Tag Archives: prayer

The Palpable Presence of God

Back to my awesome weekend BSF retreat…

The overall theme was “Eradicating Biblical Poverty.” We studied II Timothy together, noting how Paul mentored Timothy. It was a very encouraging study, but the breakout sessions (a first for a BSF retreat) felt most useful, leaving me with practical, immediate things I could DO. My favorite experience was at the breakout on emergency prayer. According to the speaker, the second part of an emergency prayer is to bring God in; refocus the person on the Person. She called for us to call out character traits of God that we could lift up in praise in a hypothetical situation. Words rose like graceful bubbles all throughout the room, thicker and faster…sovereign…all-knowing…compassionate, ever-present, merciful. And as the praise filled the room, the atmosphere grew thicker, and a weight of comfort and peace pressed in upon me. And then she stopped us.

“Do you feel it?” she asked. “Do you feel the presence of the Holy Spirit?” And I did, of course, but I was in awe. I had never had someone else publicly acknowledge the corporate, palpable Presence of God. It was so affirming and exciting to realize that all Believers in that room experienced the same thing I did! And empowering to also realize that in praising God for who He is in a crisis situation, I can usher the calming Presence of our Savior into the storm that has captured the attention of the person in crisis.

I am so grateful for that one session at retreat. That one alone I have had the opportunity to practice a number of times already. What a blessing it was!

 

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The Lover of My Soul

Last weekend I got away from uber-busy life with a bunch of women from my Bible Study Fellowship leader group. I worried it was time I couldn’t spare, really, even though this would knock out another 50 Before 50. I had gotten to where I almost didn’t want to go, leaving my family I don’t see enough of, and my to-do list I make so little progress on. So, recognizing this attitude problem, I began, the week before, asking God each day to refresh me on this retreat. How He did this, physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually, didn’t matter, just so long as PLEASE would He refresh me? Well, the response left me breathless, and feeling just a bit like He had just been waiting in anticipation to do just that!

Arriving at the Hyatt, I unpacked and realized two things: my late night packing job had left me short a blouse, and my lipstick bag with lip balm for my already painfully chapped lips was missing. Ah well, my mind was on other things. I was desperate for a hair makeover. I had originally thought to grow out my curly graying locks for an updo for the wedding in June, but realize now what a mistake that was. Every time I walked past a mirror at work (and my department store has LOTS of mirrors), I couldn’t help feeling frumpy and droopy and old. So with the couple of hours downtime I’ve got before the retreat started, I decided to see if I could get a walk-in haircut. Surely there’s a Great Clips or something nearby? A directory showed an Aveda Institute (the school!) downtown, so I called and said a prayer. “Might you have an opening before 4?” asked at 2:10. They said they had had a cancellation of a 3:00! I can do 3! What a relief! I went walking, and lo and behold, this school was just across the street and around the corner, so I got there 20 minutes early. And what did I see next door, but a TJMaxx. Well, I had time for a quick browse. And hit PAYDIRT! in the form a of a lovely Cable and Gauge blouse for cheap! Unexpected top shortage alleviated.

I showed up at Aveda right on the dot, and the sweet girl who seated me informed me that a cut begins with a scalp massage with scented oil. Oh my! It was awesome, with refreshing peppermint, and right then I knew God was telling me He was taking care of me. The cut turned out really cute, but at the end, the girl said that as a thank you for using their services, I get a little dollop of lip gloss of my color choice. I couldn’t believe it!! It was like God overlooked NO tiny detail. And the whole experience was $18. You can believe I tipped WELL. I nearly cried, I felt so loved. God knew my needs, and me, and how to truly refresh me. I felt not only ready to receive all that He wanted to give me spiritually for the weekend, I was eagerly expectant!

And the public art in Denver is quirky and prolific. It was fun just to watch for it, no museum necessary. Take the Convention Center, for example:

Isn’t he cute? I’ll share more about the retreat itself in future, but for now, just know my prayer was answered. I am loved, and I was definitely refreshed!

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Full Beardiness

My husband is praying and growing a beard in sympathy with our pastor, not to be shaved until the return from Uganda of his wife with his newly adopted daughter, Mercy. They are calling these Mercy beards. I am really enjoying this brief return to a beard for Stoney. I think he’s aDORable!! (And follow Mercy’s story on http://www.roadtomercy.blogspot.com/).

full frontal Mercy beard

side view Mercy beard (ain't he cute?)

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Shine on!

I actually prayed today for the sun to shine brightly, in spite of the clouds, just from 1:00 to 1:30 please! 🙂 I intended to teach the 5-7th grades about adding depth to our drawings with shading, and you need to be aware of light and shadow to do that. I had them pair up and each took a sidewalk chalk out in the thankfully sunny afternoon. They each took a turn drawing their buddy’s shadow, then switched off. They compared the shadow outlines to the actual students. They got a lot of laughs out of those short, squat shadows! We practiced hatching, crosshatching, and shading a sphere with a shadow. Most will need a lot more practice, but it was a good start.

I introduced 3rd-4th grade to some of the same concepts, lite, and they actually finished their still lifes. Then we started the printing part of our Mondrian-style abstracts. I wish I could find a way to keep them from pressing too hard, but they will still look good. Next week we add our primaries, and I’ll post our colorful abstracts at Artsonia! I also had most of the class wishing they could draw the pumpkin I brough for my demonstrations, so he’ll return!

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They CAN draw

Most of my third through seventh graders are convinced that they can’t draw. I know that they have reached that point wherein they are no longer satisfied by the comparison between the reality they now see more clearly and their own rendition of it on paper. Yet, *I* know they CAN draw; it’s a matter of training perception and perspective. One of my goals this year has been to grow their confidence in their own drawing abilities; that THEY would see an improvement in their skills, and not just me.

Thus far, we continue to emphasize line and shape, because I consider them SO fundamental. I have little worksheets where they attempt to copy exactly some abstract lines I have created in a box into an empty box below, and they have been introduced to contour drawing, blind contour, and upside-down drawing. Most of them are able to follow these exercises pretty well! So we let Paul Cezanne introduce us to still lifes last week, and attempted some of our own in colored pencil. My conclusion? We need more bite-sized pieces still!

My model still life.

They are seeing line and perspective BETTER, but they are still frustrated with their results, and too soon! Drawing requires some degree of patience, and of faith that as you continue to draw what you really see, it WILL turn out. I have concluded that most of them don’t have the experience to trust the process (after all, this IS our first full year of formal art instruction at Faith), and become discouraged before the fruit of their labor is really evident.

SO, I am backing up and breaking it down more. I’m new at this, or no doubt this would have been obvious before I ever started! LOL! Fifth through seventh grades will make simple picture planes this week, and if the sun is shining, we will still do our shadow and shading exercises with sidewalk chalk and some worksheets. But if I can get us through that with time to spare, I want to walk through a sketch with our picture planes (a pumpkin would probably work great!), adding the shading they just learned. Third-fourth will just do the shadow/shade stuff, since they start the Mondrian-style prints this week also. I don’t plan to introduce them to picture planes.

I am praying for wisdom to best equip these wonderful, creative students with the skills and information they need to express their own unique artistic visions. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain was so helpful to me in teaching my own teens, and I know these same principals can be made accessible to my younger students. I look forward to Tuesday!

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God equips those He calls, batteries included.

I was asked over the holidays to be a Discussion Group Leader for Bible Study Fellowship. After much consideration and prayer, I accepted. This is to fill a sudden opening in BSF, though, so I am sort of taking a crash-course, work-study kind of training. Sort of intimidating, you might say. Today was my second leaders’ meeting. If it weren’t for my faith in my God to compensate for all my shortcomings, I would feel inadequate indeed! But He is reminding me in little ways that He knows me and what He has asked me to do, and He can give me all I need to do it.

For instance, I recently found out an older friend is in the group I will be taking on, and she assured me that these are older women who have mostly been doing BSF for years. She tells me they will love me and be very supportive! What encouragement!

Also, I am supposed to dress up twice a week as a BSF leader, but have almost no dressy wardrobe. Our church is pretty casual-tolerant, and really, that’s the only dressy place I have to go, pretty much EVER. Dinner at Arby’s, cheering at a wrestling match, or watching my daughters in a play pretty much round out the setting of my life. I said a prayer and headed over to Penney’s last week, shopping the clearance racks. I found several blouses, a sweater, and some slacks, expecting to pay those marked-down prices. At the checkout, they took off an ADDITIONAL mark-down! I got out of there with a much expanded dressy wardrobe for about $80! Imagine! God not only cares how I dress, but helped me do so frugally beyond my expectations! I felt SO loved by God. (My biggest gift: a pair of fully lined black big-leg tuxedo pants, originally $100, for $17!)

Tomorrow I shadow another leader as she leads her group, and I get introduced to the group I will be eventually taking over. I am actually beginning to get excited! I truly hope I can be a blessing to God in this ministry. He is certainly blessing ME!

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Lookin’ Good Wednesday!

Well, this has been my first week of counting Weight Watchers points, both eating and activity, even though I haven’t yet rejoined or attended a meeting. Just that alone, and I have improved! It might be the point counting. It certainly is less onerous than finding all the calories, and I like that it takes into consideration fat and fiber.

Drumroll please…

182.8 pounds, down .4 from last week.

Pretty good on the exercise, but I didn’t get anything in over the weekend, although I meant to. I think I had 20 APs, but I don’t remember. I don’t have the handy little booklets you get at weight watchers, so I am doing my own (sort of) on scratch paper. I don’t keep up with those over the long term so well!

I need to be more consistent with my Bible study and quiet time. Not so good this week.

Prayer time was good, though! Much better about praying for all four kids these last couple of weeks!

I’m not going to get below 180 before Thanksgiving, but maybe I can get down to 182. That will be my goal by next Wednesday! It’s achievable, but it will be difficult.

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I am not alone.

I lead a Moms in Touch prayer group. It’s new, and there aren’t many of us. A couple of weeks ago, “not many” turned out to be “just me.” I had prepared our prayer sheet, and chosen the praise topic of Jehovah Shammah, the Lord is There. He promises us His Presence. For our children I chose to pray I Chron 28:20, that they would know His help in difficult tasks; that they didn’t have to tackle them alone.

At first, I was kind of sad and felt very alone. I decided to just prayer walk around the school grounds, rather than sit alone in a room to pray. But very quickly on that walk I realized that I was not alone! It may seem like a daunting task, to start a new prayer group. And it may seem like a lonely one, but God has promised ME His Presence! I really enjoyed my prayer time with my Father as I walked around and around that school. And I know His Word prayed fervently will not be wasted, even if it is only by me alone.

Still, I continue to pray for more moms to join me.

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Conviction

Boy, am I struggling with today’s sermon. It was over that very familiar text from Matthew about the master entrusting the talents to his three servants. The points of the sermon included our relationship to God
(servant to master), our responsibility (all we have to give is His to begin with), and our Reckoning, in which we answer to our Master. Will I be counted good and faithful, or wicked and lazy?

Well, this passage is certainly familiar territory to me, and the minister introduced no new concepts. What was different today, with a living, breathing Word of God that is sharper than any two-edged sword, is a call that had been set before me in the past week or so.
I was looking to join a Moms in Touch group to pray for my kids in their schools. There aren’t many here, surprisingly. None for the high school, but there appeared to be one for my son’s elementary school-to-be. Only when I submitted my interest in joining the group, I was informed that the group’s leader had taken work and the group dissolved. (Leaving me to wonder why no one else in the group took the leader position?)

I was asked if I would lead a new group for this school. Dear Reader, I’ve led ministries before. Administration is not my skill. My last ministry leadership position burned me OUT. I reluctantly asked for more info. This is a group that no longer exists, so I would be promoting it as well. And although I’ve led a variety of ministries, and been a member of a Moms in Touch group before, I’ve never led a prayer ministry. And (gosh this is embarrassing), I’m vain enough that I would be a bit embarrassed to have people in my home. It’s furry from the animals, no matter how I try to keep it up, and I’m not a great housekeeper in spite of my best intentions, and my furniture is mismatched and my carpets are stained.

But, God has given me an open door. God has given me a strong desire to pray for my children at school and their schools. God has given me the experience to be able to start a ministry, even if I don’t enjoy it or do it as well as someone whose gift is administration, or even has the talent of organization. I have a couple of talents; what will I do with them? Will I say I am afraid, when what I really fear is work and risk? Will I lazily claim my time, my experience as my own, when all I have and am comes from the hand of God? Will I selfishly deny other moms the blessing of praying together for their children and their schools?

I almost sob at the thought of it, but I am going to accept this responsibility. I don’t know how I’ll make my home welcoming, but I have an idea how I’ll publicize the group. And the neighbors on my street are the first place I’ll start. And maybe people will come to know the love of the Savior of their souls as a result. I can pray it will be so, anyway. He does so much for me; He asks so little.

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