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draw your prayer

Sometimes, staying focused in prayer is difficult for me.  So I tried this experiment.  I “drew” while I prayed.  Actually, the concept is based on a book entitled Praying in Color by Sybil MacBeth.

I found her method of coloring to be somewhat distracting because I was frequently choosing a color and became caught up in that process.  My method forces me to to concentrate a little more on the people and the prayer.

In the photo below you will see a six-paned window.  We have several of these in our home, which is what inspired this particular picture.  Each of the panes is dedicated to one member of our family.  Where the curtain splits a pane, I also included prayers for the people my children were dating at the time.

The frame around the panes contains notes that I found to be important to us at the time.  And a Bible verse–Psalm 122:1  “Unless the Lord builds the house its builders labor in vain.”

As I filled each pane with prayer requests, I was praying for that person.  After I had the inked portions laid down, I then went back and shaded the panes…praying once again for the person in that window.

This process covered my family with prayer for a couple of hours that day.  Obviously I don’t do this every day.  But when I do it, I come away feeling more focused about each person I pray for.   I have the confidence that the Lord heard my prayers–rather, the prayer of my heart, as I poured out all the thoughts, concerns, hopes, and dreams I hold for each person.

This is a very simple drawing, as you can see. (In fact, I didn’t even finish the frame on this drawing.  When I finished the panes, I had a peace and sense of completion, so I ended there.)  So you don’t need to be overly gifted in drawing.  Just willing to give it a try.  It might not be something that you connect with, but I’ve found it to be good for me sometimes.

Unless the Lord builds the house its builders labor in vain. Psalm 122:1

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the attitude

A sweet story from the archives.  This is when Erinnae was four, Titus, three.

The thunder came during dinner.

We were all four at the table–Bud, Erinnae, Titus, and me.  At the first burst of lightening, Erinnae was in Daddy’s lap and I had Titus.

Trying for a distraction, after a little while, I said to Titus, “Who made the booms?”  After a pause, he said, “God did.”  And I responded with “Everything God made is good.”

Daddy decided to get Erinnae on board with this diversion tactic, so he asked her, “Who made the booms?”

In exasperation she said, “I don’t want to discuss that right now.”

That was so adult of her.  I know,  it sounds so childish, but in practice that’s what we adults do.

You’re going 52 in a 45; and you ignore Romans 13:1 as it comes to mind.  “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorit–” Wait! That was a really bad example…let me think of something that doesn’t apply to me.

Oh yes, Bud and I had a disagreement the other day.  Sometimes he just refuses to see things my way.  So I went to bed–“do not let the sun go down while you are still ang–”

I’m going to try that again.

You would think that standing right there on the ball court, the trained official in the striped shirt would be able to make an accurate call.  That was a travel–“be kind and compass–”

Okay.  So, it’s my issue too.  There is truth sitting right at my doorstep and I pull out the “I don’t want to discuss that right now” attitude.  Don’t bother me with right and wrong, just let me do this my way.

But we are to be sanctified by truth (John 17:17.)  Because of Jesus’ great love we are inspired, motivated and delighted to cooperate with God in the development of a Christlike character in preparation for heaven.  Well, we’re supposed to be, but sometimes we have “the attitude.”

 

Everyone say CHEESE -- ok, just the kids.

quarterback

Mission Christmas Tree 2010

An extra player on the left--Abigail!

I’m sitting here at this desk, desiring to post something, feeling emotions and words and situations all churning around.  What does one post about when the heart’s ebb and flow are constricted?

I am stuck today on parenting.  This is, in my opinion, the hardest job on the face of the earth.  What are some of my reasons for thinking this?

There is no pattern. The day-to-day, step-by-step instruction sheet was lost on the assembly line of the baby shipping factory.  Or maybe it was an economic decision.  “Hey boss, seems like we have to print out a different set of directions for each model.  Gets kind of expensive.  We could save a lot of money … .  Just sayin’.”

The reality is that what was effective with one child may not be effective with the next.    All parents know that each one is different.  You’d like to tell yourself that they’re growing up in the same home, with the same parents, sharing the same experiences.  And all that “sameness” should gel together for a consistently effective method of parenting.  Think again.

Even though my children declare that they want to be treated the same, I believe that if they actually received this, they would wilt.  God doesn’t treat all his children the same.  I’m pretty certain that He would encourage all parents to know their children and bring them up accordingly.

There is little appreciation. I have to temper this by saying that as some of our children have gotten older, they have at times expressed appreciation of some type or another.  However, the general truth remains that when you’re “in the thick of it” your child will not choose to try to understand your position on the various issues.

You, the parents, are the people on this earth who love that child the most.  (In the normal scheme of things.)  You are the ones who have taken the time to know this child, love this child, nurture this child.  And you want the best for your child.  But that child may be a long way from seeing and understanding this.  Parents should and must act according to the best interests of the child, lovingly, of course.

And this is so hard at times.  I am happy to share that our kids are great kids.  We have issues at times, of course.  So I think that’s what makes it so hard.  It is rare that we have had to make tough decisions in parenting.  So when those decisions come, we are all–parents and children–a little flummoxed on how to wade through the quagmire of strong emotions that result.

There is little companionship. In honor of our children, we parents are willing to walk alone.  We are willing to take the abuse that comes from an uninformed outsider.

Most children have done it.   Comments such as: “Aw, they won’t let me.  I never get to do anything fun.”  You’ve heard your friends children do it to their parents.  And perhaps you’ve disagreed with the parents.  I know I’ve done that, thinking that the parents really should reconsider THAT decision.  (Shame on me.)

I believe it’s called “arm-chair quarterbacking.”  The coach and the quarterback know the plan.  But every sports enthusiast in the nation is watching and re-plotting a better approach–with incomplete data.  The quarterback has to stand behind his decision; the coach has to stand behind his.  And they have to be willing to be misunderstood.  And even abused.

In the world of parenting, I am so glad that I am not the coach.  I have someone with more authority leading me and showing me how to move the ball down the field.  I am the quarterback, doing my best to manage the plays for sweet success.

God is the coach (and so much more.)  He knows the plan and He directs the action.  He expects that the quarterback will do the work effectively, lovingly.  The players might not like the play but the coach works His ways anyway.

As we parents move along in life, striving to move our  teams into a position of success, let us remember that we each have our own battles involving unique personalities and behaviors.  And let us respect the decisions that are played out under God’s watchful care.

sunday

In thinking about what I would blog about on Sundays, I started wondering about church and church attendance: who goes, why people go, what people think about church.

Going to a service on Sunday is important to many people, but others have a different view.  I’d like to hear what you have to say, via poll.  Perhaps other polls will be added in future Sundays.

nigh

I noticed that the last two of my posts used this word “nigh” — sounds like “sigh.”

And I wondered about that word.  I know it means, in some instances, “almost.”  My grandmother would use the word often in her speech.  Oh, she had colorful speech; not vulgar at all, but colorful.  She would say thing’s like “It’s nigh onto time for getting supper.”

But this isn’t the sense that King James was speaking… “God is almost” … I don’t think so.

Rather, in the previous blogs, “nigh” refers to God being near.

Isn’t that a strange thought.  The God of the universe wanting to be near to us.  He wants to be near to you, to me.

He wants to be near to where I am.  As you study the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers, you will see a picture of inexplicable nearness.

He wants to be near in relationship.  He wants to be my best Friend.  I love John 15 where Jesus talks about our relationship with him.  And the books of 1, 2, and 3 John shows Jesus’ heart for relationship with us.  But the ultimate picture of His desire to be near to us is viewing the walls He broke down to get to us.

He wants to be near in time.  Does that sound strange to you?  It’s more like He wants to be in the fiber of our present existence and our future hope.  He wants to be ever-present in our lives … the One to whom we run when things are bad, the One who hears our hopes and dreams, the One who shares our truest longings.

Being near to God is so much more than that little “nigh” implies.

funeral friday 2

The sequels are never as good as the original.  That’s what people say about movies, anyway.

Our funeral home is also heavily into “print shop” types of functions.  We believe that a funeral can be memorable in a positive way and achieving this comes through personalization.  A good portion of the creation of media falls into my hands, as I am not a funeral director and I am pretty good at media.

There was a time when we worked in a funeral home that was in a start-up stage and we drove about 15 miles to get there.  This funeral home was  so much a start-up that we were using our personal computer and printer to create the memorial cards.  So while we were at home, I prepared these memorial cards, printed them, bagged them, and laid them on table to pick up as we left.

In creating these cards, I knew that the cards had to be perfect when we left the house, because there was no way 15 miles down the road to re-do them.  No do-overs!  I always agonized over the name and dates knowing that these absolutely had to be accurate.

We were serving a patriotic family, this particular time.   They had requested that the words to “Taps” be placed on the memorial card.  Easy enough.  “Taps” is a pretty simple poem.  I know you’ve all heard the tune, but do you know the words?

Day is done, gone the sun from the lake, from the hills, from the sky.
All is well, safely rest,
God is nigh.
Thanks and praise for our days neath the sun, neath the stars,
neath the sky.
As we go, this we know,
God is nigh.

So, out the door we went — rush, rush, hurry, hurry.

Riding along, I looked down at the cards, and saw “God is high.”

Shame on me; I started chuckling.  I could have been struck with the thought that God is high and lifted up.  But no, I had placed myself into the shoes of some of the attendees we knew about and realized they would more likely think “high” in terms of marijuana.

When asked what was so funny, I shared it with my husband — the funeral director.  Obviously, he was looking at it from the perspective of providing excellent service and my mistake was no longer funny.  We had no time for a do-over remember.

What did we do?  We went with it.  We told ourselves that not enough people knew the words to the poem to absolutely point out an error.  As no one mentioned it, that may be the case.

However, we did have opportunity for a do-over.  The family had not picked up the cards and over the course of the calling hours they were depleted.  When we returned the next day for the funeral service, we had a new supply, all stating

God is nigh.

nine’s

I was looking through some of my jotted down memories from the busiest days of mothering. . . a four year old, three year old, and an infant.  Even at a young age we were trying to train up these children in the way they should go, so we were  working on memory verses.

My three year old son had his own version of James 4:8:

“Draw nine to God and He will draw nine to you.”

Nine is a pretty good number, don’t you think…I sure hope I explained the verse to him after I wrote the quote down for infamy.  And we were using an older version for this memory verse — Draw nigh unto God and He will draw nigh unto you.  Nigh is a very old vocabulary word for “near.”

As I think about this, I am very thankful for the promise found there.  When  I’ve pulled away, or allowed myself to be pulled away by the things of this world, I can make a correction in my course.  There is no required set of classes to take; no formula to incorporate … just draw near.

Draw near.  Stop what I’m doing and allow myself time to come near to Him.

And, guess what?  No guessing needed.  The Bible says that He will draw near to me.  He’s waiting patiently for me to recognize my busyness and my need.  I just need to run to Him; He opens His arms to bring me near.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

Remember … NINE’s!