Monthly Archives: August 2014

What You Miss When You’re in a Hurry…

“Ok, let’s go for it!” I shouted above the roar of cars. Hubster John, wild-child-dog Gracie, and I dashed across the huge intersection of traffic. (If you live in Louisville, you know where Brownsboro Road and Rudy Lane intersect. It’s always busy.)

We’d just had a delicious breakfast outside at Panera.

Panera

Yes, to the horror of most veterinarians, Gracie managed to con us out of a few scraps. Smart girl, she knows when to play her terrier card.

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Several years ago, the City of Windy Hills commissioned a chain saw artist to carve a very tall bear out of a very tall tree stump—as in twenty-five feet tall. This bear, better known as “my bear” (wonder who else calls him that?!!) has been standing guard over a lovely park at this very same intersection.

Some clever soul adorns “my bear” each Christmas Season with a very svelte red bow. While he’s been affectionately known as “my bear” for years, and we drive past him numerous times daily, we’ve never stopped long enough to become acquainted….until today.

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Bear on Rudy and Elizabeth

 

This park offers loads of benches where one can sit and read, or picnic, or simply rest and soak in the environment. Even tho’ it’s on a busy street, there’s a meandering path of mulch to walk on and you’ll find yourself quite a distance from the traffic.

Onward we proceeded down the sidewalks of Rudy Lane. We walked down two streets we’d never been on before. This area is very close to where our first home is located. Why, you ask, hadn’t we explored here before? Sad answer is that four-letter word we try to gain more of: TIME.

One more four-letter word strongly related to TIME seems to be everyone’s universal excuse: We’re sooooo BUSY. Sigh…

Our eyes were opened to several new discoveries once we slowed down…..We happened to stop for a minute to look across the street at some large front yards on Rudy Lane. To our complete astonishment, there before our very eyes, was another carved bear!!!

Are you kidding me??? He can be found right around the corner from “my bear” in the park. He is equally adorable and sports a pinwheel to bedazzle onlookers on a windy day.

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I remain clueless as to how long that bear has been there. And just wait for this: we found one more carved animal from a tree stump, not even a mile from these bears. It’s either a coyote or a wolf…and he lives off of Hubbards Lane on Pin Oak Lane.

carved fox

If only we’d all just slow down and open our eyes. Author Mark Buchanan really brings this point home in his book, The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath. For more information, please click on “Wander with Wonder”)

John and I are blessed to have become acquainted with an amazing couple in Lexington. They’re the type the more you’re with them, the more you want to be with them. You know the type?

I s’pose one reason we’re so fascinated by them is we desire to emulate they’re lifestyle. Their names? Matthew and Nancy Sleeth.

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They’re the co-founders of an amazing educational non-profit called Blessed Earth. (www.blessedearth.org) Creation care, as in becoming better stewards of the earth, is their mantra.

They also happen to each have written phenomenal books that are perpetual resources. Matthew wrote 24/6: A Prescription for a Healthier, Happier Life.

24-6 Sleeth 

Nancy wrote Almost Amish: One Woman’s Quest for a Slower, Simpler, More Sustainable Life. Nancy tells us, “The Almost Amish life is a conscious life. Though the choices we make may vary, it is a journey that we can take together—and above all with God

The busyness of modern life has a way of thwarting even the best of intentions…Yet each time we seek out an Almost Amish path, we move one step nearer to the Kingdom of God.

Every time we choose the Almost Amish way, we come one breath closer to a slower, simpler, more sustainable life.”

Almost Amish Sleeth

Nancy and Matthew are proficient at slowing down. They faithfully honor God’s weekly gift to us:  the Sabbath. Matthew says they find themselves “wealthy with time” when they observe the Sabbath.

When was the last time you found yourself “wealthy with time”???

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My prayer for us all is to slow down and discover what the Lord is trying to open our eyes to. May you find some carved animals (!!!) or other “treasures” to discover…

Let’s close with a poem which later became a hymn by William D. Longstaff.  He hailed from England and used his wealth to bless many others, including Dwight Moody and Ira Sankey.

Please be sure to take note of each line as they are all packed with lessons for us:

Take Time to Be Holy:

“Take time to be holy, speak oft with they Lord;

Abide in Him always, and feed on His Word.

Make friend of God’s children; help those who are weak,

Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek.

 

Take time to be holy, the world rushes on;

Spend much time in secret with Jesus alone.

By looking to Jesus, like him thou shalt be;

Thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see.

 

Take time to be holy; let Him be thy guide;

And run not before Him whatever betide.

In joy or in sorrow still follow thy Lord.

And, looking to Jesus, still trust in His Word.

 

Take time to be holy, be calm in thy soul;

Each thought and each motive beneath His control.

Thus led by His Spirit to fountains of love,

Thou soon shalt be fitted for service above.”

 

If you’re more of a visual than a text person, please stay seated for just three more minutes and watch Jamie Grace’s song, It’s a Beautiful Day. Her photographs are exactly what I’ve been trying to articulate about keeping our eyes open. Let’s “get our worship on”!!! Praise and Glory be to God.

‘Til next time!

P.S. Last week, over at the girls with In Courage, Lysa TerKeurst posted an excellent blog where we’re basically pleading for the same thing. Check it out:

www.incourage.me (post from 8/18/14)

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It’s Time for the Big College Drop-Off: Traumatic or Terrific?

Since this is the season for back-to-school and for many of you, time for off-to-college, please enjoy this edited reprise from last year…

Big, searing, white-hot tears splashed on the newly opened piece of mail…

“Oh, no!”  My mind began swirling upon reading the following information:  “You may bring your college freshman between 10:00 a.m. and noon.  There will be people to help unload your child’s belongings into their dorm room.  Orientation will begin that afternoon.”

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I walked out onto the deck where our firstborn was sitting.  Aghast at my appearance (!), John Jr. asked, “Mom!  What’s the matter?”

“We just got your move-in time for UK (The University of Kentucky)! It’s the 19th, so you won’t even be here for my birthday!!!”  More uncontrollable tears followed…

Trying to keep a straight face at the bizarre-o reasoning for my meltdown, John Jr. attempted to calm me down.  “Mom, this is silly.  I’ll be fine.  I’m almost nineteen years old.

“But…” I  whined further, “you’ll need us to help you get your books, set up your room, get your meal plan …”  rattling on, and on, and on.

The dreaded day came complete with foggy, rainy driving conditions.  Only seventy-five miles from Louisville, Lexington and the twin towers of UK’s South Campus soon came into view.

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Husband John, myself,  and lots of volunteers helped John Jr. move in.  Off to grab lunch, the day progressed far too quickly.  “THE BIG GOODBYE” arrived.  We clung tightly, not wanting to let go…

All but skipping off (!), delighted to be on his own, John Jr.  was more than ready for college life.  His best friend, TC,  his roommate, moved in that afternoon and life was good.

John Sr.  wisely pulled up a few blocks away from the drop-off area.  My shoulders were already shaking, my  shirt damp with tears, all the while asking,  “We raised him all for this?”

“He’ll be fine…” my calmer-than-he-needs-to-be husband consoled.

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Fast  forward into the next week.  The phone began ringing early. …

Already having cried that morning while carpooling our two younger sons to school,  I answered while sniffling, “Hello?”

“You okay?  Just checkin’ on ya…” My sweet friend, Kathy, from Ohio asked.

“Yeah, I’m fine.  I’ve decided to re-arrange John Jr.’s room.  Figured a project would do me good.”  Hoping my voice sounded stable.

“I’ll check with you again tomorrow.  I’m prayin’ for ya!  Hang in there, you’ll be okay.  Just takes time.” Click.  She was gone.

The next three days were like the movie, Groundhog Day.  Each morning  Kathy would call.  I was sorta  still in John Jr.’s room “re-arranging”.

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Finally, with a large dose of authority, Kathy said, “Okay, so here’s the deal.  I’m a little worried about you.  If you’re still in there tomorrow, I’m comin’ after ya!!!”

Alrighty then…Clearly my pitiful-poor experience of taking our firstborn to school was way more traumatic than terrific.  Sigh.

So, let’s talk about this for a few minutes.   I know several of you are readyin’ to take your child off to college.  No easy feat.

But… what I know now, that I didn’t embrace back then, is as Liz Curtis Higgs says, “God’s got this!”

Where you are in your faith will determine how you handle your child’s big college drop off….

The experience will either be traumatic or terrific.

Fearful or Fearless.

Lamentations 2:19 says, “Pour out your heart like water before the face of the Lord.  Lift your hands toward Him for the life of your young children.”

Max Lucado, in his book, Fearless—Imagine Your Life Without Fear,  says, “Parents, we can do this.  We can be loyal advocates, stubborn intercessors.  We can take our parenting fears to Christ.”

Max Lucado Fearless

 I confess I did not have a steadfast faith when we took John Jr. to college.  (So sorry, bud!)  I did pray for him, but I didn’t make such an emphasis on his faith like I should have.

A favorite quote from Max is “Prayer is the saucer into which parental fears are poured to cool.”

 bigstock-Coffee-41268634 “We can’t protect our children from every threat in life, but we can take them to the Source of life.  We can entrust our kids to Christ.”

*SEVEN (7) Simple ways to SURVIVE your child’s college experience:

1 – Pray twofold:  One that your child will meet Christian friends perhaps thru’ a Christian organization.  (Our youngest two boys discovered Campus Outreach at UK and it was a huge blessing in their lives. www.campusoutreach.org)

Secondly, pray for them and their interaction with their roommates, new friends, teachers, and entire college experience.  Enlist friends to pray with you and you can pray for their children.  Prayer warriors are invaluable.

Max Lucado reminds us in his book, Walking with the Savior,  “Praying for our children is a noble task.  If what we are doing, in this fast-paced society, is taking us away from prayer time for our children, we’re doing too much.”  Do NOT miss that warning!

 

Max Lucado Walking with the savior

There is nothing more special, more precious than time that a parent spends struggling and pondering with God on behalf of their child.”

2 – Quit stewing.  A bottom-line quote from Max’ book says, “Worry is like a rocking chair, it never gets you anywhere.”  Control freak that I am, I finally realized we cannot be with our children 24/7.

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When you feel like fretting, repeat the prophet Jeremiah’s words:  “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:  The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is they faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion’, says my soul,therefore I will hope in him.’” (Jeremiah 3:21-24 RSV)

3 – Rest in God’s Sovereignty.  He is in control and He loves your child more than you do.  Max reminds us, “As followers of God, you and I have a huge asset.  We know every thing is going to turn out all right.  Christ hasn’t budged from his throne and Romans 8:28 hasn’t evaporated from the Bible.”

“And we know that in ALL things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

4 – Do NOT cry in front of your child.  Seriously…it scares them. Worse, it embarrasses them.  (At least wait ‘til you get in the car!)  Plus, if they’re the least bit weepy, your tears will only make them unsure. You won’t want to leave them that way.

5Best advice we received during this whole “season” is to ALWAYS plan a future get-together.  That way you ALL have something to look forward to.  As my friend Jayne says, “Get something on the calendar.”

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Mark down when Parents’ Weekend is, or a football game, or something!

6 – Savor Scripture.  My favorite passage, which I need emblazoned upon my brain (as I say about every Scripture) is Philippians 4:4-7, every verse of which oozes with comfort, encouragement, and promises:

“Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it againRejoice!

 Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

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7 – Sign up for a Bible study—it will be the KEY to your sanity!!!

By now, you know how passionate I am about Bible study.  It’s been the very lifeline to my sanity on numerous occasions, in many different seasons.

For more on Bible studies, checkout:  “But I  Don’t Have Time for a Bible study…”

Ask the Lord for Him to take His Word from your head to your heart.  Ask Him to show you whom to invite to go with you.  You’ll never regret it.

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This week I’m praying for ALL of you taking your college-bound children. Last year I had  three sweet friends taking freshman to UK, Asbury and South Carolina.  This year their new sophomores are all faring well.  This week, three more of my friends have dropped freshman at Georgia, Centre and one goes today to Miami of Ohio.  Gulp…

To our utter astonishment and sheer excitement this Fall, John and I are not having to write anymore college tuition checks! Please tell me where the time has gone?  Can it be nine years ago we first took John Jr. to college??? All three boys have now graduated???Sniff, sniff…

‘Til next time!

(This week’s post is dedicated to our dear firstborn son, John Garnett Hoagland, Jr.  Soon to be twenty-eight years old, now working with John Sr.

John Jr., being our first, is a living miracle given our inept parenting skills.  He’s shown me more than once there’s only a one-letter difference in the word “Mother” and “Smother”, if you get what I’m sayin’…

God Bless you, J, we are so very proud of you. Thanks for grace! Mega praises go to our Lord and Savior who got you thru’ college!!!)

Elizabeth and John Jr

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When Your Children Are Traveling and You Are Not…(The Power of a Praying Parent by Stormie Omartian is a Relief-Infused Tool.)

Any of you Fearful Fretters out there? Worry Warts? I’ve been known to rekindle worry as if it were a lost art.

Now that our three boys are grown and, as most of you know, almost all married, I feel somewhat of a responsibility for all five children.

Growing up as an only child, where the world did ever-so-slightly tilt my way (!!!), my toughest lesson was sharing. Chuckle you may, my own Mother would tell you I was spoiled. Confession: I rather relished it.

My sweet husband still spoils me. I keep telling him he’s creating a monster….not stoppin’ him tho’!!! Forgive me, Lord.

This leaves both of us trying to divert and direct attention five ways for our five children. Easiest way, of course, is to feed them. They tend to love to come around during mealtimes.

Besides feeding them, the BEST THING any of us can do for our children is to simply PRAY.

Family Praying

Why do we so easily forget to pray?

I suppose the worst memories of our children traveling on their own were the years of college when they’d hop in a car full of kids and drive thru’ the night for Spring Break. Rather than sleeping soundly and trusting our Sovereign Lord, I’d stew and toss and turn, consequently looking like a truck ran over me in the morning. Forgive me, Lord.

As of this post, our middle son and his fiancée just drove to Dallas, Texas to stay with friends and attend a commercial real estate class this week. Happy to report they made it there, but come Saturday, you can predict John and I’ll be back in prayer mode!!!

Last night we were blessed to have dinner with my in-laws and our newest married child and his wife. (See what I mean about mealtimes???!!!) Woody’s wife, LT, will begin a new teaching job this week, so mega prayers will be going her way as well. Prayers for her students, their families, her strength, stamina and patience, for Woody to be extra attentive to her, etc., etc., etc…

Do we realize we could pray 24/7 and never run out of things to pray for? Shouldn’t this fact make us more in awe of our Awesome God who never sleeps, the very One who created and runs this universe??? Forgive me, Lord.

Globe (World map courtesy of NASA)

Stormie Omartian has authored numerous books on prayer. One I return to over and over again is The Power of a Praying Parent. Stormie offers thirty chapters on thirty topics to help us parents navigate the parenting world.

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The design of each chapter is ultra effective. Each one offers helpful information, a prayer, and my favorite: “Weapons of Warfare” which are Scriptures pertinent to the chapter’s topic.

These “weapons” are where the rubber meets the road. For example, Ephesians 6:14 and 15 show us what three of the many pieces of the Full Armor of God do: “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.”

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A favorite chapter is “Releasing My Child into God’s Hands”. She discusses the numerous fears and worries she had after having her first child. She feared he’d drown in the bathtub, be injured from dropping him, be kidnapped, and the list progressively increases with paranoia.

We laugh at such, but I for one, have been gripped by fear even as our boys are now young adults. Stormie adds, “In an act more of desperation than obedience, I cried out to God concerning this.

He immediately reminded me that my son was a gift to us from Him and that He cared even more about our son than we did.” Stellar reminder!!! Forgive me, Lord.

Stormie recounts, “Whenever I had fear (or worry) about anything, I immediately took it as a sign to pray until I felt peace. Daily I released my son to God and asked Him to be in charge of his life. This took the pressure off me and parenting became much more enjoyable.” We’d better re-read those last three sentences!!!

My friend Cynthia Kragthorpe said something when she lived down the street from us I’ll never forget.   She said this during a time of huge trials (yes, plural) she and her family were undergoing. She said, “Last time I checked, God was still on the throne.” Yes Ma’am, He is.

Thanks be to God.

Majestic sunset in the mountains landscape. Overcast sky before

Let’s close with one of Stormie’s beautiful prayers:

Lord, I come to You in Jesus’ name and give (name of your child/children) to You. I’m convinced that You alone know what is best for him (her). You alone know what he (she) needs. I release him (her) to You to care for and protect… Teach me how to pray and guide me in what to pray about. Help me not to impose my own will when I’m praying for him (her), but rather enable me to pray that Your will be done in his (her) life.

Thank you that I can partner with You in raising him (her) and that I don’t have to do it alone….

Thank you Lord, for the precious gift of this child (children), because Your Word says that every good gift comes from You

Show me places where I continue to hang on to him (her) and enable me to release him (her) to Your protection, guidance, and counsel.

Help me not to live in fear of possible dangers, but in the joy and peace of knowing that You are in control. ..This day I trust my child to You and release him (her) into Your hands.”

‘Til next time!

P.S. This book can be read one chapter a day for one month or one chapter a week to get you thru’ more than half a year. You’ll enjoy praying for your children covering all the wonderful topics Stormie writes about. (Then you can start all over again!)

Yet another book for those of you with grown children I highly recommend is The Power of Praying for Your Adult Children.

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And if you have children headed off to school, visit Lysa TerKeurst’s website, Leading Women in the Adventure of Faith. Her August 8th post, Before They Go To School…Have This Conversation, has some wonderful scripture to reflect on.

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When You’re Suddenly Awakened at 3:40 in the Morning…(The Kneeling Christian by An Unknown Christian, Helps us ALL with prayer.)

Drifting off to sleep with a smile, four of our six birds were back in the nest. (Gordy, Woody, Lauren and LT were all staying with us.) This Mamma Bird rejoices when the birds return home.

Suddenly, at 3:40 in the morning, our house alarm started blaring….

The Panel Of The Security Alarm System

John said, “See where it was tripped!!!”

Blind as a bat (Oh, just wait ‘til you see where this goes…), I grabbed my glasses and raced to the alarm panel. “It says, ‘office.’ Maybe that’s the office off of Woody’s room and he and Gordy have set it off?” I suggested.

“Nope,” John said, “It’s the downstairs office.”

By this time, I was nearly on John’s heels as were Gordy and Woody. The girls were still in bed. Naturally, Gracie, the best watchdog ever (!!!), was right on my heels, dashing and simultaneously barking down the stairs.

The three of us bravely stood out in the hallway while Hubster marched into the office. No windows broken, nothing seemed amiss…

“Swoosh!” Something brushed by John’s ear.

“IT’S A BAT!!!!” John yelled.

Bat

“How ‘bout the paddle tennis rackets on the porch?” I asked.

“No! We need longer necks….Where are our regular tennis rackets?” (The man thinks on his feet like no other.)

Tennis Racket

“Hmmm, could be a problem as we’ve not played tennis since we moved in this house four years ago.” I sputtered…

By this time, the bat had moved into the family room. This plucky Mom hightailed it back upstairs. Lauren had come out of her room and I screamed, “Get back in your room! There’s a bat on the loose!” to which she and LT screamed in unison and slammed the door. We are some fine kind of fearless women.

Frightened Woman In Bed

Meanwhile, downstairs, we could hear screams coming from the boys. Dying to say, “Y’all sound like a bunch of girls…” I refrained and valiantly slammed our door shut.

Seems the bat had now entered the kitchen and perched up on one of the cabinets. Woody threw something up at it. It swooped down with all three men flailing their racquets. Akin to The Three Stooges, not one macho man could connect with the beleaguered bat.

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Finally, the bat chased Gordy down the hallway. More high-pitched screams followed with a resounding “YES!” (Funeral services were not held for The Great Winged Intruder.)

Shall we all sing, “Ding dong the bat is dead!” after our snake story? (Please click on Ding Dong the Snake is Dead—Confessions of a Raging Perfectionist for more info…) And I beg forgiveness for any of you animal lovers out there…

So what does a bat have to do with prayer, you may be asking? Well, not a whole lot, obviously…but the pearl to glean is from having family closeby. Or framed photos of your family if they live far away. This reminds us to pray fervently and feverishly for them.

Please allow me to share a couple of highlights from a book that’s been mentioned in the last three books I’ve read (Whenever that happens, I take that to be a divine suggestion): The Kneeling Christian, by Unknown Christian, originally from 1924, offers powerful pearls on prayer. (Research revealed author is Albert Ernest Richardson. He was a British Anglican clergyman and missionary.)

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The preface grabs you from its’ first page: “It’s not too much to say that all real growth in the spiritual life—

All victory over temptation,

All confidence and peace in the presence of difficulties and dangers,

All repose of spirit in times of great disappointment or loss,

All habitual communion with God

Depend upon the practice of secret prayer.”

He continues, “Our yearning desire is to stir up Christians to ‘take hold of’ God as never before.”

Watch this: “We are never so high as when we are on our knees.”

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The author doesn’t pretty things up any, either. Reminding us of the devil’s schemes, he pleads, “Fellow Christians, let us awake! The devil’s blinding our eyes…Do we realize there’s nothing the devil dreads so much as prayer?

Satan laughs at our toiling, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray.” (What an awesome reminder and motivation for us all to pray, pray, pray.)

Some of you may argue, “But I don’t know what to pray for?”

Don’t forget what Paul tells us in Romans 8:26-27: “Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, … and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” (ESV)

Happy family

The author succinctly answers questions about what prayer is,

how God answers prayer,

        if He always answers, and

                 obstacles we must be aware of.

In a powerful Bible study called Praying for Your Prodigal: A Journey Through Luke 15, by Kristen Sauter, Kristen also gives us a beautiful list of what prayer is:

“Prayer is:

           A Gift.

                 A shelter in times of storms.

                       A classroom filled with wise instruction.

                             A banquet hall for our inner nourishment.

                                    A place of comfort.

                                            A place of compassion.

                                                   A place of forgiveness.

                                                            A place of renewed strength.

Prayer changes us internally and externally.” Kristen asks, “Does conversation with the Savior affect your countenance?” Ouch….and yet a blessed challenge.

She concludes:

“Prayer …

     Delivers help and hope.

           Enables us to speak directly to the Father.”

Between Kristen’s excellent information on prayer and the author’s pearls in the Kneeling Christian, we must arise and awaken to our surroundings and to people for whom we can pray.

When family is closeby, or even if they’re far away, let them serve as visual reminders to kneel in prayer and storm Heaven’s gates for your loved ones. (Hopefully snakes and bats don’t fit into that equation.)

Please remember:

It is never too late.

We must never give up.

Businessman Looking At Faith Door

The Kneeling Christian concludes: “To pray with all your heart and strength—that is the last, the greatest achievement of the Christian’s warfare on earth.”

And may I conclude with a favorite Scripture: I Thessalonians 5:17 can be quickly memorized and put to daily use: “Pray continually.”

Lord, please keep prayer in the forefront of our minds.  Amen and Amen.

‘Til next time!

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