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Thoughts and Prayers

“The very greatest things–great thoughtsdiscoveriesinventions— have usually been nurtured in hardship, often pondered over in sorrow, and at length established with difficulty.” 
                                                                                ~ Samuel Smiles
 
For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.
                                                                                 ~ 1 John 3:11
 
     How many times have we offered our “thoughts and prayers are with you.”?  For me this means that I am taking the time, no, making the time to talk to the Creator of the universe on your behalf.  To plunge you, your situation, your hope, your loss, your gain, into the marvelous light.  Sometimes it means that I am reminding the Creator of his promises, and that you are the recipient of those promises.
     At the end of it all, I remember the Mitford series by Jan Karon and I pray the prayer that never fails:Thy Will Be Done.  I am making the request known and acknowledging that in the end, that God’s will, which we cannot begin to fathom, takes precedence.
     So many try and guess, in the moment, what that will be. So many point fingers when their prayer is not immediately answered and throw their hands up, not in praise but in exasperation or frustration because what they thought was God’s will, has not come to pass, and their (and our ) vision is limited, but…
     Recently, in the past 48 hours, there was, on social media a picture of the inside of an emergency like vehicle, pristine, sparkling clean and untouched, and beneath it was something about “first shipment of thoughts and prayers delivered to Parkland.”  Beneath it, just a few words from a respondent to the post, “how very insensitive.”    I got all ready to react, not respond when I took another look at the vehicle; there was some truth in the statement.  
      Thoughts and prayers are not visible, and what better way to physically represent them on earth, than to send them in an emergency vehicle.  “Linda, you are really stretching it here.”
        Yes, I am.  Because we have a much better vehicle for delivery, the Son of God, our advocate with the Father, who is working always, hearing the prayers of the people, whose timing is perfect.   No one like the idea that teens are so distraught that they are communicating their intent, and procuring a weapon and planning on just how to use it.  To reduce frustration to an insult was more than I could bear.  
     Just as one vote can stem the tide, one prayer can make a difference.  In Dr. Seuss’s Horton Hears a Who it all comes down to one little who not making a sound… and then “Yopp!”
and the sound breaks through.  Just like our prayers.
     Today, take some time … let your thoughts become prayers for those in leadership all over the world. Then lift them in prayer, along with all those broken folks (all of us and then some) whose thoughts turn dark with despair.  Pray that God’s will is to put someone in their path that stems the tide. Someone that makes a difference.
Thoughts and prayers are the most powerful beginning we can make.
Yopp!
Because of Him,
Linda
       
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The Breath of God

Hawaii has the key and that key is ALOHA.” 

                                 ~ Pilahi Paki
 
 
This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.  
                                   ~ John 3:16
 
     My mother loved Hawaii. It started with the Hawaiian guitar, which she learned to play when she was growing up in Massachusetts.  All she ever wanted to do was to go to Hawaii. Hawaiian music filled our  home growing up and we all learned the word Aloha and that it meant hello, goodbye, I love you; all at the same time or separate. 
     Mom made it to Hawaii several times and each time all she wanted was to return.  My husband and I took our girls to Hawaii, it was wonderful to have them experience the very essence of paradise in the land and people of Hawaii.  
      On one of our trips, we learned about the deeper meaning of aloha:
“Alo” means face, presence, front. “Ha” means to breathe. The “Ha” is the breath of God. Each time Aloha is sounded, the very essence of God is echoed. When you speak the word Aloha to another person, you are acknowledging the God within them, and also within yourself, a recognition of the Divinity within all of life. “Aloha” , in the Presence of God!
     Hawaii draws me still, and each time I smell pikake, or honeysuckle or plumeria, I think of God. Smells that also bring God to my breathing are pine and citrus.   Every time I smell these things, my soul sings aloha!
      Today, breathe God in.  Let the presence of God fill your lungs, your whole being, the notes that you sing, the children that you see, the everyday jobs and routines you experience.
       Aloha my friends. May God be with you in a special way today.
 
      Because of Him,
       Linda

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Come to the Table

“The ordinary arts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soulthan their simplicity might suggest. ” 
                ~ Thomas More
 
God loves all who hate evil,
And those who love him he keeps safe,
Snatches them from the grip of the wicked.
                 ~ Psalm 97:10
 
     My mom was a great believer in routine. Not obsessive, more like, “hugged” the routine.  We had dishtowels that she had been given that she loosely followed for washing, ironing, cleaning etc. But it was beyond that, we nearly always went to the same service at church, we had routines for getting ready for school, bed, church etc.  She did all of thise with love, as did my father who also was a fan of having a routine.
    When I complained, my mom would remind me that in times of trouble the routine would get me through.  And it did!  When I was newly divorced as a 20 something, my dad “walked” me to get my endorphins going, my mom handed me a basket of laundry to fold, or something to prepare for dinner. Setting the table so that it looked lovely was another mood booster. Tasks that let my mind move freely while keeping my hands busy.
     I find that I return to those things when trouble knocks as well.  Often, the first thing I do is clean, or fold laundry until my emotion is worked out, or I get so busy that I don’t even notice until much later, that things are much better.
     My habit for the past several years is to listen to K-LOVE on the way to and from work. It keeps my mind on the Lord, no matter what else is happening.  The lyrics are so right on target when I least expect it.
    No matter what you are going through, cleaning off the table, setting it with your best dinnerware and treating yourself like a guest,  having dinner with Jesus will always help to organize my mind and soul as well.
Come to the Table – Sidewalk Prophets
 
Come to the table!
Because of Him,
 
Linda

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Storming Heaven

To know your ruling passion, examine your castles in the air.” 

                                                                            ~ Richard Whately

 

Attention, Israel!

God, our God! God the one and only!

Love God, your God, with your whole heart: love him with all that’s in you, love him with all you’ve got!

~ Deuteronomy 6:4-5

I lost a friend this week.  After a long battle with grief and self medication, this powerhouse of a woman passed away. Her most recent scuffle resulted in her hospitalization and her husband’s.  They were not expected to live.

When this happened, it called to mind a conversation that I overheard in a doctor’s office between an older woman and a younger one.

“My mom is doing so much better.  Thank you for asking.” said the young woman.

“I stormed Heaven. I prayed night and day on her behalf.” replied the older one.

It stopped me in my tracks.  I had never heard this expression used in contemporary language.  It stuck with me.  I had been praying for my friend and her family since she lost her son at the age of 8 to a heart virus that took his life in hours.  Fade forward to the hospital where her remaining daughter shuffled between parents and their status.

     It only took me a moment to realize that if they passed it would leave their daughter with no immediate family.  Storming heaven became a daily, sometimes hourly exercise. I mention this not because of me, but because the prospect of this young woman losing the rest of her family was too much for me to bear.  I prayed, I stormed, I thanked God for hearing me.  God chose to bring them both home to their beautiful place on the water. Our only visit gave me cause to rejoice.  They seemed glad to see me, and he remarked “I never thought I’d see this place again.”

I left there with mixed emotions and continued to pray.  Soon there was a picture of dad on Facebook on a rowing machine, another that he had taken with his cell phone. He seemed to be improving, she waited for a transplant that would never come.

     I got tot her wake last night, it was so important to me to be there to hug Dad and Daughter, to say good bye in person to  my friend, to gaze at her photos, hear her music, tell funny and important stories to her relatives.  When her daughter thanked me for all I had done, my response was “I didn’t do anything.”  She rebutted with “All those prayers.”

Dear Lord, how could I deny that?  There is an image I have seen that quotes the following: “Prayer isn’t the least you can do, it is the most you can do.”  And in one silly response I had denigrated prayer to the least, because it is what I do.  This wasn’t and isn’t about me.  It was about the power of prayer and the answer that sat right in front of me giving me a hug and being happy that he was alive.

   So this devotional is really a reminder to me that the next time a person thanks me for praying, my response might indeed be, “It is the best I could do.” Storming heaven is like a fleet of gnats all buzzing with petition and praise. And it works. 

     Thank you Lord for the reminder that prayer is a powerful tool, an amazing weapon in the battles we face every day.

Because of Him,

Linda

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Love Parade!

[A]ccept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields…. 
                                       ~ Khalil Gibran, The Prophet, 1923
 
Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.
                                      ~ Philippians 4:8-9
 
     Every day at 2:00 it is time for the kindergarten to go to their special class, and by special I mean “Special”: Library, Music, Art ,Gym.  No matter where they go, they must pass the Library door.  And every day, every single day, they wave, yell out greetings, expressions of love.  It is an amazing parade.  I look forward to it every day, and there are only two kindergartens.  Coming and going they greet me.  If I happen to be by the library door, there is a flurry of hugs and “I love you!” 
     This does not only happen at 2. I happens whenever we see each other.  If fills my heart.  I have not seen a class like this in decades. So full of love and aching to share it.  They love all the folks with whom they come in contact.  They are not an easy group to handle, as with all that love comes all that energy, but the love colors the handling.  This little group is writing books already. They are raw and unfinished, and often they are the only ones who can read them to the group, but they have a heart to write.  In fact they are writing books in Library class. Small 8 page books about their families, Disney, adventures.  They fully expect that I”ll add them to the library collection.  
      And I will, because I gave them my word.
 
     Today, look for a parade, that unexpected flurry of love that may be there for you every day, but perhaps you have not been able to notice it. Whatever season your heart is in, it will gladden.
 
     Lord, thank you for the parades of love that you send every day.
     Help me to be a part of someone else’s parade.
 
Because of Him,
Linda

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Mom’s House

What is it about being at your mom’s house that lets you completely relax? ~Jana & Mitch Hunter  

Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This isn’t a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. If your child asks for bread, do you trick him with sawdust? If he asks for fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing. You’re at least decent to your own children. So don’t you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better?

 
                  ~ Matthew 7:7-11
 
     Every day I am reminded of just how fortunate I was and am.   I was raised in safety, in wisdom, in love.  My parents imparted the arts, practical life skills, an appreciation for all human beings that was inclusive. Our (my brother’s and my) exposure was somewhat limited, but everyone was deserving of respect, and love because “God loves everyone.”
     My parents lived their faith in human vessels and they gave that to my brother and I.  There was never a time when I did not feel safe with my parents.  When they said no, it was always for our good. In some cases they might have said it more often, but they made the best choices that they could.
     They saw me through all my terrible choices, loved me anyway, and loved me back to health.  
      I grew to adulthood, despite some of my best efforts. I was brazen when I turned my back on Jesus, and still my parents and Jesus continued to love me.  How could I ever be anything but relaxed in my parent’s house. For me, it was the training ground for heaven on an earthly plane.
      I am the exception to the rule, I am sure of that.  Yet, folks with no safety, folks who dread going home, folks who only feel safe when they run away have that same comfort in being prepared for the House of the Lord.
    No matter who was are, how we get to the feet of Jesus, He loves us anyway.
     Thank you Lord, for loving me anyway, even now.
 
Sidewalk Prophets
 
Because of Him,
Linda

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So Will I

I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in. 

      ~George Washington Carver

 
Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. Add up God’s Law and Prophets and this is what you get.
 
     ~ Matthew 7:12
 
So Will I – Hillsong United
 
    My devotional is simple today. 
What I want is for people to know God, in the fullness of God’s beauty.  What I want is for them to notice that nature though broken, lifts its praise on every breeze.
What I want for them is for them to know, absorb, breathe in just how much God loves them.  And act accordingly, not from law, not from rules, not from the way it is supposed to be, but to act as God’s agent, in love, in truth, in song.
 
     When I heard this song, it filled me up with so much more than this world ever had to offer, but I began to see and hear nature in a whole different way, once more.
If I spent more time in praise, I would spend less time in criticism, hurt, fear or anger.
 
     May you breathe him in today, in a way you’ve never known him before.  If you are a minister of music, I pray that you are lifted as you sing, teach, play and are able to worship as His breath fills you.  And I pray that your actions are measured in that love no matter how hard your task, or how easy.
     Because of Him,
     Linda

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