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
If you’re looking for a Christmas gift or a good book to read, pic up A Second Chance!! danakray.com or Amazon

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

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.

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!

A Dear Friend

One of my dearest friends went to be the Lord yesterday. With a heavy heart, I got onto my exercise bike this morning. It sits in the basement and faces French doors that are at the end of a hallway. The morning sun had begun to rise. It was the same time I ride almost every morning. I listened to worship music and prayed.

I lifted up prayers for the family and myself. We all know that she is basking at Jesus’ feet but the selfish side that misses her wishes she was here on this earth. I acknowledged that God is good, all the time. I asked that the family would feel His arms around them, assuring them how much He loves them. I asked Him to do the same for me and to show Himself to me, reminding me of Who He is and how much He loves me.

At that moment of prayer, the song Victor’s Crown began to play through my headphones. You are always fighting for us, Heaven’s angels all around, my delight is found knowing that you wear the Victor’s crown.

After those words played, the brightest sunshine shone through the door, came down the hallway, and almost blinded me. Never has that happened and I ride my bike the same time every morning. I smiled. It was Jesus wrapping His arms around me, assuring me He’s here. He’s in control. He knows we’re hurting and He loves us very much.

Nothing can take the place of this friend. I cannot even begin to explain how much she taught me and others about the Lord, and how much she will be missed by family and friends. Knowing she’s with Jesus makes it a little easier to endure the fresh pain.

If you are ever in need of God to show Himself, ask Him. He will. He is faithful. As Darlene Zschech so beautifully put it in the next phrase of the song, {God} You’re my help and my defender, You’re my Savior and my friend, by Your grace I live and breathe to worship You…

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 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.