Sunday grace

How many times did he tell me he was praying for me? A zillion it seems.

Every time we spoke on the phone, every time I saw him, he told me once more, “I have thousands of prayers stored up for you, little girl.”

I believed him. I knew he prayed for me. One of my first memories as a child is my dad kneeling beside my bed early in the morning. While it was still dark outside and I was tucked under the covers, my dad was dressed and ready for work. One of his last habits of the morning was to lay his hand on me and pray before leaving the house.

I found comfort in that as an adult, remembering how my dad loved me enough to consistently pray for me.

He believed he stored prayers in heaven, and Revelation 5:8 and 8:4 say the prayers of the saints are stored in golden vessels in Heaven. And so my dad prayed much. His prayer ministry was known by those in his circle of influence. He was a disciplined man in his commitment to kneel before the throne of grace and call out multiple names day after day.

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After his death, I had stacks of papers, listing prayer requests people had given him. He kept them in orderly piles near a chair in the basement of his home, a chair where he knelt at least twice every day while he was able.

Sweet William and I talk about my dad often, the way he loved his coffee and how he slurped it loudly showing his pleasure in it. He dispensed kindness and encouraging words regularly. He could tell a great story and it got even bigger and better when he had an audience. And if he got the joke on you, it was his delight.

He laughed with everything in him, his mouth wide open, sometimes slapping his knee from pure jubilation. He loved people, especially his family, and he would go to the ends of his earth to take care of any one of us.

He was a wonderful father. He knew how to show me the Heavenly Father’s love. The foundation he laid for me as a child helped me stand when the winds of tribulation have threatened to blow me away.

I knew my dad loved me. I knew he was there if I called him. I knew he prayed for me consistently.

My dad is with Jesus now. I miss him especially today, on Father’s Day. I would love to fix a plate of sausage gravy and biscuits for him and hear him say, as he always did, that it was the best I’d ever made. I’d like to hear the army stories he told until I had memorized them. I’d like to hear him laugh one more time. I’d like to hear him pray for me once more.

Dad in the army

I believe his prayers are still alive, kept in heavenly golden containers, and there is a large one with my name on it. Those stored prayers still come before God’s throne, intercessions on my behalf.

A good and godly father is a treasure above wealth this world can give. I am a rich woman because of it.

Sunday grace.

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Sunday grace

Sometimes life takes a U-turn unexpectedly.

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We go about our days, attending to needs, keeping appointments, socializing with friends and colleagues. Then suddenly, we are knocked off our feet, a flash-flood event changing our landscape.

I vividly recall when it happened, more than once, to Sweet William and me. At one shocking declaration, I was glad for a door frame to fall against, lest I land on the floor.

What do we do when life throws a curve ball, twisting and turning out of control, and we cannot catch it in our hands?

Adrenalin kicks into the human body helping us fight for our loved ones and ourselves. Even as our thoughts do somersaults, somehow we get the presence of mind to think about what must be done now. Right now.

We are fearfully and wonderfully made by our Creator to respond to crises.

While we act as quickly as possible, we pray. We call on the faithful God who always has His eye focused on us, who loves us with an everlasting love, who has a plan and a purpose for all things.

We call others to pray because there is strength in numbers of the believers. We depend upon their prayers and their bearing our burdens, helping us carry a heavy-hearted load.

And we lean into a Savior who has already gone before us and prepared the way.

Life is uncertain and fragile. Amazingly crafted, we humans are still fallible. In one quick moment, we realize just how frail we are. Like a flower that grows and blooms we flourish, but this present place is not a permanent fixture. Not here on this earth.

Our hope and trust and confidence is in the eternal, things not seen with the eye or heard with the ear. We look to Jesus, fix our eyes on Him. When it all goes out of focus and we strain for clarity, He alone is our vision.

When life takes a tumble, when catastrophe strikes, when darkness overtakes and we cannot see the step ahead, we fall into the arms of Jesus, grasp his nail-scared hand, and trust Him to lead.

Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart.
Naught be all else to me, Save that Thou art.
Thou my best thought, By day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

 

Sunday grace

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We take our evening stroll, and the temperature is more bearable than it’s been in days. Still Maisie pants and I look toward the shady places where trees offer respite.

I pass by my neighbors and think of Jesus’ command, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Hard stuff sometimes.

It’s easy to love the young couple who has been kind to us, coming to our rescue, inviting us into their lives. They made a place in our hearts soon after their move into the neighborhood. And they loved us freely.

Didn’t Jesus tell me the reward for loving those who love me is small compared to loving those who don’t like me, mistreat me, even despise me? The rubber meets the road right there under the blazing sun.

I’ve prayed to love this week, even this very day. It isn’t always easy because I can’t manufacture the feeling. I know love is supposed to be an action word, but a little emotion to accompany would be nice.

Of course, loving God comes first. How can I love my neighbor if I’m not fully committed to loving God? Because love comes from God and God is love. Without His invasion into my heart, my life, my entire being, I can’t expect to get it right.

I perceive this loving business is primary. Opportunities abound. People are everywhere. Some are lovable. Some are not.

Dear Father,
Infuse me with Your love. Plant me deep in it, like the trees, rooted and established, being able to grasp how wide, how long, how high, and how deep the love of Christ is, the love He freely gives to me. I want to know this love that surpasses knowledge. Fill me to the measure of all the fullness of God. And then teach me to love my neighbor as myself.  (Ephesians 3:16-19 and Mark 12:31)

It’s a tall order, a mountain-size request for me to love like that. But my God specializes in the miraculous.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.    — Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV

Sunday grace.

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May ending 2018

May is green and shades of emerald were especially beautiful this month. On many days it seemed spring just skipped away like a rabbit, leaving place for summer heat. The air conditioner has run. While I love the fresh breezes blowing in open windows, by noon many days, the sashes were closed and shades pulled to keep the house cool.

The grass grows tall along with weeds among the flowers. I’ve decided to dub this place, “Where the Wild Things Grow” since there’s a lot of that going on.

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My garden work had to be done early in the morning, three hours being my limit. I came in soaked with perspiration and red-faced, longing for a cool shower. I accomplished quite a bit working just those few hours at a time, and the front yard looks like someone actually lives here now.

There are still areas that need my attention, and I will be busy in the coming month. That’s what summer is about for me. I shall take it in stride, move at my pace, and enjoy the fruits of my labor.

Deer sightings in the little woods have been frequent this year and it is truly delightful. The pièce de résistance was early in the morning this week when Maisie alerted us to activity on the edge of the yard. There stood a doe and a spotted fawn, easing quietly into the dark protection of the woods. It was a gift, simply a gift.

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May was recital month, always a celebration. This year one of my students was graduating high school and she played five difficult pieces for her senior recital. She’d been my student since she was seven years old. That hasn’t happened for me often as a piano teacher. To have spent that many years next to her at the piano is weighty as well as a privilege I don’t take lightly.

I put her file away today, and I am still emotional about it.

GetAttachment

Our oldest granddaughter celebrated a mile-stone birthday in May. She is grown up in so many ways, beautiful like her mother, taking on adult responsibilities. Yet in my mind, I still see that little girl who sat at the stool across from me in the kitchen and drank hot cocoa early mornings. She talked up a storm. We shared so many special experiences and a bond that is strong in spite of the miles that separate us. I wonder if she knows how dear she is to me?

Time with people has been varied. I have been a listening ear, a helping hand, one who weeps with those who weep, and part of the applauding audience who cheered young talent on stage. Being part of people’s lives means we give something of ourselves, and loving one another comes in a variety of opportunities.

This last day of May, Sweet William and I purchased android smart phones. For. The. Very. First. Time. I know! I’ve been holding out, not wanting a phone that would become an appendage. I suppose I feared addiction to the thing. I don’t want to be held captive to a cell phone.

But there comes a point when you know the time is right. And today was the day.  We bought simple and efficient because we live a simple lifestyle. The learning curve will be interesting as we teach our brains new things and get current with the rest of the world.

The sales people were kind and patient with us. (They were young enough to be our grandchildren.) They asked how long we had been married. Perhaps there was “an old married couple” persona about us or the fact that we were enjoying the experience together and laughed a lot.

I’ve been living in Philippians for the past month at least. I finished a study on my own but can’t seem to get away from Paul’s letter. His joy and rejoicing are everywhere in this short book. I long for the wisdom he seems to have learned.

I read something this month that is sticking with me. The author decided to stop saying, “I have to [do whatever]” and instead began saying “I get to [do whatever].” To me that is profound, and I’m trying to change my mindset.

One night when I was having trouble falling asleep, I lay in bed thanking God for all the appliances I have because I get to do laundry and I get to clean house and I get to fix meals and I get to work in the garden. Because I have clothes and a home and food and a yard. I am so blessed, so very blessed.

Such a simple change of phrase makes my life look beautiful and full of good things instead seeing my responsibilities as burdens that weigh me down. And I feel joyful and want to rejoice. Paul was definitely on to something.

There are so many things for me to learn and experience. I want to be a forever student of life no matter my age. I believe God has lots He wants to teach me yet.

Because I am confident of this that He who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6)

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Sunday grace

What if I really believed?

What if I read the words of Scripture and believed they were true?

What if I took the account of the creation of the world as genuine?

What if I heard the words, “Jesus loves you” and accepted it as fact?

What if I considered the possibility that God has a divine plan for my life?

What if I concluded that the Holy Spirit of God really does live within me?

What if I knew in my heart that Heaven awaits me because of the cross and the blood of Christ?

What if I acknowledged the stories of eye witnesses that Jesus arose from the dead and is alive, making it a reality that I can live too?

What if I were certain that my life has purpose, that my struggles are strategies to make me stronger, that trials are a testing ground of my faith, that victory is available to me in it all, and that I am more than a conqueror through Christ?

What if I simply believed?

I would live differently. I would rejoice and be glad. I would give thanks in all circumstances. I would love God and love others as I am loved.

It would make all the difference in the world.

Believe and see the glory of God.

Sunday grace.

Sunset in Colorado, by travisPhoto by Travis Wright

Our Father

{This is my monthly book review.  Thanks for allowing me to share my thoughts.}

 

“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.”

We say the words almost on autopilot. Sometimes we speak them without thought.

We learned them as a child, memorized by rote, and quoted them weekly at Sunday school. Perhaps they have become less to us because we have used them so much.

But I hope not.

We call it the Lord’s Prayer, taught by our Lord Jesus Christ to His disciples in  the gospels of Matthew and Luke.

See the source image

When We Say Father, Unlocking the Power of the Lord’s Prayer is a sermon of its own.

“Adrian Rogers’ last written manuscript before his passing in 2005 has been edited and brought together by his son Steve, as a final joint work. When We Say Father takes the Lord’s Prayer and breaks it down to its most basic components for readers to easily learn how to pray from the ultimate source, Jesus himself.”

When We Say Father

As I read the book, I could almost hear Adrian Rogers preaching from the pulpit. It is not a cleaned-up, edited, watered-down version but purely from the heart of a man who knew His God and wanted others to know Him.

The writing is more conversational than precise and particular. I felt like I was listening to Rogers as much as I was reading his words.

Rogers takes each portion of the Lord’s Prayer and talks it through with homespun illustrations, teaching the basics so we can understand.

Chapter titles include:

  • Our Father – “The Person of the Prayer”
  • First Things First – “The Priority of the Prayer”
  • Our Daily Bread – “The Provision of the Prayer”
  • The Freedom of Forgiveness – “The Pardon of the Prayer”
  • Deliver Us From Evil – “The Protection of the Prayer”
  • Thine is the Glory – “The Praise of the Prayer”
  • Ask, Seek, Knock – “The Promise of the Prayer”

If we want to understand the depth of the meaning of Jesus’ words, then we need to dig deep, like one exploring for treasure. The Heavenly Father invites us to know Him, and that is an astounding realization.  But we have to make an effort. Learning to pray like Jesus is a way to know God, Jesus’ example becoming our own.

“When we say Father, we express His nature. . . . When we say Father, we expect His nurture. . . . And when we say Father, we ought to exalt His name.”    — Adrian Rogers

See the source image

NOTE:   I received a copy of When We Say Father, Unlocking the Power of the Lord’s Prayer by Adrian Rogers and Steve Rogers, provided by B&H Publishing, for an honest review.  The book was free.  The words are my very own.

Sunday grace

Thinking. It seems we hardly have time to or even need to. All questions are answered quickly with a Google search or a response from Alexa or Siri.

The twenty plus volumes of encyclopedia, bought when we were newlyweds and taking up an entire shelf on the bookcase, are long gone, gifted to a thrift store because no one would buy them.

Attention span is short, us flitting from one sound bite to another without retaining much of any of it.

Information comes at light speed through multi-channels of technology. There are online articles and blogs to read; news feeds to keep  me current; one thousand channels to surf on TV; CNN and FOX news telling me over and over the current condition of the world; and NOAA weather advising me if I should bring my umbrella or not.

I hardly need to think at all. And yet I must.

I seek solitude and silence, turn off the constant flow of information, in order to give my mind time to slow down and contemplate.

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I easily say “yes” to too much without thinking it through. Then I find myself in a dither, a flurry of activity, feeling the stress rise and wanting someone to stop the dizzying merry-go-round so I can get off.

No wonder we struggle to wind down, our calendar spaces filling, adrenaline pumping.

Slow down.  Breath.  Be quiet.  Listen.  Think.

I need to hush my fast-beating heart, think my own thoughts, clear my mind of the world’s voices.  Then perhaps I will hear what the Spirit of the Lord would say to me. His voice is softly gentle, easily drowned out by the shouts of a culture that wants more and entices me to join its throng.

Be still my soul. Lift your eyes to the heavens. See how the Father provides for His creatures, how lavishly He splashes beauty everywhere. Observe His sovereignty  over all things.

I will think about all you have done; I will reflect upon your deeds!
— Psalm 77:12 NET Bible

Think on what is lovely.  Just.  Honest.  Pure.  The good report.  Think on God’s promises.  His faithfulness.  His compassion and goodness.  His love.

And be still my soul.

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