A Day of Thanksgiving

Today is our family’s Thanksgiving celebration.  Some day maybe we’ll get to have all 5 children’s families together, but this year just 4.  My Matthew and his wife are coming for the traditional Thanksgiving holiday from Phoenix.

But it seemed important last year to Ellis’ boys to have something for our family.  In the past I haven’t always tried to cram it in because they had other events to attend.  And with work schedules including work over the holiday weekend, this was the best weekend to do it.

The Lord is working in our family in many ways and I am so thankful!

My soul, praise the LORD, and do not forget all His benefits. He forgives all your sin; He heals all your diseases. He redeems your life from the Pit; He crowns you with faithful love and compassion. He satisfies you with goodness; your youth is renewed like the eagle. The LORD executes acts of righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. He revealed His ways to Moses, His deeds to the people of Israel. The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and full of faithful love. He will not always accuse us or be angry forever. He has not dealt with us as our sins deserve or repaid us according to our offenses. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His faithful love toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.  (Psa 103:2-13 HCSB)

We have members of our family who need the Lord.  Even some of our grandchildren are old enough to understand that they need the Lord.  So today I am praying that we will have opportunity and boldness.

Lord, let me witness through my gratefulness and thanksgiving for your faithfulness to us individually and as a family.

Missing Out on Answered Prayer

There is no doubt that Matthew 21:22 is one of the most mis-applied verses in the Bible – especially by those who don’t truly know and walk with the Lord.

If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.  (Mat 21:22 NIV)

But the point of today’s thought is not how that really works for a believer.  What I have realized in the last few months is that so often we fail to recognize answered prayer.  Is your answered prayer list as long as your prayer list always is?  I know mine isn’t.  So why is that?

Is it because I don’t really believe?  Is it that God isn’t answering prayers because I don’t believe?

Or is it because I am selfishly expecting the prayer to be answered in exactly my way and on my time-line?  Let me give you an example of an answered prayer that came disguised in difficulty.

I had been praying for opportunities to influence our grown children and our grandchildren for the Lord.   Even though they live in the same community, it’s hard.  I work in an executive level position that I feel called to and have a 45 minute, one-way commute each day.  I also  play the piano for Sunday morning worship at our church and lead the choir (with rehearsal on Sunday afternoons at 5pm).  My husband used to drive a truck over the road, but was typically home on weekends.  Saturdays was our only day together.

Unlike some couples who don’t give a thought to when they will spend time one-on-one, we have been very protective of our time together.  I believe it is one of the reason’s our relationship stays strong.  But that has also limited time we have “available” to spend with friends or family.  So our periodic family get-togethers (typically on a Sunday when we didn’t have an evening service) provided limited opportunities for influence.

After the near-fatal injury of our oldest boy in August, Ellis decided to come off the road for the time being so he could help with transportation to therapy and any other day-time help that was needed.   Ultimately, there was complete healing and Clint has gone back to work.  But since then Ellis has been managing and dispatching our other truck and our other business interests from home.  This gives us more time together during the week.  This was an answer to prayer.

Then another son began a new job where he was supposed to be able to have the hours off needed to take care of his kids on the days that he had them.  But the employer wasn’t working with him as promised, so he had to be at work at 4am.  It just made more sense for the kids to sleep at our house so they didn’t have to get up, come to our house, go back to sleep and then get up and get on the bus.

So during that time, we had the kids a lot.  Our evenings went from empty nest to the hustle and bustle of young elementary kids.  I was exhausted.  Until I realized that this was an answer to prayer.  I was now having hours at a time to influence these children for the Lord.

So I now pray regularly for God’s answers to prayer to be revealed to me.  His ways are not our ways (Is 55:8) so if we aren’t tuned in, we will miss many answers to prayer.

. . .Never Been Divorced?

We’re spending more time with some of our grandkids lately and I have to say that they are a joy.  It’s not that they weren’t before.  It’s been hard to mesh schedules and that kind of thing.

But they are spending the week with us because of their dad’s work hours.  Since its spring break, they go to the Y during the day but in a couple of weeks, I’ll put them on the bus before I leave for work.  In the evenings their dad joins us for supper and spends time with them before going home to sleep.

I hope I’m making some memories for them like I have with my grandma.  We’re not doing anything particularly special.   I’m having them help set the table and clean off the table.  Laci and I made her an apron a week or so ago and she is wearing that to help me put the finishing touches on dinner.  And they love strawberries, so I cut them up, put them in some dessert dishes that were MY grandma’s and let them enjoy.   And Papa even let them stay home with him all day yesterday.

So on Monday night as we were visiting and I was telling about when I was a little boy girl, I said something about my dad.  Levi asked me who my dad was.  I was surprised because they have spent time with my parents on several occasions – even though they are not their natural great grandparents.   So I said, “Grandpa Jim.”  Since my dad is in a wheelchair, they have interacted with my mom more – at the pool or going to Little Theater.  But I knew he would know who I was talking about.  His reaction was, “You mean your parents have never been divorced?”

My parents have been married 53 years.  Not only are Levi and Laci’s parents divorced, they have no natural grandparents – or great-grandparents – that have not been divorced.  Wow!  That really hit me.  While I grew up in a world where divorce was the exception, they are experiencing a world where it is the norm.

How I pray that even though this is our second marriage, we can model the attributes of a godly, healthy marriage for all of our grandkids — and our kids.  What a legacy we could give them!  What are you doing to strengthen your marriage today?

Knowing What Your Child’s Purpose Is

It’s always interesting to think about how I get from one thought to another.  At least it’s interesting to me.

Typically, in my prayer time I start with adoration and praise.  To me, adoration is telling God how great He IS.  It has nothing to do with what he has done, but just who he IS.  I have a list of His attributes and names that I use to help me.  Praise, on the other hand, is about what he has done or the blessings he has given; salvation, a loving home, working in the lives of our children who need to be walking with Him.

So, today, I was kind of jumping back and forth between supplication, confession, and adoration.  One of the words that jumped out at me in my list was “dayspring.”  So, as I often do when a word or phrase catches my attention, I jumped in my e-Sword and did a search.  I keep several versions on my PC.  e-Sword is a great resource which I highly recommend if you are interested in doing in-depth Bible study.

In the KJV, there are two scriptures that refer to dayspring.  One is in Job and the other is Luke 1:78 where Zechariah is prophesying after John the Baptist was born.  He was praising the Lord for the promised Messiah whose birth was now imminent and for John’s role in preparing the way.

And I wondered what it would have been like to know, when my boys were born, what God’s specific plan was for their lives.  Zecharias and Elizabeth knew, based on God’s revelation to Zecharias, what John’s role was to be.  They knew from the beginning that God wanted him to prepare the way of the Lord.  Their son had been selected to announce the impending coming of the Messiah that had been promised for centuries.

So, how does that impact how you raise a child?   Would you be more serious about teaching the Bible in your home?   Would you pray more about his/her development spiritually?  Would you be able to give better counsel as they entered teenage or early adult years?

My children are raised.  It’s easy to look back and second-guess all the things I could have done differently.  No value there.  But my grandchildren are young and there are a lot of opportunities ahead to impact them for the Lord. 

Whether you are raising your children or contemplating your impact on your grandchildren, the fact is you probably don’t know what God’s plan for them is specifically.  But you know God’s plan for them generally:

1.  To know Him personally

2.  To honor and glorify Him in all they do

So, do you pray for God’s will to be accomplished in each of their lives?  Do you pray about what YOUR role is in helping them know and do God’s will?  Do you spend the TIME needed to ensure God’s will is done?  Do you talk about your Exous?

Lord, help me begin immediately to change the behaviors that keep me from doing these things to maximize my on my grandchildren.