Living Water

100_3515Vibrant. Brilliant. We eagerly scoop up the luscious looking stones in various colors and put them into our treasure bag.  “Look at this one Mom,” Hannah shows me a brilliant red stone and Rachel carries over a green stone.

Back at the camper we reviewed our finds and empty the treasure bags filled by the lake. Now dry, the stones looked dull and drab.  Ordinary.  Having lost their luster, we couldn’t even tell which stone was whose.  They looked nothing like the treasures we eagerly picked up along the lakeshore.

Before frustration and disappointment totally set in, I grabbed a bottle of water and poured itLake Rocks over the rocks in my hand.  Once again, the colors burst forth like fireworks on a hot summer night.  In my hand I once again held the colorful treasure now restored.

What made the difference?  It was the water.  Devoid of water the stones look like nothing more than driveway stones worthy of a toss. The water made them appear alive and vibrant and something to be treasured.  Much like us.

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“Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” – John 7:38

It’s the Living Water or Christ in us that makes us appear vibrant and brings life into our souls.  It’s the Living Water that keeps us from leading a lackluster life. When we become parched, dry and distant from the Living Water, our spirit is rendered barren, and cracked.

Crevices are where things can hide or take root. Our spiritually dry fissures become places where the enemy can gain a foothold. These gaps take the form of looking the other way at sin, or justifying ungodly behavior. The dark dry places of our hearts are fertile ground for secrets and apathy.

“but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I 101_8292will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” – John 4:14

Immersing ourselves in the Living Water regularly is crucial to living a life that glorifies the Lord. When we are infused with His truth and His presence, our lives can’t help but reflect Him.  When we radiate His presence, people are attracted to HIM in us. His goodness and mercy and grace shine brightly in our lives.

We were drawn to the stones for their beauty.  It was their reflection in the water that caught our attention. Like the stones bathed in water lively sparkled and beckoned to us, a soul swathed in the Living Water becomes a beacon.

We weren’t made to be a lackluster, dry, stone that is cast aside or overlooked.  We shouldn’t want to be a treasure missed. We need to be saturated with His presence. We want to be a brilliant find, one that can point the seeker to the source of water that will never run dry.

POINT TO PONDER: What does your life currently reflect?  Are there places in your life that could benefit from a good dousing of Living Water?  Some creative ways to connect with your Creator were listed on the blog here:  Feel free to connect with me, I would love to share some ideas and encourage you.

Check out #HOPEscope the Weekday Show on www.periscope.tv at 7:15 am featuring quick devotion and prayer to start your day HIS Way!

 

5 ways to Creatively Connect with the Creator in Prayer

folded hands“Our Father who art in Heaven….”  I remember our nightly ritual, brushing teeth and bed time prayers with folded hands.  I knew the prayer by heart. I could offer it up in my sleep, and often said it as my Father carried me to bed.  As I got older, those words became more powerful and the practice of prayer more personal. I began to learn about the value of personal prayer.  Coming from a charismatic background I’d seen prayers for healings yield lengthened limbs, and bid diseases away.  I saw doors of opportunity open and relationships restored as a result of prayer.

“The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces

wonderful results.” (James 5:16b NLT)

Sometimes our prayer life can become routine or stale.  I felt like my prayers were becoming laundry lists of petitions lacking sincerity.  I decided to shake up my prayer life a little by reading some devotionals and old school prayer books and was blessed by how new the practice of prayer became.

Last Blog we discussed visual reminders to keep a focus on God’s presence, this blog I am going to share with you some things I’ve incorporated that keep me focused on prayer time and block out distractions

             My prayer beads were a gift from my ministry partner.  They are smooth and purple.

Prayer Beads

Prayer Beads

Sometimes I will just hold them as I pray each stone representing a different prayer of thanksgiving and I’ll go through them again with petitions…helps me balance my conversation with God. Sometimes I will just sit quietly and thumb through them allowing for silence for God to speak.

“The LORD is near to all them that call on him, to all that call on him in truth.”

(Psalm 145:18)

Shower door prayer reminders

Shower door prayer reminders

2              I am known for writing the name on my hand of someone to pray for throughout the day. (YAY for Sharpies)  I also keep a dry erase pen in my bathroom to write on my mirror and shower door so that I can be prayerful while I am getting ready for work.  “A day hemmed in prayer is not likely to unravel” (Note: Do not confuse Sharpie w/dry erase. Much harder to get off mirror; lesson learned the hard way.)

“Be anxious for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)

             This past year, I have been making coloring part of my Sabbath.  I will sit on my

Coloring Book and pencils

Coloring Book and pencils

back porch with soft music playing and chose a picture, while I color it, I lift my prayers to God.  It makes prayers less rushed and more heartfelt. I find the contemplative quiet in between is so beneficial to the  “Listening” part of prayer.  It really is a two way conversation.

“Prayer is not monologue, but dialogue. Gods voice in response to mine is its most essential part.” ~ Andrew Murray

Prayer Journaling

Prayer Journaling

4              Journaling prayers has always been a part of my life, but I had gotten away from keeping record of answered prayer. Answers are such an incentive and encouragement to our prayer lives.  The bible is full of answered prayers which show the Power of Prayer.  Journaling our prayers gives us a gentle reminder that the God who answered us back then….is the same God we are seeking today.

 

5              These prayer stones were stones I intentionally

Prayer Stones

Prayer Stones

picked up on Lake Erie several years ago.  I wrote topics on them in sharpie and set them in a basket. Throughout the day I would take one out and pray about that specific need and lay it on the table. At the end of the day the basket was empty and I had some great unstructured conversations with God.  Often I will leave a particular stone out to remind me  to pray about an issue that burdens me.   It prompts me to be a “Prayer WARRIOR and not a prayer WORRIER”

I am super excited about the movie coming out called WAR ROOM – it looks fabulous and is centered on prayer.  Check out the trailer here :  http://warroomthemovie.com/

Prayer is part of a Christian’s daily walk.  Prayer is connecting to the Creator.  You don’t get to know someone by only spending one hour a week with them. Talking with God daily will increase your faith and your connection to him.  We are called to pray without ceasing in Thessalonians 5:17.

My prayer is that you will find a method that works for you and that as you grow deeper in your relationship with the Savior; Prayer will become something you crave.

POINT TO PONDER:  What can you incorporate into your prayer life to make it more meaningful to you and to the Lord?

Word of the Year 2012 (part one)

Part One:  Getting It (Part Two is “Living it” coming next week)

It was 11:59 pm on December 31st and while most were anticipating the ball dropping  in Times Square, I was pondering my word for 2012.  Trivial for some, but to those who know me, that word is pretty important. Normally I’ve pondered or run across a scripture that guides me to my “word for the year” before the current year runs out.  But alas the the ball was dropping and the word well was dry – as dry as my blog which hadn’t been updated in about 2 months.

The “word of the year” is a focus of how you will approach life during the coming year or an attribute you’d like to project for the year.  My past words have included dream, act, refresh, complete, hope…

As I gazed into the future of 2012 I saw many life changes. One child off to college, a book that hopefully will be published, education changes for the remaining kiddos and … who knows what else.  Many of these changes I looked forward to with teary eyes. (not to mention, wrinkles, weight gain and hot flashes)  I wondered if my word would be Kleenex, Chocolate, Zoloft or perhaps rapture?

The ball dropped, the sauerkraut was eaten, the confetti vaccuumed, and I was still wordless for 2012.  I shared my dilemma with some writer friends who pray.  I did my share of communicating with the Master of all words, the giver of my gifts and the only one who knew what my 2012 would look like. 

While I was asking God why all my friends had words and I didn’t, I was also “de-Christmasing”.  I came across a gift bag in my office that I didn’t recognize.  Upon opening it, I realized it was a speaker gift I had received back in December when I spoke at a Christmas Brunch in Baltimore. The chaos of coming home and multiple people unpacking the car resulted in this misplaced package. 

When I opened the box, I found a Willow Tree Angel! 

 

Her tag said Celebrate – with Joyful Anticipation.  At first I laughed and thought,  Really funny God…have you seen my calendar? 

But then I felt his gentle nudge.  His plan for me was to look forward to all of these changes with Joyful Anticipation.  Not to be robbed of joy by the paths that life would take in 2012; but to joyfully anticipate them and yes CELEBRATE them.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.

Phillipians 4:4

Each change, while presenting challenges, also presents the possibility for blessing for me and my family.  I felt a weight lift off my shoulders and yes, my eyes filled with tears.  My heavenly Father used an angel to send me a message.  The message: “Celebrate with joyful anticipation”.  There will most likely still be tears, but instead of spending the year in apprehension, I will spend it in Celebration!

(Stay Tuned for Part Two of this update:  Celebrate … Seriously? 3 funerals later, the death of a horse and numerous friends with sick kids, dying family members and some in comas…Celebrate Really?)

Point to Ponder:  Do you have a word?  If you had to pick a word that would sum up your 2011 what would it be? Would you choose a different word for 2012?  What word would you like to live out, or live up to in 2012?

Remembering 9-11

When tragedy struck on 9-11, I was a homeschool mom of 3. Since then I have met survivors, victims families, and taught about 9-11 as history. That day I turned on the computer and recorded in real time my feelings and thoughts. My kids were ages 7, 5 and 10 mos. Below is that journal entry simply cut and pasted here. We read it each year to REMEMBER. (photos are not mine, I tried to find credits where I could~see below)

 My dear sweet ones,                                                                           Sept. 11, 2001

 Today was the worst day in the history of America since I have been born.  We watched with grave disbelief as terrorists forever changed my country.  They brazenly hijacked 4 planes filled with fuel and set out to destroy.  Their first target was the World Trade Center Towers in which nearly 50,000 innocent people worked daily.  They struck at around 9 am, just as their workdays were starting.  Then they struck our center of nations defenses, the Pentagon, and one attempt was thwarted to attack the command center and retreat of the president, Camp David.  That plane was downed about 60 or so miles from here in a clearing in the mountains.  Close to 300 people were killed on the hijacked planes and a total body count can’t even be speculated. 

The thought these terrorists were so close to us, even though it was our airspace is quite sobering.  I have a feeling that this is not the end, but a beginning of testing for America, which used to be known as a super power.  Now, our vulnerability has been shown to the world. 

Praise God that so far, all those we know and love are safe and sound.  

The prevailing feeling of dread and sadness is quite oppressive this evening as we await a State of the Union address from President Bush. The state of the union is pretty bleak at this point. 

You kids watched the disaster today on CNN but I am not sure how much of the magnitude of this disaster you are processing.   It is history in the making and the worst day in the history of our United States.  I pray that it will be only a memory for you and that in your lives you will not experience human casualties such as we are facing. 

We are a nation in mourning.  Well over 200 Firefighters are dead and 78 Police are missing and presumed killed.  The confidence in our nation has been shaken.  TV reports are calling this a second Pearl Harbor.

 President Bush just spoke and quoted Psalm 23.  He is a Godly man and I pray his wisdom will prevail and he will be sensitive to the leading of God as the details of this tragedy are sorted out. 

I put you both to bed tonight and read to you Psalm 94.  It speaks of God’s revenge upon the wicked and of how HE will be our refuge in times of trials and fear.  He is the rock upon which we stand and our mighty fortress.   At times like these I am so thankful for the legacy my family has instilled in me – The legacy of a powerful and just God who is our defender and friend, comforter and convictor, our rock, our fortress our haven and our healer.  I pray that you will also carry that legacy forward and hold fast to it at times when faith is so easily and brutally shaken. 

This day, September 11 will be one I will never forget.  It is a day I never thought would come.  I picked up our precious baby Rachel and I feared what was in store for her sweet life down the road.  As I tucked each of you and touched your soft skin and hair I ached for your safety and assurance horrific things such as happened today would never touch your lives. 

I shut out the light and walked away with a renewed determination to work at instilling the scriptures and the values that are found in the bible.  God forbid that one day you live in a world that prohibits bible ownership, you will have the truths in your heart and the hymns of praise will be on your lips.

 I love you my little lambs, my gifts from God.  I go to bed tonight with a heavy heart for all those kids who will be waiting up for parents that will never come home.  For all the promises made by parents who will never return to fulfill them.  I go to bed feeling thankful though somewhat guilty for our safety and our life.  May God continue to protect us all and keep us together as a family until His return.

 Love,

Mom 

9-10-2011: I hope we remember how we felt the next day also. The soar of patriotism. Pride in our country, unabashed praying in public, compassion for neighbors and strangers who were grieving.  We can’t go back to 9-10-01 and undo the tragedy.  But we can go back to 9-12-01 and revisit and renew our hope in a country of people who were united and prayerful through loss.

Point to Ponder: Were you more patriotic in 2001 than you are in 2011? Do you trust God more or less now than in 2001?

PHOTO: Ariel  (Det. Greg Semendinger/NYC Police Aviation Unit)

Prayer at crosss http://saintmychaljudge.blogspot.com/  911 Praying photo

Skyline New York Mag . com

Wind of HOPE

Recently our town was buffeted by winds of more than 40 MPH for several days. As I lay in bed waiting for the roof to be ripped off, I thought when will it tire? How much wind is there?

This wind was relentless it just kept coming as if the supply was infinite.

I looked outside and could not see the wind during the day or night.

The wind was invisible but the results the next morning were tangible. Recycling bins had toppled spewing forth plastics from blocks away. Branches and sticks laden with buds were strewn across the yards  like tombstones marking the death of the tender leaves that would never see spring.

Hope is like that. You can’t see it with your eyes or touch it with your hands. But hope or the lack of it leaves tangible evidence. It is amazing that the presence or lack of something so intangible can be so significant in our lives.

Martin Luther said, “Until a person experiences suffering, he cannot know what it means to hope.”

What does the Bible say about hope? In Hebrews 6:19 the NKJV it says:

This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil…

The Bible refers to HOPE as our anchor, but what’s more, it says that HOPE allows us to enter into the presence of God. Since the Lord’s presence is where all the treasure and life-giving, life-sustaining power is – that is where we need to be. We need to maintain our hope.
Herman Melville said, “Until we learn that one grief outweighs a thousand joys, we will not know what Christianity is trying to make us.”

Worse than whatever pain we are dealing with or crisis we are experiencing is that hopelessness that comes with a sense that there is no purpose or value to the pain.


http://www.lindajackmanphotography.com/

Sorrow can cause our prayers to cease. We begin to doubt and ask “How can a good God allow anything so bad?”

Sometimes in these situations, holding on to hope requires that we let go of EVERYTHING else.

The Bible records several examples of prayers that were not answered the way the petioner hoped. First, we have the family of Lazarus who prayed he would not die. He died. But Jesus eventually raised him from the dead, giving GOD bigger Glory and building the faith of many. We have Paul who prayed fervently 3x to have the “thorn in his side” removed. It never was, yet this man went on to have a successful ministry and his perseverance has given countless Christians hope. Then we have Jesus, the son of God, who prayed to have “the cup removed” from him prior to his death. It was not removed. God allowed his son to be tortured and killed which resulted in our Salvation and eternal life.

So when we are enduring, it really might not be about us. It could be about giving others HOPE to endure and believe in a God who’s strength they see lived out as we walk out our grief.

How do we hold on to our hope when the storm comes? I believe it has a lot to do with what we do when times are good. Building our relationship with Christ through daily prayer and study of His Word creates a foundation with deep roots which can anchor us when the storms come.

“In my deepest wound, I saw your glory and it dazzled me.” ~ Augustine

No one could probably relate more to deep wounds than Joseph in the Old Testament. Few innocents endured more pain and suffering than Joseph. He was sold, beaten, imprisoned, falsely accused, and imprisoned again. But his twelve years of trials put him in a position where he could spare a nation from starvation AND bless his own family. There are no pity parties recorded as he faced his trials.

One of my favorite Hymns is “It is Well with My Soul” the story behind it is amazing. Horatio Spafford (1828-1888) was a wealthy businessman who lost his only son to illness and then much of his wealth in a fire in Chicago. He and his family scheduled a trip abroad to recover from their heartbreak. His wife and four daughters set sail before him. The ship they were sailing on was broadsided by a tanker and sunk within ten minutes. The cable he received from his wife said, “Saved Alone”. It was on his way to his wife that he passed the spot in the sea where his four daughters perished – and there above the dark waters during the darkest of his days he penned the words:

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Refrain:
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

Why was Horatio able to withstand such tragedy?  He was connected with the Creator. We grow relationships by interacting. The relationship with our Creator is also forged by interaction. Daily interaction in the form of prayers and study of his word, helps us form a foundation that is not easily shaken.

He becomes our anchor and what we tether ourselves to when the storm hits.

Point to Ponder: What are you tethered to? Where do you place your hope? When the storm comes, will you be ready?

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