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If you chose to observe the Season of Lent by fasting in some way, and began your fast on Ash Wednesday, then your fast is almost done.  As far as I know, there is no official way to end the fast, but I like to do so with prayer.

I thank God loving us enough to send his Son to die for our sins and tell Him that I hope my sacrifices of Lent (the fast) have been acceptable to Him.  I confess for the times I accidentally broke my fast and thank God for His gift of grace and forgiveness.  Then I thank God for the ways that I’ve been blessed through this experience.

May God’s blessings continue to be with you.      – Renee

Be ye kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.    – Ephesians 4:32

Forgiveness…’tis the reason for the season!

Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship, for they will walk in the light of your presence, Lord.    – Psalm 89:15 

It is Sunday evening and I keep thinking about the great morning I spent at church.  The message and teaching were very good, and it was so nice to have fellowship and pray with others while sharing in the Spirit of Christ. I feel like I’m with family when I see my church friends. 

 Going to church each week allows me to wrap up the past week and prepare for the week to come.  I go home inspired and spiritually energized.  Even when my heart is heavy, the Lord lifts me up and gives me renewed hope and encouragement. 

Do you have a church home?  If not, I invite you to ‘join me’ for church this week!  Wherever you live, there is a church waiting to welcome you and offer you the very things I described above. 

Easter Sunday is April 8th.  I hope you’ll find a place of worship to celebrate the joy of our risen Christ and the gift of salvation He offers to all who believe in Him and claim Him as their Lord and Savior.  Many churches have a revised schedule for Easter services, so you might want to call ahead.  If you live in the Weddington, NC area, you can find out more by visiting www.weddingtonchurch.org 

Do you already have a church home? Then how about inviting someone new to visit your church? 

Dear Lord, Thank you for the blessing of a church to call ‘home’, for the pastors and people, and for the presence of your Spirit there.  I pray that others who need to find their home in Your church will heed the call to do so.  Please help me to help others find their way to You and Your house.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen. 

I love the widely used bedtime prayer that starts with, “Now I lay me down to sleep…”  However, as each of my sons got old enough to think about what they were saying, they felt uncomfortable with the part that says, “…and should I die before I wake…”  Somewhere I found a version of that prayer where someone had changed that verse to say, ‘Thy love be with us through the night, and guide us ’til the morning night.”  That was acceptable to them and so we said that version until a few years ago when I came up with the following prayer:

Dear God, Thank you for this wonderful day, and all the good things you sent our way.  Please be with us, keep us in your care, and be with people we love everywhere.   Amen. 

I share these prayers with you in case they’re prayers you and your children would like to say. 

PRAY AND MAKE IT  A GREAT DAY!… OR NIGHT! 

Be sure to do what you should, for then you will enjoy the personal satisfaction of having done your work well, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.”    – Galatians 6:4 

My son played on Upward’s 6th grade competitive basketball league this year.  It was a great experience for him.  (Upward is a Christian sports league/sports ministry.  I highly recommend it if it’s offered in your area.)  The select league was limited to a specific number of players and each boy brought his own skills, talents, and gifts to the league.   Some of the boys were quick.  Others had great agility or good instincts for handling the ball.  My son’s gift was that he was taller and bigger than most of the boys on the league.  

The team of coaches were excellent, and we were especially pleased with the coach for my son’s team.  He knew how to push the boys further while being positive and encouraging.   He also recognized each boy’s strengths and helped them to make the most of their strengths.   My son is a ‘gentle giant’, so often the coach would encourage him to be more aggressive and use his size to his advantage. “Be big!”, his coach would yell, meaning that he wanted my son to raise his hands higher, reach wider, and make the most of his ‘gift’ of size.  My son quickly caught on and was soon using the ‘Be big!’ idea to make the most of his physical stature so that he could improve as a player. 

The boys on this team did a great job of bringing their gifts and talents to each game, recognizing the offerings they could give that made them unique.  The coach was wise to make the most of each player, and together they were an incredible team! 

I think God wants us to ‘be big’, too.  He has given each of us our own set of gifts, talents and abilities that makes us unique; and He wants us to make the most of these things so that we can improve as His ‘players’ and work together to be on His team. 

The next time you want to shrink away from something or feel that you’re not up to the task at hand, imagine God coaching you from the sidelines telling you to ‘be big!’  Then reach high and wide to make the most of the gifts, talents, and attributes He gave you to use. 

Dear God, Thank You for creating each of with Your plans in mind, and in such a way that every one of us is special and has our own unique ways to be a part of Your team.  Help us all to be winning players for Your glory.  In Jesus name I pray.  Amen. 

Delight yourselves in the Lord, and He will tend to your heart’s desires.   – Psalm 37:4 

This is one of my favorite verses.  If you take delight in the Lord (and that’s easy to do!), He will tend to the desires of your heart.  So does that mean He’ll give us everything we ask for in prayer?  Not necessarily.  The scripture doesn’t promise that God will give us everything we ask for, but it does say that He will tend to the desires of our heart.   

A listener recently called in to our local Christian radio station to share about how she had prayed for a couple years about her family’s finances, their car problems, bills they had to pay, and things her family needed.  She became frustrated when she didn’t feel that her prayers were being answered and she found herself upset with God.  While sharing her frustrations in prayer, she felt God asking her what she truly desired in life.  She answered that her true desires were for her children – that they would be healthy and do well in life.  As she responded, she realized that God had known what truly mattered to her and had indeed been looking after her children.  She was quite moved by this experience, especially since it was the first time she felt God personally in her life. 

This experience changed her heart and her outlook.  She began praising God as she saw the many ways He’d been blessing her.  She’d been too focused on the negatives to see the positives.  And then an amazing thing happened.  As she started trusting God with her deepest desires, He began to help her in other areas of her life.   Their financial situation has now greatly improved and, as she has continued to praise and trust Him, He has blessed her in many other ways, too.    Are you finding delight in the Lord?  Praising Him?  Spending time with Him each day in prayer?  Staying in His Word?  If so, then you can be assured that He is tending to the true desires of your heart and probably blessing you in many other ways, as well.  Discovering this truth for yourself will give you true happiness and a lasting contentment that the shiny, earthly desires of our hearts can’t give.   

Dear Father, Keeper of our hearts, I pray that each person reading this message can find reasons to take delight in You, and that as they do so, they will find happiness knowing You are tending to their innermost desires.  Help us to trust You to know what we truly need, and to be content with the blessings You choose to send our way.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.   Renee Myers, 11-30-06

Morning by morning he wakens me and opens my understanding to his will.    – Isaiah 50:4

Don’t you love the feeling you get when you replace something old with something new?   For example, that first whiff of fresh coffee when you open a new package, using a new toothbrush after the old one has become worn, refilling cannisters with fresh sugar and flour,  and having clothes clean and folded instead of dirty and thrown in a pile.  And if you wear contacts, don’t you love to put in a fresh pair?  Perhaps just as satisfying as using something new is discarding the old.

Today I got that ‘new’ feeling first thing this morning.  I discarded my old habit of staying in bed until the absolute last minute, and got up an hour early so that I could pray and read my bible.  What a fresh start this gave my day! 

Getting up to spend time with God when my mind is freshly rested and free from the distractions that set in during the day, I was totally His.  The world was quiet, our house was peaceful, and even the dog and cat were content to relax in the calm.  Whiskers, the cat, even curled up beside me and put his head on my lap.  He, too, wanted to share in this precious time. 

Spending time with God when your mind is clear and free from distractions allows you to be open to what He wants to say to you through prayer and through His Living Word, the Bible.  It is private worship time with God, and is something that will bring you great blessings. 

Now I have a ‘new’ feeling with which to begin my day.  It is that of the peace, joy, and readiness for the day that I have from being with the Lord.  Discarded are the woes of yesterday. 

How about you?  Could you use a fresh new start to your days?  Would you like to begin your days feeling spiritually refreshed and renewed?    Then simply allow yourself to get up a little earlier than usual so that you can spend alone-time with the Lord. 

Dear God, Thank you for being there for me this morning.  It was like having an early morning walk, just You and me.  And just as a good walk rejuvenates and reenergizes our bodies, our Walk has rejuevenated and reenergized my soul.  What a great way to start my day!  Thanks, again!  Meet you again tomorrow?  I’ll look forward to it!    In Christ’s Name, Amen. 

After giving me quite a scare over the weekend, my younger son, who is six years old, is unbelievably better today.  He was very tired Saturday morning, but hadn’t slept well the night before, so I wasn’t concerned.  Then his cheeks started getting red and he started getting very warm.  A fever was starting that would be spiking for the next 24 hours and would cause him to sleep so deeply that he’d would be awake only for moments at a time. 

By the next morning he was miserable with the fevers and body aches, and began sobbing because of his discomfort.  A trip to Urgent Care led us to discover that he was suffering from bacterial pneumonia and had a very high white blood cell count.  His count should have been between 4,000 and 10,000, but his was 27,000!  The doctor emphasized several times that this indicated that he was very sick.  They gave him a high-dosage shot and allowed us to go home.  Later that day I learned of a little girl who left Urgent Care in an ambulance for the hospital because of pneumonia.  That made me even more worried for my young son.

As soon as we got home  and he was resting comfortably, I sent out an email prayer request to my some dear prayer friends.  Doing so kept me calm knowing that my trust was in the Lord and that those who received my prayer requests would be lifting him in prayer. 

Within hours his condition improved greatly.  By the time we met with our pediatrician today, he was a totally new kid.  His pains were gone, his fever was low and only occasional – not constant, and he was staying awake and even showing signs of having energy again.  The doctor was amazed at his apparent wellness and mentioned several times that he couldn’t believe my son was doing as well as he was knowing how sick he’d been.  I wish they’d done another blood cell count.  Something tells me it would have been shockingly lower.

As my son and I left the doctor’s office walking hand-in-hand, it occured to me that the shot wasn’t the only ‘boost’ to his system he’d gotten.  Many prayerful friends had been praying for him.  That explained his amazing recovery that astounded even the doctor!  I reminded him that many people had been praying for him and told him that the shot had been very important, but that I thought the reason he improved so dramatically in such a short time (less than 24 hours!) was because people had been praying for him.  He got a very pleased smile on his face and simply said, ‘yeah’. 

Unfortunately I wasn’t with the doctor at that moment to share this praise with him, but I can share it with you.  I’m a big believer in the power of prayer.  It’s not just for ‘special’ people.  It’s for everyone who goes before God, our Father, with a believing or seeking heart and earnestly shares their thoughts, feelings, hopes, questions, and even doubts with Him.  There is no ‘prayer speak’ that one needs to know to pray.  Just say what’s on your heart.  And when He speaks back (like through the healing of a sick young boy), be sure to share His Words with others so that they, too, can know His love and grace and the wonderful power of prayer 

Dear God, as my ‘God Squad’ girls and I often say, ‘YOU ARE SO AWESOME!’   Thank you for tending to my son and making him so much better, and thank you for sharing with us the power of prayer.  May those who read this decide today and every day to ‘Pray and make it a great day’.   In Jesus’ Name I pray.   Amen. 

Spare the Word.  Spoil the child.        – Renee Myers

And remember, WE are ‘the child’, as we are God’s children. 

More on this another time. 

PRAY AND MAKE IT A GREAT DAY!

My husband and I grew up in Indiana, so of course we were Pacers fans!   For me, the best time of being a Pacers fan was back in the days of Reggie Miller, Mark Jackson, and Rick Smits.  I especially enjoyed the time of the golden era when Larry Bird was coaching the Pacers.  He had a very different coaching style from most coaches.  He stayed calm and did little ‘coaching’ during the games.  (Quite unlike another famous Indiana coach!) 

A reporter asked Coach Larry Bird why he wasn’t more vocal and involved with his players during a game.  His response was that as a former player for the Boston Celtics, he prepared for his games during practices so that when he went out on the  court in a game, he could give 110%.  He didn’t need coaches yelling at him ‘when he was working’ as he played his game.

Coach Bird based his philosophies for coaching on his experiences as a player and set forth to do his coaching during practices.  He felt his job was to coach them well enough during practices that they’d be prepared to go out and do their jobs at game time without him yelling at them from the sidelines.  He went on to say that players aren’t going to respond well to ‘coaching’ during a game anyway.  Larry Bird seemed to be there for his players as more of an encourager and supporter than a coach during the games.

As a parent, I’ve found that Larry Bird’s coaching style is good for parenting, too.  My job as a parent is to use every opportunity I have with my kids to prepare them for the ‘games’ ahead of time.  The time to teach, instruct, and correct is not when they’re the process of competing, performing, or ‘doing their jobs on the court’.  My best time with them is during the ‘practice’ times of life.  Then, when they ‘step onto the court’ for their ‘games’, I can send them out with words of support and encouragement, showing them my confidence in them; not last minute instructions and admonitions that would be useless  by that time (too little, too late). 

One of these days, God willing, they’ll leave home for the ‘Big Game’ of life.  When they do, I want to feel that my husband and I have tried our best to coach them spiritually, academically, emotionally, and physically so that they can play their best games with confidence. If we’re able to do that, then we’ll be able to watch from the sidelines cheering for them, encouraging them, and being willing to give support when needed, but otherwise letting them ‘do their jobs’ as they’re called to do. 

Fortunately, we all have the best ‘playbook’ available when it comes to coaching our kids (and ourselves), and it’s given to us by the greatest coach ever, our Heavenly Father.   He sets the rules and and wants to be a part of every play of the game.  He’ll even show you plays you never dreamed were possible if you let Him!  That ‘playbook’ is the Bible.  And the coolest thing about playing the game God’s way is that you’re sure to be a winner in the end! 

Dear God, Being a parent is an awesome task and responsibility.  You have entrusted Your own children to me.  Please be with me always to help me do my best to raise them as Christians, helping them to reach their full potential, and to do so in a way that serves and glorifies You.  In Christ Jesus’ Name I pray.  Amen. 

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