Posts tagged ‘prayer’

June 17, 2009

Another Irish Prayer

May your day be filled with blessings
Like the sun that lights the sky,
And may you always have the courage
To spread your wings and fly!

Celtic Cross

Our oldest son, Drake, will soon be leaving for a summer long missions trip to Northern Ireland with Teen Mission International (TMI). The fact I can write those words means that I’m not completely in denial – it is literally 3 days away!

His journey will take him first to Merrit Island, Florida, for Bootcamp. This primitive 2 week training includes team building with an early morning obstacle course run, brick laying and other construction training, and evangelism courses. He will be living in a tent, hand-washing his clothes, and doing physical labor. The purpose is to train teens for missionary work around the world.

Next, he and his team will depart for Dublin, Ireland, via Canada. They will then bus to Northern Ireland where the remainder of the summer will be spent in dormitories, and working with a local youth missionary organization. He will not only be evangelizing and partnering with Fringe Youth Works, but also doing light physical labor.

To say my emotions are mixed is an understatement. I’m so proud and excited for him, yet my heart is breaking! As a former TMI team member (Glasgow, Scotland), I know first-hand what a live-changing experience it is – he will never be the same! While I’ve had months to prepare myself to let go, I’m finding it difficult to let go.

My niece, Ashley, is also going on her first TMI trip (following in her mother’s footsteps). Her summer will be spent in Malawi, Africa, washing the feet of AIDS orphans. Sweetie, I‘m completely enviously and totally proud of you, too!

This Irish prayer is my prayer for Drake and his companions as they prepare and leave for the Emerald Isle. It is also reminiscent of a poignant song about a parent singing over a child especially the lines, “It’s not living if you don’t reach for the sky. I’ll have tears as you take off, but I’ll cheer as you fly.Godspeed, my dear one!

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May 25, 2009

It Takes Faith to Garden!

FMOBeansBushBlueLkFIt takes faith to garden. Seeds are collected. The long winter provides ample time for sketching and plotting the garden. Spring finally arrives so hoe in hand the garden is cleared and tilled. The work is hard, but pleasant and invigorating. The frost is finally gone and the weather is nearly perfect. Taking advantage of the opportunity, the garden plan is produced. Holes are dug. Seeds are planted, covered, and lovingly watered. Rows are marked and prayers go up for an abundant harvest. And then, the wait.

It takes faith to garden.

FMOBeetTallTopFDuring the wait, the questions come: Are the seeds deep enough? Are the seeds too deep? Will the abundant spring rains wash all the seeds away? Will the sparse spring showers damage this crop? Will those pesky chickens get into the garden again and eat all the seed? Were the seed bags correctly marked or will runners grow instead of bushes? WHEN WILL THE GARDEN GROW?

It takes faith to garden.

Parenting is form of gardening. As a mother, I try to daily plant seeds of love and wisdom found only in God’sFMOEggplantEarlyLongPurpleF word. I water with many, many prayers (and oftentimes my own tears).  I attempt to weed out bad habits and nip foolish tendencies in the bud while covering my sons with kisses and hugs and “I love you.” I must take it all in faith that my daily tending is going to produce a bountiful and beautiful harvest. Children’s gardens have a looooooong germination time, and we’re given many precious years to nurture and tend these gardens. We will not see the mature fruit for decades.

It takes faith to garden.

FMOPumpkinBigMaxFMinistry is too like a garden plot. As a children’s pastor, I also plan and plot and pray along with my fellow laborers. Each week, we plant seeds of God’s love and God’s word in the heart of children. Some of these children we only meet once while others spend years in our ministry. We encourage each other with reminders that God’s word never returns void and always accomplishes what it intends (Isaiah 55:11). But still, we are planting by faith. In ministry, chances are we may never see the final outcome. The Apostle Paul wisely understood the nurturing connection between ministering and gardening. He eloquently explained in this verse, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.” (1 Corinthians 3:6) We do our part and trust God to make it grow.

It takes faith to garden.FMOWatermelonMoonStarF

March 24, 2009

Tips for Tight Places

Earlier, I wrote about claustrophobic places.  When the walls seem to be closing in on you, and you begin to feel like Pooh Bear (a wedged bear in a great tightness).  But take courage, there is relief in those tight places. David prayed in Psalm 4:1 for God to expand him in those tight places.  He had the wisdom to know sometimes God leads us to spacious places, but there are also times God chooses to expand us in those places of great tightness.

If you are in a similar place, whether physical or emotional or whatever, God can expand you.  Here are my Tips for Tight Places:

1 – Pray for expansion:  David admitted that he was in a tight place, and prayed for expansion.  He did not just assume that God would notice and do something about it.  David knew the value of asking.  Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive and your joy will be complete. John 16:24

2 – Pray specifically for the need:

If any of your lack wisdom, he should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.  James 1:5

Financial expansion – This can include wisdom in budgeting, discovering new avenues of income, and utilizing current resources creatively.  Watch for out-of-the box answers to your request.  

This past year has been very tight financially for our family. But, we’ve discovered a wealth of things that have expanded our finances and our perspective.  One extremely valuable thing my husband and I did was to attend Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University.  This provided us with tools and knowledge that we quite frankly didn’t possess before.  

We worked with my parents and my sister’s family gardening all summer, and canning the harvest. Anyone need a jar of kraut?  My two older sons and I spend our early mornings during the summer months at a local market garden picking fragrant strawberries, raspberries and blueberries.  Some afternoons, we also sold buckets of berries.  We were rewarded with a small income, and often times with berries as well.  We became berry rich!  Again and again, we discovered that God can expand a limited budget.

3 – Pray and meditate on God’s word – Then would you read a Sustaining Book, such as would help and comfort a Wedged Bear in Great Tightness? – A.A. Milne, In Which Pooh Goes Visiting 

There are many comforting passages from THE Sustaining Book: The Bible. Write them on notecards and memorize them. Repeat and personalize them daily.  Romans 8:31-39 is one such passage:

 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: 
   “For your sake we face death all day long; 
      we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

4 – Trust GodTrust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5 & 6

Tight places can be exceedingly uncomfortable places, but there are places of intense personal growth. Often times, they are a proving ground or preparation for new phases in your walk with God. Trust God not your circumstances, and know that He WILL make your way straight.

March 17, 2009

An Irish Prayer

607936_28005142May God give you…

For every storm, a rainbow,

For every tear, a smile,

For every care, a promise,

And a blessing in each trial.

For every problem life sends,

A faithful friend to share,

For every sigh, a sweet song,

And an answer for each prayer.

Years ago when I was in Scotland, I remember peering across the Irish Sea trying to catch but a glimpse of the famed Emerald Isle. Four years later, my sister spent a summer near Dublin, and through her stories and pictures I got a fleeting picture of the people and culture. Ten years later, after reading How the Irish Saved Civilization, I developed a more complete picture and appreciation of all things Irish. Now, 27 years later, my son is preparing for his trip to Eire. And, while he is there this next summer, my heart will be peering across the Irish Sea again trying to catch but a glimpse

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

March 6, 2009

Tight Places

CB042434I am claustrophobic.  Well, not clinically, but I really, REALLY do not like tight places!  I cannot remember I time I didn’t feel this way. Crowded elevators, no thanks – I’ll take the stairs!  

Recently while reading a familiar Psalm, I noticed something in the footnotes that I had underlined years ago. In Psalm 4, the NIV version reads “Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer.” Who doesn’t want relief, but the literal meaning of this phrase really spoke to my heart and into my life. This phrase give me relief from my distress literally means make room for me in tight places.  Tight Places…

 Guess what? Now here is a revelation: Sometimes I get very self-centered and think that no one could possibly understand my life.  No one else on God’s green earth (or even the current greyish-white) could possibly be going through what I am going through!  Yet, hidden here in the original Hebrew is a gem of truth: David too was claustrophobic!

Am I speaking of an actual fear of Tight Places? No (but I’m sure this prayer would apply there too). Sometimes life gets very tight.  Sometime it feels as if there little room to move.  Sometimes it feels as if you can barely breath.  

The past year has been a tight place for me – financially, physically, spiritually, emotionally.  So, meditating and praying this Davidic psalm gives me great comfort.  It puts my heart at peace to know that David too experienced the tight places. We also know from reading other books in the Bible that the tight places were not the end of David. He survived those tight places.  Eventually, he also moved on to spacious places and greener pastures.

But how did David find relief in tight places?  I think the answer too is hidden in this verse and in his heart’s cry – make room. The King James version puts it this way: …thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress. I’ve come to understand God doesn’t always remove us from the tight places; although He surely can. Sometimes in His great mercy and infinite wisdom, God simply makes room for us in those places and enlarges our ability to cope.

Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God.  Make room for me in tight places; be merciful to me and hear my prayer.  Psalm 4:1 (my emphasis)