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I Will

So her husband, Joseph, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to divorce her secretly. Matthew 1:19

We left off our study of new beginnings with a cliff hanger of sorts.  There sat Jonah on a hill wishing he were dead.  And God reminding Jonah that He cares for all people of the earth, especially the ones “who cannot tell their right hand from their left.”  Thank goodness for that because there are many days I feel and act like one of those foolish people!  If left to being helped out of my fiery pit by unloving, sleepy Christians, I would surely find myself in the depths of hell.  But for God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  And those that submit themselves not only to their will but do so out of love.

So, we leave the Old Testament with many more stories of new beginnings than I have shared.  And with hope that Jonah finally grasped God’s message of works without love is empty and useless.  But here’s the thing about our guidebook for life, the Bible, God’s holy Word, there’s 1000s of connections back and forth between the ancient stories in the Old Testament and the newer history of the New Testament.  Which leads us to the first new beginning we encounter in the book of Matthew.  Another Noah.  Another servant of God who is the way maker for the world’s new beginning.  The connector from the old ways to the new.  A man who, like Noah, was considered “righteous” and faithful to God.  But first, let me share with you a modern story of another righteous man who helped shepherd in a new beginning for one small child.

Epworth’s Children’s Home received this first-hand account from a foster parent in 2017 about his experience in becoming a foster father:

“Our family has been fostering a boy since October 2017. Yesterday our foster child had a court hearing to determine what step to take as far as his custody goes. I haven’t shared a lot about the whole foster experience because I have been afraid, to be completely honest. Afraid because fostering has been a lot harder for me than I thought it would be. Not because the child is difficult – it has been hard because of my heart. Ever since he came into our home, I have been terrified of becoming too attached and having my heart broken when he would eventually leave our home. I have been terrified of giving him all of my love, my energy, my grace and my compassion. I was sitting in the courtroom listening to the different parties discussing and debating the best course of action for the child’s future, when I started shaking. I began to realize this is the moment! The moment I decide to completely expose my heart to the potential of pain, or keep my walls up. It was absolutely terrifying! I started hearing a small voice inside that I could no longer ignore, and it was telling me to fight for this child. I realized I was willing to do anything for him.

“My walls started to crumble around me. Then I heard the judge call my name. He wanted to know if I wanted to adopt this child. I wanted to scream “Yes! He is my son!”, but I think I said something a little less dramatic like, “Yes sir, we are working on becoming licensed for adoption for this child.” I then heard the judge say that he is ordering termination of parental rights and opening this case for adoption. The weight of this decision is not lost on me, but it was one of the most powerful experiences that I have ever had.”

But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. Matthew 1:20

Joseph was our Lord’s foster father.  As a devout follower of the Mosaic Law, he had every right to not only publicly shame Mary for her “adultery” but also to have her stoned to death!  Before the angel even spoke to him, however, love, kindness, compassion took over and he decided to quietly divorce her.  Think of how Jonah would’ve responded.  Surely God would’ve had to intervene to save Mary’s life from Jonah’s anger.

After Joseph obeyed God’s urging to complete his marriage vows to Mary, his troubles surely were not over. Like Noah, he would’ve faced public humiliation.  The knowledge of Mary’s pregnancy in the small village of Nazareth would have spread like a wildfire.  And yet he stayed the course.  He stayed faithful not only to Mary but to God.  He didn’t, by all accounts do it begrudgingly like Jonah.  He took up the mantle of “foster father” and protected his family, raised his son as his own.  His new beginning was as father to someone else’s son.  An earthly role model.  A shepherd, like Noah, for what was to be all of humanity’s new beginning.

Joseph and the unnamed servant girl who helped Naaman (2 Kings 5:3) also have a lot in common.  They were faithful.  They had a heart for God.  They stepped up to help when they could’ve taken a different path.  Their small steps were a gift to many.  And they both are but a few lines in our history.  Joseph’s last mention of him doesn’t even use his name.  Jesus is 12 years old, immersed in the teachings at the temple and his parents are frantically looking for him.  His mother chastises him and says, “Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you!” (Luke 2:48)  After that, Joseph fades away.  Most likely, he passes before Jesus begins his adult ministry.

And yet we remember him each Christmas for his shepherding, protecting, and faith.  We should all add a bit of thanks to Joseph each day we pray in Jesus’ name.  Because like so many faithful servants of Christ, He obeyed out of love.  He didn’t ask or require that “thanks.”  He didn’t harbor ill will for having to endure hardship.  He put his head down, his hands out and his heart lifted and said to God, “I will.”

I want to share with you the rest of the letter written to Epworth Children’s Home by the foster father:

“I will end with this. This is especially for you guys and fathers. If you feel God tugging at your heart to become a foster parent, listen! There will always be a reason to not become a foster parent, but if your main reason is that you are scared your heart will be broken, then you especially need to do it. Foster children need someone who will be heartbroken over them. They need someone who is going to stick by them when things get hard. They haven’t experienced that. They need someone to love them and be gentle with them when they come over and hit you in the face with a maraca and break your glasses (not that I have ever had that happen, that is completely hypothetical, of course!). They need someone who is going to be faithful to them and strong for them in their weakest moments. I am by no means perfect in any of those, but I am strong in my faith, and it provides me the love, strength and grace that I need. Fostering has made me more dependent on God, in everything, and that is good. Ultimately, I am a foster child who was adopted into His family, and I am fully loved.”

Amen.

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How Dare You?

This is a short story about a little girl.  A girl without a name.  A Jewish slave girl, taken captive by the Syrians 1000’s of years ago.  But first, let me tell you about another little girl, one who few have heard of yet recently saved so many.

In 2004, 10-year-old Tilly Smith was vacationing on a beach in Phuket, Thailand. At some point during the beautiful, sunny day the sea began bubbling “like on the top of beer.” As others watched out of curiosity, Tilly remembered her recent lesson on tsunamis in her geography class.  An early warning sign? That the water would froth and suddenly recede.  

Tilly pleaded with her family to escape the beach. Her father took her warning seriously and went back to the hotel to bring it to the attention of the staff.  Her mom, however didn’t believe her.  Out of fright and frustration she announced,  

“Right, mum, I’m going. I’m definitely going. There is definitely going to be a tsunami.”

Tilly’s father, impressed by his daughter’s conviction, alerted an on-duty security guard, and the authorities quickly evacuated the beach. The Smith family and all the beach goers sought refuge at their hotel, just minutes before the tsunami hit.

Throughout that day, tsunamis in Southeast Asia killed nearly 230,000 people.  But Tilly’s persistence saved the lives of every person on that beach.

She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” 2 Kings 5:3

This was the pleading voice of the little Jewish girl.  Her new beginning began in a strange land as a slave.  Taken captive by King Aram, living in the house of Naaman, commander of the army.    Naaman, although an impressive warrior and highly regarded by the king, was stricken with leprosy.  And this little girl, far from home, was urged to tell her mistress about the healing powers of the prophet Elisha, the man of God.

Without fear, without thought of not being believed because of her youthfulness or gender or race or faith, this no named child saved a man both physically and spiritually.  She doesn’t appear to harbor malice toward her captor.  She shows the love and mercy of God.

As for Naaman, he was urged to take this little child’s advice and travel to a far off land in search for a cure.  With the prophet Elisha’s help, Naaman became a follower of the one true God.  He too took this gift and quietly weaved it into his surroundings, eventually converting the royal household.  

“And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.” Luke 4:27

When Jesus spoke these words in the Nazareth synagogue he was thrown out.  How dare he speak of saving gentiles!  How dare he encourage the saving of their enemies – ones who had taken them as slaves?  Yes, how dare He?  How dare Tilly think she knew something that could save so many?  How dare this Jewish slave girl share her God’s love for everyone?

I can only imagine how grateful Naaman must have been toward this little slave girl.  I can only imagine because she’s never mentioned again.  Her new beginning, as her master’s first guide in his steps toward salvation, had to have brought that household so much joy.  Just like Tilly will always know how much of a difference one person can make.  

How dare we all direct just one person toward the loving grace of our Savior?  Who are we to give others the gift of a new beginning?  To have our own beginning as a servant of Christ? How dare I, a person of lowly origins, share in the hope and salvation of someone?  How dare you?

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God’s Guardrails

For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. Deuteronomy 30:16

I grew up not wanting to have children.  In my isolated world I experienced a parenting style that used harsh, physical, anger-fueled discipline.  I didn’t know there was any other way and knew it wasn’t what I wanted impose on any children.  So often as we become our own people, cleaved from our parents, we take the elements of parenting we don’t like and try to do the exact opposite.  However, I also acknowledged as a new adult that the harsh discipline kept me from a lot of dangerous behavior.  So where was the balance?

If you take a brief walk through the history of parenting you’ll see a modern conflict similar to the one I was having.  The harsh disciplinary view of old was met face on with Dr. Spock and his more “loosey goosey” style.  But as the Spock kids became the radical children of the 60s and 70s parents searched for a middle ground.  One psychologist, Dr. James Dobson took up the challenge.  He brought parents back into the position of authority but done with love.

Discipline isn’t, by definition, a bad thing. Studies have shown that the most effective way to foster healthy relationships with children and give them the ability to learn and utilize self-control is through positive discipline. 

Lauren Steele, Fatherly.com

We humans need fatherly guardrails.  It’s a proven fact since the beginning of time.  We need to remember that when Moses came down the mountain with the 10 commandments they were NEW rules.  New guardrails of how to worship God, how to treat other people, how to be respectful within our families, and how to protect ourselves from well, ourselves.  

The Old Testament has a shadow story woven throughout.  Yes, we follow the woeful Israelites through trials, tribulations and successes.  But put in context God is constantly showing them how to live differently than all the other nations around them.  Nations that He created as well but saw how they overwhelmingly desired to live outside His guardrails – rampant sexual exploits, child sacrifice and more.  He was testing them all, just like today.  Free self-reign or accepting governance by God.

I praise God today for His guardrails.  For the 10 Commandments He gave us to live within.  Because just like our children we prove over and over that without them we can get ourselves into a lot of trouble.  Without His guidance, His narrow path, we wander off into parts unknown, get lost, live in fear and despair, and ruin not just our lives but the ones we love.

When I met my husband and told him why I didn’t want children he assured me we’d figure it out.  He wouldn’t let my past keep me from a full future.  Thankfully as we took the journey, we met God along the way.  I may have pushed up against those guardrails a few times but He always calls me back to the center of the road.  


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Egg-ceptional Gifts

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Genesis 1:28

My husband and I have four chickens on our little suburban farm.  They are our “Covid Babies.”  I’m not really sure why we decided to get the chickens back in March of 2020.  We knew nothing about taking care of farm animals.  But like starry-eyed parents carrying home their little bundle of joy from the hospital we eagerly packed up our four baby chicks in a box and left the dusty little farm store behind.  We got four, instead of the two we originally planned, because we aren’t allowed to have a rooster in the city.  It was our insurance plan. If one or two grew up to be roosters we’d have to “do away” with them.

And here we are more than a year later with four giant chickens in a fairly small coop.  Henny Penny, Mabel, Grandma and Goldie don’t seem to mind.  They grew up snuggled in close and seem to enjoy each other’s company.  Each day we go out to the nesting box in eager anticipation of fresh eggs and we are rewarded.  But what does that have to do with praising God?

Today, as I look out my “She Shed” window and watch my four egg making creatures peck and sleep I can’t help but be amazed at the plans and gifts of God.  In the beginning He created the animals and plants prior to man.  He prepared a place so perfect for us humans to grow and prosper.  The chicken is pretty much God’s perfect animal gift to us.  It is an egg laying machine.  Left to wander they drop eggs wherever they go – fertilized or not.  It’s a daily gift of food, not just for humans, but other animals should they be so lucky to encounter a free roamer.  

When we got our baby chicks we read all the books about how to care for chickens and how to train them up just right.  Having trained a puppy just a year prior I was ready for the task.  And yet, when the time came to put them out in their “Big Girl Coop” they needed no human intervention.  At night they headed to their protected beds.  By day they hid away in the appointed laying space.  All by instinct.  All by God’s design.  It’s pretty amazing.

When we remove the concept of God the Creator from our lives and look at the world from a random point of view the danger is in placing humans and animals on equal ground.  But since the beginning of recorded time humans were appointed by God as protectors and users of Earth’s resources.  God did not make a chicken to simply lay hundreds if not thousands of eggs in her lifetime just for them to be unused.

If you’ve ever been around a chicken in the midst of the egg laying process you’ll hear something interesting.  When the deed is done, she will often squawk loudly in triumph.  My chickens don’t hang around protecting that egg from me.  In fact, it’s almost like they are saying, “here, have another!”  And each warm egg I pull from the nest is a reminder of our God who has gifted us with all we need.


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The Everlasting God

Day and night they never stop saying: “‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come.” Revelation 4:8

I don’t know about you but as a “baby Christian” I would go entire days if not weeks without thinking about God.  Without making any decision based on what God wanted of me.  As my journey has progressed that “forgetting about God” can be counted in minutes and hours.  And with that I have seen so many changes in my life.

The verse today takes place as the end times draw near.  Creatures in heaven praising God “day and night” simply because of his everlasting holiness. As I’ve studied the Bible, I’ve seen so often how God wants a close relationship with us.  Here in this verse the creatures never forget about God.  But you’ll notice that God is also a constant.  He was and is and is to come. 

Since the 1970s, one group or another has played “chicken little” screaming from the rooftops about the world ending due to either overpopulation, nuclear war, economic collapse, global warming, etc.  At one point a politician even posted a countdown to Earth’s destruction — which ran out about 8 years ago.  And according to a current politician we have about 10 years left before the Earth implodes apparently.  

But here’s the thing, when you study the Book of Revelation it’s not the Earth or God that is destroyed, it’s sin.  God is the Alpha and Omega.  He created the beginning and will be with us throughout eternity.

Today I praise the everlasting God.  We cannot destroy God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit.  We can only, through our sin-filled, unrepentant lives destroy ourselves.  My earthly goal is to serve God as best I can with Jesus as my guidebook and the Holy Spirit as my tour guide.  That way I can join with the creatures in heaven continuously praising His name.


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He Knows My Name

I will not forget you!  See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;  Isaiah 49:15-16

The other day my Bible study girls (or BSGs as I like to call them) were once again talking about praise versus thanksgiving.  I had already been pondering over my praise life when we started talking about how we so often thank God in our prayers for things He has fixed or doors He has opened in our lives.  But how often do we simply herald the Creator for being well, the Creator?  For being the Holy King of our lives?

As I’ve prayed these last few weeks for direction after completing the Jesus Mindset series, I kept being drawn to this topic of praise.  God speaks to us when we ask Him for direction.  And throughout the last few weeks He has placed numerous psalms and Bible verses in front of me related to praise.  So, it didn’t come as a surprise yesterday when our church’s guest pastor highlighted the following verses in the book of Luke:

"However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:20

And so today I praise God for remembering my name.  I praise Jesus that if you look closely at His battered hands, you can see my name tattooed there.  And if you have confessed that Christ is your Lord and Savior, that God is our Great Creator, you’ll find your name there too.  It cannot be erased.

When we remember someone’s name it also brings to mind the details about their life.

Pastor Joel Fitzpatrick

God knows exactly who we are.  What we have done.  What we will do.  And He still won’t erase our name from His hands.  There’s no other relationship we could ever turn to which offers us so much love and forgiveness.

Knowing our name doesn’t take away trials and tribulations.  Knowing our name doesn’t make our outer life easy street.  Knowing our name brings us inner “settledness.”  The knowledge that when the Book of Life is opened our names are carved there for all eternity.  When this short life is done, we will rejoice in the heavens with the angels.  And that, my friends is something worthy of praise.


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A Tiny Message #5

If only there were someone to 
mediate between us, someone to 
bring us together, someone to 
remove God’s rod from me, so 
that his terror would frighten 
me no more. 
Job 9:33-34

When we read Paul’s letter to Philemon yesterday it’s clear that he is acting as an intercessor or in Biblical terms a “daysman.” That’s what Job is asking for in this verse because he knows God is not a man to face directly.

As a Christian we can be thankful that Jesus is our “daysman.” We lift our prayers and requests for forgiveness up “In Jesus’ Name.” But that task isn’t just on the burden of Jesus.

If anyone sins because they do 
not speak up when they hear a 
public charge to testify regarding 
something they have seen or learned 
about, they will be held responsible. 
Leviticus 5:1

In other words God holds us to account not just for things we’ve said or done but for those we should but haven’t said or done. So, when a friend, colleague or family member is seeking forgiveness or to forgive and we can be a “daysman” for them we need to step up like Paul.

How do we do that? Pray. We pray that the right words and right time are placed before us. We follow the guidelines of the Bible and don’t play favorites (James 2:1) and we don’t seek punishment or shame. We seek to be peacemakers, not for our glory but for the glory of God’s kingdom. And we pray that hearts are softened and opened to healing.

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15 Transforming Prayers

I confess that I am free because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The shedding of His blood paid the ransom for me. The hold Satan used to have on me is broken, and I am liberated and set free! Now God’s divine power operates mightily in me, and I have authority over the enemy who used to control me!

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

Sparkling Gems from the Greek

Prayer excerpts from Pray It Till You Make It series


A prayer to be deeply knowledgeable about God’s Word

Holy God, I confess that I have spent much of my Christian life hearing your Word and yet not absorbing and living out our Word.  I’ve sat in your Holy presence at church and listened, then walked out of the doors and turned my thoughts solely on selfish and worldly pursuits.  So I often, when I hear a conviction through your Word, I think of someone else who needs to hear the message – all the while it is me that needs to accept the correction.  I allow my endless “to do lists” to take time away from learning more about you, from soaking my soul with your loving spirit.  I allow my “study” of your Word to just be catchy verses that scroll by on social media. LORD, with your teaching and guidance I will proclaim that I am deeply knowledgeable about your character through your Word.  I will be your faithful student.  I lift this up in Jesus’ name, Amen.


A prayer to live a joy-filled life.

Gracious God your gifts and blessing to me cannot be counted.  And yet so often I turn to the negative parts in my life and place my constant thoughts in them.  When I rise I forget to be thankful that I have yet another day in which to serve you and be blessed by you.  And as I go about my day when you place joyful moments at my fingertips I take them for granted.   When I lay my head down to sleep I can easily recall all that went wrong in the day rather than what went right.  But your joy is there for the taking.  I want to live basked in your greatness, your beauty and your joy.  I can and will, with your help, find joy in every circumstance.  You are working for my good at all times and I just need to remember that promise.  Thank you for giving us your Son who implanted the Holy Spirit in us – a spirit of joy and of goodness.  I pray this in your Son’s Holy name, Jesus.  Amen


A prayer to be a patient person

Faithful Father, I get so caught up in the busyness of life that I forget that my needs and desires are not the same as everyone else’s. When I’m running late, I want to yell at the drivers in front of me for not moving quickly enough.  The slow grocery store bagger receives my glare when she doesn’t work at the same speed which I expect.  Or when a friend doesn’t respond to my text as prompt as I need, I get frustrated.  I’ve come to realize, LORD, through your holy Word that my impatience is an outgrowth of my lack of humility.  Your admonishment to love one another needs to be on my lips when I feel that frustration and anger well up inside me.  LORD, I know there is nothing more important to you than having your children express compassion and love for each other.  Rest your loving hand on my shoulder as a reminder for when I forget this.  Quell my impatient heart and mind and replace it with grace.  In your Son’s name I pray, Amen.


A prayer that I would share the Gospel with others

Merciful God, your Word has healing power for the sick and your Word gives hope to the downtrodden.  Your promise of eternity is a promise for all who believe.  But I allow my worries and my fears about worldly judgement guide my discipleship.  I keep your holy and powerful gifts to myself, not sharing them with those who need them.  LORD, our one true purpose here on earth is to serve you and by doing so we are asked, even required, to speak of you to all who will hear.  Help me to succumb to your strength and guidance rather than that of the world.  I know you will put the right words in my mouth at the right time.  I just need to be willing to speak them.  Each day place someone who needs to hear from you in front of me.  With the strength of the Holy Spirit urging me on I will be faithful in spreading your gospel of Good News.  In Jesus name, Amen


I rest my worries in constant prayer

LORD, I confess that I can cite Philippians 4:6 quite easily but it is the actual doing that I struggle with.  In fact, when I get very distressed, I forget about you and turn inward to try and solve my problems.  Or I call friends and family to lay all my worries upon.  Too often it seems you are my last gasp when all else fails.  Thank you for giving us your Son to remind us that you are the only source we need to turn to in times of trouble.  With His guiding words I will place you front and center of my difficult situations.  Through constant prayer and communion with You I will find everlasting peace.  I lift this up in Jesus’ name.  Amen


A prayer to speak only when needed

LORD, I would like to make this brief but I seem to have an issue with words.  They flow freely from my mouth without filters.  At times I gasp at myself for the words that exit me.  James is so right when he shows me that my mouth is like the rudder for my ship.  And I want to be on the right course with you, God.  Sometimes I need the entire trinity to help me grab hold of my rudder.  But I know with practice, your grace and the urging of the Holy Spirit I can and will be the quiet captain of my ship.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.


A prayer to keep my body strong and dedicate it to serve God

Heavenly Father, I regularly make the commitment to keep my spiritual life active and strong.  However, when I make choices about exercise or my diet, I rarely see that as part of my devotional life.  My spirit, my soul and my body all belong to you.   You ask us to be your warriors in the name of Christ.  And warriors are strong spiritually, mentally and physically.  Starting today, LORD, I recommit my entire body to you.  When I am weak and want to forgo exercise or eat food I know just isn’t good for me I ask that your Holy Spirit remind me that I need to be strong to accomplish all that you have planned for me.  I lift this up in your Son’s Holy Name, Amen.


A prayer to live without regret

Holy God, it’s been many years since I accepted your gift of salvation, which along with that gift came forgiveness.  And yet, so often I am unable to forgive myself.  My heart still twinges when I think of the times I lived in sin.  And once saved, I look back at the years I realize I wasn’t fully committed to obeying your Word.  I’ve wasted enough time, however, not accepting your grace.  I am learning how much you love me, LORD.  And with that, I’m working to accept that I am a new person because of your son Jesus.  The old me can’t take up any more precious time when you are filling up my heart with overwhelming love.  I admit I sometimes need stern admonishment from you to keep me on track.  But at other times please send me a gentle kiss or unexpected hug to remind to live in today, not the regrets of the past.  I ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.


A prayer to act when directed by God

Dear God, I used to think that my faith was solely a personal, spiritual pursuit.  But I keep hearing the word “obey.”  I admit that obeying isn’t a comfortable word for me.  It implies me giving up something for someone else.  In your covenant world however, “obey” just means holding up my end of the bargain.  You are always faithful, LORD, and I need to be faithful as well.  James said it best when he admonished us to be “doers of the Word, not just hearers.”  Sometimes I allow the world to drown out your Holy Spirit who speaks your will to me.  Or I worry that I’m not worthy or ready to do your work. But I’m tuning in to you and listening, watching, and anticipating for your direction.  Give me opportunities to be your hands, your feet and your heart.  I will obey.  In your Son’s name I pray this.  Amen


A prayer to always speak kindly of others

Merciful God, so often when I think of sinful behavior, I rarely attribute my own tendency to gossip and tear down others.  And yet throughout Jesus’ time here on earth he reminds us to love one another.  Help me to remember to love not just with deeds but with my words.  You speak so kindly of me, LORD, and I have many, many flaws.  Not only do I need your help in not speaking unkindly, but also in being your servant to exalt your people.  I know that a kind word is all that is needed to cure so many of our world’s ills.  Guide me in controlling my lips so that they drip with kindness rather than bitterness.  In Jesus’ name I lift this up to you.  Amen


A prayer to be a blessing to those around me and my community

Holy Spirit I get so wrapped up in my everyday problems and to-do lists I forget to pause and look at the world around me.  I rush out in my car and don’t stop to say “hi” to my elderly neighbor.  I see the trash someone has left behind at the nearby lunch table and I assume someone else will pick it up.  I watch the mother with two kids struggling to get her groceries in the car and I think, “thank goodness that isn’t me.”  Oh, how I know you keep whispering to me to stop and do your work.  But I prioritize my list and sometimes you aren’t on it.  LORD, I say I want to be a blessing to others and yet I let so many opportunities pass me by.  Today, I will be that blessing.  Today I will recognize the need to slow down, reach out, and do your work.  I will be your mustard seed and help build your Kingdom into all it’s glory.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.


A prayer to not be judgmental of others

Holy God, we live in a world that judges us on a photo that gets scrolled by in an instant, our decision at the ballot box, the type of car we drive, or even the color of our skin.  I am guilty of making snap judgements about the people I encounter throughout my day.  But in your world, LORD, we are all equally loved.  I have discovered the uniqueness of your message through Jesus – that you are the father, king, counselor, protector of ALL people.  You are at work in all of our lives, believer and non-believer.  Through the life lessons of Jesus and the prompting of the Holy Spirit I will be the type of person who loves first, rather than judges first.  I want to be loved and accepted for who I am uniquely made to be and I will see others in that same light.  I pray this in your Son’s name, Amen


A prayer to avoid using coarse language

Holy Father, it has become so easy for me to use your name in un-holy ways.  There was once a time that when angered or frustrated I would just say some silly old saying.  But as I drew closer to the ways of the world my language followed.  I want to be closer to you instead, LORD.  I want to speak like your son, Jesus.  I know that anger, impatience, laziness, and bitterness are all roots of my use of foul language.  Help me, Holy Spirit, to cut out those roots so that out of my mouth comes praise, prayer, forgiveness and grace.  I will use my mouth, with your guidance, for these rather than obscenity and coarseness.  Amen


A prayer to constantly praise and thank God

Mighty God, I admit that when things go wrong in my life I am quick to ask for help.  But when my life is running along smoothly or even when a prayer is answered I’m equally quick to forget to thank you.  Each and every morning when I rise, I commit to thanking you for what you will send my way that day – even the “not-so-good.”  Because even in those times I know I have the opportunity to grow in my faith.  And throughout my day I will remember to thank you even for the little gifts you send my way.  LORD, at the end of my day I’m frequently so tired.  But you are never tired of hearing my praise for you.  I will, before my eyes close, remember the ways you revealed yourself to me that day.  Whether you acted as my counselor, comforter, King, creator, or protector, I will praise you.  In your son’s name I pray, Amen.


A prayer to love myself

Heavenly Father, so many of my perceived short falls come from my poor sense of self-worth.  I look in the mirror sometimes and to be honest I don’t always see what you see – a beautifully, wonderfully made daughter of God.  And I confess that my lack of love for your creation can spill over to my inability to openly love others without judgment.  But I don’t want to grieve the Holy Spirit any longer.  My heart, body, mind and soul were created by and belong to you, LORD.  With the reminders found in your Holy Word to love my neighbor as myself I will look into that mirror with newfound love and admiration for your creation.  Thank you for my life, thank you for making me uniquely me.  I lift this up in Jesus’ name, Amen


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Wonderfully Made

For we are God’s masterpiece. 
He has created us anew in 
Christ Jesus, so we can do 
the good things he planned 
for us long ago. 
Ephesians 2:10

A prayer to love myself

Heavenly Father, so many of my perceived short falls come from my poor sense of self-worth.  I look in the mirror sometimes and to be honest I don’t always see what you see – a beautifully, wonderfully made daughter of God.  And I confess that my lack of love for your creation can spill over to my inability to openly love others without judgment.  But I don’t want to grieve the Holy Spirit any longer.  My heart, body, mind and soul were created by and belong to you, LORD.  With the reminders found in your Holy Word to love my neighbor as myself I will look into that mirror with newfound love and admiration for your creation.  Thank you for my life, thank you for making me uniquely me.  I lift this up in Jesus’ name, Amen


I sat and listened to her tell me how she feels unworthy, unlovable, lacking talent and more.  It made me so sad because she was none of these.  What made me even sadder was I realized I’ve frequently thought the same about myself.  I look in the mirror and think, “You look old, unattractive, chubby, wrinkly – very non cover of Vogue-like.”  And then I turn to my closet and evaluate which clothes will fit me that day.  Tearing myself down for gaining those few extra pounds.  And the piece d’ resistance?  Wondering if what I’m going to accomplish that day will be of any value.

I was listening to a pastor the other day who was in the middle of a series on committing our whole bodies – heart, mind and soul – to God.  She went on to talk about how when we struggle with self-worth it affects everything about our lives.  If we get into a mild argument with our spouse, we might believe they obviously think we are stupid or worthless simply because they disagree with our opinion.  We grasp for people outside ourselves to build us up but when they do, we don’t always trust their motives.

For you created my inmost being; 
you knit me together in my 
mother’s womb. I praise you 
because I am fearfully and 
wonderfully made;your works are 
wonderful,I know that full well. 
Psalm 139:13-14

How many of us can truly say, “I know that full well?”  We easily quote scripture proclaiming that God loves us.  But do we really believe it?  

Some of us were fortunate to grow up in loving homes which shot us out into the world with a great sense of belonging and love.  That sense gets attacked regularly by the world.  And those of those who didn’t start out that way also experience those attacks of the world. It’s no wonder, starting from a lack of a filled bucket, that so many of us plunge into self-destruction and self-loathing.

When, during a particularly difficult time of false self-evaluation, I looked in the mirror and realized how dishonoring I was being to God.  And that if I could just start with the acknowledgement that God made me and knows me then maybe, just maybe I could grow to love me just as He does. 

We must rest in the glory and amazing work of God in order to fully be His warriors.  That starts with us.  No matter your thick or thin hair, your smooth skin or wrinkles, your short or tall stature, your past, the job you have (or don’t), your ability to arrange flowers or pick the perfect wall color, your knowledge about science or the humanities, God loves you.  He loves me.  I am wonderfully and beautifully made.  I just need to keep telling that to the girl in the mirror.

If you want this too, add the prayer to your daily prayer list and watch and see how God works in your life!

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Praise The Lord

Sing the praises of the Lord, 
you his faithful people;
praise his holy name.
Psalm 30:4 

A prayer to constantly praise and thank God

Mighty God, I admit that when things go wrong in my life I am quick to ask for help.  But when my life is running along smoothly or even when a prayer is answered I’m equally quick to forget to thank you.  Each and every morning when I rise, I commit to thanking you for what you will send my way that day – even the “not-so-good.”  Because even in those times I know I have the opportunity to grow in my faith.  And throughout my day I will remember to thank you even for the little gifts you send my way.  LORD, at the end of my day I’m frequently so tired.  But you are never tired of hearing my praise for you.  I will, before my eyes close, remember the ways you revealed yourself to me that day.  Whether you acted as my counselor, comforter, King, creator, or protector, I will praise you.  In your son’s name I pray, Amen.


In the late Spring of 2020, I was led to learn more about how to pray.  Using what The Navigators call, “The Prayer Hand,” I learned the five parts to highly effective prayer.  That’s not to say we can’t or shouldn’t pray short, on-the-go prayers throughout the day, but the Prayer Hand revealed to me what was missing from my prayer life – praise.

Praise is different than “thanksgiving” I learned.  When we praise someone, such as our children or a friend we compliment them for what they themselves have done, created or just are such as their patience or sense of humor.  When we thank them it usually involves something to do with our relationship.  We thank people for helping us or making things easier in a situation.  The same is true for our praise and thankfulness toward God.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving 
and his courts with praise; 
give thanks to him and praise 
his name. 
Psalm 100:4

This concept was so foreign and awkward for me  — it seemed that “praise” was so flowery and silly – that I dove headfirst into figuring out how to “do” it.  And so, I created my 30 Days of Praise blog series.  I took all the different characteristics of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit and set about praising them for well, just being the amazing Triune God.  

And although that 30 days was pretty awesome, I still struggle with daily praising Him.  And that has revealed something else about me.  I have a hard time praising others (and myself to be honest).  I’m great at thanking people when they help me out. But just unabashedly praising people?  I realized that effort and awareness requires me to look outside myself and my own “things I gotta do right now” world.  I need to pay attention to the human beings around me.  I mean really pay attention.  To the salesclerk, the deli guy, the mailman, my neighbor, that person I see walking their dog every single day, my husband, my children, my friends – I need to look at them and see them and praise them.  Why? Because they too are God’s creation.  And I can praise God for putting them in this world.

Praising God means honoring Him for the rain, the sunrise, the puffy clouds, the air we breathe, the Son He sent, the joy He provides, the Word we read, the awesomeness of the universe.  We praise Him from whom all blessings flow!  I love the doxology I used to sing in a previous church and it takes on full meaning to me now:

Praise God from whom all 
blessings flow, Praise Him 
all creatures here below, 
Praise Him above ye heavenly 
host, Praise Father, Son and 
Holy Ghost, Amen

I will keep working on my path to praising God each and every day.  I want to be His thankful daughter.  I seek to find ever more reasons to praise Him.  And in doing so my eyes are moved off me and onto Him.

If you want this too, add the prayer to your daily prayer list and watch and see how God works in your life!