Preparing for Life's Big Events...Through Prayer

A note to my regular readers: I am taking a little side trip today to introduce a free resource I am working on for my website ( I have noticed through the years that life's major events come with much planning but little prayer. I am writing a 30 day prayer guide to prepare for life's big events through prayer. I invite you to read the introduction and day one entry and would love your feedback. Does this prayer guide strike a chord with you? Does this meet a felt need in your life? Is there something you would change?


The dress transforms the bride from ordinary girl to princess.  The flowers mark the air with the scent of love.  The band spills a melody that sweetens the heart.  Every detail is meticulously planned, coordinated and executed.  The day of the wedding is upon you. 

A disciplined regiment of diet and exercise leads to peak physical condition.  Early morning runs build in speed and duration.  Your iPod is packed with motivational melodies.  You stand at the starting line of your first marathon.

Study sessions flicker long past midnight.  Countless example problems are solved.  Thousands of facts are digested.  You sit pencil in hand to take your professional certification.

A big event never goes unplanned.  The graduation gown is ironed.  The baby is showered.  We even purchase new cleats for our son’s trip to the prestigious baseball tournament.  Every bit of the exterior of the event is well thought out.  But do we prepare our hearts? 

I want to invite you to take a 30 day journey with me to prepare for your next big event not just logistically but spiritually.  Together we will pray as we plan.  Come and find peace among the plans.

Day One
A Place of Rest

Matthew 11:28-29 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Details swirl in your brain interrupting sleep.  You make lists at stop lights on the back of envelopes.  Ideas come to you at all hours of the day.  Your heart and your body are running on empty.  Weary one, come and find rest.

Today I Pray for You:

·         To unleash your burden.  Roll your cares onto the shoulders of the One who’s able to bear the load.

·         To find peace as you exchange your worries for His peace.

Today You Pray:

God of Rest, I come to You.  I pause here in Your arms.  I breathe in serenity.  You know there are more things to think about than my brain can hold.  I can’t sleep for thinking. 

I sit with my burdens in my arms.  I offer them to You.  Take them from me and give me Your rest.  Invade my frazzled brain with Your peace. 

Thank you for being my place of rest.

It's Because I'm a Mess

Psalm 49:13 This is the fate of those who trust in themselves.

In a pre-caffeine haze, I held my iPhone. A smile arced under hair as messy as the Chicago interstate system. My friend offered to make dinner for our Friday night small group. I quickly typed, "____ volunteered but we'll be passing around a new sign-up so the next Ruesday is available."

This tells me:

1) I am clearly watching too much Scooby Doo, Ron't Rou Rink Raggy? 

2) I'm a mess. My small group doesn't even meet on Ruesday.  It's meets on Friday.

I am a mess. I reach my limit and yell at my kids over minor infractions. I give my husband the cold shoulder instead of just expressing my frustration. I dodge a friend who wounded me instead of dealing with an awkward exchange.

I am a mess who desperately needs Jesus. My need is real. It presses against my heart and draws me closer to my Jesus. It floods my thoughts and delivers grace. It humbles my mind and fixes my thoughts on God.

It is a well-known fact men are not attracted to desperate, needy women...but my Jesus is. He runs right into the middle of my mess. He calls my name, smooths my nest of hair and exchanges my mess for His majesty.

Jesus, I'm falling hard on Your lap this morning. My need is great. Your grace is greater. My messy life shouts my need and I'm thankful for my mess. I desperately seek You because I'm a mess.

Starter or Builder?

Today I have the special privilege of introducing my friend, Patti Hazlett, to you.  There are moments in life when you meet someone and know God is up to something big.  That is what happened in my life when I came to know Patti.

You'll want to read her funny tweets here.  You'll be inspired by her blog here and here.  You'll come to know and love my friend as she facebooks here

But today I'm most excited she's here with me.  It is my birthday and her presence here is a present both to me...and to you.  Welcome Patti!

“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” Matthew 16: 18
I don’t want to be a Simon. I want to be a Peter. But most of the time, I’m a weird combination of both. You, too?
Studying Peter’s life, he was one of Jesus’ closest companions. He was beloved. Jesus saw things in him that Peter could not see for himself.
Can you relate? I sure can.

Peter was a great starter. Peter often spoke before he thought through what to say. Peter dove in with both feet, typically without looking.

So often, that is me. I’m a great “idea person,” but sometimes my follow through stinks. I tend to open my mouth before I connect the dots to my brain – and you can imagine the trouble that causes. I’ll commit to things I should really think about first –overloading and overwhelming myself.

I also have a tendency to beat myself up over this side of my personality. And, yes, while some measure of pause and thinking should become more a part of my life, God can use even these traits for good.
Because even with his faults and failures:
·         Peter was passionate

·         Peter was a natural leader

·         Peter had a “way” about him that naturally drew others to him

·         Peter was a good communicator
You know what, those are also things that I can relate to. I see my passion in how I devote so much energy to the things and people I believe are important. People say I have an ability to lead and help others reach common ground. I’ve been a public relations/marketing person for 20 years, I definitely know how to communicate.
How about you? Can you relate to Peter’s upside?
Jesus told Peter that He would build the church on the Rock – the Rock that was Peter. What is Jesus looking at building through you and me?
If I am too caught up in my failures, I lose sight of the bigger picture.  God will use all of us for His work if we are willing to surrender. He can redeem even the biggest failure for sweet victory. He can draw out of us those areas that are beautiful, meld them with what we think are flaws, and create something unique and perfect for His purpose.

If Peter is any example, I will take the bumps and bruises that go with the personality. I pray He cultivates the new person I am in Christ for His greater purpose. Looking at Peter, I’m certain He can do amazing things through regular people just like you and me.


Patti Hazlett is a writer whose blog devotionals have struck a chord with her readers. Her ability to look at life through what she calls her “Jesus filter” has taught many life lessons and practical Biblical application. A later-in-life Christian, Hazlett struggled for years to connect the dots between her life and a life as someone who was saved. Her journey took a radical turn after a cancer scare and a heartfelt, honest cry out to God to use her for more than the life she was living. Today, she approaches every day with the prayer to maximize each moment for His glory.

A Security Deposit Box...of Authentic Faith

Psalm 48:As we have heard, so have we seen...God makes her secure forever.

The excitement was palpable.  Fifty thousand bodies leaned as she was introduced.  The headline performer for Women of Faith 2006 took the stage.

I was quite familiar with Natalie Grant's music.  I listen almost exclusively to contemporary Christian music and she is a favorite rotation on almost any station.  I had heard Natalie Grant sing numerous times. 

As she opened her mouth, I registered a sound I didn't recognize.  The person performing on stage somewhat resembled the Natalie on the radio, but this one overflowed with power, energy and a sound so sweet your heart beat faster just to hear it.

I had heard Natalie Grant but seeing her was something altogether different.

In my childhood I was exposed to a number of awe-inspiring testimonies.  They were filled with wonders God performed - alcoholics who never drank again, screamers who now communicated in love and marriages mended by grace.  These words touched my heart but they did not transform my life.

In 2007 I met a woman who lived a changed life.  She was wired enough like me, I could see echoes of her past...




Her past resounded my own. Yet the woman before me shined the light of Christ so brightly, it was impossible to miss.  She literally reflected grace and truth into my life. 

I had heard of God's miracles, even experienced some myself but seeing a miracle had a profound impact on me. 

But what about the Pharisees?  Jesus chastised them for being seen but not being authentic.  How do I develop something seen that is also real and secure?  I develop it in the unseen...

Time alone with God

Tests of my character passed in the privacy of my home

Transformation one moment, one day at a time

Jesus, I had heard about You but now I have seen You.  I have experienced You in person.  You have shaped by strong-will into God-inspired.  You have formed my independence into God-dependence.  You have molded my determination into a life of purpose.  May others see what You have deposited in me - authentic faith.

Does It Count If You Can't See the Flag?

Psalm 47:7-8 For God is the King of all the earth...God reigns over the nations.

I steered my little blue car into the drop-off line a full ten minutes earlier than yesterday.  I was relieved my near tardiness from the day before had escaped the attention of my kindergartner.  In process to a "Mother of the Year" comeback, I hear from the back seat, "You know, Mommy, I wasn't exactly early to school yesterday."

My Clara is adorable but no prodigy.  I assure you, she can't read.  I didn't talk about my blog post either.  It was as if she could see the action taking place in my thought bubble.  Instead of tuning into the destructive thoughts that threatened to follow, I tuned into her heart instead.

She continued, "You know I even had to say the Pledge of Allegiance in the hallway.  Does it count if you can't see the flag?"

This is something I've wondered myself.  No, I don't have deep, patriotic thoughts about the voracity of my national loyalty.  I do, however, sometimes wonder why I pray when I can't see God at work.

Do you ever feel that way?  Does it count if I can't see God?

It Counts Because He Sees Me

The beginning of the school year here in Tennessee means parents have no online access to their child's grades for the first few weeks of school.  Each August I get glowing reports from my girls.  I hear about every success - every quiz whizzed and each test aced.  Grades more average than ace fail to receive a mention.  My kids forget online access is coming just after Labor Day.  Eventually I'll know every grade but they live like I won't.

That's what happens when I forget God sees me.  My perspective doesn't matter.  I am in His loving eye whether I acknowledge it or not.  How thankful I am for Jehovah El Roi - the God who sees.  I pray not because I see Him but because He sees me.

It Counts Because It Changes Me

My circumstances may not change.  God may not move mountains with every word I utter.  But my heart is radically transformed when I pray.

Bitterness falls to forgiveness.  Anxiety folds into peace.  Control flips to freedom.

Just because I don't see the results I am looking for in my situation doesn't mean my prayers are ineffective.  Whether or not my circumstances change, I do.  I pray not because I get what I want but because I become what I want.

Jesus, You are the King who sees me.  You are the King who changes me.  It counts because my audience is with the King.

A Confident Heart

Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

How do the mornings slip by so quick? Clara wasn't late to school but she wasn't exactly early either. Getting your kids to school early is the mark of a well-organized, thoughtful mother, right? My heart began to taunt me.

If you were a good mom you'd never have trouble getting to school on time.

Clara's teacher has you figured now.  You can't fool her into thinking you're a good mom. 

You should get an "F" on your daily mom report card.

God's truth pierced my thoughts.

Shannon, your heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure (Jeremiah 17:9)

Shannon, I the LORD search your heart and examine your mind (Jeremiah 17:10)

Shannon, I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness. (Jeremiah 31:3)

Jesus, thank you for helping me recognize the downward spiral of my thoughts this morning.  You broke through and turned the spiral upside down and back up to You.  In You, I find refuge.  In You, I draw strength.  In You, I grow a confident heart.

I am reading A Confident Heart by Renee Swope.  In her book, Renee shares the key to casting off insecurity.  My thoughts determine my actions.  I must replace my doubts with God's truth. 

I am only in the second chapter of this book, but already it is having a profound impact on my thought life.  I was immediately able to recognize these thoughts, reject them and replace them with God's truth.  Those of you who read my blog daily know I have never recommended a book other than God's Word.  Self-doubt is common to the human condition.  We are all subject to its' deceptive grasp.  Let's read Renee's book together and confidently stride into God's best for our lives.

Do you struggle with doubts or insecurities?  What are some of your favorite ways you counteract those negative thoughts?

Beautiful Girls

Psalm 45:10-11 Listen, O daughter, consider and give ear...The King is enthralled by your beauty.

"I don't like these things that stick off my head," Carynne (4) pouted into the full length mirror.

"But that's how God made you. And He made you beautiful. Each person is unique." Clara (5) returned.

I stood half-dressed with crazy, uncombed hair in front of the same mirror.  I saw beauty.  Not the natural, genetic kind. Not the brand that can be purchased, trained or concocted.  I saw beauty that flows from the heart.  Clara saw it too.

Carynne's hair falls in gentle curls like a peaceful ocean reaching its' shore.  She sees curl and wants straight.  Clara's hair is stick straight and currently whacked.  She didn't look in the mirror and see her deficiencies or her sister's.  She saw God tenderly loving her.  She let God love her sister through her.  That, my friends, is beauty.

What I want most for my daughters when it comes to beauty, is for them to implant in their hearts God's love affair.  Knowing Him intimately brings out the beauty tucked inside all of us.

Jesus, I sit hours later fully dressed and without a stitch of makeup but I feel lovely.  I have drenched my skin in Your word, my hair in Your grace and my face in Your love.  You are enthralled with my beauty.  I am enthralled with You.

Parking Hope

Psalm 44:1 We have heard with our ears, O God; our fathers have told us what you did in their days, in days long ago.

I showered, shampooed and shaved.  I painted and primped.  I even purchased a new dress - an unbudgeted extravagance.  Something deep inside whispered the significance of this night. I'm not sure I spent this much time preparing for my wedding day.

Why did I walk down the aisle?  This thought flickered often in my mind.  My nuptial dreams turned nightmare and ended in divorce.

Tonight I stood before my full length mirror in black.  I approved of my reflection.  My preparations had paid significant dividends.

I opened the door, the look on my date's face made it clear he too approved of my appearance.  He muttered a "wow" as I gathered my purse and said my goodbyes to my two little girls.

We chatted easily en route to the upscale restaurant my companion had selected.  Even the parking lot looked expensive I noted.

He opened my car door.  As I glided toward the entrance, he gently placed his hand in the small of my back.  Immediate energy pulsed through every nerve.  Was this excitement?  It couldn't be love - a divorced mother of two does not fall in love on the first date.  No this was something different. 

Hope. Hope was what I'd offered my friend.  Now God extended hope to me.  Hope reached down from heaven and touched me through his hands.

I never tire of reliving those miraculous first moments with my future husband.  God didn't give me this extraordinary experience for me to hoard.  The power of a story is realized when it is shared.

My faith grew as I saw God work in my life.  The faith of my children can blossom when I recount God's faithfulness to them.  As far as my kids are concerned, the events of 2002 might as well have occurred when George Washington fought for our independence.  In my heart, they are as real as if they happened yesterday.  That vision isn't taught; it is caught through repetition.

Jesus, may I relive and relay the moments of Your grace both from my history and in my present day.  I tell of Your works so my children park Your hope in their hearts.  Remind me and them how You parked hope in my a parking lot.

Can "No-No" Become "Yes-Yes"?

Psalm 43:5 Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God.

"No, no, No-No," Hannah (then 2) barked at her baby doll. 

"Why do you keep telling your doll no, honey?"

"Her name is No-No, Mommy.  I'm telling her 'no, no' just like you tell me."

I shrank a little inside.  Could the sum total of my parenting be "no"?  When I envisioned myself as a parent, I pictured a fun parent who enjoyed cartoons, playtime and silly songs.  My heart said yes.  My mouth said no.

Do you ever feel like your relationship with God is one big "no"?  I can relate. Sometimes I let myself get mired down in religion - following made up rules, to be accepted by unpleasable people.

Yesterday someone imposed their narrow views on my husband.  As his wife, I felt hurt, angered and attacked.  Then I remembered the "no-no" snapshot in time.  That day I decided to be a "yes" mom not just in my heart but in my actions.

I don't have to notice everything my kids do wrong.  I don't need to correct every slip of manners or the tongue.  I can choose when to correct, when to counsel and when to give grace.

Religion is a "no-no", downcast and disturbed life.  Relationship is a "yes-yes", filled with hope life.  In close fellowship with Christ, there is freedom and grace. 

Jesus, today I dance to Your rhythm of grace.  I sway looking into Your eyes.  Keep me focused on You and not the purveyors of rules who dance around me.  Let this former "no-no" become a "yes-yes" in Your arms.

Get Your Pant On

Psalm 42:1-2 As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?

She climbed into our dusty Yukon with five pennies clenched in her hand and a look of accomplishment on her face.  Saturday night was Clara's inauguration into the Milholland Family wages.  We don't give "allowance" to our kids but do have a list of chores for which they are paid a small wage each week.  At kindergarten you make 50 cents per week and then your pay escalates by a dollar per grade.  Our 7th grader, as an example makes $7 each week.

Wages are distributed in increments of 10% for tithe, 20% for savings and 70% for spending.  Clara's five pennies represented her first little offering to God.  This is the conversation that ensued between she and her younger sister, Carynne who's four.

"Clara, why are you holding that money?"

"I'm giving it to God."

"All of it?" she asked incredulously.

"No just a couple quarters or something."

"What does God do with it?  Does He give it to his wife, Mary?"

"Nah.  I think He uses it to help people or something."

This conversation tells me a couple of things:  1) Clara doesn't know the difference between a penny and a quarter,  2) Carynne quite logically thinks since God is Jesus' dad and Mary is His mother that they're married, and 3) Carynne thinks Scott gives me all His money.  Boy will she be surprised some day...

This little talk reminded me of my own misperceptions, especially some I've had about God.  In my early days as a Christian, I couldn't understand the intimacy some people seemed to have with Jesus.  I knew Jesus as my savior, but not my friend.

I was puzzled when I heard sayings like "you hunger and thirst for righteousness".  I didn't and I felt like I wasn't in the I Heart Jesus club.    In today's passage, the author gives the key I was missing. Intimacy with God is built one conversation at a time.

His heart longs for God like the deer pants for water.  His soul is thirsty and needs Living Water.  His thirst is quenched when he meets with God.

Jesus, thank you for Living Water.  It refreshes my soul and simultaneously gives me greater thirst.  Thank you for these sweet moments of quiet without husbands, kids or responsibilities.  Here where I meet with you, I get my "pant" on.

How has God built a longing in your heart for Him?

Long Term Residence

Psalm 41:1 Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the LORD delivers him in times of trouble.

One of my favorite perks of Memphis residence is the occasional lunch with my brother.  Today was one of those "perky" days.  I sat at our favorite Mexican restaurant; the site of the famed glass in the salsa incident

We were laughing and chatting with the familiarity of lifelong friendship.  I still felt the discomfort of Wednesday's fingernail mishap.   The residual pain lasted far longer than I'd planned.

In between bites of salsa flooded chips, I absentmindedly wiped my eye with the back of my hand.  A single swipe brought instant relief.  There taking a free ride, was Wednesday's finger nail clipping.  I only thought it had been removed.  Instead it spent parts of three days scratching and maneuvering about my eye. 

Some days my life's problems resemble the nail clipping.  I think they're long gone but the discomfort continues.  I think I've moved on.  They've taken up residence.

As I read today's passage, I heard God's encouragement.  When life seems more stray clipping than executed plan, God delivers me.  He is glorified in my weakness.

My tendency to fall prey to repeat offenses.

My negativity which springs out of nowhere.

Jesus, all to often I think I've removed some issue from my life only to find it still taking up residence.  Realizing the nail is there is the first step to its' removal.  Take out my shortfall.  And let me become a long-term residence of Your grace.

Shelf Life

Psalm 40:4 Blessed is the (woman) who makes the LORD (her) trust

Christmas shopping.  Believe it or not I've already started it.  Holiday procurement was far simpler when I was an elementary student.  The PTA hosted a store.  My mom gave me money.  My retail excursion was complete in a matter of minutes.

My kids have taken part in these as well.  One of Scott's prized possessions is his hulkish figurine holding up the words, "Incredible Dad".  I still love the plastic "diamond" ring Hannah (15) gave me one Christmas.  She was so distressed when her younger sister wore it to school and lost it, she bought me an identical one the next year.  Its' stone may not have been real but the love it was wrapped in was.

Shopping for treasures in the cafeteria was a pleasure shared by all my siblings as well.  I remember the Christmas a hokie present was opened by one sibling.  This present found a place of "honor" inside the bedroom closet behind closed doors.

I was reflecting today on the gifts of writing and speaking God chose to give me.  For so long I rejected the gift.  I kept trying to return it to the cafeteria store and believe me the PTA gives NO refunds.  I also tried to shelve it.  I hoped if I ignored it, it would simply go away. 

I witnessed the look on the other sibling's face when the gift was shoved in the closet.  Hurt.  Disappointed.  Rejected.  I wonder if that's how God feels when I take the gifts He's showered on me and try to downplay or cover them.

God desires for me to use my gifts with confidence.  He wants me to open the closet, grab the gift and proudly display it on the coffee table.  Not for my glory.  For His.

Jesus, I'm sorry I tried to reject Your present.  I never meant to hide it either.  Help me have the courage to unshelve Your gifts permanently.  When I do, this adventure of faith goes from shelf to life.

What gifts, talents and abilities do you need to take out of storage?

The Fingernails are Flying

Proverbs 16:24 Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

I'm not one to waste time. When I found myself waiting on Scott for thirty minutes this afternoon, I decided to clip Clara and Carynne's fingernails. 

One moment I'm feeling jazzed about my organizational skills and productivity.  The next second my eye is screaming.  A stray clipping flew through the air and weaseled its' way through my eyelids for a direct hit on my eyeball.

This morning I read Psalm 39.  David is practicing the art of holding his tongue.  Perhaps he remembered sitting on Great-Grandma Ruth's (see the book of Ruth) knee and hearing her say, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."

This adage sounds like expert advice.  Practicing this bit of wisdom is giving David a case of serious heart burn.  "But when I was silent and still, not even saying anything good, my anguish increased.  My heart grew hot within me, and as I meditated, the fire burned." (Verses 2-3). 

Notice David's anxiety was caused by not saying good things.  God's standards blow mine out of the water.  If I'd penned the Bible, I'd have awarded a crown to anyone who managed to hold their tongue when faced with an enemy.  God's bar is not to hold your tongue but to spew kindness in response to venom.

When the fingernail infiltrated my eye, nothing could keep me from removing it.  All I could think was...Get. It. Out.  Immediately!  What if my guttural response to unkind words hurled at me was words of blessing and peace?  What if God's speech pattern was so ingrained, it naturally came out of me as instinctively as I got the culprit out of my eye.

Hours later my eye still aches.  Isn't that what happens when I release careless words?  They land on the heart of others, fold themselves between the layers and cause hurt for hours or even days.

Jesus, I surrender my mouth to You.  Help me do more than hold my tongue.  May the words flying out of my mouth today bring healing and sweetness to the hearer. 

I Want to Know:  What's been flying out of your mouth lately?

Believe it (or Not)

Mark 9:24 I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!

I blinked. That is precisely how long it took for Clara (5) to go from infant to Kindergartner.  Armed with a Vera Bradley lunchbox and 96 crayons individually labeled with her name, she was ready to take on elementary school. 

On milestone days, a mom faces them with a strange concoction of pride and fear, excitement and dread.  As my emotions flitted around the dial, I prayed.  I hoped.  I dreamed. 

I prayed for a daughter who acclimated easily.  I hoped for a teacher who would "get" Clara.  I dreamed of a future which would come sooner than I think.

We burst through the back doors of Clara's school to find her classroom.  As the door inched closer, I wondered what entry Clara would make.  Her feet never slowed.  Her confidence never waned.  She entered the classroom as if she were made for that moment.

Today's passage is Psalm 38.  In this chapter David lays his deepest longings before God.  His heart pounds with anticipation.  Will God deliver?  How will God bring him through? 

I wish I faced new challenges with Clara's confidence and courage.  Too often I want to shrink back and not press forward.  I blame my lackluster attitude on undeveloped skills or unattained knowledge.  In reality, what I lack is belief.

David ends his psalm with a plea for God to come quickly.  David didn't question if God was coming just when.  He walked with confidence and courage.

Jesus, very likely You will ask something of me today I feel too small to handle.  Truth is I am too small to handle it.  But...You are so big.  I don't have to wonder if You'll come.  I can stride confidently into whatever new challenge You give knowing Your entry is a when not an if.  Believe it or not...

Love...My SAT Score

Psalm 37:5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this.

I felt his eyes before I saw them.  When I turned I saw his dimples punctuating his smile.  Strawberry blond hair fell in a wave above eyes that danced over his grin.  Maybe sitting for the SAT wouldn't be so boring after all.

I lost myself in questions, answers, bubbles and figures.  Before I knew it, break time arrived.  The owner of the dimpled cheeks made a beeline to introduce himself.  I admired his courage.  I laughed at his jokes.  I met my first long-term boyfriend that day.

This morning's passage is Psalm 37.  David extols the benefits of a godly life. 

The Righteous are Known by God

God knows my days.  When I awoke in the sleepy fashion of high school senior, I only saw a college entrance exam in my future.  God saw more.  He knew my day held a great adventure - first love.

God Knows My Future

My high school years were spent in safe walls of a K-12 county school.  I graduated in a class of 55 (no I didn't forget the 0).  Could a girl from such humble beginnings dare to venture to a large city to attend university?  I'm not sure I would have without heading there hand-in-hand with my SAT friend.  God knew my future.  He sent the companion I needed to push me where I needed to go.

God Delivers Me

In the grasp of my #2 pencil, God sent a precious gift - love.  He knew every joy I would experience.  He also knew my relationship would one day end in heartache.  It was the pain of that failed relationship that thrust me into the arms of God.  Just two months after my college love ceased, my relationship with Jesus began.  God delivered me safely into His arms.

Jesus, You bring delight and surprise into the most ordinary of circumstance.  I no longer bubble answers on standardized tests but today I've already experienced the joy of a preschooler who laughs while helping with the laundry.  Into my ordinary day, You bring Your love.  On an ordinary fall day in 1987 you set me on a path to know You.  Your love was my SAT score.

Manufacturer's Defect?

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

The telltale squeak from my vacuum emitted a slug to my gut.  My vacuum is my all-time favorite cleaning tool.  I've been known the suck the crumbs off a chair and finish off with an arc to pull down a cobweb.  I am a Jedi housecleaning warrior with my vacuum hose as my light saber.

My vacuum just could not break.  Without it, I'm forced to use my broom.  Being a Jedi warrior is an adventure.  Using my broom is more like being a cleaning witch.  I immediately wondered what was in the warranty.  If possible, I would return my defective vacuum.

Today I am reading Psalm 36.  David opens this chapter by discussing the traits of a life alienated from God.  After this grim picture, David paints the bridge from our poor decisions without God and the joy of a life with God.  The bridge is love.  God's love reaches to the heavens and it reaches each of us. 

I thought about my vacuum.  If I knew it would break a few years after purchase, I would make a different buying decision.  Defective merchandise is always returned to the store.

I was defective merchandise yet God purchased me with the highest price - His Son.  I was defective not at the hand of my Manufacturer but in the heart of my merchandise.  God made the necessary repairs with His own hands and funded them with His grace and mercy. 

Jesus, when You purchased me it was a no-return transaction.  In my messy life, there are broken parts and pieces.  Help me extend Your warranty of love.  In the hands of the Manufacturer, my life goes from defective to effective.

HeartGuard: Good Medicine for Us Humans Too

Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life.

I was wheeling down Dry Creek Drive on a carefree summer day.  My Schwinn bike decked out with multi-colored streamers was undoubtedly my coolest possession.  Perched on my banana seat, I felt like a princess riding her royal steed.

"Are you a boy or a girl?" they spit at me.  I was so lost in the moment, I hadn't heard their approach.  Their words landed below my ears; they seared into my heart. 

For years later I would stand in front of a mirror and wonder if I looked feminine.  My "development" into womanhood was less subdivision and more single family dwelling.  I thought what I lacked in endowment branded me permanently as "not enough to be a woman".

Today's passage is Psalm 35.  David calls on the strength of God.  He implores His creator to be His defender, His shield and His warrior. 

I wish I could ride my bike back in time and tell that carefree girl she didn't have to let those words penetrate her heart.  She could instead call on God to fight for her. 

A wise friend once told me when someone said or did something particularly ugly to her, she'd close her office door and shout to God, "You saw that, right?"  The knowledge God sees and fights for us, frees us from the need to turn a temporary barb into a permanent wound.

Jesus, I release the people in life from my taking every careless remark to heart.  I look to You to fight on my behalf.  Today, I'll let you be my HeartGuard - now that's good medicine!

A Shiny Face (No Powder Needed)

Colossians 3:15-16 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts...And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

"I know that doggie is a boy, Mommie," Carynne (4) confidently proclaimed.  Lucky for her I am experienced mom and knew not to shoot back with a requiem on the birds and bees. 

Instead I probed, "And how is that, Sweetie?"

"Because of he's (not his) face.  It's a boy one."

A giggle wiggled inside me and threatened my lips.  I let it out as a relieved smile and the reply, "You're right.  His face is very manly."

Today I am reading Psalm 34.  David lifts his praise high and wide.  A heart filled with the gratitude is the hallmark of a Christ-follower.  You might even say it's how we're recognized. 

Praise wells up from a heart that recognizes:
  • The Lord is close (Verse 18)
  • The Lord delivers (Verse 19)
  • The Lord redeems (Verse 22)
My mind fast-forwards from the moment with the pooch to an undetermined point in the future.  Carynne is telling her own children she knows Mimi loves Jesus.

"How, Mommy, how do you know that?"

"Because her face looks like one," she replies.

The heart full of gratitude shines on the face wearing lips of praise.

Jesus, I thank you for little things which otherwise might pass me by.  The coolness of air conditioning on a sweltering day.  The excitement in the eyes of my soon to be kindergartner.  The closeness of family built on goofy park rides and while eating $1 taffy.  An unexpected call from a family member who encourages me.  I'm putting away my powder today to let gratitude shine on my face.