Ten Reasons We Pray

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Prayer is perhaps the most worshipful thing we do.

It says to God:

  1. “I look to You because I am Your child.”
  2. “I recognize that I am spiritually poor, unable to make a change in my heart, or the heart of another.”
  3. “I recognize my human physical frailty.”
  4. “You are the God who cares.”
  5. “You are great and good.”
  6. “You are all powerful, much more powerful than my enemies.”
  7. “You have a plan that is eternal, Your thoughts are higher than my thoughts.
  8. “I trust  You.”
  9. “I can approach You with my intercessions because of what Jesus did for me on the cross.”
  10. “I love You.”

We can depend on our Heavenly Father for His …

Provision

Protection

Power

Plan

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I love the Psalms. Many of them, written by King David, begin with a complaint or a plea for God’s help.

I love the Psalmist’s honesty. He does not couch his words with false piety. He states his problem, then calls on God to bring about justice.

I hope you read the following Psalm and reflect on it today. The key phrase for Psalm 43 is “put your hope in God.”

Psalm 43 (from the NIV Bible):

“Vindicate me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation; rescue me from deceitful and wicked men. You are God my stronghold. Have You rejected me? Why must I go about mourning, 0ppressed by the enemy?

Send forth Your light and Your truth, let them guide me; let them bring me to Your holy mountain, to the place where You dwell. Then I will go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight.

I will praise you with the harp, O God, my God. Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed with me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.”

If that’s not worship, I don’t know what is!

Keep on Prayin’

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my son and in-laws praying

Next Tuesday morning I will begin leading a group of women in prayer.

I won’t be a teacher, or a lecturer, or preacher.

I won’t even be an expert on prayer. Gosh, I am only a kindergartner in the K-12 educational process of learning about prayer.

I know that, through prayer, my loving Father has done these things for me:

provided and protected,

taught and encouraged,

counseled,

answered,

comforted and assured,

confirmed and affirmed

moved

demonstrated,

healed,

saved,

empowered,

communicated.

 

I hope that, when you pray, you don’t just pray all by yourself. That’s great. But we need to join together with other Christians to pray. Not just on Sunday. Any time you can.

I am hoping that the women who come next week to our hour of prayer continue to come, week by week. Jesus told a parable about persevering in prayer. (Luke 18: 1-8)

I can’t remember who said it—I think it was Martin Luther—but the quote stuck in my mind: “Prayer is not the preparation for the work. Prayer is the work.”

Prayer is not something we throw out to the winds, hoping God will catch our drift.

Prayer is an intimate and mighty exercise of our deepest yearnings for our Father’s intervention.

I have seen God’s answers to short-term prayers.

And the Lord has graciously answered prayers I prayed for forty or more years.

Some of God’s answers have been hard to take: a death rather than a physical healing; a divorce rather than restoration; a lost job rather than a promotion.

But we know that God is good. That He does indeed have a plan for us, individually, and for the world. That his plan involved the death of His Son.

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And that His plan for us is eternal life.

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In my research of materials for our prayer meeting, I came across some wonderful quotes from great people of faith on the subject of prayer.

I hope the following words encourage you:

“We can do nothing without prayer. All things can be done by importunate prayer. It surmounts or removes all obstacles, overcomes every resisting force—and gains its end in the face of invisible hindrances.” (E.M. Bounds)

“When human reason has exhausted every possibility, the children can go to their Father and receive all they need. For only when you have become utterly dependent upon prayer and faith, only when all human possibilities have been exhausted, can you begin to reckon that God will intervene and work His miracles.” Basilea Schlink

“Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayer and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:18 NIV Bible)

Keep on prayin’!

 

 

 

LOST in (VBS) SPACE?

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Last week saw a whirlwind of activity at Immanuel Bible. Ahh, the traditional and essential Vacation Bible School. Approximately 100 kids scampered through our doors for five days of games, crafts, Bible teaching, missionary talks, and skits.

I have a very vague memory of being sent to VBS one or two summers when I was quite young. I don’t remember many details, except that I heard about Jesus.

Oh, and I remember sitting “Indian style” in a row of other girls and boys and that the girl next to me insisted that her puppy be included in the photo.

As a child, we didn’t talk about faith or Jesus at home except when one of us kids asked a question. My parents were able to answer our simple questions even though they weren’t people of faith.

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During VBS last week, we talked a lot about the P.R.O.O.F. of God’s love: God’s Planned Grace, His Resurrecting Grace—that’s what the skeleton is about—God’s Overwhelming Grace, Outrageous Grace, and Forever Grace. We taught the children that one of the best things about God is that He offers us grace, that is, getting something wonderful (God’s forgiveness) that we don’t deserve.

Some of the kids who came to this VBS last week already have an excellent foundation in the basics about faith and about Jesus and already understand some Bible stories.

But I wondered about some of the other kids. Are they growing up like I did? A couple of kids, in particular, touched my heart because they seemed kind of lost and anxious. Lost in (VBS) Space.

I was one of those kids, fifty-plus years ago. Kind of confused, sensitive, lonely and terribly shy, wanting to know about God but afraid to ask.

But I know someone was praying for me because, somehow, God pressed a seed into the hungry soil of my heart. One of my VBS teachers said something, or did something that made a deep impression even if I wasn’t consciously aware of it at the time. And a decade later, I placed my faith in Christ.

And so, last week I prayed for all the children. But I gave special time for the “lost” ones.

Seeds were sown in the hearts of these dear children last week.

Were those seeds sown through the stories of how Jesus loves children in other parts of the world?

Through the songs?

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Through connections with teachers and other kids?

I’ll probably never know.

One thing I do know is this: “…so is my Word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)

 

 

I’m Scared Silly!

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Hooray! I finally got in to see the neurosurgeon this morning. It’s been a long journey: 30 years of chronic, eye-rolling, oy-vey pain.

But I’ve reached the limits of plodding through pain. With the inevitable progression of my spinal disease from bad to worse as I slowly shrivel into the quintessential granny, I’ve made the decision to go under the knife

 

The MRI I had two months ago plainly showed the pathology. My doc’s only question: “Is this the kind of pain you can deal with through less invasive therapies, or are you at the point that you’re determined to do the spinal fusion?”

Then the doctor spelled out the risks. When I get freaked out, my toes tingle.  While the surgeon described possible bad outcomes (I guess they have to do that) I was reaching down to pet my big toe, which was shouting at me, “Are you completely insane?”

“Infection,” the surgeon droned on in an unconcerned tone, ” blood clots, loss of voice, rarely, paralysis (you think “rare” comforts me?)  little improvement, bone grafts that don’t graft.”

Now all ten toes were squirming and screaming at me for putting them at such risk.

“I’m ready, Doctor.”

So now I wait for my insurance to give the get-go. Then we schedule the date. Then I black out on my calendar a cushion of date-less days or weeks while I recover.

Of course, I’ve been praying about this for years. I’ve talked to friends who’ve had this procedure. I’ve read up on it—maybe too much—enough to make myself jittery at the thought of a surgeon messing around in my nerve bundles. Eeek!

I think Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos had the same procedure.

Cadaver bone. My disks will be extracted and they’ll take bone stuff from dead people to squish into those empty spaces in my vertebrae. Whoo-hoo!

Titanium. That’s what holds it all together. It’ll cover the three vertebrae that have been fused.

I find myself speculating about life after neck surgery. The following are the questions I didn’t dare raise—but plague me in their silliness—to the doctor or the nurse:

  • Will this be a problem for any future x-rays? How about when I go to the dentist?
  • Will my metallic neck set off alarms when I go through TSA?
  • Do I need a doctor’s confirmation when medical forms ask me, “Do you have any metal parts?”
  • What happens at the resurrection? Do I take my metal parts with me, or will Jesus replace them at the millisecond  of transformation?
  • Will people think I’m rebellious because I don’t bend my head downward for congregational prayer?
  • Will I weigh more because there’s titanium inside me?
  • Will I be taller? (Can I request extra fat fake disks so I could achieve a height of 5’2′?)
  • Can I donate my titanium for research when I die?
  • Do I have to stand far away from the microwave oven when it’s running?
  • Will my blowdryer heat up the inside of my neck and fry my spine?

Oh, please stop me!

I won’t get to do the surgery for at least six to eight weeks. That’s a whole lot of time to speculate and think up even more silly questions.

The best thing I can do in the meantime is fill my mind with God’s comfort. The knowledge of His unfailing love and presence. That nothing can happen to me that is beyond His control.

And here’s my verse for the next few weeks:

“My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.

When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.

All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”         (Psalm 130:15,16 NIV Bible)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2600 Miles

Last week, Bruce and I picked up our second oldest grandchild, Autumn, and began the nearly 1300 miles back to our cute house in the Pacific Northwest. We and her parents had supplied her with coloring books, an iPod, chapter books, activity books, snacks galore and a pink water bottle.

Autumn is a slender six-year-old, but nevertheless, almost from the minute we set out, she said, “I’m hungry.”

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We told her we couldn’t stop until we got to Wyoming, so she contented herself with one of her prepackaged snacks.

Throughout Wyoming, we looked for two treasures: pronghorn antelope and…rest-stops. the need for rest stops—at regular and closely spaced intervals—helped us come up with a jingle of sorts: “Rest stop, rest stop, we need a rest stop,” to the tune of that old childish mocking tune, “nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah.”

By Montana, we had counted 244 antelope, and four rest stops, two of which we missed because the driver—who wasn’t me— was always in the left lane, passing slower cars. (note: every car is slower, except for the ones who get pulled over.)

In Montana, we eagerly watched the faint, purple haze of mountain silhouette grow larger and more distinct. Looking for a Taco Bell in Butte, Montana, our trusty GPS betrayed us and led us way, way up a hill overlooking the scenic mining town.

We swam that night in a nice heated pool and tried to teach Autumn how to float on her back. She’s almost there.

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At Spokane, we walked the Riverfront Mall, which is kind of different. Not that it has tons of shops. But it provides some sheltered overhead walkways that connect the mall to other city shops and businesses. Downtown Spokane is scenic.

A block north is the scenic Riverfront Park that parallels the Spokane River. If you’re into bicycling or jogging, this is a lovely spot. Lots of tall shade trees, and the Spokane Falls provide a kind of muted white noise.

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Eastern Washington, west of Spokane has its own kind of remote, treeless beauty. Autumn eagerly waited for the Cascades to come into view. We stopped at an overlook by the Columbia River, took lots of pictures of Autumn, and I watched her like a mother-hen, due to the jagged un-fenced cliffs.

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In Bellingham we walked the pier, collected interesting sea shells, watched tiny crabs in a tide pool, and took a picture of a maroon-colored se stars.

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Anyone planning a northwest trip has simply got to take a ferry ride through the San Juan Islands. Just as the Space Needle is iconic for Seattle, the San Juans are the iconic collections of cedar-covered earth, scattered throughout the Sound. It’s possible to spot a whale or sea lion or eagle along the route. Don’t miss this. (Autumn says this was her favorite part of the trip.)

 

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Friday Harbor has a number of cute places to stay for a day or two, some interesting shops, a play place for kids (this was one of Autumn’s favorite stops), and some interesting museums. We visited the Whale Museum and the Historical Society’s farm house and barn and school and jail (once called the worse jail in the country). I love these visits. Reminds me how blessed I am to live in modern times.

 

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if you’re looking for an uncrowded little zoo, the Greater Vancouver Zoo (just a few miles north of the  Lynden, Abbotsford border crossing is a nice place. The walkways are mostly shaded, even though there aren’t as many animal exhibits as a larger zoo, obviously. (And don’t forget that you need a passport to get into Canada.) But the raptor show is fascinating, and the little train ride around the exhibits is a nice set-down-and-rest respite.

I hope you get a chance to visit this part of the country. And when you do, give me a heads-up on social media.

 

A Trip Worth Taking

Last week, to celebrate our 37th anniversary, Bruce and I took a ferry from Anacortes, WA to Sydney, British Columbia.

The Washington Ferry system is amazing. The staff is courteous, well-trained, and the loading and unloading of cars and trucks and walk-on passengers is efficient and quick.IMG_0770

Our three-hour ferry ride wove in-between  lots of misty islands, and we saw an occasional eagle. But no whales, unfortunately.

About two thirds of the way toward our destination we docked at Friday Harbor. Too bad we didn’t have more time to explore, but next trip we’ll definitely hit this tourist spot.

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How exhilarating to stand outside, leaning onto the Ferry bannisters and feel the sea air drag at your face, almost like the current of the deep waters below.

On the map, the sound looks so tiny. But those open spots on the map translate into really, really open and enormous seas when you’re actually viewing them from a ferry’s vantage.

Sailboats dotted the waters and fishing boats and whale sightseeing boats chugged by, slow in comparison to the speed of the Ferry.

At one point, a boat got too close as it tried to cross the Ferry’s designated path. The captain blew five ear-pounding blasts to warn it away.

We finally docked at Sydney and waited to clear the border crossing. Then, on to the Butchart Gardens, a spectacular British Garden that’s been around for over 100 years. I had visited the Gardens when I was just sixteen, but never forgot the charm and beauty of the place.

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Highly recommended if you like flowers! And waterfalls, and fountains, and manicured lawns, and lots and lots and lots of foreign tourists…of which I’m one.

We ate dinner at a rather nice place called The Keg, right across the street from Victoria’s harbor. How fun to watch the sea planes take off and land just a football field’s length away.

We stayed at a wonderful Bed and Breakfast called the Beaconsfield Inn. Built in 1905, the entire home is furnished with period antiques and offers lovely room-amenities, like jacuzzis, and bathrobes for lounging, and antique books, written about the early years of the city of Victoria. A lovely breakfast capped off our stay there.

Then back to the Ferry for our trip back to the States.

Later, we drove up to Mt Baker and took a couple of shots. Still lots of snow up there, and the vistas are gorgeous. Different from the Colorado Rockies. Greener topography. The peaks are craggier, more Canadian in appearance. But not so high in altitude. And only an hour from our house!

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I hope you enjoyed my little travelogue. The state of Washington, in general, and the San Juan Islands, in particular, should be on everyone’s bucket list to visit. And a trip to Canada is always scenic and interesting, especially when you get to converse with Canadians. They’re charming, but they talk funny!

I’ll be out next week. I mean, out to Colorado to visit family. So, most likely will not be posting until the following week.

Comment on my post if my words and photos have given you the “bug” to see my neck of the woods. Have a great week!

At Your Age…

 

 

 

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I don’t know when this happened, but some time in the few years after I hit fifty, I began to notice a subtle difference in the way strangers perceived me.

It’s a curious thing, this aging. People make assumptions about you.

Like, at the store: The young produce lady “helped” me just a bit too much. The girl at the doctor’s office who talked to me in a condescending way after I entered my “height and weight,” instead of “weight and height.” Or the twenty-something associate at the new and unfamiliar computer store who assumed I couldn’t find my way around and gave me kindergarten-like instructions to get to the computer paper aisle.

Lately, I’m getting this a lot: “at your age…” from my dentist, my doctor, the radiologist, the folks who desire to profit in the funeral business, the life insurance people, the pharmacist.

And now that I’m not gainfully employed, the assumption is that I’m not doing anything productive. Or that I’m not as capable of thinking or working effectively.

What?!

I remember noticing this happen to my older friends. Somehow, it didn’t occur to me that this judgment would strike me one day, too.

I think it has much to do with our culture’s worship of youth: taut skin, supple, lithe bodies, health and vigor.

It’s true. I’m not beautiful. Age has scripted lines around my eyes and dragged my flesh downward.

But…

 

Here are ten truths about older people I’d love to imprint on younger people’s minds and hearts:

  1. Age is a number, not a diagnosis.
  2. Age confers wisdom, accumulated knowledge, and skills that younger people often lack.
  3. Age makes us slower, but our thinking is often deeper, wider, and higher.
  4. Age spurs us to focus on achieving goals we put on the back burner when we were younger.
  5. Age helps us appreciate the preciousness of life, and to recognize how quickly it passes.
  6. Age gives us perspective on human relationships, particularly challenging ones.
  7. Age teaches us patience.
  8. Age gives us greater appreciation of nature and the arts.
  9. We may not see as well, or hear as well, but we feel pain as acutely as younger people.
  10. We are valuable, not just because of our experience and wisdom, but because our lives are precious in God’s sight.

“Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?” (Job 12:12 NIV Bible)

Seeking the Creator in nature and the arts

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