my father, along with a huge extended family...and my daughter was in Colorado.  I love Colorado— but I had been hurt...

We found a wonderful church with quality teaching—I was a sponge as I absorbed truth from God's Word...but deep down I still felt like God had made a mistake...

And then one Sunday in Sunday school, one of the pastors was teaching our class and he made a statement I will never forget. He was talking about God's providence, goodness and grace in our lives.

He said, "Why do we get so upset with the people and the circumstances that God brings into our lives to bring about the changes He has planned for us? To move us to the place He wants us?"

Suddenly, it was like the burden was lifted and I really understood what it looked like to really believe it was God's perfect plan that brought us back to Colorado ...and it was all okay.  Actually it was better than that because God was at work and He had me right where He wanted me.  No one had hurt me, no one had been mean—they had just been doing exactly what God meant for them to do.

After that insight, that knowledge God showed me through that pastor, who had also dealt with many unwelcome, mysterious, upsetting moves in his life, I was able to stop the negative victim thought patterns.

I am convinced that people do not hurt others on purpose.  They are doing exactly what God is leading them to do.  After all, He really does work all things for the good of those who love Him and are called by Him.

When we realize our life, every person, every circumstance, every move, every disaster, every single thing in our life is His plan, then, and only then do we find freedom to serve Him with abandon.  We can love and serve Him as He leads knowing He is in control.

Jeremiah 29:11-13
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.  You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

And isn't that what He wants each of us to do?  Seek him with our whole heart.

If you want to read one of Ann VasKomp's articles on being hurt by community click on THIS and be blessed.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A book study opportunity...

Ephesians 6:18
Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.

A couple of years ago a dear friend gave me a book that has been such an encouragement to me the area a prayer.  When Shannon handed me the book she said, "You once said that you wished your prayer life were better...If you read this book it will be."  [You can also read this earlier post I wrote: "the beginning"]

I thought okay, we will see.  I mean I had read other books, great books on prayer, but none that had brought about a real difference.

I guess I always thought that was my fault.
   I wanted to pray,
      I wanted to see God work.
           I wanted to talk to my Father often;
But I didn't...
    I didn't take the time to pray on a consistent basis,
         I didn't get up early enough,
              I usually fell asleep when I prayed
                —I even used prayer in the middle of the night to put me to sleep.
Obviously I wasn't doing very well.

So I listened to my friend's advice and started reading A Praying Life by Paul E Miller....and couldn't stop.

And what happened was—
    "I began praying more, a lot more, after just one chapter."

So over the next months, I recommended this book to a lot of people.  Many of those who took my advice have shared their excitement over praying and what they are seeing happen. One woman told me she is on her fourth time through the book.

 Last year I actually took eight weeks after our Women's Bible Study ended and many in our small group continued to meet one day a week and talked about what we were learning from this little book....and we watched God work.  We watched Him answer prayer in not only our lives but the lives of those around us, the ones we were praying for....and then we thanked Him for His grace and answered prayer.

John 15:7
If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

I feel strongly (the Holy Spirit) that I should do that again, so this year I'm opening it up to anyone who will make the commitment to come.  We will meet on Thursday mornings at 9:30 (2 hours) at my house (Rockrimmon area) and we will share about what we read that week and pray. (We will read 2-3 chapters a week.)

This will not be a formal study but just a sharing about what we read that week and how God is changing us.

There will also be tea in real tea cups on the deck (when warm enough) along with birds and waterfall sounds.

Schedule: April 26 — June 14
Please pray if God would like you to be involved....and then let me know if you plan to come.  (phone, email, comment here, or FB)

•There are some who don't live in Colorado Springs....would love to have you....(smile)  But since you can't, why don't you get the book and read it with us.  You can post your comments via email and I will share with the group
OR you can begin a little group of your own.  Would love to hear what happens in your group(s).

The book is available at Amazon (there are even used copies) or in the Narthex at the church.

James 5:16
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Spring, at the right time of year...

  • Psalm 13:5
    But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
    my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.

    Easter is such a joyous time of year. We celebrate with joy the resurrection of our Savior with all kinds of symbols and traditions that represent new life....

    And isn't it wonderful that Easter comes in the Spring for those of us in the Northern hemisphere....
             a time of new life when we are seeing
                     blooming trees,
                        that pale green in groves of trees that are just beginning to get their leaves,
                            baby bunnies running around,
                               little calves in the fields with their mothers,
                                  birds chirping loudly as they look for materials to build their nests
                                     because they know new life is coming....
     God is so good.

    But even in the winters of life, we must remember His steadfast love.  Even though we can't see evidences of spring's new life when we are in the midst of winter, it is there.

    On the coldest winter days, I often look out on my frozen yard and visualize the roots of plants hidden under ground
            bouncing around just waiting for the warmer nights and days...
    just waiting for the first opportunity to push through the earth and announce—"We are risen!!"

    The truth is simple, God has promised us Spring and it will come, every year, year after year.

    His steadfast love never fails........
           His promises are true......
                 and God is good—all the time.

    And even more important is God's promise clear back in Genesis of a Savior who would crush Satan's heel.  A Savior who would redeem his people—a plan God began BEFORE the foundation of the world.

    And why?  because of his STEADFAST LOVE for not only His people but for His only Son who would redeem each one of His own.  This was how God would bring glory to His Son forever—through a people who would praise and honor the Savior who redeemed them. A people who would bring glory and honor and praise throughout the ages to their Savior. 

    Praise God, we have only just begun to do what we will do for eternity!

    I'm looking forward to that as even now I continue to look for and write down just a few of the gifts and graces that God never ceases to give to me, because of His steadfast love....

    Thank you, Father, for:

    ...A very special engagement!!! My son Jeff to Faith Huckel.  A wedding is coming this summer!!  Thank you, Lord.

    #410...Robins, robins, and more robins....drinking in the pond and bathing in the pond. Delightful!!

    #411...Morning doves—always in pairs....mating for life.  Lord, protect them from cats,

    #412...Chickadees—their cheerfulness and friendliness.

    #413...And the finches—red and yellow—so beautiful.

    #414...And of course of the Woodpecker and Blue Jay....their beauty....their presence...their size.

    #415...A friend's gift....apricot colored carnations....to enjoy for days.

    #416...Easter day with Dad....treasuring each time with him...the stories....the wisdom...the memories....

    #417....A beautiful sunset to watch as we drove toward the mountains from eastern Colorado....strikingly beautiful.

    #418...Anticipation of things to come...a free cruise...a rest...time with daughter...doing new things [Lord, help me not panic when we snorkel....You know I flunked "swimming class" TWICE]

    #419...Sleep....blessed sleep.

    #420...Provision for life's needs, for life's dreams, for giving to others and blessing in return.

Monday, April 2, 2012

More Thanksgiving......

Another week of God's grace and goodness.
     A week of watching Him work in ways that stop me in my tracks.
         A week of gratefulness for His work in me over time to teach me that He has a perfect plan for my life;
      —To make me aware of the weaknesses in me so I can see His strength at work;
      —To put within me a desire to be aware of His presence daily, hourly, and minute by minute;
      —To bring books, sermons, retreats, friend's comments and lives that speak to my heart                    
—His wisdom, truth, and grace—helping me know for a fact that He is working,
     that He is answering prayer,
          that He is here—right now—working his perfect plan for His glory.

This week as I, along with all of His children, once again remember God's love for me—God's ultimate sacrifice for sinners—remembered vividly during this "passion week."

The scripture that pulls me back is Ephesians 1:3-14 that we memorized over a year ago.  What a great promise, hope, truth we have in these verses about what Christ's death on the cross means for us. 

Lord, may I always treasure these words in my heart.  May I always say them slowly, so that they sink in.  May I always thank you for what you have done. AMEN

Ephesians 1:3-14
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. 

In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,
to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

In him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

In him we have obtained an inheritance having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

The preposition "in" also jumps out at me in these verses because the "in's" always connect us to HIM as they show us our relationship to HIM.  We are IN HIM.  He does all of what we need.  Without Him we are nothing but men going to everlasting punishment.

And so once again, in response to
     what He has done for us,
             what He does for us,
                    and what He will do for us,
we give thanks
         —for grace upon grace......

#396...Provision of enough to not only pay bills but to give....

#397...Provision of work (Reliv), allowing me to help others with finances and health....Your gifts....

#398...Blooming Forsythia—bright yellow

#399...Clean house in anticipation of special company—the Wik's from Buena Vista

#400...Lacey and Riley for tea on deck....perfect weather....encouragement

#401...Notes from friends that encourage and show Your love and grace

#402...Free movie channel for a few days to see movies I've wanted to see (Midnight in Paris,
Secretariat, Soul Surfer)...perfect timing

#403...Encouragement from others with like struggles at Victory Celebration...

#404...Restful sleep

#405...Family willing to let Larry stay at their houses so I can work and play....Bless them, Father

#406...Palm Sunday to celebrate "The  Coming King."  Hoseana!!"

#407...The anticipation of EASTER and the resurrection.  Lord, help me to never forget.

#408...The promise of rain....snow....moisture—for hope

#409...A massage...hands gifted to find stress and give relief