A Mother’s Prayer

2011. My prayer, “Lord, how do you want me to pray for this son?”

This verse was His answer. This one and psalm 107:1 & 1 Chronicles 16:34 { Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever. }

I wasn’t sure that was a specific enough scripture to pray for a son. It seemed like a solid general prayer for neighbors, acquaintances & probably co-workers, but possibly not quite adequate for a son.

I questioned God’s choice. I did. If you know me in real life you’re not surprised by that.

You know, parents out there, I wanted a solid promise. An action. A game plan. I wanted a guaranteed conclusion.

God spoke softly to my heart because He knows me best. “Lisa, you want something you can manipulate and control. I Am asking you to trust Me, and simply pray this for the son you love because I love Him more.”

That has been true of His response to me as I have questioned His Sovereign Father guidance over both of our sons.

He continually reminds me to let go. He continually reminds me of His steadfast love. He continually reminds me that He is good.

For 10 solid years I have prayed a very simple prayer,
“I give thanks to You God for You are good and Your steadfast love endures forever for this son and that son and that dear man and me.”

It was always a prayer for me. Father God always intended to teach me about His goodness and His steadfast and enduring love. He continues to pursue me with His love continually reminding me to push away control and manipulation. He encourages me to embrace trust in Him alone.

I’m learning. 10 years in… I’m growing in trust and intimacy with my heavenly Father.

How about you, friend?

What does Father God want you to trust into His good and loving hands? With whom does He ask you to trust?

Have you asked Him for scripture? Let Him show you something of His word to pray for His word is His character. His word is His promise.

Will you pray with me?

“I give thanks to You God for You are good and Your steadfast love endures forever for _____________. Thank You, Father, for teaching me how to pray and trust and know You in a deeper way. I choose to trust Your character and Your good plans for ________________. I trust You to turn my heart from control and manipulation. I choose to trust Your love and goodness for me too. Thank You, God. Amen.”

Eyes on Jesus… You’re shining,

~Lisa

Enjoy the Journey…

In the midst of every exciting and memorable adventure, a relationship building moment is sure to arise. You know, the unanticipated snafu in the well crafted plan. Perhaps it was the luggage that didn’t arrive at the airport when you arrived at your long awaited location.

Maybe you left your car behind and planned to rent mopeds once you arrived on the island by ferry only to learn that the moped workers’ union was currently on strike. {That was our honeymoon experience on Martha’s Vineyard.} Perhaps, the rental car company took your reservation, but forgot to hold the reservation for you. {Seinfeld reference}

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Ponder your most memorable adventures for a moment. Even as you read the words, you may find yourself begin to smile or even giggle as the memories download. Your very own memory book of adventures is highlighted by the boo boos, isn’t it? That’s definitely the case for me.

My dear man and I have a humorous anecdote for just about every journey we’ve taken together. Most of these events weren’t so funny IN the moment. {Relationship building} opportunities are what we dub these moments. However, we’ve learned over more than thirty years that it is typically the unexpected and even inconvenient unplanned situations which add the flavor to our otherwise vanilla plans.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
Isaiah 61:1

Now that we’ve all experienced a number of cancellations, postponements and disappointing changes in our circumstances due to the mandated shelter in place, I wonder how some of these unwelcome situations might be perceived in the future. Will these momentary burdens become memories of delight?

Please know that I am not making light of the terribly unpleasant – even unavoidable – feelings you have possibly experienced in this unprecedented year of 2020. The loss and the grief have yet to be reconciled I fear. Whether the plans were celebratory and long planned for or the unexpected need to memorialize a loved one, to gather in consolation of one another; the losses and the pain have been real and significant.

and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.
Isaiah 61:3

Perspective, though, is a beautiful gift. Having the opportunity to travel on through life and look back from a distance adds color, height, depth and reality to the bigger picture. It may seem absolutely impossible that the disappointments could ever look like anything but an ash heap. We’re all too close to the current moments to gain perspective.

I would encourage you, and myself as well, to anticipate the journey forward, and the vantage point to come. I pray for you, and for myself as well, that God will {as much as He delights to do it} turn our ashes to beauty, our mourning to joy, and our despair to praise!

May each and every one of us look in the rearview mirror to see that the first half of 2020 changed us in all the most positive ways, and caused us to turn a chapter in our lives. May the remaining chapters in our stories be dedicated to living and loving more fully because of the disappointments and painful experiences of today.

May we each look back with thanksgiving to God for His grace and mercy to carry us through while we remember with smiles, giggles, and even tears, the many ways He restored and redeemed our {relationship building} opportunities. May we all be better for all we’ve been saved from and through.

Eyes on Jesus… You shine!

~Lisa

Uncle Jim’s Thanksgiving

Maybe I just don’t remember a Thanksgiving celebration quite so impactful, but this one certainly goes to the top of my favorites list.  As I surveyed the faces, I recognized the presence of countless miracles gathered in one room.  In particular, God used the miracle of Uncle Jim to teach me perhaps one of the most important lessons of my lifetime.

Table set and ready for the gathering.

Right at three years ago Uncle Jim received a terrible diagnosis.  It was lung cancer – stage 4. The uninvited and unwelcome malignant tumor had made itself at home between a lung and spinal cord.  Quickly following discovery treatment began. The pressure to make life altering decisions in the fast lane must have been overwhelming.

In my quiet times of reflection, I thought of King Jehoshaphat.  He had once faced a seemingly impossible situation. Enemy forces loomed large over God’s people and land.  In response, King Jehoshaphat called all the people of Judah and Jerusalem together in prayer. Honestly and humbly, the king prayed, “O our God… We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You.” 2 Chronicles 20:12

Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
2 Chronicles 20:12 NIV

Two years passed and I began to sense that I needed to do more than pray the King’s words.  I sensed the Lord nudging me back into direct contact with my uncle. I cared deeply for this man who had been more like an older brother in our youth, but I felt awkward reaching out across years of silence. There was no discontent between us. Quite simply I had delegated communication responsibilities to my parents. They kept me informed of all the latest news. The busyness of life and miles of distance I now realize are a poor excuse!

Uncle Jim and his son, Jon, fried turkey chefs. They came to visit and cooked too!

The main point of all of this is that you know you are loved.

Sensing an urgency, I wrote a long overdue letter to my uncle.  I told him that I had been praying for him, and I referenced the words of James 5:14-15.  I carefully wrapped a small vial of oil, prayed for God’s favor, and mailed the package in absolute obedience to God.  Once received, Uncle Jim called me. He was curious. Skeptical, yet pleasantly surprised to receive this type of mail from me. For about an hour we enjoyed wonderful conversation full of laughter and honest questions.  I had very few answers.  

Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.
James 5:14‭-‬15 NIV

Before we said goodbye, I asked if I could pray for him.  I encouraged Uncle Jim to contact a local pastor and seek Godly wisdom.  He said he would think about it. Finally, I said to Uncle Jim, “The main point of all of this is that you know you are loved.”

Weeks passed without a word. Then unexpectedly Uncle Jim called to let me know the rest of the story.  His son’s youth pastor had enthusiastically gathered nine other men to anoint Uncle Jim with the oil I sent, and pray a simple prayer of faith. 

My own faith was encouraged as I listened to my uncle relay the details. “It wasn’t weird”, he said, “and I didn’t really feel anything unusual.”  My response was simply this, “Did you feel loved?”  

Fast forward a year later, Uncle Jim received the good news from his doctor.  The beautiful word remission had replaced the terrible word cancer. With strength returning, Uncle Jim and his children made the long drive from South Florida to join us for Thanksgiving.  We joined hands around the feast and called out to God with thankful hearts.

Uncle Jim kneeling in the front. He’s showing off his renewed strength!

So many times in life we do not know what to do, but we have a choice.  We can put our eyes on God. We can trust the fight to Him. We can reach out to touch another human being with encouragement.  Just as critical, we can make sure someone feels loved in the middle of the battle.

Do you feel loved?

This is my #dontforgetthanksgiving story. What’s yours?

Eyes on Jesus and Shine, 

Lisa

Day 11: {Remember} when… ?

 So Ruth gathered barley there all day, and when she beat out the grain that evening, it filled an entire basket.  She carried it back into town and showed it to her mother-in-law. Ruth also gave her the roasted grain that was left over from her meal.

“Where did you gather all this grain today?” Naomi asked. “Where did you work? May the Lord bless the one who helped you!”  So Ruth told her mother-in-law about the man in whose field she had worked. She said, “The man I worked with today is named Boaz.”

“May the Lord bless him!” Naomi told her daughter-in-law. “He is showing his kindness to us as well as to your dead husband.  That man is one of our closest relatives, one of our family redeemers.”  Ruth 2:17-20

{Remember}

To recall, be reminded of, look back.  To remember is a purposeful choosing.  It’s an action step on our journey toward our forever home.  And I am mindful today, remembering is a privilege.

pablo (70)

On this day 11 of our 31-day journey through Ruth, it seems fitting to take a rest stop and {remember}.

We began to walk with Naomi during a famine… and now she is experiencing harvest.

Naomi lost her husband and two sons to death in a foreign land… and now she is experiencing ‘family’ with Ruth and her kinspeople back at home in Judah.

Naomi changed her name to bitter – Mara… and now she is blessing Boaz as pleasant – Naomi.

Naomi poured out her heart and held out empty hands in her grief… and now she has her heart filled with the love of a daughter and holds out hands to receive abundant grain provision.

Naomi declared her inability to provide for her daughters in law… now she offers Ruth a home, a people, and most important the One True Almighty God.

Naomi’s life, understandably after such great loss, seemed doomed and hopeless.  She had lost everything… except God had never left her.  In a sense, she and her family may have left God.  They may have believed they could make a plan of escape for themselves and avoid the famine season.

However, I believe God wants us to know there’s a desert walk, a famine season, a wilderness experience on every one of our paths toward HOME.  God intends this part of our life experience to be purposeful.  It’s part of our pioneer training.  He leads us into it for our good – for our strengthening.desert plants

 

I was reminded this past weekend… Jesus, at the beginning of His earthly ministry, was led into the wilderness by the Spirit of God.  If the wilderness experience was a part of Jesus’ training, strengthening and considered purposeful by the Father, why wouldn’t I think the same is true for me?

Lord Jesus, help me {remember} to put my eyes on You today.  Help me to {remember} to follow You wherever You are walking and to stop and rest with You too.  You are my Great Pioneer of faith.  You are my Good Shepherd.  I want to follow You.  Thank You for reminding me to sing of Your goodness, to meditate on Your faithfulness in Your Word, and to recount Your abundant benefits and blessings I’ve received in my own life.

I bless You, Lord, O my soul and all that is within me.  I bless Your Holy Name.  Amen.

 

Ponders:

Below is a portion of Psalm 77:  a prayer of anguish in the dark night where sleep will not be found.  Let’s read through this Psalm either recognizing this scenario as our current circumstances all too familiar or {remember}ing a time in the past – a season of our lives when this could have been our own prayer.

  • How good is it to cry aloud to the Lord?  Have you?  What release did you experience when you poured your heart out before the Lord?  Do you think this is what Jesus meant by casting our cares on Him?
  • The psalmist writes, “Let me remember my song in the night; let me meditate in my heart.”  Do you have a go-to hymn or praise song for the middle of the dark night?  Have you memorized certain Scripture on which to meditate, repeat, chew on during the long night of anguish?
  • From Psalm 77 and from your own experience, what happens to us as we begin to {remember}?  When we begin to sing that song in the dark?  When we begin to repeat the Scripture we know?  Or maybe the only word we can eek out in despair is the Name above all names, Jesus, what happens to our soul?
  • If you haven’t made use of God’s limitless resources, His amazing benefits – will you begin today?  If you are in this season, just choose to remember God’s goodness in the past.  If you have come out of that season, maybe now is a good time to remember, the dryness, the pain, the wandering, and then the good and loving way your Shepherd led you through safely.
  • This is your testimony.  This is the story of your life God is writing.  Will you write it down?  Will you share something of your own experience with {remember}ing the goodness of the Lord?

I cry aloud to God,
    aloud to God, and he will hear me.
In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord;
    in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying;
    my soul refuses to be comforted.
When I remember God, I moan;
    when I meditate, my spirit faints. Selah

 

You hold my eyelids open;
    I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
I consider the days of old,
    the years long ago.

I said,“Let me remember my song in the night;
    let me meditate in my heart.”
    Then my spirit made a diligent search:
“Will the Lord spurn forever,
    and never again be favorable?
Has his steadfast love forever ceased?
    Are his promises at an end for all time?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
    Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” Selah

Then I said, “I will appeal to this,
    to the years of the right hand of the Most High.”
I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
    yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
I will ponder all your work,
    and meditate on your mighty deeds.
Your way, O God, is holy.
    What god is great like our God?
You are the God who works wonders;
    you have made known your might among the peoples.
You with your arm redeemed your people,
    the children of Jacob and Joseph. Selah
We give thanks to You God for You are good and Your steadfast love endures forever! Amen.