Monday, June 30, 2014

The Tree Surgeon

Dear Lord,

When I woke up in the morning to the sounds of a large machine, I assumed it was the trash truck that my son so loves to watch.  Upon further investigation, however, my husband and I realized that it was “The Tree Surgeon” with his cherry picker and wood chipper.  As You know, we’ve had a tree in the front yard that has needed trimming for some time, but haven’t really had the money to pay someone to come out.  Thank You that my husband decided to ask the man for an estimate.

As we prepare to sell our home within the next year, we have a number of items on the list, and, of course, only so much money to do it all.  Thank You that You not only brought “The Tree Surgeon” into our area so that we didn’t have to pay the hefty fuel charge, but that he was also a believer, and cut us a deal.  You even provided for another item on our list in the wood chips that he sold us - also at a discounted price.  Only You could have worked that out so perfectly, Lord, and we are so thankful!


In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Songs of Praise

Dear Lord,

Thank You that we can praise You in song.  Songs can be used as a great instrument to help bring us back to Your truths.  Whether it's song made directly from Scripture, or something that focuses on Your awesome and loving character, songs of praise can help me shift my focus from myself and my circumstances to You.  No matter my circumstances, You are in control of them, and working “…all things together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Thank You that I don’t have to focus on myself, on my sin, and on my worries.  You are much greater than I and worthy of praise, You paid the price for my sin and it is finished, and I can cast all my worries on You, because You care for me.  Thank You, thank You, thank You, my Lord.  Thank You that You renew my mind in Your truth.


In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Story Ideas

Dear Lord,

Thank You for helping me think through some of my story ideas.  As You know, I’ve been working on the background for my novel, and I’ve been dissatisfied with a key element that ties many things in.  Since I want the novel to glorify You, and the protagonist lives in a fantasy world, I have been considering if and how to incorporate Your Word and its instruction.  

I discovered that incorporating Your truth directly into the fantasy was a bit jarring, so that means that I have to create a fantasy version of You and Your Word specifically for the novel.  Sort of like what C.S. Lewis did in Narnia.  My main trouble is that I want to bring out some of Your truth and how it really applies to our lives to help us live in Your love, grace, freedom, and victory.  This calls for an interesting combination of fantasy and logic.

And so I thank You for a particular story idea that has solved a number of issues in theory, if I still need to work out some details.  Thank You, too, that, though I don’t have the time to continue writing the novel, that doesn’t mean that I have to give up working on it.  I can still think on it from time to time to keep it fresh, which actually helps me to solidify the background world and better outline the parts that I haven’t written yet.  Thank You for the fun of a project that I pray will glorify You.


In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Passions

Dear Lord,

Thank You that You created us with passions.  We each have certain things that we get excited about - often related to one of our talents.  I am enjoying my passion for writing fantasy.  As You know, I have set my novel aside until I finish my 1,000 thankful things, since I don’t have much more time to write beyond the time this takes.  However, in my spare moments of thinking, I have thought more about my novel of late.

It’s a bit of a puzzle, really.  I truly want the novel to glorify You, and my thoughts have centered around the best way to do that within the novel.  Or, well, the trilogy it will eventually be.  Thank You that everything we do can glorify You, including - and especially! - our passions!

In Jesus’ Name, amen.

My Breakdown

2 Corinthians 12:9
And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

Dear Lord,

I’m sure You saw my efforts to shift my focus when I realized at work that my thoughts were drifting and I was slipping down the slope of depression.  I knew that I was centering my thoughts on something that wasn’t profitable - I was Brooding - but I wanted to brood.  I felt like there was something that I needed to figure out, as though by brooding on it long enough, I could solve the issue.  So, as You know, I inevitably sank into that pit, and broke down crying at work.  I couldn’t focus on my tasks, I couldn’t focus on You, and I was glad no one was there to see me fall.  

Even in the midst of my depression, You gave me the clarity to know what had happened, why, and that I needed to ask for help.  So I texted the best human help You gave me:  my husband.  Thank You for the words You gave him to remind me that my worth doesn’t come from usefulness.  It takes such a different kind of thinking to follow You, and it can be hard to remember how to shift back to it when in the midst of the world’s view.  My worth is not based on anything that I do, but on the fact that You chose to Love me, to save me, and to give me Your moment-by-moment Grace.  You drove that home the next day with 2 Corinthians 12:9.

Thank You, Lord, for my breakdown, that You used it to show me how better to remember Your way of thinking - the shift in focus that I need.  Each time You lead me along that path, it becomes easier to find the way.  Not if I look on my own, though, which just reaffirms that I need to look to You first.  To ask for Your help to find Your path and shift in focus.  Thank You for helping me to rejoice in the work that You did in me through my breakdown.


In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Monday, June 16, 2014

"Blessed Be Your Name"

“Blessed be Your name
When the sun’s shining down on me
When the world’s all as it should be
Blessed be Your name.

“Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

“Every blessing You pour out I’ll
Turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

“Blessed be the name of the Lord…”
-From the song “Blessed Be Your Name” by Matt Redman

Dear Lord,

Thank You for the song “Blessed Be Your Name.”  After the sermon that our pastor preached on Romans 5:3-5 (see Joy in the Midst of Trials), to sing this song really drove the application home.  Your blessings aren’t only the things that the world sees as good (like a good day, more money, or even a hug at the right time), but the trials that we face are also Your blessings.  It takes a true shift in focus to see that, but when we look at the world through Your eyes, then we see Your Victory.

Help me to keep my focus on You, Lord.  I am reminded of the line from the song “I Need Your Love” by Pentatonix (Calvin Harris feat. Ellie Goulding Cover) that says, “When everything’s wrong, you make it right.”  I know it wasn’t originally written in reference to You, but I can apply it that way in some respects.  When I am looking at the world around me and see all that is “wrong,” I can look up to You and recognize that in Your sovereignty, You allowed all of this for my good, and while it still hurts, that’s okay, because You make everything right.  There is nothing in this world apart from Your will, and You are faithful to “cause all things to work together for good to those who love God[.]”

So help me in every blessing - whether trial or pleasure - to turn it back to You in praise.  Help me to recognize Your blessings, and to rejoice in Your love.  Thank You for Your Victory.

In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Joy in the Midst of Trials

Romans 5:3-5
“And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
Dear Lord,

Thank You for the sermon that our pastor preached on Romans 5:3-5 this past Sunday.  Though I haven’t been through any truly great tribulations of late, I have been thinking for awhile on the idea of how to act in their midst.  It seems to me that it is one thing to have peace in the midst of my trials, and quite another to be thankful for them, or to “exult” in them.  I am glad to have achieved peace in their midst, but I feel Your call to go beyond that and to be thankful for them.  

While I have attained Your peace in the midst of trials through the knowledge in my heart that You are both sovereign and good, it appears that I let my personal comfort get in the way of achieving thankfulness for trials.  If You are both sovereign and good, then certainly, I should be thanking You for everything.  Yet I hurt.  What I have not yet fully mastered (though I have had peeks!) is to shift my focus off of the personal pain.  I do not always see the pain as Your tool, but as a destructive force against me upon which I continue to focus until it seems greater than You.

Yet You are completely sovereign and completely good (Romans 8:28-29).  Thank You, Lord, that You love us so much, that we can have Your joy in the midst of trials.  Thank You that we can not only have peace, but be thankful for the very trial that hurts us, because You are the One in control, using that trial and pain to make us more like Your Son; to always give You glory; to enjoy You even in the midst of pain.


In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

A Visit to an Old Friend

Dear Lord,

Thank You for the opportunity yesterday to go visit and catch up with an old friend.  It seems as though it’s been ages since we last got to talk, and now that she has a new baby and is newly a stay-at-home-mom, it was great to get to go see her and the newborn.  Thank You that she has people upon whom she can call for help, and thank You for granting her this adopted child.  I pray that You grant her the patience and endurance to act as Your example not only to her baby, but also to her husband.  Thank You, too, for the encouragement and excitement she had for me and where my family is in life.  I pray that You would show me how to be an encouragement to her of Your truth.


In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Sleep Talk

Dear Lord,

I rather enjoy one of the quirks that You gave my husband.  As I ready myself for sleep, I will sometimes hear sudden statements or questions from my sleeping husband.  Last night it was, “Ummm… we don’t want anything hanging from the ceiling, please.”  He even said it in a bit of a brook-no-nonsense voice.

Smiling to myself, I asked him, “So no spiders?”

I heard a quick exhalation of breath in a laugh, but he was still asleep.  He doesn’t remember it, either, and we’re both curious what he was dreaming about.

Thank You for those moments, Lord.  I really enjoy my husband’s quirks, and getting to share them with You in the moment, and even with him later as we both laugh over it.  Witnessing his quirks seems to be one of those ways in which I feel closer to him, and I feel like the closer I am to my husband, the more I honor You.

Thank You for that opportunity, Lord, and I pray that I stay alert for other quirks and opportunities.

In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Lawns

Dear Lord,

Since we all put the lawn into my mother-in-law’s backyard, it has been nice to go outside and enjoy it.  Our little man has enjoyed it, too.  He runs back and forth on it, spins around on it, and has enjoyed watching the sprinklers (even if he is a little hesitant about going in them).  It has been nice, too, to go out and lie on the nice cool lawn while my little man plays.  Thank You for the luxury of a lawn.


In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Our Son's Sandbox

Dear Lord,

Thank You that my parents gave our little man a sandbox.  We finally got it set up and ready for the sand, so my dad brought it yesterday.  Little Man has had sooo much fun with it!  It may be a bit difficult to train him not to get the sand outside of the sandbox, but at least he isn’t terrible about it.  We have shown him how to make roads for his dump trucks, cars, and tractors; make a sandcastle with his buckets; make “stairs” down into a hole; and a number of other things.  Not to mention he just likes to tromp through the sand.  In other words, I am very thankful for the hours of endless fun that our son’s sandbox elicits from his imagination.

Thank You, Lord, for an easy way to care for my son for awhile.  He gets to be outside using his imagination, and it even has a shade from the sun.  In the midst of another wave of heightened pain, it is a blessing to have an easy way to care for him.  Thank You, Lord, for Your care for me.


In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Funnies

Dear Lord,

Thank You for things that make me laugh so hard that I cry.  Or can’t breathe.  Or both… I must admit I rather enjoy that.  Thank You for creating humor.  It makes a hard situation easier.  It seems to me in tough situations that considering the humorous side can help keep me humble.  It isn’t about me.

Thank You, Lord, for “funnies:” those things that make us laugh.  May we keep our humor clean and honoring to You.


In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

A Little at a Time

Dear Lord,

Thank You for the concept of accomplishing things a little at a time.  There are soooo many projects that I would never have accomplished had I tried to do them all at once.  Lately, the three biggest things on my list are my second book (finished copying and formatting the content!), my knitting (finished an afghan!), and the filing at home (weeded out a significant amount of what I don’t need).  It’s funny how the concept can seem unfeasible, yet when put in practice, it isn’t long before I’m much farther than I thought I’d be!

The next area in which my husband and I intend to use this concept (and bit of Your wisdom) is in our finances.  This might be the hardest area in which to apply and stick with saving a little at a time.  The goal can be so daunting sometimes!  (We want to save a downpayment for a home in town.)  Yet, we’ve seen You work in our finances through a little at a time in the past.  Your math is impressive!  Thank You for Your past help, and we pray for Your help in this goal, as well.  Help us to be steadfast in our budget “belt-cinching” and to glorify You as we do.


In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Monday, June 2, 2014

His Job Offer

Dear Lord,

Thank You so much for opening this door for my husband (and our family!).  We know that this job is from You, since my husband doesn’t actually have all of the qualifications.  We know he can learn them, but it would be taking a chance from the company’s perspective.  Thank You for my husband’s drive and motivation to learn and research, and for the knowledge that he’ll put that to good use to do this job.  Thank You, too, that the salary is more than we were expecting.

Lord, we are overwhelmed by Your goodness, and we rejoice in Your grace!  I pray that we would seek Your wisdom in what to do with our new resources.  That is, that we would seek to please You with them more than ourselves.  You are so good to us!  Give us wisdom to recognize Your timing for each new step that we take with the new resources You’ve given us.  Help us to remain humble in the knowledge of Your love.


In Jesus’ Name, amen.

The "Sleep" Book

Dear Lord,

Thank You for the “sleep book,” as my son has dubbed it.  This is often my go-to book for a bedtime story, mostly because he loves it.  (It’s called “Time for Bed” by Mem Fox.)  It’s simple enough (and yet interesting enough) that I was able to memorize it, which means that I can recite it to him for nap time even if we don’t have the book with us.  This makes nap time a bit easier on Mommy!

Thank You that he enjoys looking at each of the animals, looks for the moon and stars in the background, and even will point things out to the imagined book before him when I recite it.  It’s not quite a bedtime ritual, but it’s close.  I love to cuddle him as I read or recite it, and he will usually hold still for it, which is also a great bonus.  His cute little, “Again!” afterwards makes me smile - even if I don’t grant the request.  Thank You, Lord, for how You have used the “sleep” book in my relationship with my son.

In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Up a Little Longer

Dear Lord,

Not that I want to purposely stay up later just in case, but I have been thankful on a surprising number of occasions when my little man woke up in the middle of his night, and I had not yet gone to bed.  It’s so much easier to get up and take care of him when I haven’t actually gone to sleep yet.  I know that it is Your timing when he wakes on a night that I was up a little longer.  Thank You so much, Lord, for Your care.


In Jesus’ Name, amen.