Tag Archives: prayer

Sword

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On part of my walk to the local strip mall I go beneath an on-ramp underpass rather than cross the busy highway above it. Somebody lives there – possibly a few people. I always look carefully, but never saw anyone. Still, each time I approach I pray; for safety, strength, wisdom but mostly for insight.

I step cautiously along that rocky, eerie path littered with bedding, clothes and rubbish; mostly empty alcoholic beverage bottles, cans and fast food refuse. I once crossed to the other side but it is dangerously narrow along the blind curve. So – no.

For most of my life I’ve carried a small Swiss Army knife, complete with handy tools – way before anyone heard of L.J. Gibbs or NCIS. I taught my sons to practice the same – and to keep a handkerchief (especially at weddings and funerals) in case a lady needs one. Days after describing my mostly lovely walks to son Quinn, I was giddy to find a package at my door with a note insisting I carry the content on my walks.

flipknife

My son didn’t send a tool – it’s a conspicuous, lightweight, gruesome-looking weapon, with a lever to quickly release the serrated blade. I grew up with overprotective brothers and I’ve been through police training. Even knowing first-hand the desperation of some street people, I felt uncomfortable about the ominous looking thing – not about carrying it, but having to pull it in self-defense.

A few days later as I approached the underpass I again asked God for help. I typically palm my little knife as I approach. As I reached for the new bulge on my belt I clearly heard from somewhere deep inside,

“…Those who use the sword will die by the sword.*.”

Slightly confused, I kept walking, but thought about the scenario Jesus addressed in that passage. He reminded his apostles His Father was in control and the coming events would actually fulfill prophesies in the coming hours.

underpass 3My walks are hardly prophetic, but I understood the meaning. Shoulders squared, back straight, my empty hands casually at my sides, I began whistling, announcing my presence to whoever might have been hiding in the shadows. The smells were oppressive, the noise from traffic overhead deafening, so I was glad to return to the sunlight uneventfully.

Delighted to find some of my favorite produce and nuts on sale, I filled my canvas bag. But I kept thinking about the people sleeping on the rocks of the underpass.

By the time I finished shopping and set across the asphalt lot toward home heat already rose in waves.

Gazing up the path before me I ran the rules I’d learned over the years through my mind; maintain a safe distance, know where the shelters, soup kitchens and food pantries are in my area and never give strangers, panhandlers, money – “it ultimately prolongs their problems.”

But I also remember being homeless. Stuck by circumstances, I didn’t trade or abuse substances. Still, I doubt I’ll ever forget being sick with worry about my kids, the judgmental looks of people as I sought employment, the desperation, the longing for someone to give a care, or that I still could be one paycheck away from homelessness again.

Feeling the weight of the bag on my back, perspiration beginning to form, I stopped beneath a shade tree in the middle of the parking lot. I put apples, carrots and some nuts into a separate produce bag and knotted it so it was airtight. Gazing ahead, once more I asked God to go before me and then started walking.

Approaching the underpass, I called out (in the most rugged voice I could muster), “I’m just passing through. I don’t want anything and mean no harm.” As I stepped around the dirty bedding I set the bag of fresh food on it without stopping.

Cars whizzed by yards away, oblivious to my presence as I stepped back into the sunlight.

Sleeping Butte

When I arrived home I was glad Ellie was there visiting with Erin. As I put the groceries away I described the scenario leading up to the first crossing beneath the underpass. Then I asked for feedback. Ellie thought for a while and then said, “This may sound cliche, but I would ask what Jesus would do.”

She confirmed what I felt. Peace returned and I went on about my work.

The state of our society continues to disturb me, but my primary purpose is to pray, pay attention and obey the Master.

I’m not entirely ludicrous. I asked God about a stun gun. No answer yet. So, I carry the knife. But once in a while I tie up a separate bag of fresh food, take the short-cut beneath the underpass. As I walk along the highway side I place the bag on the wall and announce, “I’m just walking here. I mean no harm…”

 

“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’” Matthew 25:40 (NLT)

 

*Matthew 26:52 (NLT)

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Alley

To clear my head from the hard weekend, I shifted gears and started my work day at the WordPress Reader. Checking in on the blogosphere community lifted my spirits, as usual. My prayer time enhanced, perspective improved, I noticed the common thread – we are shaken.

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Later, during my first hourly circle around my block, a figure stole my attention – of someone sitting on the ground a few feet into the paved alleyway, head bowed, quietly weeping. The person looked like any of the numerous street people who frequent the avenue north of the street on which I live. Ordinarily I would have passed on by, but something about her stirred something in me.

Following my gut I stepped closer, asking if she needed help. With a sweep of her arm she waved me away, but I clumsily persisted. Reluctantly, she said she had just heard about the tragedy in Orlando.

Again, I recalled the scenes from Monday’s newscasts and held back my own tears. Awkwardly I blurted out, “I know how you feel.” To that she turned her head toward me. From the long, tousled hair covering her face I heard, “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Impulsively I sat down on the pavement next to her. In due course I said, “Maybe you’re right, but I’m horrified just the same.” Surging with energy I felt uncomfortably feeble, not knowing if the stranger understood I referred to Orlando, and not my sitting by her. My mind became a blank slate. She didn’t respond. I simply sat there.

I silently asked God for direction, but heard nothing. And yet, I began to feel conspicuously at ease. We sat together in silence. Well after my tail end went numb, she wordlessly got to her feet, her head still low, and she walked away.

Fumbling to my feet I watched and noticed she didn’t look back. After the dozen-plus steps she turned the corner toward the busy street, out of view. Scant moments later I resumed walking the same direction. When I rounded the corner she was nowhere in sight.

I can’t tell you what the time meant to her. I continue to pray she’s not alone – not in her feelings or in the world. Hours later, I now wonder if angels also weep.

 

“Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!” Hebrews 13:2 (NLT)

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Pray

“…Love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love cannot be killed or swept aside…” Lin-Manuel Miranda

I want to imagine a world free of haters and ignorance. Today it’s very hard. But it will happen.

Neither Erin nor I heard the terrifying news, but we felt something horrible had happened. We continued to feel the oppression as we drove through the amazing Colorado Monument – even that majesty couldn’t shake our uneasiness.

This morning we felt it even deeper, even before hearing the news. Now we understand why. Humankind suffers horrifically again. Neither my feeble words nor my faith will undo the damage done. And yet I live in the hope all our cries to God help someone, somewhere somehow.

There’s no way to express my compassion for the families and friends of those lost and those suffering from this Sunday in Orlando, Florida. But I try.

Regardless how feeble we may feel in the aftermath today, love overcomes evil.

With deepest, heartfelt sympathies to all those who feel each loss, for the communities, friends and families and all of those suffering now.

Roo

When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.” Ephesians 3:15, 16 (NLT)

Image courtesy #PrayForOrlando, The Church at Oak Level@TCAOL

 

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Happy

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“Are you ever surprised when God answers your prayer positively?”

It’s a question from CelebrationNet,* a daily devotional I receive from City on a Hill in Fort Worth.

It’s a good question wherever one is.

Up to the challenge, I tried to write a clever, earth-shaking answer – to no avail. That’s not unusual once in a while, but what actually was odd was I wan’t upset, concerned or preoccupied – with anything.

As I dug deeper into my bag of inspirational tricks, I noticed a peaceful silence. Under such circumstances this rarely happens in my world.

Feeling I needed a touch with reality I looked at the local news. Yep, the sun came up and air is in good supply. I stared at my screen and then began keying Richard III – again, to prime my creative pump. “Now is the winter of our discontent…” But I stopped and I laughed. Key. Delete. Delete. I realized I’m not remotely discontent.

Reflecting upon another of my standard primers, I keyed from Sense and Sensibility: “..that sanguine expectation of happiness which is happiness itself…”

That was it! Content to simply breathe, I rested my head back against my hands and enjoyed doing absolutely nothing for a while.

As I did, I realized I feel safer and more comfortable than I can remember. The pantry and refrigerator are full and the bills are all current. I enjoy the company of my oldest and best friend daily. My kids, grand kids and my long-distance friends check in with me regularly. For days now I’ve been energetic and up to every task presented to me without pain (on a scale of 1 – 10, 1 late in the day).

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I believe I’m happy! I looked it up /ˈhapē/ adjective: feeling or showing pleasure or contentment; fortunate and convenient. Wow.

I’ve often prayed for peace and joy to dominate my being. I have spoken happiness into being, calling things that are not as though they are. * I always believed I would be happy someday – in heaven. Today I’m not actually surprised, I’m simply happy.

What’s more, I’m not looking for anything to make me unhappy or concerned – I’m relatively confident such will find me soon enough. And I intend to be ready with this post bookmarked to my desktop.

So,maybe Tony DiNozzo is gone on to life outside of NCIS. More of Moriarty’s evil deeds loom ominously before Holmes and Watson. Nobody knows how Kate and Richard Castle actually survived – but they did. I shall continue to pray over the Presidential Primaries – fervently. Alisan Porter won this season of the Voice. And it’s still only Thursday.

Though the words feel peculiar in my mouth, I’m calling it: I’m happy.

Thank You so very much, God.

When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed that, instead of opening the door, she ran back inside and told everyone, “Peter is standing at the door!” “You’re out of your mind!” they said. When she insisted, they decided, “It must be his angel.” Meanwhile, Peter continued knocking. When they finally opened the door and saw him, they were amazed.” Acts 12:14-16 (NLT)

 

* “That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.”This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing.” Romans 4:17 (NLT)

Images courtesy ABSFreePic

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Flexible But Grounded

hopi 02aug2009

Hopi is our dog. As I understand she came from Champion Golden Retriever and Grand Champion Australian Shepherd breeding lines. Regardless of her lineage, with her natural instincts, devotion to the pack and sweet disposition she is the best herd dog I’ve ever known. The offspring of two work breeds, to say she naturally has high energy levels is an understatement. To keep her calm, happy and fit she needs lots of exercise daily.

After we moved from our rural home to a suburban condo, many of our habits changed; for one, from a third floor apartment Hopi became a house dog. In inclement weather we could no longer simply open a door and turn Hopi loose outside. So, more than ever before, daily walks became as important to me as to Hopi.

The harsher Midwest winter weather interrupting our daily routines brought even more change. After couple of weeks of ice storms and weeks of deep snow we discovered a change in Hopi. Instead of getting right down to business outdoors, she would sniff the snow and get so obsessed doing that, she began ignoring my commands. One evening instead of walking at my side as usual, Hopi bolted out the door ahead of me to meet another smaller dog, frightening the dog’s walker. This was radically different from her usual behavior which all the new neighbors had initially enjoyed.

For the first time in years I had to harness and leash Hopi to protect her and other tenants, reinforce her training, and keep her attention on me, which had previously been her second nature. We became more careful to exercise Hopi as much as possible and continually work her through her paces regardless of the weather. Now we enjoy happy adventures most every day again and during inclement weather we explore the indoor hallways and stairs, visiting with the neighbors on the way.

There’s a noteworthy parallel between Hopi’s first winter in the suburbs and the Christian walk. When circumstances cause us to change our routines it is very easy to become distracted to a degree that is not always best for us. An exciting television series can lead to the set being on habitually and valuable attention to other tasks can gradually be lost. Skipping an exercise routine to have coffee with friends can become the rule rather than the exception, or enjoying one extra snack after doing some extra running one day and then another the next day too, and before we realize it we’ve put on a couple of pounds.

Regardless of one’s faith base, daily meditation, devotional time, prayer, reading Scriptures or attending worship services can slip away into oblivion after rearranging schedules to include other tasks too. Whenever I did any of that, I soon noticed I was not as patient or content with my life as I typically am. Even after identifying what changed, it took strict personal discipline and help from God just to get back in the habit of putting everything aside for foundational enrichment.

Like Hopi, we all need exercise and socializing as well as discipline and spiritual nourishment to be well balanced individuals. Variety is good – provided it doesn’t undermine the groundwork of our purpose in life. With so many choices and distractions in our world pulling us in many different directions, routine discipline can be a mainstay to keeping that balance. Without it we could all be chasing rabbits and scaring the neighbors!

“No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.” Hebrews 12:11 (NLT)

 

Preceding is a slightly edited repost of an original Roo’s Ruse Blogspot post from 2009. Much has changed in my world since I wrote the article; Hopi and the rest of the fur kids have gone on to await us at the Rainbow Bridge and I now live with Roan and Opal in North Texas. However, like The Scriptures the message still rings true.

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Filed under A Door Ajar