Pray & Listen

For many years I have written my prayers.  I have notebooks and journals filled with them. Why? My mind likes to wander and I lose my primary focus – God. So, I write to keep my thoughts centered on the One I am speaking to.

Several years ago my pastor’s wife and still dear friend (They have since moved on.) suggested I use the acronym A.C.T.S.  Acclimation. Contrition. Thanks. Supplication. I still use it but have always sensed something was missing.

As I was reading the book for my next review (L.E.A.R.N. Evangelism Handbook by Dr. Marshall M. Windsor) I found the missing piece. I need to add LISTEN. (Of course, now I’ll have to change the letters of the acronym.) In all the years I’ve been talking with and listening for God’s voice I’ve never included a set aside time for listening in my prayers. Time in every prayer where I say, Holy Spirit speak into my heart. Don’t get me wrong, I do listen and expect answers, I just haven’t been specifically listening during prayer. So, When He speaks, and I know He will, I’ll intentionally listen, and write what He says in my prayer journal.

Will I act on His words? Will I share? In trusting Him and keeping the faith, I have learned if I don’t respond or follow through I lose the blessing He had planned for me.  Things like:

I did come up with a new acronym… G.R.O.W.L. Gratitude (Thanks). Requests. Offense (Forgiveness), Worship, Listen.  The word kind of fits as our prayers go up with ‘utterings and groanings’ before the Lord that might sound like growls if we heard them.

Here’s the bottom line. No matter what or how just keep on praying.

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

 

Character Carved In Stone — Book Review

From the compassion of Ulysses S. Grant to the heroism of Peter Wang ROTC (Granted posthumous admission to the West Point class of 2015. You’ll have to read the book to find out why.) I was held spellbound and captive as I read of the attributes and accomplishments of some of our country’s greatest heroes.

Between the covers of Character Carved in Stone by Pat Williams, you will find stories of West Point graduates whose lives personified the virtues of that institution.  The author then continues with ways to incorporate those some concepts into your own life.

 

These are my favorite quotes from each of the 12 Virtues:

“Leaders with authentic compassion are strong, courageous, honest, and direct.” p35

“Faith replaces fear with courage.” p51

“Live each day dedicated to the future.” p66

Determination means making up your mind that you will achieve your goal…expecting roadblocks and obstacles, but prepared to find a way over, around, or straight through them.” p77

Dignity is a priceless virtue–a virtue that is in danger of extinction in our society.” p92

“Success is the result of discipline, of repeatedly doing the things that lead to excellence.” p104

“A person of integrity is whole and complete–not divided or compartmentalized. A person of integrity will be the same person in public and in private. The inner reality will match the outward reputation.” p123

“Always stand up for your people. Always have their backs. If they are attacked or criticized, defend them… That is what loyalty demands of you.” p137

“Pray for the power to persevere. Never give in. Never give up. Never quit.” p153

“We don’t blame other people. We don’t blame circumstances. We don’t blame God. We accept full responsibility.” p167

“Throughout our nation’s history, generations of Americans have enjoyed freedom and prosperity because American soldiers have selflessly served their country.” p180

“When we trust one another, we can accomplish great things. Without trust, we are defeated before we begin.” p199

Who should read and use Character Carved in Stone? Everyone! Parents, preachers, politicians (especially), grandparents, teachers, teenagers, students, farmers, waiters… Everyone!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Revell/Baker Publishing Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

This post may contain affiliate links.  When you use them I receive a small commission that helps support the costs of maintaining this blog.

Found Coins

I recently came across this unique story of finding lost coins.  Imagine the change in this world if we all stopped to acknowledge our God when we see or pick up any coin.

A woman of modest means and her husband were invited to spend the weekend at the husband’s employer’s home. The boss was very wealthy, with an estate home and several cars costing more than the average house.

The woman delighted to experience first hand the life of the extremely wealthy. The boss indulged his guests both at home on his estate as well as out as exclusive dining establishments.

On one occasion as they were about to enter an exclusive restaurant, the boss was walking slightly ahead of them. He stopped suddenly, looking down on the pavement for a long, silent moment.

An awkward silence followed. There was nothing on the ground except a single darkened penny that someone had dropped, a few cigarette butts and assorted litter. Quietly, the rich man reached down and picked up the penny.

He held it up and smiled, then put it in his pocket as if he had found a great treasure. How absurd! What need did this man have of a single penny? Why would he even take the time to stop and pick it up?

Throughout dinner, the penny bothered her. Finally, she casually mentioned that her son once had a coin collection, and asked if the penny he had found had been rare.

A smile crept across the man’s face as he reached into his pocket for the penny and held it out for her to see.

Look at it. He said. Read what it says. She read the words the United States of America.

No, not that; read further.

One cent? No, keep reading.

In God we Trust? Yes! And?

And if I trust in God, the name of God is holy, even on a coin. Whenever I find a coin I see that inscription. It is written on every single United States coin, but we never seem to notice it!

God drops a message right in front of me telling me to trust Him? Who am I to pass it by?

When I see a coin, I pray, I stop to see if my trust IS in God at that moment. I pick the coin up as a response to God; that I do trust in Him. For a short time, at least, I cherish it as if it were gold. I think it is God’s way of starting a conversation with me. Lucky for me, God is patient and pennies are plentiful!

The author of this spiritual story is unknown and greatly appreciated. If you know who wrote this or can provide a source that I can cite then please contact me and let me know!

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

5 Ways To Improve Any Relationship

I often think about being the best wife, friend, teacher, worker… I can be.  Perhaps I can do more, be more, give more… Certainly all of the above but there are some very practical, down to earth ways we can show those around us they matter most.

friends-1149841_960_720

I believe the #1 way to improve friendship is to take yourself out of the running for 1st Place.  Narcissism destroys more relationships that any other personal characteristic.  Anytime we think we matter more, in any way, than the person we’re relating with ruins any chance of building up the other person.  Jesus said it best when He said, ‘love others’ in response to what is the greatest commandment.

Steven Covey, in his book First Things First, makes it clear that we must know the wants and needs of the other person to become successful.  In our relationships, we really need to know what another likes or dislikes.  Remember anything we might think is fun may not be enjoyable to someone else.  Get to know your friends, husbands, co-workers.  Talk to them.  Discover their hobbies and interests.  The best relationships take the desires of the other into account first.

When you’re building friendships and relationships don’t be afraid to ask for what you want.  If it’s more than one-sided the other person is just as interested in you.  If your friend says let’s go see a dirt bike race and you really can’t stand the dust then tell them.  Remember, if your friend is truly interested in creating an awesome relationship they’ll find someone else to go with and both of you will discover something about the other.

That leads us to trust.  If a friend chooses to do something with another person do not put a guilt trip on them.  Building relationships with other people adds more to the friendships you already have.  Learning to trust others is a huge growth issue.  One does not need to know everything that their friend is doing every moment to build a strong relationship.

kindness-710209_960_720Last, but certainly not least, choose kindness.  In Aesop’s fable, The Lion and the Mouse, the moral is, a kindness is never wasted.  Perhaps something you’ve done in the past will lead to its reward in the future.  True kindness, like love, is based on wanting what is best for the other person.

 

Sometimes, when I read a list like this, I think I have to do everything.  Not so!  Even choosing one of these suggestions will make you a standout, awesome friend.  Go for it!

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Two Who Waited

One of my favorite parts of the Christmas Story is that of two people who waited patiently for the Messiah.  Simeon and Anna were both New Testament witnesses to the Christ Child. Their stories are as follows (from the NIV, Luke 2):

 

Simeon at the Presentation of the Child by Rembrandt

Simeon at the Presentation of the Child by Rembrandt

25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God…

 

     

 

 

Anna by Rembrandt

Anna by Rembrandt

Luke 2:36–38 There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

 

 

Simeon and Anna were the first to see Him in a public place.  They were the first witnesses to who He really was.  More importantly, they were not afraid to say, to other worshippers in the Temple, who He was.

Simeon and Anna were the last of the Old Testament prophets.  Their entire life purpose was to listen for and to God.  Also, they shared with the other worshippers what they had heard God say in the temple.  They did not sugar-coat the words but spoke clearly and with conviction.

Both of their names point to a strong, long-lasting faith.  Simeon means obedient and listening.  Anna  means gracious, one who gives.

Dr. William Smith in Smith’s Bible Dictionary suggests that she was probably more than a hundred years old when she spoke over Jesus.  (If she was married at approximately 14, lived with her husband for 7 years, and had spent 84 years after that in the temple, then she was at least  105 years old.)  It is possible that Simeon was also quite old.  Tradition has it that he was one of the 72 translators of the Septuagint.  If that is truly the case he was over 200 years old at the time of this incident.

So, what is in this story for us.  First, Isaiah 40:31 pops into my mind when I think of the words ‘they that wait upon the Lord…’.  In all the years they waiting for the Birth neither one gave up on God’s promise and they were rewarded with seeing Him personally. We often wonder when God will finally act on one of His promises or our requests.  Simeon and Anna are a great example of waiting and waiting and waiting…  Second, a life of prayer is important to seeing God’s work.  Although the scripture says Anna had lived, prayed, and fasted in the temple since her husband’s death, it does not mean that we have to live in our churches to experience God.  He is everywhere!  And finally, we can trust that God will follow through on His promises.  God will and can do what He says He will.  Our trust and obedience in matters of faith always lead to God’s blessings.

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

This post was written as part of Blogs By Christian Women Holiday Tour.  You will find several really excellent posts and blogs in the list below.

12/6/16 Michele Morin http://michelemorin.wordpress.com
12/6/16 Heather Olson http://grace-filledgifts.blogspot.com/
12/6/16 Sherri Autrey http://sherriautrey.com
12/7/16 Gwen Williams http://www.thejourneyofhealing.com
12/7/16 Marie Bungard http://asatisfiedspirit.com
12/7/16 Lottie Staggs https://www.lottiebrooke.com
12/8/16 Lee Felix https://www.likemindedmusings.com
12/8/16 Amanda Brown http://www.skgfun.com
12/8/16 Susan Bricker http://leanintothelord.com