Welcome! As a fan of the cartoon character Maxine, I enjoy her witty remarks. But when I read my blogs & other writing to her, she's not very responsive- even when I'm wearing my bunny slippers like hers! She just doesn't get it!
Although she's funnier than I am, I do pray that this site will bring encouragement to your day! I'd love to hear from you! Unlike Maxine, you can leave me a message via the Comments. Shalom, Connie
Saturday, September 30, 2006
We've talked about journaling this week to express ourselves freely and safely, to preserve memories, to problem-solve, and now to heal. At holiday time, I will return to journaling as a spiritual practice... a way to examine your soul and your walk with the Lord.
Today, in this microgeneration of everything NOW, we need to slow down and reflect on who we are. Where have we been and where are we going, what are we doing, what should we be doing, why are we here... now... in this place... at this time.
The empty page is waiting for us to allow our thoughts and feeling to break forth like seeds from a pod. It receives those thoughts and feelings without judgment. For most of us, there are unresolved conflicts. Through journaling- writing from our heart- we can reveal those conflicts, reflect on our response to them and possible resolution, restore ourselves, and be refreshed, renewed.
You do not need to be a writer to journal. It is a private expression that you may write any way you wish. Sentences don't matter; neither do spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc. Just write!
Just let your pen or fingers begin and words will flow.
Having an emotional abusive mother causes the old records to play in my head even though she died years ago. When I am in a new situation, or struggling with an issue, she tries to tell me "You see, I told you that you were no good."
Journaling helps me in several ways: I can write down how I am feeling, I can tell her off in no uncertain terms, I can look back at previous entries & see a pattern, I can remind myself that I am responsible only for myself, and I can drain out the negative. To help me heal, I wrote a letter of forgiveness to my parents, which allowed me to change how I respond to those hurtful words of my past. In doing that, I released energy that was wasted by my anger. I use that energy to write, to encourage others.
I revealed my hurts, my anger, my pent up feelings. I reflected on why I felt that way, what I could do within myself to change, what I had tried and what worked or didn't work. As I wrote- over a period of time- I began the restoration process. As healing was taking place
my walk with Christ and my life were being renewed, refreshed.
Are you hurting? Do you have unresolved conflicts? Try journaling. Give it a chance as it is a process that unfolds- write from your heart on that blank page. See how God can help you through whatever your facing.
Saturday prayer focus is seekers and searchers.
Friday, September 29, 2006
One biggy is- drumroll, please- you can not solve a problem until you know what the problem is.
Too often, we think we know; but mostly we are just reacting to the emotions of a situation.
As a Director of Nursing, I was always being approached with problems. The simple fact was that I could not satisfy 100+ patients and all their families and friends, my staff of nearly 100, my boss and the physicians, the state inspectors, and whoever else appeared at my door.
I hung a compliant form on my door- it measured 1/2 inch square; the size of my thumbnail. I actually received a few written in very tiny letters, but mostly people laughed. I had a brief reprieve.
As the complaints increased, I posted that all problems must be written out in no less than 500 words. Again, I had a short break.
Finally, I taught classes on problem-solving to all staff and to all of our patients, who wanted to attend. Once the classes were over, issues were to be accompanied by possible solutions. The knocks on my door decreased greatly; and we got good at fixing things before they became a crisis.
You can use your journal to accomplish the same thing in your life. You will find that it is contagious as others will want to be less stressed, more relaxed and have more time- just like you.
So what is your problem today?
#1 write it down then apply the 4 W's: what, where, who, and why. Until you figure out the real problem, you cannot solve it. Remember my clothes hamper story? (See my August 31st posting.) I was wasting time and energy being angry because my son's dirty clothes were on the floor next to the hamper- that's the what and the where. I was the who, although, at first, I thought it was my son. The why wasn't as easy. You see, I was not upset about picking up the clothes or even that they were on the floor; it was that they were beside the hamper. If you can throw them right beside the hamper, you should be able to throw them INside the hamper. My aha moment- it was his lack of logic that upset me.
I know, it was a dumb little thing; but so often the issues that grieve us, begin as small irritations. Identifying them early avoids them festering and becoming deadly.
Step two, once you are sure that you have identified the issue, write down every possible- even the impossible- ways to solve the problem. Be crazy. Some of the seemingly dumb responses can trigger a wonderful solution. Done? Step three, cross off all those impossible, improbable solutions to narrow down your options. Step four, make a choice. Step five, implement that choice. Step six, after trying it for a fair amount of time, evaluate its effectiveness.
With a journal, you can go back, if needed, to come up with an alternative without starting over.
Journaling also allows you to safely vent your feelings- you cannot hurt yourself or anyone else when you write privately. Consider, the only person you can change is yourself. And when you add prayer (#7) to the process, you open the way for new ideas, new directions, new understanding.
The process works for one or for many. It is simple enough for a three year old. (That's another story.) Yet, complex enough to handle whatever you're facing.
The side benefits of throwing that hamper away were learning that I had to think out of the box in order to raise my creative child- without stifling his creativity- and I learned to see the world through his eyes. Both have enriched my life.
Journaling can be a place for safe expression, for keeping memories, for problem-solving, and tomorrow, we'll talk about healing.
Friday prayer focus is family and friends.
Thursday, September 28, 2006
I walked several miles every week to the branch library and carried home as many books as my arms could hold. (Wish we'd had backpacks then.)
My love of reading slowly lead to writing. At 16, I was published in our denomination's teen Sunday School paper; receiving the Honorable Mention award in a writing contest. Someday I dreamed I would be an author and write a series of books. My teachers encouraged me; and I relished writing assignments.
But my private writing was the most important. With a domineering and demanding mother I needed a safe place to express myself. By the time I was in junior high school, my mother never read my homework. So I hid my private writing with my school papers. I learned how to put my emotions into words. I believe it was that freedom of expression that kept me from becoming like my mother.
My high school College English teacher showed me that my writing was always faith based no matter what she assigned. She encouraged me to keep writing and was glad to know that I wrote, in private, about my feelings. I wonder now, if she knew I was a wounded child.
Today, we recognize that emotional abuse can be as damaging as physical or sexual abuse. I was an adult, before I realized that I had an abusive mother- growing up I thought it was the norm.
In nursing school I began to understand that my mother had a personality disorder; her mother probably did also and I was determined not to follow in their destructive paths.
From a young age I was a protector and nurturer for my siblings, but sadly I had no protector. I did have encouragers- mostly teachers; and I did have a way of escape and expression- books and writing.
My current writing instructor and mentor tells me to "free write" everyday. "Just put pen to paper and let it write; you will find that your deepest thoughts will be revealed." I've been doing that for years; I just didn't know it had a name. I do know that it has given me emotional stability.
I encourage you to journal as an expression of your feelings and inner most thoughts. You'll learn things about yourself that will help yoiu cope with life's ups and downs better, and will help you to be the best you can be, which is God's desire for you.
By the way, a journal is much cheaper than a therapist.
Tomorrow, we'll talk about problem-solving through your journal. 'Til then...
Thursday prayer focus: those who are troubled or hurting.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
As I was going through some old photos, I found that I have forgotten names. Sometimes I was good at writing on the back the who, what, where stuff, but others are blank. So is my memory.
If I could go back, I'd have a journal to go with each photo album/scrapbook. I would write the pertinent info' and would add my feelings to read in later.
Another memory keeper is a parent/grandparent journal. These are filled with childhood memories to share with the grandchildren. I remember my father telling about walking to school through snow so high that he could reach the telephone lines. What he neglected to mention was that electric poles were shorter and the lines often hung down- that's how he could reach them.
One of my snow memories is of walking to school through deep snow. Most of the teachers did not make it in. As a 6th grader I was sent to "teach" the kindergarten. We had a great morning and school was closed at lunchtime. I was commended for keeping the the little ones busy and happy. My first taste of teaching was wonderful!
Consider what you can do to preserve your memories.
Wednesday prayer focus is workers and neighbors.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
This comment on journaling by Dayspring was written to promote their journals. Whether you buy a premade journal- and Dayspring carries many nice ones- or use inexpensive 3/$1 spiral notebooks, journaling can help to reveal what God is doing in our lives.
Recently, I tore pages out of several journals that I had started, but never completed. I am in the process of putting them into a new journal of my earlier years. There is a basic theme: God is faithful running throughout my entries that gives me a special peace and hope.
I bought a small, red leather journal with gold-edged pages. Now, you can chuckle, if you want to; but I bought it because I liked the feel and the smell of the leather. I cannot afford a leather brief case or leather interior in a car, but I could afford this little journal. I am not sure what I will use it for. Maybe some of my life's lessons to leave my grandchildren. I'll see.
Meanwhile, consider journaling or write to me about your journaling experiences: consheartstrings at peoplepc dot com. It truly is a wonderful gift to ourselves to be opened again and again.
Tuesday prayer focus is teachers and those in treatment/physical needs.
Monday, September 25, 2006
Lord, myYis aching so much tonight. After spending a wonderful day with my happy, healthy grandchildren, I received a call from a friend. Her 3 year old grandson was admitted to a children's psychiatric unit today.
It is beyond my understanding when I read accounts in the newspaper about 3 children, who with their unborn sibling, and their mother were murdered supposedly by a friend, who also was their babysitter. I pray that they are with you and will suffer no more. But I did not know them and my anger and sadness will fade.
Skyler, I know. Yes, he is a troubled child and has been since birth. And no matter how nice the children's psych unit is, it has to be so scary for a 3 year old. Comfort him, Lord.
Assist the doctors in finding a reason and how to fix it or control it.
His mother is tired, frustrated, worried, and hurting. Comfort her also and bring her closer to you. She desperately needs You in her life.
My friend, the grandmother, has a heart that is breaking. She called me for prayer. Show her without a doubt that You are control, that You are there to put Your arms about her, that You do answer prayer.
The Bible says we must ask in order for You to intervene... I am asking.
The Bible says that when 2 or more are gathered in Your name, You will hear us. So I will call the prayer line at church.
Lord, I do not have to understand, but You do. I leave this family in Your hands. Show them Your Glory!
I thank you for Kalden and Ana, for my their Daddy, my son. They are healthy & know you. (Well, Ana will when she's older.) I thank you for the wholesome, Christian environment that they are being raised in. Continue to protect and guide my family.
Give me the right words this week when I phone my friend.
Replace my anger, my heartache, my lack of understanding with a passion for the hurting.
Keep my focus on You, the Creator and Healer. May this crisis bring Skyler's family to You.
Dear Reader, Please pray with me for this family. Connie
Sunday, September 24, 2006
I have a journal just about my nursing career experiences. I have another that is a bit more like a diary, where I write down things that happen along with my responses. I sometimes will journal whan I'm studying a book or topic; it keeps my notes in one place plus gives me space to write my reflections or ideas.
I highly recommend journaling as a memory keeper, a place to freely express yourself, a way to work through problems, and as a source of healing.
This week, we will talk on how journaling may add quality to your life.
Sunday prayer focus is Sunday Services and Self.
Saturday, September 23, 2006
A pianist said, "When I miss 1 day of practice, I know it; 2 days and my friends know it; 3 days and everyone knows it."
Patience is an ability to idle your motor when you feel like stripping your gears.
Peace is not the absence of conflict, but the ability to cope with it.
Quit hanging on today's comfort. It will keep you from expecting tomorrow's challenge.
When you live for the approval of God, you need not be disturbed by the opinions of others.
Life is like an onion & you are the onion. As each layer is pulled away, you find there's more and more layers.
When God made man He used dirt not diamonds.
A friend is the one who comes in when the rest of the world goes out.
JOY without Jesus leaves "oy," Yiddish for woe.
The only exercise some folks get is jumping to conclusions.
Having someplace to go is home; having someone to love is family; having both is a blessing.
Note: sources unknown.
Friday, September 22, 2006
Identify your passion(s) versus your desires. Think of it like needs versus wants. Your deep passions are placed there by God and you probably knew them as a child. As we grow up we often put them on hold, but they are still there. What did you love to do as a child? If you had no restraints, what would you want to do now?
Also look at your talents and skills. Unsure? Ask your friends or compare yourself with your siblings. What does each person do well?
Ask God to show you. Be sure to watch for the answer. It may come as an idea, a comment from someone, an opportunity, an article in your favorite magazine. Whatever way it comes, you must be expecting an answer.
Tomorrow, we talk about being made in God's image.
Friday prayer focus is family and friends.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Now for the rest of the story: in the background Morse Code was dotting and dashing, "If you can understand this, come into the office and the job is yours."
Concentrate on doing your best for God, work you won't be ashamed of, laying out the truth plain and simple. (2 Timothy 2:15 The Message)
This verse is talking about studying and being diligent in presenting God's truth to others. Yet it is a good principle for other areas of our lives. That we always strive to give our best whether we are in school, in the workplace, in the church, or in our homes. God has given each of us a part in His work and no job is more important than another.
The young man knew Morse Code, followed the instructions, and probably was an excellent employee. Moms, your job may be making peanot butter and jelly sandwiches while singing "Jesus Loves Me" with your preschoolers- teaching them God's Word is a high calling. Dads, your honesty in the workplace and willingness to listen may be God's job for you. Grandmothers, helping in the church nursery so young mothers can be in church or Bible Study may be your God-given assignment. Retired construction worker, God may be asking you to build a ramp so the disabled can become more independent. For me, I am to write everyday and improve my skills so I can tell God's story.
Doing what God has planned for us and doing our best should be our goal as we go about our daily routine. Tomorrow we'll talk about knowing what He has for us to do.
Thursday's prayer focus is for those who are troubled and searching.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Can you imagine a sermon based on him?
The youth pastor walked up to the pulpit carrying that chubby, white dough boy wearing his chef's cap. "We need to be like the DoughBoy," he began as everyone chuckled.
It was Pastor Dean's first sermon. Once the giggles died down, I was impressed as God's truths were presented.
1. When the heat is on, Christian's must rise to the top! For we have God with us.
2. We need to get FATTER. Yep, fatter! (Being chubby myself, I was all ears.)
F aithful, steadfast
A vailable, willing to do whatever, where ever God asks
T eachable, willing to learn and to be corrected
T hankful, consistently appreciating all that God has given us
E nthusiastic, willing to share Christ through our lives
R ooted, always in God's Word
I heard that sermon 9 years ago & still think about it every time I see the Pillsbury DoughBoy.
Wednesday prayer focus is workers.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Years ago I saved these notes from a book about Corrie tenBoom by Carole C.Carlson:
"First, Corrie would show the beauty of the embroidered side of the cloth with all the thread forming a beautiful crown, which was God's plan for our lives. Then she'd flip it over to show the tangled, confused underside, illustrating how we view our lives from a human standpoint.
"My life is but a weaving, between my God and me.
I do not choose the colors, He worketh steadily;
Oftimes He weaveth sorrow, and I, in foolish pride,
Forgets He sees the upper, and I the underside.
"Not till the loom is silent and the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas and explain the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful, in the skillful Weaver's hand,
As the threads of gold and silver in the pattern He has planned."
Corrie tenBoom knew all about the tangles as she survived living in a concentration camp. She also experienced the threads of gold when she was released by "mistake" and continued to be used by God.
Monday prayer focus is ministries.
Monday, September 18, 2006
Hudson Taylor said, "God doesn't expect us to have great faith- He expects us to only trust in His great faithfulness."
He went on to explain that this requires only the willingness of a common man. "Don't strive for faith... just rest in His faith."
Let's take a moment to rest...
Monday prayer focus ministries.
Sunday, September 17, 2006
It was a simple, traditional wedding with a garden reception. The church was nearly full and all went as planned thanks to the unboxed gifts that were given.
The first began the day before the wedding when my two bridesmaids arrived. Knowing my mother would try to spoil my day, they had come up with a plan. I would never be left alone until I was Mrs. John Gilbert. Any time that my mother approached me, it was one or both of my friends she faced. Her image was important; therefore, she backed off and did not create a scene.
The second gift was given by my pastor at the rehearsal. My pastor had seen my tears and heard my stories about my mother's sabotage, but felt that they were the normal pre-wedding bridal anxiety. Until my mother stood up at the start of the rehearsal... true to form she began to announce how the wedding was to be conducted. He firmly told her to sit down and be quiet or she would not be attending the wedding. Shocked, she sat down and remained silent.
Today, I cannot remember what was in the beautifully wrapped boxes, but I will never forget the unboxed gifts that made my day special.
I had experienced Psalm 91 in action.
Sunday pray focus is Sunday Services and self.
Saturday, September 16, 2006
ooh no, I'm multitasking!
The Brownies do smell good; and my achy bones are just waiting to slip under those bubbles... aaah. Comfort time, no multitasking just de-stressing and relaxing.
I need an idea for a writing project so I am going to think about that while I get into the tub. (After the Brownies are out of the oven.) In that bubbly bliss, while my muscles, tendons and ligaments begin to relax and I drift between alertness and dosing silence reigns. That is when, sometimes, I hear God whisper to me.
Brownies are out... yum, can you smell them? I didn't put nuts in just in case you're allergic to them... Not yet, they have to cool.... Gonna savor that rich chocolate flavor... No snitching while I'm soaking. Ummmmmm, they do smell good!
No whispers, but as I eat this, warm from the oven, Brownie I am thankful for the little lifesavors that bring comfort in my life:
my baby granddaughter's smile and little noises
the sun setting over the mountains and leaving a rosy trail across the sky
praying with my grandson at bedtime as he lists everyone he knows to be blessed
music written in the 1600's that touches my heart
a good book for cuddling under the afghan on a cool day
the smell of vanilla and cinnimon candles
You add your lifesavors...
Be in an attitude of thanksgiving with me as we bring this week to a close.
Saturday prayers focus on those seeking salvation and those searching for meaning in life.
Friday, September 15, 2006
One is drivers who talk on their cell phones while endangering the lives of those I love, including myself. Plenty of studies show that doing anything while driving- talking, phoning, eating, shaving, putting on make-up, etc.-decreases one's response time.
2nd, people who talk on their cell phones- especially those with those little ear gadgets- while in the grocery store, restaurants, and other public places. I don't go out to dinner to hear the person at the next table talking constantly to an invisible person. In the grocery store, I'm trying to pay attention to prices and how best to use my money; I can't concentrate when everyone around me is talking. To call home asking, "What brand was it you wanted?" & hang up would not bother me. But these one-sided conversations that go on and on, drive me nuts.
A 3rd one I see in job ads all the time: "must be able to multitask."
Sorry, God did not make our brains and bodies to multi-task. We have conditioned our brains to jump from one thing to another rapidly. Is it any wonder that we burnout!
Well, the cellphone stuff is mutitasking also, so I guess I have just one pet peeve.
Our bodies truly are as Psalm 119 says, fearfully and wonderfully made. We, Americans, tend to abuse ourselves from all directions. I am guilty also. Although my mental picture is of me weighing 102# with a tiny waist, it is far from the truth; (just this week my 4 year-old gr'son told me my bottom was too big for leap frog.) I eat healthy foods, but too much of them. I don't drink or smoke, but I love colas, yeast breads, and chai tea lattes. I spent a good share of my life multitasking, consuming caffeine by the gallons, sleeping little, and not taking care of me. The result is diabetes, hypertension, and a worn out body that hurts most of the time.
Moms think they have to do it all- care for kids, have a clean house, keep the laundry caught up, do exquisite scrapbooking, & have a gourmet meal on the table when dad gets home. Spend quality time with the kids, tuck them in, clean the kitchen & make tomorrow's lunches, and have time for romance and hubby attention. Moms, you need to take of yourself also. Moms and dads, husbands and wives you need to sit down, discuss your priorities and re-set your expectations.
It is essential that God comes first. Time with Him must include silence or we'll never hear Him whisper His will, His plan for us. We all wish to give our best to the Lord and His job descriptions do not include multitasking. They include focusing on Him and staying connected with our Source, our Creator.
Friday prayer focus family and friends.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Thursday prayers for those who are troubled & non-physical needs
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
"I know a song about trees. It says "I'm becoming what the Lord of Trees wants me to be, a strong young tree.' Who do you thnik is the Lord of Trees?" I asked.
With the wisdom of a four-year-old, he answered by shrugging his shoulders. Still crunching on the carrots, he watched the wind blow the branches of the tree where the ball had been stuck.I waited and had another carrot, too.
"I guess it must be God... He made 'em," he finally replied.
Later we sang the song by Ken Medema, "The Tree Song;" and talked about little boys growing strong and being like God intended.
Wouldn't it be great if life was that simple!
James 1:5 tells us "If any of you lack wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." (NIV)
Without finding fault? Is that like, no question is a dumb question? Or regardless of your reason for asking, He'll answer? Maybe a bit of both; but I'm glad that we may ask. I know I need all the help I can get in the wisdom department. How about you?
Wednesday pray for workers.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Interesting considering I did not know her well then nor did I know what her ministry had been. What I did know was that she encouraged me every time I saw her.
This week is National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week sponsored by HopeKeepers Magazine and Rest Ministries. One out of every two Americans has a chronic condition. 10% of Americans are significantly disabled; 75% of them use no assistive devices like walkers, canes or wheelchairs or other indications of their illness. It is estimated that 70% of the 9/11 rescue and clean up workers now have a chronic lung condition.
Let's put this in perspective. If you have a church with 200 people, 100 of them have a chronic condition, 20 are disabled, 5 of them use something that indicates their disability like a cane. That means that 15 people have invisible chronic pain and /or illness.
Examples of invisible conditions are arthritis, asthma, brain injury, chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic pain of most types, Cushing's syndrome, cystic fibrosis, diabetes, endometriosis, heart disease, lupus, Lyme disease, Meniere's disease, migraine, multiple sclerosis in the early stages, neurological and seizure disorders, osteoporosis, organ transplant, and ParkinsonÂs disease.
The theme this week is Hope Is a Choice: My Illness Is Invisible But My Hope Shines Through. If you have an invisible illness or know someone who does, Rest Ministries is a source for information and encouragement. Their magazine HopeKeepers is written by and for those with chronic illness or chronic pain. It is available online or per mail by subscription. The website is at Rest Ministries dot com.
My friend's illness is visible and limits her abilities, but she does have a ministry of prayer and encouragement. I am blessed knowing her and having her as part of my writing support team.
I am also one of the invisible as I have more than two chronic conditions; and I am a Parish Nurse so I understand the needs from both perspectives. I am asking:
What are you doing to help? What is your church doing? Don't know what to do? Contact Rest Ministries; they have many resources to help.
Lastly, Proverb11:25 reminds us "... he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed." (NIV)
Tuesday Prays: teachers and those receiving treatment.
Monday, September 11, 2006
For over 20 years I have prayed for a missionary nurse in Haiti (now retired & nursing in Canada), a couple in the Philippines (now teaching in California), a couple in Illinois who planted a small church and are still there, a couple in Florida working for Youth For Christ (now in the computer programming business.) As you can see, when I say I will support you through prayer, I take it on as a lifetime commitment. There have been short term commitments as well.
Today I pray for those listed above- that God will continue to use them where ever they are. I pray for the pastors of my church and the Bible Study leaders. I pray for the owner and teacher of my grandson's Christian pre-school. I pray for my son's business- he designs book covers for Christian books. Because he's visiting publishers in Tennessee and Michigan this week, I pray also for his safety and for positive outcomes. (His partner, also.) I pray for my son's leadership as he facilitates a neighborhood Bible Study.
I pray for my daughter-in-law as she starts a women's Bible Study this week. I ask the Lord to give her confidence, the right words, a heart of compassion for each woman in the group, and few distractions.
I pray for the Parish nurses in my church and in Central Oregon. I ask the Lord to guide the preparations for the conference and retreat in October so that spiritual needs will be met.
I pray for my writing group as we plan a project to be done together; guide us Lord to write, with unity, the message You have planned. And for our teacher, mentor, and friend Janet as she not only improves our writing skills, but as she helps us walk closer to the Lord.
As I minister through writing, Parish Nursing, Stitchin' With Purpose, and start a Bible Study for writers, Lord, keep my focus on you.
Who do you know in ministry? Pray for them today and thank them- we all need to be encouraged.
Sunday, September 10, 2006
When I was a young girl, I promised myself that I would never ask God for anything on Sundays." 'Cause churches are full of people asking for stuff." So I determined to just say thanks for things. Now I don't know how long I kept my promise, but I am guessing that it wasn't for long.
Over the years, I've come to know that millions of people praying at the same time is no problem for God. Our universe, in comparison to Him, is pretty tiny.
On this Sunday, I have two questions:
How do I pray for me? How do you pray for yourself?
Does prayer even matter?
In Mark 12:30-31 Jesus tells us how to pray-
To love God with all my heart- positive attitudes
To love God with all my soul- closer communion with God
To love God with all my mind- right thoughts
To love God with all my strength- using my body for His glory
And to love my neighbor as myself- treating poeple as Jesus would or as if they were Him
I need to work on those things everyday that's why I begin my week asking God to help me do each one. Sometimes, it's best to take just one at a time. This week let's work on our heart attitudes, okay?
Question #2- Why pray at all?
God chose to limit Himself by making man His link to activity on earth. What an incredible invitation to be His ambassadors. Even when it is His plan or His desire, God needs us to ask- that's why prayer is necessary. Yes, He knows our every thought, but He has placed us in authority over all the earth. He works through us- imperfect people.
P.S. I am looking forward to reading Phillip Yancey's new book on prayer; I am sure he has new insights on "Why pray at all?"
Saturday, September 09, 2006
In a conference at the end of October, I will present a mini-Bible Study on Principles of Spiritual Growth. It is my hope and prayer that I will spark the need for a closer walk with the Lord.
I am praying now, as a seeker, to do God's will by saying the words He wants said. I am asking Him to send the right people to my session. I will only have one hour to touch their hearts so I am praying for them, the seekers, to come to the session with open hearts and minds.
We are all seekers- wanting lots of stuff. It is the spiritual seekers that I pray for on Saturdays.
You can pray for me as I seek a deeper communion, through prayer, with God.
How can I pray for you?
Friday, September 08, 2006
Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray
In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice;
In the morning I lay my requests before You and wait in expectation
I, by Your great mercy, will come into Your house;
In reverence I will bow down...
Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness
Make straight Your way before me.
Psalm 5:1-3, 7-8 NIV
David's Psalm is a prayer that speaks to my heart. It tells me that God will hear and listen to my requests- even those that I cannot put into words. He knows my heart and understands my "sighings." As I come before Him in awe and reverance, He will protect and guide me. So I wait in expectation of His answer.
Expectation is defined as a confident belief or strong hope that something will happen, in excited anticipation. People may fail us, but God always answers our requests. His answer will always be the correct one whether He says "yes" , "no", or "wait- the timing is not right."
As dear as my family and friends are to me, God loves and cares for them even more. Therefore, I entrust them to Him and thank Him for His answers.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Thursdays I pray for those that are troubled and hurting.
Do you remember the song, "Hello Mudduh, Hello,Fadduh. Here I am at Camp Granada." It was a song written in 1963 about the horrors of camp with pleas to take their boy home. His friends are suffering from poison ivy, ptomaine poisoning, and malaria... that is until it stops raining- on his first day at camp- and ending the song with "... kindly disregard this letter!"
The next year a new version was recorded live on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show: "I am back at Camp Granada. And I'm writing you this letter just to say my compound fracture's getting better... To leave would be a shame. Besides, I'd miss the poker game."
Trouble is, indeed, in the eyes of the beholder, but I think we can agree that we live in a hurting world.
As I pray for the hurting I remind myself of 2 truths: God hears the prayers of the righteous (Proverbs 15:29) and our Heavenly Father is the God of all comfort ( 2 Corinthians 1:3.)
We need to live lives pleasing to God; and we need to ask for Him to give comfort ... knowing He may use us to do it.
On a CD by Glad (God of All Comfort, 2003) the lyrics put it this way: "I want to speak words of comfort and do what I can to help. I want to offer hope to this world...(So) I'll trust, and leave it in your hands, when my heart doesn't understand."
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
I actually break it down a bit more and pray for various types of workers: 1st Wed. of the month- rescue and medical, 2nd Wed. of the month- resorts & tourism (the mainstay of the economy where I live), 3rd Wed.- retail, and 4th Wed.- food & government. So my list contains specific people and those who affect my life even though I don't know them.
Ah,writers... I belong to three writing groups in my small city. One is strictly for critiquing, another is strictly (repeat intended) for fun, and the third is for Christian Writers. There is a double bond between us in Christian Writers. We love the Lord, and we have been called by Him to write. On-line I am also one of eight women taking advanced writing lessons together, which will include a group project. Although we have only met on-line, we too have a double bond; they are my Sisters in Christ. By the way, one lives in Australia and one in England Too cool!
When praying for us writers, I ask God to make the pieces fit- coordinate the authors, agents, editors, publishers, cover designers, printers, book sellers, everyone invloved with saying what God wants said. (He is the ultimate and original Creator, He can do it!)
As I write, I pray that God will give me the words, that He will get it to the people it was written for, and that it will come at the time of their need. I don't worry about being published- I did when I started. Now, I just want to be true to the message that God has planted within me. It is the grandest thing to see thoughts become words on a page. It is a serendipity-like moment when you read what you have written and say, "Wow, how did that get there." and "Gee, that's good stuff!"
If you are reading this, I ask you to leave me a comment. Just knowing that you are there will make my day! Share my blog address with those you know. Also you can find articles and devotionals written by my "sisters" and I in the on-line magazine called Reflections. You can access it through Called To Write on the web.
Well, I have a lesson to do and an article to finish. Talk with you tomorrow.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Fitting for today as many children return to school.
I have a deep respect for teachers because as I look back they were my greatest encouragers through my childhood and teen years.
Today though, it is a principal that I remember. I cannot remember his name and I only having fleeting glimpses of what he looked like- chubby cheeks and very tall, but I remember how I felt sitting on his lap.
I was only five; shy and timid. I walked to school excited, yet frightened. When I got to the edge of the playground,it was too quiet. No kids were playing inside the huge chainlink fence. So I ran home. The embarrassment of being late and everyone looking at me was too much to face.
My father was not happy; he worked nights and tried to nap in the mornings, while he watched my brother. After a phone call to the school I was sent back ... to the principal's office. (I'll call him Mr. P.)
Actually, Mr. P was on the playground waiting for me with a smile and gentle, crockerspaniel eyes. My hand in his, we went to his office. I remember his big chair swiveled; his desk was a dark wood and seemed to take up the whole room; and the candy jar was always full.
He sat me on his lap to pick out my favorite piece of candy. I'd unwrap it slowly, plop into my mouth, and savor its sweetness. All the while he was softly talking about my class and the wonderful world of Kindergarten. Then he'd look out of the window and say, "Well, there they are now!" Hand in hand we'd go out for recess. (It never occurred to me that school had just started and recess should have been later in the morning.)
My matronly teacher would take me under wing and the rest of the morning would be fine.
This was repeated for several days until I was comfortable enough to be brave ... and on time.
* * *
Second semester, my brother started kindergarden. One day after school, he ran after a paper blown away by the wind. (One of those mimeographed notes to our parents; I held the same message in my hand.) He was my responsibility, but I couldn't stop him. I turned away as the car struck him.
Mr P, my grown-up friend, was there to comfort me for weeks as Billy laid in the hospital and later at home with broken legs, a broken collarbone, and initially a concussion. Mr P was there when I was taunted with the sing-song chanting of the children because I was chicken and turned away, afraid to watch him get hit. Mr. P even came to our apratment to see Billy, but spent time with me, too.
A lot of trauma for a little girl that was small for her age and very shy. And as you see, I remember a lot of it, quite vividly- including the ambulance ride with Billy in a coma. (It was more nearly 60 years ago.)
When I try to picture my Heavenly Father, it's not my dad, but Mr P I "see". It was his understanding, gentleness, patience, protection, and love for children that I feel as I remember. I cannot see Mr. P in my mind, I feel his presence. The same with my Abba, my Heavenly Daddy- I cannot see Him, but I feel His presence. I feel His hand in mine. I sit in the comfort and protection of His lap as He softly speaks with love, understanding, and gentleness.
Sometimes I still run away when I approach that big fence called life, but He's waiting in love for me to return so we can walk hand and hand once more.
Monday, September 04, 2006
Next, his eyes closed, he says, "God bless Bob."
Last picture is the man shaking Bob's hand saying, "Been praying for you, Bob."
This cartoon reminds us that prayer in our busy world can easily be forgotten.
Personally, I want you to know that the power of prayer is so important to me that I am very careful about saying, "I'll pray for you." It is an area in my life that I am constantly working on; I need to improve my prayer life. I do better than some, but I haven't even come close to prayer warriors like my Aunt Mattie.
She literally went to her unheated attic- hot in the summer and cold in the winter- and prayered on her knees from 4:30 a.m. until 6:30 a.m. everyday except when birthing her two children. My uncle told me she would be displeased that he told me; she prayed "in secret" as Jesus instructed in Matthew 6:6.
My uncle had a heart condition, and knew his time on earth was short. "I know you have a hard time liking Mattie, but she's going to need you. You didn't know it , but she's prayed for you since before you were born, through nursing school, for your marriage, and now as a widow with a son to raise. She lifts you up in prayer along with many others daily."
Remembering back to when I stayed with them as a child, no wonder she sent my siblings and I to bed while it was still sunny.
Well, I haven't been able to pray on my knees for two hours every day, but scripture also tells us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17.) Being the Type A person that I am, I need a plan.
#1 I never say "I'll pray for you" unless I mean it; and I write it down so I won't forget.
#2 I pray as prompted- if a person comes to mind for no apparent reason, I pray for them. When I see a funeral procession, I pray for that person's family and friends. When I hear ambulance or firetruck sirens, I pray for the responders and those needing them. These are my "5 second" prayers that are woven into my day, but I know God answers all prayers big or small.
#3 I pray when my church calls with a request on the Prayer Line and write it down.
#4 I try to begin and end my day thanking God.
#5 I pray for you while I write this and while writing devotionals, articles, etc.
#6 I use a calendar to help me focus and keep track of needs. It is in my Bible, at my desk, and in my bathroom. No laughing! It's the one place I go everyday; and my refrigerator is full of my grandchild's pictures.
Sunday...................... Sunday services at church, self
Tuesday.................... teachers & those receiving treatment; physical needs per the prayer chain
Wednesday............... workers and writers
Thursday.................. troubled people, non-physical needs per the prayer chain
Friday........................ family & friends
Saturday................... seekers, those needing salvation
Using a blank calendar- one of those without dates- I write the above at the top of each daily column. Underneath I list who or what to pray for. Wish we had a day beginning with "P" so I could praise God for answered prayer. I try to do that daily, but it's easier to ask than to say thanks sometimes. (I'll be telling you about my blessing basket another day.)
My prayer life is still evolving, but I try to keep a direct line open so I can speed dial the Lord throughout my day. Where ever you are in your prayer life, keep at it. The more faithful we are in prayer, the better our day is. Decisions, choices, relationships, daily tasks- all are easier when shared with the Lord.
Just like you, I do better some days than others. When I'm in a funk, it's hard to pray; but praying for others is the best way to keep your mind off yourself and your problems.
God has given each of us 86,400 seconds today. How many are you using to talk with Him?
* * *
Monday- pray for those in ministry; your pastor, missionaries, & various other ministries
including Christian businesses.
Sunday, September 03, 2006
I read "How to bless others." (I put a copy into my Bible, but I don't know who wrote it.)
When praying for others B.L.E.S.S. them this way:
B ody- pray for health, healing, everyday physical needs
L abors- pray for their work/school & everyday tasks
E motional needs- pray for comfort, peace, hope, joy, & encouragement
S ocial needs- pray for healthy relationships with family, friends & associates
S piritual needs- pray for continually deepening relationship with God
Now when I say "bless you" I am asking the Lord to work in all these areas of someone's life.
On this Lord's Day I truly can say to you, my reader, "Bless you!"
Saturday, September 02, 2006
Today my mind is miles away. My dear friend of 55 years is celebrating her 50th Anniversary as a Mrs. Friends and family are gathering in northern Michigan at the very church camp where I meet the Lord so many years ago.
She was my babysitter when I first moved to Michigan. She sang at my wedding. One of her daughters babysat my son; her youngest son was in my class at church and at camp for several years. She and her sister taught me to read music and play the piano; and she encouraged me to sing. When I wanted to end my life (after my husband’s death), she was there to listen.
When my son sang the lead in the fifth grade musical, she was there to say, "Well done!"
I still have a pewter cup and plate shaped like an ark that she presented to me at family camp. She smiled sweetly as she whispered, "I’m so sorry. I didn’t believe the kids could learn a musical in five days. Not only did they learn it, they sang it well, and they know more about Noah than any of us (parents). I shouldn’t have doubted." Outloud, she thanked me and lead the applause for the children.
There have been funny moments also.. When I lived next door, she came running leaving her hubby sitting on the "throne" with no paper towel, no Kleenex, no toilet paper in the house.
She can be a bit flighty & forgetful. Another such moment-"What should I do when I’ve forgotten to take my birth control pills?" she asked. Knowing her, it wasn’t just once or even twice; "Buy a crib," I answered. She did..
She is the rarest of blossoms. She may forget where her shoes are, but she’ll always be there, if you need her. She knows how to listen. She loves unconditionally.
I am blessed to have her as a friend. Across the miles I send my love and my prayer that God will shower her in such a wonderful way today that no one will doubt that the blessing came from Him.
To her man of 50 years, I ask, "When did you realize that God had blessed you with a Proverbs 31 Woman?"
For no one, I know, fits these words better:
A good woman is hard to find, and worth far more than diamonds.
Her husband trusts her without reserve, and never has reason to regret it.
Never spiteful, she treats him generously all her life long.
Her children respect and bless her, her husband joins in words of praise:
"Many women have done wonderful things, but you’ve outclassed them all!
(Proverbs 31: 10-12, 28-29, The Message)
Happy Anniversary, Alene and John!
Love always, Connie
Friday, September 01, 2006
You have probably noticed each of my postings end with Selah. This word is found in the Book of Psalms and in Habakkuk 3, where the verses make up a song. It is thought to be a musical term, which means it is telling the musician to do something. In the music of today we see forte- loudly, pianissimo- very softly, allentando- slowing down, crescendo- with increasing volume, rest- a pause or silence, arpeggio- a chord in which the notes are played individually in succession and very quickly, etc. Some writers today define Selah as "pause ... consider this ..."
When I place Selah at the end of my posting, I am asking you, my reader, to take a moment to reflect upon my story. How does it apply to your life? What can you learn through my experience? Or, is their someone you know that may be comforted by this writing?
I sign off with Shalom, a Jewish term for both hello and good-bye, a kind of Peace be With You.
Tomorrow is a day of celebration...