Twice a day

Some things are easy to praise God for.

The beauty of creation is indescribable and often it draws out my praise.

Recently Scripture brought to mind a different plan for praise.

“…to stand every morning to thank and praise the LORD, and likewise at evening;…” 1 Chronicles 23:30a NKJV

It is underlined in my Bible.

To purposely choose to schedule praise and thankfulness twice a day struck me.

And from other places in Scripture it is clear God doesn’t want routine religion, He wants relationship.

These twice a day praise and thanksgivings were scheduled, but the purpose was to give heartfelt thanks and praise.

No matter the circumstances.

No matter the feelings or emotions.

All because God deserves it.

I had never before thought of scheduling a time to praise and thank God at the beginning and end of my day.

Of course God deserves praise and thankfulness throughout the day and night.

But am I purposefully about hemming my day with it?

I’m going to try to be.

No, I am not sure exactly how.

Nor do I ever want to do something simply because it’s expected.

God doesn’t want that kind of love, and I never want our relationship to grow stale to the point of God being a part of my “To Do” list.

Yet, I’m looking forward to pursuing a new way to deepen my love for Jesus.

What better way than being purposeful about praise and thankgiving?

Especially twice a day.

“Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You for Your Word and opening my mind to another opportunity to grow closer to You. Please help me to understand the true meaning of thankfulness and praise. Jesus, You are so worthy of all praise, honor, and thanksgiving! May today be the beginning of a new part of my walk with You. Thank You!”

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Nearly a week

My husband had taken this photo and sent it to me as an “I love you”.

Jase and I arrived back home on Sunday.

We had left on Tuesday for a stay with Tim and Sis.

The events of the previous weekend had prompted the visit.

Plans had been made for me to head up for just Friday through Sunday to help with their yard sale.

However, my asthma had gotten to the point that my husband felt I should relocate for a while.

I love visiting them.

They are such a blessing.

And I breathe better there.

For nearly a week I enjoyed being able to do things and helping with the baby.

It was truly delightful.

Yet, I always miss my husband and our girls when I’m away.

It’s that bittersweet thing.

And I’m so blessed to be so loved.

When I first saw the girls they each hugged me and told me about the goings on.

It felt like I’d been gone much longer.

How precious is the time we have with those we love.

And if I enjoy my family to this extent

how much more does Jesus?

To have us love each other,

to have us love Him,

how great must His joy be!

Yet, how easy it is to take for granted those we love.

We see them everyday.

Did I tell the girls “I love you” before they left for work?

Does my son hear me say positive words as well as the direction and correction?

Have I served my husband today?

It’s good to stop and reflect.

To allow Jesus to hone my perspective.

I don’t want a single day to pass without my family understanding how much I love them.

“Dear Jesus,

Thank You for my family. Thank You for our daughter and son-in-law and grandbaby. Thank You for allowing me time to visit them. Please continue to help me love them as You do. Please help me to stay focused on what is really important. May our family love You and each other, always. “

Psalm 28:7

It was years ago when I printed off and framed this verse.

Yesterday, I received some sad news.

As I prayed for all involved,

my heart yearning for Jesus’s answer,

my eye caught this verse.

“The LORD is my strength and shield.” Psalm 28:7a

My heart was encouraged.

I don’t have to be strong,

because Jesus is all the strength I need.

I don’t have to look farther than Him to find the solution.

“…in Him my heart trusts, and I am helped…” Psalm 28:7b

My heart can rest securely in His love.

My mind can cling to His plans.

Even if I’m unsure what He is doing,

I can pray and wait to see where He is leading.

He has proven His faithfulness.

I have tasted of His goodness.

Jesus will answer.

While I’m waiting for Jesus

and praying for His guidance

I am going to praise Him.

That’s where the last part of the verse comes in.

“…my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to Him.” Psalm 28:7c

I will praise the Lord.

And first thing on my list is

a Bible verse

He had me print off and frame,

years ago.

Though He slay me, yet will I praise Him.

It was such a blessing.

A sweet lady from our body had come to visit me.

She asked about the kids and what they were doing.

She asked about the teddy bear I was crocheting.

She inquired after other things.

Then she asked about my health.

Which frankly, hasn’t been good.

I explained the diagnosis and how our house has something which seems to aggravate my condition.

I even mentioned the possibility of my staying with Tim and Sis for a while to get away from the house.

She was so full of compassion.

Her heart was in her eyes as she asked what she could do.

“Pray, we just want to know exactly what God wants us to do,” I replied.

“Can you leave it all on the alter?”

It surprised me, but I understood.

“Absolutely.”

Then I continued on to explain all the good God has brought through this.

I told her so many things I’ve learned walking in this.

And I’m certain there’s more to glean.

When I was very sick in 2011, I learned a lot, and it was worth it.

I remember a person, after hearing all our family went through in that period, commenting:

“Well, praise the Lord He got you through it all, but I bet you hope He never takes you through something like that again.”

I had smiled and shook my head.

“No, I am so much closer to the Lord through this. I’m willing to walk through anything, He can break my arm if it means growing even closer. Whatever He wants to do is fine by me.”

And here I am.

Sick again.

Not with the same thing and not to the extreme that was, but nonetheless ill.

And I don’t know what other people feel or think, I can only account for my thoughts and emotions.

But I’ve accepted a few things.

I want to be healthy again.

But I’m okay if I am not.

I want to live and do things and serve others.

But if my time is short or my path different than I want, it’s God Who knows what is best.

Nothing on this earth is worth me holding too tightly to,

even my life.

The only true treasures are eternal.

And through it all I want to praise Him.

He deserves every praise, honor, and worship.

He deserves my gratitude with every breath.

I don’t always like the circumstances, especially when my physical body is struggling a lot, but there is always something to praise Him for.

The longer I walk with Jesus the more I understand this verse:

Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him:” Job 13:15 a

No one, besides Jesus, lost more than Job.

Yet he never leaves his God.

And I agree with Job.

I will trust Jesus, no matter the cost.

And as I lay awake with a migraine I can praise Him.

He has done so much for me.

He has blessed me in so many ways.

His love overwhelms me.

His faithfulness astounds me.

Why would I choose anything other than praise?

Dear Reader,

I don’t know what you are walking through. I don’t know what pain, trauma, or hurt which has scarred you. But I can say from my own experience that nothing I have tried to do on my own terms has brought me joy and peace like total surrender to Jesus Christ. I’m going to reach out to you and encourage you to lay everything at the cross. Dreams, ideas, opinions, even opportunities, nothing can bring the peace that passes all understanding, only total surrender. If you would like prayer, I’d love to pray for you. Even now as I hit the publish button it will be with prayer. So, please feel free to contact me. May God richly bless and encourage you.

Why are babies helpless?

How sweet is this!?!

My hubby holding our darling granddaughter.

He wasn’t sleeping,

just so comfortable.

The kind of comfortable which allows one to completely relax.

I sat nearby.

Enjoying the moment.

It was watching our granddaughter with her mother and father which caused me to ponder.

Why did God choose to make babies so utterly helpless and dependent?

Many types of animal babies are able to walk soon after birth.

Yet it can take more than a year for our babies.

There must be a reason.

I don’t know the entire answer, but as I watched our family care for and love our family baby I felt as though I understood God better.

Our baby does very little yet.

Her needs are many.

Her mother nurses her, changes her, washes her, carries her, and protects her.

At no time does her baby say “please” or “thank you”, because she doesn’t talk yet.

Neither does she give her mother or father any service whatever.

But all of us take such pleasure in her.

Her smiles and her baby noises bring us so much joy.

Her small body tucked up in a blanket sleeping peacefully is a blessing.

We all care for her.

And she has never done anything to earn any of it.

We love her, because she is.

How much more does God do for each of us?

From the very beginning with the creation of Adam and Eve, God has loved and cared for each person.

His faithfulness is neverending.

Yet, just like our baby, we simply can’t understand some things.

She doesn’t realize her mother is helping her when she quickly moves her away from something dangerous.

She only knows that it startles and frightens her and she looks up with confusion and hurt into her mother’s face.

We too often find circumstances frightening and startling, and our first reaction is, “Why did You allow that!?”

Yet, if we could see and understand what He knows, how different our response would be.

If our family can find immeasurable joy in our daughter’s baby, how much more joy does God feel when we turn our lives over to His will?

How much pleasure can it bring Him when we choose to stand in the face of fear and rest our hearts in His hands?

What kind of love can we truly find in Our Lord Jesus?

I know the feeling in my own heart for our sweet granddaughter.

And I know Jesus’s love is far greater.

Why are babies so helpless?

Maybe,

just maybe

to let us truly see our own

helplessness

and to look for the One

Who will and does care for all our

needs.

Simply praying

I love to pray.

Spending time with the Lord is probably my favorite thing to do.

And prayer time continues to grow and change.

When our children were small I spent a lot of prayer time seeking wisdom.

I would lift up each of our children, their individual struggles and success, their future, their gifts and abilities, and even their future spouses.

I also spent a lot of time sorting through my emotions, my past, my fears, and my daily struggles.

While we lived overseas my prayers were for direction, understanding, endurance, and to lift up the daily things.

When you live in a different culture you see things about yourself you didn’t know were there, so I spent a lot of time getting my heart right before God.

As we returned prayers changed again.

Reentry was extremely difficult.

Housing, job, and our future were challenging.

To add to that my husband was sick, so sick he wasn’t sure how much longer he would have.

The strain was nearly unbearable, so my prayers were often desperate, pleading, and full of pain.

Yet, there was a certainty of God’s faithfulness which carried me through and it was in prayer where I heard the voice of the Lord giving me strength for another day.

Then came my own illness.

9 months of being sick with an unknown which only increased with time.

It all culminated in surgery which was the turning point.

During those days prayer became my heartbeat.

Nothing else mattered.

No physical pain could hinder my special time with Jesus.

Nothing was or ever shall be as precious, not even life, as my time in prayer.

With healing brought busy.

I was able to do and I did.

I said yes to every need.

I stretched myself beyond any request God had called me to.

In those days I prayed, but without understanding.

I truly thought God was calling me to it all since He had healed me and in my mind it was my responsibility to do everything.

Until one day.

The very memory shames me.

I was driving from one “to do” to another and saw a sign on a church.

“My burden is easy and My yoke is light.”

Huh!

Was my emidiate response.

“Then why am I so overwhelmed? Lord, why have You given me so much to do?”

-silence-

Then slowly, like a bud opening to sunlight, my heart realized the truth.

When I’m carrying only what the Lord has given, my burden is light.

I am the reason I am over worked and overwhelmed.

My prayers became full of apology, and seeking His path for my weary feet.

Then came heartache.

A season of grief.

My prayers were full of anguish, anger, frustration, and sorrow.

Through it all I knew He was leading, He was speaking, He was guiding, but it hurt.

Another moment of lesson which is almost as embarrassing as the first.

I remember it was dark and I was outside in the rain gathering firewood.

I was angry.

And my prayers were questioning, almost accusing the Lord for the circumstance I was in.

And His answer was so gentle.

Child, why are you angry?

It stopped me in my tracks.

I sputtered.

I squirmed.

I surrendered.

“Because I want things to go a certain way and they are not.– I’m sorry Lord.”

And my prayers turned to humble confession.

It took weeks for me to confess all the ways I had tried to manipulate circumstances in my past.

But it was so incredible.

With each instance reviewed and confessed came such grace and mercy.

It was the beginning of healing.

My heart’s hurting was being removed by each instance to be humble and repent.

I learned what surrender to my ideas really looked like, at least a beginning, it’s a lesson I’m still learning.

Unspeakable joy began to prevail into every area of my life.

My prayers were filled with thanksgiving and praise.

The Lord’s voice was easily heard and obediance was pleasant.

When the nightmares began, I was surprised.

Not one or two a night, but many.

I would wake up screaming or crying, over and over.

It lasted for four months.

During this time my prayers were seeking.

I truly felt God was training me.

This was not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers.

This was spiritual warfare.

And I remember the last dream so vividly.

Awful, horrible things were occurring when suddenly my husband stepped into my dream.

I turned and looked at him.

He said, “I have had enough of this. I’m putting a stop to it right now.”

He took my hand and walked us away from the evil.

I woke up.

And I realized my prayers needed to be covering my husband.

So I pray for him every day, many times.

I pray specifically and generally, but I pray often.

Months pass.

And my prayers changed again.

I got sick.

I’m still sick,

but I’m learning so much!

My prayers are my breath.

Talking with the Lord is what carries me through day after day.

I’m still praying for my husband, our children, our future, and our daily lives.

I’m still praising and thanking God, especially now as I’m never sure what a day might hold.

I’m still listening for those moments when God needs to humble my heart and teach me to surrender in a new way.

I have peace like never before.

My prayers are sweet, no matter the circumstances.

I am filled with love for so many people.

My heart is steady, no matter the challenges.

I have assurance of God’s goodness like never before.

My emotions still vary, but never like the sea calm and then turbulent, as in the past.

And I’m expectant.

What might the Lord teach me next

by simply praying?

One step forward…

This is the outdoor classroom.

Jase spent most of Saturday moving wood chips.

I’d tell him where to dump them.

He’d go for another wheelbarrow full.

As he put down more and more loads of chips the whole space seemed to come together.

Monday we sat at the table and did school right there.

It was another monument to what God has done.

The Lord knew exactly how the trees being cut and all the limbs being chipped was going to create this lovely space.

It’s a lesson Jesus has been expounding in my heart.

Not too long ago someone said, “Uhg, it’s like one step forward and three backwards!”

They were trying to commiserate with me and all the struggles our family has walked through.

But some how it affected me and I took it to prayer.

“Lord, I know Your hand is holding mine and I am walking with You every step of the way. This saying of taking steps backwards is bothering me. Am I going backwards?”

When your children were small and you walked holding their hand, what would make you take steps backwards?

“Puddles, it seemed like I could never walk them anywhere near a puddle without them straining at my grasp, trying so hard to reach the filth and muck.”

And what would you do?

“To avoid a puddle or something similar, I’d step backwards and pull them backwards till their attention was on me, then I’d explain why they needed to avoid the yucky puddle, and when I felt they were ready, I’d step forward again, leading them away from the mess.”

And I know Jesus is a much better parent than I will ever be.

-sigh-

Wow.

“Thank You, Lord, I’m going to chew on this for some time.”

So, even if I am going backwards,

Jesus is still guiding,

for my good.

In this little step forward,

a section of our yard put together

and usable,

there is a monument to all the times

I had to take

a

step

back.