“Father, make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road;
make me a fork
, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.” - Jim Elliot

Sunday, August 30, 2009

but pray.

Ein Gedi, Israel

I have a couple prayers on my heart. The kind that make you wonder... is God bigger-than-this? type of prayers. The kind that break your heart and make you cry. And you can't stop crying... because you don't know how it will all work out. And there is nothing you can do...

but pray.

In Bill Hybel's Too Busy Not to Pray, I read the chapter Mountain-Moving Prayer. And after a day of distress... of being "accustomed to the darkness"... these words encouraged me tonight... and I thought perhaps some of you needed to read this, too.

Probably every human being alive is standing in the shadow of at least one mountain that just will not move:

A destructive habit,
a character flaw,
an impossible marriage or
work situation,
a financial problem,
a physical disability.

What is your immovable mountain?

Have you stood in its shadow for so long that you've grown accustomed to the darkness?
Do you end your prayers by thinking, What's the use?

I challenge you to shift the focus of your prayer.
Don't spend a lot of time describing your mountain to the Lord.
He knows what it is.

Instead, focus your attention on the mountain mover--
his glory,
power and
faithfulness.

Then start walking in faith, following his leading, and watch that mountain step aside.

~Bill Hybels, Too Busy Not to Pray: Slowing Down to Be with God


Saturday, August 29, 2009

How to Become an Atheist

San Francisco skyline from within the confines of Alcatraz

Advertisements contain the only truths
to be relied on in a newspaper.
~ Mark Twain

While we were in San Francisco on vacation, I decided to pick up the complimentary copy of the New York Post that was put outside our door in the morning. I don't normally read the newspaper, but I thought it would be useful for breakfast reading material.

As I read through article after article that morning, I felt a sadness falling over me. How awful the world seems. How hopeless. Nothing positive. Nothing good. Just bad and getting worse.

And it hit me. If I read this paper every day, I think I would become an atheist. I mean... truly... if there is a good God... how could He let all of this happen? Where is He? And I think I'd rather think there was no God than a god that was impotent or uncaring.

It's not just the New York Post. It is how we find it necessary to broadcast every thing that is wrong and terrible and hurtful and negative. And that is not going to change.

I have to admit... after hearing the top news stories of the day... sometimes I just want to dig a hole and stick my head in it. Or grab all my loved ones and find somewhere to hide.

Then I realized... how important it is to me to read the Bible. It is where I learn about my Father's heart, about Hope and Truth. About the worldly patterns that repeat themselves. It is where I turn when I feel that nothing is ever going to change... that the world can't fix itself... that we can't put our hope into a person or government.

And that hoping for change won't do a thing. But changing because I know in whom I have my hope... well, now... that... that can truly make all the difference in the world.

...for I know whom I have believed,
and am persuaded that he is able
to keep that which I have committed
unto him against that day.
2 Timothy 1:12 KJV


God is unchanging in His love.
He loves you. He has a plan for your life.
Don't let the
newspaper headlines frighten you.
God is still sovereign;
He's still on the throne.
~ Billy Graham

Thursday, August 27, 2009

With you and me, and the Lord up above, we have security...

Happy 21st Anniversary!

Today, we celebrate our 21st wedding anniversary.

Tears come to my eyes as I listen to Leon Patillo sing the song Security via the amazing technology of iTunes. Our song. That Ray sang at our wedding.

Just a couple of kids. In love. Naive. Giving it a try.

And here we are 21 years later... not so naive... but so in love.

And truly, "You fill my life with so much joy,
I can't even remember how I was before..."


Security
by Leon Patillo

When a man has found a wife,
he has found a good thing for his life,

And the woman will agree:
companionship has made her feel so complete.

With you and me, and the Lord up above,
we have security,
We have security.

You fill my life with so much joy,
I can't even remember how I was before,

And though sometimes we disagree,
you still know that I love you, and you love me.

With you and me, and the Lord up above,
we have security,
We have security.

What God has joined together, let no man put asunder,
Nothing can separate you from me,

I worship and adore you, put no one else before you,
This is my vow to you, my love, through all eternity.

And now, at last, I understand:
our love was made in Heaven, before the worlds began,

And, as we dream as lovers do,
pray that all we hope for will come true.

With you and me, and the Lord up above, we have security,
With you and me, and the Lord up above, we have security,
We have security.

We have security,
With you and me, and the Lord up above,
We have security.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A.C.T.S., Again

Still reading Bill Hybel's "Too Busy Not to Pray: Slowing Down to Be with God." I'm taking it one chapter at a time. It is too good to speed through!

I just finished the chapter A Pattern for Prayer where Hybels described his own "imbalanced prayer life" and then how he combatted it with a prayer routine.
"And I can tell you from personal experience where imbalanced prayer leads. Sensing the carelessness and one-sidedness of your prayers, you begin to feel guilty about praying. Guilt leads to faint-heartedness, and that in turn leads to prayerlessness. When praying makes you feel guilty, pretty soon you stop praying."

Then I was reminded of this post...

originally aired on April 25, 2008.
A.C.T.S.

"Hezekiah turned his face to the wall
and
prayed to the LORD..." 2 Kings 20:2

At school this morning, I found out that one of Christopher's classmates had been having some difficulties. I decided to take some time to pray for this precious child as I was driving home. As I prayed, other requests flooded my mind. A family member who had recently been robbed. A friend who had minor surgery. A friend who's daughter was sick. And on and on...

I started getting a bit overwhelmed. You've been there, too. There isn't enough time in the day to pray for every need, Lord. What do I do? How do I help?

And gently He reminded me of A.C.T.S.

A.C.T.S. is a format of prayer that is often used when people ask, "How should I pray?"

Adoration -- Praising God for WHO He is
Confession -- Asking God to forgive our sins
Thanksgiving -- Thanking God for WHAT He has already done... and will do...
Supplication -- Intercession -- Bringing our requests to God

Have you ever had times where you know something, but you're reminded of it all again... as if it were a brand new thought? Perhaps the Holy Spirit reminding you? That's what I had today.

It was as if God were saying to me, "Sheri,
Put ME back on the throne. Remember, you are talking to the God of the universe, here. (Adoration)

Humble yourself before ME. Remember WHO I AM and who you are. (Confession)

Remember all the times you have sought ME and I have answered you. I AM faithful. (Thanksgiving)

Now, in light of WHO I AM, who you are, and WHAT I HAVE DONE...

Present your requests to ME. (Supplication)"
Wow! When I actually got to the "supplication" part, I felt a real peace (because I had been wondering how I was going to "fix" all these things...) I could release these requests to God in full certainty and trust.

I always thought A.C.T.S. had been a very dictatorial style. Now, I see it as a way to get in the right frame of mind...

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 NIV

P.S. Hey, Jen, this is the verse that has come to my mind as I am praying for you this week.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Too Busy Not to Pray


I was at the library yesterday... rummaging through the used books they have for sale. For $1 I purchased Bill Hybel's "Too Busy Not to Pray." I am sure it was no coincidence that I stumbled upon it... considering my current memory verse.

I wasn't sure if I would read it... or give it to someone... but I picked it up... and am having a hard time putting it down.

I was tickled over this paragraph about coincidences... since they've been on my mind a lot lately...
Someone has said that when we work, we work, but when we pray, God works. His supernatural strength is available to praying people who are convinced to the core of their beings that he can make a difference. Skeptics may argue that answered prayers are only coincidences, but as an English archbishop once observed, "It's amazing how many coincidences occur when one begins to pray."
Just wondering... if you've been having any "coincidences" in your life lately?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A true story.

Almost everyday I am in the garden watering the plants that do not receive the benefit from our sprinkler system. Last year I bought a hose that insisted on its packaging that it was "kink-free."

Liar.

This year, every day as I water... the hose kinks. Not just once. Not just twice. Multiple times. Delaying the amount of time necessary for watering as I have to go and "unkink" the hose.

I told my husband, "I am going to buy a new hose."

He asked if I felt that was a wise purchase considering the current economic crisis.

What I should have told him was that I would be helping stimulate the economy by buying a new hose.

I didn't.

So, I have decided to suffer with my kinked hose. Water. Kink. Stop. Unkink. Return. Water. Kink. Stop. Unkink. Return. Ad nauseam. My nauseam.

Until the other day. When I was ruminating a current situation. I felt the Lord prompt me, "Pray for this person/situation each time the hose kinks." I thought, "Are you kidding me?"















And so... Water. Kink. Stop. Pray. Unkink. Return. Water. Kink. Pray. Stop. Unkink. Return. Water.

And so it went. Until Tuesday night. When the hose decided that it was done being a hose and it just wanted to kink. Over and over and over and over and over and over. Until I said to the Lord that I thought I was done praying for this situation. Really! But I continued to pray because I thought... this person must really need it!

Wednesday morning I shared the story with a friend. And we prayed about it.

So, Wednesday night out to water. The hose did not kink once. I was so accustomed to praying for the situation that I still prayed, but was relieved by the lack of kinking.

And the next day. The hose did not kink once. I still prayed, but realized that I was truly feeling a sense of peace about the situation.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7 NIV

What's the moral of my story? Here's my encouragement... if you have something that consistently reminds you of how little things can really bug you, use it as a reminder to pray for someone. Use that irritation as a prompting from the Lord.

Maybe it is every time you have to do the dishes. Or change a diaper. Or pay a bill.

And who knows. Maybe they'll have to stop selling kink-free hoses.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Outside of the Garden, Again

And here I am, again...

originally aired on October 24th, 2008

Fruit of the Spirit: Outside of the Garden


Sometimes, I think everyone should have a garden. There are so many parables and verses in the Bible that deal with reaping, sowing, growing, tending, watering, roots... By physically gardening, the words of the Bible come to life for me.

Gardening is such a calming hobby for me. My backyard has become an oasis. Amazingly quiet some days... and the weather has been so nice lately... that I'm even dabbling in planting bulbs.

Just me... my garden... and the Lord. It is a solitary time. Refreshing. Renewing. And I love it. Sometimes, I don't want to leave. It is safe in my garden. When I garden, I am never misunderstood. I rarely second guess myself. I never consider my motivation. I don't have to worry... if I get it wrong. There will be a new season... and all will be forgiven... and possibly forgotten.

But the Lord calls me to leave my garden... my safe haven. A place where I would surely spend every moment...

When I leave my garden, I change. I am not as sure of myself. I get it wrong. My motivation is questionable. I second guess myself. I worry... because sometimes there may not be a new season.

In wanting to share my thoughts on my blog... I sometimes have forgotten that some of you may see yourselves in my posts. And some of you truly have. Unfortunately, when I have meant to be pointing the finger at my faults, I may have done so at your convenience. And I am sorry.

It makes me consider... perhaps I shouldn't be writing a blog. I'm almost a little dangerous. Tossing words and thoughts around. There are times when the Lord uses this vessel... and there are times that this vessel brings pain. How do you weigh one against the other?

And so, with hesitation, I continue to write. Being obedient to the Lord. And humbled by the fact that you even read these words at all.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Where Two or Three

Muir Woods National Monument, California
August 2009

Just returned from a family vacation in the Bay Area. I have a lot to write about... actually, I have written quite a few posts, but they are sitting in the draft box. I find that sometimes when I am away from blogging for a while... it is harder to return. I've been here before.

This is my selection for Siesta Scripture Memory Verse #16. I have to admit that it is getting harder with each verse since the goal is to remember all 24 verses in January.

I have chosen this verse because I lead a prayer group at my son's school. Normally, there are two or three of us, so I find this verse to be encouraging.

Again, I tell you that if
two of you on earth
agree about anything you ask for,
it will be done for you
by my Father in heaven.

For where two or three
come together in my name,
there am I with them.

Matthew 18:19-20 NIV

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

About Three Shelves Up. Again.

Today, I was reading an FB note that my friend had written about hope. It reminded me of this previous post... which... "co in ci den tal ly" was written one year ago tomorrow. Well, you know how I feel about coincidences...

originally aired on August 12th, 2008
About Three Shelves Up.


I forgot to tell you that I lost my hope a while back. But, it's okay, really... I found it. I have to admit that I had stopped looking for it.

And do you know where I found it? In the cupboard next to the sink. About three shelves up. I had added it to a bunch of rocks in a flower display/vase. I took the flower display down... and there it was. So, I hadn't really lost my hope. I just didn't know where it was.

I decided to set it out on my patio table and put some flowers from my garden in the display.

And then it hit me. I really had lost my hope. Each morning I would come out to the garden... and I would be disappointed. It would be gray and cool. Or it would be sunny, but too cold... no humidity. It was just too cold for me to spend time in the garden. Time when I knew the Lord might speak to me. I felt like I was missing out on the best part of summer.

And then God reminded me. His timing is perfect. Even in the garden. There were things I was not ready to hear yet. Things God wanted to speak, but I was not ready to listen. Just like my garden, I had needed a little fertilizer... or a little time to be fallow.

And now, here I am. Ready to weed. Ready to prune.

Ready to reap.

Friday, August 7, 2009

An Unwarranted Response


The stone that the builders rejected
has now become the cornerstone.

Psalms 118:22 NLT


I've been spending some time thinking about Coincidences. And as I review the situation, I have noticed that my reaction... the raw bitter emotions I spoke of... really seem to be a greater response than warranted. Why would this particular situation evoke such despair? In truth it just doesn't fit.

I have decided to not allow this situation to take the brunt of these raw bitter emotions. Instead, I am taking some time to look at my "thought closet" (from Me, Myself & Lies). I'm asking the Lord to show me... why is it that I have handled this rejection with such a high degree of emotions?

Knowing that God can take this time of reflection... and turn these thoughts into something... well, something beneficial. Something substantial.

Because God has a habit of doing that.

“I think all great innovations are built on rejections.” ~Louis Ferdinand Celine

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Here's what is on my iPod... what's on yours?

Podcasts
Portland Christian Center -
Ray Noah, pastor of my home church and "Macchiato Maniac"

National Community Church -
Mark Batterson, pastor and author of In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day

North Point Community Church -
Andy Stanley, pastor and author of The Best Question Ever

Calvary of Albuquerque -
Skip Heitzig, pastor and author of How to Study the Bible and Enjoy It


Artists and CDs
Mat Kearney - City of Black and White
Brandon Heath - What If We
Travis Cotrell - Jesus Saves Live
Matthew West - Something to Say
Rush of Fools - Wonder of the World and Rush of Fools
The Afters - Never Going Back to Okay

Monday, August 3, 2009

Coincidences


I don't believe in coincidences. I've seen too many of them to give them any credit. Too many coincidences that have brought me into a deeper walk with the Lord. Coincidences that have brought confirmation. Revealed God's love for someone. Availed opportunity.

But here I am. In a situation that I don't want to be in... feeling feelings that I don't want to feel. Wanting acceptance from someone who withholds. And I'm hurting.

And I want to get over it. Be beyond it. Thinking... aren't I more mature than this? But the tears come... and overwhelm.

I know the logical answers as to why the situation is occurring. When I am of a controlled mind, I can combat my emotions. But every now and then... after an occurrence, I deal with fits of sobs.

I have been here before. Feeling these same feelings. Worked through it for the better. And so I think, "Lord, why can't I just get over this?"

And He has gently reminded me... that nothing is a coincidence. That I am tasting these raw emotions for a reason. That He will use this bitter root to one day bring sweet fruit. And I believe Him.

But today... part of me really just wants to rip the roots out of the ground.

And so I have personalized 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 from The Message to remind me to trust God in this non-coincidence.

Sheri, don't give up.
Care more for this person than for yourself.

Don't want what you don't have...


Sheri, don't force yourself on others,

Don't always think "me first,"

Don't fly off the handle,

Don't keep score of the sins of others...


Sheri, instead, take pleasure in the flowering of truth,

Put up with anything,
Trust God always,
Always look for the best,

Never look back,

But keep going to the end.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

101 Things I Want to Do Before I Die

I'm crossing three things off my list!

Last Summer I started a list of "101 Things I Want to Do Before I Die." Three things on my list were:

A weekend with my sister
Girls weekend at the beach
Eat flounder, blue crab, and shrimp!!!!
All three accomplished at the same time. During my trip to Maryland, my sister and I took a road trip to Ocean City. Just the two of us. Four days and three nights.


The weekend with my sister started off with Vera Bradley and Brighton Jewelry.

And from Vera... a beach hat in Lisa's favorite pattern... a Bali Blue Straw Hat which would be perfect for our time on the beach. Happy Birthday, Sis!

We rode bikes on the boardwalk.


Soft crab sandwiches. Crab cake sandwiches.
Maryland Vegetable Crab Soup. Cream of Crab Soup.
Flounder. And steamed shrimp.
Don't forget the sweet corn on the cob,
hush puppies, and Fisher's Carmel Popcorn, too.


And would any trip for me be complete without a little yarn shopping? On the beach even. Lisa was able to find a yarn that she liked and gave me her order.
As you wish!

I enjoyed my trip with my sis so much... that I have decided that these three things will stay on my list... because I want to do them again!

How about you? Do you have a list of things you would like to accomplish? I told you three of mine. Why not tell me three of yours?