Jeremiah 29:11: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Stepping through an uncomfortable door

Photo from Outrageous Happiness #16
So I started a group through a local church where I live during the work week.  I participated in this
same group last spring.  It's at a generous-to-open-her-home woman's house.  Last spring I appreciated this woman's love for, and enthusiasm for, God.  I'd noticed that I'm a bit different from the rest of the group of women but figure that we're all in the same body, despite our differences.  I am thinking that perhaps God uses our differences to make us better.

Everyone in this group, aside from me, is Mexican.  Mexican in the kind of way where they all speak Spanish sometimes and make trips to Mexico at least annually where they have friends and family.  In a way where they identify with liberal politics because of those immigration issues.

I'm a white conservative. I'm conservative because I actually believe in the values of smaller government, self determination, and I am absolutely pro life.  Recently I went to mass with my oldest son.  I noticed that in their affirmations of what they believe that they said they were against the death penalty.  I get it - all life is precious.  In the past I've been in favor of the death penalty because I felt like we couldn't afford to keep for sure, killed many people, types of folks in prison - it's very expensive.  But now I don't know.  Anyway, I'm definitely on the opposite side of things from most liberals.  Last spring a few things came up that were uncomfortable - times when they spoke well of Nancy Pelosi (she's the congress woman from our state - California.  I know she's valuable before God; but I abhor her politics).   Yet, when it's all said and done, I'm a follower of Christ way before I'm a conservative.  And the two are NOT the same.

The group had stopped for the summer and began again this past Thursday.

As I stepped through the door of this woman's house I wanted to hug her.  She's my sister in Christ.  She's precious in the way she loves Jesus.  But she definitely wasn't hugging me so I smiled and greeted her and sat down.  I noticed that she hugged the 2 women who came in after me.  Of course it could be something in my own demeanor that kept her from extending a warm hug toward me.  I know that I don't exactly exude hugginess.

The truth is - I'm a little bit uncomfortable.  I feel like maybe I'm not really a part of the group.  But, for now I'll just pray about it.  Maybe it's good for me to be out of my comfort zone.  It's possible it's good for them too - who knows?

The really ironic thing about it is that this group will be going through the book Uninvited: Living Loved when you  feel Less then, Left out, and Lonely by Lysa TerKeurst. Isn't that intersting?

Prayer for Daniel

Graphic from The Children's Activity Center
Seems like I'll be spending quite a bit of time on the chapter entitled "Your family: fortifying the lives of those you love" in Shirer's book Fervent.

Yesterday I prayed and spent time looking up Scriptures for my prayer for my youngest son Daniel. I've been praying about what I'm to specifically, strategically, pray for Daniel.  Then, as I began to write out the prayer words, something happened that sometimes happens for me.  I found myself writing words that weren't the ones I planned. It's as if God's directed my words to place where I hadn't planned on going.  If I were in a Pentecostal church, they'd probably say I was prophesying.  I don't know about all that, but I do know that sometimes God give me words for people.

Here's my prayer for Daniel:                                                                                                                 

Father God, I praise You that You are the all knowing all powerful God!  I praise You that You have good plans for me and my children.  Thank You that You knew who I would be, the good and the bad, and that You chose to bless me with Daniel as a son.  I praise You because I know that You love Daniel more than I do.  Thank that You still chose me to be his mother; that amidst all my failings, I am the one you wanted to impact my son.  I praise You that You who began a good work in Daniel will be faithful to complete it.

I ask forgiveness for the ways I’ve failed Daniel.  For all the pain his father and I’s failed marriage inflicted upon him – I’m so sorry God.  Please restore and heal his broken heart. I ask forgiveness for the fact that I wasn’t always present for Daniel; that sometimes I failed to deal with the pain of life and chose to slip into food, daydreams, relationships and other things to numb out pain.   I’m sorry God, I was wrong.  I thank You for Your forgiveness.  Please dear God heal the parts of Daniel that are broken because of mine and his father’s failures.

Father I pray that Your Holy Spirit within Daniel would raise up in him the desire to delight himself in You.  Draw him to Yourself dear God. Holy Spirit teach my son how to delight in you. I thank You that You will make Daniel’s steps firm as he delights in You.

Father, please heal the holes in Daniel that are resulting in fractured relationships.  Oh Lord, make Daniel a lover of the people around him.  Teach him how to love.  Father teach Daniel to love in a way that never gives up.  Help him to grow to love others more than himself.  May Daniel not have a swelled head or seek himself first. Help him not keep score of the sins of others.  Help him trust You and trust people to You. Dear God please help Daniel’s love to grow and increase beyond measure, bringing him into the rich revelation of spiritual insight in all things. Dear God pour love on Daniel so that if fills his life and splashes over on everyone around him.  May his life be infused with strength and purity, filled with confidence in the presence of You. 

Father I pray for Daniel’s future wife.  Please keep her close to You.  Develop in her a tender humility and quiet patience.  Father may she be a person who demonstrates gentleness and a generous love toward others.  May she be a woman who speaks when she has something worthwhile to say.  May she be a person of kind words.  May she be a woman who seeks to cultivate inner beauty; make her a loyal, wise woman. Show her the work you have for her dear Lord and grant her confidence in Your calling on her life.  Please grant her the opportunities to develop her gifts and skills for the work to which You’ve called her.  Develop in her a heart of diligence.  Make her a person who can enjoy the good material things of life, but who doesn’t have to have the material stuff.  Raise within her a spirit of giving and a heart of simplicity.

Oh Father, bring Daniel and his future wife together in Your perfect timing.  Help them both wait on the other.  Please bless them with the kind of attraction and affinity where they’re totally taken with one another.  Help them both see, and build up the good in one another.  Enable and empower them to be responsive to one another.  Teach Daniel how to honor , delight in and be good to his wife.  Give him a heart that will seek to truly hear and know what is important to her and to value those things.  Empower him to be good to his wife.

May it be said of Daniel that he is a lover of You, his wife, his children and everyone around him.  May his life be marked by excellence in everything he does.  May he always have time, room, and hospitality for the people you’ve placed in his life.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Prayer to to be a better wife

Graphic from Kabbalah of Marriage
It's looking like I'm going to be in Shirer's fifth chapter about fortifying the lives of those you love for quite a while.  It opens up so many doors for me.  

Today I decided to focus on my own role as a wife.  After having spent time looking up Bible verses, meditating, and praying, here's my prayer regarding being a wife: 

Father I thank You that You are the giver of good things.  I thank You for marriage.  You’ve created that divine mystery of how a man charms a woman and the two make love and become one.  It is truly magnificent and is Your creation. Marriage mirrors Your love for the church, your people throughout the earth and throughout time.   I praise You as the creative engineer, maker of good things, all powerful and holy one.

Father I ask forgiveness for the ways I’ve failed in marriage:
Failed to make two prior attempts at marriage to work. 
Failed to keep myself pure outside of marriage.
Times when I’ve chosen to care more for myself than my husband.
Times when I’ve flown off the handle.
Times when I’ve focused on the flaws in my husband instead of looking for the best.
Times when I’ve spoken unkindly.
Times when I’ve been tired and lazy in my approach to our home and relationship.
Times when I’ve not been supportive of my husband, when I’ve been impatient and short with him.
Times when I’ve kept a score of what he’s done wrong.
Times when I’ve been more consumed with my needs then seeking to see, and care for, his needs.
Father I ask forgiveness for all these past failures of mine – thank You for Your forgiveness!

All powerful, all mighty God, please change me.

Grant me the focus, energy and ability to become a better person and a better wife.  By Your power in me Lord, help me be devoted to John.  Empower me to be supportive.  Open my eyes to recognize his needs and be responsive to them.  Help me seek his good over that of my own.  Oh Holy Spirit put a guard on my lips and let no hurtful words slip past them. Grant me the wisdom, insight, focus and energy to cultivate good between John and I.  Illuminate my mind to what cultivating good between us should like like, and how to do just that in every day life. May I be a woman who pursues peace everywhere I go and especially in our marriage. May I put up with those human failings that are specifically John’s and overflow in love toward him in spite of them.  May I never want what I don’t have but instead live in gratitude for the good that is mine.  May I engage in more than obligation, may I seek to be pleasing to him. May I trust You always and know that You’ve given me this man and this relationship.  Help me rejoice and celebrate all the good that is mine.

It's not her fault

Graphic from NPQ
Now that my mother is gone, we have nothing to hold us together my sisters and I.

I've recently forced myself to start visiting my oldest sister once a month.  It's easy to feel  overwhelmed by work demands and make excuses, let the time go way too long between visits.  Plus, if I'm honest, it's not really fun in any way to visit my oldest sister.  She's annoying and manipulative; but she's still my sister and she doesn't really have any friends. So I decided to just make a commitment to myself to ensure I see her once a month.  But I can't seem to even want to make myself go looking for my middle sister.  I haven't seen her since mom died. She's the sister who's a paranoid schizophrenic.

My middle sister's daughter told me that she's camping out in the orange groves over by where we grew up.  From before the time I was born in 1960, until the late 90s my parents owned 5 acres and a home out in what ended up being an area where people had orange groves.  They built their home with their own hands and added onto it as they could afford.  We grew up there and it was home.  But in the last few years of my father's life he became ill and wasn't able to keep it up, so that by the time he died, there was quite a bit of work to be done.  My mom sold it all (and then later squandered all the money). I don't think middle sister has come to terms with their death so it's as if she's trying to keep a piece of that life.  Plus it's quiet out there and. apparently, no one bothers her.  Maybe she has a PO box to get her social security disability checks and she'll rent a hotel for the too cold weeks.  Luckily the weather is rather pleasant all the time in southern California.  She was always really good at pioneer, camping type stuff.

I've noticed lately at work that the courts are letting people off conservatorship super easily.  On the one hand I understand that everyone should have the right to autonomy, on the other hand, people with extreme mental illness make such poor decisions that can cause harm to themselves and others. Middle sister never even got onto conservatorship.  She did end up with some acute hospital hospitalizations through her life.  When she was in her mid to late 40s she finally got onto social security for her mental illness.  It was a wonder she lasted so long.  She won't take meds and she has a lot of non reality based beliefs.  These beliefs are about things such as rays from TV/radio/cell phone infringing on her, or people being out to do her bad.  I don't think she sees things or hears voices, I'm not sure.  I don't think she would have ever told me if she did. As is typical for people who have schizophrenia, she has a difficult time pulling things together - she's unkept and so is any area where she lives.   She'll "clean" over and over sometimes, and things around her may even be damp from the cleaning, but it's always disorganized. 

My heart goes out to her.  I think perhaps I'm a bad person for not actively seeking her out and trying to help her in some ways.  She's just so resistive, and it hurts me so much when I hear her saying such delusional nonsense.  Why is it that I can work with mentally ill people but not even take the initiative to try to be there for my sister?  What's wrong with me?  So much of my life was burdened under the heaviness of her illness, I never felt any resentment, but it wasn't comfortable.  It was even painful.  It feels so hopeless.

Oh Father God, please protect Gail.  Please keep her safe and fed.  Bring her happiness.  If You want me to do something specific for her, please show me and give me the strength/ability to do it.  I don't think I'm a good sister but You are a good God.  Please bless her, she's so broken and it's not her fault.

A prayer to remember

Graphic from It's All about Yeshua
The 4th chapter in Shirer's book Fervent is a call to a prayer time to help you remember your identity in Christ.  After reading through her verses as well as some more that I found, this is my prayer:

Dear Father God, You truly are my hero!  You are the almighty God, yet You chose to love me.   You chose to start a covenant with Abraham and Sarah that led down through the generations to me. Even though all humanity, and especially me, was filled with sin, willfulness and rebellion, You chose the path of love toward us.  You chose to become one of us and identify with our human frailty and suffering; I can never thank You enough for that dear Jesus! Thank You Jesus for dying on the cross. I’m in the process of learning what Your death on the cross means; the more I learn the more grateful I become – praise and glory be to Your name for all You’ve done for me and the rest of humanity! Thank You so much that you don’t hold my sins against me! Thank You that I never need to fear not being good enough – You have made me Your beloved child, Thank You father that You’ve put Your Holy Spirit within me. I can barely comprehend Your great love toward me; You say that I’m so important to You that You’ve written my name on the backs on Your hands – oh my goodness, thank You so much!!!

Father I ask forgiveness; forgiveness for choosing too often to believe the enemy’s lies about who I am instead of Your truth. I ask forgiveness for not valuing myself – my mind, body and soul – as You do.  Oh Father please forgive me for eating food that doesn’t nourish this incredible body that You’ve given me.  Forgive me for filling this mind with less than lovely things that don’t bring those things that You have for me into my life.  Forgive me for self doubt and criticism. Forgive me for harboring unforgiveness, bitterness and self pity within my spirit.   For choosing to veer off Your path of service to others and choosing to just look out for myself instead. Thank You for Your forgiveness.  I repent of these ways and choose to start anew today.

Empower me oh Holy Spirit within me to change. Please put a guard on my lips that I not speak those words of self doubt and criticism that come into my mind from the enemy or the fallen world around me; instead, please call back to my mind who You say I am.  Help me to remember and speak aloud the fact that You have destined me from before the foundation of the world to experience the full inheritance of the kingdom realm. Grow me Lord in understanding Your kingdom and how to live a Kingdom lifestyle.  Please help me see people as You see them and serve them as You.  Instill deep within me the assurance that You will complete that which You started in me – that I will become better and better not because of my goodness, but because of who You are. Empower me dear Lord to live each day in the awareness that You have a destiny for me and, because of Your greatness, I will fulfill Your destiny for me.

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