We’ve Been Robbed

 

We’ve been studying the Armor of God in Bible study and have learned that the key to the armor is in Ephesians 6:18-19. Once you put it on you must… with prayer and petition pray at all times…be on the alert will all perseverance…and pray…
Put it on and pray it up. Those are the words from my wise Bible study leader, mentor, accountability partner and dearest friend. It’s been my motto for months.
Since starting the Bible study about the Armor of God, I feel like I’ve been under more intense spiritual attacks.
This past Saturday, April 1, was no different. It was going to be a busy day filled with lots of non-stop things to do, so being woke up at 7:00 am to the words “we’ve been robbed” was shocking. Unfortunately it was not an April’s Fool joke.
I followed my husband outside. All three cars had their doors opened and trunks popped. Inside, the glove boxes were emptied along with the console. The cars were ransacked and things were missing, but nothing was as bad as the empty spot in the driveway where my husband’s Toyota Four Runner used to sit. Yep, they stole his car and all it’s contents.
4Runner
Talk about one crazy morning. Waiting for the police, hearing our stuff would probably not ever be found, volunteering at the High School, my sons last drumline competition, trying to get my hubby a rental car…it just seemed too much.
When I get overwhelmed, I laugh because it’s better than crying. So I’m laughing, making jokes, trying to see the bright side.  It could’ve been so much worse. The robbers could’ve used the garage door openers inside the cars to walk into the house and take so much more.
I try to be a cheerful person, smile and keep upbeat. Saturday was no different. But within a day or two, the stress does catch up with me. When it does, I usually get hit hard.
Sunday and Monday were overwhelming. If something could go wrong, it did. I found myself throwing off my armor and running to hide. Then I pulled myself up, put each piece back on, prayed it up and continued on the fight.
Today, I am pondering why I took it off in the first place?
I heard God whisper, “Because you thought it’d be easier to hide.”
He was right, as always. I did think it’d be easier to throw a cover over my head and ignore everything, that was going on, but it wasn’t. Hiding drew me into a dark place, consumed by my problems instead of shining His light and watching Him work through all circumstances.
I am still a bit overwhelmed, but there’s no way to get around the hard things that will come up in our lives. To get through it, we have to remember to always put it on and pray it up.
On another bright side, they didn’t take very much out of my car. I’m so thankful because I have a book signing Saturday in Webb City. My car was already packed. They took my box of table decorations and business cards but left my canopy, table, table cloths and books.
So if you come see me in Webb City, MO on Saturday, I have a book to sign for you!
When you feel you can’t move forward, remember to put it on and pray it up! God will always geet you through!
Dana
A Second Chance by Dana K. Ray. If you can’t make it Saturday, you can buy a copy at https://danakray.com or https://amzn.com/1632132605

Can You Help a Sister Out

When leaving the hospital in St. Louis, I approached the parking validation machine so I could pay for parking. The machines are inside the hospital but outside the skywalk that leads to the parking garage elevators. A public safety officer sat next to them.

I squinted at the machine in an attempt to read the instructions without my glasses. The officer saw my struggle and was very helpful, pointing out where the ticket went then where to place my money. We may small talk about why I was visiting St. Louis.

He sat back down next the glass doors to the skywalk and the elevators to the parking garage. I turned the wrong way and went onto another skywalk and before I knew it, I was at the entrance of the medical university. I sighed, turned around and headed back to where the validation machines were.

As I rounded the corner from the wrong direction, the safety officer looked at me oddly.

I pointed up to the parking garage sign. “Is this the way to the garage?”

“Yes,” He tilted his head. “But weren’t you just here?”

“I went the wrong way.” I playfully smacked his arm and laughed. “Way to help a sister out. I was over at the medical hospital before I figured it out.”

“Sorry,” he snickered. “I didn’t even pay attention.”

As I rode the elevator up to the level where my car was parked, I wondered how many times we don’t pay attention to what’s really important—people. We may hear them, but do we listen? We look, but do we see them? Do we sit back and watch them go the wrong way never saying a word?

Let’s take the time to see and listen to the people God puts in front of us. When the Spirit prompts us to open our mouths, let’s speak. It could be something as simple as offering directions, saying a kind word or sharing the Gospel. No matter what you do or say, you may just be helping a sister, or brother, out.

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Hebrews 13:16 (ESV)

Blessings, Dana

danakray.com

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Flat Tire

The other day I approached an intersection and heard a loud flapping sound. I pulled up next to a six-wheeled pickup truck that had a tire cage in the bed and was hauling new tires. I looked over at the truck and noticed one of his inside tires was blown and the rubber was pounding against the pavement.

We continued down the road. I found it amusing that this truck had a blown tire and he’s hauling around a hundred tires in the back of his truck. He had everything he needed to fix the flat, but never stopped to use it. He drove on because he could. He still had five good tires, but no doubt the ride wasn’t as smooth, enjoyable or efficient.

Often times, we walk around this earth hurt, unfulfilled, attacked or spiritually drained. God has given us everything we need only we never tap into it. We continue on because we can, only we aren’t happy or content.

Do you have a tire blown and you just keep driving using the other five wheels. This leads to a mediocre life. Pull over. Change it. Look up and use the tools God has given us. His Word. Pray. Believe. Trust in Him. He came so we may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance. John 10:10

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God Speaks Through a Diet Coke

I was preparing for an important task and I needed help. Help is one of the hardest things for me to ask for, but I have learned to yield to God in this. I swallowed my pride and asked Tammy (name changed) to help me. Of course she willingly said yes, even seemed excited. The day before the task, I got the dreaded text. Tammy had to back out. In the Spirit I understood and was very pleasant. In the flesh I irritated.  

I’m whining to God about Tammy and having to do the task alone as I stopped for my morning coffee. It was already ninety degrees so I swayed from the hot coffee and decided to grab a diet Coke instead. Very rarely do I buy a screw top diet Coke. I prefer the fountain drink but today, for some odd reason (God) I grabbed the screw top bottle and took it to the checkout.

The checkout person held the bottle up and in an almost too cheerful way, said, “Look, you get to share a coke with Tammy.”

I said, “What?”

He held the diet Coke up, spun the bottle around and there was Tammy’s name printed on the label. “This is Coke’s ‘Share a Coke’ campaign. They put names on the bottles of a person and you’re supposed to find someone with that name and buy them a Coke, or you could bless them in some other way, I guess. Your call.”

I walked to my car and once inside, held the bottle up and looked at the name in big black letters. Tammy. I laughed with God for a long moment. God, through a diet Coke, had to remind me that sometimes I don’t have the right heart or attitude. I might have done the right thing outwardly, I understood and was nice, but my heart wasn’t right.

I’ve heard preachers say that even when you don’t want to do the right thing do it anyway, your heart will catch up. I’m once step closer to my heart catching up. Next time, it won’t be a forced ‘do the right thing,’ but it will just come naturally in the Spirit.

My Prayer Closet

I wrote this when my kids were small…

“Jesus] went up on mountainside and sat down.  Turning to his disciples, he began to teach them… “go into your room, close the door and pray.”

Matthew 5:1, 6:6  NIV

A prayer closet. A concept my preacher taught me years ago. A place to have a quiet time. A time set aside for just you and the Lord. I’ve heard of people using their dining room tables, gardens, in-home offices or bedrooms. Before I had kids, I faithfully went outside on our deck and prayed. If you would’ve asked me then, I never imagined my prayer closet would change from looking at the beautiful sunrises to the tile on the bathroom wall but after four kids I’ve learned that we can approach God anytime…anywhere… 

My children, like most, seem to need every second of my attention. I’ve found the only time I’m able to get away is when I use the restroom. One particular day I woke up to the screams of my kids. The fighting had already begun. Dread consumed me. I knew it was going to be bad. Sure enough, by mid-morning, I was frazzled. I did the only thing I knew to do. I retreated into the bathroom and balanced on the ledge of the bathtub. I dropped my head, clasped my hands together and prayed.

For months I had been praying to find a place to spend time alone with God. I missed my prayer closet. Almost instantly my brain started turning. I looked up at God and smiled. It was so obvious. Since the only time I have for myself is in the bathroom, why not take advantage it? That was the moment my bathroom turned into my prayer closet.

I started by taking a few extra minutes, then quickly grew longer. Luckily it only takes me about thirty minutes to get ready in the morning. Extending this to an hour was not a problem. The kids just thought Mommy needed more time to become beautiful.  Which, in reality, she did.

I stashed a Bible in the vanity drawer. I converted the edge of the bathtub into a kneeling bench. The bath mat as my kneeling pad. I’ve often thought if only I only had a mini-fridge and a coffee pot…

It is a very important fact that Christ went out alone and prayed. If Jesus, the Son of God had to do this, how much more important is it for us to do the same? Our concern should not be where the closet is, but that you have one and you use it, daily.  Praying is communicating with God. It is how we build a relationship with Jesus Christ.  There are no concrete ways to pray, but we have the unwavering words of Psalm 34:15, (NIV) that says; The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayers.

One summer afternoon I was in my closet. I knelt before the bathtub. My knees fixed comfortably on the bathmat, my arms resting on the side of the tub, and my hands facing upward as I delightfully prayed to our Father. I heard a faint tap and a soft voice come through the door. It was my seven-year-old son.  “Mommy? What are you doing?”

“What do you think, honey? I’ll be out in a minute.” I continued on with my prayer, knowing that God understands these little interruptions. I’m not sure how long it was after that but I finally emerged from the bathroom refreshed, revived and ready to tackle the rest of the day. I was startled to see my son sitting cross-legged on the floor in the hallway.

He looked up, his large hazel eyes narrowed. “What were you doing in there?”

I thought for a moment. “Going to the bathroom.” It seemed the easiest answer and it wasn’t a lie. I did go to the bathroom, only I had taken an extra fifteen minutes to pray.

“No, you weren’t,” my son firmly stated. “I looked under the door and saw your toes.”

I chuckled. He had to have stuck his face to the carpet and laid prostrate to see what I was doing. I knelt down, gently laid my hand on his back and smiled. “I was praying.”

“Oh.” He smiled then ran off.

I laughed, wondering what must’ve been going on in his little head when all he could see were my knees and toes pressing into the bathmat. Then I saw a vision. I pictured my son, years later using my unconventional prayer closet as an illustration.  He explained that with four children his mother had desperately sought a place to pray and finally found one. He pointed out how she had unknowingly taught him the importance of finding a certain place to pray. Prior to that day, he had always assumed she just had trouble going potty.

Clip and Zip

I had the chance to go to camp this weekend with some kids and the thrill of the weekend is zip lining. All the kids were harnessed up, ready to go. One was very apprehensive. He was scared. I could relate. I’m petrified of heights but I have zipped a few times. Once you get over the fear, it’s really fun.

This frightened little man walked all the way up to the tower, climbed the stairs, looked down and said, “No way.” He climbed back down and walked back to the base. Looking up at me with his sad eyes, tears flowing, he said, “It’s just too scary. I couldn’t jump off.”

I agreed with him. “I know it’s really, really scary but after you take that first step it’s really, really fun.”  He wasn’t buying it. I started for the tower.

When I got up to the tower my heart pounded. I climbed the stairs and the arguments in my mind start. Will the harness hold me? Will the line snap? Will I fall? It’ll be fun. I’ll be fine. I could die.

The mini war was interrupted by the guy on the second landing. He asked me to climb up those last five stairs to clip onto the line. I will admit, that is the worse part. You’re on this little platform. You have nothing to hold on to and it’s a straight shot to the ground.  I was scared enough and I didn’t need to stand up there waiting my turn, thinking about what I was about to do. It would scare me too much. I told him I’d rather wait until the lines were clear. I prefer to walk up those last stairs, clip on the line and zip.

I clipped. I zipped. It was a blast. The kids all cheered and adults snapped pictures.

Zip lining is like a ride with Jesus. You harness up, trusting the guy who put it on. You clip onto the line, trusting it will hold you. The hardest part is stepping off the platform. If you look down and around, you may just chicken out but when you trust, the ride is a blast!

I thought of Peter stepping out of the boat. He stood on the edge of the boat, looking around, the wind blowing, wondering, Can I walk on water? Will I sink? Will Jesus help me? Jesus told him to, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

Peter heard Jesus, suppressed those fears, and stepped out. Can you imagine the ride? Walking on the water with the wind blowing around you. How cool would that be? Yes, he looked around, he was afraid. He took his eyes off Jesus and started to sink but Jesus saved him. And for a moment he walked, however brief, and it had to be amazing.

When Jesus calls us to do something, the hardest part is taking that step off the platform. Trusting that God has it all under control and the line will hold. Once you let go, lean back in the harness, and enjoy the ride because it is amazing. “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more that all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” (Eph. 3:20)

Don’t waste any more time standing on the platform looking down.  Clip, zip and enjoy the ride.

Takes a Two-by-Four

Last Saturday the ladies were having a wellness day at the church.  I’m ashamed to say, exercise and a healthy lunch was not top priority on my to do list.  I waffled all week on whether or not to go.  I wanted to support the ladies and I love to fellowship, but I will admit, exercise in a group doesn’t appeal to me. I’d much rather slip down to the basement in my house, sit on my stationary bike in front of the TV, and ride away.

From the blog last week, you can tell that has not been happening lately.  Last Saturday I wrote my blog, sitting in my sweats, trying to decide to go or not.  My flesh said stay at home.  Do you really want to exercise? It’s your day off, relax. You can ride your bike later, all the while I’m writing about a child telling me my stomach is fat and I might have a baby in it.

After a few minutes of arguing in my head, it hit me and I began to laugh. The Spirit was telling me to get off my behind, go exercise and eat a good meal.  Something needed to kick start my routine to lose weight and get healthy.  It was placed right in front of me, only my flesh was trying very hard to resist.  God was giving me the perfect opportunity to fix what I was writing about.

I posted my blog, went to the church and exercised with the ladies. It was hard work but great fun.  I was sore for days, using muscles I don’t use on my bike.

It’s always amazes me how quickly we can squash the Spirit when we don’t want to hear what He’s telling us to do.  Let’s make a point to listen to the Spirit and when He shows a something so clearly, don’t ignore Him, just do it.