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
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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

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.

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?

The Day After

I woke up this morning with the song Your Love Never Fails by Jesus Culture going through my head even though my heart was very heavy. The heaviness wasn’t so much because of who won or lost the election but because there is still so much hatred and un-unification in our country. I purposefully didn’t turn on the TV this morning because I didn’t want to be inundated with all the talk of the elections. As a mother, I strived very hard to teach my children to be gracious winners and graceful losers.  I just couldn’t see the TV commentators doing either.

I did, however, check out Facebook and was horrified with some of the posts. The most shocking against our military. Someone posted that their husband and about 1000 other military people in another country didn’t get absentee ballots in time to vote. If this is true, that, in itself, is sad, but the comment of the next person brought me to my knees. He said he thought it was crazy that we would think our military should put down their guns to vote. Does he not understand that that is the very freedom our military fights for?

Whether you’re a Republican, Democrat, or Independent, whether you wanted Obama or Romney, the task at hand is to set it all aside and unite in loving Jesus and loving people? Let’s focus our energy on showing Christ’s love to others regardless of our political stand then sit back and watch God bless this country.

2 Chronicles 7:14 says, If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and heal their land.

The key is to do the four things to receive the three.  Humble yourself, pray, seek His face, and turn from your wicked ways THEN He will hear us, forgive us and heal our land!

I Got a Golden Ticket

I had put off buying a ticket to a women’s conference that a friend and I were planning on going to because I thought it was still iffy on whether she could come.

When she said it was a definite go I called the venue to buy my ticket. I was shocked to find out that the conference was completely sold out. I’m really bummed because this was supposed to be a birthday present for my bestest friend. I chance to come to my house, spend a couple nights with me and go to an amazing women’s conference so we could spend some time together worshiping God and reconnecting.

I had gotten back from another women’s conference so I’m trying to keep a very positive attitude. I was praying in the car, reminding God that I had given away two tickets to the other conference. I had blessed two people so I asked God if I could have half of that blessing back and get a ticket today. I knew he was going to work it out but I also knew that, normally, God doesn’t just let it fall in your lap. I needed to do some work myself so I started texting all my friends that went to this church to see if any of them had extra tickets. I put a plea on Facebook and Twitter. I was so excited, praying and believing God I’d get a ticket.

I called the venue and they put me on a waiting list. They called me back a few hours later to tell me that they were going to open a second venue on property so I could buy a ticket. The only problem was my friend was in the auditorium and I’d be in a different part of the church. I bought the ticket still believing God would get me in that main auditorium.

My friend and I decided I’d hang out in line with her until the doors opened then she’d go into her area and I’d leave to go into mine. While standing in line for the first session, a friend calls me and asked if I’d had gotten a ticket into the main auditorium. I said no but told her it would all work out. Little did I know it would work out through her. She found me, traded me tickets and I got to be with my bestest friend.

What a blessing it was but I couldn’t help but feel bad for my other friend who was now in another venue away from her friends. God has a cool way of working everything together for good. Before the session even started, the church moved everyone from the second venue into the auditorium. They brought in chairs and we all fit. God it so good!! He’s just waiting to bless us!! Watch for His blessings and then give Him the glory.