Tag Archive | God

Sunday praise

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Today . . .

Praise God for the food on your table and the roof over your head.

Praise Him for the clothes you wear and the shoes on your feet.

Praise Him for the fellowship of believers gathered in a church house or a home.

Praise Him for the beauty you see with your eyes and the songs you hear with your ears.

Praise God for the sunshine . . . or the rain for He sends both.

Praise Him in the good times . . . or the bad times for He is with you always.

Praise God in the sanctuary of your heart where He makes His dwelling through and because of Christ Jesus.

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Praise  God with your every breath for He gives your every breath.

Praise God at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Make His praise glorious . . . today.

The crash of the cross

Day 37 of 40 Days to Passover and Resurrection Weekend

Read about Jesus’ crucifixion: Matthew 27:27-66, Mark 15:21-47, Luke 23:26-56, John 19:17-42

the cross

Today I defer to Oswald Chambers whose words about the cross of Christ stagger me.  His depth and wisdom about the event that impacted all of eternity are enough today.

Be amazed at the price God paid for the redemption of your soul.

The Collision of God and Sin

Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree.”  1 Peter 2:24

The Cross of Jesus is the revelation of God’s judgment on sin.  Never tolerate the idea of martyrdom about the Cross of Jesus Christ.  The Cross was s superb triumph in which the foundations of hell were shaken.  There is nothing more certain in Time or Eternity than what Jesus Christ did on the Cross.  He switched the whole of the human race back into a right relationship with God.  He made Redemption the basis of human life, that is, He made a way for every son of man to get into communion with God.

The Cross did not happen to Jesus:  He came on purpose for it.  He is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”  The whole meaning of the Incarnation is the Cross.  Beware of separating God manifest in the flesh from the Son becoming sin.  The Incarnation was for the purpose of Redemption.  God became incarnate for the purpose of putting away sin; not for the purpose of Self-realization.  The Cross is the centre of Time and of Eternity, the answer to the enigmas of both.

The Cross is not the cross of a man but the Cross of God, and the Cross of God can never be realized in human experience.  The Cross is the exhibition of the nature of God, the gateway whereby any individual of the human race can enter into union with God.  When we get to the Cross, we do not go through it; we abide in the life to which the Cross is the gateway.

The centre of salvation is the Cross of Jesus, and the reason it is so easy to obtain salvation is because it cost God so much.  The Cross is the point where God and sinful man merge with a crash and the way to life is opened—but the crash is on the heart of God.

— My Utmost for His Highest, April 6th

We have almost completed our 40-day journey.  Stay with us, won’t you?  

If you would like to download a copy of the “40 Days to Passover and Resurrection Weekend, please do so.

40 days to Passover download

Good Friday?

Cross of Golgatha

Good Friday.  Why do we call it good?  From all appearances that day looked like anything but good.

A false arrest in the wee hours of the morning.  Friends who ran in fear.  One denies he even knew Him.  One betrays Him for a pittance.

Accusations that fly in the face where slaps and spit follow.  Soldiers who had all compassion trained out of them, beating Him to near death.

Mocking words that contradict all He ever said.  A crowd jeering, crying out for death.  Religious leaders leading the rabble-rousers.  Political leaders afraid to do what is right.

A heavy splintered cross laid on a back where the flesh has already been torn away.  Crown of thorns piercing the brow with its poison.  A long and hard Via Dolorosa.  Golgotha in view.

Sound of nails in flesh and sinew.  Thud of crosses in deep holes.  Cries of pain and agony that only the crucified know.

A few lone followers, women and John, deep in the throes of grief and grasping for some understanding behind all this suffering and finality to a ministry that flourished only a week ago.

Alone     *     Forsaken     *     Separated     *     Darkness     *     Earthquake     *     Storm

Sin exposed to the judgment of a Holy God.

Nothing of this day looked good.  This was a day gone horribly wrong.

Or was it?

“The King of the Jews” was written in three languages, a foretaste of the Gospel preached to all nations.

A thief on another cross entered into Paradise, giving us hope that salvation is still offered at the very last hour for those who believe.

Two secret disciples, Joseph of Arametha and Nicodemus, come out of hiding to do the right thing and acknowledge the One come from God.

Forgiveness offered from a heart only understood by a loving Heavenly Father.

Words spoken from parched and bleeding lips that shout the victory battle cry, “It is finished!”

A veil torn in two so that all people will know they are welcomed into The Presence.

The penalty paid in full, judgment recompensed.

A Redeemer revealed

Blood of The Lamb poured out to take away the sin of the world.

The Plan, laid foundationally eons before by Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is brought to completion.

And I see it.  And it is good!

Remembering the cross of Christ I recall my sins and His suffering.  My debt and His payment.  My hopelessness and His free gift.  My searching and His love.  My past and now my future.

Jesus paid it all.  All to Him I owe.  Sin had left a crimson stain.  He washed it white as snow.

Good Friday.  It was a good day – for me, for the world.

And remember, Sunday is not far behind.

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Got questions?

I have always had questions.

When just a tiny tot, I began to ask questions. It was a way for me to understand this giant world I had entered. “Why is the sky blue and why is the grass green?” “Why do I have to tie my shoes?” “Why can’t I ride my bike in the street?” “Why do I have to wear this?”

Little people ask a lot questions. They ask “why?” and “how come?” and “why not?” They ask it to infinity it seems, until mom or dad resorts to those words we promise ourselves we will never say to our children, “Because I said so!”

When I was growing up painfully shy, I was not very adept at social interactions with people other than family. So I read as much as I could to be better at it. I learned from the teen magazine I subscribed to that asking questions is a good way to make conversation.

The magazine told me to ask questions to find out about the other person, that people love to talk about themselves, especially boys, which was of prime interest to me at that age.

I tried it and found it was true. People do like to tell their own stories. Most of the time I didn’t have to say much, just ask the questions.

Through the years, I’ve continue to ask questions not so much because I’m still painfully shy but because I truly want to get to know people. I learn things like where he is from, how many children she has, what line of work he is in, where they go to church, what his hobbies are, and what brings the light to her eyes and her heart.

As a result of asking so many questions, I’ve become a pretty good listener.

I’ve been asking a lot of questions lately. Sweet William and I have been walking a long stretch of road that has brought many questions to my mind.

A lot of “whys” have sliped into my prayers. A lot of “how longs” and “how is this going to turn out for good and for Your glory, Lord?”  I just want to understand the purpose of it all.  If I just knew the reasons, then maybe I could endure it with more patience and grace.

So I’m listening.

But I’m not getting many answers, as least not the ones I long to hear.

My questions are mostly met with silence.

When I was a child I remember someone saying “You should never question God!” It was a rather fearful-sounding admonition.

Yet when I read the Bible, I find there were quite a few people asking questions of God.

The Psalms are full of questions like “How long O Lord?” (6:3) and “Will you forget me for ever?” (13:1) and “Why, O Lord, do you reject me and hide Your face from me?” (88:14)

Moses asked God, “Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease You . . .?” (Numbers 11:11)

Job asked a lot of questions.  He didn’t get the answers he wanted either.

I am glad that God is patient with me and my questions.  I don’t need to be afraid to cry out my pain and frustration in the safe haven of His tender mercies.

I’ve come to understand that while I can ask all l I want, it doesn’t mean I will get an answer when or how I would like it.

The bottom line is, God is God and He answers to no one.

God is in no way obligated to explain Himself to me or anyone else. His plan is from eternity to eternity, a time line I will never fathom. His thought process is not something my pea-brain can grasp. His ways are beyond figuring out.

All my questions spiral down to one.   That question is “Who?”

Who is like the Lord God?

Who can set the universe in order?  Who causes the wind to blow, the seas to roar, the moon to shine?  Who makes a baby smile, a caterpillar turn into a butterfly, a rose to smell so sweet?  Who loved me so much that He was willing to die rather than let me go?

Who can take the darkest night and shine His glory in the middle of it?

Though I may not be able to make sense of the present, some things become quite clear.  God’s love for me is demonstrated in ways I count daily.  Though His voice may be silent, I see His hand of grace in so many things.

Can I trust a God who does not answer my questions but instead asks me to be still and to know Him in joys yet to be discovered? Can I trust His promise that  all things will work together for my good whether is seems like it now or not? Can I believe that this present pain will produce future glory?

My answer to that question is “Yes!” No other answer will do.

 

Dear reader, thank you for returning after such a long time of me being away from Strengthen by Grace. Two months of intense care-giving to Sweet William has left me with little time and fewer words. By God’s grace, we will meet more frequently in days to come.

Ah Love!

Aren’t we all thinking of love this Valentine’s Day?  Perhaps you are hoping for an expression of devotion from that special someone.

Love is not really about hearts and flowers, candy or jewelry, the warm fuzzy feelings of “being in love,” or a nice Hallmark card.  (Sorry Hallmark; I do enjoy your movies and your accompanying commercials.)

Love is so much more.

We honor love on February 14.  So I have been considering the wonderous qualities of this thing called love.

Oddly enough my thoughts have gone to being an only child.  Because of it, I never experienced sibling rivalry or what some children think is divided attention from their parents.

Sweet William and I had an only child also, not by choice but by Providence.  All my affections were lavished on this one boy.  I put all my eggs in his basket. 

Years later when we learned we were to be grandparents, I was excited about adding a girl-child to our family.  At the moment our first and only granddaughter was born I fell madly in love with her. 

When she was about 4 years old, her mom and dad told us they were expecting another child.  I never voiced it, but honestly I wondered how I could possibility love another grandchild like I loved the first one.  I had no experience in loving a second child.

My concerns were completely unfounded and proved to be untrue when I met the second tiny little girl.  How could I have known my heart would burst wide open for her.  Alas, when the third grandchild came along, I had this love thing down.  I never doubted for a minute that he would make his own wonderful place in my heart.  And he did.

So there is the premise for my thoughts about love.  Just when we think we have given it all away, someone else comes into our lives to love.  Wonder of wonders, our love multiplies, and we have more than enough to give again.

I have proven it to be true as the years have added family members by birth and by marriage.  Friends, young and older, have found their way into my life, and more love sprang up from a well deep within me.  I have discovered I have an enlarged heart and it’s incurable!

Atheists can argue that we evolved to this.  I beg to differ.  We are born completely self-centered while parents, teachers, ministers, and counselors try to teach us to share our toys and to think about someone other than ourselves. 

We are not naturally others-focused. 

Where else could this capacity to love come from but the God who reveals Himself as Love, who showed His love in the most tangible way on Calvary’s cross when we did not love Him?

This love shows up in an aged wife who spends her days and energy caring for her ailing husband because he took care of her so many years.

It is pictured in the baby-boomer adult children who are now in the role of providing for the needs of parents who can no longer live on their own.

I see it in those who open their homes and their hearts to foster children who may be so wounded they cannot return love yet.

The mother who wonders where her wayward child is tonight, who prays unceasingly, whose love will not let him go bears the mark of this love.

Loving the unlovely, the unloveable, the broken and the hopeless could only originate from the Eternal Originator of all things good and perfect. 

This wonderous thing we celebrate has its source in God.  For love is from God.

An old song comes to mind, the words of a poet, Frederick Lehman.

Could we with ink the ocean fill and were the skies of parchment made;

Were every stalk on earth a quill and every man a scribe by trade –

 To write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry,

Nor could the scroll contain the whole, tho’ stretched from sky to sky.

O love of God, how rich and pure!  How measureless and strong!

It shall forever more endure the saints and angels song

Happy Valentine’s Day dear ones, family and friends whom I love sincerely.  You have made my life richer and have filled my heart to overflowing.

 

Hello 2012

 It is the last day of the year, and I can’t say I’m sorry to see 2011 go. It has had its rough and rugged moments for sure.

For me, the week before New Year’s Day is usually spent in a flurry of activity. I immediately begin taking down and putting away all the Christmas decorations. Since we only had a tree this year, that didn’t take much time.

Almost as if an alarm goes off inside me, I want to clean out, de-clutter, organize, and put this house in order. I can’t explain it other than I was born this way.

So I begin to go through drawers and closets with a vengeance. I toss a lot of stuff wondering why in the world I’ve kept it so long. I rearrange the stuff I want to keep. Sometimes I have an epiphany as I find something I’ve wondered about for a year.

At year’s end I also evaluate the last twelve months to see what’s been accomplished. And I begin to think of the goals for the new year and how I want to spend the next 365 days.

But this New Year’s Eve, I don’t have the same urgency to make a list of things I want to get done in the house and the garden, the items I need to purchase, the exercise program I hope becomes a habit, the books I want to read, or the places I would love to go. Because of 2011, I’m not so sure about my goals for 2012.

There were so many things left undone this year because of unexpected events in Sweet William’s and my life. Things did not go as scheduled.

I’m sure at some point I will again make my lists. I am a list person. What can I say.

But as midnight of December 31, 2011 approaches, I want to be in a position of humility, on my knees with my face to the floor in total submission to the Sovereign God who controls my life and all that occurs in it.

I am not my own, after all. I was purchased at a very high and precious price.  God has the right to do whatever He pleases with me. Year 2012 will be guided by His hand, and His purpose will prevail.

I pray the prayer that never fails:  His will be done. I am simply the instrument in His hand to accomplish His goals.

Happy New Year, my friends.  Thanks for taking this 2011 journey with me.

Leave your comments.  They are always a joy to read.

The plan

I’ve been reading some of my old journals to remember other Christmases because I want to remember our celebrations.  This year is so different with son and family having a Tulsa Christmas.

As I read my Christmases past, it becomes apparent that they have not all been picture perfect.  Time tends to shadow the sadness that surfaced during our holidays, the separations we experienced, the sickness that kept loved ones away, the death that left a place at the table permanently empty, the problems that were only magnified during the stress of the season.

Looking at our last Christmas entries, I am glad God did not give me a glimpse of the coming year, of what lay ahead for us in 2011.  I think I may have gone back to bed, covered my head with the blanket wanting to stay until the year was over.

Perhaps your year has been something like that.

For certain 2011 did not go according to my plan.

My plan was to accomplish many things, to be successful in my undertakings, to finish projects, to excel and experience happiness in all my endeavors and relationships.  I had it all written down.

I didn’t have any room in my plans for operations, hospital stays, extensive care-giving, or learning how to live with our grandchildren so far away.

Reading the account of Jesus birth in the books of Matthew and Luke, I see something that resembles my own life.  The characters of this story had plans.  Mary and Joseph had plans for a marriage and a happy productive life.  Zachariah and Elizabeth had plans to live out their old age in quietness and service.

Mary and Joseph’s plans were disrupted by an unexpected miracle pregnancy, by the decree to go to Bethlehem and then the urgent warning to flee to Egypt.  I feel sure it was not the simple life in Nazareth they had envisioned.

Zachariah and Elizabeth were not expecting to be parents in their old age when strength and vigor were waning, when keeping up with a lively toddler would take more energy than they could muster on any given day.

Yet . . . it was God’s plan.

My morning Bible reading recently took me to Micah chapter 4.  Verse 12 was the one that caught my attention:

But they know not the thoughts of the Lord, neither do they understand His plan . . . “

Ain’t it the truth?

I know the verses that say our ways are not God’s ways, that His thoughts are far above our thoughts.  It’s just that I want to make sense of what happens to me and to the people I love.  I want to understand the “why” of it.  If I did, maybe I could accept it more easily.

But alas, that is not the case in almost all of my unexpected interruptions whether it is a minor irritation or an extremely painful life change.

I am required to trust when it is dark and I cannot see the way ahead, when taking the next step is scary and I don’t know how to do it.

Who among you fears the Lord, listening to the voice of His Servant?

Who among you walks in darkness, and has no light?

Let him trust in the name of Yahweh; let him lean on his God.”  Isiah 50:10

Even in my confusion, I find there is always an answer in the Word.  It may not explain all the details, the whys and wherefores I want to know.  But it does tell me what to do until the day when all things will be made clear.

Until then, there are some things I need to learn:

To trust

To wait with expectant hope

To learn contententment whether I have plenty or not

To give thanks in all my circumstances

Tall orders for this sojourner.  I am willing to walk in the dark as long as I don’t walk alone, as long as my God goes with me, goes before me and prepares the way.

It’s okay that I don’t have all the answers.  I know the One who does.

If you have had an “Unplanned Year” like me, leave a comment.  Let’s learn to trust Him together.

O come Emmanuel

Of the many names of God given in the Bible, one of my favorites is Emmanuel. We hear it often around Christmas as carols are sung and sermons are preached. Emmanuel is first mentioned in Scripture in Isaiah 7 as a prophecy of the coming Messiah.

We are told what it means in Matthew 1 when he tells us how the prophecy is about to be fulfilled through the lives of Joseph and his espoused wife, Mary.

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

“God with us.”

Beth Moore, renowned Bible study teacher and my personal favorite, interprets the Hebrew word Emmanuel as “the with us God.”  And I l like the sound of it.

I remember the stories in the Bible, that God has always wanted a “with us” relationship.

After God delivered the Israelites from the land of Egypt and the controlling hand of the Pharaoh, they came to the mountain called Sinai. It was there that the Lord “came down” to the people, (Exodus 19). There was fire and smoke, and the mountain quaked. It was an awesome event, and the people trembled with fear.

On this day, God essentially told the people to stay away from the mountain as He gave the Ten Commandments to this shabby group of slaves that He chose to call “His people.”  His law demonstrated His holiness, His otherness, and how we would never measure up. 

A few of chapters later in Exodus, God gave Moses the instructions for the Tabernacle in the wilderness with this intriguing commentary:

“Let them build me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them,” (25:8).

And I wonder why.  Why then, and why now does this holy God want to be close to this pitiful mess of humanity?  I can’t figure it out.

Yet the truth is written all through the Bible from Genesis, when God came to walk with Adam and Eve in the garden, to Revelations, where the tabernacle of God will forever be with men (21:3)

Amazing. The Master of all creation, the One who spoke all things into existence, the Word that was in the beginning, the Savior who was slain from the foundation of the world chooses to be involved with me.

Emmanuel.  God with me.  God with you. The “with us God.”

I let that sink in.  I want this truth to be a reality in my life.

God wants me to know Him.  He makes Himself known to me through the Bible, through nature, through other people.  He makes Himself accessible to me. He invites me in to His presence, and it is all possible through His very own plan, His very own sacrifice, His very own Son, Jesus Christ.

It is my privilege to get acquainted with this amazing God.

Just the thought of it, God with us, brings comfort like a warm, fleece blanket on a cold night.

He came to us, and He came for us. Though we were without the knowledge of God, He came to rescue us. Like the prince on a white stead comes to rescue the damsel in distress. Like the Cavalry comes to bring relief to weary war-torn soldiers. He came for us.

But not on a strong mighty stallion or with guns and war machines. He came in infant dress, helpless and needing a young woman and her husband to care for Him.

What manner of God is this that makes Himself like me so that I can become like Him?

This year some of us are in a season of “without.” Without a job or good health.  Without a place to live or enough money to pay the bills.  Without those special relationships we long for.  The spouse who died. The divorce that leaves a family torn asunder. The child longed for but not yet come to our home and heart. The family that moved away and will not be coming home for the holidays.

Sometimes the “withouts” in our lives force us to look to the “with us God” who has always been and will always be and is in our present moment of difficulty.

May the Emmanuel, the“with us God,” fill all the empty places and desires in our hearts and lives this day and in the days to come.  For He alone has promised in Hebrews 13:5 (Amplified Bible),

“I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. I will not, I will not, I will not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let you down, relax My hold on you! Assuredly not!”

While we sing, “O come, O come Emmanuel,” we must remember that He has come and that He initiates the invitation to be in relationship.  He is the One who says, “Come.”

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him . . .”

December is here

“I can’t believe it is already December.”

“Where has this year gone?”

“Only 25 more days until Christmas!”

“Three more days left to purchase at this price.  Buy now.”

Maybe you have heard some of this comments.  Maybe you have made some of them.  Maybe you are already feeling the stress of the coming holidays.  Maybe, like me, you have a number of Christmas parties and events on your December calendar along with some appointments you are not anticipating with joy, like a doctor’s visits, or medical procedures, or a root canal.

It can be overwhelming.

And so I think of Mary and Martha, which is not exactly a Christmas story (Luke 10).  But perhaps it can apply to the busyness of our lives at this particular time of the year.

There have been too many years when I crammed too many activities into a too full schedule.  Some years were spent in frantic “I can do this, I can do this” auto-pilot mode.  Those years blur in my memory.

The mere fact that I am older, and hopefully wiser, makes me consider the way I spend my time, plus my energy level is not what it used to be.   Maybe I  have come to understand a bit more what is really important in living my life.

Back to Mary and Martha.  Martha was a busy woman with food to prepare for a crowd, much like me sometimes.  Jesus and His disciples had come to her home expecting to eat something, I’m sure.  She was only doing what was expected of her.  She was doing a good thing by filling up hungry tummies.

In her desire to do a good thing, she became distracted, frustrated, irritated, and stressed.  The Amplified Bible says she was “over occupied and too busy.”  Anyone identify?

Jesus became the focus of her frustrations when she confronted Him, asking Him “Don’t you care . . . ?”

My initial response is shock at her audacity.  How could Martha be so bold to ask the Lord of all creation if He cared?”

I have asked the question myself, maybe not in those words. 

Jesus response always touches me because He addresses her by name, “Martha, Martha.”  It is as if she is whirling about so much that He has to call her twice to get her attention.  I’ve been there, too.

Jesus told Martha, and He tells me and you today, that Mary chose the better portion, the only thing that was really necessary.

I perceive from this story that resting awhile by sitting at the Lord’s feet to hear what He has to say is more important than anything else I think I need to do.

Everything else comes after that.  

There are lots of good things we can do this December, lots of people we can remember with a gift, an act of service, or a kind word.  There are lots of places to go and friends to celebrate with and programs to enjoy.  There are parties, shopping, decorating, shopping, wrapping, shopping, and entertaining to do. 

If just the thought of it all begins to stress you out, choose the best activity of the day all through this month of December.

Sit at the Lord’s feet with the Bible in your lap and listen, really listen to what He has to say about it all.

Make some wise choices this month.  Remember it is OK to say “no” to something that is good so that what is better can be part of your December.

Ask the One who is the reason we celebrate Christmas to direct your steps.  And have a happy, slowed down, best Christmas yet.

Thanksgiving on purpose

Many of us, I suppose, have Thanksgiving traditions we do each year.  I’m not just talking about the kind of stuffing you fix or whether you have pumpkin or sweet potato pie for dessert or that you always go to grandma’s house for dinner.

I’m thinking more about how we acknowledge the blessings we receive and how we give thanks to God for them.

Last year I wrote about my Joy List that started in 1995 and how it has become an annual Thanksgiving tradition for me.  I need to mention another tradition at this time of year that holds much meaning for me.

It began in 2005 when I attended a Faces of Christ retreat sponsored by Southeast Christian Church at their beautiful County Lake retreat facility.  I had pondered this for over a year, but it was the Lord’s timing to send me that spring. 

I was a mess and I was going to get messier before 2005 was over.  By the end of the four-day retreat, I had experienced Christ and His cross in a life changing way, and I had met some precious Christian women.

Out of the 40 or 50 women who attended, I still maintain contact with two of them.  One of them was my table mate during the retreat, Margie.  She and I have shared lots of phone conversations and prayer requests about job changes, moving to new locations, car breakdowns, family crises, sickness of people we love, venting frustrations, and more.  Margie has become the kind of friend I can call when I need help, and she will come.  She has provided meals for Sweet William and me on at least three occasions this year when he came home from the hospital.  And she was one of those friends I wrote about who pulled together to make my Dad’s birthday celebration such a joyful event.

Out of the messiness of our lives in 2005, God has forged an amazing friendship that has blessed the socks off me.  I give Him thanks for that.

There was another young woman who attended the Faces retreat that spring.  We did not even meet each other that weekend.  We sat at different tables, and our assignments and interaction did not bring us together.  It was at a follow-up Bible study at one of the leader’s homes where we became acquainted and “just happened” to be paired together for an exercise on prayer.

We were instructed to call our partner for the next week and pray for each other.  Julie was my designated partner for the week.  We set a time to meet over the phone, 6:30 am.  I did not that Julie was not a morning person back then.  But she did not balk.  Bless her heart, she willingly agreed, and that week we called each other every day and prayed for one another and the concerns on our hearts.

I was still such a mess.  This young woman had no idea what she was getting herself into when she became my prayer partner.  There were mornings I could barely function or talk on the phone in that early hour.  After I would share my needs and my prayer requests, she would pray.  And I would feel myself being lifted up and strengthened by the Spirit of the living God so that I was able to move forward and make it through the day.  Don’t ask me how that works because I am not theologian enough to explain it.  I only know it happened.

Well, here it is 2011 and Julie and I still call each other twice a week at 6:30 am to share our praises and our concerns.  I wish I had an explanation for this too, how we two flawed, struggling, imperfect women have managed to hold onto this prayer discipline for six years.  The only answer can be the Faithful God who imparts His very being into us at the new birth, has lavishly grown the Fruit of the Spirit in us and made us faithful.  Julie will tell you, like I do here, this is not because of us but because of God!

So the week before Thanksgiving, we make our prayer time a remembering time to give thanks.  We look back over our lists of prayer requests (I keep mine in a notebook) and see how God has answered time after time after time.  I am amazed at God’s goodness every single year we have done this.  Yesterday was our call day.  Julie began with her praises first, and I was nodding my head in affirmation remembering the prayers we had prayed and the answers that had come.  Oh how good God has been! 

Then I began my list as I cried through most of it:

  • for my Dad, still alive and stronger than he was a year ago and Esther who has cared for him and been strengthened to do it.
  • for Bill who has come through three surgeries this year, still has the fight to get well, thanking God for His goodness.
  • that we have managed to pay for many unexpected household and vehicle expenses this year.
  • for work that brings me joy and respite and for my boss who has been so supportive though my erratic and unpredictable work schedule because of being in the hospital with Bill or at home during recuperation time.
  • for people who brought food and brought food and brought food to feed us.  They have no idea how very much it was needed on so many days when I had no more strength left.
  • for the staff at Caretenders who have tenderly and professionally provided nursing care and assistance with daily needs.
  • that my own body and mind have been strengthened to do much more than I thought possible.
  • for family who have loved me and supported me.
  • for friends who have sent cards and called us, who have told us they are praying for us.
  • for the weekly prayer calls with Julie which has been a life line to Heaven for me.
  • for being able to communicate by Facebook and cell phone, keeping me in touch with loved ones far away.
  • for my son, his sweet wife, and my three precious grandchildren being settled in Tulsa where he has work he enjoys and a home to shelter them.

Some things on  my list have been difficult to deal with this year.  I feel like I have come through 2011 kicking and screaming, while being dragged along into the will of God.  I have looked to Him often and said, “I know you must have a plan for all of this even though I don’t like it and it hurts a lot.”

Yet, He has been more faithful than I, faithful when I was not, faithful in spite of me.

The Lord is good.  His love is everlasting.  His mercies are new each morning.  He pours out grace upon grace.  And He is such a faithful God.

I need to give Him thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18).  It puts my life in better perspective, reminding me that I am not in charge here, that He is working all things – all things – for my good and for His purpose which is far greater than I can understand.

Giving Him thanks on purpose should not be just a yearly tradition.  It should be my daily practice.  He is God, and He will do what He wants to do.  Mine is not to understand.  Mine is to trust, to believe, to pray, to give thanks to my Father Who does all things well.