Saturday, February 19, 2011

Sweet Sheltering Prayers

Prayers  in Golden Bowls

Imagine your prayers, rising from bent knees and bowed head, ascending to the throne of God.  He holds out a golden bowl and the prayers gracefully settle into them, leaving a sweet fragrance from earth to heaven.  That's what happens when we talk to our Father.  My prayers mingle with the prayers of my parents, pastor and friends.  The collective fragrance is a long way from the exquisite perfumes we splurge on today.  Nothing could prepare us for the glory of its scent.

Photo by Emily

Prayer.  It is that magnificent, that important and yes, that necessary.  So many of us get hung up on prayer.  We don't practice it consistently, our words stumble over each other and embarrass us, we wonder, Is prayer important?  Won't bad things happen even if we pray?

Communion with God

Prayer is communion.  That's it.  Communion with the Creator, God the Father through Jesus, the Son.  We can come boldly before His throne with all the things we wish to share with Him.  It doesn't have to be profound.  We just have to be aware, authentic and full of assured faith.  Just like with our friends -- we share all our most intimate secrets, our dreams, our plans.  That's what God wants to share with us.  He doesn't want the stench of hurried, demanding prayers.  He wants our love for Him to show in our praises, our faith in Him to sit perched on top of requests and our silence to whisper "tell me more" in our listening.

Children of God who sit in rose gardens, prison cells or in a hut in India add to my own prayers --scented prayers, each as fragrant as the other.  Saints gather in stained glass cathedrals, in humble chapels or hidden rooms in third world countries, and all churches in between the three, offering collective voices.  It makes me wonder how sweet Heaven smells on the Sabbath with each congregation sending prayers heavenward.  Do the bowls overflow? 

We are flawed and sometimes fail, but God still accepts the prayers as they leave our lips.  Our prayers pass through the nail printed hand of Jesus as He pleads--intercedes--for us.   "For," the Bible tells us, "there is only one God, and one mediator, also between God and Man, the man Christ Jesus"  (1Timothy2:5).  God delights in the sweet smell, as He delights in answering our prayers.  He whispers, "I delight to grant your wish," when our request will bring glory to Him.  Sometimes God whispers, "Not now, my daughter, it's not the right time." Then there are those hard times when the soft words are heard clearly in our soul, "No, this is not my will." 

God Knows Our Hurts

It is in the "no" times that God sends the Holy Spirit to minister to us.  Our tears may still flow, but the comfort of the Spirit soothes, embraces and helps us to understand the "no" in light of the Father's will.

When we rise from our closet place we have the assurance our prayers were pleasing to God.  And in the depths of our hearts we know it is time to face life again.  We gained our strength from the Father who revels in our scented prayers -- yes, even preserving them in golden bowls -- from Jesus the Son, sitting at the right hand of the Father pleading our case, and from the Holy Spirit who gave us comfort.  The beautiful heavenly Trinity taking part in our human  prayers.

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Scents from the Heart of Prayer

I have a friend who needs some tender lovin' prayer.  If you ever hurt you will know how much a rice bag helps the pain.  Pop it in the freezer and it's cold; in the microwave for a minute or two and it's hot.  It's so easy. 

1.  I cut a heart from paper then traced it to the material.  I actually got this fabric for another project, but I think I still have enough for that.  It was all in a sweet little stack of fat quarters and half price.  So maybe the material cost $2.00 at the most.  I'm sure it could be done with scraps, but this material was calling my friend's name.

2.  I cut strips of material to equal 30" long and 4 1/2".  Sewed them together, ironed them in half, sewed a basting stitch around the raw edges.  Then I sewed it on the right side of the heart.  This step can be discarded if wished or if you are making one for a man.  It definitely took the longest to do.

3.  Place the right sides of the heart together and sew, leaving a place to fill.  As I sewed, I prayed for my friend -- asking for peace, relief from pain and the perseverance to face each day with joy.

4.  Fill with 1/8 cup lavender and enough rice to make it look full.  I try not to put too much lavender in it because some scents can bother an ill person.  

5.  Sew up the hole and it's ready to gift.   I tied a tag on this one that says, Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul.  My friend needs some hope. 

6.  Even with buying the lavender, I have less than $3.00 in my project.  Why don't you make a few?  Make sure you pray for the recipient as you sew.  The project just isn't complete without

This post is linked to
Pink Hippo Party
Singing Three Little Birds
Mingle Monday
                                                  Just Something I Whipped Up

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Cherry Pits and You

Noble deeds and hot baths are the best cure for depression. Dodie Smith

It was Erma Bombeck who said, "If life is a bowl of cherries, what am I doing in the pits?"  We all have days that see more pits than cherries.  Sometimes it’s easier to open our hearts and encourage others than it is to encourage ourselves. Dodie Smith’s quote is my secret to discouragement. My mother must have read that quote somewhere, because whenever she knows I’m a little down, she will say, "Pam, do something special for someone else.”  It works! In focusing on another’s needs your own problems seem smaller and insignificant.

Create a Retreat

Love what you do. Believe in your instincts.
And you’d better be able to pick yourself up and brush yourself off every day.
~Mario Andretti

You will be gathering pain from others. Create a retreat to help you lay the pain at Jesus’ feet, and your quiet time in solitude will help clear the discouragement of your heart and overload in your mind.

My big blue chair is my retreat. Now it has nothing to do with the chair. In fact, I’m hoping it will turn into a brown leather wing back sometime soon. It’s not the chair, it’s the solitude I’ve found “in my spot.” A huge basket of my journal and books to my right, and a table piled high with some of my books by a favorite author who inspires beauty and encourages love. You'll also see a glass coaster (encasing Ethan's picture) underneath my ever-present goblet of tea. The safe place -- the place you can unload others' pain and refill your own joy bucket.

As you enter your place of retreat, use your journal to unload your thoughts and feelings. Ask yourself these simple questions:

Who has hijacked my joy?
Can God restore my joy even if the circumstances haven't changed?
Is there something I can do physically to restore my joy?

Discover Peace in Music

Listen to worshipful music or sing some of your favorite hymns. The psalmist tells us in Psalm 77:6, “I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart.” One favorite I find myself singing when things seem overwhelming is Hugh Stowell’s, “From Every Stormy Wind that Blows.”

From every stormy wind that blows,
From every earthly tide of woes,
There is a calm, a sure retreat,
‘Tis found beneath the mercy seat.

This song was sung by eight American missionaries who were put to death by the Nana Sahib at Cawnpore in 1857. It puts things in perspective when I remember these men and women gave their lives for their love of Christ. It encourages me to think that same calm, sure retreat is available for me.

Revel in the Love of Christ

When Emily was little, somewhere along the way, when she'd say, “I love you” we'd respond,
 “I love you more.” She'd come back with the same words, tagging on, “I said it first!" Many times I have walked away from her, speaking the words, “I love you more,” hoping to have won the argument.

God, too, responds to us in the same way. We sing praise choruses of love and He whispers, “I love you more.” We send our prayers of love heavenward and on the same cloud they float back down to us, “I love you more.”

I love how The Message paraphrases the words Paul wrote in his Ephesians epistle “…take in with all Christians the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights!” My heart swells just to read those words. We really can’t take in the full measure of Christ’s love. But in knowing that His love is endless, let it free you to also love passionately and unconditionally.

William Barclay said, "The hand of Christ is strong enough to uphold the heavens, and gentle enough to wipe away our tears."  And when tears no longer fill our eyes, peace will begin its assent in our heart until joy has bubbled over -- and oh, the deep burgundy of the cherries will stain our tongues, juice will trickle down our chin and that sweet, yet tart, taste will remind us that sometimes our days are joyful, sometimes overwhelming. But through it all, God is ready to shelter us.

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February 22nd is National Cherry Pie Day

Mini Cherry Pie
Pam from For the Love of Cooking had these pies on her blog.  I found them doing a search for miniature cherry pies and knew this recipe of Pam's would be perfect for my project.  (Pam actually found them on Georgia's The Comfort of Cooking.) 

All you need for three is:

1 refrigerated pie crust
1 can of cherries (I used no sugar added)

Cut the crust in 3 circles
Push the circles in oversided muffin tin
Fill with pie filling
Cut scraps into hearts for the top

I covered mine with foil until baked (350/30 min) then  sprinkled the hearts with sugar and returned to the oven for 10 more minutes.

Presentation Idea

This is a quick and easy "gift wrap."  Cut circles from red felt, leaves and stems from green felt.  I stuffed the cherries but just embroidered the leaves and stems.  Glue to a clothes pin.  All you have to do is clip it on the bag and you're ready to gift it.

Obviously MARvelous

Linda's Lunacy

Free Hot Samples


Monday, February 14, 2011

Of Kentucky Wrap and Such

It isn't the size of the gift that matters, but the size of the heart that gives it.  ~Eileen Elias Freeman

I loved my Grandma Cessna.  I loved the smell of her VO2 hairspray. I loved the way she rolled her snow white hair at the bottom of her neck and pinned her hat on with a long hat pin.  I loved her bread and butter pickles she always served when she knew I was coming.  I loved all the crafts we made together -- like crochet hanger covers and orange clove pomanders.  I loved eating her stewed elderberries from pink-handled fiesta wear bowls.

One day Grandma brought me a present -- in a brown paper sack!  In my child's eyes I didn't think a present was  much of a present unless it was wrapped and festively topped with ribbons.  "Oh," my grandma said, "This is a special gift -- it's Kentucky wrapped."  After Grandma explained it, I was happy.  And forever after in my family, when we hand a gift to  a member of our family, if it's in a bag we say, "Excuse the Kentucky wrap."

Last evening I was unable to attend evening worship services.  My husband came in the door with an arm full of surprises (you'll get to see some in posts to come).  When RB handed me a Kentucky-wrapped gift I smiled.  Renee almost didn't send it since I wasn't there for her to explain the wrapping (she didn't know my grandma explained it years ago.)  I was so delighted when I pulled my chalk board tea server out of the bag.  Nobody will have to ask if it's sweet or unsweetened.  Not only do I love it just because Renee gave it to me, but I love the fact that Renee thought it looked like me.  It. is. totally. me.

Renee's gift packaging didn't matter to me in the least.  This Valentine Day I can't help but think of the way God wrapped His valentine love gift to us.  He packaged the greatest gift not in ribbons and fancy paper -- he packaged it in a tiny baby.  The gift? A substitute for our sin.  The Lamb of God, the Great I Am, the Prince of Peace, the Good Shepherd, the Light of the world, Redeemer,  -- all in a plainly wrapped child. 

So today as we think of love, let us also remember the Love of God. Let our hearts sing, "Oh love of God, how rich and pure, how measureless and strong.  It shall forevermore endure,  the saints' and angels' song."

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Since this is Valentine's Day, I wanted to show you a neat valentine my husband received at work. 

Becky, their creator, is an amazing woman.  A single mom of two boys, she has worked hard to receive her education as well as give them the best care possible.  She told me the best gift she ever received was from her father.  He kept her boys every Thursday night so she could attend classes for her Associate's, Bachelor's, and  Masters Degree.  RB keeps tabs on Becky's son, Tim (now graduated and pursuing his own career); they have a neat friendship. 

Becky made these cake slices for those who work in her department at the University.  They were filled with chocolate hearts. I wish I had a picture of the whole cake but no one thought to take one.  I think these would be beautiful made in white for a bridal shower, too. 

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This a simple Valentine to a few friends Melanie and I have.  We did these together and it was such fun.  I bought the cups last year after Valentine's Day at 80% off.  We just put a hot chocolate packet and a couple pieces of chocolate (to make it extra decadent) in the mug.  Then I pulled cellophane around it and tied a bow.  We cut hearts out of scrapbook paper and Melanie printed "You warm our hearts" on them for tags. 

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