Posts Tagged ‘prayer’

Red to White, Lord.

The richness of unjust rampage
viewed from a platform
constructed of self-righteous stones
appears crimson.

Take heart!
Within the muddled spectrum
Light abides
and ever changes the hue from certain death
to life.

Red to White.

Hearts are changed in this way.

Hate becomes love.

And the view changes.
____

I am struggling, Lord, to find any compassion in my heart for people who are unknown to me.  I feel they have opened fire upon what is mine.  What is Yours.  Stealing.  Maiming. Plundering and killing.  Lord, I feel every strike made at their hands elevates them to a platform from which they feel invincible.  And I find myself wrapped up in wanting the worst outcome for them.  Lord, I know I am not created for this mischief.  I know You did not design me to hold grudges.  I know You are unhappy when I judge.  Please help me.  Please help our community.  Please remind us, Lord, of Your supernatural ability to heal across all of our differences and allow tenderness to not be crusted over with the scars of evil events.  Help me, Father, as I desire to think, behave, and reach out in a way that is glorifying of You.  Father God, help me rise above this miry pit of pain and ugly feelings.  Lift us all up so that we may continue in this spiritual fight, knowing that Victory is already claimed – that YOU have overcome this world.  Give us strength.  Give me the ability to see through glasses that are tinted by Your light, and not my desires for justice.  You and You alone, Father, are able to take stuff like this and suit it up to bring a testimony that is Kingdom Building.  Ever remind me of Saul, Lord, and the testimony you gave him.  Let me remember this every time I want to write off the hands that pull the triggers, Lord.  Thank you for what You have promised and for Your truth.  Thank You for the hope we have in Jesus.  Crimson dotted with light, Lord!  Turn this place into your blinding spectrum of life!!

In Jesus’s name,

Amen

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Almost Didn’t Loathe Working Out Today

It’s no lie.
I don’t like the gym.
I don’t like to exercise.
I don’t look forward to the daily workout.

BUT

Today, on this 44th day of eating cleaner and implementing intentional, repetitive body movements with the desire to feel better…….

I almost enjoyed the gym.
I was close to thinking I wouldn’t die whilst on the recumbent bicycle.
I even almost did 17 stomach crunch things on this weird machine.
Almost.

I’ve been asking God to help me hate exercise less.
Not joking, though it looks funny to type it out.
I’ve also asked him to help me not like potato chips.
And to keep my hands out of the Keebler cookie bags that sometimes find themselves hiding under my car seat.

And what I know today is…

I can ride the cycle for 35 minutes without feeling as though I’m stroking out.  I even once rode 11 seconds more than I intended to in my workout, before I noticed I could quit.

I haven’t had a potato chip in more than 44 days.  I’m sure Lay’s can feel the drop in sales in my town.

And I can count on one hand how many times I’ve accidentally adopted a lonely bag of chunky chocolate chip cookies (and it’s closer to 2 than to 3).

Making my way, three steps forward and two steps backward sometimes, but know that I’m headed in the right direction.  Thank you, Jesus, for helping me on this journey!

Fighting the Need to Feed

Today marks 1 week of being on a modified Daniel Plan type of new eating life-style.

And I want a frozen Totino’s pizza.

I’m not hungry!  I just had a full lunch of homemade chicken soup with gluten-free noodles and a gigantic plate of salad.  H-U-G-E.  Piled with fresh chopped veggies.
But it’s raining outside, which physically looks like the inside of me right now.
Cloudy.  Dreary.  Melancholy.
Really a bit sad.
And wanting comfort.

Normally, I would fix that with a steamy cup of coffee  (who doesn’t love to curl up on the couch with a book and a good cup of joe when it’s raining cats and dogs outside?), but I can’t have anything sugary or really cream-er-y, so I’m not gonna.  Not a fan of black coffee yet.  My next go-to quick fix, would be something like chips.  Or a Totino’s frozen pepperoni pizza.

Have you ever had those things?  A Totino’s.

Don’t be all posh and say “Ewww….no!”.  Those little processed discs of wheat and preservatives are quite delicious.  Especially if you bake them an extra minute or two so that the crust is extra crispy.  They have a good amount of tomato sauce on them, which is like a sweet, warm filling in a crispy, salty shell, covered with mozzarella cheese substitute.  That’s what the label calls it.  Substitute.

One of the things I’ve learned from the Daniel Plan book is a rule so simple, yet, so easy to follow when planning for meals and snacks that are healthier.  Look at the ingredient labels on products.  If the list has more than 5 ingredients, you probably shouldn’t eat it.  And all of the ingredients listed should be words you can pronounce.  For instance, when I buy canned tomatoes, a good ingredient label has tomatoes, water, salt.  That’s it!  There should be no added sugar, or sugar substitutes, and no preservatives.  Easy, right?

Here’s the label for a Totino’s frozen pizza:

totinos-pizza-ingredients-2

1.  too many ingredients

2.  added sugar

3.  wheat (gluten-filled) AND added gluten

4.  look at all those chemistry words!  (sufates, aluminum…)

As you can see, Totino’s doesn’t have a placecard at my Daniel Plan table.  Is it okay to mourn this broken relationship?

And here is the heart of the Daniel Plan.  Remember I said I feel like I need comfort food?  Why do I feel like that today?  I can excuse it away and say it’s because of the dreary weather outside, but come on — I promised transparency, right?

It’s been a very high-gear 2 and a half weeks in our home.  High activity.  High stress.  Things have been out of the normal, schedule-wise.  Yet today is the last day of Christmas vacation, and our house is quiet.  Settling.  We’re all a little bit tired in our house, and a little bit down about having to go to bed early so we can get up early for school / work / life.  We have house guests whom we miss.  We are having to tie up our carefree, frayed lose ends, tucking them in nice and neat for the new year’s first full week.  We’re sad we have to set our alarm clocks for 6am.

It has also been a few weeks of sickness and death.  Flu and pneumonia and bronchitis are running rampid between friends and families.  Several loved ones who’ve bravely battled terminal diseases – some for years, some for only weeks – have been healed and welcomed into their eternal home.  That’s hard.  Real hard.  What an emotional conflict that is.  Happy for those welcomed into Jesus’ arms – but here, mourning, remembering, longing, waiting…wanting to console hearts that grieve.

It is also a time marked with change.  Change is inevitable, you know.  Whoever said “the more things change, the more they stay the same” must have been running on excessive amounts of high fructose corn syrup.  The way I see it, when things change, they change.  That’s that.  It is what it is.  The very deffinition of change is that it is different, not the same.  I have a beautiful friend who is facing uncertainties soon.  The unknown.  Change will definately occur.  This doesn’t mean bad will happen.  Nor does it mean good.  Just change.  And for the week ahead, my heart is heavy for her.

Heavy.

Now, it makes no sense that any particular type nor amount of food would bring true comfort to any of the things that are weighing on my mind this evening.  Right?  I mean, that Totino’s would be tasty, but the euphoria of engulfing a whole pie folded in half (I always called those calzones – ha!) would not really bring any comfort.  But do you know what can?

Prayer.  Interaction with the Heavenly Father!  Jesus, my friend!  Is not He where true comfort comes from?

Friends out there on the other side of the computer screen – I thank you for your encouragement – and I want you to know that the primary focus of learning how to live healthier through the Daniel Plan is by incorporating prayer into this whole thing.  Prayer!  Jesus supplies everything we need.  Every.Single.Thing.

Need comfort?  Stop with the junkfood.  The comfort food.  Turn to Jesus.

Don’t you know He is not just on standby for the big things?  He wants to be a part of every thing.  Every. Single. Little. Thing.

So as I’m craving a Totino’s Pizza, it’s okay for me to cry out to Jesus, and tell him like it is!

“Jesus – this is hard!  Life it hard.  Father, please help me right now to fight the urge to indulge in food that is not good for me.  Help me to remember quickly that my body is a temple belonging to YOU.  Father, take away my cravings and everything in me that associates down feelings, or negative feelings, with needing the high of calorie-packed, nutrient-depleted foods.  Father, I need you.  I can’t do this on my own.  Lord, you know the things that weigh heavy on my heart right now, and I ask you to take away any worry and any sadness over things that are out of my control.  Father, YOU are the one in control, and I want to trust you and allow you to work through all of this for me.  Thank you for loving me and wanting what is best for me.  Father, I yield to you.  Thank you loving me no matter what.”

Totino’s Pizza need?

Gone.

Thank you, Jesus!

He Gave Me Her Name

For the entire month of April, the Lord gave me her name.
I mean, He literally spelled it out loud enough for me to hear!
Several times.  Not just once.
I questioned at first,

What?!!!  Lord, why are you giving me her name?

Then as He remained consistent, day after day, I responded,

Okay, Lord.  You know what you’re doing, even though I don’t.  I’m not sure why You’re giving her name to me, but I trust You do.

Then I wrote her name on a sticky note and dated it: April 14, 2014 at 11:45am.
I put it on my prayer board.

Lord, You know what this person needs right now, and I’m asking for Your Presence and Your Peace to surround her, and comfort her, and offer whatever it is that she needs right now.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

She is someone I don’t know, really, but we have a shared history.
See, she’s my ex-husband’s wife.
Yep.
The one.
The one whom I assigned fault to years ago.
The one whom I placed above myself, in terms of beauty, appeal…
He chose her over me. 
So many years of hurt and feeling inadequate were encapsulated by those tiny three little words.
He. Chose. Her.
Needless-to-say, she is also the one whom I avoided.
At all costs.
Like the plague.
But as time passed, my heart was softened, and after almost ten years, I reached out to her in an effort of obedience.  I was overcome with the need to forgive this woman, and more than that, ask for her forgiveness for all the terrible things I had said, done, and thought over the years.

But now – NOW – here it is about 5 years or so since even then!
Why was the Lord giving me her name?
Hadn’t we said what we needed to?
Wasn’t it water under the bridge?

The Lord became more specific with me, giving me ideas that I thought were just absurd.  Like one afternoon, while waiting for a traffic light to turn green, I thought,

I wonder if she would ever call me?  I wish maybe she would.  Is this crazy?  What could we possibly have to say to each other?
Oh, Lord, I lift her up to You, for whatever it is she is in need of right now.

And then the light turned green, and I drove on to the next traffic light without a second thought of her.

Every time her name was given to me, I prayed for her.  I didn’t know why, but it was being asked of me, so I did.

On the last Friday in April, when I got in my car to leave work, my cell phone was buzzing, letting me know I had a new voice mail.

It’s probably the school lunch room calling to remind me that there is a lunch account balance of negative three dollars.

As I turned onto the main highway, my voice mail announced:  You have one new message.  And then…

Then…

Then…

I was in tears.

She had called.

The tears kept flowing, not because of what she was saying or because she was reaching out – but because I knew instantly that the Lord had been preparing my heart for this moment.  I knew that the Holy Spirit had me praying for this woman, and I was overwhelmed with the thick evidence of His promptings.  I knew that because of Jesus Christ, what was in the past was just that – In. The. Past.  Whatever was between us long ago was done.  Finished.  I knew that now, in this moment, God’s hand on both of our lives was very real, very present, and very powerful.

I could hardly wait to call her back and just let her know that for the entire month, the Lord had been bringing her to thought and that I had been praying for her!

And what did she say?  Don’t you want to know?

The Lord had been giving her my name – He had been urging her to reach out to me!  She had sent  an email on March 20th, about two weeks before the Lord first brought her name to me, asking if I’d be willing to meet with her.  I never saw the email.  It was sent through FaceBook, but because we are not FB friends, her email was delivered without notification, to a folder that I didn’t know about.  She could tell I hadn’t read it yet.  Because I had not responded, she was calling out of obedience. She said the Lord kept asking her to contact me.  On that particular day, the Lord had told her to just call me, and stop waiting for me to see her email.

Nothing but God! That is NOTHING but God! To be the recipients of His very direct orchestration — to see the raw, real hand of God at work to bring us together —

Yes, tears. Absolute perfectly cleansing, wonderful tears!

Heavenly Father, thank you for your love.  Thank you for your guidance.  And thank you for your timing.  Your patience.  And for never letting up when I just don’t get things the first, second or third time in a row.  Father, please continue to use me and to minister in and through my life.  I want so desperately to be obedient to Your will for my life.  Thank you so much, Lord, for a new friendship that I have and for blessing us along this sometimes bumpy life journey.  And more than anything, Lord, I thank you for Your Son, Jesus Christ, who was nailed to the cross and paid for my sins.  Because of that, she and I have no history.  We have no past.  And we can go forward with a new friendship as sisters in Christ.  Praise your name, Lord.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

If you are on FaceBook, go to your messages page.  At the top left you will see the word “INBOX”.  These are the FB messages you receive notification for.  Right beside that word, in light gray, you’ll see the word “OTHER”.  This is the folder that FB sends messages to that are potentially junk mail or from people who are not in your FB friends list.  I think it depends on your personal settings.  In my case, I have FB set to only notify me of messages recieved from my friends list.  Anything else gets quietly dropped into the “other” folder.  I might never have seen her email, had she not reached out to me by calling.  However, in this case, it was just more evidence of God’s gentle urging to both of us, wihtout knowledge of His doing so in each other’s hearts.  God is so, so good.  All the time.

 

Blessing at CiCi’s Pizza

Today in prayer, I asked for my Heavenly Father to cleanse me of my sinful nature, to forgive me, to take away my quick judgement of others, to help me specifically in listening to and obeying His will for my life.  I prayed for Him to empty my house and fill me up so that I could share His love the way He desires.

After church service, I asked my 9 year old where he would like to eat for lunch.  Since it was just going to be the two of us, I thought it would be a nice treat to let him decide.  Understand, I was prepared for my least favorite dining establishments to surface as his die-hard top choice.  Any of you out there with children or grandchildren, or even younger siblings, know where I’m going with this.  My idea of a yummy Sunday dinner does not include places where you can fill up your truck with diesel, buy that roll of paper towels you’ve been needing at home for 3 days and sit down to a dinner of chicken fried steak before picking up your dessert candy bar on the way to the check out register.  It also doesn’t include places with sticky tables, 74 flavors of pancake syrups and a row of “drop your quarter here to win” machines.  So when he said, ‘CiCi’s Pizza!”, I quickly agreed.  It might not be a restaurant in my top ten list, but it was in his, and a far better choice than some of the other places that share a position in that same list.  The fact that I only had $13 dollars in cash in my purse also made it easy to say “yes” to CiCi’s.

You might think that’s the blessing I’m getting to.  But it’s not.  I was, however, very thankful.

11:15am – we arrived.  I must say, if you’re going to CiCi’s on a Sunday after church, it’s good to get there early if you can.  We were the first patrons there, and it was a very different, wonderfully pleasant, experience than what I’ve had there before.  The floors and tables were all shiny and clean.  The food, all fresh and hot.  As a matter of fact, upon entrance, we were asked if we wanted any particular types of pizzas, because they would be happy to prepare them for us.  Customer service at it’s best!  We ate like royalty, selecting from a number of pizzas that seemed to be cooked “just for us”.  It was quiet.  It was peaceful.  Words I’ve never before used to describe this restaurant.  It had been years since I had last been there to eat, but I must confess now, I look forward to going back with the whole family one Sunday after church.

As we were finishing up, a homeless man walked in.  Well, I assumed he was homeless.  It didn’t take me a split second to judge him based on his clothing and the items he carried with him.  There I was judging – something I specifically prayed about an hour earlier.  I need to quit that. He wore a long-sleeved green shirt (it was 78 degrees outside!), a ragged straw hat, and carried a sleeping bag, several jackets, and a guitar with him.  I watched closely as he placed his things at a table diagonally across from us.  He seemed tired.  I looked at his face, searching for some sign of something opposite from what I was assuming him to be.  I didn’t see anything.  No smile.  His eyes were covered by the brim of his hat.  When he walked past me to get a plate of food, I was encouraged:

          Go talk to him.

What?  I know you don’t want me to talk to this man!

          Go talk to him. 

Father!  How can I go talk to him?  You know that’s not something I’m comfortable doing.

I continued to sit at my table, as my son voraciously plowed through his dessert rolls and brownies.  He was clueless as to the battle I was having.  I wondered, “Could that be the Holy Spirit nudging me?”.

          Go talk to him.

What would I say?  Father, how could I be a blessing to this man?  Look at him.  He’s wearing
his shirt inside out.  How do I know if he even speaks english?  What if he’s not a Christian?
How can I just go talk to him?

Another 5 minutes went by, with me trying to convince myself that I should not go talk to this man who clearly the Holy Spirit wanted me to engage with.

          Go talk to him.

Look, he doesn’t want any company.  See how he keeps his hat on, pulled down over his
forehead?  How do I know he’s not a serial killer?  I’m here with my young son, why should I
put us in potential jeopardy by talking to this stranger?  He is strange, Lord.  I mean, look
at him!  He’s not even taking his hat off at the table.  That’s so disrespectful.

At that very moment, the man removed his hat, and held it down in front of his face as he blessed the meal before him.

It was undeniable now – I was definitely being told to go to this man, and it was not an option for me not to do just that.  My Heavenly Father gave me a directive, and shot down my excuses when he allowed me to witness this.  LOUD AND CLEAR, I was given the command again.

          Go talk to him.

Okay, Father, I will.  But help me here.  What in the world can I do to be a blessing to this
man?  He’s already paid for his meal, because you do that when you come in, so I can’t buy his
food.  You know, Father, that I don’t have any cash to give him.  I just spent that last 13 dollars
in cash I have, plus the 5 cents I dug out of the bottom of my purse.  What am I supposed to do?

As I waited for directions, I watched as the man very carefully cut into his salad.  Was he as solemn as he appeared now, or was he lonely?  What was his story?  Why was he homeless?

You haven’t answered me, Father.  Oh, I got a pack of flower seeds today at church, and was
told to share them with someone and invite them to church.  You know, planting seeds.  Do
you want me to invite him to church?  Father, that seems silly.  Why would I give a homeless
man a pack of flower seeds?

No answer came.  No directives.  No clear instructions were offered on what I was to do or say to this man.  Nothing.  My son was enjoying far too much root beer.  We were beyond finished with our dinner.  It was time for me to obey, or time for us to leave.

Okay, Lord, I’m going.  I’m going.  I don’t know how I can bless this man, but I’m trusting you
to help me.

I told my son to stay at the table and that I would be right back.

Me:  Sir, do you mind if I join you for a minute?

The man:  No, no, just move my things over there and have a seat.

As the man looked up at me, I instantly saw his cleanliness.  His eyes, sparkly and blue, conveyed a warmth that I hadn’t seen beneath the brim of his hat earlier.  This man whom I had thought of as unkempt and dirty, now looked refreshed, well-groomed, and so kind.

Me:  I saw you when you came in, and I just wanted to tell you what a blessing seeing you has
been to me.  You are an apparent traveler, and you have a guitar.  I have a son who is a
traveler, and he carries his guitar, too.

The man:  (as he touched my hand) Praise the Lord!

As it turns out, Joe is indeed a traveler, but he is not homeless.  He left his home back in California in January of this year.  Joe is on a journey.  One he says has taken him years to begin.  Joe is 68 years old, and in obedience, is walking from “sea to shining sea”.  Yep!  He’s walking from California to our side of the country, and up the coast.  In doing so, he’s relying on God to direct his paths to people he can share the love of Christ with.

Joe and I only talked for a few minutes, but during that time, we shared as brother and sister, we prayed a prayer of thanksgiving, and encouraged each other to continue in our walks for Christ, no matter how difficult it may be at times.  And we delighted in the joy that comes from obedience.  My youngest son didn’t do as I had asked, and after seeing me engaging in conversation with Joe, came over to introduce himself.  It was a real gift to be able to share this experience with my son.

I prayed this morning for my Heavenly Father to cleanse me, to forgive me, to help where I am weak and to lead me in how to be obedient to His will for my life.

Praise God, My Father heard me, and he answered me!

All this time I didn’t understand how I could bless this “homeless man”…and as it turned out, Joe was to be a blessing for me.  I’m so happy I was obedient today, because when we are obedient, we don’t miss the blessings God has planned for us.  And, oh boy, does He have blessings lined up for us all!

2 Thessalonians 2:13

Star Wars and An Answered Prayer

Last Monday morning, after the kids had been dropped off at school, I turned the radio off and enjoyed a quiet “conversation” with my Savior.  We do that a lot – “talk” in the car.  After praises and prayers, I turned the radio back on and cranked it up loud, enjoying “The Voice of Truth”, by Casting Crowns.  During an instrumental part, a thought came to me as quick as lightening.

I’m going to start keeping a prayer journal.

As quickly as I thought that, I was interrupted by a negative.

That’s dumb, I can’t possibly write down everything I need to pray about – there’s so much I pray about throughout a day!  I might forget to write down something important!

If there’s one big thing that I have to work on, it’s definitely the self-doubt.  I doubt everything, at some point, and I do not like that.  Not. One. Bit.

The welcomed distraction of the lyrics came flowing back to focus and I didn’t think about the journal idea again…until…

At home that evening, as I was working in the kitchen and our youngest son was at the table studying for his spelling test, he said to me out of the blue, “Mom, you know that new Moleskine dad gave me this week?  I made it into a prayer journal.”

———— Wait for it.

——————-Wait for it.

————————–Wait for it.

Did you get that? !  Did you catch how our Heavenly Father smiled at me through the face of my precious little boy at that very minute?!

In an instant, I knew that my Savior was confirming His presence with me earlier that morning and showing me that I don’t have to think twice about that silly self-doubt.  He liked my idea!

So I did the same thing – I told my son what a neat idea that was and how happy I know God is over his choosing to use his new Star Wars Moleskine that way.

Stop, Drop and Pray

You’ve heard that saying before…”Stop, Drop and Roll”.  You may have learned it when you were very young, like I did in elementary school when the local firemen visited our classroom to teach us the importance of remembering this life saving phrase.  I didn’t really understand the importance of those words when I was younger, but the phrase was so catchy that I held on to it and gained a better knowledge of what it meant as I grew older.  Thankfully, I’ve never had to put the phrase into action, but I think I could if I was ever in a situation where it was needed.  Those firemen taught a fundamental lesson and did so very well.

God has been moving in my life, and things that I’ve been taught or heard over the years are coming to life left and right.  Praise God!  It’s like a light switch being turned on!  That’s how I woke this morning.  In the pitch dark of my bedroom, before I even opened my eyes, I was reflecting on and thanking God for all of the opportunities He’s given me recently, and that’s when it came to me – Stop, Drop and Pray.

Just yesterday, while standing in the parking lot of WalMart, I met a man.  I’m going to call him Mr. Calvary Baptist Church, because I can remember that instead of his name (I’m terrible with names, and I’m not in denial, but chances are if I’ve met you, you hold a special moniker, too).  I really thought, upon hearing this man’s voice across the way, that I knew him.  I really thought, upon seeing his profile, that I knew him.  Excited to share with him some good news, I grabbed a flyer to an upcoming event and called to him.  As he  came closer, I realized that I didn’t know him at all!  Wow!  That was a hearing AND sight blooper, but that’s another blog for another time.  Moving on.   This normally would have embarrassed me, but now, so many things that would have done that before just remind me it’s an opportunity.  Within moments of our introduction, I had made that statement we all hear so many times, “Will you pray for _________”.  You fill in the blank.  I’ve asked people to pray for my mother, our President, a stressful situation I was facing, a friend’s sick husband, for clarity…….and so on.  And without batting an eye, this man who I had only known for seconds, put his arm around my shoulder, and right there in the parking lot of WalMart, in the middle of the day, front and center to the entrance doors, he began to pray.

Stop, Drop and Pray.  STOP DROP AND PRAY!  I get it, Lord.  I hear you!  Why has it taken me so long to understand this?  I’ve been doing this recently, and didn’t even know I was doing what has been taught to me all these years – what I’ve seen around me.  Other people have prayed on the spot when I’ve asked for prayer, but yesterday’s opportunity connected the dots for me.  Instead of agreeing to pray for someone when they ask me to, at a later time, I am going to pray right away, with them, if I can.  There are so many needs, and so many things that need to be prayed over.  I’ve tried to put them aside oftentimes until they accumulate and I, within a structured timeframe, pause to remember the list and pray at a “more convenient time”, or a “more private time”.  There’s nothing wrong with that – God wants our prayer and our conversation always, in all ways.  But today, I wake with a desire to address prayer immediately…to slow down and bring things to God in real time…to stop putting prayer time in a box and keeping it closed….

Thank you, Mr. Calvary Baptist Church.  I wish I could tell you how much the opportunity to meet you yesterday has meant to me!  “Stop, Drop and Roll” may be a life-saving phrase, but “Stop, Drop and Pray” is a saved-life phrase.  Now I have to go put it into action!