Prayer Time …

As we build this community prayer platform, we ask the Lord to listen to our petitions with full confidence they not only are heard but acted upon by God according to His holy will. These requests are on my prayer list and I hope you consider putting them on yours as you place your petitions before the Lord Sunday.

Let’s remember to approach the throne room and respond with faith and not fear, knowing the promises of God and His mighty hand will hold us through any situation! Sometimes, all it takes is just one prayer to change everything. Something extraordinary happens when two or more agree together in prayer.

What is one of the most important things we should do as Christians? Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints (Ephesians 6:18).

Layla has bronchitis and is in the hospital. Pray for healing.

Angela is also in the hospital and very sick.

Caren needs healing and  comfort prayers. She just found out she has bone cancer.

Kenroy is fighting for his life with Stage III colon cancer.

Wendy had a brain operation Wednesday to remove a big cancer tumor and still has six small ones left. She will be undergoing radiation treatment to kill them off.

Claudette said some really unfair things happened at work and she feels like throwing in the towel. She needs God to open up doors for her. Sinazo is also looking for God to open doors. Beth, too, is experiencing financial pressures. Keep them all in your thoughts and pray for strength.

Kayla just got the results of a ct scan showing a mass has deteriorated the bone that separates her ear from her brain so she will need a neurosurgeon to be available. It looks like the bone for her equilibrium is deteriorating. The spins have her and she needs some relief. She is the mpther of two small girls.

There were a host of unspoken prayer requests and we heard of a number of deaths this week. Prayers for their families as they go through this earthly trial. We grieve … heaven rejoices.

We come to You, Lord, because prayer is the least yet the greatest thing we can do for each other. When two or more are gathered in Your name, we confidently know You are with us. What better company can we have? You reign and we trust You! We may be broken and battered but know You heal and quiet the soul. You are the source for all that happens in our lives. We thank You for the progress being made. We thank You for the many blessings we have received this week — some we unfortunately didn’t notice. Nonetheless, those blessings are ever-present in our lives. We thank You for healing. We thank You for slowing us down. We thank You for providing us our daily needs — no more and no less. We thank You for being with us, listening to us, walking with us on this journey. We thank You for the support of our family and friends … for seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary — sunrises, sunsets, flowers, kids laughing, adventures, good news amid the bad news. We know we can come to You with our concerns and they will be heard. Through Christ all things are possible. We lift up those family members and friends who are battling various physical, emotional, financial, career or spiritual issues and ask not for Your guidance and healing (although that would be welcomed) but to keep reminding us we are not alone in our battles. Specifically we lift up Layla, Angela, Caren, Kenroy, Wendy, Claudette, Sinazo, Beth, Kayla,and all those needing Your healing touch. We pray for the families of all those You have called home. We grieve … You celebrate. We pray for obedience to Your Will so Your “Son” Light shines through us through the power of the Spirit. And we come to You through the confidence of the words taught by Your Son Jesus. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Keep your joys and concerns coming. They have been and will be included during my prayer time and I trust they will be on your lips as well as you approach the altar. All it takes is a couple of keystrokes under the “Contact Me” button on the top bar {or to the right if you’re not a follower yet}. I hope it becomes your best friend as you navigate around the site so we can all be viable prayer warriors. You can also comment or reach me at wisdomfromafather@gmail.com.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: In a culture obsessed with instant results, we must learn the importance of prayer, patience, and perseverance.

 

 

 

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Five Minute Friday — Settle

Here’s this week’s installment of Five Minute Friday. You might remember the task is to write for five minutes on a specific prompt word. The initiative was started by Lisa-Jo Baker who thought about writing and how often our perfectionism gets in the way of our words. She figured, why not take five minutes and see what comes out: not a perfect post, not a profound post, just five minutes of focused writing. She turned over the reins to Kate Motaung, where our faithful writers write and share their posts with others at our special place on Facebook at fiveminutefriday.com.

As an extra enticement, I’ve been using testimonials about the group and the exercise from other members as collected in Five Minute Friday: A Collection of Stories Written in Five Flat. This week it’s Diana. I encourage you to listen to her words and visit the website featuring the wonderful corps of writers there. Who knows? Maybe you might be inspired to join in!

“It is Thursday night waiting with anticipation for a post from Kate. What will the word be this week? The challenge is to write for five minutes free writing no correcting the grammar or spelling  [okay we all do because, well, we’re writers and words matter], just free thoughts. This circle of writers has been part of my life since Lisa Jo Baker orchestrated Five Minute Fridays. At that time, I was new to the blogging world. I have to admit I was somewhat intimidated by sharing my blog, what would people say about my writing style. However what I found was acceptance, encouragement, friendship, and love. Lisa-Jo handed the reins to Kate and the circle has only increased in love and encouragement. From reading the other blogs, friendships bud like a rose, too many to name by names but you know who you are. Lastly, how amazing it is how the word is used differently by each one of us Five Minute Friday fans. Ready, the clock is ticking and the word is …”

The prompt this week is SETTLE. The timer has been set so it’s time to GO…

We all have a tendency to settle, don’t we? We have these big dreams, yet settle for the ho hum, the easy, the convenient.

Of course, those big dreams always require hard work. Thy don’t come by accident. So we settle … with maybe not the dream job we envisioned … perhaps not the glowing princess or Prince Charming we expected … with our relationships as we plod through day by day … with our avocations and hobbies and passionate interests sitting on a shelf collecting dust. Part of that is just life. Everyday is not a Hallmark moment. Most of our days are spent just getting by.

But, we don’t have to settle for mediocrity, for the humdrum, for the routine. We can energize ourselves to do more. We can follow our dreams — at any age. For example, I have been writing professionally for over 50 years, but only in the last few years have I been writing for fun, writing … STOP

... for myself, for the sheer exhilaration [and sometimes frustration] of sharing my thoughts with a wider audience for better or worse.

There will never be a better time to break the shackles of settle and follow the dream than today, right now. Or, as Mark Twain penned, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” He added, “Throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. ”

In other words, don’t settle.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, and half-shut afterwards. — Benjamin Franklin

 

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The Journey — Part Two

The second leg of my late year journey has come to a close. Like the first chapter in Massachusetts, this second chapter in New York flew by much too fast, but was crammed full of additional memories.

To recap, I’m spending about two and a half weeks with each of my kids/grandkids/great-grandkids.With Massachusetts and New York in the rear view mirror, it is off to Ohio — and the first taste of winter weather on the road … not that I’m complaining.

The energy level in New York was not as high. Most of the time, I just had a six year old to deal with and he was in school during the day, although my two granddaughters, 13 and 12, spent a couple of weekends at the homestead. Angelina, however, spent 18 days being traumatized by  a cat, who would unexpectedly ambush her. I think she was looking forward to the next stop. I haven’t had the heart to tell her there are two dogs there  — two rather large dogs.

It was a momentous trip. I finally got to meet my newest great-granddaughter, Ivy Lynn. We celebrated by daughter’s’ 40th birthday with a series of events over he weekend. And I caught up with new and old friends at a First Presbyterian Church of Seneca Falls Coffee Hour and a Meet & Greet at the West Fayette Presbyterian Church Holiday Bazaar. I even spent one of the Sundays on the slanty side of the pulpit at West Fayette Presbyterian.

Some of the highlights …

Got to spend some time with my 99 year old uncle and my age cousin. Nice lunch and nice visit. We talked about … just about everything. He recently found his high school yearbook which had a picture of both him (first row left as a senior) and my dad (first row right as a freshman) on the Eastside (Paterson NJ) cross country team. I had never seen that picture before.

Spent a morning at First Presbyterian Church in Seneca Falls NY. Great worship followed by being guest speaker at Coffee Hour talking about my life in Maine after Seneca County, my three books, and the publishing process. Good to see and connect with familiar faces and new faces. Stopped at the gas station and Walmart and bumped into more old friends.

A safe trip back from New York to Massachusetts. Plenty of fog, construction, and cops made the trip a tad longer … especially since I bypassed the Thruway/Pike. I was reminded of the many times I had taken that route on trips to New Jersey and Wildwood. Brought back fond memories.

Trying new things. Mandi made a Ramen dish with spinach, scallions, carrots and spices. I ate it to set a good example. It was okay … but I wouldn’t go out of my way to have it again. Blessing was having a meal with family.

My daughter-in-law bought a candle. As I watched the the three flames darting, I noticed smoke rings — perfect smoke rings — with each flicker. I was mesmerized. Such a small thing to notice, but put me in awe of the bigger picture. Couldn’t capture the rings but got the candle.

A safe and relaxing trip from Massachusetts to upstate New York. Always a blessing when travel is relaxing with vibrant fall colors allowing God’s handiwork to shine.

Spent time watching Colin, doing some writing (including Sunday’s sermon), getting ready for the Meet & Greet, hugging my two granddaughters, talking a friend through some issues. Blessing is being needed and hopefully offering some words of wisdom and comfort. Both girls, by the way, are in the school play, Orange Is the New Glass. Heard all about it. Kady is part of the ensemble listening to the comedic story blending fairy-tale characters obsessed with pop culture and social media, while Ella has one of the leads — Rapunzel.

A good visit at Meet & Greet. Good to see old friends and meet new ones … and sell a few books as well. Bonus blessing … watching Goosebumps 2 with the grandkids.

Great to be on the slanty side of the pulpit at West Fayette Presbyterian with good friends. That was capped with dinner and a visit with my granddaughter Taylor, husband Michael, and great-granddaughter Ivy Lynn … our first visit. She is so tiny! Blessed.

Caught a glimpse of the famous Seneca sunsets followed by a clear star-studded night. Got to thinking about those stars twinkling here, there, everywhere — just for us. They were bright — not as bright as in Maine — and reminded me Who placed them there.

Angelina and I got out for a short walk. A little breezy along the lake but warm sun. She explored the new path. Reminded me how much I’ve missed our walks.

I surveyed the rose garden. Most of the blooms are gone but there was a pink one (DJ) still hanging in and a deep red bud (Karen) posing. Memories … beauty … simplicity.

Grandson went trick & treating in the rain. When he returned he shared his Reese candy with me. Blessing. Sharing … and a peanut butter cup.

Dinner out with Cole and Colin. Pork steak at West Fayette Presbyterian. Good conversation and good food. Always a blessing.

Visited with Constance, John, and Xandra, catching up … and scored a lemon meringue pie to enjoy the rest of the New York stay (no, I didn’t share). Spent the night with the grands so my daughter could party for her 40th. Ella and I watched Merry and Bright (a Hallmark Christmas offering) before we all settled in for Kindergarten Cop … and popcorn. It made up for a disaster dinner — Bacon Wrapped Cheesesteak Meatloaf. Bacon never cooked … meatloaf separated.

Homemade lasagna. Haven’t had it in a long time. Thanks Lynne!

Monday started with a painted morning sky that set the tone for the day. A big thank you!

I voted … first time in four years at my “normal” polling place after absentee balloting from Maine. Blessed to live in America where we have the right and privilege of voting. Congrats to all of you who exercised your voting rights. If you didn’t, don’t complain. Speaking of exercise, Angelina and I did some time walking — and playing in the leaf piles — at Taughannock Falls State Park. She had a blast just running around, pulling me up and down the trails and watching the gulls resting quietly on the boat dock pilings. Finally, a great Election Night Dinner — overstuffed turkey with all the trimmings and pecan pie (among others) — at Ovid Federated Church with Nicolle and Anthony. Ummm, ummm good.

The last day of the New York chapter of my late year tour was jammed with fun. Had a great visit with neighbors Lee Anne and Ray; revisited my great-granddaughter Ivy Lynn (granddaughter Taylor and husband Michael, too); and capped the night at the Waterloo Music Department’s Salute to Our Veterans. Ella, 13, played the trumpet in a Patriotic Parade Sequence (she’ll be marching Monday in the New York City Veterans Day Parade, live streamed at parade.uwvc.org/watch-the-parade), and both Ella and sister Kady, 12, performed America the Beautiful as members of the 7/8 Chorus. Blessed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let the adventure continue!

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: The choices we make every day matter. Some choices are ok, some are bad, some are good and some are even better.

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Midweek Mirth

One of the misconceptions about being a Christian is non-Christians think we don’t know how to have fun or have a sense of humor. Trust me, if the Big Guy can have a sense of humor when it comes to dealing with us mere mortals, so can we.

The difference for Christians is we don’t have to debase ourselves or others to generate a smile. Laughter at life or ourselves is a gift from God.

So, let’s smile a little!

Midweek Mirth

If Websites Had Warning Labels

Google: “Warning! You may actually find more than what you’re looking for.”

Blogs: “May cause drowsiness.”

Microsoft: “Warning! Bill Gates isn’t ever going to share his money with you.”

MySpace: “Age, gender and attractiveness of members may differ from what is actually posted.”

Apple Computers: “Warning! High Smug Advisory.”

Wikipedia: “Warning label does not exist. Would you like to create warning label?”

YouTube: “Warning! Contents may be stupid.”

And now for the bonus …

Coffee Options

Man: “Waiter, I’d like a cup of coffee, please, with no cream.”

Waiter: “I’m sorry, sir, but we’re out of cream. How about with no milk?”

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: If you are too busy to laugh, you are too busy. – Proverb

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Journaling, Poetry, and Prose

So, you want to write a book. We have been tackling the five Ws and the H … that’s What, When, Where, Why. Who, and How. We’ve already delved into the five W’s — What, When, Where, Why, and Who. And we’ve already started discussing the odd letter — H — How. This week, I’ll discuss journaling, poetry, and prose — part of the How.

I’m not a big fan of journaling. In fact, we used to call it a diary … and that was for girls. But journaling is a way to put your life in perspective. It’s personal It goes behind the mere events written down and into your emotions and circumstances and soul.

There are a couple of rules for journaling. First, decide what to write about.  Why do you want to keep a journal in the first place? If you’re keeping a journal for a practical purpose — to remember events about your day or at work  — then the answer is simple. Write down the events of your day. But, to reap the full benefits of journaling, you’ll have to dig deeper than that. Expressive writing — that is, exploring your thoughts and feelings while telling a story — or redemptive narratives may lead to emotional and physical health benefits. Researchers explained “the whole point is to bring up issues that are emotionally charged.”

The researchers told participants not to worry about spelling, grammar or sentence structure. The only rule they had to follow was to continue writing until time was up. Thus, if you want to extract the mental and physical health benefits of writing, you’ll want to write expressively.

While I understand the thought and rationale — the directions are the same for my Five Minute Friday assignments on my blog — I do have a little problem not worrying about spelling, grammar or sentence structure. You might be able to get away with the shorthand writing for yourself, but to a wider audience, spelling, grammar, and sentence structure matter.

In my opinion, to get the full emotional benefit of journaling, it’s best to tell a narrative, not just recap your day, and write through your emotions. Write about a few things that happened during the day and, more important, how those events, epiphanies, or interactions made you feel. If you’re trying to journal your way through distress, it may help to focus your writing on positive outcomes as well.

If the idea of recapping the emotions of your day seems like too much, you could even just start a gratitude journal, which is a simple, daily list of things you’re grateful for: a cup of peppermint tea, sunny mornings, comfortable slippers.

Believe it or not, finding the right medium is part of the decision. Pick a medium that works for you, whether it’s your computer, an app on your phone, or old-fashioned pen and paper. The reason for that is it breeds consistency. You get more comfortable the more you write.

Blogging is a form of journaling. It’s sharing your thoughts. The difference is a journal are generally thoughts for you, while blogs are thoughts shared with a wider audience.

To give you an example, a simple journal log might be, “Went to grandma’s.” Expanded you might add, “We took a long ride. I was bored sitting in the car. Grandma gave us cookies and milk and I got a chance to visit the cows. I fell asleep on the ride back.”

Poetry is literature that evokes a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience or a specific emotional response through language chosen and arranged for its meaning, sound, and rhythm.

Formally, poetry is recognizable by its greater dependence on at least one more parameter, the line, than appears in prose composition. This changes its appearance on the page; and it seems clear people take their cue from this changed appearance, reading poetry aloud in a very different voice from their habitual voice. If people are shown poems printed as prose, it most often turns out they will read the result as prose simply because it looks that way; which is to say they are no longer guided in their reading by the balance and shift of the line in relation to the breath as well as the syntax.

Poetry is the way it is because it looks that way, and it looks that way because it sounds that way and vice versa.

Part of the difficulty in distinguishing between the two forms lies in the fact there is the technical term verse to go with the term poetry, while there is no equivalent technical term to distinguish the mechanical part of prose and make the relation symmetrical. The French poet Paul Valéry said prose was walking, poetry dancing. Indeed, the original two terms, prosus and versus, meant, respectively, “going straight forth” and “returning”; and that distinction does point up the tendency of poetry to incremental repetition, variation, and the treatment of many matters and different themes in a single recurrent form such as couplet or stanza.

Form, in effect, is like the doughnut that may be said to be nothing in a circle of something or something around nothing; it is either the outside of an inside, as when people speak of “good form” or “bourgeois formalism,” or the inside of an outside, as in the scholastic saying “the soul is the form of the body.”

More could be said about poetry … whole courses. And, honestly, I’m not a big poetry fan so I would be the wrong person to lead the discussion.

With all that being said, when it comes to prose, there are some important elements – especially in creative writing – that must be considered. Spelling and grammar are important. Context is important. Continuity is important. It doesn’t hurt to know how to diagram a sentence.

Stories that resonate have a beginning, body and ending … a flow, if you will. That’s important because often writers will get off the beginning, body, end road and throw off the entire flow of what they are attempting to communicate. Sentences, paragraphs, characters, plots, sub-plots, and themes are important as markers for your story. They amplify the story, not confuse it.

I have seen a lot of stories which detour from the main thought. Perhaps it is to explain detail about a character or set up a scene. Unfortunately, the explanation leads the reader down a different path, often forgetting your initial thought. It happens more than you think. So be careful. Make sure your character or scene development stays within the context of your story. Don’t add too many details at one shot, but gently introduce them as your story flow moves forward.

One of the hardest things for a writer, however, is dialogue. We’ll deal with the joys and consternation of dialogue next week.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: It’s the story you write, the rhythm you dance to, the picture you paint that makes your life memorable!

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Tomorrow’s Fruit

Our Words for the Week are from T. Harv Eker at Inspiration Peak.

In every forest, on every farm, in every orchard on earth, it’s what’s under the ground that creates what’s above the ground. That’s why placing your attention on the fruits that you have already grown is futile. You cannot change the fruits that are already hanging on the tree. You can, however, change tomorrow’s fruits. But to do so, you will have to dig below the ground and strengthen the roots.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: As long as I am breathing, in my eyes, I am just beginning. — Criss Jami

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Don’t Pray for Me

“When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you: even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood.” — Isaiah 1:15 (NIV)

In the solemn aftermath of horrific gun violence and mass shootings, prayers of condolence have become quite common place as they display the ritual of our national grief. Our prayers express the compassion and concern we feel for those hurt by the grave losses of gun violence — losses that molest families, damage communities and shake the nation.

Still, as well-intentioned as our prayers of condolence may be, they are not always the appropriate response to the ravages of mass carnage. At a certain point, our prayers may in fact be an affront to God.

According to the prophet Isaiah, God refuses to hear the prayers of those who pray with bloody hands. There are those whose hands are bloodied by the triggers they pull to unleash bullets that take human lives at random. But there are many more whose hands are bloodied by their compliance with indiscriminate gun proliferation of every lethal variety.

Isaiah makes no distinction between the two.

Directly or indirectly, God holds everyone in the nation responsible for neglecting the poor and failing to defend the weak. Thus, the nation’s religious practices are futile, and the prayers of the national body are pointless.

Prayer never has been, and prayer never will be a substitute for accountability.

Bloodied hands that offer prayers to the victims of mass shootings … or to families separated at the border … or to the victims of unjust systems … do not console anyone. They only camouflage the problem and circumvent the solution.

Lord, before we pray, help us to look at our hands. Amen.

This reflection was written by Kenneth Samuel, pastor of Victory for the World Church, Stone Mountain, GA, as a contributor for Daily Devotional, created by the StillSpeaking Writers’ Group for the United Church of Christ.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. — Oliver Wendell Holmes

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