Archive | May 2010

Memorial Day


Remember…

we sat around the table, my husband, Dave, his mom and dad and grandma, our kids.  We’d just gorged ourselves on eggs, sausage, bacon, and waffles with fresh blueberries, strawberries and whip cream.  Yum.

With full stomachs all around we shared memories.  Good ones from our childhoods, our early married years, or more recent.

Christmas trains, playing in the the rain, all wove together down memory lane with loved ones past, years gone so fast, here then past in the blink of an eye.

but we remember…

and we remind ourselves how good God was to give us each other to make memories with and pray together for better ones to come.  God is good.  Let’s never forget, God is good…

“I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done.”  ~ Psalm 143:5

Dieting

Dieting?  Join the club.  Wanna recipe for a yummy, healthy snack that feels like a splurge?

Mush together a whole banana, natural chunky peanut butter (check the ingredients to make sure it’s only peanuts, maybe some salt, but nothing else.), and plain yogurt.

Stir in a goodly handful of rolled oats (uncooked), organic cocoa powder to taste, and a smidge of raw honey.

Mmmm, mmmm, mmmm.

Here’s a picture of it.

Peanut/Oat/Banana Mush

It came out looking a little bleh, but looks can be deceiving.

Take the Bible for instance —

At first glance, it might look a little bleh, too, especially compared to the latest movie, or the funnest TV show — think Glee, my daughter’s favorite.

But you need to look inside:

Alison's eye/Steve Young, photographer

And not just a quick glance…Sometimes you need to “look intently”.

See what I mean?

“But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.   For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror;

my daughter, Liz, in the mirror

for once he has looked at himself and gone away,  he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.

But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.” ~~ James 1:22-25

Stop, Drop, and Pray!

I wanna be blessed.  Don’t you?  Let’s pray:

Let’s pray:

Oh, Father,  I wanna be blessed like the verse promised above.  Of course, to be blessed, I need to obey, the verse also says.

Did you ever notice “obey” is a 4-letter word?  I’m just sayin’….

And here’s another one — “hard”.  As in, it’s HARD to obey!

But, I know, Father, that the more time I spend with you, the more I want to do what You want me to do.

So, draw me to Your side, to Your table to eat, ’cause I know that’s where the healthy food is.

Thank you for all You do, and for all of Who You are.  Your not bleh, You’re glee!

In Jesus’ name, Amen!”

Do You know Him?  Click the pic below to be introduced:

"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control" Galatians 5:22

Peony Faith

Peonies, Hidcote Garden, Cotswolds, Gloucestershire taken by UGArdener, a flickr photo

“But thou, O LORD, [art] a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head. Psalm 3:3

“…thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great.” Psalm 18:35

(You can open the following link in a new tab/window to hear Fernando Ortega sing  Give Me Jesus while your read…)

A sad sight caught my eye as I left my neighborhood this morning.  It tugged at my heart-strings.  All along the road the beautiful blooms on my neighbors’ peonies  had been smacked down to the ground by yesterday’s driving rains, like the peony in the photo above.

The gardener in me wanted to stop the car, run over and lift up their pretty pink and yellow faces.  I wanted gently shake the water off, and restore their dignity, poor things.

Often the driving rains of life smack me face-down into the mud, too.  Just when I’m in full bloom and the weather’s fine, along comes a downpour.

That’s when I need a little help, ’cause, no matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to lift myself back up again.

I have to call for the Gardener to save me.

And when, in particularly desperate times, I add fasting to my pleas, it seems to hurry him up.

He lifts me up, shakes off the rain, restores my dignity.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” 1 Peter 5:6


Let’s pray:

Oh, Father in Heaven, I’m so glad to be one of the flowers in your garden.  You are the Master Gardener.  You provide all I need to grow  — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control. ( Galatians 5:22)

Take over today, Father.  May I be a bright, beautiful flower that brings You and the people around me pleasure to be around.  In Jesus’ name, Amen

P.S. Know any flowers you wish were in God’s Garden?  Take a moment to pray for them. 🙂

P.S.S. Click on the fasting links to the right for lots of tips and encouragement to get growing!

Remembering III

My oldest, Steve, when he was 10 or so. As you can see, had a flair for fashion. 🙂

♪ ♫  “Meeemrieeees… can be beautiful and yet…”

Been scouring old journals and photographs these days. Found this picture of my oldest of three, Steve, now 21 and living on his own.

Three words to describe Steve: creative, smart, individual.

You can see his individual style choices in the photo. 🙂

Here’s a peak at his creative side from my 1998 journal:

“Steve (10) made bugs all over the house with his “no-ends”.  (“No Ends” are white plastic building toys with colorful connectors.  “There’s no end to what you can create with them.”, it says on the box.)

Steve made a giant ant, a giant spider, a fly…  The spider he put under my black exercise mat, an ant he put on the kitchen counter with its head poking into a bag of apples.  The fly’s wings were made with [his little brother] Andy’s favorite blankie…”

When Steve was little, I had to watch my step when crossing the family room floor because there’d be Steve-creations everywhere; a Lego battle here, a no-end space ship there or a cardboard brick maze set up for one of our guinea pigs to meander through.

God made each one of us with special gifts/talents to use for his glory, didn’t He?

We’re “fearfully and wonderfully made” God-creations! (Psalm 139)

Stop, Drop, and Pray!

Let’s pray: Oh, Father, thank you for loving us and creating us.  We are created in Your image, the Bible says, and, since you are The Creator, it make sense that we are creative, too!

Thank you for building good things in my life.  I know anything good in me comes from you because the Bible says so:

“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” ~James 1:17

I’ve changed over the years, in good and bad ways, but You don’t change.  You are ALWAYS good, ALWAYS kind, and you ALWAYS love me.

Help me to ALWAYS love you, too. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

“But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, That I may tell of all Your works.” ~Psalm 73:28

Do you know the “Father of Lights”?  Click on the updated pic of Steve to be introduced:

Steve now with girlfriend, Audrey. And 10 yr. old Steve on the mantle. 🙂

Remembering II…

My youngest, Andy, when he was almost 4, sitting with our cat, Peaches. Look how little and cute he was! Now he's tall and cute, and I have to look up when I talk to him. 🙂

Imagine Barbara Steisand serenading you as you read… ♪ ♫  “Meeemrieeees… can be beautiful and yet…” ♫ ♪

I’ve been musing over old journals and photos lately.  It’s bittersweet to remember all the funny things my 3 children (now grown) used to say and do.

I came across this entry about 4 yr. old Andy, for instance:

Kids and I were having a Bible time.  We were learning the 10 commandments, and everyone was supposed to be repeating after me, “Honor your father and your mother…”, etc,  when Andy popped out from under a nearby laundry basket where he’d been hiding, ‘Howdy, mom!  How’s it go?!”  Andy has been doing better these days, listening when we read the Bible, singing when we sing the songs, but lately he’s been slipping back into his distracted ways.”

Andy was a typical, ADHD-y kind of boy at that age.  But, no matter your age, it’s easy to get distracted when reading the Bible, isn’t it?

Our Father who art in hea–hmmm, I need to make a dentist appointment today…hallowed be Thy name...what time is it?! Oh, my! better hurry this up….ThykingdomcomeThywillbedoneAmen!

Well, before we get distracted this time, let’s get to praying.  I’ll include Bible verses, too, so it’ll be a two-for-one time saver!

Stop, Drop, and Pray!

Oh Father, thank you for your Word.  It’s full of power, the Bible says, and it’s “sharper than the sharpest knife, cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires. It exposes us for what we really are.” (Hebrews 4:12)

It’s worthy of my attention!

Here’s how I’ve been distracted, lately (this is where You can tell him all your worries, the nagging concerns, AND the things, like Facebook, or gaming, or TV, that maybe you’ve been distracted by.  ARE YOU PAYING ATTENTION?!  DO IT! 🙂 )

Thank you for loving me, and wanting to spend time with me, Father.  You are awesome!  In Jesus’ name, Amen!”

Do you know the Prince of Peace, the Mighty God, the One Who is wiser than Oprah, smarter than Dr. Phil, and funnier than Seinfeld?

Click on the pic below to be introduced:

Andy as the handsome prince in Beauty and the Beast last year.

Remembering…

Old picture of my daughter,Lizzy, in curlers, from a scrap book she put together when she was little. She wrote around the picture: "Me after a garage sale. I was sopposed to sell stuff."

Sing with me:  “Memories… can be beautiful, and yet.”  sigh…

I’ve been reading my old journals lately and looking through old family photo albums. This picture was taken when my daughter, Lizzy (now, “Liz”, thank you very much),was all of 7 or 8.

Our family had hosted a big garage with some other families all day and Liz had sold off a bunch of her old toys and stuffed animals.   But, funny thing was,  she’d managed to replace a lot of them with new toys and stuffed animals from the other family’s tables.

So, at the end of the day, she’s posing with some of her “new” finds, and I wrote in my journal that night,

“Just put Lizzy’s hair up in curlers for church tomorrow and wrapped a scarf around her head for her to sleep in.  In the morning she’ll have a new head of hair.”

Lizzy getting rid her old toys and buying new ones, and waking up with new, curly hair in the morning reminded me of this verse, which I also recorded in my journal:

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”  ~2 Corinthians 5:17

I need you every hour...

Ready for something new?

Let’s pray:

Thank you, Father, that all things are new in Christ.  You’re all about new.  “Behold, I’ll do something new…” (Isaiah 43:19)

And “those who wait on you will gain new strength.  They will mount up on wings like eagles.  They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not be faint.”  (Isaiah 40:31)

Help me to have re-newed faith in You.  Do something new in my heart and life.

Help me to let go of old habits and old ways of thinking that get in the way of the new, like ______________ (list some old habits or thoughts that you think hold you back from all the good the Lord wants to do  for you.)

Thank you, Father that this old memory has filled me with new hope for all You can and WILL do in and through me.

Out with the old!  In the with the new!

In Jesus’ name, Amen!”

Lizzy now. :), Abby Riley, photographer

Say What?!


“…habitual weakening of the flesh.”
~Colin Smith, pastor.

I heard that phrase on the radio this morning.  The pastor was explaining, with a charming Irish accent, about strongholds, sins that have a death-grip on our souls.

He explained that each time we say “no” to the flesh we weaken its grasp on us.

Saying “yes”, of course, strengthens the flesh, and makes it harder next time to say “no”.

Sometimes a stronghold — like alcohol, pornography, or anger — can seem too big a monster to resist.

Like a shark circling around us, it’s just a matter of time before we’re  lunch.

So, we offer ourselves up to it again and again.

“Here, fishy, fishy…gulp!”

flickr photo from "OnlybyGrace"

But, to resist, we need only look down at the step in front of us, not all the steps ahead.

Just focus on this moment.

We can say “No”, this time.

And next time it’ll be easier….

and the next..

.and the next.

Baby steps…

“Step by step You’ll lead me

And I will follow you all of my days.”

~~Rich Mullins

And I wonder if it wouldn’t help to imagine God walking on ahead of us.  (I’m on a beach here in my mind.)

Imagine God walking on ahead of you in the sand

Look down at how big His footprint is and put yours firmly inside.

Like a child following along behind his/her daddy.

“And I will seek You in the morning

And I will learn to walk in Your ways.

And step, by step You’ll lead me

And I will follow You all of my days.”

"The Best thing about Sand...God made every grain" photo by "OnlybyGrace"

Let’s go for a walk:

Oh, Father, no discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Yet, in the end it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. (Hebrews 12:11)

You said, “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.” (Revelations 3:19)

I do earnestly repent, Father.  Here’s the sin that I’ve been saying yes to so often lately:______

But, thank you, Father, that, although You DO rebuke us and discipline us, like in that verse above, You also promise NOT to leave us to suffer alone.  You come alongside and help.

You promised that in the very next verse, in fact:

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelations 3:20)

I’m opening the door right now, Father.  Come in.  Bring Your Son and Your Spirit, and let’s have a REAL party!

In Jesus’ name, Amen!”

Have you opened the door?  Wanna meet the One on the other side?  Click on the pic to be introduced:

"Here I am! I stand at the door and knock." Rev. 3:20

Don’t cry over spilled groceries…

I had to make a quick run to the store for milk and juice before everyone woke up.  I ended up buying a cartload, of course.  “Be careful.”, the cashier said as I walked out the sliding doors to the parking lot.

Strange,” I thought.  Usually they say, “Have a nice day.” or something.  Hmmm..

I pushed the cart out into the lot and didn’t get very far before the front left tire jammed into a rut and — CRASH! Everything toppled out onto the pavement as the cart flipped over and crashed down next to it all.  It couldn’t have been much worse.

“Figures!”, I thought, “If that cashier hadn’t said, ‘Be careful’, none of this would have happened!”

A friendly, young bagger strolled nonchalantly out to help me, as if this wasn’t the first time a customer had wiped out in front of the store.

In fact, he said as much.  He’d tripped there lots, he said.

“Well”, I asked, tossing my goods back into the bags, “are they going to fix it?!

“They patch it all the time, ” he told me.

Later, when I was back at the store, I saw another hapless customer tripping over that same rut.

Made me think of my own ruts.  Holes in my character, that is, that others trip over again and again, like anger, or selfishness, or pride.

I try to patch them over with a quick apology or a promise to do better next time, but the holes remain.  Maybe it’s because I’m too afraid to endure the pain and mess of jack-hammering to the root of the problem.

Fortunately, when I stumbled over the store’s rut, my groceries were o.k., nothing hurt, eggs intact, cookies not crushed.

But next time, when someone stumbles over my ruts, my bad attitudes they might not be so lucky.  Who’s feelings might get damaged?  Whose ego might I crush?  And can those things be replaced as easily as store-bought cookies?

Stop, Drop, and Pray!

Let’s pray:

Oh, Father, thank you for loving me and for putting up all my ruts in the road.

I says in the Bible, “Make level paths for your feet so that the lame may not be disabled.” (Hebrews 12:12)

It takes a some effort to smooth out the road and fill in all the holes.  And it might take some time.  So, help me not to be lazy.

Especially if I’ve allowed my soul to decay enough that I have to pull out the jackhammer of fasting. (click on “fasting” for a how-to guide and encouragement from The Rock Church in San Diego, CA)

That is one of the hardest spiritual disciplines for me, Father, but you promise great results:

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness…” (Hebrews 12:11)

So, have your way with me, Father.  I don’t want to make others stumble or fall.  In Jesus’ name, amen.”

Do you know the One who can can fill your potholes?

Click on the pic below to be introduced.

Pikes Peak summit road

Connected?

What are you cooking up for the Lord? Don't forget to plug in!

In Mark 1, we read how Jesus was starting to get famous:

“News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.” (:28)

The jews liked the way He taught:

“The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.” (:22)

And they’d just seen Jesus command a demon to leave a man.  It was violent and scary and probably totally awesome:

“Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out,

‘What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are-the Holy One of God!’

‘Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!’

The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.

The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, ‘What is this? A new teaching-and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him.’ ” (:23-:27)

And, not only that, but he could heal sick people:

“Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her. So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.” (:30-:31)

So everybody in town started bringing their sick moms and dads, sisters and brothers, husbands and wives, sons and daughters to Jesus.  He was really cookin’, Jesus was, and by nightfall he was completely surrounded by needy people who wanted His attention, the whole town, in fact:

“That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed.  The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons … ” (:32-:34)

How was Jesus able to keep pouring himself out for these needy people?

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (:35)

He stayed plugged in to the Power Source, His Father.  It’s kinda complicated because Jesus was God in the flesh and all, but all I know is —

if Jesus needed to do it, How much more do I…

and you?!

I heard this on my local christian radio station this morning:

“Jesus knew that to minister to others He had to stay connected with His Father. Are you connecting with the Lord?” ~~ Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Seeking Him.

Let’s pray:

Oh, Father, You are and You reward those who earnestly seek You. (Hebrew 11:6)  I’m seeking you now, earnestly, and asking that you give me the desire to stay connected to You.

You said in John 15, “Apart from Me, You can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

And You said in Isaiah 45: “…there is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but me.” (:5b)

You are the only God.  Whom have I in heaven but Thee?  (Psalm 73:25)  Oh, may there be none upon the earth that I desire beside Thee, like the rest of that verse says.  You know I desire many, many, many other things beside You, Father, on a general basis. (If you’ve been neglecting Your Bible and prayer, now’s the time to confess it.)

I want to be plugged into Your heart.  I want to stay connected to You.  Help me!  Help me! Help me!  In Jesus’ name, Amen!”

Do you know the Lord? Click on the pic above to get connected. 🙂

Prayers for the Gulf Spill

Oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico, fr. NASA Earth Observatory

Wow.  See the light gray oil slick in the lower right? Measure it with your thumb and finger. Hold it.  Now move your finger ruler over the left and hold it over the greenish Mississippi Delta region that’s sticking out into the gulf.  The oil slick is just as wide, and as it moves steadily inland, more and more oil keeps spewing out from the ocean floor — up to 2.4 million gallons a day some estimate, or 60,000 barrels.** Gulp!

Hurricane ravaged New Orleans sits right in the middle of that delta region, right in the path of the slick, as do protected wildlife habitats, oyster beds, shrimp waiting for harvest, not to mention all the porpoises, seals, etc, etc.  And this is the sea birds mating season!

Oyster and shrimp businesses have shut down, and people are waiting and praying and working hard as h-e-double toothpicks to prevent hell on earth from reaching their shores.

“[The oil spill] makes the Exxon Valdez seem like a dirty bathtub ring. This is a catastrophe of hemispheric proportions. (In other words, it may harm the entire western hemisphere!) It’s mind-boggling.” ~ Mike Miller, Park District supervisor of environmental and interpretive services, Peoria, IL.*

Oiled Bird, fr. Wikipedia Commons

Let’s pray:

Oh, Father, you know all things.  And you love us and care for us. (John 3:16)

Your creation, from the people along the gulf coast to the little sea creatures on the bottom of the gulf, is in trouble.  It’s horrible, and beyond anyone’s control here on earth.

Please help.  Please may the worst case scenarios of all the horrible things that could happen NOT HAPPEN.

Of course, worst case scenarios are a reality now for the families who’ve lost their loved ones in the explosion on the rig.  Eleven families’ lives changed forever.  Please may they get the help they need and may any who don’t know you please come to know You, the only true God AND Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent. (John 17:3)

And we pray the same thing for the men and women who’ve lost their jobs and fishing businesses.   They can’t harvest the oysters, shrimp and fish.  Oh, may they have food for their families and not lose their homes.

May Your church, Your body (Ephesians 5:23) in Louisiana, shine like a beacon in this dark time.  May they love, comfort, strengthen and provide where needed.

So much fear, worry, and stress being suffered all around by so many in the gulf.  Your will be done, Father in heaven.  Your will be done.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

GOD BLESS AMERICA

“God Bless America,
Land that I love.
Stand beside her, and guide her
Thru the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans, white with foam
God bless America, My home sweet home.”

*Journal Star