Tag Archives: prayer and meditation

Caught between Dorothy’s Joy and a Wicked Witch’s Demise

26 Apr
Cropped screenshot of Judy Garland from the tr...

Cropped screenshot of Judy Garland from the trailer for the film The Wizard of Oz. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My spiritual high Monday, which involved an irresistible urge to pray all day long, was a day which produced an unexpected miracle  cluster.  My daughter Maddie is like the lion in the Wizard of Oz who found his courage.  She was hired for a position which represents a significant raise and promotion; she earned it by working hard far below her pay level for years.  My daughter Emily — like the scarecrow who had a brain, after all —  landed a high-paying job the same day she quit a job in which she was unmercifully used and worked much like a slave in management.  Funds I’ve been waiting for were released to me, and I got hired by a generous employer who actually believes writers should get paid well for the difficult job of writing.  It was a river of relief that seemed as simple as a snap, like when all Dorothy had to do to get her heart’s desire was to tap her slippers three times and say, “I want to go home.”

But my financial relief and physically taxing relief aren’t quite here; and, sparing the details, the pressure on me could be compared to being that wicked witch that was unfortunate enough to have a house land on her.

In moments like this, though dramatic, I think of all that Jesus suffered when he was beaten and hung on the cross.  The movie The Passion of the Christ gives a glimpse of what our Savior suffered through.  But the result of all that horrific difficulty and pain was a glorious resurrection and the opening of a stairway to heaven for all who believe in the Son of God.

Through my wincing, I believe that on the other side of this trial is an even bigger breakthrough than what my family experienced on Monday.  God is good, and He doesn’t let His children suffer without good reason.  The life of a Christian is a life of purpose which puts an anticipation of joy into every sweat drop of human suffering.  My rejoicing by faith doesn’t look like much on the outside right now; but on the inside, I’m giving God and His goodness a standing ovation.

 

 

Spiritual Urges are Way Better Than Fleshly Urges

23 Apr

I’m often struck with various urges. Mostly, I get the urge to eat a bit of chocolate.  My love of the outdoors is why I believe I get the urge to take the kids to the zoo on a regular basis (if you’re going on a long walk, why not go where the scenery is engaging?)  But today I’ve been struck with an ongoing urge to pray.

What a great reminder — as I move from living mostly with my mind on earthly things to keeping my mind mostly on the things of heaven – that the Christian life is a supernatural journey.

Imagine if you were part of an entourage for a huge celebrity and as such got to see and experience things the throngs would consider once-in-a-lifetime thrills.  Now imagine being in the entourage of the most powerful Being in existence; perhaps the throngs don’t see the excitement in it, but I certainly do.  I’m trying to draw a distinction between earthly thrills and heavenly pleasures.

When I commune with God as a person who is free from unforgiveness and habitual sin, life is anything but commonplace or boring.  Experiencing the nearness of God is like turning my human existence into what in fleshly terms would be the equivalent of enjoying a chocolate sundae with homemade Blue Bell ice cream (available mostly just in Texas and the best in the world).

Indeed, today I find the urge to pray stronger than the urge to eat.  What am I praying about?  I’m not even certain why there’s such a powerful pull on me to drop to my knees.  I know that two of my children have job interviews today for positions which would improve upon their current work situations.  I also know that my second move in approximately a month is one week away; definitely need prayers for that.

It’s been a while since I’ve felt such a strong spiritual pull of any kind.  I’m not using a lot of words other than agreeing that God’s will be done in the situation prompting my Spirit to pray.  Whatever God is up to, I’m just grateful and excited to be in his entourage.

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Romans 8:26

New King James Version (NKJV)

26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us[a] with groanings which cannot be uttered.

How to Be Electrifying

22 Apr

I’m currently taping a concert by Adele which she is performing live for a public television program.  If you aren’t familiar with Adele, she is a singer/songwriter who has been breaking all kinds of records with her platinum albums.  She writes about the heartbreak of a breakup; my favorite song is “Someone Like You.”  Ironically, that title (though not the song’s meaning) is what I’m writing about here.  You are the only someone like you, just as I’m the only one like me.  There’s a place for us in this world which I believe makes the same kind of impact in some realm or another as Adele has made on the music world and in the hearts of millions who are enraptured by her songs.

There have been moments in my life which stand out because I was so aware that my life was making an impact on others as I was a part of a team.  Nothing I’ve ever experienced compares with being prayed up for my calling and fulfilling that calling with passion and focus.  Most of this type of experience occurred when I was ministering in prisons.  It was absolutely incredible to be used as an instrument of God.

And yet I believe that in my life right now I’ve been given the opportunity to create an even bigger impact on the world than all those times in the prisons put together.  These children I’m now raising are my mission field.  If I raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord and with all the love and wisdom I can muster, they’ll grow up to make significant contributions to other lives.

But my desire to impact children goes beyond my immediate family; I was powerfully reminded of this last night when I helped a lost little boy who was about 4 or 5 years old and wandering in a Walmart parking area by himself, looking for his mother.  I’ll probably never forget that encounter.  As I first saw the boy and realized he was definitely lost, two men were attempting to take charge of him; sorry, I just have a problem trusting that strange men will definitely do what’s right for a lost little one.  I stopped right there in the drive, put on my hazard lights, and made sure that a person in management at Walmart took charge of the boy, who only spoke Spanish.

The lost child, who my heart goes out to, served as a reminder that I believe God will give me the inspiration I need to write books for children that will bless, encourage, and empower them.  Most of all, the books will, in a subtle way, prove how incredible God is while making it clear that the children are highly valued and loved by God.  The books will make Christianity even more cool than Harry Potter made magic out to be.

I believe that the devil works very hard to help us forget that we have a thing we’re equipped to do unlike any other person.  If we don’t get off track and we do plug into that divine purpose, we become lights in a dark world.  Sometimes as we’re walking in obedience to God we’re actually giving off the most light while completely unaware that our lives are positively electrifying.

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Proverbs 22:29

New King James Version (NKJV)

29 Do you see a man who excels in his work?
He will stand before kings;
He will not stand before unknown men.

I’m a Broken Person, and the Chipped Places are Exposed

15 Apr

I dropped my favorite large cooking spoon today, and the ceramic handle broke.  I started to throw it away, but realized later that I can simply superglue the broken piece on.  It’s completely salvageable, though it will always have a missing piece that chipped of.  It occurred to me tonight that I’m like that spoon.

Cover of "A Walk to Remember"

Cover of A Walk to Remember

I was broken at a very young age.  A victim of sexual abuse as a pre-schooler, at the hands of an uncle, I seem to be even more deeply affected by the rejection of my mother.  She was a delightful person and a lot of fun to be around, but she and I couldn’t be more different.  I was like one of those barn animals that the mother rejects and someone else has to take care of it.

Thank the good Lord for the fact that my dad was an absolutely amazing person and perhaps the world’s best dad.  He died at the age of 45, and I still miss him like crazy.

The reason I’m thinking about how broken I am is because I watched a movie today called “A Walk to Remember.”  There’s a teenager in the movie who lives a devout, sincere life.  She knows she is loved and is confident in herself in a way that I haven’t been since my very young days, when I was a real toot (in a good way).  The character is also confident in God.

Watching the show simply reminded me that I hope someday to have that self-assurance that comes not from pride but from knowing with full assurance that I am as worthy of being loved as everyone else.  I’m God-confident but not as self-confident as I know I’d be if that chip wasn’t missing.

Don’t Pry the Clutter From My Cold, Dead Hands

14 Apr
office supply barrette

office supply barrette (Photo credit: jamelah)

Gifts come in all forms, and one gift I want to leave my children is a lack of clutter to deal with when I change my residence to heaven.  I’ve been working on getting rid of stuff for years now.  It’s most difficult for me to let go of anything related to writing or office supplies.  I discovered today that I also hang onto the children’s toys.  They have boxes of things to play with, yet all they usually want to play with is their DS.  I’ve put the multiple pieces of various toys together.  But what I really need to do is donate more than the one box I’ve got ready to give away right now.

When I move (again!) soon, my goal is to have gotten rid of the approximately 10 or 12 boxes that were in a storage unit.  Now everything will be in one apartment while at the same time not crowding us out of our closets.  Amen.

Why is it so dang hard for me to let go of these little things that, put together, add up to boxes of clutter?  I absolutely love feng shui, the minimal environment that promotes inner peace (I don’t pay attention to the parts of feng shui that could be considered a form of worship of other gods.)

In my clutter devotional called Devotional for Clutterers by Melody Carlson, today I read the thing that I believe most about this entire struggle.  Carlson says, “As we become more orderly and less cluttered, we focus less on surviving and more on actual living.”

The Lord is good and is helping me through a lot.  But He doesn’t mind that in the midst of it all, I’m asking Him to help me eliminate all the clutter I possibly can before we move into our new home.  Nothing is too hard for God!

I just know I’ll sleep more peacefully knowing that when I ultimately fall asleep for the last time, my children can deal with their grief without having to deal with my clutter.

In case you’re wondering why I’ve got my own death on my mind, it’s because I secretly wonder if moving twice in one month is going to kill me!  lol

7 Ways to Be at Peace When World News is Depressing

1 Apr

You don’t have to listen to the news very long to hear something that may be upsetting and probably too hard core for a young child.  In my area this week we have a toddler who wandered away from his home while mom napped, and he drowned in a nearby pond.  Andrea Yates is in the news regarding her request to visit church on Sundays; she’s the Houston area mom who drowned all five of her children in a bathtub about a decade ago.  And nationwide upset over the death of Trayvon Martin is alarming not only because of the needless loss of a young man’s life but in the way the shooting seems to be creating further racial divide.

Trayvon Martin Protest - Sanford

Some people are so busy today, they literally may be tempted to organize a community awareness campaign about how easy it is for children to drown, protest the weekend release of Andrea Yates, and then organize a fundraiser to provide assistance to parents of murdered children.  There are a million and one daily opportunities to be involved in the world.  So how do you keep from being overwhelmed by both the sadness and the urge to take action?  I will share my secret, but it’s actually advice that I got from the Bible.

God created you; He understands that life can literally knock your feet out from underneath you.  He instructs you and me (all of us) to:

  1. Simply take life one day at a time.  (Matthew 6:34)
  2. Keep your eyes on things above and not things below, which means to dwell on God’s Word, His promises, His instructions, His goodness, heaven, etc.  (Colossians 3:2)
  3. Get in tune with God and listen for His voice because He will tell you what your part in the world is intended to be.  And when you do what God has for you to do, you can be sure that it will be effective.  (Isaiah 30:21)
  4. Be thankful!  A genuinely thankful heart is a happy heart.  (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
  5. Be generous.  You can’t solve world hunger.  But you can buy canned goods for the local food pantry, donate the clothing your family doesn’t need anymore, and help a friend in need.  (Luke 6:38)
  6. Treat others the way you wish you were treated, and that alone could change the world by starting a domino effect of people being good to one another.  (Matthew 7:12)
  7. Delight yourself in God and in the other good things of life, such as family.  (Psalm 37:4)

The Christian life doesn’t mean we walk around with our heads in the clouds, but it does mean that we can dwell in the peace of God no matter what the bad news of the day is.

An image of Psalm 23 (King James' Version), fr...

An image of Psalm 23 (King James' Version), frontispiece to the 1880 omnibus printing of The Sunday at Home. Scanned at 800 dpi. Français : Illustration du Psaume 23 (version autorisée par le roi Jacques), en frontispice de l'édition omnibus du Sunday at home. Version numérisée à 800 dpi. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My Wait That Led to Prison

30 Mar

 

One of the reasons it takes devotion and courage to walk out the Christian life is because waiting is a big part of it.  (Who likes to wait?)  Well, I intentionally waited with patience this week on some pressing issues; by the grace of God, to be honest, it wasn’t even difficult.  Frankly, it has been a special time lately such as I haven’t experienced in a while, as though God’s hand is on me, helping me behave.

My patience this week paid off – all of the issues that were such a problem in my new home were amazingly resolved.  So I’m reminded that waiting really is an awesome thing, if you’re waiting for what God wants you to be patient for.

I once waited for 12 years for the opportunity to minister.  It’s what I wanted to do more than anything, but the good Lord had spoken to my heart that when my (now ex-) husband says it’s time to minister, that’s the same as God saying so.  The day arrived when, indeed, the ex told me I had his full support to go out and share the gospel wherever God opened doors.

God had been inspiring me to write songs ever since I became a Christian.  Somehow, in no time at all, I became a part of a prison ministry.  It was absolutely an amazing time.  I was part of a team of terrific people.  The other singers had far superior talent to mine, but I had a sincerity that seemed to touch hearts.  Not only that, but when I went into the prisons, I felt the love of God poured out through me like a gushing river.  Being a love conduit in prisons was a season that I consider the spiritual highlight of my life.

It wasn’t just the prisons; waiting those 12 years opened a lot of doors.  I prayed about my mediocre singing, asking God to make me more of a blessing in the prisons.  And He blessed me to write some rap songs which I performed, to the shock of inmates across Texas; and I became a huge hit.

Then out of nowhere, God blessed me with a television show ministry for youth, which was a deep desire of my heart.  It was offered at no charge, and God blessed that effort, too.

My waiting produced a whole heck of a lot of fruit during that period of my life.  It produced good results this week, too.

I think as Christians we’re always waiting for something, and that’s what keeps us moving forward in dependence upon God.  Is what you’re waiting for what God has in mind for you?  I think tomorrow I’ll confess here what I’ve been waiting for that God didn’t have in mind and about how now I have a new freedom for letting it go.

Philippians 3:20-21

New King James Version (NKJV)

20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.