Tuesday, March 31, 2009
These women were so kind and accommodating. After my session on Friday evening I was in the elevator with a couple of the ladies from the church. One of them said I looked familiar to her. Turns out, she was my middle school Geography teacher! She even went home and found her yearbook from my 9th grade year. How fun it was to look at pics of my grade-school girlfriends, my school gymnastics team and my cheer squad. What's more - since I didn't have any yearbooks from my middle school years - she gave it to me! That was a real treat. So, thank you, Ann!
The glitch came when I realized I'd booked my 8:00 AM flight home on Sunday for 8:00 PM. I realized this on Friday afternoon and called Expedia right away to see about changing my flight time. They told me it would cost $400. GULP. So I prayed and decided to head to the airport at 6:15 Sunday morning and see if I could catch a flight as a stand-by passenger. I got on a 7:30 AM flight and was home in time to go to church with my family - which for me is bliss so thanks for the prayers.
Oh, and my scary looking cut healed rather quickly too. I just kept slathering it with antibiotic cream.
The name of this post - not that you care - comes from the title of my former state's state song. It was the state song of Virgina until 1997 when it was retired over racial controversy about the lyrics. Yet some say the song, written by an educated African American, is satire. The song was "American Idol material" at one time ... sold a million copies in 1916 ... plus Ray Charles and Jerry Lee Lewis recorded it as well. If you are easily fascinated with trivia facts - or just plain bored - you can jump over here to read about the controversy and see what you think.
Meanwhile, for all you song writers out there, there is an on-going contest for a song to replace it as Virgina's state song. So get out your keyboard or guitar.
Me? I'm content to sing James Taylor's "Carolina on my Mind."
And happy to be home again ~ Rachel
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
"The first thing my soul needs is an inclination to God and his word. Without that, nothing else will happen of any value in my life. I must want to know God and read his word and draw near to him. Where does that “want to” come from? It comes from God. So Psalm 119:36 teaches us to pray, “Incline my heart to Your testimonies and not to gain.”
Next I need to have the eyes of my heart opened, so that when my inclination leads me to the word I see what is really there and not just my own ideas. Who opens the eyes of the heart? God does. So Psalm 119:18 teaches us to pray, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your law.”
Then I need for my heart to be enlightened with these “wonders.” I need to perceive glory in them and not just interesting facts. Who enlightens the heart? God does. So Ephesians 1:18 teaches us to pray “That the eyes of your heart may be enlightened.”
Then I am concerned that my heart is fragmented and that parts of it might remain in the dark while other parts are enlightened. So I long for my heart to be united for God. Where does that wholeness and unity come from? From God. So Psalm 86:11 teaches us to pray, “O Lord, I will walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name.”
What I really want from all this engagement with the Word of God and the work of his Spirit in answer to my prayers is that my heart will be satisfied with God and not with the world. Where does that satisfaction come from? It comes from God. So Psalm 90:14 teaches us to pray, “O satisfy us in the morning with Your lovingkindness, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”
But I don’t just want to be happy in my own little private world with God. I want my happiness to be as full as possible for spreading and expanding for others. I want to be strong in joy. This will make me durable in the face of threats or adversity. Where does that strength and durability come from? It comes from God. So Ephesians 3:16 teaches us to pray, “That God would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man.”
Finally, I want my strength in Christ to produce good deeds for others so that the glory of God will be seen in my life. Who produces these good deeds? God does. So Colossians 1:10 teaches us to pray, “That [we] will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord . . . bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”
All this I pray “in Jesus’ name,” because God gives these things to my soul only because Jesus died for me and removed the wrath of God so that the Father might “freely give me all things” (Romans 8:32).
To remember some of these prayers, I use an acronym—IOUS—almost every day in praying for those I love, asking God to give us an inclination to his Word and not to money or fame or power (Psalm 119:36), and to open our eyes to see wonderful things when we read his Word (Psalm 119:18), and to have hearts united in the fear of God rather than fragmented over a dozen concerns (Psalm 86:11), and to be satisfied in his steadfast love (Psalm 90:14)."
So there it is in one short paragraph directly above - how to pray for yourself and others in accordance with the Bible as explained by John Piper. This could take mere seconds per person, or you could expand on it. I'll be praying John's IOUS prayer for John and everyone else who stops by this post, and I ask that you'd pause and pray the same for me. Blessings ~ Rachel
Monday, March 23, 2009
We had to to switch hotels, which meant no spa. However, the new hotel was at a ski resort at Camelback Mountain. My room had this cool bedroom loft atop a spiral staircase that gave me a view of the white-covered slopes out my dormer style window. I called it my birds' nest. And I did get to enjoy the hot sauna, and walking on the treadmill overlooking the pretty lake with swans.
No matter that we couldn't get spa treatments, I had fun with the coordinators Charlene and Darlene. Saturday evening we went shopping at the outlet mall and I got a pair jeans for $14 (and no tax either), which is enough to make my entire weekend right there. Then we had dinner at Red Robin, where I saw something I'd never seen before. They had a flat screen TV on the wall in the otherwise typical ladies' bathroom. It was playing HGTV. Things that make you go, hum. We did consider waiting in there for our number to be called.
As expected, I really enjoyed this group: Some really terrific women who are embodying what it means to be the body of Christ. And who also understand a gal's need for a little chocolate and laughter.
I floated home on flights that were on time (virtually unheard of when flying from Newark) to a family who had cleaned the house spotless for my arrival. And hubby even let me sleep in this morning, and sent me a sweet e-card encouraging me to enjoy the day. Bliss I tell you, sheer bliss.
Then the school called and my son was sick with a cough and ear ache and needed to be picked up. I also opened an unexpected bill for $435. And then this evening my daughter had one of her episodes where her heart rate races. Screech. There goes my bliss.
But that's OK, I know how to get it back. Yep, that "still time" with God thing we've been talking about. Thanks for sharing your input on that post, yall.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
First thing I'd say is figure out what helps you "get your head in the game." Listening to worship music can often help with this. Reading a few passages from the Bible can too. Also, position yourself best you can to avoid distractions. I've mentioned here before that I often sit in front of a window with the rest of the room behind me so I don't see the other things that need doing (dishes, laundry, computer, to-do list).
Occasionally I get down on my knees, face-down on the floor to pray, like in "child's pose" (only thing to notice there is if the carpet needs cleaning). But there are times too that I'm totally focused with God, and I'm sitting in the middle of a coffee shop or cafe with my laptop. So don't feel like you can only be still and hear from God while all alone in an empty room.
The second thing I'd say is pray with a pen in your hand. Have some paper in front of you. When thoughts about what you need to do today or tomorrow come to your mind - and they will - jot them down to clear your mind and know you've now got a reminder for later. Don't worry that these thoughts are popping in your head - just take your pen, deal with them quickly, and move on.
I also encourage you to write down anything you feel God may be impressing on your heart. Write what you think He is saying to You as you pray or read, or what you think the Bible passage you just read means. Record whatever is bouncing around in your mind - thoughts, verses, questions, whatever. You can re-read these the next time you sit down to pray and listen, and that can be helpful too. For me, even just holding the pen to the paper helps me stay focused on what I'm doing now.
Maybe someone else will have more to suggest. What helps you "be still" and focused when praying?
Before you get all envious about that (admit it, you did!), you should know that sometimes I spend the weekend in rustic retreat centers. You know, the kind where you bring your own linens, or sleep in bunk beds, or see snakes by your cabin door, or get bitten by spiders while you sleep, or have no heat and it's late fall. That can be it's own kind of fun - especially when enduring it all with some girlfreinds in God. But, yes, I'm looking forward to this weekend, in this hotel, with these ladies. :)
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
The audio from one of the services is up on the Internet, and they might post video later this week. Here's the link for those of you who had asked to hear it. Just click on the word "Listen" to the right of the entry for 03.15.09 once you get there.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
If you weren't the winner but want a copy, go to Shari's site and you can buy it for for $15. She also has it available for $12 in an E-book form you can instantly download.
Sheena, I'll ask Shari what she thinks about your shoe dilemma and let you know. I love that Cyndi asked if anyone lived in her area of Oregon so that they could go shopping together - that's terrific.
I went shopping with a good friend this week who is starting a new job as a teller in a bank. They have a strict dress code, which they made her sign 3 different times last week! One of the more surprising things it stated was that she must wear underwear and all undergarments at all times. Um, what has the world of banking come to?
I felt slightly ADD the past couple weeks keeping two different topics going here: prayer and clothes. (Anne, I plan to answer your how-do-I-stay-still-to-pray question next week.) So this morning it made me feel a little less ADD when I read this passage by Paul in 1 Timothy 2 that talks about both:
1-3, The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live.
4-7, He wants not only us but everyone saved, you know, everyone to get to know the truth we've learned: that there's one God and only one, and one Priest-Mediator between God and us—Jesus, who offered himself in exchange for everyone held captive by sin, to set them all free. Eventually the news is going to get out. This and this only has been my appointed work: getting this news to those who have never heard of God, and explaining how it works by simple faith and plain truth.
8-10, Since prayer is at the bottom of all this, what I want mostly is for men to pray—not shaking angry fists at enemies but raising holy hands to God. And I want women to get in there with the men in humility before God, not primping before a mirror or chasing the latest fashions but doing something beautiful for God and becoming beautiful doing it. (The Message)
I think humility is the key here. It's not that we should never look in a mirror to brush our hair, or never wear something stylish. And it's not that there is anything wrong with beauty, but rather that God never intended our beauty to be skin deep. I think Paul's point is that humility (and prayer) needs to underlay all that we do, including how we present ourselves. I think that should be added to the bank's dress code.
Finally, Jill you asked for a link to my upcoming speaking engagements. Click here or the tab at the top of this page that says "Where I'll be." I think I've got that updated at least through this summer. BTW, this is the weekend I speak at my home church, along with my pastor, on the subject of lust. So you can bet that today I am praying ... and trying to decide what to wear. Any words of advice? Or prayer? Where is Shari when I need her?!
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
In case you missed it, or you are looking for the challenge to learn about prayer through 27 instances of Jesus praying, it is 2 posts below. Jump in and do one!
Last week I asked professional image consultant Shari Braendel to look over our comments on the clothing posts and address some of our issues. She agreed - and also agreed to give away one of her books here! So without further delay, here is what Shari had to say.
1) One reader comments, “I've always been into fashion, and I still struggle with what is "appropriate" … should I dress to cover up my figure?” Shari, what guidelines can you offer us gals for what is appropriate to wear? And does “what’s appropriate” change depending on things like your age, the time of day, or the people you are with?
Dressing age-appropriate means you take your age into consideration when you choose clothes to wear and try not too look younger (or older) than you are. How do you do this? Well, there are many ways to do so, but first you must shop in the correct “department” of the store you are shopping in. After the age of 30, please don’t venture into the Junior dept. again…that is a major no-no. If you are a woman over 30, buy labels that you know and trust, like Liz Claiborne, Jones of New York and Ralph Lauren. Classic pieces will go a long way in your wardrobe and then add trendy accessories to update your look.
Find your personal style and be comfortable in what makes you happy…and what makes you look good! I don’t recommend you dress for the people you’re with…dress for you!
2) It was recently Valentine’s Day, and lots of couples went out to eat. Many a woman donned something low-cut, sexy and red for that dinner – which is great for their husbands. But what about all the other men they passed by, or sat across from in that restaurant? When a gal has a hubby that likes for her to “look sexy” for him (or she likes to), how should she handle that?
As Christian women, we are held to a higher standard. It is our responsibility to not cause our brothers-in-Christ to sin, whether it be in their thoughts or actions. If you like to dress sexy, I would first examine “why” you do this. Do you want attention? Do you think this is the only way to get noticed? If so, you’re asking for the wrong kind of attention.
There is a time and place for sexy, and honestly, it’s for a quiet, romantic evening at home with your husband. If he wants you to dress sexy for a night out, then make sure you have a wrap or dressy coat to wear in and out of the restaurant and ask him to make reservations for you to sit in a romantic spot in the restaurant, which is usually near a corner. When seated, you should take your seat so you’re not facing many people. Be discreet, and remember it’s your husband you’re trying to excite, not someone else’s husband or boyfriend.
3) Sometimes we buy something that seemed appropriate in the store dressing room, but once we got it home, cut the tags and wore it, we realized it looks awful, or it doesn’t stay put, or it’s too short when we reach up, or it emphasizes all the cellulite in our thighs when we sit down. Any tips for what we can do to avoid such fashion flops and find a good fit?
We all make fashion flops, even I do. Don’t impulse shop. When you go shopping, take a good friend with you who has some fashion sense and ask her to look at you from all angles. Also, when you try something on, turn your back from the mirror until you get the whole outfit on, then turn around and see yourself at once…first impression! What did you think as soon as you saw yourself? Make sure you look at yourself in a 3 way mirror and go shopping with the proper undergarments you’ll need for the particular items you’ll be purchasing.
Finally, when you arrive home, DON’T remove the tags right away. When you wear the outfit for the first time, ask your family first what they think … my husband and teenage son are my best mirrors …they tell me like it is, and they’re usually right!
4) Another reader said, “Having been blessed with a "curvy" body, I have always been self-conscious of walking into a room and people looking right at my chest. For so many years, I wore bigger, looser clothes to cover up myself. But I felt frumpy, and not good about myself.” Any tips for the curvy among us – short of buying a pup tent?
A pup tent? Girlfriend, no! Most importantly, get fitted for a proper support bra. If you haven’t been fitted for a new bra this year, it’s time to do that. Every year our body changes so this should be an annual event for us.
(BTW, don't rush out and buy a new one just like your old one. Shari taught me this. Go to a store like Dillards and get fitted by the employee for the right type of bra for you in the right size. Most of us wear the wrong size and it affects how we look.)
Prints will always make a bust appear smaller. So find prints that are compatible with your frame size. You may have to layer some pieces, too, so you don’t show cleavage. And finally, go up one size in your blouses and sweaters. They will hang better but won’t be so loose. Refrain from wearing too tight clothes, which can also make you look bigger than you are.
5) Shari, one commenter said she dresses for her most fashionable friends. I think the team at P31 dresses for you! ;) We always want Shari’s input, and we jump at a chance to go shopping with her. (I live 4 hours away from her so I rarely get to do that – just letting you know in case you ever see me and I don’t look so fashionable – its not Shari’s fault.) So, what are a couple of ways we can be “fashion-forward” this spring, without breaking the bank or inviting the men around us to leer?
You always look great, Rachel! Remember to wear colors that flatter you, I’m obsessive about that for women. Too many women fall into the “wear all black” wardrobe category and it’s boring and aging.
Look at your closet and see what you need. I’d recommend adding a few pieces at a time to spruce up your wardrobe. If you have neutral colors, buy a few brights to add some color. Purchase a new handbag in one of the new bold colors for spring and add some fabulous new turquoise accessories! Find a pair of wedge sandals to give your outfits a lift and buy a fabulous pair of jeans in a vibrant hue. These will make you look very hip!
For lots more tips on the spring fashion trends, check out Shari's blog.
Hum, if my clothes could talk, what would they be saying about me ...
Many, many people do.
That's partly because we view it as a form of pubic speaking - and public speaking tends to make people verrry nervous. I should know - I teach public speaking to college students. And I force back my own feelings of panic to do it myself around the country through out the year.
A survey conducted in 1973 asked more than 2,500 Americans to list their greatest fears. To the surprise of the researchers, the largest number of people listed speaking before a group as their #1 fear. Even above death!
In a more recent study, researchers concentrated on social situations and again asked people to list their greatest fears. Here are the top responses:
A party with strangers - 74%
Giving a speech - 70%
Asked personal questions in public - 65%
Meeting a date's parents - 59%
First day on a new job - 59%
Victim of a practical joke - 56%
Job interview - 46%
What we're worried about in all these situations is feeling embarrassed, feeling incompetent, and being negatively judged. And all that seems tied to the words we're about to say. What if I say the wrong thing? What if I stammer or the words don't come out right? What if I draw a blank when I open my mouth? We're focused on our words and how they'll be received. We think our words = us.
For years I watched Georgia sing at her church. She sang in the choir, and also in the praise band, and several times a year she would sing a song solo. She never seemed nervous, and I knew she'd been doing this for a long time. So I was surprised one day when she said to me, "Rachel, I don't know how you can get up there and speak in front of all those people like you do. That would make me so nervous." "But Georgia, you do it all the time when you get up and sing - you even sing solos!" I replied. I'll never forget her response: "Yes, but those aren't my words I'm singing."
So one way to handle the praying-out-loud-when-in-a-group nerves, is to pray someone else's words. Pray verses from the Bible. Or at least truths from the Bible.
You can do that quite simply. You don't even have to have the verses (or their location in the Bible) memorized. For example ...
"Lord, you said when we ask for wisdom, you will give it to us (from James 1:5). Please give so-and-so wisdom in this situation."
Or, "God, you said we could come to you when we are overwhelmed and that you would give us rest (from Matthew 11:28). Take so-and-so's troubles and worries today and let her rest."
Or, "Lord you promised in the Bible that you would comfort us (from John 14:18). So-and-so is having a hard time right now, please comfort them now in Jesus' Name."
Those 3 prayers right there could cover a multitude of situations and prayer requests.
I think the best piece of advice I can offer those of us who feel nervous to pray out loud is to remember that this is about the person or situation we are praying for, not about us and how well we pray. So it's necessary that we shift our focus from ourself and how we might be perceived by others, to the object of our prayer or to the One we are praying to.
Finally, if you are praying in a group where several others have already spoken, and nothing more comes to your mind to pray, just pray, "God, I agree with these prayers, in Jesus' Name."
Remember that we don't have to say a lot or use eloquent speech to be effective in prayer. Jesus told us that. In fact, one of my favorite things to pray - indeed probably the most powerful thing I can pray - is: "God, may Your will not ours be done in this situation. Your plans are best."
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
27 instances where Jesus is praying:
1. Praying prior to Bethlehem (Hebrews 10:5-7)
2. Praying at His baptism (Luke 3:21,22)
3. Praying before His first preaching tour of Galilee (Mark 1:35-39)
4. Praying after the healing of a leper (Luke 5:12-16)
5. Praying before choosing the twelve disciples (Luke 6:12,13)
6. Praying after being rejected by certain cities in Galilee (Matthew 11:25)
7. Praying prior to the feeding of 5000 people (John 6:11)
8. Praying after feeding 5000 people (Matthew 14:22,23)
9. Praying as He healed a deaf man (Mark 7:32-37)
10. Praying prior to feeding 4000 people (Mark 8:6)
11. Praying before Peter's great confession (Luke 9:18; Matthew 16:14-17)
12. Praying during His transfiguration (Luke 9:28-35)
13. Praying after hearing the report of the seventy (Luke 10:17-19, 20, 21)
14. Praying before teaching the Lord's Prayer (Luke 11:1; Matthew 6:9-13)
15. Praying at the grave site of Lazarus (John 11:41, 42)
16. Praying over little children (Mark 10:13-16)
17. Praying in the temple on Palm Sunday (John 12:20-28)
18. Praying over Jerusalem (Matthew 23:37-39; Luke 19:41-44)
19. Praying in the upper room prior to His death (Matthew 26:26-28)
20. Praying for Peter (Luke 22:31-34)
21. Praying His great High Priestly Prayer (John 17)
22. Praying in Gethsemane prior to His death (Mark 14:32-42; Matthew 26:39-46)
23. Praying on the cross (Luke 23:34; Matthew 27:46; John 19:30; Luke 23:46)
24. Praying at His resurrection (Hebrews 2:12,13; John 20:17)
25. Praying at Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35)
26. Praying at the Ascension (Luke 24:50-53)
27. Praying today for the believer (Romans 8:34; I John 2:1; Hebrews 7:25; 9:24)
Try this, pick one of these instances (you could do one a day for 27 days) and read about them in your Bible. Then - feel free to do it here if you wish - try to answer these 3 questions based on what you read:
- What is Jesus praying for here?
- From His prayer, what does Jesus know about God the Father?
- How could a greater awareness of this characteristic of God affect my life?
I did the first one and posted my answers - It'd be cool to see some of you post your answers to the others. We could fill out this list between the group of us! We could learn together.