Tuesday, December 4, 2012

God Bends to Hear Me

I often think that my prayer is just one of the billions that flow out of the hearts, minds, and mouths of the world's vast population.  I picture it as in the scene from Bruce Almighty where Bruce checks God's prayer mail and is inundated with a flash flood of prayers.  Bruce is overwhelmed by the requests and simply replies "Yes" en masse. 

The truth is that God is not overwhelmed by our prayers.  He yearns for them, longing to hear his children's voices, desiring to bless us as we accept His plan for us.  One of my favorite verses is Psalm 116:2 from the New Living Translation:

"Because He bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath."

Can't you just see the Creator of the Universe bending down to hear your whispered prayer?  What a beautiful picture of God's love and compassion for us.

I am a teacher to twenty eight- and nine-year-olds.  Most of the time they are loud and demanding.  They want what they want, when they want it, and they are not afraid to say so.  But, there are times when students come to me with needs that they whisper to me; perhaps it is embarrassing.  It might be because I am intimidating, and they are afraid I will say no.  It might be simply that they are shy.  However, in order for me to hear them and to meet their needs, I must bend down to their level. 

No, God doesn't need to bend down.  He is omnipotent, knowing our needs before we even ask.  But, because God is all-loving, He bends to come near to His beloved.  He bends to hear your whispers of pain, your moans of distress, your cries of fear, your tears of confusion and loneliness.

There is another scene from that same movie that reveals the intimacy of our prayers.  Bruce, presumably still serving as God, peers into the window of his beloved's bedroom and hears her praying and sees her tears.  His heart is broken for her, and he is moved to act.  Out of all the voices crying out with their demands and their needs, God stops and listens to my prayers.    And He chooses to act.  God will not be manipulated by our tears, but He is moved by our prayers, by our desires to please Him.  He is the God who loves us and hears us.  He draws near because He cares.  He loves me.  His heart breaks for me.  And, His heart breaks for you out of that same love.

God bends down to listen.  To you.  To me.  And because He cares enough to come close to me, I will pray and praise as long as I have breath.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

It Started with a Cupful of Love

The letter was lying on top of a very large stack of papers to be graded.  "Please Open!" it read below the fold.  I easily recognized the handwriting as belonging to one of my most active wiggle-worms.

"Probably another letter tattling on someone," I thought to myself.  With a sigh, I reached and opened the note.

"Dear Mrs. Joyner," it started, with all correct capitalization.  "I hope your neck feels better."  Ahh, my students knew my grumpiness came from this big pain in the neck I have been nursing for the past several days.  I grimaced to think of that grumpiness I had unintentionally been unloading on them--demanding silence as they worked on their writing project, expecting them to not fidget in their seats at all as we planned our  Christmas door display.  I not only was a grump, I was the Grinch.  I continued to read.

"I can't wait to see you tomorrow."  I stopped, with a lump in my throat and tears filling my eyes.  I have been so empty and lonely lately.  I've felt unwanted and unappreciated.  Overwhelmed.  Over-extended.  But definitely not over-flowing with joy or peace this holy season. And with these simple words, I felt a stirring inside, similar, perhaps, to the Grinch's stirring.  Someone enjoyed me for me--not for what I could do for them or would do for them; not for any reason other than to enjoy my presence.


Sweet love!

We all need that--to be enjoyed for who we are and not for what we give or for what we can do for someone.  Sometimes we just need to be enjoyed for being!  We have so many demands on us.  I hear my name called so many times each day that I want to change it to an unlisted name.  Each time "Mrs. Joyner" is spoken, it comes attached with a demand, a need, and I am so empty I cannot rustle up enough energy to fulfill anyone's needs.  Today I just needed someone to love on me a bit.  And this child did.  He finished, "I hope you have a good day.  And I hope you have a good weekend."  I closed the letter and tucked it into my purse.  I smiled.

This small child poured a cupful of love back into the empty bucket of my soul.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Teenage boys gathered around a dining room table.  Quips and jabs, laughter and smiles.  Loud, loud, loud.  I love it.

I am a mama of one; however, I get to "mama" a lot of my son's friends.  Life is fuller, richer with the giving of oneself, the living and the loving.  I am glad that this season is full of loud, hungry, hilarious teenage boys.  And I get to be "mama".

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Another Chance to Love

Yesterday, I had a parent-teacher conference for one of my third grade students. It was part of our fall conference schedule to meet with all parents.  I didn't anticipate any surprises. This child is never a moment's trouble and always has a smile plastered across his adorable face.  He has a great sense of humor and is always neatly dressed.  I had never met his mother, but his dad had been at our Open House at the beginning of school.  My little friend always had his homework, and he always did well on every assignment.  This would be a breeze.

Dad arrived promptly.  I gushed on and on about how wonderful his son was.  When I asked if he had any questions or concerns, he replied yes.  I was somewhat taken aback until he continued.

"I just got out of prison.  I've been away for two years.  My wife tried to commit suicide and was put in a mental institution.  She is out now, but is living in another state.  I have complete custody and complete responsibility for my children.  I've never had a lot of experience as a dad.  I was the money earner.  I saw them at night and on the weekends, but I never had to take care of them before.  Now, I am everything.  I don't know how to cook.  I work as many hours as I can to provide for my family and I make pretty decent money.  The children are having to be responsible for the cleaning and laundry and such.  My son is eating one meal a day, if I can get him to eat.  I just found out my daughter is failing four out of five of her subjects in school.  I don't have any family around to help.  I'm it.  I don't know what I am doing, and I need help."

I heard the anguish in his voice and saw the pain in his heart as it splayed across his face.  Tears welled up in his eyes as he explained how overwhelmed he felt.  And for some reason, he was pouring this all out to me.  My heart broke for him, and I offered him all I had--my Hope, my Joy, my Comfort, my Jesus.

He had doubts.  He hesitated.  "I haven't ever been one to go to church.  It's not that I don't believe, because I do.  But I just don't fit in church."

And I got the chance to tell him that we do church differently.  We aren't much on dressing up.  We are a "come as you are" kind of place.  Wear your blue jeans and your boots.  Camo is fine.  You don't have to be fancy at all.  We are a bunch of believers just like you...overwhelmed, hurting, abandoned prisoners who have been set free.  And we came to Jesus just as we were.   He accepted us and made us His hands and feet.  His heart on earth. 

Now we do life together.

We do life together because life is hard.  We rely on each other--all of us--helping each other, holding hands, encouraging one another, taking care of each other's needs, lifting up the hurting.  

Because we were never meant to do it alone.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

ADD is Just Part of ADDLED

I like neat.  I like orderly.  I prefer my "things" to have places and for them to stay in those places.  I like knowing where the scissors are when I need them without having to search through the junk drawer and half a dozen other places to find them.  I love putting something where it belongs and being able to go back to it days or weeks later to find that it is still there!  There is a simple beauty in organization.

Regrettably, I am anything but organized.  I seriously have the symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder (my students frequently are on the look-out for my brain and all other items I have misplaced).  At first I thought my inability to keep up with my "things" stemmed from an overwhelmed brain and life.  I tried to deal with it by writing myself notes.  I lost the notes.  I sent myself text messages.  I lost my phone.  I tried using little tricks like repeating something over and over or sticking out a pinkie finger to associate it with what I needed to do.  I would get interrupted going from here to there and forget why the pinkie was hanging out solo. Or the phone would ring, and I would forget whatever mantra I was repeating.  You laugh, but I speak the truth!

Finally, a diagnosis and medication!  I am getting better at keeping up with those stacks of papers I juggle every day.  My sticky notes now stick to my calendar.  My phone resides in the bowels of the cavernous bag I carry daily, but I do know where it is; I just might not be able to get to it before voicemail picks up.  I've quit repeating things over and over, so that is good.  I've quit repeating things over and over, so that is good. Now I can actually finish the task at hand instead of running off to finish something I started days earlier and just remembered. 

I am finally able to let others do things for me because I know where I put all the pieces! 

What a load off my shoulders!  Now, I just have to figure out how to deal with this pinkie finger that keeps sticking out.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Chances to Love Are Often Overlooked

"If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die.  Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?"                                                                         Esther 4:14

We truly love God only when we obey him as we should, and then we know we belong to him.
                                                                                                 1 John 2:5

Our foolish pride comes from this world, and so do our selfish desires and our desire to have everything we see.  None of this comes from the Father.
                                                                                                 1 John 2:16

I didn't want to go. 

I had barely slept the night before and had to crawl out of bed at 7:30 to make a rehearsal.  I had been in town since eleven this morning and it was quickly approaching three.  I had not eaten lunch and was ravenous. On top of that, it was hot outside.  I really didn't want to go, but I had made the commitment to show up and help hand out school supplies to the citizens of our small town.  I consoled myself by deciding to only stay for a little while.

I parked my car under the one tree providing shade and headed to the pavilion.  Immediately I saw former students who ran up with quick hugs and big smiles.  Originally I planned to hand out the boxes of crayons as the children filed past filling up their new bookbags, but I noticed the largest group of children standing around the two lone teenagers painting faces.  Even working as quickly as they could, they were bogged down with more than they could handle.  I offered my services and joined them.

Two hours flew by!  I laughed and painted, talked and painted, listened and painted.  From homeschoolers to an autistic student, from Pre-K students to seventh graders, they all agreed they were eager for school to start.  Smiles lit up their faces as shared their anticipation with me.  They loved school for lots of different reasons--teachers, friends, even some favorite subjects!  (Math was easily the favored subject, though science easily took second place.)  Excitement and enthusiasm caused eyes to sparkle and smiles to quickly appear.  I was mesmerized!  I fell in love with the three little boys wanting white spotted dogs painted on their faces, the two boys wanting a Spiderman face,  those wanting to be ferocious tigers and the little girls who wanted kittens and butterflies to grace their flawless skin. 

In the midst of this, I saw God.  He was packing bookbags, hugging children, talking with mamas and daddies, giving hope to those who are hopeless.  Brown hands handed out  packs of paper, creamy hands held out crayons, freckled arms lifted tent poles.  His vision was being carried out by His beautiful body of believers. 

And He planned for me to be a part of it--in spite of my reluctance--"at such a time as this".  I am so blessed,

Friday, July 20, 2012

Waiting for Him

Several years ago, God led me to resign from my teaching job to be a stay-at-home-mom.  At the time, I was the main bread-winner.  My husband was substituting while he looked for a permanent teaching position.  I was confident that he would easily find a job.  After all, God is the one who led me to quit my job.  As the weeks turned into months, I began to fret.  Then, to add to the worry, our school system announced a hiring freeze.  How was my husband going to get a job?  Where would he get a job?  There were no postings in surrounding areas for his particular field.  I panicked!  Fear clutched my heart, and I began to doubt my decision to resign.

Immediately, in my anxiety, I began to call upon the Lord, reminding Him that He was the reason I no longer had a job.  I had been obedient in doing what He had called me to do.  How could He leave us stranded like this?  I poured it all out--my fear, my anger, my uncertainty--emptying it all out before His throne.

Then, spent from all the intense emotions, I stopped, and I listened.  I waited.  My soul began to quiet, my fears were calmed, my anger was gone.  I did not have an answer; my husband did not have a job, but I knew that God was in control. 

Two days later, the system that was my husband's first choice posted a job for his field.  It was a very small school system, with only one high school.  Usually the only way to get into that system was to wait until someone retired.  Teacher turnover rate was very low.  The odds of getting a job in that school was slim to nil.  He interviewed and was immediately hired. 

I learned something incredibly important through that experience.  And though my head knew what the Bible said, my heart had not known these truths as easily.  This incident sealed it in my heart forever:  What I see and what I know in my head is not all there is!  God is in control and He is working in a realm and in a way that I cannot fathom.

God has not forgotten me.  He has not forgotten what He told me.  He has not called me to do this thing and left me to deal with it on my own.  He has a plan!  While I am waiting in obedience, He is fulfilling that plan.  My answer did not come when I quit my job.  (That would have been great for my nerves!)  My answer did not come when I called out to Him in panic (though He did remind me to trust Him and to wait).  My answer came in His timing because He was still preparing that place.  Some would claim that we were actually waiting on people to make decisions and to create the teaching position.  And, yes, we were; however, all of that was part of God's plan.  He knew what had to happen.  He knew what the Board of Education wanted and needed.  And He was at the intersection of our needs and the BOE's needs.

My lesson was to keep believing that God is faithful.  God has a plan for me (and you!!), and He has not forgotten it.  My lesson was to continue in obedience because God is still causing it to happen even though I cannot see it!  What my eyes see and my head knows is NOT all there is.

Jeremiah 29:11-14 says "For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD.  "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.  In those days when you pray, I will listen.  If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.  I will be found by you," says the LORD.

While you are waiting in obedience, God is getting everything lined up.  In the waiting, He is asking if you truly trust Him.  You fret because you want the answer NOW, but He is not ready to reveal it yet.  Take a deep breath.  Listen.

I hear Him asking, "Do you trust Me?  Do you trust that My plan for you is better than what you can even begin to imagine?  I AM true to My word.  I AM your provider.  I AM trustworthy.  I AM faithful.  I AM your key to unlock those closed doors.  I AM working on your behalf.  I AM.  I have you, my child.  I love you, and I see you.  I have not forgotten you.  I have not passed you by.  I have not left you alone to wither in the darkness."

In the good, in the trials, in the waiting, He is working on fulfilling His promises.  He reigns!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Flooded and Stalled

     Months have passed since I have put pen to paper, fingers to computer keyboard.  Busy, busy with all the doings of a busy wife and mom, loving daughter, home-business owner, and fledgling actress, I have dried up and crumbled into a big heap of dust.  I have run too far, walked too long, strayed too far from my roots, my sustenance.  And in not pouring out my overburdened heart and soul, I find myself flooded and overwhelmed with fears and worries, much as an automobile starter can be flooded with gasoline, so that I am literally stalled and unable to start. 

     Today I refused to go any further without  a much needed break.  Pressures still pile on from every side, but I took advice and followed the lead of Jesus.   I walked away to a quiet place and prayed and read from my true Sustenance.  Obligations abound, but I needed Peace.  Worries pressed in, but I sought Hope.  Fear threatened, but I turned to my Rock.

     Taking this little bit of time to pull away for quiet restored me as though I had plunged from the highest cliff into the deepest, coolest waters.  It is quiet here.  My soul is restored.   
I do not focus on those constant demands.  My cellphone is off.  My email can wait.  I will respond to those texts and Facebook comments later. 

I needed Jesus.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Big Ego, Big Fall

There was a time when words poured out of me like water from a spout.  They were not my words, but words given to me by the Author of Life.   Words gushed from my pen, covering a page and then more, all the while filling my soul, feeding that part of me that was hungry for His touch.  This rain of Truth into my life encouraged me and filled me.  I, in turn, shared these words (now "my" words) with others so that they would minister to the wounded and encourage the downcast.  Slowly, almost imperceptibly, my ego began to grow.   My pride began to inflate.  My perspective began to change.  I started to look for man's approval, no longer wanting to share the writings for God's glory, but for my own sense of worth.  And the deluge of words from the Father that always quenched my spirit slowed to a soft rain,  trickled down to a  light drizzle.  Then it stopped altogether, becoming more than a dry spell.  I was immersed in a true drought

Proverbs 16:18 (The Message) says, "First pride, then the crash— the bigger the ego, the harder the fall."  And I had definitely crashed.  My ego had grown so large that it blocked my view of the Holy One.  I could not hear His Words, could not even process His written Word. 

"God can't stomach arrogance or pretense; believe me, he'll put those upstarts in their place."  Proverbs 16:5 cut to the heart of the issue.  It cut my heart, exposing the dark arrogance and forcing me to deal with it.  My words are nothing.  His words are LIFE.  These talents, skills, gifts I possess have nothing to do with me and everything to do with Him.  I did nothing to earn them but was blessed with them for a reasonHe gave me those talents so that whatever I write would draw the reader's heart to the Source of those words, to God Himself.  And unless He inspires and provides those words, that is all they are--mere words.  Empty words.  He is the One who breathes life into them.   He is the Author and Finisher of all.  And He alone deserves the recognition and praise.

Father, forgive my arrogance.  I want to be used by You for Your glory, for Your honor.  Root out and reveal those fleshly bits I hold so tightly that I may let them go and grab hold of You.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Stepping Out

Ok, Lord,  I am here.  It’s 5:00 AM and I wanted to stay in bed.  I came up with a million excuses and reasons why I could, why I should.  But, I kept hearing your voice saying, “Take the first step.”

So, here I am.  I don’t know if writing is what You wanted me to do this morning, but it is the first thing that came to me when I woke and saw what time it was.  I want to be obedient to You, obedient to what You have called me to do, obedient to the life You have called me to.

I wrestled, Lord, flesh wanting to stay in bed for one more hour, spirit wanting to be used by You in a mighty way, soul yearning to be who You created me to be.  Step out!  You told Abraham to go to the place that You would show him.  He moved in obedience and You gave him a nation.  I trust You.  Take me where You want me.  Move me, guide me, show me where You want me.  I have faith that You can and You will.  I am stepping out.

You are God.  You are my Creator, my Sustainer.  You are my Salvation.  You are my Rock and my Refuge.  You are my Strength and my Portion.  You are my Deliverer.  You are the Author and Perfector of my soul. 

You do not call me to walk in darkness, but You have created a path for me in Light.  You plant my feet, guiding each step over rock or pasture.  Nothing comes to me that has not passed through Your hand.  I move—this step, now—to walk in obedience to Your plan for my life.  I don't want to be on the sidelines, watching life.  I want to live what You created me for. 

Lord, here I am.  Use me for Your glory.

And, unless You have something else planned for me, I'll be here again tomorrow.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Love of the Father

This week has brought loss to two families in my circle of friends--parents losing children.  It has not been easy to watch as they begin the grieving process.  I am a bystander, grieving too, but not as a parent.  I cannot begin to imagine the pain, the grief that wells up inside to the point of flowing out of my mouth in a scream, a sob.  My heart breaks when my mind attempts to go there.

But, I glory in a God who loves us so much that He willingly chose to accept that same grief and pain that they are experiencing.   I trust in a Father who so loved me that He was willing to give His Own Son over to death in order to keep me.  I rest in the truth that He sees our every tear and captures them in a bottle.

Easter reminds us of the pain that Jesus chose and accepted for us.  He took our sin on His sinless body, became so vile in the stench of it that the Father turned away as the Son died a death that we do not have to die.  His Father saw Him in His Agony and allowed Him to suffer because of Love.

These parents now know, to some extent, the pain of the Father.  And they know the price that was paid.  Who among us would have been willing to watch our child suffer so grievously for another? I cannot imagine such Love. 

That same Father holds these precious ones. And He holds these parents, creating a new normal in their lives. He carries them through all of their todays and tomorrows, healing them until that Someday when families are re-united.

This Resurrection Sunday marks that Someday for Jesus.  And because He lives again with His Father, we wait and we pray for the days to get easier, the grief to subside, so that the memories are only precious and not painful.  We wait to be re-united with family.  We wait for Someday!

Come, Lord Jesus.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

You Never Know What to Expect

        Teaching is an adventure.  No two days are ever the same, and you never know what to expect from the minds and mouths of third graders.  There is never a dull moment!

        My students bring me an endless source of joy and amazement.  I take deep delight in their discoveries and in their growth.  I love kidding with them and watching their sense of humor mature.  Sometimes they stop me in my tracks with their humor. 

        Last Friday, one of my students made a comment about my age.  "Mrs. Joyner, you were alive in the 1950s, weren't you?" one precious child quipped.  My reply was a quick no.  He continued, "But you're fifty years old!". 
        Immediately I put my hands on my hips and with a stern look, playfully chastised him.  "I am not 50.  I am 46," I said in my best teacher voice.
        He looked me the eye, smiled, and replied, "But, it rounds to 50."

        Later that day, we were watching a film on rocks and minerals.  The phone rang again and again.  I was trying to fill out report cards but was unable to keep my focus with the constant interruptions.  I headed back to my desk to once again work on report cards after the sixth phone call.  I was halfway across the room when the phone rang again.  I turned, answered it, dealt with whatever was needed, and hung up.  I stood still, trying to recall what I was doing before that interruption.  I muttered to myself, "Where was I going?"
        To that, one quick youngster replied with perfect timing, "Crazy!"
        If only he knew how accurate he was!

        That same afternoon my students lined up to be released for buses.  As I walked to the front of the line, I heard one boy say, "Stop licking me!"  I stopped in my tracks, bowed my head, and put my hand over my eyes.  I waited, trying to decide exactly how I wanted to deal with this. 
        The students got quiet.  I heard one whisper, "What is she doing?" 
        Sadie replied, "She's having a moment."
        Out of the mouths of babes!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Comfort in Our Agony

      My heart aches for the mother who holds her daughter's hands, watching and hearing her breathe those oh-so-soft breaths created and sustained by a machine.  My soul grieves for the mother who will hold her son no more, taken too quickly in his own despair and desperation.  Tears well up in me as my eyes take in the pain all around me.  Broken dreams.  Overwhelming fears.  Lost causes.  Shattered hopes.  Destroyed plans.  No one is immune.  We all hurt.
     Father, Your people writhe with real pain that cannot be spoken away, dreamed away.  Pain that pierces the very core of our beings.  Father!  We cry out for You to move!  We cry out for You to heal.  We cry out, O God, for You to hold us and be our Victory. 
     And You have heard us in our agony.  You have seen us from  before the beginning of time, and You knew the pain of our today.  You knew, and You loved us. So you sent a Healer.  You sent a Comforter.  You sent our Redeemer.  You sent us   Jesus! 

In Christ Alone
In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm

What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand

In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless Babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save

'Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live, I live

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again

And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny

No power of hell, no scheme of man
Could ever pluck me from His hand
'Til He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I stand

Monday, April 2, 2012

We Wait for Joy

An entire state away, a family waits and worships as their tiny two-year-old succumbs to the ravages of cancer.  Sweet Piper has battled valiantly; the leukemia has just been too vicious in its attack.  Her mama writes, recording for a world to see, all the struggles and the victories.  How it hurts now to read her words.  How much more it hurts her to write them!

We have watched and waited, we have praised and prayed, and we have hoped with a hope that can only come from a faithful God.  He has heard our prayers--those uttered by family, by friends, by friends of friends, and by strangers alike.  He has not ignored our pleas, nor is He capricious in which prayers He chooses to answer.  He is God.  He sees a thousand tomorrows while we can only see the here and now.  He sees the beauty that will come while we can only see the dark ashes that are our now. 

I do not know Piper, nor do I know her parents.  I've never met them face-to-face, and, yet, I've never been so touched by strangers.  I am a friend of a friend who has heard the story and wished and prayed and waited for God to move in Sweet Piper's life.  And though He did not move according to my will, He did move.  He has moved to make Sweet Piper's life count.   He has blessed Linley's journey even as she has her head shaved to honor her sister's fight.   He has used her father's strength and brokenness to show a father's love.  And He has magnified her mother's hope and pain, giving words to both so that all could know and see how great is her GodIs there any greater purpose for our own lives than to touch others for our Father?  Sweet Piper has served Him well.

Sorrow is the bitter sting of letting go long before we desire.  It lingers long, as we wait for morning, as we wait for joy, for He has promised that joy will come in the morning.  And His promises are true.  Lord Jesus, we wait for the Joy.  We wait for You.

For her mother's blog, please go to www.needhamcrew.blogspot.com.
Sweet blessings.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Prayers for Piper

Today, I send you to a fellow blogger's page "The Needham Family".  Young Piper has been diagnosed with luekemia for a third time and is battling for her life.  Her mother blogs about their incredible journey and God's amazing grace.  Click on the link below to become part of Piper's prayer warriors.  Her journey will change your life.

Would you please join us in praying for her miraculous and complete healing, in Jesus's name? 


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I Resolve...Parenting is Hard!

Parenting is hard.  Let me say it again:  PARENTING IS HARD!

I am weary today. I so long to reach a place where the incline isn't so steep, the rocks so rough, the wind so strong. I have walked this precarious precipice for days, weeks even. I long for a place of rest, a shallow refuge hollowed out in the wall of this mountain I am traversing. My body does not falter at the journey ahead as much as my mind and spirit do.

These are the times when I long for home
These are the times I turn on the music and sing my prayers to my wise King.
These are the times I abandon everything else and lay prostrate at His feet.
These are the times I run to Him for His touch.

Then, it is at the time that I am renewed, refreshed, reminded that He has me...always.


I am reading Resolution for Women, the book written as a companion to the movie Courageous. I'm devouring it, disciplining myself to consume one section at a time so as to allow the precept to take root in me. I want to grow into the woman God created me to be; I want to be worthy of the life He has blessed me with. I do not want to live my todays so desperately looking for better tomorrows that I forget to LIVE today. I want to be present in the NOW.

That being said, I am so grateful that God put the book in my life.  I needed it last night.  I need it today...to remind me that LOVE is tough but so worth it.  To remind me that THIS is the journey...difficult or not.  THIS is the place God put me on purpose...to do His good work in my household, in my workplace, in my friendships. 

(And while I am eagerly looking forward to the day that teenage angst is over and done with, I also dread that very day.)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

More than "Good Enough"

     I cried through the entire movie Courageous

     It was a tear-jerker for sure, but my tears were pouring from a wounded heart.  I am running out of time--important time.  My son is on the brink of adulthood and my days of influence are dwindling.   My heart's desire is to be the best mother I can be.  However, my fifteen year performance has been less than stellar.  I forget to make sure my child eats something green (or quasi-healthy) everyday.  I forget to wash an important article of clothing needed NOW.  I mess up.  I give up.  I lose sight of where I am headed.  I lose my way.  I find myself measuring my worth and my performance by the world's standards, and I come up short!  Only God knows how short I come to His standards.  I want a do-over!

     So when I saw the hearts of those fathers in Courageous, I felt a quickening in my spirit.  I want to be more than a "good enough" mother.  I want to be the mother that God created me to be.  This is my journey to become that woman, that wife, that mother and nothing less.  I resolve to let God move in me to make me the person He planned all along.  I only have so long on this earth; I want to get it right. 

     After all, there are no do-overs.  There's only today.

     Father, my heart aches for the time I've wasted, the opportunities I've lost.  My child is more than half grown and I have not been the mother You've created me to be.  I cannot "do-over" the yesterdays, but I resolve to make all of my todays count.  Today I will live in the moments--ALL the moments--and I will seek to be the mother You want me to be every step of the way.  I can only do this through Your strength, Your grace, and Your mercy.  Help me to be more than "good enough".  Help me to fulfill the calling You placed upon my life.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Good, Better, Best

I've been fasting for weeks now, praying a bold prayer for salvation, restoration, freedom, and provision for someone.  As I near the end of my self-imposed fast, I long to see the fruition of my prayers.  Things have improved.  Things are good, but I long for the better.  I long to see the truth pouring from this one's life.

I know that God has not ignored my prayers and petitions.  I know that He sees the sacrifice of my fasting.  I know that He has my answer.  I just want it now.  I don't want to wait another day, another month, another year of this person's life.  I want freedom for him now!

I know God has a plan, and I know it is in the works.  I know my answer is on the way.  I do not know what causes the delay, so I wait impatiently.  And in my impatience, I so want to take control of what is not mine to control.  I take a deep breath and pray:  My ways, are not Your ways, Father.  My plan is not Your plan.  YOUR plan, O Lord, is not better; it is best.

Just help me to wait on it.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Is Anything too Hard for the Lord?

I've drawn a circle in the sand, much like Honi, the eccentric sage of first century BC Jerusalem.  In a drought-ridden land, Honi took a risk, drew a circle in the sand, and prayed to Almighty God for rain, saying he would not leave the circle (or stop praying) until God poured down liquid relief from the heavens.  In a beautiful move of God, rain quenched the thirsty land.

I, too, am thirsty.  I am thirsty for God to move in a miraculous manner; I am begging Him to move where only He can move and move like only He can move.  HE has my answer, and like Honi of old, I'm not going anywhere until this prayer is answered.

My prayer is a big one.  No one, including me, would ever have thought to pray this particular prayer.  In fact, my prayer started small:  salvation, freedom, and restoration for someone close to me.  It really isn't a small prayer, but compared to the one I am praying now, that one was tiny!  God showed me last night that I wasn't praying big enough, bold enough prayers.  He wants to do something amazing (miraculous even), but I had to step up and take a risk.

I drew a circle, placed his name in it, and claimed the victory for this new thing--salvation, yes; freedom--yes; restoration--yes.  But, now I am praying that this person will preach the Good News, and he will work with those who have addictions, showing them the way to freedom. 

I've been waiting for thirty years for the answer to my small prayer.  I have a feeling (a peaceful feeling) that the answer to my big new prayer is just around the corner.

No one else could do this.  No one else would even think to pray this prayer for this fellow.  God told me to pray boldly.  When it is accomplished, everyone will say, "This is from God!" 

Is anything too hard for the Lord?  No.  There is nothing that God can't do.  This truly will be miraculous!  And I can't wait to have a front row seat.

Thankful Thursday

I have a friend from high school who unexpectedly lost her husband just a few days before Christmas.  His funeral was to be on Friday, the eve of Christmas Eve.  On Thursday she posted, as she always does, her Thankful Thursday list.  It struck me that even in her grief, she had much that made her grateful--one key piece being the last nine-and-a-half years being married to her "love sweet love".

Today is Thursday.  It is Thankful Thursday for me too.

What are you grateful for?  Here's my list.

1.  I am grateful for Christian writers who hear the voice of God and obey Him.  I am where I am in my life's journey because of those countless writers who have poured into me with their revelations from God. 

2.  I am grateful for the promises of God!  That is a biggie!  I am holding tight to the promise that He has a plan for each of us, a plan that is beneficial to us and not harmful.  I am holding tight to this promise for loved one, that understanding would come and give birth to new life in Jesus.  Jesus isn't giving up on my loved one, and neither am I.  I pray daily.

3.  I am forever grateful that I can pray!  I am so humbled that I can pour my heart out before God on His throne, and He bends down to listen to me

Who am I that He is mindful of me?  I am His created, His beloved.  And for that I am grateful.

Have a blessed Thankful Thursday.