Prayers of Psalmody, for One Anothering

…as for me, my prayer is to You, O Lord.
At an acceptable time, O God,
in the abundance of Your steadfast love
answer me in Your saving faithfulness.
Psalm 69:13

O Lord—my God, my Father, my King—God, Father, and King of us all. Please bend low to hear my prayer now, as I fall at Your feet. I come to You, asking You to show me how to love and serve and live by the light of Your grace in Your body, the Body of Christ. As I am faced daily with others—others who love You, serve You, belong to You—would you please teach me, show me, and enable me so that I can pour forth the heart of Christ into the hearts of His people.
My prayer is to You, O Lord, and I ask You to answer me in Your saving faithfulness because Your steadfast love is abundant.

Please, Father from whom all love flows in truthful abundance, enable me to love others, not by my own strength and might but by Your indwelling of the Spirit in my soul, pour Yourself out by Your loving grace through my thoughts, words, prayers, deeds, actions, and inactions.

John 13:34, John 13:35, John 15:12, John 15:17, Romans 12:10, Romans 13:8, Galatians 5:14, Ephesians 4:2, 1 Corinthians 16:14, 1 Thessalonians 3:12, 1 Thessalonians 4:9, 2 Thessalonians 1:3, 1 Peter 1:22, 1 Peter 3:8, 1 Peter 4:8, 1 John 3:11, 1 John 3:23, 1 John 4:7, 1 John 4:11, 1 John 4:12, 2 John 5

Please, Father from whom there is no shadow or variation, enable me to show sacrificial kindness to others, not with words or speech only but with actions and truth.

Ephesians 4:32, 1 Thessalonians 5:15

Please, Father who is the one and only God of truth, enable me to curb flattery and lies, rather to act and speak according to the truth in love which You desire Your people to pour out upon one another and upon the world around us.

Lev 19:11, Zechariah 8:16, Malachi 3:16, Ephesians 4:25, Colossians 3:9, James 4:11

Please, Father who teaches and instructs and bestows honor perfectly, enable me to honor all those You put around me, above me, and under me, in accordance with Your will.

Romans 12:10, Ephesians 5:21, Philippians 2:3-5, 1 Peter 5:5

Please, Father who rights all wrongs and redeems all the brokenness of the world through Christ’s work and sacrifice, enable me to abstain from wronging others but rather to seek their good and to sacrifice myself for their blessing.

Lev 19:11, Lev 25:14, Lev 25:17, Zechariah 8:17, Galatians 5:15, Galatians 5:26, James 4:11

Please, Father who dwells with the Son and Spirit, who perfectly bear our burdens and strengthen us for their weight, enable me to give of my soul and my strength to bear the burdens of others through prayer and action and true sacrifice.

Romans 12:15, Romans 15:1, Galatians 6:2, Ephesians 4:2, Colossians 3:13

Please, Father of the Lord Jesus Christ who wept with His beloved friends over the death of their brother, who knows what it is to look upon pain and suffering, enable me to cry, mourn, grieve, and sit quietly with those around me who are weighed down by the sorrows of this life.

1 Sam 20:41, Romans 12:15, 2 Corinthians 13:11

Please, Father who gives us both holy Scripture and Holy Spirit to be our encouragement, who places us in the Body of Christ for mutual support and stimulation in the faith, enable me to be an encouragement to others so that their countenances will be lifted and You will be glorified.

Proverbs 27:17, Romans 1:12, Romans 14:19, 1 Thessalonians 4:18, 1 Thessalonians 5:11, Hebrews 10:24, Hebrews 10:25

Please, Father of Paul the Apostle who specifically sought to exhort Your people, You who use the sword of Your Spirit to cut and hone our souls for Your purpose and Your Kingdom, enable me to rightly divide Your Word so that the words I speak and the prayers I pray would be an exhortation toward righteousness in Christ.

Proverbs 27:17, Romans 15:14, Colossians 3:16, Hebrews 3:13, Hebrews 10:24

Please, Father of us all who welcomes us with grace and mercy, compassion and the shelter of Your protection, enable me to greet and welcome and embrace all who You put in my path, to the glory of Your name.

Romans 16:16, 1 Corinthians 16:20, 2 Corinthians 13:12, 1 Peter 5:14

Please, Father in the Trinity, who shares continual fellowship with the Son and the Spirit, enable me to imitate Your love and grace-filled fellowship so that I will build up the saints around me, and will be likewise built up by them, as we find opportunity to spur one another on to love and good works in the power of Your indwelling of us.

1 Peter 4:9, 1 Peter 5:14, 1 John 1:7

Please, Father who opens Your heavenly home to redeemed sinners, whose Son welcomed the poor and the marginalized, You who exemplify for Your people what it is to meet the needs of others, to pour ourselves out for the blessing of one another, to share our home and our possessions with people of all status and station, enable me to be hospitable with my words, my hands, my skills, and my home.

Romans 12:13, Romans 15:7, 1 Peter 4:9

Please, Father for whom my soul longs and my spirit waits all the day, You who deign to patiently bear with my own weaknesses and frailties and stumblings, enable me to wait for others around me, so that I do not rush ahead in selfish greed, but rather come alongside others in the patient grace that You daily pour out upon me.

1 Corinthians 11:33

Please, Father who is the God of peace, from whom flows all harmony and forgiveness, enable me to live at peace with all mankind, so that as far as I am able, Your peace and forgiveness dwells in me and flows through me to the point where I feel no animosity or jealousy, bitterness or unrest, and insomuch as I have influence, enable me to spread Your peace to others.

Psalm 133:1, Mark 9:50, Romans 12:16, Romans 14:13, Romans 14:19, Romans 15:5, Galatians 5:15, 1 Corinthians 1:10, 2 Corinthians 13:11, 1 Thessalonians 5:13, 1 Thessalonians 5:15, James 4:11, James 5:9

Please, Father who delights over me with singing, enable me to sing not only to You in praise but to others for the sake of Your glory, for Your delight, for the proclaiming of Your sovereign goodness.

1 Sam 18:7, Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16

Please, Father of all creation who loves to give good gifts to Your sons and daughters, enable me to use my talents and my resources to give to others, not selfishly but sacrificially and from the heart.

Esther 9:19, Esther 9:22, Luke 3:11, 1 Peter 4:10

Please, Father whom we serve and whose Son taught us by example how to serve others as He gave His life a ransom for many, enable me to use the strength and skills and resources that You have provided me to serve others, as a good steward of Your grace.

Mark 10:45, Luke 3:11, John 13:14, Romans 12:13, Galatians 5:13, Philippians 2:5-7, 2 Corinthians 4:5, 1 Peter 4:10

Please, Father of forgiveness, abundant in grace and mercy, enable me to be humble in spirit so that I will not hide my sins or dwell in iniquity, but rather enable me to humbly confess my sins to those against whom I have committed wrongs, and enable me to gladly and unabashedly forgive those who likewise seek my forgiveness.

James 5:16, 2 Corinthians 13:11, Ephesians 4:32, Colossians 3:13, 1 Peter 4:8

Please, Father who hears our prayers and sees in secret, enable me to pray in private and in public as You give opportunity, so that I can pray both for and with those around me, to bring petitions and praises to You not only on behalf of myself but for the people You put into my life with their varied lives of joy and suffering, anxieties and sins, praises and gifts.

Matthew 18:20, Acts 12:5, Romans 15:30, James 5:16

Our Father in heaven, who bends low to His children when we fall at Your feet, please hear the cries of Your child as I ask You to enable me to be a conduit of Christian grace to others, by the power of Your Spirit. Abba, Abba, Abba! Grant that I may glorify You in my interactions with those around me, so that Your glory will be magnified and Your Kingdom will be furthered on earth, where I await Your Son’s coming again where all will be made new, and Your people will see You—side by side—face to face.
For the sake of Your glory, Your power, Your Kingdom, Your honor, and Your Son~ amen.

Real Faith

I’ve been seeking, this week, to keep my faith in Jesus Christ ~& the grace that abundantly flows toward us through the Gospel~ in front of my eyes. I am asking God to fill me up with it so that it comes out my fingertips. And this morning when I read an encouraging snippet from Nancy Guthrie’s daily book, Abundant Life Day Book, the Lord reiterated that to me afresh as He spoke to me through words she wrote in encouragement and faith.

Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. … Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them. … Then when you call, the Lord will answer. “Yes, I am here,” he will quickly reply. Isaiah 58:6-7, 9

I love you too much to let you settle for some sense of false religiosity. So I am calling you to authentic spirituality. Here is how you live out real faith before Me: you get your eyes off yourself, your concerns, your struggles, your needs, and you throw yourself into meeting the needs of others.

As you become the answer to someone else’s prayers, you will look up and discover that I am answering your prayers. As you give yourself away, you will discover that you have been blessed with more than you could ever ask for. We’ll have the real relationship you long for, and when you call to Me, you will find me humbly available and quickly responsive.

May God enable me to serve others with joy for His sake, may He give me grace to be the answer to someone else’s prayers so that He can receive glory, and may He open my eyes in real faith so that I will always readily see how abundantly He is blessing me whether in the valleys or on the mountaintops. Amen.

Thursday April 29, 2010

Between an awful cold and trying to pop through his last two-year molars, my poor little boy is one unhappy critter. After a dramatic lunch, we colored with crayons, read some books, and I was about to get him a movie to watch (I was looking forward to cuddling up on the couch with him!) — when I walked into my room to get the laptop, and this is what I found.

I don’t think he had been in there (this is in our room, next to Steven’s bedside table) for more than two minutes while I was cleaning up the crayons in the other room. I guess he was so sleepy, he could fall asleep anywhere!
So cute. 🙂

Friday March 19, 2010

The lintel low enough to keep out pomp and pride;
The threshold high enough to turn deceit aside;
The doorband strong enough from robbers to defend;
This door will open at a touch to welcome every friend.
~Henry Jackson van Dyke

One of my favorite books about relationships is Face to Face by Steve Wilkins, discussing friendship and hospitality. It’s been about two years since I have read it, though, so it’s about time to start again. 🙂 Click here for a decent review of it. I once shared excerpts and quotes from it here, too (anyone remember that?).
The funny thing is that we are almost always eager to pursue friendship. But are we as eager to pursue hospitality?
The two things are frequently related, but not always. Interesting.

I don’t know that I want to get into a deep discussion about hospitality right now.
I just wanted to say that I personally have been getting back at it.
During times of heavy grief, I am not always able to open my doors to invite in lots of guests for pretty tables and delicious food. But times of heavy grief come and go (sometimes predictably, but more often less so), and the days come again when I am equipped by God’s grace to show hospitality.
In recent weeks, I have made an effort to have someone over for dinner once a week. We’ve done it for the last four weeks, and are about to take a break for a few weeks. But then maybe I will try it once again.
It is delightful to have people over to share a meal (simple or fancy, as the case may be), pop open a bottle of wine (or a couple of beers, or a pitcher of freshly squeezed lemonade), and chase the evening away with pleasant conversation and fellowship (and maybe even a board game or two).

I pray that as I age, I will grow into my desires of hospitality. I would love to share my home, my table, my meals, and my family with others. Especially those in the bonds of Christ (Galatians 6:10). It is mutually beautiful and encouraging! But I would, someday, like to grow out of my comfort zone. I would love to invite nonChristians into my home (with discretion and hubby’s leading) someday, so that we can share the Gospel more tangibly, with table & food & conversation. I have always felt more called to discipleship than evangelism (God gives different gifts to different people), but I think I must at least dip toes into both realms. And one way I would love to grow my evangelistic thread is by sharing food (not that that is the only way to show hospitality, for it certainly is not. It is just one of my main ways of showing hospitality, as God has gifted me in that area). I have a few thoughts on how this may develop and evolve through the coming years… but this isn’t the time or place for that just yet. 🙂

I have been trying out new recipes on my hubby very frequently of late, and have even tried new recipes on our guests (which can be risky business). For our first recent set of guests, we had fajitas (our favorite tried & true, easy & quick, go-to meal) and salad and chips & salsa; with sweet tea to drink and chocolate bundt cake (new recipe!) for dessert. The second set of guests helped us share a meal of salmon & tilapia (basted with garlic, Meyer lemon, herb butter), quinoa (new recipe!), salad, and bread; again with sweet tea to drink and peach cobbler for dessert. The third set came on a day I had a blood infusion, so I tried planning ahead with a crockpot meal of Beef Burgundy (a twist on the theme, at least – I didn’t actually use burgundy, I used port! and this was also a new recipe!), salad, bread (new recipe again!); with a Spanish wine to drink and blackberry buckle (another new recipe!) for dessert (the pictures below are of this meal). Then on St. Patrick’s day we shared a meal again (this time with my brother’s family!), so it was our traditional March 17th fare of corned beef (with a fabulous brine in the crockpot), cabbage, onions and carrots, Irish soda bread (new recipe!), sour cream mashed potatoes; with Guinness to drink and chocolate chip cookies for dessert.

Besides the food, the home and table and atmosphere should also be welcoming and lovely. It should seep with hospitality. While I don’t necessarily think you have to have your house completely spic & span to have company (for what of those unannounced guests that occasionally pop by? Do invite them inside, even if there is dog hair all over the couch and toys strewn all across the floor!); if the company is expected, your home should look like it was expecting company. This will look different for different homes and different families. So do what you need to do to prepare your home (as well as yourself and your meal) to be hospitable.
For me, this involves bringing out the vacuum to clean the carpets and get the dog hair off the couch, etc. Vacuuming almost always involves first decluttering the house and putting away [most of] the toys. It also involves wiping down the bathroom; if it needs a good, deep clean then by all means scrub away… but if it just needs a little freshening up, grab a Lysol wipe (or spray a cloth with some good all-purpose disinfecting cleaner), and wipe down the countertop & sink, and then lastly wipe down the commode (no guest wants to use a disgusting toilet – I promise). Don’t worry much about the shower/tub unless the guests are staying overnight. Just close the door/curtain, and call it good. A quick Windexing of the mirror would be nice, and maybe putting in a Glade Plug-In or lighting a candle out-of-the-reach-of-children on the counter would add a nice scent and ambience.

And the table… yes, the table! Basically the altar upon which you offer your delicious meal as a sacrifice of your time, energies, and means! Make it lovely. This can be very simple or very complex, depending on the day. I like to have a candle or two (or four…), a vase (or jar or champagne flute) with a flower/bouquet, sometimes a tablecloth (especially if your actual table is less than lovely), etc.

Remember to relax. If something gets spilled on the tablecloth or floor, just smile and quickly wipe it up – and deal with stain-removal once the guests have left. Shrug it off. If you are relaxed and comfortable, your guests will be too.

Share the Gospel – with your food, your home, your words & your actions. Interact with your family as well as theirs. Don’t ignore anyone, including the littlest guests! Keep the conversation going (which is sometimes easier than others). Bring out toys for children (or Tupperware and wooden spoons and cookie cutters if you don’t have any), turn on some music, and enjoy sharing of yourself and your resources.

Also remember that hospitality isn’t just shown by inviting a whole family over for dinner.
(Mrs. Wilson has an archive about various issues involving hospitality right here!)
Hospitality is shown by delivering dinner to someone else’s home; by dropping off half a dozen (or a dozen!) cookies on a random day of the week to encourage someone’s day; by giving a can or two to the local canned food drive; by offering a bedroom to a traveling minister who needs a place to rest his head; by inviting someone over for brunch or tea; by sharing your garden produce with neighbors or brethren at church…
Hospitality looks different for different people, and different at different times. But it is always lovely.
Share of yourself. Bless God. And encourage hospitality in yourself, your home, and your family.

Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing constant in prayer;
Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.
~Romans 12:10-13

Thursday October 8, 2009

He cut 1 tooth two weeks ago.
Then he cut 4 more this week.
And on top of that, he has a cold and an ear infection.
Imagine taking this little boy on an airplane. Hmmm.
Poor sweet boy. We are loving on him lots right now.

Tuesday October 6, 2009

Grandmama with the two grandsons.

Isn’t Hannah’s smile absolutely contagious?!

And Noah is probably the most smiley baby I have ever met. Yes, ever.

This picture strikes me: something about the dark green, clear blue, and bright orange. Oh yeah, and purple lips, lol.

I asked him to come over and smile for the camera. This is what I got.

And, lastly, this is where Gabriel hung out today. On Mommy’s back. I can’t post about what we were  making yet, because it’s a gift — but hopefully I will next week. I am pleased with the results. 🙂

Tuesday October 6, 2009

Gabriel was playing in the backyard with Mommy and Grandmama — we had a jolly time!

I love this shot. The blurred parts are great, and I love his face. Hehehe. *mwah!*

So then we dampened his fun be sticking him in Mommy’s pumpkin patch.

Which pumpkin shall I choose? Hmm, I think my first choice is the one with legs! lol.

Mommy showing Gabriel that pumpkins are actually pretty nifty creations.

Umm, okay. He trusts me on that one.

Finally a pumpkin smile! It’s not his best smile ever, but I’ll take it. 🙂

This boy loves sticks, and for some reason his favorite thing to do with them is tap the trees. 🙂
The End — obviously. lol.

Tuesday October 6, 2009

from Keep a Quiet Heart, by Elisabeth Elliot

“Moonless Trust,” p 57


Some of you are perhaps feeling that you are voyaging just now on a moonless sea. Uncertainty surrounds you. There seem to be no signs to follow. Perhaps you feel about to be engulfed by loneliness. There is no one to whom you can speak of your need. Amy Carmichael wrote of such a feeling when, as a missionary of twenty-six, she had to leave Japan because of poor health, then travel to China for recuperation, but then realized God was telling her to go to Ceylon. (All this preceded her going to India, where she stayed for fifty-three years.) I have on my desk her original handwritten letter of August 25, 1894, as she was en route to Colombo. “All along, let us remember, we are not asked to understand, but simply to obey… On July 28, Saturday, I sailed. We had to come on board on Friday night, and just as the tender (a small boat) where were the dear friends who had come to say goodbye was moving off, and the chill of loneliness shivered through me, like a warm love-clasp came the long-loved lines—‘And only Heaven is better than to walk with Christ at midnight, over moonless seas.’ I couldn’t feel frightened then. Praise Him for the moonless seas—all the better the opportunity for proving Him to be indeed the El Shaddai, ‘the God who is Enough.’”

Let me add my own word of witness to hers and to that of the tens of thousands who have learned that He is indeed enough. He is not all we would ask for (if we were honest), but it is precisely when we do not have what we would ask for and only then, that we can clearly perceive His all-sufficiency. It is when the sea is moonless that the Lord has become my Light.

Friday October 2, 2009

Is it a Farmer’s Market???
Nope! Just the produce I harvested this afternoon from my backyard garden! 🙂
Love it.

I love this shot. So much edible goodness!

Delicious carrots.

Yes, I realize some of these are not at their ripest — but we’re freezing at night and I’m sick of covering my tomatoes with flannel sheets! lol. 🙂 We’ve had plenty of huge, juicy, deep red tomatoes for at least a month.

Sweet, tender beets.

My almost-completely-harvested garden! A lovely first attempt.

Along with squash (ummm, yes, we learned 27 squash plants was tooooooo many!) and lettuce, my pumpkins are remaining to be harvested. I think I’ll give them another week or two. They are beautiful: all different sizes and different colors. I think there are about 18 of them, but 2 of them are on the other side of our fence in the neighbor’s yard! 🙂