Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Don't Be Afraid

I was reading from Psalm 27 this morning; it's one of my favorite psalms.  How can you not like something that begins with "The LORD is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear?  The LORD is the stronghold of my life - of whom shall I be afraid?"  (vs. 1).  So many times I don't stop to think about this verse when something comes against me to upset or frighten me; I panic and begin to figure out ways to get out of a stressful situation or how to make it right in my own strength (which we all know is impossible) instead of immediately turning to Jesus for the answer.  I do get there sooner or later, (smile) but I'm trying to do this right away and not give in to fear or let anxiety take over.  The Lord is helping me and though I'll never completely conquer my tendency to give in to the panic or fear of the moment, if I depend upon our precious Lord to calm my spirit, take a deep breath and look to Him, I know He'll help me to overcome in any situation.  And He'll do the same for you!

Thank You, Jesus for Your all consuming love for us.  When we keep our eyes on You, we know that all will be well.  You are our Papa God, our Abba Father, Who is concerned about every part of our lives.  You don't want us to give in to those things that would take over our emotions and cause us to look for help in any other place but to You - You alone have the answers we seek and I ask that You help every one of us here today to turn towards You when we begin to doubt, to fear, to panic or are tempted to take flight.  May we instead run into Your arms of safety.  In Jesus' Name I pray, Amen.

I've started making my Valentine cards this week.  Here's the first one I made:

Friday, January 13, 2012

Refreshing Prayer and Praise - Part II

Last time we thanked God for Who He is and for what He has done.  Today, we'll look at the second prayer point:

Ask God to change things in our world so heaven happens here on earth.  "Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven."  (vs. 10).  Note:  Just a reminder that these prayer points come from Pastor Scott Bauer's article entitled "An Hour of Prayer - How Do You Do That?"  (I wouldn't want to take credit for something I didn't compose!)  The expansion of the points is all mine, however. 

The first thing we should do is pray for our family members by name and ask God to bless each one.  There are so many ways to pray for our families - prayers for salvation, healing, breaking of bondages, deliverance, needs to be met, etc.  Sometimes I've prayed general prayers for all my family members, but whenever possible, I like to name each one.  When I do this, I feel connected to them as individuals and can focus specifically on what they need.  I feel closer to them after having prayed for precise needs in their lives.  I like to close my prayers by asking God to make His love and presence felt by each one. 

Pray for your church and pastors.  This is so important!  We've been going through a time of transition in my church and have been without a senior pastor for over a year.  Last Sunday morning, a new lead pastor was announced to our congregation.  Pastor Ricky will be traveling between our church and his other church in Savannah, GA.  Because of his frequent flying, I am asking God to give him His supernatural strength, in addition to laying messages on his heart that the Lord wants him to share with all of us.  I pray that many will be drawn to Jesus and saved as they hear the Word spoken each week.  I pray that our church will continue to love, worship, obey and honor our Lord Jesus Christ and that we will continue to spread the gospel each week to the lost and hurting. 

Pray for your place of employment, school and neighborhood.  I've been retired for 4 years now and since I'm no longer working, my prayer focus is on my neighborhood and my apartment community.  I enjoy prayer walking in the mornings and asking the Lord to bless each home that I pass by.  I pray that wherever my feet shall tread will see many brought to Christ.

Pray for the city where you live.  (Jeremiah 29:7).  I like to begin with prayer for the mayor, city council, chief of police, fire chief, emergency workers and all those involved in public service.  I pray for salvation for every man, woman, boy and girl in the city of Los Angeles and that God's peace cover and surround us.  And in recent years, I've begun praying for protection for our city from terrorists and any plan of destruction thought up by the evil one.  I thank our heavenly Father that His hand of mercy is upon us and that all that the enemy would like to bring against us has been thwarted. 

Pray for the nation.  Let's keep our president, his advisors, our men and women of congress, and all those who lead and are in authority in our nation, in prayer.  I pray that as we stand in the gap for our country we will begin to see a turning back to God, with repentance and resolve to follow Him.  May God continue to bless this great nation, under Him!

Well, I haven't made any new cards in a few weeks (I hope to correct that very soon!), but I'll share another tea pot with you. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Refreshing Prayer and Praise

Some years ago my beloved pastor, Scott Bauer, (who went home to be with the Lord in 2003) wrote an in-depth prayer guide entitled "An Hour of Prayer - How Do You Do That?"  I had tucked it away in another Bible I have and hadn't used it in some time.  A couple of days ago I decided to begin using my favorite Bible again after having used another translation for the past few months.  The guide was in the pocket of the inside front cover of my Bible and I was delighted to come across it again.  I decided to use it during this first month of the New Year to refresh my prayer time and to reacquaint myself with some of the guidelines that Pastor Scott wrote about.  The prayer guide is basically a breakdown of the Lord's Prayer found in Matthew 6:9-13.  I'd like to share these 7 special points with you over the next several weeks.

First, "Praise God for Who He is and what He has done."  "Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Your name" (vs. 9).  I feel I can praise Jesus best by reviewing all He has done for me in previous months and years.  This always keeps me encouraged as I thank Him for all the many answers to prayer I've received, but I especially need to thank Him for precise things He has done for me.  I can think of so many!  I'm thankful for a loving husband and family, good friends, a wonderful church/church family, a warm and cozy home, food on the table, clothes on my back, good medical providers who help me by caring about my health and well being, a beautiful area in which to live that encompasses ocean, desert, forests and mountains - all nearby or within driving distance.  Obviously, I'm most thankful for salvation and the joy that freedom in Christ brings.  My list goes on and on, as I'm sure yours would, too. 

I like to think about recent answers to prayer that the Lord has provided.  I love to thank Him for the answers to small but important requests that come quickly.  Our laptop wasn't working last night, so I prayed that the Lord would give us wisdom in discovering what the problem was and how to correct it.  He did and it was a very simple solution!  Yes, we could have taken our computer to the local Geek Squad, but I always believe in going to God first for our every need.  And aren't we often surprised when the answers come so quickly?  It's at times like these that I love to praise and thank Him for being right on time! 

Have you ever praised God by some of the many names He's known as in His Word?  I like Jehovah-Rapha, "God our Healer."  Another favorite:  Jehovah-Jireh, "God our Provider."   He is the Anointed One, The Ancient of Days, The Bread of Life and the Bright and Morning Star, among other glorious descriptions. 

Next time I'll be focusing on the second line of the Lord's Prayer, "Your kingdom come, Your will be done..."  Please join me in thinking of new ways to thank and honor our King.  Let's fill our homes with prayer and praise in 2012! 

A pretty tea pot from a friend.  The inscription reads:  "Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him."  Psalm 37:7.   The tea pot is from the DaySpring collection.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Breaking New Ground

Every year at the end of December, the leadership in my church chooses a new name or theme for the coming year.  Last year was "The Year of Advancement",  and in 2010 we had "The Year of Prophecy".  This has been ongoing for many years.  I always eagerly await to hear what each new year will be called and accept it as a prophetic word for myself as well as for our congregation.

I was especially pleased when it was announced that this year's theme would be "The Year of Breaking New Ground."  The Scripture behind this theme is found in Hosea 10:12, "Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the LORD, till He comes and rains righteousness on you."  How hope-filled and anticipatory that sounds; I envision all kinds of possibilities for ground breaking!

A quote from my pastor:  "If we become satisfied with where we are in God and cease to pursue a deeper relationship with Him, we then have need of breaking new ground.  As Hosea 10:12 states, when we break up our fallow ground, we will find a fresh work of God in our lives, "until He comes and rains righteousness" on us as a result."

Did you know that the word fallow means, "plowed but left unseeded during a growing season"?  In order to break new ground, I need to begin planting seeds of all kinds.  And there are some things I need to leave behind me as I move forward into 2012.  I think the most important one for me that needs to go is worries.  How often have I fretted and turned problems over and over in my mind, knowing I should be giving them to the Lord, whose shoulders are bigger and who is well able to carry them?  And when I do give them to Him, it often seems like it isn't long before I'm taking them back!  There will always be "stuff" cropping up to upset or unbalance our daily lives if we let them, but I want to begin this new year with a fresh determination to give all my burdens to Him, NOT taking them back, but letting Jesus be in full control of my life.

I like the portion of the verse in Hosea that speaks about it being time to seek the Lord.  That struck such a deep chord in my heart!  I want so much more of my heavenly Father this year ~ a closer walk, a deeper commitment in prayer, sweet communion, waiting on His "still small voice" and being willing to obey whatever He tells me to do. 

I'm still compiling my list and will probably be sharing more "ground breaking" (sorry, I couldn't resist!)  thoughts and hopes for 2012.  I hope you'll be making your own list, too!

Here's a tea cup and saucer that are very precious to me.  They were given to me in the mid-1990's by my friend Trudy:

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

My New Tea Pot!

I just had to share my new tea pot with all of you.  This was a Christmas present from my dear friend, Barb.  I was so delighted when I opened the box and discovered that she had sent me a tea pot (thank you, Barb)!

It was designed by Sandy Clough and is called "Love Among the Roses."  Inscribed on the lid in gold lettering is the verse from 1 Corinthians 13:13, "The greatest of these is love."  

And while I'm sharing the tea pot photo, I'll add a pic of one of my New Year's cards:


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Hollywood's Golden Age of Television

This is an entry I wrote in November, 2009 as part of a Round Robin letter. I thought I would share it here. 

Today I’m “goin’ Hollywood.” No, not literally, but you can’t live in the film capitol of the world for 36 years and not be influenced by it to some degree. Watching old episodes of “I Love Lucy” recently has made me feel very nostalgic for the golden years.

I Love Lucy was the first adult TV program I remember watching when I was only 3 years old. We lived on Kentucky street in Joplin, MO in an upstairs apt. ~ just mom, dad and me. It would be 2 more years before my sister Ellen would join us. I had a little brown rocker that I used to sit in when I watched television and I can remember my favorite shows being Howdy Doody, Captain Kangaroo and I Love Lucy. :)

In a few short years, my favorite TV programs (in addition to Lucy) would be Andy Griffith and Dick Van Dyke. Growing up in a small town in the Midwest, I little dreamed that one day I would not only live in Los Angeles where these shows were taped, but would also on a regular basis be driving by the studio where they were filmed! My route to church every Sunday and during mid-week takes me on Cahuenga Blvd., right in front of the former home of Desilu Studios. Since 1974, the studio has been known as Ren-Mar and has been home to such shows as the Golden Girls and Seinfeld, among others. It’s a very strange feeling to drive by this “laugh factory” and think about all the great comedies that have been made there and that have brought such pleasure to so many people through the years. I sometimes imagine I can hear the laughter echoing across the sound stages, drifting past the guard at the front gate and passing down Cahuenga Blvd. There’s a sad sound to it of days long gone, but not for long ~ after all, I can always pop one of my Lucy, Andy or Dick Van Dyke DVDs into the player and relive them all over again.

I’ve met several interesting people in years past who have connections to Hollywood. The first one who comes to mind is Linda Wilson. I met her through our prayerline ~ she lived in Raleigh, NC and was a news anchor at a local station there. She came to L.A. for a brief time to work on a Billy Graham movie. She’d had experience as a producer and was working as an assistant on the film. I didn’t get to meet her in person then, but she later moved here and began attending my church. She would tell me of projects she had going, always trying to get a foot in the door but never quite making it. You see, being in her mid-40’s at the time, she was past the age Hollywood deemed acceptable for a woman to be of any importance in the industry. She later wrote for a couple of women’s magazines and did other assorted projects, but after a few years she and her husband moved to Ohio to assist family members who were going through some difficult times.

I met Rita in a prayer circle a couple of years ago. She was a costume designer who was out of work. I asked her a few questions about her job which she readily answered. I thought how glamorous it must be to have such an exciting career ~ on the downside, I’m sure it’s lots of hard work and having to be under constant deadlines would be major stress ~ but still, all I can envision is MGM, musicals and all those fabulous costumes!!

Well, I am going to put this topic to rest now and move on. After all, I don’t want to run a good thing into the ground! Let me leave you with this old photograph I came across on an Internet site showing fans lined up waiting to watch a live taping of the I Love Lucy show. I wonder which classic episode they were going to see filmed and if they had even an inkling that what they were about to view would one day become television history? I had to smile when I saw the older ladies’ shoes. I had flashbacks of my grandmother wearing those same shoes during the 1950’s. :)

Fans line up along Romaine Street to attend a
filming of "I Love Lucy."

Monday, January 2, 2012

Titus 2 Women

This post is somewhat similar to one I wrote and added here this past October, but different enough that I wanted to share it with you.  It was originally written on December 19, 2009:

I have been thinking about the women in my family who’ve had such a great influence on me in my spiritual development and walk with the Lord. I’m sure we all have those special women of God in our lives, whether a relative or maybe an older woman we’ve known who has helped shape us spiritually. My mother comes to mind most of all. After all these years, I’m still learning new things about her! I didn’t find out until a couple of years ago that when I was about 3 years old (picture above is of Mom and me, circa 1954) she, my dad, my grandmother and Aunt Cliffie (with me tagging along, of course!) would go to the jail in Fayetteville, AR on Sunday afternoons and Mom would hold a service for the incarcerated men. She would begin with praise and worship, then bring a short message of some kind that would always include hope and the love of Jesus for each one. Mom was greatly influenced by the Bible college she attended in Cincinnati, OH. It was a wonderful school who, in the last century, hosted the great Oswald Chambers as a special guest lecturer for a short time. One of the things Mom and her friends did on a regular basis was hold street meetings. They were led by a preacher from the school named Bro. Jeffers, who my mom and her friend Martha (my godmother) still admire and speak of to this day.

My grandmother was another wonderful lady who was a living example of Jesus to me. She daily exhibited the sweet presence of the Holy Spirit living in her. She grew up in the mountains of Arkansas where church services were few and far between in those pioneer days, but at the age of 17 she sensed the Lord wooing her and was saved one night as she knelt by her bedside.

There have been other women in my family who have left their spiritual mark on me ~ my Aunt Joy, cousin Jewel, among others but it would take up too much time and space to write about them all. They’ve all been Titus II women to me. May God bless each one. Some are in heaven now and when I get there someday I want to have a long talk with each one to tell them how much I love and appreciate them and that I wouldn't be the woman I am today if it hadn't been for them.

This is the first teapot that was given to me, back in 1997 as a BD present from my friend, Alice.  It is simple, but elegant.