Friday, November 20, 2015

The Road Home?

I wish it were this simple to find your way home. A signpost pointing in the right direction would be such a relief. That rarely, if ever, happens for any of us.

Early in my life I thought knew where I was going. I had one goal. I wanted to be a wife and mother. That was pretty much all. I wanted to write, but that was already a part of me, it wasn't a goal.

Once my husband died and the children left home, I had to redefine myself. It hasn't worked very well. I'm completely lost and in the dark about who or what I am and where I belong. In recent weeks, I've started questioning some things and I've come to understand some of why I feel this way. Let me explain the two recent experiences that brought about this more recent sense of dislocation. They aren't good.

I don't get out much these days due to health issues, I miss too much church. I see no one during the week, no calls from anyone except family. So, I get pretty hungry for human contact. When I feel well, I search for ways to connect with people online and I do have some really great people, far from where I live, who email and chat. I really get hungry for Christian contacts. I try and feed myself spiritual food by watching videos of ministers. I also watch videos that show up on Facebook by random Christians talking about God, giving these little sermons. Some are uplifting. YouTube is a great resource for Christians who are cut off. Facebook, not so much.

But then I get those who had lemons for lunch. They spout a lot of rhetoric. They tell me I should be on the street, on the job, in the store, or at the shore talking to people and telling them about God. After about half a dozen of those, I come away, not lifted up, but feeling like week old pasta. I suck as a Christian. I spend the next half hour beating myself up for being a horrible failure of a Christian. I want God to be pleased with me so bad, that a total stranger can bring me to tears with their criticism of my failures. Yeah, it's crazy.

The reality is, despite my love of conversation, I'm not an orator. I don't like giving speeches and talking to strangers. I can do it, and I do it well when pressed, but I'm much more comfortable with a pen and paper or a computer keyboard. My blogs are the forums I'm most comfortable with when it comes to telling people something, whether it be about writing, my faith, or my life. It is just very easy for me to write rather than talk. Moving among living people is very hard for me.

Several years ago, when I had a life, I told my aunt that I wish God would stop sending me these dysfunctional people to deal with. It was as if there was this portal near me and they just kept popping out. I'd spend time talking to them, encouraging them, and telling them how special they were to God and praying for them.

I couldn't explain it, but there was a seemingly endless supply of them. My sons would date them. I'd meet them through work. I'd meet them in activities I participated in. They'd find me at church. Always, I'd take them under my wing. Because at heart, I'm just a nice person who hates to see anyone feel like last week's pasta. They liked me and I'd become stressed at their distress. And often, I'd see them drift off, down the same road they came in on, Lost. 

Yet here I am, feeling completely inadequate as a Christian and a human being because I wasn't dragging my cross around the city, with a sign that says "Repent for the end is at hand!"  I mean, I really felt horrible.

This experience made me feel like I'm just worthless. I've battled that devil for most of my life. I'm useless, worthless, inept, and inadequate. The feeling of constantly searching for meaning is exhausting and debilitating. I don't have a fix for it. I pray about it and I think the Lord does help me with it, but you know that thing is just waiting around the corner to jump you.

I could make excuses, but I usually end up beating myself up because I make excuses. So that never works for me. Instead, I measure myself by someone else's standard of how I should behave. And you know what? I feel horrible because I'm so far short of what it means to be a Christian!

The second experience was a surprise. I can't stand Christians who loudly tell you what you're supposed to be doing but who don't follow their own rants. Someone on Facebook recently felt it was appropriate to talk about the failings of a member of their church. Several other members joined in, agreeing with the poster. No names were mentioned, but it was evident from the comments that some of them knew who the poster was referring to. I suppose because no names were mentioned they felt that was acceptable behavior. Most of the people involved consider themselves ministers. In their eyes, I'm pretty certain they thought they were justified and having another church member for lunch was acceptable.

Let me just first say, it wasn't acceptable. It was a disgrace. But it took me a minute to get there, cause they're "ministers". We don't criticize ministers. But I was horrified by what I saw and the more I thought about it, the more horrified I became. At what point did this sort of chastising become acceptable?

The Bible says if you have a fault with your brother or sister you are to go to them. If they reject you, you are to bring them before the church. If that doesn't' work you're to disfellowship them. The Bible is very clear here. At no point does it say drag them before the court of public opinion. Exactly when and where did it become acceptable to substitute Facebook for the Word when dealing with member's failings? Or anyone's failings? Who died and made any of those people God?

All I could think of was how many unchurched folks would see that post? What would they think about the Christians involved in it? How does this affect the ministry? The members of the same church? What does it do to the church as a whole? Why would anyone voluntarily repent of their sins if their failings are to be aired like dirty laundry on the Facebook clothes line? Why would anyone go to a church where that is the practice? Unless they like eating the friends.

Then, I remembered my feelings of worthlessness and abandonment. I realized that perhaps it isn't surprising. If Christians can't follow sound Biblical instruction, if they can't heal the wounded, if their own are a target for vituperation, how can we reach hurting, lost people? And we wonder why there is a decline in church attendance?

I suddenly understand with new clarity Isaiah 5:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

The sheep are the church.

No wonder that most of the time I feel like I'm on the Lost Road trying to find my way back Home.






Saturday, October 17, 2015

Paid In Full

Sometimes I have dreams. I don't always remember them, but once in a while I have a dream that just sticks with me. This week I had such a dream. I dreamed that a woman approached me and we sat down together. She said, "I have 5 million dollars. How much do you want?" I told her what it would take to pay off my house. In fact, I told her a bit less than it would take. As I write it, I find this amusing. She asked how much I wanted and compared to $5M I mention a paltry sum. In fact, it is less than $45K and doesn't include any other bills.

Crazy dream, isn't it? So, why do I mention it here?

Funny you should ask. The story actually started a couple of days before the dream. I was going over some financial things and seeking solutions. I sat down to do my morning devotional and when I was praying, I just put these financial issues out there. I actually said, "Lord, I just need enough money to pay off my house. If I didn't have that payment, I could actually use the money I spend on the payment to pay for the repairs I still need." See, I have no family and friends to help me do the repairs and no spare money. So, they can't get done.

I know that God has plenty of money. I have also always believed that if we ask God for our needs he'll provide them. He promises nothing more nor less than needs and years ago I learned this method is more than adequate. But the truth is, in my mind I doubt anyone is going to step up and give me this money. Maybe that's why they don't. So, I asked God to help me figure out a solution.

I still don't have one.

But here's the thing. I can't get that dream out of my head. It just keeps replaying in my head. I'm chuckling to myself even writing about it. It is a crazy dream and should have been forgotten by now. In fact, I shouldn't have remembered it in the first place. But I do, in fine detail.

So, today I decided to do something equally crazy. I decided to thank God for paying off my house in my dream. Yeah, really. I did it. The thought just came to me in the car - you should thank God for paying off your house in your dreams. You know me and my car have a close relationship with God, If you've read any of my blogs, you know God talks to me in my car... a lot. Anyway, I had this crazy thought and decided to thank God for paying off my house in my dreams. At least it is paid off somewhere!

Yes, I did it. Right then.

I have no idea what the dream means. It could be what I had for supper. It could be that I was so distressed over this issue it surfaced in my dream state. A strange woman with $5M offers me money. What are the odds of that happening. When I decided to thank God for paying it off in my dreams I heard a voice in the back of my mind say "what's the catch?" but I'm ignoring that. I'm just thankful that somewhere, subconsciously, my house is paid off.

Now, if I can just convince the bank.




Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Crucible

Courtesy Pixabay.com
I sat down to write something today that would fit in with my praise theme. I can't think of anything. The world is going through so much pain. Israel is under attack and that grieves me and people are so hateful toward Christians, who are blamed for everything that happens, but the accusers are the worst of the lot because they refuse to take responsibility for their own actions. It is a world gone mad.

We have corrupt leaders seeking to destroy the greatest country ever created, a country that up until the last 30 years has been blessed beyond measure. We've chosen to follow an evil path and watching the nation that I love, that my family has served, travel the road to destruction is a nightmare. Americans chanting for the downfall of a nation born from the desire for freedom from tyranny, forged in fires of wars fought to maintain that freedom, now led by cowards and tyrants. Has anyone stopped to think what they'll get once it is gone? It won't be freedom. It won't be a democracy. It won't be liberty and justice for all. What comes next is hell on earth and they're too blind to even see it.

I've turned a blind eye for a long time. I've given opportunities, sent messengers, averted disasters and still they rail against me and my laws. They destroy all that is holy and good in favor of perversion and evil.  They would wallow in the pig pen rather than live the palace. 

So I give them the pit. I've turned my back and they will not see my face until my return. I've closed my ears and they will not hear my voice until the day of judgment. They have broken down the barrier of protection I established and the enemy is now allowed to do as he wills. Until my time. I've withdrawn the covering and poured out the vails. The crucible has begun. 

I will still hold fast the good, Lord. I will still praise you. Keep me in the center of your will and surround me with your grace and mercy. Forgive us for all our sins. Protect your people. Preserve and protect and give peace to Israel. Surround her with a barrier of protection that can't be broken. And God have mercy on us all.


*****At times, I do not understand some of what I write on this blog. I don't plan it or write from notes. It is all spontaneous. Usually, I write with no effort and the responses to my own thoughts often surprise me. Today something is different. There is much troubling in the world that could stifle praise and thankgiving. My intention was to do as I always do but I simply couldn't find the words. This is what resulted. I do not know why, but I've always followed my gut when writing. So, for what it is worth, whether you like it or not, whether you agree or not, it is what it is.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Coming Home Late

Mama let me date him because he was a “church boy”, meaning he went to our church. She also knew his mother and so it was all right. To my 14-year-old eyes, he was wonderful. He was 16 and had a car. He was tall and played the guitar. And I was the new girl in town.
It was a small church and I was one of three teenaged girls. One of them already had a boyfriend outside the church. Her sister, Debbie, and I were the same age and immediately at odds with one another. We all know about green pastures and he saw a break in the fence.
We dated through the summer and into the school year. During one of the first football games of the season, we were on a date and he was supposed to pick up his brother after the game, truly the cuter of the two but with no car. 
My curfew was always 10:00 p.m., no matter what. I seldom rebelled on any rule Mama set but then, it never occurred to me that I could. Nevertheless, we rode around the parking lot looking for his brother and the clock kept ticking. He finally said he better get me home. Suddenly, I knew Mama wouldn’t mind if we were a bit late. After all, his brother was my age and was standing around somewhere waiting for his ride. We couldn’t leave him here. The stadium would be empty soon. He would have to stand around in the dark, alone, waiting for his ride that was not there because it was taking me home. 
At 11:00 p.m. we pulled up into my yard, without the brother. And as my young man walked me to the front door, Mama got up from her rocker and, in a quiet voice, said, “Do you know what time it is?”  Well, of course, we did, but I don’t remember thinking that she was asking for the time.
We both said, “Yes, m’am.” She proceeded to tell me who I was and what I was supposed to know. During the course of her speech she managed to politely tell him how much she thought of him and how she expected him to have me home when he said he would. I, of course, tried to explain about his poor brother standing somewhere at the school waiting for a ride that still had not appeared. Mama was sympathetic but unmoved. I had come home late.
It was a short romance but only lasted about three more weeks and we never dated again. He discovered his old school girlfriend, who happened to be one of my classmates. I don’t know if she had a curfew but my guess is she didn’t have my Mama. She tried to be nice to me and I liked her but I could never really hit is off with her. She wasn’t a church girl and she took my boyfriend.
I am a beast about punctuality and it is no wonder. My life has always been about keeping appointments and knowing where I was supposed to be and when. When I was 17 and dating my husband, he was always careful to get me home on time. Whenever Jerry brought me home my great-grandmother’s mantle clock was striking the hour. I didn’t have to tell him, he had a Mama, too. One night as we walked into the house Mama jokingly commented, “I believe you two sit around the corner and wait for that clock to strike.” We all laughed but Mama’s eyes twinkled at me. I had never come home late but once.
               I have been re-evaluating many things that have evolved in my life and that only now I think I understand. I feel as if I have come home late and that Mama is sitting on the porch, in the dark waiting for me to roll in. I hear that quiet voice is saying, “Do you know what time it is?”
I have raised two sons and they now have wives of their own. I feel I did the best I could under the circumstances of our life but as I watch their foolishness, I doubt myself. I see the waste, the unconcern, and the lack of dedication. I feel like Mama sitting on the porch, in the dark saying, “Do you know what time it is?”
It is not just in my children that I see it. It is in a whole generation. There is time to spend hours living in a small box where a world of make-believe people live and fantasy events happen. There is time to spend hours at an amusement park, a ball park, the beach. There is time to cruise hour after hour along whatever street is cool and be seen by countless others just cruising through life along the same street. And I hear Mama, sitting on the porch in the dark, asking in a quiet voice, “Do you know what time it is?”
There is no time to spend in church. The people are not friendly. They gossip too much. They don’t talk to me. The preacher is no good. The teacher is stuck up. The seats are too hard. The road is too long. The choir is no good. The worship is not lively. The worship is too lively. And my favorite, I have to spend time with my family, wife, husband.
There is no time for prayer. I have to go to Wal-mart. I spent too much time at Wal-mart. I have to watch my team play ball. I have to do laundry. I have to work. I am tired because I have worked too much. I have to go to bed early. I have to get up early. I got to bed late. I got up late.
“Do you know what time it is?” Never before have I heard that voice so clearly. It cuts me to the quick because all the excuses have been mine. At the time all of the reasons seemed, well, reasonable. And yet, “Do you know what time it is?
I look at all the days of my life and wonder. If life was like a carousal where I could capture brass rings of time as I sailed by, I would reach out and pull the ring of time that let me spend wonderful laughing hours with Mama. I would pull the rings of my children’s lives and never let go of any of them. I would grab the rings that let me relive the most precious moments I have ever known; putting my head in mama’s lap, my marriage, the birth of my children, my sons’ baptisms, every minute of their childhood, my children in my lap, my family reunions, my sons’ weddings. I would grab every ring of opportunity to pray more and truly converse with my creator, to read my Bible. I would grab rings to relive every exciting service I ever attended and re-listen to every riveting sermon I ever heard.
I cannot recapture one moment of time.
Brass rings of time.
“Do you know what time it is?”
I only came home late one time. It took 30 years for me to realize what it meant.


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Trust

Written 2/08/2004

A small, pretty frame designed to hold a quotation sits to the left of my monitor. It was a gift from a co-worker when she cleaned her desk preparatory to taking a new job over a year ago.  In it is a phrase that says, "Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed."  Psalms 37:4.  About a year ago, just for fun, I typed up this framed scripture and placed it near my computer because I spend a lot of time here. The original quote and the other I made are stored behind this one. There are three total and I change them once in a while.

This week I changed it because I needed to be reminded that there are times when trust is all you can do and there is promise attached to trust.  When you are doing everything you can think of to get by and still things seem to be falling apart around you, all you can do is trust.  And I am not a trusting person.

I am a perfectionist who is terrified when I am not in control of any situation.  But in recent years, life has cruelly taught me that I can't be in control of every situation.  It is a terrible feeling for me. Not long ago, I asked myself, and God, why it seemed that I was having to go through the same thing over and over.  It seems that for the last ten years I have re-lived several periods of time.  No matter what I do, or how hard I try, I keep repeating the same events, experiences, over and over. Constantly on the brink of financial disaster, my husband always getting sick and unemployed, my children struggling in some way.  And I keep asking God why is that. Why can't things get better?  Why do I have to have this same thing happen again and again?  Why am I constantly in need?  What have I done?

He never answered. And I began to suspect that was the whole point.  He shouldn't have to tell me what I am missing.  The fact that I AM missing something is the very reason I keep repeating history.  If I got it, I wouldn't have to keep repeating it!  At least, I hope that is the way it works.

On occasion, I am afraid because all of humanity fears uncertainty. And my life is pretty uncertain. Will Jerry go back to work? Will I get a better job? Will my son who is about to get married be able to make it financially?  Will my youngest son EVER finish school? Will he EVER go to collage?  Will he EVER get a job?

I suppose I could go out and buy an 8 Ball and try to find the answers to my questions.  You remember those. I had one in the late 60's, when they first came out.  No one really believed they could answer your questions but as a kid it was a fun game.  But in the real world, there is no magic 8 Ball, no fortune cookie I can break open for an answer.  The only answer I have sits next to my computer in a pretty frame. I have been reading it a lot the last few days.

Trust.

How in the world am I going to do that?  How does anyone do it?

Sometimes, when I am praying, I have the strongest sense that I am so close to something unbelievable.  In my mind I see, just beyond my reach, this thick cloud I can't see through. But I know that if I could just push past it, if I could just clear it away, there is something wonderful hidden back there.  If I could only reach it.  Just one glimpse and I would have the strength to push forward.  I could trust.  But the fog rolls back, thick and impenetrable.  And I am downcast because of it.

Trust!

How in the world am I going to do that?  How does anyone do it?

I don't know if I have figured it out yet, but recently I have felt that I am getting there. No, the problems are not solved. No, I do not have a new job. No, I am not a nicer person (I think I am pretty charming the way I am).  No, I don't know if I will survive this ordeal I find myself in. But someone said, "That which does not kill us, makes us strong."  I don't much like that, but it is true.  I have become tenacious. I have become stubborn. I refuse to give up. I refuse to lie down and stop trying.  I won't turn back.  I have dug my trench and it is here that I will fight.  I have claimed this land as mine.  I may be defeated in this battle. But the war is not over.  And I am still breathing.

So, what was that original framed quote?  I know you wondered.

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths."  Proverbs 3:56

Ah!

And the other that is stored in the back of the frame?  "Commit thy way unto the Lord: Trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass."  Psalm 37:5

I typed them up. They look really pretty in the frame.  But I wonder why I never really read them before now?

Act Two

I was looking for something on my thumb drives this afternoon  and ran across something I probably wrote for my church paper, the Haven Times way back on July 13, 2001. I didn't remember writing it and I couldn't find it posted on either of the blogs where is would have been posted. Of course, that was before I started any of my Blogger blogs. I don't know but I want to share it here because ... I like it.

The Play Continues

July 13, 2001

I watched the Easter Program at our church this past April much as I always watch such things.  A million thoughts went through my head.  I thought of how much I was enjoying the play because the message was moving.  I thought of how I always look forward to these church functions.  I thought that some of the participants were really very good at acting. I compared this year’s program with past programs, how some things were better, and how some things were not as good.  I was doing exactly what nearly everyone else was doing.  

The play reached the point where the High Priest, Caiphas, played by Bro. Jason Lawson, was giving his lecture to the council citing Jesus as a troublemaker and a danger.  He urged the Council to murder Jesus.  Then Bro. Phil Wagoner walked on as Nicodemus, and I stopped listening to Caiphas.  An awareness of something I had never considered before was revealed in the actions of Bro Phil as he played the part of a man mentioned only three times, to my knowledge, in Scripture.

Nicodemus paced.  He pulled at his robes and his headgear.  He put his hands on his hips.  He put his hands down.  He crossed his arms.  He turned his back to Caiphas and then, turned back to face him, only to turn away again.  He paced some more.  Finally, when he could stand no more he tried to speak on Jesus’ behalf.  When Nicodemus saw it was hopeless, he left.  It was evident as he walked away that Nicodemus was imagining the weight of that cross on his shoulders.

I grabbed my pen and paper because never, ever had I seen such a revelation simply from one person’s actions.  Admittedly, Bro. Phil did a good job as Nicodemus but I have to ask, did he know exactly the impression he was giving?  Were his actions planned in his mind or did he just do what seemed natural?  Or did God, for one moment, let me see into the past and into the heart of a man long dead?

If you remember your Bible, Nicodemus went to see to Jesus early in his ministry, at night, when no one would see him or know of the visit.  You see, Nicodemus was a member of the Sanhedrin and these were the people who Jesus repeatedly offended with his teachings. However, they were not stupid men, at least, not all of them.  As a member of the Sanhedrin, Nicodemus had watched, listened to the arguments and probably participated in them.  Then, he decided to do what any intelligent person should do when confronted with rumors and innuendo.  He went to the source.  And Jesus received him and told him what salvation meant.

As I watched the play I wondered what kind of struggle Nicodemus must have suffered.  His heritage as a Jew, his membership in the Sanhedrin and his regard for Jesus must have started a war in his heart that was unbelievable.  If he spoke out he risked losing everything, perhaps even his life.  But if he kept silent, he couldn’t live with himself.  He had to speak out.  But it did no good.  He could not stop it.

I wonder if he ever realized that he was an instrument of a divine plan?  No matter what he did, it would have changed nothing.  He could not stop the events that followed.  And if he had . . . there would be no salvation.

Nicodemus was struggling with the same thing we all face in our walk -- to speak or keep silent.  And he struggled with it for the same reasons.  He would have wanted to believe he could convince the Council to see Jesus as he had seen him.  He knew that Jesus had committed no crime worthy of death.  He was a good man fighting to save an innocent man.  He fought alone that day.  And when he left that meeting with Caiphas and the Council, he would have felt as if he had betrayed Jesus.  He couldn’t stop it.

After Jesus’ death we find that is wasn’t his family or his disciples who saw to Jesus’ burial.  Nicodemus, accompanied by Joseph of Arimathea, another secret follower of Jesus, went to Pilate to request the body of Jesus. These two men prepared the body for burial.  Nicodemus brought seventy-five pounds of myrrh and aloes to wrap the body in.  This was an expensive gift but it was all he could do.  Perhaps it was his way of atoning for his failure.  He had failed to save the life of the man he respected, but he could certainly see that he had a proper burial.

In As You Like It, Shakespeare said, ”All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players.”  Just as the players in a play are constrained by the script, so too, were those involved in the crucifixion of Jesus.  God had written the script long ago and the only choice the players had was to choose the part they would play.  Whatever part they chose, they could not stop the play.  The eternal God was directing and the curtain came down on a Savior determined to save the world at any cost. Act One had ended.

I don’t know if that was the end for Nicodemus.  He is not mentioned again in scripture, but there were a lot of people present on the Day of Pentecost.  Perhaps as the curtain came up on the second act he was in the wings, waiting to play another part.  I hope so.  At any rate, the play continues.  What part will you play?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A Night In the ER with God

If you're on my Facebook page, you already know I spent last night in the ER. Sarah had a fever of 102 and since I'd spent the night before dealing with her vomiting, I felt it was time to find out what was going on. She has a UTI and her lymph glands in her lower abdomen are swollen, probably a result of the infection.

They did blood work and for Sarah, this is a horrible experience. From the time she was barely 6 weeks old until she was about 4, she had febrile seizures. She spent many long nights in ERS having IV's put in her tiny arms, hard bracing strapped to the arm or her arm strapped to her side to prevent pulling the IV out. She had vials and vials of blood drawn and redrawn. She's spent as many as 10 days in the hospital for things that normal children deal with at home. The problem back then was her low weight. She was a small baby and a tiny little toddler. Think Tinkerbell. She'd catch a bug, start vomiting, and become dehydrated and had to go to the ER. Her weight was so low, that after a day of vomiting, she was in danger and we couldn't get her weight up enough before she was sick again. Children in the first four years catch a lot of stuff. It is necessary to survive. So to the hospital we'd go and she'd end up there for a few days or a week, depending on the severity of the virus, or the vomiting.

To make a long story short, she is terrified of needles, screaming, hysterical, terrified of them. For years, they had to hold or tie her down to get blood work or put IV's in. Now, she's 9 years old and hasn't had a febrile seizure for 4-5 years and hasn't had many ER visits since that time but just talking about the possibility of needles sends her into hysterics.

Last night was no different. I tried to calm her when the nurse walked in with her gear. The nurse tried to talk to her. She wasn't hearing us. Eventually, we had to tell her if she didn't calm down, lie still, and let them put the IV in her arm, they were going to have to hold her down. I knew when they tried to put that needle in her arm, she'd be kicking, clawing, and screaming to the rafters.

Finally, we were out of time. The nurse called a name and this huge man walked in. Of course, Sarah realized what was coming. I explained to him her background and he was so very gentle when he approached her and did a really great job of being nonaggressive about it. He just held her arm and talked to her. He and the nurse got her to lie reasonably still, but she was still hysterical. They got the port in, hooked up the IV, and turned off the light to help her rest.

Rest was out of the question. Sarah was inconsolable. It hurt. She couldn't move it. She couldn't touch it. Her body was so tense you could have strummed the cords in her neck. Her eyes were red. She could barely speak for crying. She cried for Daddy, Mama, and to go home. I couldn't soothe her and was at my wits end. I've seen this so many times and it is stressful for all of us when we have to go through this with her.

I told her I was going to pray for her. I did, but she just couldn't seem to calm down. Finally, I put my head down on the edge of the bed and silently, I told God that I needed him to calm her down and give her peace. I told him I was asking for her, not me and that she needed it right now, not in a little while. I sat by her and in moments she grew quiet and the pain in the arm seemed to be, if not gone, at least not terrifying. For several minutes, she lay quiet and watched cartoons. Then she rolled over and went to sleep. I had to adjust the IV arm to prevent her lying on it. She slept soundly for a few hours until they came to do the CAT scan.

I am so thankful that God can answer prayers immediately. He doesn't do that often for me. In fact, I can't remember ever seeing a prayer answered in minutes but Sarah went from hysterical sobbing to quiet and watching cartoons, and then to sleep in just minutes. That's an on-time God.

Monday, September 28, 2015

10 More Days of Praise: Day 10 - The Mathematical Character of Praise

Today I wrap up  my 10 More Days of Praise and I'm actually a couple of days off track. At first that bothered me but I remembered that life happens and it is usually beyond my control. I was suffering from fatigue one day and simply couldn't sit up. Another day, things just seemed to get in my way. At some point, you just have to let go and forgive yourself from being human. There are days when nothing goes right and you just have to start over. 

I've enjoyed my two praise challenges. I learned a lot about myself, my attitude, and my failings. I also learned that keeping an attitude of praise is a mathematical problem. I started with just doing a post a day. By the end of the first 10 days, I found that it multiplied. I caught myself uttering small praises about things throughout my day. During the second 10 days, I was more mindful of the need to praise God for simple things as well as big ones and the impact of doing that was positive, even if the day was negative. 

The sum of twenty specific days of praise is that over the two months the challenges covered, I've probably managed to praise him several times over. And I find I want to praise him more. 

I don't know if I'll ever do these challenges again. I may keep them in reserve as a way to remind myself of the need for praise in my life, Just in case life gets hard and it becomes difficult to give praise for anything.

You don't have to do what I've done. You can just get a habit of praising God every day for something. If you decide to try my method, I'd love to know how it works out for you.

For me, the challenge is over but the praises continue. 

Lord, you are more than worthy of our praise. I praise you for your lovingkindness. I praise you touch of your hand when I'm so tired I can hardly move. For all the times life is hard and unmanageable, I praise you for your care and compassion. I praise you because you are the air I breathe, the food that I eat, and a comfort in times of stress. I praise you, Lord, just because you are Lord.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

10 More Days of Praise: Day 9 - Somewhere the Sun Shines

Courtesy Pixabay.com
There are only 24 hours in a single day. If you tithe your time you should be giving God two hours of your time. Aren't we lucky that tithing time is not a Biblical requirement. Got only required a 10th of the increase from your labor.

They why is it so hard to just spend a little time on praising God?

Generally, my blog post required anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple of hours, depending on what I'm writing about and how hard it is to find a graphic. Sometimes, the graphic takes a while. I have to get something I can use for free. Because I'm not employed, money is so tight Lincoln screams when I open my wallet.

We're at day 9 of my personal challenge. I lost a day in there somewhere but I've been under the weather and I'm not going back to find it. Today is the day the Lord has made and while rejoice is a rather strong word for someone with a cold, I will be glad in it. I'm glad to be alive. Some days I feel a bit closer to the other so any day I'm breathing, I'm glad.

Praise God for all the days he has given me. I'll praise him now for all the days ahead that he has promised me. I don't know how many there are, but I praise him for them anyway. I know that he holds my future and I am confident that he knows what is best for me. I praise him for his wisdom.

Today the sky is overcast and I'm still struggling with a rotten cold. Just beyond those clouds the sun is shining. I praise you, Lord, for a beautiful day, somewhere.

Friday, September 25, 2015

10 More Days of Praise: Day 8 - The Worst Moments of the Day

That would be me today. I've got another cold, the second one since school  started in August. It does not bode well for me. I'm supposed to be praising God. I have two days to go, but I'm not in any kind of mood to praise anything.

It doesn't matter. At my worst, God is still worthy of praise. At my worst, I can't afford not to praise him. He is a loving, caring, attentive Savior and although I don't feel very loved, cared for, or attended to most of the time, it doesn't change who he is or his character.

So, for today, despite feeling more like a blob of misery, than an instrument of praise, I still praise you, Lord for all your wonderful works to us. I still praise you, despite my feelings of rejection and dejection. I want to  lie down but for now, for just this time, I lift my voice to you in praise. I write of your goodness and mercy, of your greatness and glory. You are El Shaddai ( The All Sufficient One), Jehova Jireh (My Provider), Jehovah Rapha (My Healer). You encompass every need and area of my life and for all that you are, I praise you.

I don't feel well today, but in my worst moments, God is always deserving of my praise.

What do you do in the worse moments of your day?

For more names of God: https://www.blueletterbible.org/study/misc/name_god.cfm

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

10 More Days of Praise: Day 7 - How Often Do I Praise Him?

While at an airport a few years ago, I watched a cab driver get out of his cab, open his trunk, take out a small rug, spread the rug on the sidewalk, kneel down, and start bowing. I don't know how long he prayed. I was sitting on a bench waiting for my ride, but it was more than a minute or two. I think I was the only one watching him. No one stopped, stared, or commented.

I considered his behavior odd, the way we consider Mormons at the front door odd. As I sat there I thought about how lax we are as Christians. If I remember correctly, at the time I even prayed for a moment, for God to help me be more in tune, to take more opportunity to talk with him.

That Muslim cab driver at the airport made an impact on me. Not to become a Muslim, but to become more of a Christian. I wanted to have the kind of faith that made me want to stop what I was doing and give God a moment of my time. Did I leave the airport changed? I don't know, but I do know that since then I desire more time with God.

Since the mid-90's I have always made it a point to pray in my car, every time I go somewhere. At that time, I was driving all over, making roughly a 30 mile round trip to the university for my own classes, sometimes twice a day, shopping, and getting kids to and from their school if necessary. At home, I was so frantic trying to get meals, do homework, help the kids with homework, and go to school myself that I had virtually no spare time. Prayer was a problem.

I began to take time when I was between classes at home, to pray but it felt like it wasn't enough. I realized I was spending more than an hour in my car on an average day. So, when I saw a classmate leaving the school singing like a madman in his truck, I came up with a plan. I laughed at him, but it occurred to me that if he could do that, why was I worried about anyone noticing me if I prayed in the car. So, I began to use my drive time to and from school to pray. As soon as I clicked my seatbelt I began to talk to God and for every trip there and back, I would pray aloud. Some days I would not even remember the drive home.

It became such an ingrained habit that one Saturday as my oldest son and I were going to the store, as soon as my seatbelt clicked, I started to pray. He said, "Mom, what are you doing?" I stopped and looked at him. I didn't know what to say. For a moment, I hadn't even realized he was there or what I was doing. I know now I should have explained, but I was so stunned by what had happened, I couldn't think of what to say. Later, I did tell them about my car prayers.

I had become so used to getting in the car and buckling my seatbelt and then starting to pray on my drive to school that one day it became a natural part of getting in the car. I don't travel as much since I graduated, but I still pray in the car at times when I'm alone. It is still a place I can be sure that nothing will interrupt me. I've sat in my car, in my garage and prayed. Just because it was a quiet, solitary place I knew nothing would interrupt me.

I suspect that the Muslim never noticed me watching him. His routine was so ingrained that nothing around him made one bit of difference to his behavior. He set about the business of prayer. Everything else just disappeared. I can relate.

What about us? How often do we take time to give our God praise? Are there minutes when we stare into space that we could use to just give him praise for his faithfulness? Do we have long commutes that we can use to spend time talking to God? And more importantly, are we making an impact on those who are watching us?

The man in the airport does his prayer routine five times a day and we make jokes about it. How many times do we give our God praise? How many times should we give praise to our God? Is he not worthy of as much? He's worth even more. David thought so. In Psalms he said, Seven times a day do I praise thee because of thy righteous judgments. Psalm 119:164

Seven times a day! We balk about church once a week. We complain we don't have time to stop for half an hour and talk to God. David was praising his God seven times a day. He was counting. And he was running a kingdom. You're running to the store, the gym, the club. You're running around chasing children. You're ... what are you doing that is so important that you can't stop and give God praise, even once a day?

I want to praise him with my whole heart. That is my goal. I started my 10 Days of Praise a month ago. It was a phrase that ran through my head in the middle of the night. So I did it. It wasn't enough. So, I started 10 More Days of Praise. It still isn't enough. Imagine every professing Christian praising God seven times a day. Imagine every Christian praising God even once a day!

The blog has helped me start a routine of praising God. I already had times when I just stopped and prayed. But face it, do your prayers focus on God or your needs? I don't want to just pray for needs. I want to spend time telling God how much he means to me. How long do you think a marriage will last if all you do is hand your spouse a list of items you think need to be taken care of? Sometimes, try praying without mentioning a single need. Tell God the only thing you want is to spend that time talking about his grace, his mercy, his faithfulness, his majesty. I think you'll be surprised at the outcome.

Lord, you are the air that I breathe. I praise you for the amazing works of your hands. You are the Great I Am, the Rose of Sharon, Lion of Judah. There is none like you and none as worthy of praise as you. I give you all the praise and honor for your sacrifice at Calvary on my behalf. I bless you with praise and desire to draw always closer to you.

How often do you give God praise?


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

10 More Days of Praise: Day 6 Reasonable Service


Praise is mentioned 248 times in the Bible. I was so surprised when I saw that figure. I know that Psalms has many mentions of praise, but only about half that figure is in the Old Testament. The other half are in the New Testament.

So, it is just as important today as it was in the days of Moses, Joshua, and Solomon. We owe God so much and praise is one way that we can give back for some of the blessings that he's bestowed on us. Praising God for his greatness, the works of  his hands, for his love and mercy are the least we can do to honor God.

The psalmist knew the importance of praise. He spent a lot of time extolling the virtues of God through his praise. Let my mouth be filled with thy praise and with thy honour all the day.--Psalm 71:8 

And it isn't just David that knew praise was necessary. Even a pagan king learned the importance of praising God. Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase. --Daniel 4:37

Praise is our duty to the God who gave us life, gave his own life so we could be saved. For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen. --Romans 11:36 

Just a few short verses away, Paul states I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. -- Romans 12:1

Our reasonable service? Reasonable to lift up praise to the One who created us? Reasonable to give praise to the Creator of the universe, not just this dusty planet he provided for us, out of an entire universe of other planets that he could have chosen as his favorite? We won't ever know until we are in his presence if he did such a thing but until then, we owe him our praises now.

O Lord, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things; thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth. --Isaiah 25:1


Monday, September 21, 2015

10 More Days of Praise: Day 5 - Halfway to Success


I'm not at all in a praise frame of mind today. I'm rather downcast and sad and very tired this morning. I can't tell you exactly why because I don't really know. I could list a slew of reason, but they wouldn't mean much to anyone without background.

That's how life is, isn't it? There are days when we're just overwhelmed by a host of concerns, real and imagined, and we can't put our finger on exactly which one is giving us the mulligrubs.

However, I've made a pact to give God 10 More Days of Praise and I take my agreements seriously. Once I say I'm going to do something for someone, most especially God, I do my very best to keep my word.

But I don't feel like praising God today.

If we go by our feelings, we'll never find the time to give God the praise he so deserves. There will always be another pain, heartache, grief, accident, obligation, or souffle to get out of the oven. If we can't find the time to give God praise, I suspect more than the souffle is at risk of burning.

He has made me and supplied my needs. That is what he promised to do. He's kept his word. He also said he'd give me the desires of my heart if I just find my delight in him. I struggle to do that. Do you? So many things in life draw us away from delighting ourselves in God. I don't mean a dance at the altar or a dash around the church. Those are wonderful, to be sure, but generally only occur once or twice a week. That's not the only way to delight yourself in the Lord. I'm talking about continuing delight.

Have you ever seen a child eating their favorite ice cream? Have you ever seen them tumbling with puppies or kittens? Rolling in the floor with their father? How about story time with Mama? The look on their faces and the sound of their giggles are what is known as delight. They are enjoying the moment to the maximum.

There are so many ways to find delight in God. Our service, not only to our church but our families, those in need, the lonely, dejected, depressed, and forgotten all need someone to make them feel loved.

When I find ways to do things on His behalf, even if it is writing a blog post solely to give him Praise and share it with people I may never meet, speak to, or know in my life, I obtain a sense of happiness. When I write these posts I delight myself in Him because when we minister, in whatever way we are able, we minister to Him.

I learned in my last 10 Days of Praise that even on a bad day, writing one post that gives God praise was enough to lift my spirits, even if something hit me to tear me down later in the day. What I gained from the last round lead me to want to do it again.

I am halfway in my 10 More Days of Praise and I realized that it was about this same point I had problems the last time. I don't know if five is some sort of magic number or if halfway is just the natural point that struggle seems to catch up. I know that I had a rough time starting today. But I can't let that stop me. The rewards far outweigh the cost.

Take time today to give God all the praise. I can't improve on Psalms today. This says it best. Take a deep breath, let it out and as you do, give him praise.

Praise ye the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.
Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.
Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.
Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.
Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord. --Psalm 150



Sunday, September 20, 2015

10 More Days of Praise: Day 4 - This is the Day



This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it. The sun came up and I was able to get out of bed with relative little pain,  most if it in my back. I praise God this morning because of his eternal goodness. Because he has saved me, I will praise him. Because he has kept me, I can praise him. 

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who only does wondrous things and blessed be his Name foreverYou are worthy, Lord, of my praise. 

Therefore I will give thanks unto thee, O Lord, among the heathen, and I will sing praises unto thy name. 2 Samuel 22:50 


Saturday, September 19, 2015

10 More Days of Praise: Day 3 - We're At War

We are always as war and in war there are enemies that creep into our lives and build fortifications that we are forced to scale. We must find ways to defeat those who inhabit these strongholds and then, we have to tear them down. These battles never end, though we peer into the future and hope for a day when we are at peace. If you feel you're there, I admire you.

So many battles and skirmishes in my life. I do not share much of my past on my blogs, even though you may think I do. Most of what I have shared is from my life after children and many of those who know me now would never imagine the some of the things I've faced. Yes, there or others who've fought more horrible battles than I, but those who know now would be shocked if I were to talk about my battles. It would sound ridiculous and impossible that I survived.

At times, I've been defeated but I do not tolerate defeat well. My attitude is and always has been to get back up and pursue the enemy rather than to lie down and die. Like Gandalf in The Fellowship of the Ring, I stand on a narrow path and drive my staff into the ground and face my enemy with the words, "You shall not pass!" I passed this advice to someone recently, who is fighting their own battle. We do not survive by allowing the enemy to escape. We stand fast and we fight.

I look back over the course I have taken and I see a Glorious Commander, directing and guiding my steps. At times, I disobeyed orders and paid penalties that nearly ended my fight. I've taken different paths and ended up in valleys and deserts where I was forced to survive  things I would not have had to face had I just followed the directives I received. But I dare not give up because I know whom I serve and giving up is not acceptable. I'm weary, battle scared, and worn and still I fight battles unknown by others. I am in a place with few friends, little family, and few resources. Still, I stand on that narrow bridge and refuse to allow my enemy to overtake me. The battle rages on for I will not submit or surrender.

I will call on him who is worthy to be praised and I shall be saved from my enemies. He's prepared a table before them where I shall eat in victory and extoll the might and majesty of the Lord of Host.

Holy, Holy, Holy is the God of my Salvation. Holy is the Name by which I am saved. Praise to God who became my Savior. With his hand as my guide, there is no battle I shall not win.


I will call on the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies. --2 Samuel 22:4



Thursday, September 17, 2015

10 More Days of Praise: Day 2 - Praises Anyhow



As I expected, the first day of my challenge was done and things begin to happen to put me off any idea of praise. Extreme annoyances and aggravation eroded any good humor I had and the last thing I wanted to do when I sat down Thursday night to prepare this post was praise anyone. I won't go into it here because I'm not going to be dictated to by it. I'm going to do what I intended to do. I'm going to give God 10 More Days of Praise. 



I will cry out with my voice to the Ancient of Days
to give him all honor, glory, and praise. 
He redeemed me and saved me and gave me grace, 
and the longing of my heart is but to look on his face. 
To see in his eyes the scope of his love, 
with a promise of eternity in heaven above.
My verse is so lacking in beauty and form, 
Yet a King who stepped down and in a stable born 
would never my heart song think to scorn.
The choice of a cross over golden throne, 
all for the right to call me his own. 
So, I'll sing praise to the Lord with my soul and this song, 
and give the title to the One to whom I belong.

Hear, O ye kings; give ear, O ye princes; I, even I, will sing unto the Lord; I will sing praise to the Lord God of Israel. --Judges 5:3

10 More Days of Praise: Day 1 - Beginning

I posted a few days ago that I planned to start 10 More Days of  Praise. I missed my start day. I woke up with a lot of energy and no fatigue. When I have days where like that, I have to get as much done as possible. I didn't touch my computer all day because I was cleaning and putting things to right in my spare room. I moved bookcases, chests, and got it all tidy. Now I have two rooms organized. I knew I'd have a rough start this morning and I did, but it isn't as bad as I expected. 

Today I begin my 10 More Days of Praise and I'm excited about it. I was excited when I decided to do it in the first place. When I think about the kind of problems I had in my first 10 Days of Praise, I get a bit nervous. You see, I know that as soon as you start doing anything remotely resembling praise or worship, the devil gets uncomfortable. He doesn't like it. I try never to let anything the devil thinks get in my way.

You, Lord, are MY praise, and MY God, that has done for ME these great and terrible things, which MY eyes have seen.(Deuteronomy 10:21 )

I give you all my praise, Lord for the things I have seen and you have done. I praise you for your grace and mercy. I praise you that each day they are renewed in my life. I praise you for the great power and strength that keeps me and upholds me through trials and storms. Without you, Lord, I would fail. I praise you for your eternal faithfulness.

Spend some time today, praising Him, regardless of your circumstances and expectations. Just give God the praise he deserves and He will give you what you need to make it through the day.






*All scripture is King James version unless otherwise noted. Some verses may be personalized but are still based on the original translation.





Monday, September 14, 2015

10 More Days of Praise?

Courtesy Pixabay.com
My 10 Days of Praise Challenge over a week ago was a resounding success. I came away from it with such a sense of accomplishment and feeling far more positive than I did going into to it.

I've been contemplating those feelings ever since I finished and initially, I thought it was something I'd like to do every year. But it wouldn't leave me alone. I liked how I felt, despite several issues that arose during that time. I enjoyed doing it, despite having a few days of struggle trying to figure out how to keep it fresh. It was harder than I expected in some ways, easier in others.

So, guess what. I'm going to do 10 More Days of Praise! Yes. I am. I've already done the artwork with a photo I edited from Pixabay. I made it a couple of days ago when I was still thinking about it. I think the photo sort of pushed me over the line. I mean, once I completed it, well, it would be silly not to use it. Right?

So, beginning tomorrow, I'm going to start a new challenge. I'm giving Him 10 More Days of Praise. Don't get me wrong. This doesn't mean I don't praise God every day. I do. But I wanted to make an extra effort to share that with others. I wanted to impress on others that giving special praises to God is such a blessing, not only to God but to the person praising.

Very often we become robotic in how we worship and the words we say are more like a script we've memorized. We just say the words without thinking about them. When I write, my mind is fully engaged. I write with my full awareness and careful thought. My body is involved in the process: my hands write what my mind thinks, my eyes follow along to ensure there are no errors, my body works to maintain a posture that is not painful, sometimes I tap my feet, jiggle my leg, and roll my shoulders. That is how I want to approach my praise. I want to be fully engaged in the process of praising God.

Just to ensure you understand exactly what praise is, I'm repeating the definitions from my Day 6 post of 10 Days of Praise.

  • Worship: the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity
  • Praise: to express warm approval or admiration of someone or something
  • Thanksgiving: an expression of gratitude
I invite you to join me on September 15 to give God 10 more days of praise. You don't have to, of course. But it cost you nothing and the benefits, I can promise, are priceless.



Thursday, September 10, 2015

A Heart For Praise

I am really so glad I did my 10 Days of Praise Challenge. First, I actually finished something. That's gratifying. What I'm really excited about is the way it left me feeling. It will sound odd, but I'm relieved.

Relieved?

Yes. So relieved. It was difficult at times, but I felt so much better each time I posted that even with the problems surrounding me, I think I handled them better.

So what's next?

I want to do it again. In fact, I'd like to do it every day. Of course, I know I can't post every day on this one blog. I try and balance my posts between this and the other blogs and writing. But I've had this craving to do more of those praise posts. Not as a challenge, I think you can burn out on some things if you overuse them. I'd just like to write more of them whenever and see what happens. And I will do another challenge, maybe in a few months.

You said some things happened mid-way that wasn't so good. What if that happens again?

You'll know this already, but I'll say it for the benefit of readers. In my life, it would be unusual if something didn't happen.

This is true.

So, I can't be surprised if it does but I'd like to be able to cope when it does.

All right, then. What are you waiting for?

Oh... yeah, right.

You have blessed me and kept me for so long and I have given you so little in return. I want to take this time just to praise you for you faithfulness, your grace, and your mercy. You are so worthy of more than my small endeavor, but I praise you with all my heart, Lord.






Sunday, September 6, 2015

Aftermath

Well.

Yes, well. I'd say very well. Of course, I knew you could do it.

I didn't, not really. Around day five I almost gave up. I don't know if it showed or not but I did. I wondered what was the use. No one cared if I finished. No one would notice. I wasn't changing anything. 

Someone cared. Someone noticed. And it did change something.

........

No, really. You may not know about it. You may never know. Somewhere, sometime, someone will accidentally land on one of those pages. They might need what they see there. They may already have done so. And it did change something.

What?

Not what. Who.

Well, who?

I'd say you've changed.

I  don't see how. 

Well, maybe what is showing was already in there and you've just let it show more.

There are many who would rather it didn't.

I'd day that's their problem. 

Yes, well. I am feeling let down. I'd like to keep this mindset for a while. 

I thought it was difficult?

Oh... it is really hard. But usually, when I sat down to write the day's post....

Yes?

I felt better, at least for a while. And I think, no... I know that throughout the day I focused more on actively making an effort to keep praise in my mind. I got annoyed at things, even got upset so badly at one point I had to actually stop writing and walk away for a bit. There were things happening that so truly annoyed me. But I found myself thinking differently most of the time. 

Then I'd say it had an impact on someone.

I'll do it again, sometime. Not sure how soon, but I'm going to do it again. And I think the fact that it was 10 days rather than 30, made it easier to commit. I was afraid it was too short, but I think now, that it was just right. 

I think I was the one who suggested that. 

Yeah, about that. Next time, could you let me know at a decent hour? I mean, middle of the night, when I'm just about to fall asleep... not the most optimal time. I don't get much sleep anyway and I tend to forget things by the next morning.

But you didn't forget.

That's how I knew it was you. 

.....................

Oh....... I see. O.k. maybe late at night makes sense.

10 Days of Praise: Day 10

I did it! I did it! I am so excited! I took the challenge and gave him 10 Days of Praise! Imagine, 10 straight days of finding a way to Praise God through good, bad, and ugly.

Am I a better person? Do I feel less pain? Am I happier? Is life going the way I want it to? Who cares?

God is worthy of all praise. He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. His name is holy and He is truly an amazing and wonderful Lord and Savior. He is the solution to the revolution in our world.

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord. His name is above all names.

I challenge you to give Him praise! Not just for 10 days but for all the days of your life. He is worthy!

If you took the Praise Challenge, feel free to take the clip here, save it to your computer and upload the size you need to your blog and challenge someone else to give the Lord 10 Days of Praise.


Saturday, September 5, 2015

10 Days of Praise: Day 9

I can't believe how amazing the last 9 days have been. I've been hit with several things, almost as soon as I started this challenge. One day I really had a difficult time writing a post because there was just so much emotional stuff happening that I found it hard to praise God. I finally had to give myself a good talking to and remind myself that "Though he slay me, yet will I trust him!" 

It is a hard thing in the middle of trouble to step back and just give up. Yes, I said give up. Sometimes, you can't change circumstances, locations, people, or the bad brakes. Nothing you do will fix the problem. You have to physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually give up and let God deal with it. I've learned, even when I struggle with it, that this is the only thing that will get me through a situation.

Today, I'm using Psalms as my point of reference regarding praise. Please notice the first words of these particular Psalms is all about Praise. The psalmist started his prayers with praise. Oh, that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! That's the Psalmist, too. 

I want to praise the Lord for the works of his hands, of which I am one. My children are the works of his hands. My extended family is the work of his hands. My friends are the work of his hands. Oh, that men, women, and children would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! 

Oh God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise, even with my glory. Psalm 108:1

Hold not thy peace, O God of my praise; Psalm 109:1

Praise ye the Lord, Praise, O ye servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord. From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the Lord's name is to be praised. The Lord is high above all nations and his glory above the heavens.  Psalms 113: 1, 3-4




Friday, September 4, 2015

10 Days of Praise: Day 8

My day has not been good, so I'm late with my post. I woke up with a bad headache and severe neck pain and it hung on nearly all day. I've been so weak with fatigue for days now. Even going out to do a couple of errands this morning, with a migraine was almost too much. I came home exhausted and had to lie down for a few hours.

However, I have promised that I would give God 10 days of Praise and despite some residual pain in my neck and a mild headache, I'm going to get this post done. Before this day ends, I will give You praise.

You are my praise and my God, who has done these great and awesome things which my eyes have seen.*

You, Lord are my strength and my song. You are my salvation. You are my God, and I will praise you. I will exalt You as long as I have breath.*

As long as I am able to write, I will give you praise.




*Deuteronomy 10:21
*Exodus 15:2

Thursday, September 3, 2015

10 Days of Praise: Day 7


Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, 
the Holy One of Israel; 
I am the LORD thy God which
teacheth thee to profit, 
which leadeth thee by the way 
that thou shouldest go.--Isaiah 48:17 

It doesn't look like a scripture about praise, does it? Everyone immediately thinks of Psalms when you mention praise. That's natural because David and a few others wrote many beautiful Psalms about praise. 

Although the Bible is filled with scriptures all about praising God, particularly in Psalms, I've been focusing more on verses outside of Psalms. I supposed you could say I've gone off the beaten path. 

Over the years, particular since Jerry died, I've found that there are other places in the Bible that have verses that deal with praise. Of course, they're often not as happy as David was about it, but so often real praise is born out of grief, rather than joy. So much of my life has been filled with grief of one sort or another. Has your's? Before I was 20 I'd been rejected by both parents, experienced an alcoholic grandfather, lost the only mother I ever knew at 17, and left home while still grieving her death. I won't even begin to relate the next 39 years of praise formation.

I suppose in light of this, you could say that praises are the diamonds of our life. The chemicals that make up real diamonds lie buried deep within the earth and over time, this pressure of the earth causes crystallization and formation of some of the most beautiful gemstones in the world. They are highly prized and of great price. 

Praise is formed deep within us, beneath the pressures of our life. The pain of living forms pockets of chemicals within us that become compressed and begin to harden and crystallize. Left to themselves, buried within us, they become bitterness, heartache, anger, resentment, and ill health. 

But, what if we begin to dig them out, to excavate them? If we do that, we will realize their true worth and beauty. Praises are the hardened crystals formed within us that, once excavated, will reflect the light of His love to the world. Life up your praises and watch your life become a treasure house.

I can praise you, O Lord, for so may things - for the joy of the morning, the smile on Sarah's face, the song in my heart. I praise you because  you are our Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. But I praise even more today because you've lead me in the way I should go. Without your guidance, I would truly be lost. 

I can look over the path of my life and see your hand at every turning in the road, at everydetour, and every pass. You have guided me true. I give you praise for the strength of your hands is sure and strong and the times I would falter, you hold me up secure. 

You are worthy, Lord, of all praise and honor. Your name is above all names and your glory is the only light we truly need. 

Holy, holy, holy, holy are you, our Redeemer and Lord. 



Wednesday, September 2, 2015

10 Days of Praise: Day 6

Courtesy Pixabay.com
My 10 Days of Praise is nearly over, but I thought it appropriate to clarify why I made a point of focusing only on praise and clarifying why it's different from worship and thanksgiving.
  • Worship: the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity
  • Praise: to express warm approval or admiration of someone or something
  • Thanksgiving: an expression of gratitude
So often we interchange these three behaviors as if they are all the same. They're not, as you can clearly see from their definitions. Each is a different type of honor shown to God, given of our free will. They address three distinct areas that we are to bless Him.

We worship God when we give him reverence and adore him in our actions, words, and thoughts. This is generally a stance we take such as singing, lifting hands, prayers of adoration. When he blesses us, we express our thankfulness by giving him thanks, just as you would anyone who did something for you.

But praise is something completely different from the other two. Praise shows our approval of God and His choices for us. It's admiring Him for His abilities and His character. The power and grace and mercy of God should be awe inspiring. It should result in an earnest praise of his attributes.  It is more than thankfulness. Praise is admiration and approval for all that God is and all He does, and all that He has yet to do.

Praise is the complete surrender to God as the beginning and ending of our faith. It is a form of surrender. When we approve of God and his methods, we're saying He knows best, that He is in charge and we approve of that arrangement. Praise is a form of submission to God by showing our admiration and approval of his actions, regardless of how we think or feel about them.  It is acknowledging his authority and accepting Him as that authority. You see in these verses the use of both praise and worship. Exaltation is a form of worship.

I will bless the Lord at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul shall make its boast in the Lord;
The humble shall hear of it and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
And let us exalt His name together.
  --Psalms 34:1-3

I praise you, Lord for your authority and kingship over me. I give You my approval to manage the affairs of my life and I admire You for the grace and mercy You have shown.

Take time today to give God your praise. Even if it is just for one day.