Tag Archives: inspiration

Prayer Thoughts

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Prayer Thoughts- shared from the LCC devotional blog noted at bottom

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalms 46:10

Give God your whispering thoughts. Throughout the centuries, Christians have learned the value of brief sentence prayers. These Give God your whispering thoughts. These are prayers that can be whispered anywhere, in any setting. Frank Laubach sought unbroken communion with God by asking Him questions. Every two or three minutes he would pray, ‘Am I in your will, Lord? Am I pleasing you, Lord?’ Imagine considering every moment as a potential time of communion with God. By the time your life is over, you will have spent six months at traffic lights, eight months opening junk mail, a year and a half looking for lost stuff, and a whopping five years standing waiting in various lines. Why don’t you give these moments to God? By giving Him your whispering thoughts, the common becomes uncommon. Simple phrases such as ‘Thank You, Father,’ or ‘I stand on Your Word,’ or ‘My desire is to please You,’ can turn a commute into a pilgrimage. You needn’t leave your office or kneel in your kitchen. Just pray where you are. Let the kitchen become a cathedral and the classroom a chapel. Give God your waning thoughts. At the end of the day, let your mind settle on Him. Conclude the day as you began it—talking to God. Thank Him for the good parts. Question Him about the hard parts. Seek His mercy. Seek His strength. As you close your eyes, take assurance in the promise, ‘He who watches over [you] will neither slumber nor sleep’ (Psalms 121:4). If you fall asleep as you pray, don’t worry. What better place to doze off than in the arms of your Father?

 

devotion@lutheranchurchcharities.org 

 

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“Mommitude”

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Years before I had my daughter I questioned if I could really ever be a good mom.  I had an amazing example to follow in my life and I just didn’t know if I could be on par with that.  As a young adult I saw wonderful examples of motherhood surrounding me and it was intimidating.  I really figured I’d mess it up so it was better not to play in that game.  Admittedly, there was a selfish angle to putting off the thought of motherhood, but ultimately it really came down to the question of whether or not I could be good enough. I loved kids. People would tell me I would make a good mom.  Yet I doubted.  

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In 2002 I learned I was going to be put to the test; and in 2003 the final exam began.  It’s an exam I believe you take in parts and as I understand it, you never really complete it.  I’ve gotten through the initial phase, I believe. My child is still alive, has a relatively good self image and doesn’t appear to have any permanent damage that I can see- at least thus far.  

Today I experienced an impromptu “pop” quiz and I learned I have developed some “Mommitude” over time. There’s still room for improvement, but the oral exam of this day went pretty well.  I have a certain level of pride about that, but mostly I am humbled (as I should be). I am humbled that God put a life into my world that I am to foster along, provide and care for, guide through tough times, celebrate with, and at some point let loose on the world hopefully making it a better place to be.  

I’m getting way ahead of myself though.  

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For months my 10 year old daughter was focused on getting her ears pierced. I thought she was too young to be responsible, but after lots of discussion, my husband’s agreement, and her persuasiveness, I decided it would be o.k. to do.  I timed it all so that her ears would get well-adjusted to the foreign objects punctured into each lobe in time for us to give her new earrings for Christmas.  

As we ventured off to the mall to get the procedure done there was a sense of anxiousness in the air. It seemed fairly normal.  As we hustled down the corridor to get to the piercing shop butterflies in my daughter’s stomach were noted.  Reasonable to me.  We go through the experience of selecting the perfect pair of starter earrings, having her ears swabbed and marked, and getting the little bear to hold onto for security (not sure if that’s for the child or the parent, but in our case the child held it).

The first earring was injected.  We got through it.  The second earring was inserted and my daughter had an odd look on her face. Within seconds her eyes rolled back in her head and she passed out.  Thankfully she was sitting and I caught her right away.  That part of the test was awful.  My fear level was at the max, but I got into action and took the typical steps to try and bring consciousness back.  All the while I was reciting what I had learned in first-aid:  if the face is red raise the head-if the face is pale raise the tail.  By the time I got to figuring the rhyme out, my daughter was coming to.   I clearly recall her expression and her asking why are you saying my name like that- what happened?

It was a great story to share and my daughter seemed to enjoy the attention this little incident brought.  She did a great job caring for her ears and avoided those nasty infections that I experienced when I was a kid (where was hand sanitizer then?).  It didn’t take long before talk of wearing new earrings.  I explained we had to wait.  We had to be patient.  Christmas was coming etc. etc.  And indeed, Christmas came and my daughter was generously treated to new earrings by several family members.

Enthusiastically we tried a brand new set.  The nerves mounted again.  I advised about breathing this time…like remember to do it.  I pulled out the original earrings.  The response was, Mom I’m woozy.  Here we go again I thought.  However, I talked her through it and we were able to get two new earrings inserted.  Perhaps she was being a little dramatic when she asked to have help sitting down and for some water.  However, she did seem a little pale.  That moment passed and the new earrings looked great.  The test was going pretty well now.

Time to change the earrings again.  She wanted help.  We took out the current studs.  She was getting a little uptight. We decided to wait a day.  We tried again.  Out with the alcohol, washing our hands and picking the pair to wear. Drama sets in.  Mom, I feel like I did when I got my ears pierced.  I need to sit down.  Can you get me a glass of water?  I don’t feel good.  O.k. I’m ready.  No, wait, wait.  O.k. I’m ready.  Breathe.  In through the nose out through the mouth.  O.k. ready?  Ready.  No wait!  O.k. try one, but if I say stop…stop.  

I got the earring to the hole and my daughter’s pupils started changing.  I stopped.  Are you o.k.?  Let’s try this sitting down.  Let’s try this standing up.  Let’s try this with you sitting on the counter.  You want to sit on the floor?  O.k.  Let me get you more water.  I ultimately say, I’m not sure you can handle this.  She says, you are right, Mom.  I don’t think I can handle this either.  Her response made me laugh a little.  

Let’s try again.  If I say stop…I know, I know, if you say stop I will stop.  O.k. Ouch, ouch, ouch, stop. ( I barely got the earring tip near the hole).   Mom, I think we need to try this tomorrow.  O.k. it’s not a problem.  We’ll try it when you are ready.  Will my holes close?  I don’t think they close that quickly, but if we wait too long that could be an issue.  

 

Tears well in eyes.  I ask what’s going on.  She doesn’t want the holes to close up, but she can’t stomach having earrings put in. She is frustrated.  She is failing (in her mind).  This is when, like the exposing of a super-power, I develop my “Mommitude”.  We discuss what’s going on and how she’s feeling.  I throw out a few adjectives and she begins to cry real tears.  I know she is feeling she has let herself down and maybe me.  I reassure that whether or not a person has earrings doesn’t make the person any better or worse. I love her whether she decorates herself or not.  It’s not a big deal if she chooses not to wear earrings.  She tried and whatever she wants at this point is fine. Now I’m stroking her hair, talking softly and she’s leaning into me.  It’s a comfortable position I remember when she fell and bumped herself as a toddler.  Though now, the stakes are getting higher.

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She gets even more emotional when she says people got her all these earrings for Christmas and she can’t wear them.  She is concerned about how they would feel.  This might have been the first time I saw my little girl express a mature and authentic concern for how someone else feels.  Now I’m choked up.  I explained again she was loved and no one would care how long it took her  to wear the earrings they gave her or if she ever wore them.   Gifts are given from the heart.  I was being the gift of motherhood at that very moment.

As for the heart, genuine feelings were exuding from hers.  I could feel her sadness in my heart as well.  I pulled her closer and we shared some memories about how I used to do that when she was much smaller.  She grabbed me tighter.  More conversation about what’s important and what’s not in life.  As I held her close I tried to say the right things at the appropriate times and let there be silence when that was needed as well.  I felt my Mommitude expand.  After a little time things were getting back to normal and the earring incident was long gone.

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These pop quizzes are challenging.  What’s the right thing to say?  Will I screw it up? I know this is the first of many experiences where she will need to hold me tight, where I will stroke her hair and talk about feelings, where I’ll reinforce she is special no matter what the circumstance.  I’m honored that I am the person taking part in these tests.  As I tilted my head to rest on top of hers I thanked God for the opportunity to be a mom- to be her mom.  I expressed my gratitude for being put to the test and saying things I didn’t regret.  You never know what might come out of my mouth the next time.  For now, I’ll take this experience as a true gift and I’ll keep sharpening up my Mommitude for the tests to come.  I have a feeling there will be many more “pop” quizzes ahead.  

 

Forgive-mess

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I was taking my usual early morning trek with the furry beast, as I like to call her.  I relished in the crispness of the air, the Crayola-blue sky and the silence of a Sunday morning where most people are still tucked under the covers working through their last REM cycle. I wanted to be one of those people too, but it was not to happen.  Slightly bundled up I trotted out the door and turned on an inspirational morning program I like to listen to.

Today’s topic: forgiveness.  A great reference was verbalized and I wanted to keep track of it for future use.  I love Notes in my cell phone.  However, my skills of walking and typing at the same time have not been fine-tuned. I typically wouldn’t even try it in motion, and especially not with dog in tow.  However, since the rest of the world was asleep, it was pretty certain I would be safe keeping my head down as I focused typing with the one finger I had available as the balance kept the phone in place.

I wrote down the referenced author’s name  (auto-correct had fun with that so it took a few tries) and then I tried to write down the subject word, forgiveness.  Except, the word came out forgive-mess.  Instantly I thought how much more appropriate that term might be in my life than the original word.  “Forgive me my mess as I forgive others who make messes and mess me up.”  

I can relate to a mess.  I see the messes I make every day.  My desk at work- it’s a mess.  Dishes filling the sink-messy.  Sorting through my receipts from a business trip- big mess.  I constantly live in messes by the fact I’m much more of a “piler upper” than a “put-awayer”.  

As I look around me and see my mess here and there, or I analyze my life and say it’s a mess, it’s so obvious what I mean. That’s not to say I don’t understand “debts” or “sins”.  I clearly do.  However, either word is made so much clearer to me when characterized by the messes I make in my life.  I can’t always see the toll my sins have taken on others around me, but I sure can relate to seeing mess in someone’s life.  Situations have occurred where I’ve blurted out, “I made a mess of this.”  That mess is probably my sin. 

So when I take a step back and want to talk to God about my sins I guess I can start with the messes around me.  Suddenly, and unfortunately, those sins will likely be more clear.  That’s the good, bad and ugly of the mess I make in my life and the mess others make with theirs.  

Let me take this moment to say if I have done anything to assist in creating a mess in your life, I’m sorry and sincerely wish for your forgive-mess .  Forgive-mess is hard…it’s…well, messy.  It’s what we need to do for so many reasons.  It helps to have a reminder from time to time so here’s the excerpt that started this day’s writing.  

Sometimes when you say a word like forgiveness, we think it is nice and sweet, like spraying perfume, but forgiveness isn’t like that. It’s hard; it’s tough. It is one of the hardest things we ever have to do. As I thought about it, I realized that even when you forgive someone it is easy to still hurt, to still feel the sting. In a real sense, forgiveness just ain’t fair. 

Many of us pray every day, “Forgive us as we forgive others.” It’s at the core of our religion, and yet it is not fair. It hurts. It is not easy to do. Why would God want us to do something that is so unlike what our instinct is, that is so unfair? 

In the final analysis, forgiveness is an act of faith. It is the belief that God can take care of the fairness problems. It is not fair just to pretend that something didn’t happen. It did happen. It still hurts. It still stings. Forgiveness is not fair, but forgiveness is a way of taking that burden from us and giving it to God Who is fair. “I will avenge,” says the Lord. You forgive. It breaks the cycle of relationships. It breaks the stranglehold on you and on me and it is what God did for us in His Son Jesus on the cross.  (Philip Yancey)

Hey, let’s get these messes cleaned up here!

 

Endurance Training

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Endurance Training

From the book of James:

 

Consider yourselves fortunate when all kinds of trials come your way, for you know when your faith succeeds in facing such trials, the result is the ability to endure. 

 

But be sure your endurance carries you all the way, without failing, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 

 

But if any of you lacks wisdom, he should pray to God, who will give it to him; for God gives generously and graciously to all. 

 

But you must believe when you pray, and not doubt at all. 

 

For whoever doubts is like a wave in the sea that is driven and blown about by the wind. Any such person must not think that he will receive anything from the Lord, for he is unsure and undecided in every step he takes.

 

Wow.  I am completely struck by these powerful words.

As I rewrote this passage I broke it apart to help reflect on each segment with emphasis.  I’ve re-read it more than a dozen times now.  The impact of understanding these words is possibly beyond my comprehension.  There is a lot going on in this message.

 

James is not the only reference in the Bible that talks about the benefit of trials and the resulting endurance that is advantageous.  The idea of going through trials and having to endure sounds a bit negative.  How can tough times be good for me?

 

As scary as it may sound, the way the verse is written implies to me trials will come from any number of directions…and we are fortunate to have that. Not sure I’m buying it yet.   However the statement isn’t complete at being fortunate when trials come your way.  It flows into the idea of having to have faith and it is with that faith that you can face your trials resulting in greater endurance.

 

Why do we need that greater endurance?  Perhaps God is being compassionate because He knows that trials are inevitable in our sinful world.  He is providing us the directions for dealing with them.  As more trials come along and we trust in the Lord, the more it takes to get us agitated about them.

 

When I was in college we had to take a swimming test or class to graduate.  I know it sounds bizarre, but it was true.  Most people took the test.  I decided to take the class.  I wasn’t a great swimmer and I wanted the exercise so it was a great way to improve and try to keep in shape.  From the beginning we had to do laps.  I won’t even tell you how few laps I was actually able to accomplish at the start.  Let’s just say I was in the bottom of the pack.  However, the more I did it, the greater my endurance became and the more laps I was able to swim. I kept improving and quickly.  With that, I totally get the idea of endurance and to be good at it you have to practice over and over and over again.

 

So now I’m getting that I must have trials to enact my faith to build my endurance to have greater faith so I can get through more trials.  I’d really prefer the no trials route, but our imperfect world will not allow for that.

 

Trials are going to happen.  Endurance will be built and in doing so you will be perfect, complete and lacking nothing.  God will give you what you need.  He is generous.  The important thing is to believe with all your heart that God will provide for you.  You mustn’t have a doubt about that.   Without faith in His ability things will be rocky.  If endurance is hard He says pray to me.  I will give you the wisdom you need.  However, you MUST believe I can do it.

 

I look back at key times in my life where I faced enormous trials, but I didn’t believe.  I didn’t face the challenge head on.  The result was that I didn’t feel I could endure. I stumbled and faltered.  I went through tremendous pain…until I finally gave in and said to God- you win.  It’s in your hands.    When I got that far…surprise…the waves were calmed.  God makes sure I have at least everything I need.  It may not be everything I want….thank you for that, God.

 

It is at these times that I find a peace that passes all human understanding.  I free]myself from the chains of doubt.  I can make sound decisions and logical choices.  I use the skills that God created in me to move closer to His purposes.

 

Don’t be surprised by your trials .  But you are not alone by any means.  A power much greater than anyone or anything around you is in force.  Follow Him.  Pray.  Push through and endure all the way to the end.  Do not doubt in Him. In this way you will  be perfect and complete- lacking nothing.  Bring it on!

 

 

Start Acting Like A Child

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Start Acting Like A Child

I love the Lord because he hears and answers my prayers.  Because he bends down and listens, I will pray as long as I have breath!  Death had its hands around my throat; the terrors of the grave overtook me.  I saw only trouble and sorrow.  Then I called on the name of the Lord, “Please Lord save me!”  How kind the Lord is.  How good he is! So merciful, this God of ours!  The Lord protects those of childlke faith; I was facing death, and then he saved me.  Now I can rest again, for the Lord has been so good to me.  He has saved me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.  And so I walk in the Lord’s presence as I live here on earth!

Psalm 116:1-9

I woke to read this Psalm today and found the limited words screaming at me.  There’s not much to add; I don’t want to dilute the impact.   The Psalm is reaffirming.  It leaves me with questions to explore about myself.  Do I have childlike faith?  Can I play that game of trust where you close your eyes and fall back into the arms of people standing around you knowing they will catch you, only with God and my heart? Do I really know God has my back?  Do I believe with certainty that He is hearing my prayers?  Do I believe without doubt He has the ability to answer my prayers and respond beyond my wildest imaginations?  That’s childlike faith.  It’s pure. It’s real.  It’s simple.

Not everything works out the way I want.  It works out the way God wants.  We can’t begin to know His master plan.  We can only know, with the faith of a child, that whatever He does in our life, or we allow Him to do in our life, is good.  He is the one set of arms we can absolutely count on to catch us when we fall back- each and every time.  What can I do today to be more like a child?