GIVE ME THE RIGHT WORDS TO PRAY

Text:  Romans Chapter 8 verses 26 and 27

The New Oxford Annotated Bible (NRSV)

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.  And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”

When I pray I no longer worry about the specific words I say because I know that the Holy Spirit does my praying with me.

The Holy Spirit “helps us in our weakness.”  That tells me I only have to be present and willing.  I can say the words to God from my heart and the Spirit will speak on my behalf.  Sometimes I have so much running through my head that I can’t stop the noise and focus on what I want to say.  I find comfort knowing that the Spirit understands this and the actual words don’t matter.

The Spirit knows what to say when I don’t.  He “intercedes with sighs too deep for words.”  SIGH.  I don’t know what to say God, I need You, I need help, I need love.  SIGH.  The Spirit reconciles the differences.  I also can be selfish and focus only on my desires, knowingly or not.  I usually don’t see the big picture, only my wants and rarely my needs.

God searches our heart and knows the mind of the Spirit.  I can say the words that seem right to me and the Spirit will reconcile my words to God’s will for me. And I know that the Sprit also speaks to me to help me find the right path.

When our home was going through the foreclosure process, I clearly heard the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  Some of you already know this story but for those who do know, it bears repeating.

As I was going to work one morning I saw a couple peeking through windows of a vacant house for sale in our neighborhood.  I clearly heard “stop and talk to those people” and I, of course, ignored it.  As I drove by I heard the voice again say “go back and talk to those people” and this time I was obedient and turned around.  I got out of the car and asked the couple if they were looking to buy a house and they said yes.   They were Vietnamese and didn’t understand most my questions so I called my Vietnamese girlfriend and asked her to tell them I was not crazy and I had a house for sale.  When she was finished talking with them I loaded the couple into my car and took them to our home.  They fell in love with the house; we contacted the mortgage company to see if they would agree to a short sale.  When they agreed, we contacted a realtor to handle the details and they bought our house!  This saved our credit from tremendous damage and made both families very happy.

It was a long journey to the closing however if I had not listened to the voice of the Spirit, the outcome would have been very different.

I have heard that still small voice inside talk to me all my life but I never knew what it was.  I also never knew it was a gift, I thought everyone heard it.  It took me many years to learn to trust that voice.  God’s voice cannot go against God’s word so as my sister says, “if it isn’t biblical, it isn’t the Spirit speaking.”

The Holy Spirit that lives inside of us mediates our hopes and dreams, our fears and concerns.  He helps us to accept God’s will when we don’t understand the answers.

Speak from your heart and know that the Holy Spirit that lives inside of you will make your prayers clearly known to God.

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SOMETHING JUST FOR ME?

Did you ever want to do something just for you?  It is not easy for me to commit to something that is just for me when it involves money and sacrifice for those around me.

I am a very logical thinker and that is how I normally make decisions.  I weigh all the positive things I can think of and then I ask myself what is the worst thing that could happen.  The time involved in this process depends on how big the decision actually might be.  I also have John and several friends that I ask for guidance.  I try to cover all my bases so I am able to make a good choice.

This is what I have been doing for several months now.  I want to go back to school.  Most of you are probably thinking either I must be nuts or what’s the problem with that?  And you would all be right!

I have never had much of an interest in a higher education.  I have a fantastic job with people I love.  I am treated like a queen.  I really never thought of doing anything else.  So, what changed?  Many things!

John and I downsized and moved to a retirement community.  I never in a million years dreamed I would ever be able to retire but now it might actually be a possibility.

I love the job I have but I really do not want to be working at this stress level when I am 70!  I am ever so grateful for all that I have been given but please let there be less stress SOME day.

And above all, there is God.  I have been feeling a gentle tug for quite some time and trying to figure out what to do with it.

Many years ago I volunteered for Hospice and I loved my time there.  It is a fantastic organization and I completely embrace their philosophy.  My volunteering experience was with nursing home patients and I know I would be comfortable working with patients or their families.  I seem to possess whatever is necessary to listen to people say what they need to say.  (I KNOW I am a talker but I CAN be a listener too!)

Sorting through all this information I have finally come to the decision to go to International Seminary.  It is a non-denominational Seminary and a school that offers much.  It is close to my home and affordable.  I am not exactly sure where this journey is going but I am going to trust God to take me where I need to go.

The first year of classes is the same for all their degree programs.  This will allow me the time necessary for further guidance before I make a final decision on a specific degree.  I am keeping my mind open to any and all options so that God can work with me and lead me.  John is supportive of this decision and his opinions will be important to me as well.

We are always told by church leaders that we should have a child-like faith and that is what I believe I have.  I trust that if I walk through the door God will guide my path to the place He needs me most.  What is the worst that will happen?  I will deepen my understanding of the bible and there is nothing wrong with that at all.

If I can take this journey, I am sure that there is something in your life that you want to do that will be special for you.  It may be a big thing like mine or something very simple like going to see a movie that only you want to see.  Whatever it is, I challenge you to do something that you want to do for yourself.  Be sure to share it with me because I’d love to pray for your success as I ask you to pray for mine!

 

 

 

 

BLESSING OUR NEW HOME

Some traditions are hard to let go of and that can be a good thing.  Sometimes bringing your past into your present can bring you joy.  That is what happened Sunday when we had our house blessed.

We moved into our house in February and it has been an amazing journey to get here.  I am so grateful  and I feel a huge responsibility to be a good steward of our new home.

House Blessings are a Catholic thing as far as I know.  John understood my desire to do it and was supportive even though he had no idea what it really entailed.  Because I am not a “‘Catholic in good standing” I am no longer part of the church.  (THAT is another story for another time.  I  have no issues with the Catholic Church.)  John’s church is a small Brethren Church and has, I believe, 7 pastors, most retired.  They are a wonderful group of people who I love very  much.  I am not a part of that church but John is very active and has been for a long time.

This wonderful group of people agreed to do our  house blessing.  Four of the Pastors attended and each did a blessing of their own.  Nancy said a beautiful prayer for John and I, for health, peace and happiness in our home.  Karen brought salt, bread and a broom (to sweep away our troubles!), Berwyn is known for his musical talents and he had a song for all of us to sing.  Merle and his wife Jean were missionaries and they did a ceremony from South America called the Huasipichai; which means sweeping out the house; it is to get the bad spirits out, to clean the house for the family to live in peace, health and joy.  It was lovely.

Steve, the head Pastor had a Blessing of the House ceremony more like the traditional Catholic ceremony which blessed each room.  He had everything written out so that people could take turns reading the blessing and then sprinkle holy water in the room.  It was amazing.

This wonderful group of people shared their love and spirit with John and I to  truly fill our home with blessings.  It didn’t matter what their tradition was, they gave of themselves to bring joy to us.

That is my challenge for you, take a moment and give of yourself, unselfishly.  Or, allow yourself to be on the receiving end of unselfish giving.  I have to say that I felt so much love from these people it was amazing.  I am very grateful and I now have memories that I will cherish forever.

 

MY GOD STORY

Ever since I was a little girl I have always heard that voice deep inside me that kept me out of trouble, most of the time anyway.  Mom said it was my conscience talking to me.  As I grew older and more mature in my faith life, I have come to believe that it is God talking to me.

Before you judge me as nuts, let me clarify how I feel it is God.  Mostly if what the “voice” tells me to do is biblical it is probably God (thanks Patti!).  For instance, God will not tell me to steal or cause harm to others.  God tells me to do the right thing even when it isn’t what I want.

I am not here to debate what anyone else should or should not believe.  I am merely expressing how God works in my life and how I understand His will for me.  It is important you understand this before I tell you my latest God story.  It is also important that you understand that I am not asking for anything else either.  We are not victims, life happens and we all do the best we can to deal with the cards we are dealt, for whatever reason.  There are many people with problems worse than we have, if you have the time and means, please help them!

For the past several years Florida’s tourist industry has taken several big hits.  We had the three hurricanes in a row one year, the oil spill, big business hurting the little guy and of course the fallen economy itself.  John’s business works directly with the businesses that sell to tourists.  He sells bathing suits; flip-flops, sandals, towels, hats, T-shirts and such.  His business has steadily declined to the point that I have ended up the main support which was never intended.  (I also had a pay cut due to the economy.)  We have suffered financially to the point that we are losing our house.  This has been a painful time for us trying to make decisions that will change everything about our little world and we have not agreed on the decisions that have had to be made.  We have consulted lawyers and made the best decisions possible.  Our mortgage company would not assist us in any way when we tried to do the right thing so we were left with no alternative but to let the house go.

A few weeks ago I talked with the mortgage company about a loan modification and we decided that this option was not for us so we declined.  I also talked with a lady about doing a short sale but did not think that would work for us either.

I love listening to Joel Osteen’s Sunday message and Sunday, September 19th I believe, he gave a message that said that God’s plan for us was to do something “awesome” in our lives, something we had never seen happen before.  And I said to God, go ahead and awe me!  Which you know, when you challenge God, you are going to see something happen!

On Sunday, September 25th, I saw an ad in the newspaper from a realtor that specialized in short sales.  I thought that was amazing since most of the realtors I talked with did not handle them.  Here was a company actively seeking this business.  I filed it in my memory bank and moved on since it really didn’t apply to us.

John left town Monday for a trade show in Daytona Beach and would be gone all week.  He does this every year to capture the local business that is not able to come to Orlando for the larger show held earlier in the month.

Tuesday morning when I was leaving for work, I drove past a house in the front of the neighborhood that is for sale.  There was a couple in the front yard reading the real estate sign and I heard that voice inside me say “stop and talk to those people”.  Of course I drove right on by and then heard the voice again say “go back and talk to those people”.  This time I turned around and went back and pulled in the driveway.  I asked them if they wanted to buy a house and told them to look at mine, it was for sale.  They were Vietnamese and didn’t understand English!  Ok God, what are you doing to me?  I’m going to be late for work!  But somewhere I heard call your girlfriend Buppha (she is from Cambodia).  Amazingly, she answered her phone.  I asked her to talk to the couple and tell them that I had a house for sale, a short sale, and that I was not crazy.  She does not speak fluent Vietnamese but she got the point through good enough and I loaded them in my car and drove them back to my house.  With their broken English we did the best we could to communicate and I wrote down my name and phone number.  She said her sister speaks English and she would call me later.

A few hours later the sister did call and told me they loved the house and wanted to buy it.  I was not expecting that at all.  I spent the rest of the day talking with the mortgage company to see what could be done and how to do it.

When I went home I dug through the recycle bin and found the ad from the newspaper and called the realtor.  We made arrangements to meet Thursday evening to discuss everything. They warned me that the people interested probably would not work out and not to get my hopes up.  I told them that God was directing this, it was a God thing, and it would all be fine.

I talked with the sister on Wednesday and explained that the realtor would be at my house at 5:30 Thursday and she asked if they could come over also.  I said sure, what did we have to lose?

Thursday evening as I was coming home from work, John had just pulled in the driveway from his trade show and the realtor was already there as well.  To say that John was not pleased is an understatement.

I gave the man I talked to and his partner a tour of the house and they took pictures for the listing.  They gave me tons of paperwork to complete and send back to them ASAP.  In the middle of all this the Vietnamese family arrived in full force, the couple wanting to buy the house, the sister that interpreted and two other unknown people.  Add more chaos to the party!

After all the discussions it appeared that the couple was well qualified and indeed a real prospect.  HELLO – God already said that!

I called the bank on Friday so that they could get the appraisal ordered; it is the bank that sets the price for the sale of the house.  Then I spent the weekend filling out all the required paperwork for the realtor and the bank.  We cannot list the house until we have a price, we cannot get a price until the appraisal is done and the couple cannot sign a contract until we get the price.  So now we wait.  The appraisal was done Tuesday, October 4th.

John has not been too pleased with me through all this.  A short sale is not what he and I discussed or even agreed upon.  However, when God talks to me, I listen.  I know people do not understand this, John included, but I have to.  I have been praying for John’s heart to soften, for a messenger to come to him and help him to see this is a good thing.  He is too angry at me to listen to my logic.

Saturday, October 8th, there was a reunion breakfast for Evan’s High School, John’s alma mater.  There is a group that meets every month, we rarely go but John wanted to visit with an old friend he knew was attending.  When we arrived, there was only one booth available and we were sitting with a retired lawyer that works at the courthouse with people going through foreclosures.  He understands all this better than anyone!  THANK YOU GOD!  John asked him several questions and I think we both left feeling better.   John is still not happy with the situation but he is more accepting than he was.  There is hope!  (and by the way, the friend he went to see never showed up!)

Of course it is now Monday the 10th and we don’t have any answers.  That is because today is Columbus Day and all the banks are closed.  But I am not the least bit worried at this point.  I know God is working this all out for the best interest of everyone concerned.  Right now the message is” wait” so I will wait.

Tuesday, the 11th, the bank gives me the selling price.  The realtor lists the property and the potential buyers are no longer potential.  We have a contract!  God is faithful!

We still have a long way to go in this adventure but I know God is guiding the path.  Prayers are welcome! I will write more about this journey of faith as it continues.

Have a blessed day!