MORNING PRAYER

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Lately I’ve been having trouble sleeping.

For the last two weeks I’ve been waking up around 3:30 AM and having to get out of bed to go to the restroom.  I try not to because I know I’ll not go back to sleep, especially since the alarm is set for 4:05 anyway.  So I’d lie in bed stewing.

Every day I complained about having to get up a half hour before an already outrageously early wake up call.  I don’t have to be at work until 6:00 but I don’t like rushing around in the morning, and I like spending time with the Lord and doing devotional time in the morning because after work I’m too tired to focus properly, and it is a much needed down time. Sometimes I fall asleep.

But lately for various reasons, it seems like I can’t get enough done in the time before work to feel like I’ve properly honored God; the dog is having stomach issues and needs a longer walk, I need to finish something I started the previous evening, I need to prepare something for work, take out something to thaw, or I’m searching for something I need to take with me.  It’s been a mad dash to get out on time.

A few days ago as I was lying in bed waiting for the alarm to buzz and feeling aggravated once again at the inhumanity of it all, the Holy Spirit pressed a thought upon my mind.

“Why don’t you use this extra time to pray?”

Wow.

I can pray before my feet even hit the floor! It was a simple but sweet message from the Lord.

And so it goes.

 

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Continue reading “MORNING PRAYER”

IT HURTS

 

We should always take our pain to the Lord.

Have you ever seen a person who had so much pain in their heart that they were grasping for whatever help they could find and they said some things they shouldn’t have? They just wanted the pain to stop.

More than likely, the people who love them understood and tried to help them. They knew how that kind of pain can dull a person’s ability to make rational and appropriate choices and words. They knew this wasn’t a reflection of a hard heart; this was a reflection of a hurting heart.

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Later, when the pain lessened from the passage of time or the situation that caused it was resolved, it should have been better but it wasn’t, because not everyone loved the person in pain and not everyone understood. Some people judged and held resentment, spread gossip, and blamed the very person who was hurting in the first place.

What is the answer is in this situation?

Is it to be distrustful even of those who seem to care? Should we lock ourselves in a closet when we are distraught so we won’t say anything that is inappropriate or others can’t handle? What happens when the after-effects of this weakness seem to linger far longer than the unfortunate event that caused them, even after the necessary amends have been made, and the person now sees things from a higher perspective, but is unable to move forward as if being held back by invisible hands of condemnation?

Sometimes it’s not invisible.  It shows: on their faces, in their eyes, disapproving looks, intentional disregard and rejection.

It shouldn’t be so.

The answer is…

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Not everyone has the ability to empathize, comfort, and overlook an offense. It’s okay because that’s between them and God.  But it’s a sad day when unbelievers love people better than believers do.  That’s a hard-core reality to accept at times.  Not all the time  Just sometimes.

The answer is…

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Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  Colossians 3:12-14

May I do Thy Will always.

 

 

Wisdom in Stewardship

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Stewardship:  the job of supervising or taking care of something, such as an organization or property.

I looked this word up because I want to be a good steward of the resources and gifts that God entrusts and blesses to me.  The more He gives, the more responsibility we have to use and take care for His good intentions.  What an honor!

In 1999, we inherited my Mother-In-Law’s 1992 Toyota Corolla.  I drove that car around town for another 15 years and it had about 120,000 miles on it when we finally sold it and bought a two year old Kia Soul.  I took care of the Toyota with regular maintenance and it probably will last for thousands more miles for its new owner even though it was twenty-two years old!

So why did I want a new car?  Simply, I was tired of driving around an old car. I was ready for something a little more up to date and hopefully, just as dependable.  Vanity!

I baby my Soul.  I keep her clean and tidy.  She gets regular maintenance and has upgraded tires to prevent flats.  I hand wax her once a year and I paint any little scratches and dings with paint made especially for that purpose.  For Christmas, I asked for fleece seat covers that only cover the bottom of the seat since that is the area that shows the most wear and dirt.  And I indulgently spent a little extra to get personalized license plates.  My car wasn’t new but she was new to me and I wanted her to look nice as long as possible.  She’s almost seven years old now and only has 39,000 miles.  Needless to say, the dealership would love to have her back to sell a third time!

The point is when we take care of the things and people God gives to us, we often get immeasurable benefits and blessings as a result of our effort.   Misuse or abuse often brings heartache and confusion.  I’ve been there.  In those times when I was so eager to please and make what I thought would be an impression on God, I misused his gifts, my  earnings, to try and bless someone else when that money should have gone to provide for the needs of my own family. It didn’t dawn on me until much later that only when I started taking care of my own family would my territory increase to bless others.  There is no honor in going into great debt just to look good.  That is how pride works and it’s sinful.

I’m a firm believer in good stewardship of all God gives us, and that includes people, money, things, animals, and the good old earth on which we live.  May I live responsibly.

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Pepperoni Pizza

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I love keeping track of the ways God takes care of me.  It’s a joy to know He hears my pleas and then seeing how He creatively answers.

Today was one of those days.

I’m a kitchen manager in an elementary school. Our walk-in freezer has a ceiling light that the ballast needed to be replaced.  The work order had been put in several weeks prior but we were waiting for a part.  Anyway, it was pretty dark in there with just one bulb on the door end of the freezer.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Today was pizza day and it was discovered that apparently I mislabeled a case of cheese pizza as pepperoni during a delivery so on a subsequent order I under-ordered pepperoni thinking I already had a case, when in actuality, it was cheese.   It was too late to try to find the pizza at another school. I actually prayed that God would intervene and make the kids hungry for cheese pizza instead of pepperoni.

Halfway through serving, with two grades left to go, one of the gals in the kitchen accidentally dropped a precious pepperoni pizza on the floor!  Oh my goodness! It was getting very worrisome but all we could do was laugh at the circumstances and keep on going.

Indeed, we didn’t have to worry as God was in control.  At the end of serving, we had nine pieces of cheese pizza left and zero pepperoni BUT not one child that wanted pepperoni pizza was denied.  We had the exact amount that we needed even after dropping a whole pizza.  It truly was amazing. GOD IS SO GOOD!

 

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Micah 7:7

 

UPDATE 9/27/18–We have light in the freezer!

BIKING? ME?

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My husband is an avid biker.  He has all the gear, a nice bike, and can ride for tens of miles at a time…fast. For years he has tried to get me to ride a bike but I did not want to do it out in public!
I am a couch potato.
“What if I fall? Right in the middle of an intersection surrounded by traffic”? Last time I rode a bike, I keeled over in the grassy area by the sidewalk while going up a long hill as traffic passed by.  I’m sure glad I wasn’t in dire need of assistance because no one was stopping!
“If I break a bone I will be out of a job for several weeks”.
“My bike is too clunky and heavy”.
“You go too fast and I will never keep up so what is the point?” were my responses too many times.
The real excuse was I just don’t like to exercise and I don’t like the feeling of my heart pounding out of my chest, face, and fingers when I exert myself.
The real reason was fear.
I wasn’t actually looking, I mean, that definitely wasn’t a priority, but this summer I happened upon a bike for sale on the local Facebook marketplace.  I knew enough about bikes to know it was a good brand and a little research online found the exact same bike for $350, new. It was selling for $25.  Too good to be true?  I went to look at it and although it had obviously been in an accident as it had numerous scratches, the tires were almost new.  It also had some rust on the handlebars.  I took pictures and sent them to my husband to look over and he thought it looked like it needed very little work to get it in good shape so I bought it. I couldn’t believe that I was excited!
I found a neat little trick to get rid of the rust using vinegar and aluminum foil.
The vinegar prepares the rust for easy removal and the wet aluminum foil is balled up and used to rub the rust off with very little effort.  It took about 10 minutes and looked great as I finished the job with a little bit of car wax for protection.
Marty had to replace a brake cable and do a tune up, and after I bought a good helmet and a pair of cargo shorts to hold my phone so I could use an app to map and track my miles, I was ready to go.
It’s funny how motivated and prepared you are when the time is right and you actually want to do something.  Sometimes everything just seems to fall together to make the wheels turn.

Bible Verses About God's Timing

I’ve been riding two or three times a week now, by myself, for two months and can honestly say I enjoy it. Not only do I get some good cardio but it is easy to see my progress, not like walking or running on the treadmill where I never go anywhere.
When you ride a bike you notice things you might not when you are in a car or walking because any little thing on the road or around you can potentially become a hazard; sticks, rocks, cut grass, leaves, animals, holes in the road, cracks in the pavement, and distracted drivers all could cause an accident if I am not paying attention to my surroundings, and because of this hyper-vigilance, I get to see the world from a different perspective.
Flowers, trees, other riders and walkers, fresh air, smoky air, children playing, homeless on the street corner, dogs  running and barking, Prairie Dogs along the trail, snakes on the sidewalk, neighborhoods I’ve never been in before, birds singing, and sunshine on my shoulders.  And the wind.  Sometimes it’s for me and sometimes it’s working against me, but it’s all good for a better workout and an enjoyable experience that takes my mind off my fear of getting hurt because I’m proactively preventing it.
There’s something cathartic about a physical purge through strenuous activity.  It cleanses the mind and body and even the spirit when I use that time to commune with the Lord while I’m riding.  I listen to Christian music from my phone and can praise God the whole time.  I pray.  I love it.
Recently I read that exercise can help to prevent Alzheimers which my Mother suffered and died from last November.  God certainly does work in mysterious ways.  I love Him.
May I always listen.
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
Ecclesiastes 3;11

The Elephant In The Room

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Truth shouldn’t be avoided but it is.  The truth of the Bible is avoided by many believers and unbelievers alike.  Truth that opposes political correctness is avoided.  So is the truth of someones past; their sins, lifestyle, and bad choices are all are avoided in a room where everyone knows the truth but doesn’t want to hurt someone’s feelings or ruin the mood of the gathering.

People just look sideways at each other, roll their eyes, or turn away to hide their facial expression from the person to whom the elephant belongs.  Everyone wonders how long the elephant in the room can stay hidden when it is SO big and for some, SO juicy.

Most people leave the elephant alone out of care and courtesy, but occasionally, a person might innocently “out” the elephant; like the little child in Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Emperor’s New Clothes” who let the Emperor know he didn’t actually have any clothes on at all!  More often, a conflict can cause people to draw attention to the elephant out of spite and ill will. They want to embarrass and try to hurt the elephant owner.  Here’s the deal:

Most elephant owners know they have elephants.  The elephant may not even belong to them but to someone close to them.  The real owner may be present or not, alive or not, but the person in the room is the one who is held accountable.  This is okay, because accountability is part of healing.  Believe me, the healing process is long and arduous, and few other than the sociopath can avoid accountability of the heart, mind, and mouth.

What is NOT okay is using your knowledge of another person’s elephant to maliciously try to hurt them or other people.  It matters not how big the elephant is, what color it is, how much it cost, where it came from, if there are other elephants in the closet, if they are males or females, or whatever. No one has the right to attack someone with their own elephant.

NEWSFLASH:  EVERYONE has an elephant.  Every single person on the face of this earth has at least one part of themselves that they wouldn’t want broadcast to the world.

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Having said that, I forgive the Elephant Thieves of the world who use them to attack others to get the focus off their own inadequacies.  I actually marvel their ability to stalk and patiently wait for the right moment to crack the whip and send the elephant stampeding.  The thing is, when a person has repented and is healed from the injuries previously incurred by the elephant, nothing you can do will harm them again.

So…if you have an elephant in your room, acknowledge it, and repent.  That way you can look your elephant in the eye and see it for what it is:  A gift. God can take all things and turn them into something good.

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Prayer for Repentance

Heavenly Father, thank you for forgiving me. Thank you for waiting for me and helping me to acknowledge my sin.  Please help me to accept your forgiveness, mercy, and love without shame. Help me to leave that sin behind and live my life as a person who follows You. Thank you for your abounding love, Lord.   I pray in Jesus’s name, Amen.

God’s Time

After decades of being told children need to be kept busy to keep them out of trouble and enable them to live a happy, healthy life, it seems as if we now have generations of people who have never learned to relish the quiet stillness that God requires for relationship with Him. Turn off the radio, television, and computer, set your phone aside, find a comfy chair, pray, and listen. Your life will take a much more meaningful turn for the better despite what is going on in it and the world. If only I had learned this earlier and taught my children the same. No regrets, only lessons learned.

Proverbs 16:7
“When a man’s ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.”

Isaiah 26:3
“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”

John 14:27
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

John 16:33
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Philippians 4:6-7
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

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Soup

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I know this doesn’t look good but it is delicious. It’s a super healthy bean and grain blend spiced with Curry and Garam Masala which I made into a soup. Overnight it has turned into this thick concoction. I plan to use these leftovers in pita bread for a vegan type meal.
Some of the best things in life start out in a different form from how they end up. We roll with the punches and use our God given creativity and resources to make good use of them in a way that will glorify Him. That’s good stewardship of whatever God gifts to us. It’s actually kind of fun sometimes to see what we can do with the challenges in life with God as our guide. Don’t let it take a lifetime to figure that out.

“But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” – Job 23:10

THOSE QUIET TIMES

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I remember when I was young and living out on the farm, going into the field and laying down in the tall weeds, just gazing at the clouds in the sky.  I don’t remember what I thought about but I do remember how pleasant and peaceful it was.  The world seemed right, out there in my little patch of serenity listening to the cicadas, birds, crickets, the occasional lowing of a cow , and the rhythmic sound of the water pump down at the pond.  I remember Great Grandma Burley telling me when the breeze blew through the trees causing their branches to gently sway, that right there was God speaking to me and if I was very quiet, I could hear Him. Trees became fascinating to me.

My affinity for the comfort of trees extended to a weeping willow on the school playground; while underneath, the teacher would find me and tell me to come out and play with the other kids. I really didn’t want to.  When I was about 8 years old and exploring the yard on the farm, I stopped in front of a tree which I think was an apricot tree, and just stood there gazing at it for the longest time as the breeze blew through the leaves. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that moments like this in nature can’t bring you to God because it was at that moment I became fully aware of the Holy Spirit, my soul, and my mortality.  While I was aware of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, I really didn’t know what to do with them! Mom had provided me with a very basic Christian instruction through books and Sunday school but as time passed, our church attendance was sporadic and finally there came a time when I refused to go and she let me.  I loved Mom but I sure wish she had made me continue going to church when I was a kid.  I’ve had to learn to discern the voice of God when all around me is noise, and the stillness I crave is taken in bits and pieces through discipline. I took the long, hard way to this point.

Spring forward to August, 2018. I’ve just taken a two week break from Living Stone Christian Fellowship,  my Christian ministry page I’ve had for several years on Facebook. While I did take a six month sabbatical in 2015, for the most part I’ve been consistent in posting and ministering in prayer requests.  LSCF has been my main ministry for the last three years. At times I’ve wondered if this was a productive or even real ministry or if I was just spinning my wheels for myself.  I will admit, many of the posts have affected my personal understanding of the Christian walk and that is why I wanted to share them with others.  So many of our ministries are born from our own adversities and experiences; is that not how we turn lemons into lemonade, so to speak?  We help because we have been helped, we love because we have been loved, and we share the hope of Jesus Christ because we know what is to be hopeless. This is what real ministry is all about.  It’s not about knowledge, numbers, and participation because sometimes we just don’t know how or who we have ministered to just by being there; consistently and faithfully plugging away with what God has called us to do on His behalf for His people.  My understanding of the need to acknowledge this deficit of feedback and reward is my lesson in humility and dependence on God and His will for my life.  He is everything.  He is the reason.  He is the way.  He is good.  He is never wrong. He never fails.

I will be continuing on with the Living Stone Fellowship page in a slightly different format, not because I think it will appeal to more people but because I’m letting God take the lead and I won’t be offering an explanation when a change of format occurs. And if I am the only one who gains from this page?  To quote an oft used and worn out phrase….”If it helps even one person, it will be worth it”.

So it was continuously; the cloud would cover it by day, and the appearance of fire by night. 17 Whenever the cloud was lifted from over the tent, afterward the sons of Israel would then set out; and in the place where the cloud settled down, there the sons of Israel would camp. 18 At the command of the Lord the sons of Israel would set out, and at the command of the Lord they would camp; as long as the cloud settled over the tabernacle, they remained camped. 19 Even when the cloud lingered over the tabernacle for many days,the sons of Israel would keep the Lord’s charge and not set out. 20 If sometimes the cloud remained a few days over the tabernacle, according to the command of the Lord they remained camped. Then according to the command of the Lord they set out. 21 If sometimes the cloud remained from evening until morning, when the cloud was lifted in the morning, they would move out; or if it remained in the daytime and at night, whenever the cloud was lifted, they would set out. 22 Whether it was two days or a month or a year that the cloud lingered over the tabernacle, staying above it, the sons of Israel remained camped and did not set out; but when it was lifted, they did set out. 23 At the command of the Lord they camped, and at the command of the Lord they set out; they kept the Lord’s charge, according to the command of the Lord through Moses.  Numbers 9:16-23

Staying faithful and diligent…

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Proverbs 3:24…Sleep?

Proverbs 3:24 says:  When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.

Can we talk? I mean, this is a serious issue!  People have gone insane with sleep deprivation!  It not only affects a person psychologically but sleep deprivation also affects cognition, physical health, and relationships.

Sleep issues are a staple in this household for different reasons and ALL have been checked out by doctors to make sure there are not any life threatening issues. I’m just going to say it….my man doesn’t snore much but I do! I have been tested for Sleep Apnea and do not have it. I do feel that because of my snoring I wake up more often during the night though. I have no problems going to sleep at all as evidenced by this photo my son secretly took of me when he came up to say good night…on my birthday, no less!  Can you guess what I got?

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Most of the time when I wake up I can go right back to sleep but occasionally my mind is racing with thoughts and that is when I can, if I’m wise, use the time to pray. I get up very early so sometimes I can’t go back to sleep because it’s almost time to get up!

As I’ve grown older I find I can function on a lot less sleep than when I was younger, or maybe I’ve just adapted, I don’t know.  I do know when I had kids my inner clock reset and stayed, and now I can’t sleep in much past 7 AM even if I want to!  Somehow, sleeping in late makes me feel like I’ve lost half my day; the most important part.  I savor that delicious time in the quiet early morning hours before anyone else is up, to take my time and spend time with the Lord.  It is my favorite part of the day.

BUT I will say that without a certain minimal amount of sleep, I can’t even stay focused enough to pray so it turns into one of those “Be Still” mornings, which are very good to have especially in those circumstances.  When I’ve not slept enough and I have to go to work and actually think and interact with people, I say small, simple one sentence prayers throughout the day to get me through.  The Lord truly does hold us up when we are weakened by insomnia.

My husband also suffers from lack of sleep for different reasons and because of this and the fact that I snore (more than he does but he’s not getting totally off the hook), we have made an adjustment in our sleeping arrangement which made all the difference.  It’s not an arrangement that appeals to everyone and even seems a bit taboo, but it’s an arrangement that was probably instrumental in saving our sanity.  If you haven’t guessed yet, it’s sleeping in different rooms.  I said it.  And I bet there are a lot more couples out there who do it than talk about it.

We no longer have to worry about our snoring disturbing each other.  I sleep better in a cold room with a fan in the window year round, and he likes his room normal temperature.  We can get up without worrying we’re going to jiggle the bed too much and wake the other up.  I don’t get mad any more because he is constantly poking and shaking me to make me quit snoring.  I can sleep without covers if I need to.  He can pile them on.  Neither of us has to stay scrunched in our own little mattress trench for fear of waking the other. And I won’t even go into the dreams and talking in our sleep!

There is no shame in needing sleep and only being able to achieve it by yourself in your own room. The Bible speaks of the “marriage bed” and how it should be undefiled and revered.  Having TWO marriage beds in the same house by MUTUAL agreement is not a bad thing. It’s a totally win/win situation for those who can’t sleep together and want to stay sane and happy TOGETHER!  Sweet sleep!

 

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