"Jesus said to his disciples, 'Suppose one of you has a friend. Suppose you go to him at midnight and say, 'Friend, let me borrow three loaves of bread. A friend of mine on a trip has dropped in on me, and I don't have anything to serve him.' Your friend might answer you from inside his house, 'Don't bother me! The door is already locked, and my children are in bed. I can't get up to give you anything.' I can guarantee that although he doesn't want to get up to give you anything, he will get up and give you whatever you need because he is your friend and because you were so bold.
So I tell you to ask, and you will receive. Search, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened for you. Everyone who asks will receive. The one who searches will find, and for the person who knocks, the door will be opened." – Luke 11:5-10
If you read the scripture verses above carefully, you caught it. You saw that Jesus tells us to pray boldly, and with persistence and expectation.
You know the saying “Go big, or go home,” right? So, if we're going to tap into the most powerful Source in the universe, let's ask for big things. Significant things, like healing for a friend's lung cancer or urgent sole custody for a child or a much-needed job. Let's ask for the lost to come to Christ.
Remember, God cherishes us. He is the best-ever Father, like a loving dad who sits up all night in the hospital room of a sick child, wanting to be there through the illness, the pain, the displacement. Willing to lose sleep, not eating, to be present with his precious son or daughter.
God is with us in all of our suffering and troubles—the greatest role model for any parent. So, when we're messed up, feeling weak, and needing divine help, it shows that unless we are helpless we cannot be helped. We have to reach out and grab the Lifebuoy so we don't drown. Otherwise, we're not ready for intervention. We have to recognize our helplessness, so we won't become hopeless. We are in Christ, not doing life alone.
A side note here: My dad was the preacher in our family, but every so often I feel impressed to share some of his vision in my monthly blogs. I've seen firsthand the power of prayer from my parents. They lived by faith, literally, even praying in groceries when they were church planters, back in the day when it was actually called "pioneer pastoring," and were paid with chickens from their small congregation. Living by faith meant storming the Throne of Grace when my mother was diagnosed with inoperable ovarian cancer and given six months to live, when I was just a small girl. And, believe me, we prayed repeatedly for her healing! (Read the account of this miracle story, if you wish, in my book, The Sunroom). Like Jesus said, we must be persistent in our prayers...and wait with great expectation.
Writing Update: Some of you have asked, and yes, I am on deadline, currently writing my Fall 2020 book (a stand-alone novel set in Strasburg, PA, the heart of Amish farmland in Lancaster County). Please stay tuned for the title reveal soon.
Also, the conclusion to The Tinderbox releases two weeks from today, so if you want it to read The Timepiece on its release day (September 17) you may want to preorder online or at your local bookstore. Thank you so much for following me faithfully all these years, and for being such amazingly devoted readers!
"Let everything that has breath praise the LORD." – Psalm 150:6
This day, August 1st, may be one of the kind of days you'll want to take your Bible outdoors and read. Or to walk leisurely and talk to God in praise, surrounded by the sound of birds, embracing the peace of that particular moment. Praying while walking, conversationally, can bring peace and comfort during difficult times, or it may even be a catharsis for bottled-up emotions. Definitely, it's a worshipful experience.
Rhoda Miller, a devout Amish wife and mother in my novel The Tinderbox, is encouraged to simply walk and talk with Jesus in the midst of one of the most trying seasons of her life, when a secret from her husband's past threatens to destroy her marriage and their family. Walking outdoors while pouring out one's heart to the Savior is incredibly cleansing, just as shedding tears can heal the heart and bring full release. There is a reason why we cry, right? And also while we laugh aloud.
Expressing ourselves to our Maker is an encounter not to be missed. I wholeheartedly suggest it, and daily.
Many beautiful blessings ahead,
Writing Update: The Timepiece, the gripping conclusion to The Tinderbox, is right on schedule for release on September 17. You can have it on the official release day by preordering now, if you wish. Thanks for all of your lovely words of encouragement and support, dear reader friends!
"Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD." – Psalm 33:12
In 1893, a professor, poet, and writer named Katharine Lee Bates traveled to Colorado Springs (where my family and I reside), and while Katharine was standing at the top of Pikes Peak, the words to a remarkable poem began to form in her mind. This poem we have all come to know and love is titled "America, the Beautiful," as majestic as that famed mountain which I am delighted to see every day out my home office windows.
I remember as a little girl in elementary school in Lancaster, Pennsylvania singing this amazing song with my classmates each morning, followed by standing for the "Pledge of Allegiance" and saying The Lord's Prayer, too. All the memorable moments of the start of our school day. . . .
How very different things were then. Some of you may remember bowing your head in this reverent prayer even before the teacher took attendance and collected milk money.
This month, when we commemorate Independence Day, what if we also thank our heavenly Father for the privilege of living in a land where a poet like Katharine Lee Bates could be so inspired as to write the following lyrics to that lovely song, (verse 3):
"O beautiful for heroes proved, in liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life.
America! America! May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness, and every gain divine."
Take a moment with me to ponder that and all the verses. It touches my heart deeply and takes me back to my childhood classroom. I am so grateful to have had the freedom to blend my voice with my teacher and classmates and sing such a soul-stirring song! One that is embedded in my mind for life.
"America, America, God shed His grace on thee. . . ."
Blessings abundant, and Happy Fourth!
"For you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness." – James 1:3
My father often spoke of the importance of starting strong. . . and of finishing well.
Recently, I had the opportunity to remember those words while on vacation near Slade, Kentucky with Dave and our twins, Janie and Jonathan. We had embarked on a hike to the top of a so-called moderate trail leading to a massive natural sandstone arch poised like the ancient landmark it was, towering over the mountainous terrain below.
Complete with numerous steep steps—woody, rocky and root-laden (Janie dubbed the latter “ground veins”)—we slowly made our way, step over precarious step, toward the top. We stopped for frequent sips from bottled water and enjoyed snacks that Dave carried in his backpack, catching our breath, thankful this hike wasn’t happening in Colorado, a mile higher in altitude. Despite that, the climb was arduous in places, and I wondered aloud if our twins would ever want to take on my bucket list in the future.
But we kept going, though it crossed our minds how much easier it would be to simply turn around and head back down.
Then, at last, rounding an enormous boulder-strewn area, we caught the first breathtaking glimpse. There, the Natural Bridge loomed high over us. . . our reward for perseverance!
I wished in that moment that my dad could have seen the four of us inching upward to our final goal, perspiring and weary of the climb. And I tried to imagine, too, that glorious Day when our heavenly Father will welcome each of us across the finish line, life’s journey over. Home at last, following His lead all the way.
As we pause this month to honor our fathers, I'm thankful for a dad who wholly trusted God, and though the path toward the end was rocky at times, strewn with disappointment, sadness and pain, my father finished strong in faith on January 9, 2014.
Blessings abundant, dear reader-friends.
And happy Father's Day to all the dads!