Saturday, May 31, 2014

Project: Prompts for Prayers, Praises, Promises

One of the GOOD things about down-sizing is the need to declutter one's belongings.   The BAD thing about that project is that you have to go through everything with this suspicious look at everything you own and ask yourself:   "Do you really wanna pack this up and move it {again}?"  
I don't like the aspect of looking at my {our} stuff and wondering:  "Is this worth packing?"   It's like saying, was this ever worth the effort or money?   Why did I keep this?   Ugh.

But today I came across a little bright spot in this down-sizing project on a shelf in my family room, next to my desk where I work and write.  

Back when my kids were small and we were homeschooling, we had this daily thing:  family prayers and praises.   {We still DO family prayers, just differently.}  What I came across today was this little decorative box where I store all these little slips of prayer prompts.

Our family used to dip into this box each evening, pull out a family member's name and one of the lilac ones, and that would be one of our prayers.   After we were done with our evening devotion, the ones we just used would go into a little snack-size zipper bag; the box would get tucked away into the basket where our other devotional materials were stored in the living room.

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I thought you, dear reader, would like to create something similar for your little family.  

Prompts for Praises & Promises & Prayers

Whatcha Need:
A small box or basket or cookie tin (like this one from
Scissors, to cut them apart after printing
Colored paper or cardstock*
A set of the prayers & praises prompts (see below)

*I made mine with two different paper colors:  white for family members' names; lilac for general prayers.      See this article for family & others to include

Whatcha Do:
Cut-n-paste this list into your word-processing program.  I format mine to pile these into three columns on a page, and I like a larger font than the one on the blog.   Then (here's the putzy part) I went through the list and added three or four spaces between each item.  

Print the list, then laminate (optional), cut down the columns first, then between each prompt.   Dump them into your cookie tin, little box or basket.    Stir them up a bit to mix them thoroughly (sounds like we're making cookies!).   Add a little zipper bag and you're ready to go!  

  • We praise You for every blessing. 
  • We praise You for keeping Your promises.
  • We confess we are lost without You.
  • Have mercy on us.
  • Awaken us to the opportunities You give us to proclaim Your message of love.
  • Be gracious to all who are in trouble.
  • Be our comfort & hope.
  • Bless each of us.
  • Bless our family.
  • Bless our home.
  • Bless those who love us.
  • Bless those we love.
  • Bless our future spouses.
  • Bless our local township or village government.
  • Bless our county government.
  • Bless our state government.
  • Bless our national leaders.
  • Bless our federal government.
  • Bless our travels.
  • Bless our work.
  • Bless us abundantly.
  • Bless the fields with an abundant harvest.
  • Bless efforts of establishing peace so that the Gospel may flourish.
  • Bless our church with workers willing to proclaim Your Word.
  • Bring us to glory everlasting.
  • Bring us to heaven to stand in Your light and glory.
  • Cheer the discouraged.
  • Cheer the lonely with goodness.
  • Comfort the dying with Your presence.
  • Comfort the dying with hope of salvation.
  • Comfort those who mourn.
  • Continue to send Your holy angels to guard & protect our loved ones & us.
  • Defend us with Your mighty power.
  • Direct the eyes of Your people to Your son.
  • Direct our eyes to the skies to eagerly await Your return.
  • Enable our leaders to govern with wisdom, honesty, courage & justice.
  • Enable us to work for the common good.
  • Encourage the fearful.
  • Encourage believers who face ridicule and persecution.
  • Enlighten unbelievers.
  • Fill our lives with Your grace.
  • Fill our lives with Your peace.
  • Fill our lives with the message of Your peace.
  • Forgive us for our sins.
  • Free those deprived of their liberty.
  • Fulfill our desires according to Your wisdom.
  • Give children wisdom to regard parents as Your representatives.
  • Give courage to those who have lost heart.
  • Give Dad's boss a sense of fairness toward his workers.
  • Give Dad a sense of pride in his job.
  • Give hope to those in despair.
  • Give us parents who are committed to their families.
  • Give our pastor grace to reflect Your love.
  • Give our pastor grace to shepherd Your flock for deep concern.
  • Give strength to the weary.
  • Give success to students to read, think & communicate.
  • Give understanding and recovery to those who mourn.
  • Give us teachers and students who pursue truth and excellence.
  • Give us young people who are eager to follow in Your footsteps.
  • Give us occasions to serve and to be served.
  • Grant healing to the sick.
  • Grant prosperity to our endeavors.
  • Grant success to the spread of the Gospel.
  • Grant us civil servants worthy of honor & respect.
  • Guard us from calamities of nature & accident.
  • Guide us in the use of all You've entrusted to our care.
  • Heal the sick.
  • Hear our private petitions.
  • Hear us as we pray for ____ whose faith is weak.
  • Hear us as we pray for ____ who does not know You.
  • Hear the prayers of all who call on You.
  • Help me to be ____ (patient, joyful, hopeful, encouraging) to/with others.
  • Help children to show respect to their elders.
  • Help us to love others as You have loved us.
  • Help us to find satisfaction in a job well-done, to Your glory.
  • Help us keep Your name holy.
  • Help us see Your face in theirs!
  • Help us speak boldly the Good News to those walking in darkness.
  • Help us to faithfully do our work.
  • Help us in our work.
  • Help us focus our minds when we worship You.
  • Help us persevere to run the race You've marked out for us.
  • Help us to say uplifting things to others.
  • Help us conduct ourselves with gentleness.
  • Help us to be kind.
  • Help us to speak the truth in love.
  • Help us to keep our thoughts pure.
  • Help us to be self-controlled out of love for You.
  • Help us to deal tenderly with those around us.
  • Help us to use our blessings faithfully.
  • Help us to think thoughts that please You.
  • Help us to provide hospitality to reflect Your love.
  • Help us to rejoice in our blessings.
  • Invigorate our schools with Godly principals & superintendents.
  • Keep all your workers & their families in Your care.
  • Keep before us the vision of all the redeemed at Your throne.
  • Keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.
  • Keep our economy strong.
  • Keep travelers safe.
  • Knit our lives together with love.
  • Lead our young adults to assume responsibility.
  • Lead us in thankful living.
  • Lead us to love one another.
  • Lead us to love one another as You have loved us.
  • Let me show high esteem for others by being punctual & timely.
  • Let me be enthusiastic in response to Your love.
  • Let me be joyful in my salvation.
  • Let me be a good steward of my time, talents & treasures.
  • Let our neighbors be cheerful.
  • Let us bring good news of hope to those around us.
  • Let us delight in Your cross and our Easter triumph!
  • Let Your kingdom come!
  • Let Your peace rule in our hearts.
  • Let your message of ____ be proclaimed in all the world (peace, love, gospel, hope)
  • Let the Good News of salvation be heard in the remotest corners of the Earth.
  • Listen to our cries for mercy.
  • Live in us that we may live in You.
  • Make us instruments of Your peace.
  • Make us willing to obey the law--all of them. 
  • Move us to support missionaries with prayers and offerings.
  • Open our eyes to the beauty of Your world.
  • Open our eyes to see the opportunities all around us.
  • Open our lips to speak Your name to those around us.
  • Prosper the work of Your missionaries.
  • Send the Holy Spirit to show the Way to unbelievers.
  • Preserve our liberty.
  • Promote an honest and informed citizenry.
  • Protect those who serve in the military.
  • Protect those who are in combat.
  • Protect those who face enemies.
  • Protect those who protect us.
  • Remind us that what we see in the world tells us about You.
  • Remind us daily that nothing can separate us from You.
  • Restore our spirits each day as we serve others.
  • Restore our faith when we are weak.
  • Rouse us from spiritual apathy.
  • Send Your guardian angels to protect soldiers in battle.
  • Set our hearts on fire as we work for You.
  • Spare our land from disease & epidemic.
  • Spare us from the stress of deadlines.
  • Strengthen the faith of those being persecuted.
  • Strengthen the faith of the sick.
  • Strengthen the faith of the dying.
  • Strengthen our family.
  • Strengthen other families in our country.
  • Strengthen the homes of our nation.
  • Strengthen Your church in all the world.
  • Strengthen our determination to do what pleases You.
  • Strengthen believers to be firm in their faith.
  • Strengthen those who care for sick and dying, to bring the Gospel.
  • Sustain or faith when we are tired or crabby.
  • Sustain those who suffer pain.
  • Teach us to cast our worries & cares on You.
  • Teach us to trust in Your divine providence.  Daily.
  • That Your kingdom may come!
  • Use our offerings to extend Your hope and healing.
  • Use Your Word to shatter our pride.
  • Watch over our future mates.
  • Watch over our loved ones that they may remember Your salvation.

  • For honest leaders.
  • For justice among nations.
  • For love among our family.
  • For endurance.
  • For hope.
  • For joy.
  • For patience.
  • For those who are depressed.
  • For those who are poor or needy.
  • For those who care for others.
  • For those who carry heavy burdens whether sick or depressed or lonely
  • For those who comfort the hurting.
  • For those who feed the hungry.
  • For those who stand beside and help the dying.
  • For young people to do & say what is right in the face of peer pressure.
  • For missionaries who live in countries where Christians are being persecuted.
  • For all who go to bed tonight with hunger.
  • For those who face terrors.
  • For those who are lonely.
  • For those who are sorrowing.

Prompts for Thankful Living or Thanks Giving
  • Thank you for sending Your son to destroy the work of Satan.
  • Thank you for our Savior's life, death & resurrection.
  • Thank you for the treasure of the Gospel.
  • Thank you for giving us prayer so we can talk to You.
  • Thank you for Christian ____ (parents, friends, children, neighbors).
  • Thank you for those who love us.
  • Thank you for giving me a family of believers.
  • Thank you for enabling us to serve You without fear.
  • Thank you for the grace of Your promises fulfilled.
  • Thank you for our pastor who proclaims the Gospel so clearly.
  • Thank you for all our opportunities to worship You.
  • Thank you for opening Your hand & providing all that we need.
  • Thank you for Dad's job to provide what we need.
  • Thank you for our supervisors at work.
  • Thank you for all the work we CAN do.
  • Thank you for those who give us approval of our work.
  • Thank you for those who work at night to keep us & others safe.
  • Thank you for the morning greetings we receive.
  • Thank you for the energy to do our work.
  • Thank you for our food.
  • Thank you for the food that nourishes our bodies.
  • Thank you for electricity.
  • Thank you for the roof which shelters us.
  • Thank you for water.
  • Thank you for rain/snow and the water cycle which provides our drinking water.
  • Thank you for the forests which provide lumber, shade & oxygen for us to breath.
  • Thank you for the sound of bird song.
  • Thank you for the beauty of flowers & plants.
  • Thank you for the land-forms that grace Your world.   
  • Thank you for the ____ (plains, rocks, mountains, clouds)
  • Thank you for the ____ (lakes, rivers, oceans)
  • Thank you for our ____ (friends, family, home)
  • Thank you for farmers who provide us with food.
  • Thank you for our personal blessings.
  • Thank you for making me a blessing to others.
  • Thank you for the marvels of medicine & technology.
  • Thank you for clothing to protect us.
  • Thank you for the projects we do.
  • Thank you for our nation.
  • Thank you for this beautiful world.
  • Thank you for the wide open skies.

Personal Prayer Prompts

These last ones are personal prayers (first person point-of-view, that is).   You may wish to use these for your own daily prayer time:
  • All I have comes from You.  Help me use it properly.
  • Bless those who are praying for me.
  • Comfort me with Your word.
  • Comfort me when I am sad.
  • Correct the mistakes I make.
  • Enable me to use my days in Your service.
  • Enable me to use all my days in grateful praise to You.
  • Fill me with zeal to keep You first in my life.
  • Forgive my many sins.
  • Give me the ability to make difficult decisions that please You.
  • Give me compassion to help heal the hurts of others.
  • Give me confidence & boldness to do & say what is right.
  • Give me courage to share the Gospel.
  • Give me courage to speak boldly about Jesus.
  • Give me many opportunities to care for others & thereby care for You.
  • Give me self-control to obey the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
  • Give me inward strength to withstand stress, so I can accomplish Your best!
  • Give me strength & willingness to say "Your will be done."
  • Give me vision to see beyond my own needs, to help others.
  • Guard me from temptation.
  • Help me approach my duties with creativity & wisdom.
  • Help me avoid words, actions & attitudes which bring about undesireable consequences.
  • Help me be attentive to others' needs & less of my own.
  • Help me be aware of what is going on around me so that I can give right responses.
  • Help me be more like You.
  • Help me be sensitive to others.
  • Help me love the lost.
  • Help me put the needs of others ahead of my own.
  • Help me recognize & do what needs to be done before I'm asked or told.
  • Help me realize that You have provided everything I need for my present happiness.
  • Help me remember that You are fair and just.
  • Help me schedule & plan so that I may serve others
  • Help me trust You for everything.
  • Help me to accomplish Your goals on Your schedule, not mine.
  • Help me to act in harmony with Your will.
  • Help me to be diligent in my tasks.
  • Help me to forgive those who have hurt me.
  • Help me to be obedient and dependable.
  • Help me to be sincere and responsible.
  • Help me to be thoughtful and wise.
  • Help me to know and do what You need done.
  • Help me to see Your loving hand even in times of terrible trouble or sadness.
  • Help me to thank others and You.
  • Help me to be truthful & honest.
  • Help me be more cheerful to those around me.
  • Help me recognize that You are responsible for the achievements in my life.
  • Help me yield my rights & expectations to You.
  • Keep me from offending others with rude talk or actions.
  • Lead me through the dark days.
  • Let me be generous & remember that everything comes from You.
  • Let me be more organized so that I have more time to serve others & You.
  • Let me be use difficult situations to Your glory.
  • Let my life reflect the virtues of excellence and purity.
  • Make me cheerful & trusting to bear up under whatever happens.
  • Make me faithful in my daily life so that my life may bring glory to You.
  • Make me willing to use my intelligence to Your glory.
  • Overcome my rash words & actions with a more cautious & thoughtful attitude.
  • Relieve the burdens of my heart.
  • Remind me to help those in need.
  • Remind me of Your love daily.
  • Remind me that each task I do is an assignment from You.
  • Remove the mental roadblocks that make me contentious at times.
  • Renew my spirit so I will pardon others.
  • Rid me of selfishness.
  • Save me from doubt.
  • Send Your Holy Spirit to comfort me with Your Word.
  • Structure my life around that which is eternal & cannot be destroyed.
  • Use difficult situations to demonstrate my commitment to You and my family.
  • Use me, Lord.

Hear, O LORD, my righteous plea;
listen to my cry.

Give ear to my prayer--
it does not rise from deceitful lips.

I call on You, O God, for You will answer me;
Give ear to me and hear my prayer.

Show me the wonder of Your great love,
You who save by Your right hand
those who take refuge in You from their foes.

Keep me as the apple of Your eye;
hide me in the shadow of Your wings.

Psalm 17:1, 6-8 NIV

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

9 Obvious Signs You're Wise Enough to Give Advice

Big days on the horizon for my little family.   Darling Daughter will be graduating from homeschool high school in 12 days.   I bought the frame for her diploma today, along with some crafty fixings so her party guests can leave her some Words of Advice. (see PS at bottom for more on this)

As is my usual modus operandi I came up with this Words of Advice idea while wandering around in one of my favorite craft stores.   And while this idea was percolating in my brain, I got kind of teary-eyed, to think of my darling daughter who just yesterday (it seems) was being born and toddling at my feet.  

I've been giving her advice ever since she was born actually, so graduation advice is really just a continuation of what we've been doing all along.  But still, it seems monumental in one of those awed, hushed-tones sorts of ways.   We should have some succinct, important things to pass along to her.

But what?  

Well.   God has a way of working out things just perfectly.  I came home from my little jaunt to the store, and finished (hahahh!) sorting the various piles and files I've been working on for the past week or so.   And nestled in the LAST PILE (of course!), what appeared to my wandering eyes?  

Peacock book-box, cardstock paper, stickers & words of advice

A pink piece of paper in an old ratty and stained page protector--this used to hang on our fridge back when the kids were little.   It's a list of the Fruits of the Spirit--that neat list St. Paul wrote in chapter 5 to the Galatians.  

"...the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."Galatians 5:22 & 23 NIV

As is my mom-ish way of doing things, the kids and I had done a word-study on the list and come up with our own definitions for each of those spiritual fruits.

It occurred to me today--while going through this stack of filing--that these spiritual qualities and our old homeschool definitions make a perfect "Advice to the Graduate" list.  

Advice for a Graduate

God always gives the best advice!  
The Bible is His book, and it's chock-ful of excellent wisdom.

When you have time, read the Old Testament book of Proverbs.
There are 31 chapters (one for every day of the month!) 
outlining wisdom and foolishness, rules for marriage,
raising children, getting along with your neighbors & enemies,
and even treating your animals properly.

Likewise, the New Testament has loads of sage wisdom
from Jesus himself and from the apostles.
Of course, as Christians, we want to follow all this guidance
because we want to live our lives to God's glory.

In fact, there are several spots where we're told that a
Christian will produce fruit in keeping with principles God has outlined throughout His Book.   

The New Testament book of Galatians specifically outlines a 
short-list of spiritual qualities we all should strive to achieve.

Some years ago, my three children & I attempted to define these nine qualities.
Here's what we came up with:

  • a very glad feeling, happiness, great pleasure, delight
  • anything causing such feeling or the expression of showing such feeling

  • deep and tender feelings of affection or attachment
  • devotion to a person, an expression of one's affection or feeling of brotherhood and goodwill
  • strong liking or interest or passionate affection for another

  • freedom from war, treaty or agreement to end war or threat of war
  • freedom from public disturbance or disorder, public security, law & order
  • freedom from disagreement or quarrels, absence of mental conflict
  • harmony, concord, undisturbed state of mind, serenity

  • the state, quality or fact of being patient
  • the will or ability to wait or endure without complaint
  • steadiness, endurance, perseverance in performing a task
  • bearing or enduring pain or trouble without losing self-control
  • refusing to be angered as by an insult 
  • calmly tolerating delay or confustion or inefficiency
  • waiting calmly for something desired
  • steady, diligent

  • the state, quality or habit of being kind
  • kindly treatment, feelings, affection & goodwill
  • sympathetic, gentle, friendly, tender-hearted
  • generous, cordial, loving affectionate

  • the state or quality of being virtuous
  • excellence, kindness, generous, benevolent
  • the best part, essence or valuable element of a thing
  • suitable to a purpose, fresh, unspoiled
  • virtuous, honest

  • refined, courteous
  • noble, chivalrous, generous, kind
  • easily handled, kindly
  • sincere, patient, pleasant

  • maintaining allegiance, constancy, loyalty
  • marked by or showing a strong sense of duty or responsibility
  • conscientious, steadfast adherence

  • control of one's self or one's own emotions, desires & actions
  • ability to set aside one's own needs
  • restraint
  • making disciplined choices

These nine spiritual qualities stack up neatly and build upon one another.  
They work best when they are working together.  
And if you stop to think about each of these "fruits" you'll see that
they don't all grow at the same rate!   In some cases, a fruit will
grow easily, while another needs careful pruning to reach full ripeness.

It takes a lifetime for these "fruits" to develop.
Some only develop under stressful circumstances.
Others depend on the development of other fruits, first.

Keep going.  
Prune, water, fertilize, nourish, grow.
St. Paul, the writer of this list, goes on to say

"Let us not become weary in doing good, 
for at the proper time we will reap 
a harvest if we do not give up.  
Therefore, as we have opportunity, 
let us do good to all people."
Galatians 6:9-10 NIV

Keep growing!

P.S. Here's my idea for guests giving Words of Advice to the graduate:
purchase a book box (looks like a fancy-schmancy book, but it's hollow)
and some card-stock paper and stickers.

Before the party, cut the paper so that it will fit inside the box.
Provide a pen or marker, stickers and rubber stamps & ink pads.
(I'm going to set out some little alphabet stamps, too.)

At party time, ask guests to write some 
Words of Advice or Encouragement to the graduate.
Urge them to jazz up their little "card" and personalize it.   

The cards go into the hollowed out book-box,
and then the box is tucked into the grad's College Stuff.

Once she's settled in her dorm room, she will have these
lovely sentiments in a handy-dandy, portable, easily-stored and cute container.
When homesickness hits (missing Mom's cooking 
or Dad's silly Dad-jokes)
or missing the home-routine or hanging with "old" friends,
our Darling Daughter can open the book-box and 
fondly remember and be encouraged.

You might also like this post about loyalty, or this one about faithfulness,
 or this one about living (yes, I said LIVING) advice in your marriage.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

9 Things to Do to Become (or Be) an Awesome Mom

Being an awesome mom really can't be reduced to a list of 9 things, but here's a start.  

1 - Read, sing, and listen to your children.   Starting from the first day they're born--pause when you talk to your baby, and she'll learn the give-n-take of conversation.  And PLEASE--please!--teach them how to properly interrupt when Mom is visiting with an adult.  (hand on arm, wait quietly to be addressed)

2 - Count your blessings - be optimistic - smile.  

3 - Learn from and laugh at your mistakes.   Help your chicks to do the same thing.

4 - When you have to, say the following (right away!):
      "I don't know" (but I'll find out!)
      "I made a mistake"
      "I need help"

      "I'm sorry"

5 - Say it like you mean it - quit being wishy-washy when giving directions - be consistent.  You're NOT their "friend" -- you're their mother.  Don't get the two mixed up.   Kids will have LOTS of friends, but only one mother.   

6 - Keep your priorities straight (husband, children, everyone else).   Of course, God comes FIRST on that list--that's a given.   Work on your relationship with your hubby first, you're a team!  

7 - Children won't die if you say "no" or make them do chores or miss a birthday party because you told her to do her chores and she decided not to.   Seize every opportunity to teach life lessons!    

8 - Tell your kids you love 'em.   Every day.   And give hugs.  And "tickle treatments."   

9 - Spend time with your children, particularly time in church and take time to teach them manners, life skills (how to--), and that the whole world doesn't revolve around them.  Sounds rough, but it's true.  They're part of a family--something greater than themselves.   Do things for others.

Okay, I have to add one more, because #9 flows into this one.  

10 - Teach them how to get along with others, particularly their siblings.   If they would rather fight with each other, punish both children equally.  Don't allow tattling unless "blood & guts" or doing something dangerous.  My aunt used to spank the tattler and the tattled-on--because my three girl cousins were very competitive.   They grew up to be very loving and protective of each other.

There's no time like the present to leave a Godly legacy and establish your heritage!   And if you're an older woman you can help the next generation (the young mothers of today) by sharing your experience in a tender and loving way.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge Him, 
and He will make your paths straight.

Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD and shun evil.
This will bring health to your body
and nourishment to your bones.
 Proverbs 3:5-8 NIV

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QUESTION:   What one thing do you or did your mom do that could be added to this list?