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
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My Promised Land

“And after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.” Hebrews 6:15 (NIV)

Have you ever prayed for something for so long that you have to continually remind yourself that God’s timing is perfect? And even though we know His timing is perfect, the wait can be excruciating!

I’ve always wanted to be a writer. God put the desire in my heart at a very early age. Stories have played like movies in my head since as far back as I can remember.

I won my first poetry contest in fifth grade. A simple poem I wrote in 1976, the theme: The Bicentennial.

One of our famous presidents was Lincoln,

He did us lots of good thinkin’

All though he was tall,

He was loved by all and

He kept the southern states from leavin’!

Wow, and I won first place. Amazing, huh? My prize…a book about boys track. Yes, the ultimate punishment, they thought Dana was a boy. Ugh. Not the first time someone thought I was a boy, but I graciously accepted my book, taped my poem in it and have cherished it since. Occasionally I pull it from the shelf, look at it and giggle. It is a reminder of God working in my life even before I knew Him as savior and friend.

I began the year 2015 with these words, “Okay God, it’s been twenty some years since I started putting our stories down on paper and this is the year. It’s time to start trying to get them out to the publishing world. By the end of 2015, I will be entering my Promised Land. And if I don’t have a publishing contract, I will self-publish.”

Reminded of my promise to God daily, and with the help of my critique partner’s encouragement, I subbed one of my books to two publishers in September. Nothing like waiting until the last minute. But God is good and before I knew it, I had both interested and one offered a contract. I’m excited to say that I signed that contract on December 4, 2015 with a release date set for next year. Whew. Twenty plus days to spare.

A Second Chance is due out May 24, 2016.

As I sit here and write this I believe our God to be big and I believe Him to fulfill our dreams. I am a walking example of His answer to prayer. I pray you will dream big dreams and believe our God to be as huge as He really is. Thank you, Jesus, for continued answer to prayer!

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.

Pray with Intensity!

I went to Silver Dollar City. I am deathly afraid of heights but my daughter talked me into riding the Giant Swing.

We get on the ride with three other people; a dad and two girls around the age of 7.  The ride starts and I’m thinking this will be okay until we swing back for the first time. I close my eyes tightly, my knuckles are white and I begin praying, hard, because I am terrified for my life.

“Jesus,” I say, “Just make it end.  Oh, Lord, help me! God, make it stop. I don’t want to die…”

My daughter, instead of enjoying the ride, is trying her best to console me. “It’s okay, mommy,” she says, patting my arm. “It’s almost over. That was the biggest swing. It’s getting lower. It’ll be okay.”

“Oh, Jesus,” I say with more intensity. “Help me, you have to stop this thing…”

From start to finish, the ride lasts one minute. The longest minute of my life.  When the seat belt unbuckles, I shout, “Thank you Jesus. Oh, thank you Jesus.”  The people watching are getting a good laugh. My daughter is still trying to console me and the two seven-year-olds are asking their dad to ride it again.

As I staggered away I tried to catch my breath, slow down my heart rate, and get the feelings back in my hands, I heard God say, “Oh, Dana. If only you’d pray with one-tenth of that intensity we could move mountains.”

When was the last time you prayed with that kind of intensity? When you felt your life was on the line? Maybe it was the death of a loved one or a bad diagnosis? What if we could pray with that kind of intensity all the time? We could, and would, move mountains.

God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare Pray hard and long.   Ephesians 6:17-18 (The Message)

Precious Prayers

We had an exciting evening at church tonight.  This semester, I am teaching early childhood.  I miss my older 1st – 5th grade kids but I know the importance of them learning from other teachers then just me.  Despite missing them, I love the little ones and sure do have fun with them.

One of the things I’ve always done with little ones, even back when I taught preschool, is I want to teach them to pray.  It’s very easy and fun.  Right before snack, when they are all sitting down, we pray for our food.  I like to get on my knees, I think it’s important to be on their level and for them to see this prayer posture in an adult.  I go around to each child and ask them if they’d like to pray.

There is nothing more precious then their prayers.  Some pray serious prayers for their parents and their pets, some tell family secrets, and some just make you want to laugh.

One boy likes to pray in his head so we get to him he says, “I want to pray in my head.”  I remind him to say amen when he’s done.  We all bow our heads and sit quietly, well, as quiet as fourteen preschoolers can and then he shouts, “Amen.”

I had two new kids at the start of January. When it came to their turn to pray the first night, they said they didn’t want to pray. I assured them that it was okay, not every wants to.

I was talking to their mother after church and I was telling her how we pray in class and how much I love to hear the kids pray.

She said, “My kids didn’t they?”

I said, “No, but that’s okay, not all kids want to.”

She said, “We come from a church background where that’s just not normally done.”

Again, I told her it was okay, I just like to give them the chance if they want.  We chatted some more then went on our way.

Tonight, three weeks and three classes later, I asked the two if they wanted to pray.  Brother said he would if sister did first.  I looked at the sister and she nodded and started praying.  I grinned deeply as she prayed then he prayed, thanking God for the little things like hearing a preschooler’s precious prayers.

Always Take Your Purse

A few years back, one very chilly, drizzly day in March, I went in for my annual mammogram.  I changed into the thin cotton gown with two snaps in front.  I locked up all my stuff in the locker and took the key to the padlock into the waiting room.  Soon, I was taken back into the procedure room.  As I’m waiting, the fire alarm goes off.

My first thought is run to the locker to get my stuff, most importantly, my shirt and coat, so you can only imagine my shock when a nurse came in and said we couldn’t go to the lockers.  There might be a fire.  We had to get out of the building.

There we were.  A group of woman with only a thin cotton smock on as an entire building is emptying.  Sirens got louder as men in suits surrounded us.  I wanted to crawl in a hole as I stood, shivering.  I began to think how stupid it was to have locked everything up.  No purse.  No keys to drive home.  No phone to call someone to come get me.  No coat.  No shirt.

I figured we’d either freeze or die of embarrassment as the firemen searched the building but eventually we were allowed back inside.  It was a false alarm.

I was thinking about that yesterday as I went to my annual mammogram and the nurse told me to lock everything up.  I shook my head.  It doesn’t matter what anyone tells me, I always take my purse.

I began to think about how many times we lock Christ up in a locker and never expect a fire alarm to go off.  We walk out of the house unprepared.  We haven’t prayed, we haven’t studied or even thought about Jesus but we walk out anyway thinking we’re ready to tackle the day.  Only problem is, Satan is waiting to set that alarm off and then we end up trying to fight his attacks with nothing because we have nothing.  We’ve locked it in a locker.

In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use.  Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.  2 Timothy 2:20-22  (NIV)

Let’s be instruments for special purposes.  Let’s be prepared.  Let’s always take our purse!

Ask God for Anything!

Are you afraid to ask God for anything?  I wrote this back in 2004 and love the reminder of God answering prayer!!!  Enjoy!!

Many times I refrain from asking God for certain things so I am not disappointed if the answer is no.

Beth Moore says, “Those who truly know Him never stop inviting Him to reveal His awesome presence….I am convinced that faith sometimes means knowing God can, whether or not He does.  Sometimes when I am offering up my pitiful petitions, my heart becomes convicted as if God is saying, “Come on!  Challenge me today!”

Our bible study challenged God today and can I just tell you, nothing is impossible for God, whether it is a huge request like curing an illness to something smaller like providing a babysitter.

God answered our challenge, our prayer right in front of my eyes just ten minutes later.  It was SO COOL.!!

At BSF, Bible Study Fellowship, each class has a fellowship lunch every month so we can get to know each other better and share what Christ has been doing in our lives.

I’ve never been able to go because children are not allowed.  Our class is mostly parents with young kids so needless to say the fellowship luncheons are lacking women.

In class our teacher put in a prayer request.  We asked God to provide childcare to those in the class who needed it.  Our discussion leader reminded us that no task is too small for our Lord.

Five minutes later I sat in the sanctuary waiting for the lecture to begin when two women from Glendale Christian Church sat down next to me.

One of the gals leaned into me and said, “I didn’t know you were coming to BSF?”

“Since October,” I said, “I’ve never seen you here either.”

She asked, “When is your next Bible Fellowship lunch?”  That question almost floored me because it was the first glimpse of God at work.

“In a couple of weeks, when is yours?”

“Ours is next week.”

Her next question knocked me off my seat.  My human nature wanted to say she said it out of the blue but I know it was a woman whose heart was tendered to the prompting of our Lord and then followed through and obeyed.  It was God answering our prayer.

She asked, “Do you want me to watch Collins so you can go?”

I was giddy, “Yes, oh yes, I’d love for you to do that.”

Never stop challenging our Lord to show Himself.  Whether you are asking for something huge or something small He is there, waiting to answer you!

Pray right now for God to show Himself to you today!  He so wants to.  Then look for Him, He is there!