Let’s Skip Thanksgiving and Go Straight to Christmas

I was blessed today to share at MOPS today. Although starting out shaky (I get SO nervous) I had a lot of fun. I was able to read this to them. I hope it encourages you to dream big but wait on God’s timing!!  Enjoy!!!!
I love to pray with my five year old daughter Lydia. She prays like she talks; very precise, questioning and has no problem telling God exactly how she feels. She is so precious.
Last night she begins her prayers. She prays for her family, the dogs, the man on the motorcycle we saw on the way to Walmart, my horses I had as a child, then, she begins to pray for Christmas. No, nothing religious I could be proud of, but she prays a strange little prayer. She prays, “God, make Christmas come faster. Skip Thanksgiving and all the rest, just bring Christmas.”
I remembered that morning she had asked me how many days until Christmas. I’m curious, so after the prayer, I ask. “Why do you want Christmas to come so fast?”
“I want to see grandma and grandpa and get presents.”
I tucked her blond hair behind her ears. “If Christmas comes first, you’ll miss out on Thanksgiving. You get to see grandma and grandpa then and they always bring you a present.”
“I don’t care.”
“But you’ll miss your Thanksgiving and Christmas parties at school.”
“I don’t care.”
“You’ll miss out on so much if God moved up Christmas. You’d miss Thanksgiving break, birthday parties, all the stuff you learn at school.”
“I don’t care.”
I nodded. It’s usually useless to argue with a five-year-old.
As I walked from her room, I realized I just had the same conversation with my daughter that I often have with God.
Many times in prayer, we ask God to hurry up with an answer. We may be impatient or plainly hurting but the request is the same: answer us, now. We don’t even realize the blessings we might be missing out on if He did.
My daily prayer calendar said one day last week that “patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while we are waiting.”
As I look back over the years, I have a few, personal, long standing prayers. One of them is writing.
I’ve wanted to give up, but every day had a purpose. I don’t always see it or understand it, but like I told my daughter about Christmas, if it comes too fast, we miss out on the blessings in between.
Our prayers may be simple enough that God shows Himself immediately or they may take years for Him to bring it to pass, but wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD. Psalm 27:14
Pray on warriors!
Dana
Don’t forget to check out my webpage at www.danakray.com
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Dana

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

https://www.facebook.com/danakray/

@dklarsonray

danaklarsonray@gmail.com

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.

How Long Will You Wait?

I was in a brand new hospital. After visiting a friend I left the room, found my way back to the elevator, and pushed the button. I was pretty proud of myself. I didn’t get lost. I noticed that the little light didn’t come on under the arrow down button on the elevator. I shrugged it off. It’s a new building. It has some kinks to work out. I’m sure the elevator is on it’s way. I pushed the button another couple of times just to make sure. No light but no worries. I’m sure it’ll be here. I got my phone out, checked twitter and facebook then looked up at the elevator. Hmm, strange, it should’ve been here by now. It’s a small hospital and I’m only on the fourth floor.

I pushed the button, again. No light. I pushed it harder. No light. I pushed it over and over. Still no light. I’m trying not to make a scene but I continually pushed the button. A nurse walked by, smiled and went on her way. I gave it one last push and figure, lights burnt out, surely it’s on it’s way.

I watched a couple of Vine videos then double checked the sign. It said elevator. Maybe I should tell someone. I push it again. I look at the time and sighed. I’d been standing and waiting for a while. I gave it another couple of pushes then gave up. I’m finding the stairs. It’s only four flights. I can walk.

I walked back into the hallway and looked for a stairs sign. There in the corner, hanging from another wall was a sign that said elevator. I turned the corner, pushed the arrow down button. The light lit up and within seconds the elevator door opened. I walked in and began laughing at myself. I later found out the other elevator wass for employees only. If I’d looked closer, there was a black box on the wall that allowed employees to swipe their cards which turned the elevator on.

As I got in my car I wondered why I stood in front of that elevator for so long. Why didn’t I move when it was obvious it wasn’t working? I thought of the Israelites standing at the Red Sea. Yes, God sometimes tells us to be still but sometimes, He tells us to move! The Israelites were backed up against the sea. Moses told them to stand firm and see the deliverance of the Lord. God said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.”

There are times we feel like we can’t do anything but wait. We continually push the button thinking surely the light will come on. We think we are being still, waiting for God, but in reality, we’re overcome with fear or exhaustion all the while God is telling us to move so that we can receive His deliverance.

If you hear Him tell you to move discard the distractions, the fear, the embarrassment, whatever is holding you back and move. Your deliverance, like the elevator, could be just around the corner.

Better Blessings!

As I reflect on Easter weekend, I am amazed at the “better blessings” I’ve had. On Friday, we had a Great Day of Service and a Good Friday Night Church service. On Saturday we had our Easter Egg Hunt, with over 400, probably closer to 500 people. Every spare moment Saturday and Sunday, I spent helping my daughter and writing out high school graduation invitations for my oldest son.

Today’s Easter service was amazing, then our family went to lunch. From Friday to Sunday life was non-stop.  It was so crazy, that last night by ten, I was so groggy that I barely remember getting my daughter into her bed. I sat down to wait for that last load of laundry to get done but fell asleep on the couch only to wake up around six this morning.

I had plenty of time to get ready for church. As I prayed about my lessons, I asked God to give me something to teach about the resurrection that was new and refreshing.  For myself to learn something new and refreshing about the resurrection.

I taught out of the Gospel of John and began to really focus on the disciples.  They witnessed the most horrifying thing in the world.  They watched the Lord not just go on trial but He was convicted even though He was innocent.  They saw Jesus beaten beyond recognition, whipped, spit on, insults hurled, a crown of thorns, carrying his own cross, nailed to the cross, then left, hanging, to die. If that wasn’t enough, the soldiers cast lots for his garments and a thief hurled insults at him.

His body taken down and buried. That was Friday. What happened next in the disciple’s lives, I can only imagine from my own experiences of losing loved ones to death, then multiplying it by a million.

The grief. The shock. The disbelief about what happened. They were scared for their own lives. They sat locked in a room. I’m not sure how much they even ate. Their weekend must have been the longest in their lives. They’d given up everything for Jesus. Everything. Now he was gone. Dead. Buried. I can hardly imagine it.  Every thought they had was of Jesus dying. It replayed in their heads. What do they do now? Where do they go next? It’s no wonder Thomas wasn’t around.

My weekend was filled with amazing, Godly things we did, but I couldn’t help but think about how different theirs was so many years ago. Mine was fun, exciting, and meaningful. They were scared, grieving, and exhausted.

But how exciting it must have been for them that Easter Sunday when they saw Jesus alive!  We can enjoy Good Friday because we know the outcome.  We believe. We know. He’s alive! They grieved in a way we can’t even comprehend, but oh, how they must’ve rejoiced when they saw Jesus appear in that room. How they must’ve rejoiced when He breathed on them and they received the Holy Spirit.

As I taught this today I told the kids something really cool happened a week later. Yes, Thomas doubted and wanted to see Jesus for himself. Jesus appeared to the disciples again, showing Himself to Thomas and then he mentioned each one of them in my class. He mentioned me. He mentioned you. “Jesus said, “So, you [Thomas] believe because you’ve seen with your own eyes. Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing. “ John 20:29 The Message

Did you catch that? Even better blessings are in store! What a better blessing this weekend has been! I pray yours was filled with better blessings, also!

Open Mouth, Insert Foot

I will admit to needing to lose a few pounds, twenty would put me where I want to be and make me feel better but I never thought God would use my weight and a precious preschooler to teach me about the tongue.

I was teaching the preschoolers and I had one of the four-year-old girls came up to me and gave me a big hug.  As I basked in the hug, she patted my stomach, looked up at me with her gorgeous eyes and said, “You have a big tummy.”

I looked down at her, “I know have a big tummy but I’m exercising and trying to make it smaller.”

She must’ve sensed that maybe it wasn’t the best things she could’ve said because she looked up at me with a sadness on her face.  All of a sudden, her face lit up and she smiled from ear to ear.  She said, “Maybe you have a baby in there!” with an excitement that was almost contagious.  Almost.

Everybody loves a baby, right? Maybe not when you don’t have one, you’re a tad overweight and almost fifty.  I did a little worse about my “fat tummy” but I knew she was just trying to make it better. I laughed and told her, “Nope, no baby.”

I got to thinking about how many times we say something, sometimes without even thinking, and it comes across wrong. Then instead of really thinking about it, we say something else to make it better but in actual, we make it worse.

God reminds us to watch our tongue and to guard our mouths to keep us from calamity (Prov. 21:23) but He also tells us in Ps. 37:30 that The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom, and their tongues speak what is just.

She spoke to me in wisdom. In all honesty, my tummy is fat, yet she spoke it in such love that I could still laugh about it and take it to heart and do something to change. Let’s always watch what we say and when we do speak, make sure we speak in love.