“They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green” Psalm 92:14 (NIV).
When my oldest son, who is now 37, was born, my mother put a bumper sticker on her car. The words on the sticker, “If we’d known how much fun grandkids were, we’d had them first,” kind of hurt my feelings at the time. Then, when I became a grandmother in 2004, I understood what my mother meant. Grandchildren are a blessing as we grow older.
Recently, I attended a family funeral with my sons and grandchildren. The funeral was for a nephew, 32, who was killed in a car accident. He was the only biological child of his father. My nephew left behind a 12-year-old son who looks just like him. My heart ached, not only for the parents of my nephew, but for his son. I know the grandson will be a comfort to his grandparents in the coming days and years.
While attending the funeral, my 4-year-old grandson grew weary and wanted me to hold him. He fell asleep but awoke when a 12-minute video highlighting my nephew’s life through photos was shown. As Cash watched the video, I told him about my nephew and said, “Do you know he was your second cousin and what happened to him?” Cash nodded, and then said, “He’s in heaven with Jesus and Moses and the dinosaurs.”
“Rejoicing in hope. Patient in tribulation. Instant in prayer”—Romans 12:12 (Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA).
“Ma’am. Excuse me, ma’am.” I turned to seek the direction of the voice. Was someone addressing me? Since the woman behind the voice was the only other person on the sidewalk leading to the door of a local business, I stopped. From her attire, I decided she was probably looking for a handout. I was right, but it wasn’t the usual request.
“Ma’am,” she said again as she approached. “Can I get a cigarette from you?” She looked pitiful. She was walking with a limp and her hands were shaking.
“Sorry, but I don’t smoke,” I replied. I never have but I didn’t tell her that. As I turned to walk away, my first thought was one of judgment—why doesn’t she just quit that nasty habit? Before I had taken another step, I was convicted. When my father was alive, he smoked. He could never quit. I understand the addiction.
Immediately, I lifted the woman up in prayer, saying, “Lord, please deliver her from her nicotine addiction.”
“Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”– 1 Peter 5:6-7
When I was younger, I relied on my parents. Later on in life, I relied on others until they proved untrustworthy. For too many years, I relied on myself. Then, God showed me I could always depend on Him. I like this acronym:
Is it hard for you to rely on others? What about God? Do you have a hard time relying on Him? Why or why not?
Begin Day 2 of your journaling journey with the following prayer starter:
Dear Abba Father,
I want to completely trust and rely on You for everything in my life. I know you care for me. I am counting on You to show me how to rely on you fully.
Faith Step: Whom have you relied on in the past? Other people? Yourself? Consider what steps of faith God is asking you to take today to learn how to rely on Him fully. Read and memorize Proverbs 3:5-6. Write it down on several index cards and post them around your house.
“Be kind and compassionate to one another,forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” — Ephesians 4:32 (NIV).
Are you harboring a grudge? Angry with someone? Is bitterness holding you back from enjoying life? For years, I carried around bitterness and hurt. Until I learned to forgive, I was not free. I like this anonymous quote:
“When I forgave, I set a prisoner free. Then I realized the prisoner was me.”
I want to forgive those who have hurt me. I want to forgive myself for poor choices in the past. Please show me how to do this, Father.
Faith Step: Learn to forgive. Journal about those things that have led to your bitterness and anger. Now choose to forgive. Pour out your heart to the One who knows you better than you know yourself.
“Come near to God and he will come near to you”–James 4:8(NIV)
Where is God on your priority list? If you were to rate your relationship with Him on a scale of 1-10, like a daily to-do-list, would He be at the top or closer to the bottom?
Did you know that spending time with your Heavenly Father is the best relationship you will ever develop? When you spend time with Him on a daily basis, the more your other relationships will improve.
How do I know? Because I’ve been spending quality time with my Abba Father every morning for almost 13 years. Not only have I found peace within, but I’ve made peace with those whom I needed to forgive, including myself. More importantly, I am on the path to becoming the person God created me to be?
Never let a day pass without spending time with your Creator. This simple practice will change your life forever.
Begin your Day 1 journal entry with the following:
Dear Abba Father,
I want to know you better. Please teach me what I need to learn in order to draw closer to You.
(Sit quietly and listen for that still, small voice leading you on a new journey to know Him better. Then pour out your heart to him on the lined pages of your journal.)
Faith Step: Choose to put God above all else each day by getting up earlier, if necessary, to read the Bible and journal your prayers to Him. What would you like to say to Him today? What is He saying to you?
“…let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” Hebrews 10:22
Can you imagine what it would be like to sit down and have a one-on-one conversation with your Savior? Can you picture yourself sitting together on a carpet of clover near a small mountain river? No one is around to interrupt your dialogue. The only sounds are of the water as it flows on its course downstream, the occasional rustling of the grass as a forest creature timidly checks out the intrusion in his world and the call of a bird seeking its mate.
What would you discuss? What questions would you have? What would He ask you? How long would He be able to spend time with you before He had to move on?
One of the hymns I recall from my childhood is “In the Garden,” by Charles Austin Miles. The refrain dances through my mind when I think about spending time with Him.
And He walks with me,
And He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own,
And the joy we share as we tarry there;
None other has ever known.
It is a joy to spend time with my Savior. Although I cannot physically walk through the garden or sit by a stream to talk with Him, through prayer journaling, I have found a way to draw closer to Him.
“There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens”—Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV)
While I was taking down and putting away Christmas decorations, I decided to rearrange my living room. I hadn’t relocated some of the furniture—except to dust—since I moved into my current residence in June 2007. As I moved things around, including the décor, I would stop and assess the room as a whole, trying to determine if the new spot was as pleasing as the previous one.
My revamping didn’t stop there. Inspired by the transformation of my living room, I began to purge my closets, drawers and rooms of those things taking up too much space. I packed items in a box to donate to our church garage sale for missions. Clothing I hadn’t worn in a year was designated to a pile to give away to those I knew could use and appreciate them.
As I continued my mission of cleaning, tossing and rearranging, I discovered greeting cards given to me on different occasions by friends and family. I sorted through them, keeping the ones with special messages so I could return in the future to reread them and soak up their encouragement.
By now, several days into the New Year, most people have already made their resolutions while others chose not to make any or have already given up. Those who have stuck with it, including the ones who have resolved to get in shape, will probably need encouragement somewhere along the way this year.