ARCHIVES: November 2015


11.27.2015

Friday Prayer for Giving Thanks

Psalm 100In my Bible, the heading under Psalm 100 says, “A psalm. For giving thanks.”

I think I might have embellished that title a bit. It is a psalm for giving thanks, true, but it is sooo much more. Just look at these promises: God is good. His love endures forever. We can enter his presence with thanksgiving. And we are his people – we belong to him! What a glorious privilege and joy!

I couldn’t pick just one verse, so here’s the whole thing, written in the form of a prayer. Pull out whatever phrase you need today…or do like I did and take it all!

Heavenly Father,

The whole earth shouts for joy to you!

Help us to serve you with gladness, to come before you with joyful songs.

How good it is to know that you, O Lord, are God – that you made us, and we are yours. We are your people!

Draw us into your presence: Let us come through your gates with thanksgiving and enter your courts with praise. 

May we always remember that you are good. That your love endures forever. And that your faithfulness continues to us, to our children, and to all generations.

Amen.

 


ARCHIVES: November 2015


11.25.2015

Thankful for You!

Thanksgiving is tomorrow.

While I’ve been researching recipes (I need to use up some leftover cornbread from our tailgate last weekend – Go ‘Hoos!), my pals in the blogosphere have been making the world a better place with their wisdom.

Jeannie Cunnion, author of Parenting the Wholehearted Child, has the perfect answer for when your kids start asking for “more.” Click here to read her short-but-super Fox News post on how to raise truly thankful young ‘uns – and get yourself in the grateful spirit at the same time.

And for those of us on the other end of the spectrum (the ones who’ve pretty much thrown in the parenting towel and are instead eyeing a holiday table surrounded by parents and in-laws), Susan Alexander Yates offers some tips for making The Big Day a little less stressful (even if your mother-in-law shows up after you’ve gone through a can-and-a-half of Endust Lemon Zest and offers to “just help with the surface dirt”). Click here to read her post and put a little more “happy” in your holidays.

Me, I don’t have any Thanksgiving tips or strategies. All I have is a recipe for Cornbread Dressing with Sausage and Sage (which looks awesome but which my family will probably complain about because it is “different”). That, and a 1978 book about Napkin Folding, which (you may recall) was a wedding shower gift from my mom to Hillary, and which (sorry, Mom) Hillary left at my house when she packed up all the china and crystal and moved in with Charlie. (But I am sure she’ll be coming back for it soon.)

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So…looking for something to do while the turkey cooks? Want a fun project for the kids? Need a handy diversion for your mother-in-law?

Why not fold some napkins?

To give your table an ecclesiastical flavor, go with the Bishop’s Hat:

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For a British flair, try the Ascot Tie (and I’m thinking that a couple of stick-on eyeballs would make this one extra appealing):

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Or, since the French are obviously so much better at la cuisine, how about giving A La Maison a whirl? I haven’t tried it but, looking at the finished product, it can’t be that hard:

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So that’s all I got. I feel kind of bad, leaving you with “napkin folding” as my Thanksgiving offering. Particularly since I actually made the Ascot Tie and, well.

How about if I close instead by telling you how thankful I am for you? Seriously. I pray for you every week when I post the Friday prayer, and I love knowing that God is working in our lives and in the lives of the people we love. I think I know, at least partly, how Paul must have felt about his friends in Philippi:

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:3-6)

Happy Thanksgiving! Here’s to a day of being grateful that God has started something good in us…and that he’s gonna finish the job!

(And, just so you know, it was not my mother-in-law who offered to get the “surface dirt.”)

(It was my grandmother.)


ARCHIVES: November 2015


11.20.2015

Friday Prayer for Paris

IMG_4337Two weeks ago, a Parisienne friend sent me this glorious photo in response to the Friday Prayer about being prepared, in every season. Seeing the Eiffel Tower framed by the beautiful trees and buildings brought to mind Psalm 139:5, “You hem me in – behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.”

Today, I looked up this verse in The Message translation. I love the promise it holds, and I am praying it now for mon amie, as well as for others in her city who may need to sense God’s nearness and feel his hand of blessing. I hope you will join me:

Heavenly Father,

May our sisters and brothers in Paris look behind them and know you are there, then up ahead and know you’re there, too. May they sense your reassuring presence, coming and going. (Psalm 139:5)

Amen.

ARCHIVES: November 2015


11.18.2015

Favorite Things

So the Associated Press ran an article this week that detailed “Oprah’s Favorite Things of 2015.”

The annual list, which Oprah started more than 20 years ago, highlights her top picks for holiday gift giving. While this year’s collection does not feature The Lava Seat (shocker, I know), there are more than a few interesting options:  A new, multicultural, line of Fashionista Barbies. A doggie faux fur jacket. And a banana, peanut butter, and chocolate cake known as “Elvis.”

Who could ask for anything more?

As you know, I’m no shopper. And it’s not like anything I recommend is going to fly off the shelves. But if Oprah and Gayle are out there (and I quote) “sourcing stocking stuffers” for the “O” magazine readers, then I want to get in the game. Especially because, unlike the tapered drawstring sweatpants Oprah favors (she owns three pairs), my pick will actually fit in a stocking.

Scripture Cards.

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Seriously. These nifty little cards from Lara Casey feature a verse on one side and a design on the reverse. They come in sets of 20, each one as beautiful (and powerful) as the next. Perfectly sized (3.25 x 2.13 inches) for popping into a lunchbox, taping onto your bathroom mirror, or sharing with a friend in a birthday card (thank you, Lynn!), the cards are miniature works of art and uplifting reminders of God’s grace.

And, perhaps best of all, Lara is one of these fabulous young entrepreneurs who truly believes in “choosing purpose over perfect.” She uses her design talents to benefit people and programs that make a difference, including organizations like the Love One Another Project, which helps needy and vulnerable children in Africa.

I promise I’m not going to spend between now and Christmas blogging about stuff you can buy (although if someone invents a “Host Vac” that actually crawls around on your dog and sucks up all the loose hair before it hits the ground, I absolutely wanna know about it). But if you’re looking for a gift idea that 1) fits everyone, 2) never goes out of style, and 3) comes with the power to encourage, equip, and transform everyday lives, Scripture Cards just might be your Favorite Thing of 2015.

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Happy shopping!

(Click here for a direct link to the cards, or here to browse the whole Lara Casey website.)

 


ARCHIVES: November 2015


11.13.2015

Friday Prayer for Sharing Faith

Philemon 6Philemon is a tiny little book; blink on your way to Hebrews or James and you’ll miss it. But it’s in the reading plan this week, and as I made my way through the 29 verses, this little gem caught my eye:

I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. (v. 6)

That seemed backwards, somehow. Had I been writing the letter to Philemon and his church, I might have said, “I pray that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ, so that you may be active in sharing your faith.” To me, the more you experience God’s blessings and know his character (the “every good thing” Paul writes about), the more you will want to tell people about Him.

But, reading Paul’s words, I guess it goes both ways. When we know the goodness of God, we do want to tell other people. And yet the reverse is also true:  The more we share our faith – actively, with words and deeds – the more we understand what it is that we are expressing. Maybe it’s like when you tell your friends that you need to “process” something with them so that you can figure out what it really means, or when you step out in faith and do something that you think God wants you to do and then, when you see what happens, you have a new awareness of some facet of His character.

Interesting.

In any case, verse 6 is a terrific little prayer that we can appropriate today for ourselves, for our kids, or for someone we love:

Heavenly Father,
 
May _____ be active in sharing his/her faith, so that _____ will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. (Philemon 6)
 
Amen.

ARCHIVES: November 2015


11.11.2015

Marriage, Generosity, and Football

Last January, I wrote a post about Generosity and Marriage, and how – according to researchers at the University of Virginia’s National Marriage Project – even the simplest act of giving (like making your spouse a cup of coffee in the morning) can be a huge factor in your marital happiness.

But what about football? Can going to the big game with your spouse – or even watching it on TV – bode well for a relationship? I’m no sociologist, but this past weekend three things happened to make me think that football represents a prime opportunity for generous living, and could well be a sign of a healthy relationship.

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First, I saw a car commercial where this cute girl picks up a guy, presumably for a date. En route, she discusses the strengths of their team’s rushing offense while using the rear-view mirror to apply eye black. When they finally reach their destination – a stadium – the guy is speechless. It’s the date of his dreams: a pretty girl, talking sports, taking him to a football game! Granted, the ad wasn’t real, but if you could have seen how incredibly happy the guy was – what a gift the girl had given him – you would know why I have no idea what sort of car she was driving.

The second thing that happened was that my pal Anne Ferrell, who is married to the Alex Trebek of sports (Bob can name just about every college mascot in the country, from the UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs to the Fighting Pickles of UNC’s School of the Arts), told me that she has undertaken a “30-Day Challenge” in which she’s trying to soak up as much football intel as she can. Players, coaches, weekend highlights – they’re all on her list. (If you could have heard her discussing Navy’s triple option offense on Saturday, you would know what a dedicated student she is.) Needless to say, Bob (who played for Navy and still holds like 17 records) is thrilled.

And the third thing that happened – the third football thing in 48 hours that made me think there might be a pattern here – was that, on Sunday, I got a text from my girlfriend, Dee, who got married last summer:

Now, Dee is not big on punctuation. I knew that. But she’s also not big on football – or at least, I didn’t think she was. Ask her what the Real Housewives are up to, or what fell out of the closet during the most recent episode of Hoarders, and her eyes fairly dance; when it comes to Reality TV, she’s a curator. But televised sports? That’s blank stare territory.

“I realized,” she explained, in answer to my question, “that if I wanted to see my husband in the fall, I would need to watch football. Because that’s what he does. On like five different TVs. And so I asked him to teach me the game.”

(And apparently he did, with great enthusiasm, because she went into a long explanation of who all the players were, what they were supposed to do, and – did I know this already? – that they had four chances to go ten yards every time! Marvelous!)

In each of these cases – the car ad, the 30-Day Challenge, and the football tutorial – the men were overjoyed. No surprise there. But what captivated me (and what gives credence to the whole “’Tis better to give” finding in the National Marriage Project) was how utterly giddy the women were.

Dee hasn’t been this excited about television since, I don’t know, she watched that woman sew clothes for a squirrel in My Strange Addiction. Anne Ferrell has mastered so many plays that she could coach her own team by now; I bet she even knows what a “slotback” is. (I don’t.) And that girl in the car ad? I don’t think she was acting. She loved it that she could make her fake boyfriend’s day.

Proverbs 11:25 says, “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”

Maybe the National Marriage Project should adopt that line as their motto. Because these gals started learning about football as a love-gift for their men, but honestly? They’re the ones reaping the blessings! They know the joy of making someone happy. The satisfaction that comes with learning something new. And the sheer delight of spending time (and, one would hope, eating nachos) with a guy that they love.

If your spouse’s interests include coffee in the morning (and Robbie, if you are reading this, can I just say thank you?), bring ’em a cup. If it’s football that he (or she!) values, go ahead and Google “triple option offense” (they have diagrams online; I checked).  Whatever it is that your beloved is into – old books, new cars, gluten-free meatloaf – take some time this week to learn about these things, or to give them a place amid the stuff that matters in your life.

You’ll think you’re the one doing the giving (and you are). But take it from the adorable couple in the car ad:  Generosity cuts two ways. You will both be happy. And you will wind up refreshed.

(And P.S.  Bronco’s fans, don’t worry about Dee’s text. You’ll get ’em next weekend. And besides, it will be nice for Peyton Manning, who seems like such a nice person, to break the passing yards record at home. He needs, what, three more yards? Four? I don’t know.)

(Will have to ask Anne Ferrell.)

 

 

 


ARCHIVES: November 2015


11.06.2015

Friday Prayer for Every Season

2 Timothy 4-2If you knew you were about to die and wanted to get a message to someone you loved, what would you write?

The Apostle Paul was in prison when he wrote his second letter to Timothy, the young man he loved as a son. The letter is full of warnings and encouragements; reading it, you get the idea that Paul knew his end was near (and, in fact, he was martyred not long afterwards), and that he wanted to equip Timothy to hang in there, and finish strong.

There is a lot here that we could borrow in order to live our own lives well, but as Paul talks about the fickleness of people – people who reject truth and sound doctrine in favor of “what their itching ears want to hear” – let’s use his words about being prepared as the basis for our Friday Prayer. Pray this for yourself today, or for someone you love:

Heavenly Father,

Help _____ to preach your Word. Let _____ be prepared in season and out of season, and show _____ how to correct, rebuke, and encourage others with great patience and careful instruction. (2 Timothy 4:2)

Amen.




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