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

Check out my new webpage danakray.com and sign up for email updates on my upcoming books and blog posts.

Advertisements

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.

How Big is Your Brave

I was recently at a meeting with a lot of senior ministers, children’s ministers, youth ministers, and music ministers. My feelings of inadequacy began to rise. Thoughts invaded my head. I’m not smart enough. I don’t know the Bible as well as them. I’m not spiritual enough. Those thoughts and feelings make me sit quietly even when I feel the spirit prompting me to speak.

I left the first day of the two day meeting frustrated with myself. I’ve prayed about this feeling of inadequacy for years. As I drove home, I cried out to God, “When am I going to have a breakthrough. Am I always going to feel this way? When will I get over it? Why does this continue to haunt me? Will I always walk around with this not good enough feeling?”

I asked over and over again when my breakthrough was going to happen but heard no answer. I decided I needed some music so I flipped on the radio. The first words I heard were…Say what you wanna say and let the words fall out. Honestly, I wanna see you be brave. I just wanna see you, I just wanna see you, I just wanna see you be brave. (Brave by Sara Bareilles) I realize the song is talking about something totally different but it was as if the words were coming directly from God’s mouth. Everybody’s been there, everybody’s been stared down by the enemy, fallen for the fear and done some disappearing…bow down to the Mighty, don’t run…I just wanna see you be brave.

It doesn’t matter if we feel inadequate. The question is, do we trust God to equip us to do the job He has called us to do? When we’re weak, He is strong. Do it afraid. He just wants us to be brave. He wants to see it. Show Me how big your brave is.

Who Do You Listen To?

I am a football fan and I must admit it was pretty cool to watch my son play.  When he was nine, actually nine years ago, I wrote this:

The High School football coach was the umpire and the dad’s volunteered for the chain gang, which meant he moved the chains for the yardage, which gave him a front row, center seat to watch the game.

My son made some good yards and some good tackles.  He played the entire game on both offense and defense.  He and two other kids, the two coaches kids, were the only ones never rotated out.  They won, 12-0.  They scored a total of five touchdowns but because of penalties the other three didn’t count.

Later that night we were talking about the game.  My son had had a blast even though he said he was disappointed because he didn’t score.  He did some great fakes and blocks so his teammates could score.  I said to him, “Instead of running down the middle of the field, maybe you should run around the defenders and run down the sideline then you wouldn’t get tackled as much and could maybe score.”

My son said, “Mom, don’t do this.  The coach said I’m a big kid with power.  I’m supposed to run right through the defenders.”  He went on to say, “Like Priest Holmes on the Chiefs, he sometimes breaks through and makes the big plays but every yard counts and the coach says that five or six yards a play is just as important as a break away.”

Who was I to give advice?  I am just a mother and a fan.  My son knew he was supposed to listen to his coach.

Through my son’s simple statement God spoke wonders to my heart.

He said, “Dana, who do you listen to?  The fans or the Coach?  Yes, others may love you dearly but they are fallible.  Listen to Me.  Read My word.  Follow My instructions.”

Then He went on to say, “Some of us are destined for the break away plays but it’s the steady five or six yards we gain daily that will, in the end, win us the game.”

Keep the Air in Your Tires

I drove down the highway with my Christian Music blaring.  I was on my way to a Women’s conference and was basking in the fact that I was on my own for two days.  No husband, no kids, no responsibilities except for experiencing God.

I was following behind a semi tracker trailer when all of a sudden, one of the semi’s tires blew.  Rubber flew through the air.  I cautiously dodged the bits and pieces of tire as I slowed down, waiting for the driver of the semi to pull over.  To my surprise, he kept driving.

I contemplated my next move.  Should I hang back or try to pass.  I wasn’t sure how one flat tire among seventeen others would affect the way the semi drove.  I decided to pass.  As I drove by, I glanced at the flattened tire.  The rim glistened in the sunlight, the remaining rubber flapped furiously against the pavement but the other seventeen tires kept the semi moving somewhat smoothly on the road.

The semi followed behind me for the next twenty miles then I had to exit.  I watched him continue on down the road and was immediately reminded of my spiritual walk.

So many days, I start out with all eighteen tires full of air and rolling smoothly.  Then one tire blows.  It may be that I get busy.  Too busy to pray or too busy to study my Bible.  Too busy to worship God or too busy to memorize scripture.  Too busy to serve the needy or too busy to love the unlovely.  My other Christlike attributes may keep me rolling along, my flat tire almost unnoticeable to others but all the while, my spiritual life suffers.

When one tire is depleted you can continue down the road but it does throw the entire trailer off balance.  When one part of our spiritual life falls to the wayside, our entire life suffers.  Will you join me in striving to keep the air in all our tires?

Black Friday

After an amazing Thanksgiving Day with family I threw around the idea of whether or not to do any black Friday shopping. I had studied ads for a week and there was only one thing I really wanted at a major retail store. The sale started at 10 pm Thursday night. I’m not a stand in line kind of person so I laid on the couch trying to decide if I should go or not. Finally at 10:15 pm I thought I’d go. If I didn’t get the item it didn’t matter but it might be kind of fun to see all the people.

I took my daughter and we drove to the store. We found a parking space and as we walked through the parking lot we saw a lady struggling to get a 40 inch TV into her small car. I immediately wanted to help her so I asked her, assuring her that we weren’t there to steal her TV.

After getting the TV in her car, we went inside and of course, it was insanely crazy. Our mission was to keep a smile on our faces and to be nice to the clerks, to be courteous in everything we did. I didn’t get the item I wanted because the in stock was sold out but I did get a guarantee card that assured me they would ship the item, with the bonus 75.00 gift card, and it would arrive before Christmas. We stood in the long line to purchase the card.

When it was my turn at the register, the lady at the register next to ours had the same exact card and it shut down both registers. You can only imagine how the people behind us began to rant as we waited for managers. I kept a smile on my face and told the clerk it was fine, there was no rush even though the hundred people behind us thought there was.

We finally made our purchase and left. I told my daughters it was neat to be nice to others and show Jesus in a very hectic situation. We got home and I had to register my purchase online so they would ship it to the store. Don’t you know the website was down. In the morning when I could get online, I logged in only for it to tell me that I didn’t have enough money on the card to complete the purchase.

The clerk, in the rush of things, had given me the $75 off and said I could forgo the gift card. It didn’t work that way. I was told by customer service that I had to go back into the super store, load the $75.00 back on it then go back home and register it on line, which would then give me the $75.00 back.

I prayed quite a bit before I went back to the super store because it was irritating that I stood in line the night before and the clerk did it wrong which made me have to drive back to the store to fix it. My gas, my time. When I felt prepared, I went.

Thankfully, there was not a big crowd at customer service. I was happy, smiling, nice. I explained that the clerk was busy last night, it was no big deal. I got money loaded back on the card and headed home. I did great at the store. I was proud. I patted myself on the back. As soon as you do something right and feel good about it, Satan throws you a curve.

I stopped at our local fast food drive-thru for a diet Coke for myself, and 2 drinks for my kids. I ordered. I paid and pulled to the window to get my drinks. They asked me to pull ahead and wait.

Now I’m all for fast service but to pull ahead for three drinks when the drink dispenser is right there is ridiculous. The longer I waited the more irritated I got. By the time the lady came out to hand me my three drinks I couldn’t even look at her. When she said have a nice day I ignored her. I knew whatever was going to come out of my mouth was not going to be nice.

As I tried to cool down I knew the Holy Spirit was convicting me of my attitude. I asked myself this question; Why was I so prepared to be nice at the craziness of the super store yet totally lost it at the drive-thru?

I thought about the other disciples at the Transfiguration. Jesus had taken Peter, John and James up the mountain and left the others below. They were brought the demon possessed boy but couldn’t drive the demon out.

After Jesus came down and drove the demon out the other disciples asked why they couldn’t do it? Jesus mentions in Matthew it was lack of faith, Mark recorded that they needed to pray more and John doesn’t mention the question but proceeds to tell us the disciples began to argue about who would be the greatest. Lack of faith, need of prayer, who is the greatest? Jesus was not the center. He wasn’t even in their site.

When I walked into that store I was focused on Christ, ready for the battle, showing Him to others. When I walked out, I was proud. I started to pat myself on the back thinking that I did so well and as those thoughts ran through my head, my eyes went off Jesus and were on me which made the drive-thru a disaster.

We have to make sure to always keep Jesus first no matter what situation we are in or where we are. Whether it’s something as big as a crowded Black Friday sale or something as small as getting a diet Coke at a drive-thru. Show Jesus to everyone.

Refuse To Do Nothing!

I’m at the WC12 and have much to write but I found this last night in my computer from a women’s conference a few years ago…enjoy!

I love to spend time by myself. I get my laptop out and write, getting lost in my own thoughts.  So when my mother had to leave the conference early Saturday morning, I was sad but knew I’d enjoy the time between Saturday’s session, typing away.

The morning session ended. The crowd disperses and in our row sits me and one other woman sitting two seats away. I get my laptop out and as it boots up I am getting more and more excited to write. I click on the icon to open my writing program and the woman starts talking to me. I take a deep breath, I smile, I’m polite, but deep down I’m annoyed. This is my time, God! She eventually stopped talking. I turned my head and buried it in my own little world typing away.

Worship was amazing. Joyce Meyer came out to preach. She was awesome, as always but then she hung a “do not disturb” sign around her neck. It was as though the room cleared out and she was talking directly to me. God giving me a good slap on my hand and boy did it sting. I had clearly hung that sign around my neck during the break. I wonder, now, what God had planned?  A chance for me to minister to someone? A chance to make a friend. A chance to share Christ?

It really hit home. Like Joyce said, it’s not always about me. In this case, I believe it was about this other woman and I was too busy being “not disturbed”.  I was unable to apologize to this woman because it’s hard to find one gal in the midst of 11,000 women but I will never forget God’s voice through Joyce’s preaching. She hit it home.

“I WILL take up compassion and surrender my excuses. I WILL stand against injustice and commit to live out simple acts of God’s love. I WILL refuse to do nothing. This is my resolve. I AM THE LOVE REVOLUTION.”.