The Porch

View from my swing

View from my swing

A cup of green tea and my Bible accompany me to the swing on my screened-in porch.  The humid July day requires the ceiling fans to be pushing the small amount of cool air available for a few hours.  The furnishings remind me of people in our past who have blessed our lives and to pray for them.

The black wrought iron table and chairs were on my in-law’s porch the 11 years they lived near us – just off Shekinah Lane.  The overflow of relatives sat at this table for many family gatherings.  So this set reminds me to pray for family.  Also, on the table is a twig man made by talented neighbor – bless her Lord.

Warning sign

Warning sign

The “Do not Pee from the Porch” sign brings a chuckle of a Sunday School class Christmas party.  The sign was transferred around through a White Elephant game.  We won it.  Dear friends sharing the celebration of Christmas with fun times. Bless them Lord. Also, my grandson who the sign applied to when he was younger.

A wood plant stand was made by a boy at Teen Ranch in Michigan causing memories of our “boys” who are now men –  praying the short time they lived at the ranch they were exposed to the Gospel in flesh patterned by staff who loved them in the Lord.

A plaque from my daughter-in-law encourages “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” She is going through a time of physical pain and can use this thought and my prayers.

Plants thriving in the heat of summer – one from former co-worker, another a gift from a neighbor when my husband had surgery.  These plants have grown, been divided and are flourishing.  May my prayers increase the blessings for my friends.

Tall table for a view

Tall table for a view

A tall table and three chairs make our mountain view easier to see – a gift from neighbors who are struggling now with major surgery.  Please heal and restore Lord.

Wicker chairs from a new friend look so elegant on our porch.  Bless my friend as she helps me finish my book, Shekinah Lane, to be printed soon.

Welcome wicker

Welcome wicker

Can’t help but think of my economical husband who did not want me to purchase furniture for the porch.  Did he know, or did God know that I needed these gifts to help me appreciate family and friends, and pray for them in my quiet time on the porch?

Zephaniah 3:17 New King James Version (NKJV)

17 The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”

 

Do you think before you speak?

During a recent bout with laryngitis I was reminded of the number of words a woman uses daily versus the number a man uses. Louann Brizendine who wrote The Female Brain concluded that women use 20,000 words per day while men use 7,000. More recent studies do not agree with his findings. But in my house, it is so true.

Only able to whisper for four days was frustrating enough but when your husband is hard think.before.speakof hearing and especially cannot hear a whisper, it was double exasperation. I wrote him notes to communicate. At one point even resorted to charades to get him to “listen” to me.

When John returned from an appointment I was waiting for him to tell me what the doctor said. He conveniently handed me a hand written note from the doctor (she is female) telling me how she changed his medications.  Since I usually accompany him to visits she knew I would be interested in new information.

At lunch in a restaurant, I tried to get John to talk to me by motion with my fingers. He said, “I don’t have anything to talk about.” Do you see why I agree about the number of words a man speaks in a day? I could have talked all during lunch.

Thankfully during this quiet time, I was reminded of my recent commitment to “be positive in my attitude and speech toward my husband and family.” Since I had to either whisper, write a note or act out my desired communication, it gave me time to think instead of just react. Many times I just say what comes to my mind instead of filtering it through a desire to be positive and concerned how it will be accepted by the recipient.

Possibly my heavenly Father was helping me keep my commitment. Ok, Lord, help me think before I speak and please help me be able to converse above a whisper soon.

Psalms 19:14(KJV)

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.

Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

 Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

First not possible without last

An evaluation of my book proposal arrived.  The same questions were posed, the same things I have been wrestling with for over three years – Who is your audience? Why are you writing? What is the thread that will pull the book together?

After searching my first five chapters and the questions presented by the editor I answered the questions.  Who is your audience? – My family and friends mostly, really anyone who wants to follow God (although I learned that if you say anyone that means “no one”).  Why write – to show how God worked in our lives.  What is the one thread to pull it together?  – The glory of God.  Seemed simple enough to me.  But it was not enough.  Or it was not clear enough.

Examining my writing and trying to answer the questions, I prayed for wisdom to help me find that thread and something people who read my book can grasp for their lives.

Then the inspiration came.

I just reviewed the chapter about our time in Mississippi and the small church my husband served that needed a piano player.  We prayed for a piano player and God provided five piano players.

I was one of the piano players in the Mississippi church although not much of an answer to prayer since I was very limited in ability.  Although I have not played much since my husband retired from preaching ten years ago, I was impressed – no God seemed to speak directly to me,

“Go downstairs to the piano.”pat.piano

Even though my piano skills are still limited, I love to play old hymns and choruses and worship the Lord.  Thinking the Lord wanted me to worship and take my mind off the book for a while, I obeyed.

The hymnal was open to the chorus on the right side of the page “Oh How He Loves You and Me.”  Surprisingly I picked up the song in A flat and remembered the chord inversions and arpeggios I learned years ago in an adult piano course.

After relaxing my mind I turned to the left hand page and the song was a familiar hymn “My Saviors Love.”  You may know it better by the first line, “I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene.”  After playing this song for a few verses, I thought, “Ok, the love of God.  Yes, that’s what I am trying to convey in my writing.”

Then I noticed the scripture listed under the title of “My Saviors Love.”  It showed, “The Son of God loved me and gave himself for me.”  Then I observed the scripture reference Galatians 2:20.  My life verse is Gal 2:20.  A chill of confirmation of God’s purpose.

I always concentrated on the first part of that verse – Christ living in me –  and how I determine to live by faith in the Son of God.  Yes, but it seems God wants me to focus on the last part  – for the first is not possible without the last.  Here is the verse:

Gal. 2:  20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Then I looked at the scripture under the song, “Oh How He Loves You and Me.”  The verse is John 15:9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.”  Another Holy Spirit chill.  This is the concept used in my book introduction from John 17 where Jesus shares his high priestly prayer.  Here is an excerpt:

In John 17, known as the High Priestly Prayer of Jesus, verse 23 says God loves us even as he loves Jesus.  Hard to comprehend he could love us that much!  Reading this chapter again recently I realize not only does God loves us as much as He loved Jesus, but Jesus shared the glory God gave him with us that we may be one so that the world may know about him.  That is powerful.  God gives us his Shekinah glory through Jesus.

John 17:20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.  24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

Have I found the thread to pull the book together?  I’m not sure.  I do know that the purpose of the book is to share the stories of our lives and help readers know that Jesus loves them and gave himself for them.  They cannot live for him until they truly comprehend how much he loves them.  For the first is not possible without the last.

 

My Sister Needs You

Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed with the needs around you?  How can I encourage my sister?  I worry for her, her health, her state of mind.  What can I do?  I feel so helpless.  Lord, please help me to extend hope and encouragement to her.

Her husband is terminal.

She has no husband.

Her child is wayward.

She received a bad report from the doctor.

Her life is so busy with children and responsibilities are so great.

She is facing an empty nest.

She is alone.

She is taking care of an elderly parent.

She doesn’t know how she will pay her bills this month.

Then I find the verse in Philippians 4:4-7

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

peace2

God’s word always comes through with just what is needed.  I may be helpless but he is able in every situation.

Please Lord give her your peace.  I cannot begin to know her pain, feel her hurt, and comprehend her desolation.  But you comfort the grieving, uplift the discouraged and give faith when there is no hope.  Be her rock, her refuge and her redeemer.  Be her husband, her hope, her haven of rest.

Help her to realize that Jesus is interceding for her and me too Lord.

 Psalm 62:6 NIV)Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.

Psalm 91:2 (NIV)I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

Isaiah 54:5 (NIV)For your Maker is your husband—the Lord Almighty is his name—the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer;he is called the God of all the earth.

Romans 8:34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one.  Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.

interceding

 

Thank you Jesus for interceding for my sisters and for giving me your word to strengthen my faith in you.  You do all things well.

Remember sweet sister Jesus is interceding for you!  And I agree with his prayer!

 

 

Forget to pray?

We arrived at the doctor’s office and they prepped my husband for surgery.  The doctor entered the room and stopped, placing his hand on John’s shoulder, “I pray with all my patients prior to surgery, do you mind if I pray for you?”

 

twins

Have you ever intended to ask for prayer and because of busyness forgot to ask?  In preparation for my husband’s surgery I remembered to eliminate vitamins and medicines that might be blood thinners.  His surgery was scheduled on our calendar.

Doctor appointments, preparing food for a friend, and playing golf the day before the surgery (because he would not be able to play for two weeks) filled my schedule.  I failed to contact family and let them know the specific time of the surgery.

Sometimes we think we can handle it, right?  “I’ve got this” we convey to others.  It was only a minor surgery to remove a small sore on his arm.  The doctor had biopsied it a few weeks before.  The result was basil cell carcinoma cancer.  Not to worry right?

The day of the surgery, I talked to my sister on the phone and told her the results of the biopsy.  She shared with me that her husband’s skin cancer began as a basil cell carcinoma.  Her husband died two months ago from skin cancer.

Kind of changed the scenario.  Maybe it was not just a minor surgery.  No time now to contact people to pray.  I needed to be at my computer, just can’t text that much information on my phone.

How often do we have the attitude “I’ve got this.”  In the busyness of life we somehow think we are in control of things.  The smartphone keeps us organized with our calendars and to do lists.  We are self-sufficient in so many areas.

The definition of self-sufficient is: – able to maintain oneself or itself without outside aid; capable of providing for one’s own needs.  We operate that way most of the time, don’t we.  At least I do.  Sure, I pray and seek God’s guidance and help.  But we need others to come along side of us and share the burdens of life.

Here are some suggestions to help us remember to ask for prayer:

  • Plan ahead – place prayer request on your calendar
  • Email friends and family of need
  • Contact your church
  • Share need with prayer groups
  • Facebook – good for prayer requests

Praise God, he had someone pray for my husband even though I forgot to ask for prayer.  What a comfort the prayers of the doctor were to my remorseful soul.  Thank God for a Christian doctor.

Are you drifting into self-sufficiency and not relying on the prayers of friends and family?  Maybe it’s time to seek the support of others.  But most important, seek the all sufficiency of God.  He is our greatest resource.

 

2 Corinthians 3:5 King James Version (KJV)

Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;

 

 

How to Temper Your Tone

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Was it necessary to speak to me in that tone?
“Not your wife, she is always so sweet,” my neighbor said.  My husband was teasing me about being difficult to please and demanding as our neighbor finished the installation of my new dishwasher.
 
I smiled as my neighbor left and wondered if my husband was thinking how his wife’s sweet words could turn sour at times.  Sad how we are so sweet to others and hurt the ones we love the most.  
On our way to the golf course the next morning my husband asked me to call someone for him as he drove.  Flustered with rushing to get ready, and trying to drink my breakfast shake, I blurted out, “Why do I have to do it now, can’t you wait until we get to town?”
 
He graciously responded, “Was it necessary to speak to me in that tone?”  What a wise man I have.  He could have fueled the fire by being as rude as I was.  But instead he spoke the truth in love.  And the truth hurts.  I’m so glad he loves me enough to confront me with my behavior.
 
Why is it so easy to temper our tone at work or at church and then allow our tone to turn sour at home and cause offense and hurt those closest to us.  Sometimes I think we get away with it and are not held accountable in a loving way by our spouse or whoever is in our home.  It takes someone being willing to tell us how we hurt them and suggest ways to improve our behavior.
 
My husband, a counselor by training, uses his skills and compassion with other family members as well.  It is never too late to confront. 
 
His mother (in her eighties) was very controlling and “ruled the roost” as the saying goes for many years.  His father (in his nineties) was a very kind, gracious man and allowed her to dominate him. 
 
His father was placed on antidepressant medication which made him aggressive. 
One day when she was sharp in talking to him, he replied gruffly and told her to leave him alone.  She was hurt and later told her counselor son “your father was so ugly to me today.” 
 
This gave my husband the opportunity to speak the truth in love to his mom.  No one ever talked to her about how unkind she was to her sweet man.  She struggled but submitted to allowing God to change her attitude and her words. 
 
Just a few months later, her last words as she collapsed in her son’s arms were, “Please let me go – I need to check on your father.”



 
I’m so thankful my husband did not wait to challenge me with my attitude and tone.   I pray God will help me to think before I speak.  Also may my words and attitude show my husband he is the most important person in my life, and I love him enough to allow him to confront me when I am unkind.


  •    Do we use a different tone when talking to our family than we use with clients,
    neighbors or friends?
  •    Are we quick to say hurtful things or be impatient with our loved ones?
  •    Are we willing to love enough to be confronted with our behavior and attitude?

 

Father please help us to be clothed with your compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience to the ones we love the most.
 
God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love.

 

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Unlimited Data Plan

“I love my phone.”  “I hate my phone.”  How can one be so fickle?  When you upgrade to a new cell phone it is easy! 
 
After using an android smart phone for several years, I upgraded to a newer version.  At the same time my husband changed from a flip phone with no data plan to an android.  I convinced him it was time to join the “smart phone” generation. 
 
My son and his family were at our house for Sunday dinner and we were all trying to help Papaw with his phone.  His new phone has a speaking capability and you must use the words exactly to activate the service.  He needs to say, “OK Google now,” wait for the beep and then give a command.  He was frustrated trying to remember the exact words and shouted, “Go Google.”  We all exploded with laughter. 
 
Today we went to the store and the lovely, patient sales lady gave him more lessons in using his new phone.  He is making progress – he has fourteen days to make a decision about joining the “smart phone” generation.
 
It is amazing how the cell phone can pull up contacts and make a call or access your calendar or information on the internet with just saying, “Go Google Now” and then making your request.  It even tells you who is calling and asks if you want to talk or send back a text message.  Amazing stuff.
 
Aren’t you glad we don’t need a smart phone or APP to contact God.  He is always available even without Wi-Fi.  Not necessary to remember a password or pay for a data plan.  We don’t need to pay for an upgrade because he is constantly transforming us.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
God’s smart phone equivalent – a vehicle for information and communication – is the Bible. 
Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp for my feet,
    a light on my path.
The password is Jesus. 
Jesus answered, “I amthe way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
The data plan is unlimited
Ephesians 1:11-14
11 In him we were also chosen,[e] having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
 and the upgrade is Glory. 
2 Corinthians 3:18(NIV)
18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate[a] the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
Go God!!!