.................................................................................................................

"No matter where I am, your teachings fill me with songs." - Psalm 119:54 (CEV)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Opportunity


"Poverty is not necessarily an issue to solve; it is an opportunity to serve. As we go through each day, our heart's cry should be, Lord, where would you have me give, serve, and invest myself to bring hope to the poor?"
~Orphan Justice author, Johnny Carr
It wasn't always easy for me to understand this.

Poverty has always felt so big -

What could I ever do about it?

Then I began to read blogs,

People who went to some of the poorest areas of the world,

Met some of the poorest people -

And with all those faces?

Poverty started to seem less like a big issue

And more like individuals -

Individuals who desperately needed hope.

God began to show me that it wasn't about the big issue,

But the individual person.

He began to put child sponsorship on my heart.

When I finally decided to sponsor a child through Compassion, -

Began to write letters,

Build a relationship -

I saw that this was an opportunity for me to serve.

I wasn't going to solve the issue of poverty,

Not even for one person,

But I could serve

And I could offer hope

And I could make a difference.

The really funny thing, though?

From the first letter I received,

I could tell that I wasn't only serving

But also being served.


It's blog month over here,

Blogging for Compassion,

Trying to get 3,160 children sponsored this month.

Honestly, the ability to make a difference,

The ability to develop a relationship with a child,

To teach,

To learn,

Is one of the greatest gifts God has given me.

Please consider joining us in releasing children from poverty

In Jesus' Name.






Sorry I don't have any Reasons today -

I've been counting, but it's been slow going

Between my little accident this week,

Cooking,

And homework starting to pile up (especially when the prior two excuses are factored in).

If anyone else would like to share?



Counting 10,000 Reasons to worship Him: 

(Sylvia's already made it to - past - 10,000!  So amazing to think of who He is like this!)






<a href="http://maryschieferstein.blogspot.com/search/label/10000%20Reasons" target="_blank"><img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-8zkGH23srZ8/T2i3Bun0O9I/AAAAAAAABSw/8giPvnJmCPI/s320/10000ReasonsButton.jpg" /></a>

Counting in community: 


Sunday, September 22, 2013

I Wear Red


I wear red.

It is the symbol of honor, love, and prosperity.

Once, not so long ago, I did not wear red.

It just didn't seem fitting.



I was not prosperous.

I come from a poor part of my country.

Sometimes my father had a job working the fields.

Sometimes he didn't.

We never had enough.



I was not loved.

Girl children in my country are often not valued.

My birth meant an arranged marriage,

A dowry,

Both expenses far beyond the family budget.

My grandmothers had hoped for a boy.

"A boy takes care of you when you get older."

That's how it is here.

That's how it's always been.

They blamed my mother for bearing another girl.

Intentionally or not, she passed that blame onto me.

In our culture, the males are most important.

Whenever we sat down to eat, my father would be fed first,

Then my younger brother.

Whatever was left,

Which was never much,

Went to me.



I was not honored.

A girl,

And a poor one at that,

No one had much respect for me.



I was married young,

One less mouth for my parents to feed,

Less dowry money to be paid.

My husband was poor, as I was.

We had four children together.

He struggled to provide for us,

Always doing his best,

But it was never enough.

I was pregnant with our fifth -

My rounded abdomen just beginning to show -

When my husband lost his job

And our meager income was gone.

I didn't know what to do.

An acquaintance whispered to me about a program at the local church.

They would find a sponsor for one of my children -

Provide education,

Health care,

Job skills -

All the opportunities I never had.

And these benefits wouldn't be only for my child -

They would help our whole family!

They would teach me and my husband how to read,

How to better care for our children,

Other ways of earning money.

They would provide all of this for us -

Even before a sponsor was found, if we were accepted -

And it would not cost our family anything!

I could not believe the generosity of these people,

Or of the people around the world willing to reach out to us in our need,

People who didn't even know us!

For the first time, I had hope -

Hope that my children might have a better life than mine,

Hope that our family might find greater stability,

Hope that we had a future.



My five-year-old was accepted into Compassion's child sponsorship program.

She has a sponsor in Australia who writes to her every month.

The love that this stranger has for my daughter never ceases to amaze and bless me.

My husband and I are learning how to read.

My children all attend school.

My daughter goes to the development center

And comes home telling us about all she learned,

And telling us about Jesus.

I hadn't grown up religious,

But, naturally, had been taught about the many gods

And considered myself a Hindu, as most other people in my community.

Now, my family and I go to church every week,

We have heard the wonderful news about the One True God,

And how He sent His Son to rescue us -

To rescue me -

Me, who's laid as much blame as my mother ever did,

Me, who's carried resentment more than I've carried my own children on my hip,

Me, who's been angry at the whole world and taken it out on whatever or whoever was within earshot.

Yes, there is grace even for me.



Now, I am prosperous,

Blessed with enough to provide for my family,

Blessed with time and moments with my children,

Blessed with opportunities and hope for the future.



Now, I am loved,

I am loved by my children,

By my husband,

And, most of all, by the Author of the Universe.

It's funny how love makes you come alive,

And how it makes you love right back.



Now, I am honored,

I may not be honored by my parents,

By my community,

But I am a daughter of the King,

And there is no greater honor than that.



And, so, I wear red.

It seems to be the most appropriate color.






It's blog month over here,

Blogging for Compassion,

Trying to get 3,160 children sponsored this month.

Honestly, the ability to make a difference,

The ability to develop a relationship with a child,

To teach,

To learn,

Is one of the greatest gifts God has given me.

Please consider joining us in releasing children from poverty

In Jesus' Name.





Reasons 4778-4892 today,

(Still in Job - basing my counting off this series),

Always so amazed at His Grace:
 
  1. He answers out of a storm (Job 38:1)
  2. He has plans (Job 38:2)
  3. He questions (Job 38:3)
  4. He laid the earth's foundation (Job 38:4)
  5. He marked off the earth's dimensions (Job 38:5)
  6. He stretched a measuring line across the earth's dimensions (Job 38:5)
  7. He knows upon what the earth's footings are set (Job 38:6)
  8. He laid the earth's cornerstone (Job 38:6)
  9. He laid the earth's cornerstone while the morning stars sang together (Job 38:6)
  10. He laid the earth's cornerstone while all the angels shouted for joy (Job 38:6)
  11. He shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb (Job 38:8)
  12. He made the clouds the sea's garment (Job 38:8-9)
  13. He wrapped the sea in thick darkness (Job 38:8-9)
  14. He fixed limits for the sea (Job 38:8-10)
  15. He set the doors and bars of the sea in place (Job 38:8-10)
  16. He told the sea, “This far you may come and no farther” (Job 38:8-11)
  17. He told the sea, “[H]ere is where your proud waves halt” (Job 38:8-11)
  18. He has given orders to the morning (Job 38:12)
  19. He has shown the dawn its place (Job 38:12)
  20. He has shown the dawn its place that it might take the earth by the edges (Job 38:12-13)
  21. He has shown the dawn its place that it might take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it (Job 38:12-13)
  22. He has journeyed to the springs of the sea (Job 38:16)
  23. He has walked in the recesses of the deep (Job 38:16)
  24. The gates of death have been shown to Him (Job 38:17)
  25. He has seen the gates of the deepest darkness (Job 38:17)
  26. He has comprehended the vast expanses of the earth (Job 38:18)
  27. He knows the way to the abode of light (Job 38:19)
  28. He knows where darkness resides (Job 38:19)
  29. He can take light and darkness to their places (Job 38:19-20)
  30. He knows the paths to the dwellings of light and darkness (Job 38:19-20)
  31. He was already born (Job 38:21)
  32. He has lived so many years (Job 38:21)
  33. He has entered the storehouses of the snow (Job 38:22)
  34. He has seen the storehouses of the hail (Job 38:22)
  35. He reserves the storehouses of snow for times of trouble (Job 38:22-23)
  36. He reserves the storehouses of hail for times of trouble (Job 38:22-23)
  37. He reserves the storehouses of snow for days of war and battle (Job 38:22-23)
  38. He reserves the storehouses of hail for days of war and battle (Job 38:22-23)
  39. He knows the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed (Job 38:24)
  40. He knows the way to the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth (Job 38:24)
  41. He cuts a channel for the torrents of rain (Job 38:25)
  42. He cuts a path for the thunderstorm (Job 38:25)
  43. He cuts a channel for the torrents of rain to water a land where no one lives (Job 38:25-26)
  44. He cuts a path for the thunderstorm to water a land where no one lives (Job 38:25-26)
  45. He cuts a channel for the torrents of rain to water a land where no one lives, an uninhabited desert (Job 38:25-26)
  46. He cuts a path for the thunderstorm to water a land where no one lives, an uninhabited desert (Job 38:25-26)
  47. He cuts a channel for the torrents of rain to satisfy a desolate wasteland (Job 38:25-27)
  48. He cuts a path for the thunderstorm to satisfy a desolate wasteland (Job 38:25-27)
  49. He cuts a channel for the torrents of rain to satisfy a desolate wasteland and make it sprout with grass (Job 38:25-27)
  50. He cuts a path for the thunderstorm to satisfy a desolate wasteland and make it sprout with grass (Job 38:25-27)
  51. He is the rain's father (Job 38:28)
  52. He fathers the drops of dew (Job 38:28)
  53. The ice comes from His womb (Job 38:29)
  54. He gives birth to the frost from the heavens (Job 38:29)
  55. He gives birth to the frost from the heavens when the waters become hard as stone (Job 38:29-30)
  56. He gives birth to the frost from the heavens when the surface of the deep is frozen (Job 38:29-30)
  57. He can bind the chains of the Pleiades (Job 38:31)
  58. He can loosen Orion's belt (Job 38:31)
  59. He can bring forth the constellations in their seasons (Job 38:32)
  60. He can lead out the Bear with its cubs (Job 38:32)
  61. He knows the laws of the heavens (Job 38:33)
  62. He can set up His dominion over the earth (Job 38:33)
  63. He can raise His voice to the clouds (Job 38:34)
  64. He can cover Himself with a flood of water (Job 38:34)
  65. He sends the lightning bolts on their way (Job 38:35)
  66. The lightning bolts report to Him, “Here we are” (Job 38:35)
  67. He gives the ibis wisdom (Job 38:36)
  68. He gives the rooster understanding (Job 38:36)
  69. He has the wisdom to count the clouds (Job 38:37)
  70. He can tip over the water jars of the heavens (Job 38:37)
  71. He can tip over the water jars of the heavens when the dust becomes hard and the clods of the earth stick together (Job 38:37-38)
  72. He hunts the pray for the lioness (Job 38:39)
  73. He satisfies the hunger of the lions (Job 38:39)
  74. He satisfies the hunger of the lions when they crouch in their dens (Job 38:39-40)
  75. He satisfies the hunger of the lions when they lie in wait in a thicket (Job 38:39-40)
  76. He provides food for the raven (Job 38:41)
  77. He provides food for the raven when its young cry out to Him (Job 38:41)
  78. He provides food for the raven when its young cry out to Him and wander about for lack of food (Job 38:41)
  79. He knows when the mountain goats give birth (Job 39:1)
  80. He observes the calving of the does (Job 39:1)
  81. He can number the months that the does fulfill (Job 39:1-2)
  82. He knows the time when the does give birth (Job 39:1-2)
  83. He knows the time when the does crouch (Job 39:1-3)
  84. He knows the time when the does bring forth their offspring (Job 39:1-3)
  85. He knows the time when the does are delivered of their young (Job 39:1-3)
  86. He has let the wild donkey go free (Job 39:5)
  87. He has loosened the bonds of the swift donkey (Job 39:5)
  88. He has loosened the bonds of the swift donkey, to whom He has given the arid plain for his home and the salt land for his dwelling place (Job 39:5-6)
  89. He made the ostrich forget wisdom (Job 39:13-17)
  90. He gave the ostrich no share in understanding (Job 39:13-17)
  91. He gives the horse his might (Job 39:19)
  92. He clothes the horse's neck with a mane (Job 39:19)
  93. He makes the horse leap like the locust (Job 39:20)
  94. It is by His understanding that the hawk soars (Job 39:26)
  95. It is by His understanding that the hawk soars and spreads his wings toward the south (Job 39:26)
  96. It is at His command that the eagle mounts up (Job 39:27)
  97. It is at His command that the eagle mounts up and makes his nest on high (Job 39:27)
  98. He questions people (Job 40:7)
  99. He questions people, and they shall answer Him (Job 40:7)
  100. No person has an arm like His (Job 40:9)
  101. His voice thunders (Job 40:9)
  102. He adorns Himself with glory (Job 40:10)
  103. He adorns Himself with splendor (Job 40:10)
  104. He clothes Himself with honor (Job 40:10)
  105. He clothes Himself with majesty (Job 40:10)
  106. He unleashes the fury of His wrath (Job 40:11)
  107. He looks at all who are proud (Job 40:11)
  108. He looks at all who are proud and brings them low (Job 40:11)
  109. He looks at all who are proud and humbles them (Job 40:12)
  110. He crushes the wicked where they stand (Job 40:12)
  111. He buries the proud and the wicked in the dust together (Job 40:12-13)
  112. He shrouds the faces of the proud and the wicked in the grave (Job 40:12-13)
  113. He made Behemoth (Job 40:15)
  114. He made people (Job 40:15)
  115. The Behemoth ranks first among His works, yet He can approach it with His sword (Job 40:15-19)

Counting 10,000 Reasons to worship Him: 

(Sylvia's already made it to - past - 10,000!  So amazing to think of who He is like this!)





<a href="http://maryschieferstein.blogspot.com/search/label/10000%20Reasons" target="_blank"><img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-8zkGH23srZ8/T2i3Bun0O9I/AAAAAAAABSw/8giPvnJmCPI/s320/10000ReasonsButton.jpg" /></a>

Counting in community:


 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

One Word


She came over on Friday

And we laughed,

Watched a movie,

Cooked dinner.

We used as many peppers and tomatoes as would fit in the casserole dishes,

Dumped rice from a pretty full 10-pound bag into the rice cooker,

Browned good ground beef from a local meat counter.

We didn't have to worry about not having enough,

Didn't have to worry when we burnt the garlic bread and three smoke alarms went off.

We had an abundance -

More food than we needed.


This is normally what I think of when I think of food -

That which is eaten,

Which satisfies my stomach,

Or, just as often, my cravings.

We college students here on a tight budget

Manage to have approximately five crock pot meals still bagged in our freezer,

And we'll probably still have two or three of those left when we reach the end of this week.

We complain that money's tight,

That we're spending a lot on a low income,

But we have more than a week's worth of food,

Prepared,

Just waiting to be cooked.

There's a food that's needed for the body.

We have it in abundance.


There are other kinds of food, too.

Like the one we're all here for -

Studying,

Doing way more homework than any professor should expect

(And yet all of them seem to),

Going to class,

Not getting enough sleep,

Paying thousands of dollars in tuition -

We want to learn.

Our minds need to be fed.

There is a desire to grow in knowledge,

And also a need,

A need for the future,

To have a job,

To support ourselves,

To have enough -

Well, what Americans consider to be "enough".

There is a food that is needed for the body,

And there is a food that is needed for the mind.


Perhaps the most important food, however,

Is the food that is needed for the soul.

Jesus said it Himself:

Matthew 4:4

English Standard Version (ESV)
But he answered, “It is written,
“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
    but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
More than anything,

We need that kind of food.

We need to know God,

To grow in Him,

To love Him with all that we are.

If He's not everything to us,

Then we're going hungry,

Starving,

Deprived of that which is essential to life:

Its Creator and Sustainer.

It's probably the type of food that people think about the least -

And yet it's the one that all of us need the most.


Before we watched the movie,

Cooked dinner,

Burned the garlic bread,

I showed her around our humble abode -

The couches in the living room,

The clothes piled on the floor,

And the pictures on the refrigerator -

The ones of the children I sponsor,

The ones of the children my roommate sponsors.

She told us that we were inspiring her,

That she wanted to sponsor a child, too.

I told her how worth it it was,

How much I treasured those relationships.


I may be a "poor" college student,

But I'm not starving by any means.

There are at least three kinds of food.

And, at the moment, I have enough of all of them.

But there are so, so many people in this world who do not.

I am more than willing to share my meager income to provide food for these children whom I love so much:

Food for the body - my sponsorship helps to make sure that these children get meals, helps to ease the burden on families that are struggling to survive.

Food for the mind - my sponsorship provides the money needed so that these children can go to school, to learn and dream of a better future.

Food for the spirit - my sponsorship through Compassion means that these children will be taught the Word of God, that they will hear about Christ, that they will be directed and discipled.  Nothing is more important to me.

And I?  I get fed, too.

Every time one of those letters comes in the mail,

My heart is filled with joy.


Reasons 4699-4777 today,

(Still in Job - basing my counting off this series),

So amazed at who He is,

So fed:
  1. He is mighty, but despises no one (Job 36:5)
  2. He is mighty, and firm in His purpose (Job 36:5)
  3. He does not keep the wicked alive (Job 36:6)
  4. He gives the afflicted their rights (Job 36:6)
  5. He does not take His eyes off the righteous (Job 36:7)
  6. He enthrones the righteous with kings (Job 36:7)
  7. He exalts the righteous forever (Job 36:7)
  8. If people are bound in chains, He tells them what they have done (Job 36:8-9)
  9. If people are held fast by cords of affliction, He tells them what they have done (Job 36:8-9)
  10. If people are bound in chains, He tells them what they have done - that they have sinned arrogantly (Job 36:8-9)
  11. If people are held fast by cords of affliction, He tells them what they have done - that they have sinned arrogantly (Job 36:8-9)
  12. If people have sinned arrogantly, He makes them listen to correction (Job 36:9-10)
  13. If people have sinned arrogantly, He commands them to repent of their evil (Job 36:9-10)
  14. If people will obey and serve Him, they will spend the rest of their days in prosperity (Job 36:11)
  15. If people will obey and serve Him, they will spend the rest of their years in contentment (Job 36:11)
  16. If people do not listen to Him, they will perish by the sword (Job 36:12)
  17. If people do not listen to Him, they will die without knowledge (Job 36:12)
  18. He fetters the godless in heart (Job 36:13)
  19. Those who suffer He delivers in their suffering (Job 36:15)
  20. Those who suffer He speaks to in their affliction (Job 36:15)
  21. He woos people from the jaws of distress (Job 36:16)
  22. He woos people from the jaws of distress to a spacious place free from restriction (Job 36:16)
  23. He woos people from the jaws of distress to the comfort of their tables laden with choice food (Job 36:16)
  24. He is exalted in His power (Job 36:22)
  25. No one is a teacher like God (Job 36:22)
  26. No one has prescribed His ways for Him (Job 36:23)
  27. No one has said to Him, “You have done wrong” (Job 36:23)
  28. All humanity has seen His work (Job 36:24-25)
  29. Mortals gaze on His work from afar (Job 36:24-25)
  30. He is Great - beyond our understanding! (Job 36:26)
  31. The number of His years is past finding out (Job 36:26)
  32. He draws up the drops of water (Job 36:27)
  33. He draws up the drops of water which distill as rain to the streams (Job 36:27)
  34. No one can understand how He spreads out the clouds (Job 36:29)
  35. No one can understand how He thunders from His pavilion (Job 36:29)
  36. He scatters His lightning about Him (Job 36:30)
  37. He scatters His lightning about Him, bathing the depths of the sea (Job 36:30)
  38. He governs the nations (Job 36:31)
  39. He provides food in abundance (Job 36:31)
  40. He fills His hands with lightning (Job 36:32)
  41. He fills His hands with lightning and commands it to strike its mark (Job 36:32)
  42. His thunder announces the coming storm (Job 36:33)
  43. His thunder announces the coming storm; even the cattle make known its approach (Job 36:33)
  44. His voice roars (Job 37:2)
  45. Rumbling comes from His mouth (Job 37:2)
  46. He unleashes His lightning beneath the whole heaven (Job 37:3)
  47. He sends His lightning to the ends of the earth (Job 37:3)
  48. He thunders with majestic voice (Job 37:4)
  49. When His voice resounds, He holds nothing back (Job 37:4)
  50. His voice thunders in marvelous ways (Job 37:5)
  51. He does great things beyond people's understanding (Job 37:5)
  52. He says to the snow, “Fall on the earth” (Job 37:6)
  53. He says to the rain shower, “Be a mighty downpour” (Job 37:6)
  54. He stops all people from their labor (Job 37:7)
  55. He stops all people from their labor so that everyone He has made may know His work (Job 37:7)
  56. His breath produces ice (Job 37:10)
  57. His breath produces ice, and the broad waters become frozen (Job 37:10)
  58. He loads the clouds with moisture (Job 37:11)
  59. He scatters His lightning through the clouds (Job 37:11)
  60. At His direction the clouds swirl around (Job 37:11-12)
  61. At His direction the clouds swirl around over the face of the whole earth (Job 37:11-12)
  62. At His direction the clouds swirl around over the face of the whole earth to do whatever He commands them (Job 37:11-12)
  63. He brings the clouds to punish people (Job 37:13)
  64. He brings the clouds to water His earth (Job 37:13)
  65. He brings the clouds to show His love (Job 37:13)
  66. No one knows how He controls the clouds (Job 37:15)
  67. No one knows how He makes His lightning flash (Job 37:15)
  68. No one knows how the clouds hang poised, wonders of Him who has perfect knowledge (Job 37:16)
  69. He has perfect knowledge (Job 37:16)
  70. He spreads out the skies (Job 37:18)
  71. He spreads out the skies, hard as a mirror of cast bronze (Job 37:18)
  72. He comes in golden splendor (Job 37:22)
  73. Out of the north He comes in golden splendor (Job 37:22)
  74. He comes in awesome majesty (Job 37:22)
  75. He is beyond our reach (Job 37:23)
  76. He is exalted in power (Job 37:23)
  77. In His Justice and great Righteousness, He does not oppress (Job 37:23)
  78. People revere Him (Job 37:24)
  79. He has regard for all the wise in heart (Job 37:24)


It's blog month over here,

Blogging for Compassion,

Trying to get 3,160 children sponsored this month.

Honestly, the ability to make a difference,

The ability to develop a relationship with a child,

To teach,

To learn,

Is one of the greatest gifts God has given me.

Please consider joining us in releasing children from poverty

In Jesus' Name.





Counting 10,000 Reasons to worship Him: 

(Sylvia's already made it to - past - 10,000!  So amazing to think of who He is like this!)




<a href="http://maryschieferstein.blogspot.com/search/label/10000%20Reasons" target="_blank"><img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-8zkGH23srZ8/T2i3Bun0O9I/AAAAAAAABSw/8giPvnJmCPI/s320/10000ReasonsButton.jpg" /></a>

Counting in community:


 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

I See Her


I see her.

Head on the pillow,

Daddy kneeling beside her bed.

He's praying.

So is she.

She starts with the prayer Daddy used to always pray out loud.

He doesn't pray out loud anymore.

She's too old for that.

He prays to himself and she prays to herself.

The words they've said so many times together become the focus of her thoughts:

"Now I lay me down to sleep,

I pray the Lord my soul to keep."

After she asks God to please bless everybody in the whole wide world,

She starts with her prayer.

It's pretty similar to the one she prayed the last night.

And the night before that.

She tries to pray for everyone she can think of,

People she knows and people she doesn't.

She never wants to leave anyone out,

So she's always following the same pattern.

When she finishes that, she prays the Lord's Prayer

Because that's what they pray every Sunday at church,

So it must be very important.

I see her

And I know.

I am her.


I see her years later

With her high loft bed

That she never could make herself, the way it was built.

Usually her daddy helped her.

He was gone and Mom was there.

I see her mom pass her up a blanket.

She explains that it isn't the right one,

That the blankets absolutely must go on in a certain order

And don't give that to me now

Because I can't sleep if we make the bed like that.

Her mother tells her she's OCD,

And I wonder if one can have an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder of the heart?

I see her mother turn the light off,

And she kneels on her bed

And prays a prayer not too different from the one she used to say all those years ago,

Only this time without the childhood favorite,

Without the Lord's Prayer,

Because she knows that prayer is not supposed to be a reciting of mantras

But a communion with the Father,

And yet her prayers still aren't too different,

One night to the next.


I see her,

And,

All these years later,

In a lot of ways, she's still me.

She may be the one who put the purfumes in rainbow order,

And the scrubbie/loofa/pouf things, too . . .

I'm the one who keeps them that way,

Can't stand to have them any other.

It wasn't so long ago that I took the mess of hair ties,

Divided them into individual plastic sandwich bags,

Based on size and color,

Then put those in rainbow order, too.

Shirts, pants, skirts, dresses,

All in order by color, by size,

CDs on the counter in order by artist, release date (except the one in the player),

And the blankets on the bed are still in the same order they always were.


I struggle even now

With the fine line between habit and discipline.

There are prayers now that are different,

But still many that are the same,

And I just feel so often like I won't be doing enough,

Won't be doing what I'm supposed to be doing -

Not exactly in a legalistic sense,

But there are things I feel obligated to keep praying for others,

To keep praying for myself,

Things that I feel that I ought to do,

Even though I can't say I've ever believed God would be angry at me for not doing them -

And there are times I don't know exactly which side of the line I'm on.


The envelope's on the table.

I see the logo, the few words telling me what's inside,

And rip it open as fast as I can.

I read the words she's written me,

Answering my questions,

Telling me about herself,

Her life.

I get to the part where she's responding to my questions about prayer meetings.

I love to pray with my friends,

And asked her if she ever went to any prayer meetings.

When I read her words, though, I think I must've said something wrong

Because it sounds like she feels obligated

And is apologizing that she's never been able to

With all of the responsibilities she has at home

And my heart just sees this reflection of myself -

This idea that this is what I'm supposed to do,

This is how I'm supposed to act,

This is what will make people happy -

If I pray for them,

If I pray as they want me to,

If I . . .

When I sit down with her letter

And a pile of stationery,

I say to her what I want to say to that little girl praying with her daddy,

That little girl kneeling on her bed,

That not-quite-so-little girl bent over a book of prayer requests,

Reading so many chapters of her Bible each day,

Just trying to be disciplined,

To do all the right things,

Wondering if what she's doing is spiritual discipline or empty habit.

I tell her

I hope you don't think that I'm expecting something of you,

That I'll be disappointed in you if you don't.

I am so proud of you,

Your hard work for your family,

For your education.

My greatest hope for you is that you love God and come to know Him more.

Sure, going to prayer meetings is a good thing,

But that's not the point.

The point is growth,

And that happens differently for everyone,

And God always, always makes His people grow.

He is Faithful.

Just love Him.

Whatever that looks like for you,

Just love Him.


That little girl?

I still see her.

Every time I look in the mirror.

I've still got a lot to learn,

But, oh, don't we all?


Reasons 4590-4698 today,

Venturing into Job again

(Basing my counting off this series, for anyone curious),

Trying to see God,

And love Him,

Just love Him:

  1. He is the maker of Israel (Psalm 149:2)
  2. He is the King of Zion (Psalm 149:2)
  3. He takes delight in His people (Psalm 149:4)
  4. He crowns the humble with victory (Psalm 149:4)
  5. His praise is a double-edged sword in the hands of His people (Psalm 149:6)
  6. His praise is a double-edged sword in the hands of His people to inflict vengeance on the nations (Psalm 149:6-7)
  7. His praise is a double-edged sword in the hands of His people to inflict punishment on the peoples (Psalm 149:6-7)
  8. His praise is a double-edged sword in the hands of His people to bind the nations' kings with fetters (Psalm 149:6-8)
  9. His praise is a double-edged sword in the hands of His people to bind the nations' nobles with shackles of iron (Psalm 149:6-8)
  10. His praise is a double-edged sword in the hands of His people to carry out the sentence written against the nations (Psalm 149:6-9)
  11. He is to be praised in His sanctuary (Psalm 150:1)
  12. He is to be praised in His mighty heavens (Psalm 150:1)
  13. He does acts of power (Psalm 150:1)
  14. His Greatness is surpassing (Psalm 150:1)
  15. He considers those who are blameless (Job 1:8)
  16. He considers those who are upright (Job 1:8)
  17. He considers those who fear Him (Job 1:8)
  18. He considers those who shun evil (Job 1:8)
  19. He puts a hedge around those whom He chooses (Job 1:10)
  20. He puts a hedge around the households of those whom He chooses (Job 1:10)
  21. He puts a hedge around everything that those whom He chooses have (Job 1:10)
  22. He blesses the work of the hands of those whom He chooses (Job 1:10)
  23. He blesses the work of the hands of those whom He chooses, so that their flocks and herds are spread throughout the land (Job 1:10)
  24. He allows terrible things to happen to the possessions of those whom He chooses (Job 1:11-12)
  25. He allows terrible things to happen in order to test the upright (Job 1:11-12)
  26. He allows oxen and donkeys to be stolen in order to test the upright (Job 1:11-15)
  27. He allows servants to be killed in order to test the upright (Job 1:11-15)
  28. He allows sheep to be burned in order to test the upright (Job 1:11-16)
  29. He allows servants to be burned in order to test the upright (Job 1:11-16)
  30. He allows camels to be stolen in order to test the upright (Job 1:11-17)
  31. He allows sons and daughters to die in order to test the upright (Job 1:11-17)
  32. He gives (Job 1:21)
  33. He takes away (Job 1:21)
  34. He considers those who maintain their integrity (Job 2:3)
  35. He allows the upright to suffer physically in order to test them (Job 2:4-6)
  36. He allows the upright to be afflicted with painful sores in order to test them (Job 2:7)
  37. He allows the upright to be afflicted with painful sores from the soles of their feet to the crowns of their heads in order to test them (Job 2:7)
  38. He gives good to His people (Job 2:10)
  39. He gives trouble to His people (Job 2:10)
  40. He takes away those skilled in flattery (Job 32:22)
  41. His Spirit makes people (Job 33:4)
  42. His breath gives people life (Job 33:4)
  43. All people are the same in His sight (Job 33:6)
  44. All people are pieces of clay in His sight (Job 33:6)
  45. He is greater than any mortal (Job 33:12)
  46. He does speak (Job 33:14)
  47. He does speak - now one way, now another (Job 33:14)
  48. He does speak - now one way, now another - though no one perceives it (Job 33:14)
  49. He speaks in a dream (Job 33:15)
  50. He speaks in a vision of the night (Job 33:15)
  51. He speaks in a dream when deep sleep falls on people (Job 33:15)
  52. He speaks in a vision of the night when deep sleep falls on people (Job 33:15)
  53. He speaks in a dream when deep sleep falls on people as they slumber in their beds (Job 33:15)
  54. He speaks in a vision of the night when deep sleep falls on people as they slumber in their beds (Job 33:15)
  55. He speaks in people's ears (Job 33:16)
  56. He terrifies people with warnings (Job 33:16)
  57. He terrifies people with warnings to turn them from wrongdoing (Job 33:16-17)
  58. He terrifies people with warnings to keep them from pride (Job 33:16-17)
  59. He terrifies people with warnings to preserve them from the pit (Job 33:16-18)
  60. He terrifies people with warnings to preserve their lives from perishing by the sword (Job 33:16-18)
  61. He delivers His people from going down to the pit (Job 33:28)
  62. His people shall live to enjoy the light of life (Job 33:28)
  63. He afflicts people - twice, even three times (Job 33:29)
  64. He afflicts people - twice, even three times - to turn them back from the pit (Job 33:29-30)
  65. He afflicts people - twice, even three times - to turn them back from the pit, that the light of life may shine on them (Job 33:29-30)
  66. Far be it from Him to do evil (Job 34:10)
  67. Far be it from Him to do wrong (Job 34:10)
  68. He repays everyone for what they have done (Job 34:11)
  69. He brings on everyone what their conduct deserves (Job 34:11)
  70. It is unthinkable that He would do wrong (Job 34:12)
  71. It is unthinkable that He would pervert justice (Job 34:12)
  72. No one appointed Him over the earth (Job 34:13)
  73. No one put Him in charge of the whole world (Job 34:14)
  74. If it were His intention and He withdrew His Spirit and breath, all humanity would perish together and mankind would return to the dust (Job 34:14-15)
  75. He says to kings, “You are worthless” (Job 34:18)
  76. He says to nobles, “You are wicked” (Job 34:18)
  77. He shows no partiality to princes (Job 34:19)
  78. He does not favor the rich over the poor (Job 34:19)
  79. Both the princes and the poor are the work of His hands (Job 34:19)
  80. His eyes are on the ways of mortals (Job 34:21)
  81. His eyes are on the ways of mortals; He sees their every step (Job 34:21)
  82. There is no deep shadow where evildoers can hide from Him (Job 34:22-23)
  83. There is no utter darkness where evildoers can hide from Him (Job 34:22-23)
  84. He has no need to examine people further, that they should come before Him for judgment (Job 34:23)
  85. Without inquiry He shatters the mighty (Job 34:24)
  86. Without inquiry He shatters the mighty and sets up others in their place (Job 34:24)
  87. He takes note of people's deeds (Job 34:25)
  88. Because He takes note of people's deeds, He overthrows them in the night (Job 34:25)
  89. Because He takes note of people's deeds, He overthrows them in the night and they are crushed (Job 34:25)
  90. He punishes people for their wickedness (Job 34:26)
  91. He punishes people for their wickedness where everyone can see them (Job 34:26)
  92. He punishes people for their wickedness where everyone can see them because they turned from following Him (Job 34:26-27)
  93. He punishes people for their wickedness where everyone can see them because they turned from following Him and had no regard for any of His ways (Job 34:26-27)
  94. He hears the cry of the needy (Job 34:28)
  95. If He remains silent, no one can condemn Him (Job 34:29)
  96. If He hides His face, no one can see Him (Job 34:29)
  97. He is over individual and nation alike (Job 34:29)
  98. He is over individual and nation alike to keep the godless from ruling (Job 34:29-30)
  99. He is over individual and nation alike to keep the godless from ruling, from laying snares for the people (Job 34:29-30)
  100. If people sin, that does not affect Him (Job 35:6)
  101. If people's sins are many, that does nothing to Him (Job 35:6)
  102. The righteous can give Him nothing (Job 35:7)
  103. He receives nothing from the hand of the righteous (Job 35:7)
  104. He gives songs in the night (Job 35:10)
  105. He teaches His people more than He teaches the beasts of the earth (Job 35:11)
  106. He makes His people wiser than the birds in the sky (Job 35:11)
  107. He does not answer when people cry out because of the arrogance of the wicked (Job 35:12)
  108. He does not listen to the empty plea of those who cry out (Job 35:11-12)
  109. He pays no attention to the empty plea of those who cry out (Job 35:11-12)


Counting 10,000 Reasons to worship Him: 

(Sylvia's already made it to - past - 10,000!  So amazing to think of who He is like this!)



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Counting in community:

It's blog month over here,

Blogging for Compassion,

Trying to get 3,160 children sponsored this month.

Honestly, the ability to make a difference,

The ability to develop a relationship with a child,

To teach,

To learn,

Is one of the greatest gifts God has given me.

Please consider joining us in releasing children from poverty

In Jesus' Name.



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