Archive | July, 2013

Blessed – Some Days I Forget!

29 Jul

blog-blessed

The last few days have been hard.  Sometimes life is just hard even though our lives are going well, we seem to dwell on the little things and sometimes a couple of big things rather than dwell on all the good.

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Today I was reminded by someone very SPECIAL to me that even with all that is going on in my life, that I have my health, a wonderful marriage, \ two beautiful kids, two AMAZING kids-in-law , a grandbaby on the way who is healthy and will only be 3 miles away (something I’ve prayed for for so long!), a beautiful home, a fun dog, and cute granddogs, an awesome Bible study ministry through which God is using me to touch many lives (even though it can feel stressful at time), beautiful memories to cherish forever of my parents and those in my family who’ve passed on, a great church, the hope of Heaven, salvation, knowing that God will never leave me nor forsake me, knowing that everything that comes into my life first passes through the hand of God (nothing is out of his control, so if He brings me to it, He can/will bring me through it!), tasty food, retirement, an opportunity to serve and love on the families in my community (subbing), Hallmark movies … the list goes on and on! Many reasons to smile and feel blessed today!

Cultivating A Heart of Prayer – The Gap – Week 4

26 Jul

be-still

This week I have had a hard time blogging.  Not sure why, but usually by Thursday I am finished.  Well, it is Thursday morning, and here I sit trying to think of how to write on the great topics suggested by our blog leader. Some of what I would like to write about, I can not because of the subject matter and the people I love who are hurting.  Honestly, I have been unable to come up with which subject in our prayer study to blog about, and what to say on any of the subjects so I am sitting here, thinking, typing and wondering  where this goes.

I thought about the subject of our study, Cultivating A Heart of Prayer, and I thought how we  sometimes shorten it to “The Gap”.  It is a gap between Melissa Taylor’s Online Bible Studies – the last one which ended in June and the next one which starts in August.  I know what gap means, but think I will look it up.  I googled it and found in “The Free Dictionary” several things that apply.  One definition was “a space between object or points”.  I have a subject, I have done the work this week, but the words are not coming.  But for some reason God has placed that word “gap” in my mind even though I have been in several gap studies before.

So, I sit here wondering about what has been missing in my prayer life and about that word “gap”.  I have my prayer notebook.   I write prayer requests.  I write specifically for my family and friends on what I am praying about. I get on my knees in tears some days so what is missing, is there a gap Lord?

I thought about an analysis we used to do when I was working.  It was called a “gap analysis”.  We would sit down and perform an analysis of where we are today and where we wanted to be at a certain point in time.  From that analysis, we would analyze what to do to get there.

I learned something really crucial this week that I have been missing when I pray and it just hit me it is the gap.  BAM!   So what kind of GAP analysis did we do these last three weeks –  our gap – God Answers Prayers?

We learned first to sit quietly before the Lord and really hear from Him.  We studied and searched scriptures and learned how powerful praying scriptures back to Him can be, and what I believe is the product of all our analysis.   We were encouraged to think of people, issues, relationships – things or giants in our lives and to choose ONLY one to bring before our Father.  That could have been a hard task and for some it was about what to choose, but immediately the Father placed an individual on my heart, someone I know and love, someone who has people all over the world praying for her and her family.  I can not go into details here about that person and that issue, but I chose her because she is one whom I love deeply and who shares her heart with me sometimes.

As I began the assignments, I was awed on Monday morning how fast God put that person on my heart-maybe it is because I have been praying so much for her.  So once I chose her, I began the assignment of five sections.  Actually it is similar to the gap analysis at work – choosing a person, thing, etc.  now and deciding ultimately how we are going to pray for them.

These were our sections (thanks Christa Hutchins)

Section 1 – A Promise to Claim – we left blank until we finished all the other sections.  I still have this section to finish.

Section 2 – Be Thankful –  as I listed all the things I am thankful for about that beautiful lady, and I thought about all the pain she has been through (doctors, hospitals, surgeries, medicines, fear, sadness, hurt), I was able to ask the Father to change me, to change me to be more of an encourager for people, to change me to have more of a hurting heart for people, to change me to be more like Him.

Section 3 – Areas of Struggle – I listed ways this family is struggling, if they have any wrong relationships with God or others and why this issue is a struggle for me.

Section 4 – First, Change Me – I looked at did my attitude need to change and what harmful thoughts or attitudes do I have that are different from God’s view.  I also looked to see if I had been approaching this issue in the wrong way and had I contributed to the problem with wrong attitudes or actions and what God needs to change in me to bring about resolution.

Section 5 – Blessings – What does this person need or desire in their life?  How could God bless them so that they are drawn to Him?  How could this issue be a blessing to you and others?  What would be the perfect outcome that is consistent with God’s Word and His plan for your life?

The very second day of this assignment there were two miracles from God.  I will not list those either but oh how I wish I could.  I shared privately with my prayer group what God had done.  As I evaluated me and He began to change my heart, and I shared my heart with someone else, that person, in turn called me an hour later and said  that God burdened her heart after we had been together that morning sharing our hearts about our Jesus sister and He asked her to do something that would bless four families.

God has taken this pain and blessed many lives this week, mostly mine and I believe I am going to see others changed in the coming months.  I learned  that God truly answers prayers when we humble ourselves, evaluate ourselves and spend time with Him.   GAP – God answers prayers!

So what has God taught me this week?  He has taught me there is more to prayer than I could have ever imagined.  He taught me as I sit quietly with Him that first day and really listened with an open heart for Him to guide me as to what I would write down in all those sections.  He taught me the missing “gap” is focusing more intently on how I pray.

Cultivating A Heart of Prayer – Week 3 – Are You Carrying Baggage or Singing His Song?

20 Jul

This is our third week in Wendy Blight’s study of Cultivating A Heart of Prayer and it has been amazing thanks to some awesome OBS ladies (Christa Hutchins, Kristi Seat, Kandace Poindexter, Kristen Barkdull, and Kris Danko) .

One of the first things we learned this week was in order to pray God’s word we have to know His word.  “Praying powerful and effective prayers begins with incorporating God’s Word into your prayers.” Wendy Blight.

So how do we incorporate God’s Word?  First we have to know it.  One way we can get to know His word is to read it, but we need to open the eyes of our hearts so that we might hear what He has to say to us.  That is a key that I learned this week as you will see as you read on.  I heard a sermon over a year ago, and then STUDIED that scripture this week with an open heart and WOW!  When we find a scripture that touches our hearts, we need to write it down, highlight it,  verse map it and understand it.  Personalize the scriptures with your name or your husband’s name or your children’s name.  Finally we need to learn to pray them back to God.  During your study, search for verses that might help you with current situations in your life – like your marriage, worry, anxiety, divorce, raising a child, not being able to have a child, loneliness, elder care, job, home, etc..

This is one of the verses  that spoke to me this week.  At Hillcrest Baptist Church last Sunday morning,  our youth minister, Tommy spoke about “our baggage” and “our song”.  I came home and looked over our homework for the week and these verses jumped out at me, and I have to say that one of them was underlined and highlighted where Brother Mike had preached it back on Jan 8, 2012.  

Deuteronomy 6:5-9 (KJV  “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.  And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.”

Deuteronomy 11:18-20 (KJV)  “Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes.And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates:”

I had written down in my Bible something Bro. Mike said that day, and oh it carries so much more weight today.  “As the family goes so does the nation.  Families will never rise above the parents. ”  I also had written down “My heart is melted by the love of God. and character is caught not taught”.

As I listened in church about this past Sunday about “baggage” and how people carry it around, rather than forgiving people who hurt them or forgiving themselves, I wondered how many children’s lives are ruined because of a parent’s hatred, wounds, racism, unforgiveness, bitterness, depression, hopelessness, loneliness, etc.  They pass that down to their children, grandchildren and future generations.  Terry said that they sing that same old song of “baggage” every day to everyone around them.

God gave us freedom for forgiveness and “baggage”.     We need to surround ourselves like the Jews.  Today they wear prayer boxes on their arms and foreheads and decorate their doorframes to remember what God has done for them.

As believers in Jesus Christ, we are called to remember. Our lives and our homes should reflect what He has done for us.   So how do we surround ourselves with reminders to remember God’s faithfulness? One way is to place pictures around the house.  Many people display crosses and so do I.   I love reminders and am passionate about hanging up God’s Word throughout the house.  After this week that passion will most likely grow and I will be plastering reminders.

Here are a few things around my house:

PicMonkey Collagetie

Another way to be reminded of what our God has done for us is to wear things like  jewelry, t-shirts, etc.  that show God’s love. One of my favorite pieces of jewelry that I pull out for Christmas is my nativity scene.  

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This is a cross necklace a cousin pulled off and put on me after my Mom’s funeral this year.  WOW!  Talking about blessed!Cross Necklace

 It was a perfect gift that reminds me of Jesus’ death and resurrection, and also her love for me during a very sad time.  Only Jesus could turn the cross into a symbol of love.  That old rugged cross could have been baggage to Him, but he turned it around to a story of amazing grace for you and me!

I want to take God’s word, his promises and mediate on them and talk about them and pray about them.  I want to not only tie those promises on my hands but in my heart.  I want to leave a message for generations to come.  

So I ask you  like our youth pastor did – “what is your song today“?  Are you singing a song of self-pity, bitterness, anger, sorrow, pain – songs of confusion, regret, or are you singing a song of God’s grace, how he saved you, how he loves you, how he died for you?  Are you singing songs from the scriptures so that your children and grandchildren can know who God is.  Are you impressing God’s love on their hearts, or are you giving them your “baggage”?

As Bro. Tommy reminded us Sunday, David came clean with God and he stopped running, and God gave David a new song – a song of forgiveness and freedom, a song of hope and purpose, a song of deliverance.  It was a song with “no baggage”.

Blog-MusicHow about you?  Are you carrying a song of hope or a song of “baggage”?  Are you tired of running?  If you are still carrying that baggage from your childhood, a divorce, a broken home, a death – it is time to let go and sing a love song to God.

Each and every one of us has a song.  It is unique to us.  It is a tune we can play, and can be a beautiful melody composed by our Savior.  Will you sing your beautiful song to all those around you????

Love, love, love this song by Matthew West – Hello, My Name Is.  I hope you will PLEASE take a moment to listen – it has some really neat pictures that go with the song.

You, my friend are His child, you have been set free and amazing grace should be the song you sing.  You are a child of the ONE, TRUE, KING!!!!!!!

Pictures are my personal pictures except the Music picture created using Picmonkey.

Say YES!

18 Jul

blog-sayyestoGod

Are YOU ready to say YES to God?

Are you tired of experiencing life in agonizing ways?

The upcoming study already has over 17,000 women signed up.  There are already 106 countries represented.  Are you ready to join?  Are you ready to see what happens?  I am when that many women say “YES”.

I am – I am joining MelissaTaylor.Org in this awesome study beginning July 28th and I hope you will too.

Need help – leave me a comment!

Week 2 – Cultivating A Heart of Prayer – Connecting the Dots

13 Jul

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When I was a child, I loved to work those connect the dot puzzles.  I probably like to work them now.  HA!  But, I haven’t bought a dot-to-dot book in a very long time.  I even used them in Sunday School with preschoolers when I was teaching.  I loved them.  I would sit there and connect those numbered dots and watch picture would form.  Do you remember those?  Maybe not if you are younger because in today’s technology there are games like “Candy Crush” where you match up the candies and “Words With Friends” but regardless you are still connecting or matching.  I was reminded this week of the connect the dot puzzles during our study of Cultivating A Heart of Prayer with Wendy Blight.

Our lives are really just like a dot-to-dot picture.  Think about it.   Do you find yourself longing for a simple dot-connected life?  Do you just wish sometimes life were that simple.  I sometimes do.  Life is hard and we all go through “stuff” that can be devastating and when we are at those particular dots (seasons) in life, it can be a painful time or it can be a joyous time.     There are job dots, health dots, parenting dots, relationship dots, and that list goes on.

So how do we connect the dots ?  The Lord has provided us a way to get through those hard- life dots, a way to connect them and move on to the next dot.

John 15:5 (KJV) says “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”  We have to remain in Him.


Jesus talked to the disciples before he was crucified  about the vine and the branches.  Jesus is the vine and we are the branches.    We need the vine (Jesus) where we receive our sustenance.  So when we come to one of those very life-hurting dots, we need to go to Him for nourishment as only He can give us.  Our faith should keep us moving on to the next dot and the next dot by spending time with Him every day.

I remember those dot-to-dot drawings and when I got to that very last dot I would have a beautiful picture.  Oh it is just like that with our Savior.  Our lives are a beautiful picture of dots that he drew before we were even in our mother’s wombs.

This is our second week in the study and some of the things that Wendy has shared are:

1.  Do we savor our moments with God?  She gave a beautiful illustration of going to the movie with her daughter.  Funny we met our daughter and son-in-law last week and went to movie and I savored it.  I savor shopping trips with my daughter. I savor fishing trips with our son and trips out of town with him.

This is one of my favorite Bible verses.

“The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.”  Zephaniah 3:17 (KJV)

2.  Sylvia Gunter in her book Prayer Portions quoted these beautiful words, “Prayer is radically and gloriously encountering God, knowing Him better, loving Him more.”  Are you encountering Him, are you getting to know Him better, are you loving Him more today than you did yesterday?

3.  Prayer is a gift.  Are you using that gift to enter into the presence of God?  Are you lingering with Him, are you soaking in His presence?

4.   ABIDE – it means to remain or stay or to continue in a particular state for a long period of time.  Are you abiding in Him? Abiding is the key to an effective prayer life.  Abiding is about connecting with and passionately pursuing Christ.  It can not be a casual relationship.  It is a daily, abiding relationship.  Ps 42:1  (KJV) As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.

5.  John 15 – continuing in a permanent state.  Jesus talks to his disciples about the vine and the branches.

6.  Jesus told them look at the vine, look at the branches.  Our hearts abide the same way a branch abides on the vine.

7.  Gifts we get when we abide.  Gal 5:22 – love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness and self-control

8.  The more we abide, the more bountiful fruitful we can be and the closer we get to God.  1 Cor 2:9-12, Ps 46:10

12.  Get still and praise

We studied many, many scriptures this week.  We did not just read them, we studied them.  Some of the things my group shared and I wrote in my study book were:

Accept His words & commands and keep them in my heart,  pay attention, listen, look, call, search for wisdom, insight & understanding. Apply it. Guard your heart, watch your mouth, keep your eyes straight.  Go to God when you are thirsty BUT draw near to Him with a sincere heart.  Keep meeting & encouraging each other.  Be diligent about your heart.   Think about how you go Call upon Him. He shall give you life. His Words are life to you and your soul. Lean on Him. Lean on the Spirit to guide and teach me. Seek Him. Incline your ear.  Be diligent about your heart.

Do you devote time in prayer, are you thankful, are you too busy doing things for Jesus, that you aren’t spending time with Him, are you spending so much time cleaning, running errands, exercising, etc. that it leaves no time for Him. Let God connect the dots!

One of the verses I especially liked was Psalm 63:6 (KJV)  When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.”

 

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