Sunday, October 30, 2011

A posture of prayer

Over the past few weeks God has really laid heavily upon my heart the importance of prayer. At times, I haven't been able to decipher how and what this should look like, yet I hear His voice over and over again whispering "Come near, Draw near." And I've been doing this...alone...trying to obey and respond to His still small voice. And through obedience, study, prayer and praise, I sense He is calling me to so much more. Calling me to something deeper, something more intimate, something more purposeful and powerful. Even still, my hesitant and fearful heart feels burdened, at times panicked.

Today in church God painted a picture in my heart. I envisioned my life, a journey, a race. As if I am running through a thick forest of trees frantically seeking His face and His ways. Where sometimes there is a clear opening and I can see Him full on...and other times, I'm wildly running and the limbs of the world are thick and protruding, threatening to block my view, and so heavily weighing me down with trouble and worry that I can only see part of His face and have to strain to do so. In the past, I've lost sight of it altogether and have wondered if He is still there, if He is still for us. This is not my struggle now, my struggle is keeping Him in sight, free from distraction. Sometimes the lures of this world disguise themselves as leaves of beauty...earnestly fighting for my attention and affection, leaving empty promises to satisfy. Yet, they all too soon wither and fall to the ground, along with their fleeting beauty and failed promise to bring fulfillment.

The conviction of intercessory prayer (and prayer beyond just myself) persists. Yet the forest still remains. That tree of doubt next to that tree of discouragement, waiting for me to stumble and fall, to keep me down and cause me to lose sight all together. Connivingly working with the Enemy to deceive. And the Lord is saying, child, those trees will remain. Life will continue on as a forest. But, to seek me and find me you must crouch down. On your knees is where you need to be. It's in this position where you will find me. I haven't moved. I was. I am. I'm yet to come. I remain the same. Kneel down in this forest of life. It's there that the opening exists, The light shines through, uninterrupted by the limbs of worry and strife. They can't weigh you down while in this posture of prayer and humility. They don't grow downward and can't reach you while you're here, yet the Son will. Those troublesome limbs and distracting branches do grow strong and mighty. I'll show you the way through them, through this forest, through your doubt and discouragement, through your fear and weariness. The opening to light, the clear vision to My face and My ways begins on your knees. I'm bigger than those trees. I'm mightier than the oaks and higher than the cedars of the forest.
Pray.

I don't have the answers. Lord, at times I do not understand your ways or your plan for our lives. But your Word clearly states "do not lean on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5). I'm following Your ways, but I don't always feel the blessing. In a posture of prayer, where I must mightily seek and acknowledge You, I'm trusting You to make my paths straight (Proverbs 3:6). I don't always know what to pray for, but you use others to speak to me and Your righthand man is seated next to You interceding on my behalf...filling in the gaps and spaces with mercy and grace. Where I lack wisdom and discernment, I have an all-wise Savior that covers me.

While it's going to feel uncomfortable, and at times inconvenient...I'm trying. I'm going to set aside my pride and stubborness, my idleness and feelings of fear and inadequacy. I'm replacing them with a posture of prayer...and the belief that I'll see His face shine more brilliantly than I've ever seen before. I sense something big on the horizon. Lord, lead the way.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A can of prayers...

The kids and I embarked on a new craft project last night. I got this idea from my sister (I think she saw something similar on pinterest?) where you take a jar or can and turn it into a place to keep your prayers. You use an old soup can (ours; Cream of Chicken from last night's dinner), popsicle sticks (package of colored found for a $1.00 at Debby's Dollar), scrap paper to cover your can, and any other embellishments to jazz up your creation. Our crafting supplies all came from Debby's Dollar Store...the stickers and do-dads to make our label and the pleated ribbon ($1.00 for 25 yards of plush prettiness!)
The kids and I wrote down specific prayer requests and praises on address labels (easy to peel off and replace,) stuck them on each popsicle stick and placed them in our can. Many include things that we are thankful for, things we need help with, prayer requests such as safety for our friends grandparents on a 6 month mission trip to Zimbabwe, our sponsored child Upendo, for Grandma to have a safe and fun trip while in Philadelphia, healing of members of our church family with broken bones and cancer and struggling marriages, those affected by the earthquake in Turkey, and the family of the race car driver who just died.
At dinner time we took turns passing around the can, pulling out random sticks and praying together for these things. The kids got such a kick out of this and were so excited to do it again this morning over breakfast. Spiritually, it is helping them learn to pray, to ask God for the things we need and desire, to be thankful, and to think beyond ourselves. Educationally, it's been great for my budding first grader who is perfecting the art and skill of reading and writing.
Such an easy and inexpensive means to incorporate prayer into our daily lives in a creative and fun way. Truly a blessing we have all discovered.
You should try it!

Monday, October 24, 2011

A diamond in the rough...

For weeks now I have been looking all over our house and asking family and friends if they've seen Brooke's hot pink sparkly sequin ballet flats. They have been missing and I've been at a loss wondering how a pair of such bright shoes could magically disappear off the face of the earth? It is Brooke's only pair of flats and semi-dressy shoes...she's got flip flops galore (which she can't wear to school), sandals (which have been too cold to wear to school), boots (that have been too hot to wear to school), and tennis shoes (which work on gym day, but don't offer the fashion statement she's wishing to send on most days of school). And even though these pink sparklies were only $14 at Target, they were sacred in this girl's life! :)
And guess what appeared on a sunny Sunday afternoon,
in the backyard,
buried in overgrown lawn and glittering among
blanketed leaf?
You guessed it!
Brooke's pink sparkly shoe!
and it came complete with an extra 3 pounds of water weight from all the rain we've had,
and a nice little worm that decided to make a fancy new home out of it.
But just one shoe appeared. I'm willing to bet one of the squirrels from our backyard village has carried away the other.
I can't tell you how many times I caught Brooke barefoot outside after leaving the house with shoes on. I should not be surprised.
I think someone in our house is learning a little something or other about responsibility.
Reminding me that we are all a work in progress. Our potential hidden at times.
Waiting to sparkle and shine with surprise.
Indeed, a diamond in the rough.
Goodness girl!
What am I going to do with you :)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Every moment a teaching moment...

On the way home from church yesterday, Brooke became sold on the idea of having a lemonade stand in the front yard and quickly her entrepreneurial wheels began spinning.
Brayden was half in on it, not totally sold on the idea,
but it quickly became a family affair.
A little incentive never hurts.
Their second customer left an awesome tip!
($5.00 for two measly dixie cups of raspberry lemonade)
As the occasion began taking shape,
so did the conversations of our hearts...
Like the importance of taking care of your things and your business...
making them "pretty" and inviting.
How hospitality extends much farther than the four walls of your home...
that it's often an attitude, a posture of grace and "being a blessing".

The kids ran out of disposable cups, so we had to think quickly on our feet, we decided to offer our customers free candy and the option to wait for more cups to arrive (via Daddy).
This led to us brainstorming ideas for future endeavors...hot cider and donut stand, hot cocoa stand, giving away these things for free just to show God's love and put a smile on someone's heart. Not expecting anything in return, but still feeling joyful and fulfilled.
We talked about how important it is to be responsible and to keep things clean
(like the stash of wrappers from candy you've consumed
that is littered around your work space)
And to appreciate others and give generously...especially when it is unexpected.
And this last photo sums it up...a glimpse of
their last customer walking away satisfied and with a smile.
Such importance...the servant's heart of gratitude.
Our steady and continuous offer of thanksgiving.
Today was not a day of lemons, but we sure did make a lot out of our lemonade.
The kids earned $8.25 and learned a few important lessons along the way.

Colossians 3:23
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart,
as if working for the Lord."

This day was such an unexpected gift.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A tiny BIRTHDAY A tiny BIT LATE

For Berlyn's 2nd birthday we decided to throw her a "tiny" party inviting all of her "tiny" friends. As posted previously, her party had to be postponed because Brayden was in the hospital...then came the move, school starting, etc. I already had everything ready for the party, so at the last minute decided to invite everyone over to our new home to celebrate Berlyn turning 2 before too much time had passed and I was busy planning another child's birthday party. (*note to self: although everything had already been purchased and created prior to party, do not plan on throwing a party when your husband is out of town unless you only want three hours of sleep the night before :)
Above is Berlyn's birthday invitation
(a mini birthday banner. you may need to click on to enlarge)
Below is a series of envelopes the invitations were delivered in
(the smallest one contained the actual invite).
I made these three dimensional doilies with all of the old scrapbooking paper I already had and they became the inspiration around her theme/color scheme. I actually made these before I even designed the invitation.
(saw a great DIY how to...my hanging doilies are made of paper, but the tutorial used fabric for the inner circle parts and placed them in a nursery above a crib. Very nice.)
We had a lot of "tiny" food for all to enjoy.
(To cut back on such a lengthy post, I collaged many of the photos.)


Although it's hard to tell in the photo above, those mason jar mugs (thank you Denise!) are actually mini ones and the forks and spoons inside were mini as well (found last minute at Kroger of all places? in the paper product aisle)



I re-used Berlyn's birthday banner from last year.
Mini treat bags for our tiny guests.




The next several photos I was attempting to get a really cute photo of Berlyn by herself. She's 2, very active and would not sit still or look at the camera, and kept giving off the goofiest grin. I didn't get that "one" shot I was hoping for, but several cute ones did emerge that capture her tiny spirit.


(well, that one above is pretty cute...probably the best one of the bunch).
Peek-a-boo!
Where are you?!

Big hugs to our tiny guests
Wishing the day would never end...

but happy to feel such BIG love.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Today God served us Indian Summer on a silver platter...
A most gorgeous glorious day.







Breathing in fall.
The beauty of a new season.
One leaf at a time.