Draw Near to God

James4-8


What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you?
Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?
You lust and do not have; so you commit murder.
You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel.
You do not have because you do not ask.
You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives,
so that you may spend on your pleasures.
You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God?
Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose:
“He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”?
But He gives a greater grace.
Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
Be miserable and mourn and weep;
let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom.
Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.
—James 4:1-10

AnnaSmile

3 Good Reasons for Unanswered Prayers [reblog from Teshuva]

My bloggy friend Ugochi from Teshuva…Inspirations for a Better Life posted this today. I knew right away I wanted to share it with you. Please visit Ugochi’s site and spend time reading more of her writings.

3 Good Reasons For Unanswered Prayers

June 27, 2013 by

Every one wants their prayers to receive fast answers, like immediately! We all want God’s “suddenly” to happen for us, we would be very excited for the answer to come to us while we are still on our knees before we say amen. While this can happen, it is not always so, other wise we will not have the need to “wait” on God like He says.

The first thing to do when prayers are not answered is to check the following:

You are part of God’s family
You are not in sin
Your demand is in line with His word
Your faith is strong and unwavering
Your motive is right
You are walking in loveunanswered

God is perfect and very true to His word, plus He has our best at heart. If all of those boxes are checked in the affirmative then God might be holding back for the following reasons:

1. It Is Not Good For You- God is too good a Father to allow us have what would hurt us, no matter how hard we pray… or cry. This brings to mind a true story of a young man who asked his mum why one of his eyes was blind. She told him how a pair of scissors was taken from him while he played with it as a baby, but because he cried so hard and loud, she was moved by his cry and asked that the scissors be given back to him in order to pacify him. Then while he played with it he dug it into his eye and was blinded. Enraged, the young man yelled at his mum and said to her, “So because I was crying so hard you let me play with what could hurt me!” He picked a pair of scissors and dug into his mother’s eye and blinded her too. Very heart breaking story I know.

Someone once said that he prayed and prayed for a particular lady to give him a “yes” for marriage but it didn’t happen. Marriage is good, very good, but it is not every person that is good for us. Maybe that car you so desire is not good for you; it might have a default that will cost a life. It could be a good-looking business after a long time of dryness but God will not let you in because He knows it will only bring ruin. So just trust God’s judgment and be at peace, know He has your best interest at heart. God does not want to give you that which will hurt you…

… I don’t plan to hurt you. I plan to give you hope and a good future.  Jeremiah 29:11 (ERV)

2. It Is Not The Right Time- It may be that you are not ready for what you want at the moment. God may have looked at the surrounding conditions at the time and judged that it will not be to your advantage to receive that blessing when you asked.  God is a God of process, and sometimes we must wait on the process and mature before He lets us have certain things.

God has blessed us with so many promises in His word but He does not let us have them all at once. Take David for instance, God anointed him king but kept him from the throne until the right time; after Saul’s and Jonathan’s deaths.

Some of God’s promises for you are for an appointed time; be patient while you wait on God, your wait will neither be forever nor in vain.

To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven: He has made everything beautiful in its time. Ecclesiastes 3:1, 11 (AMP)

3. God Has Something Better In Mind-I will always remember the story I heard of a King who asked a golf player to demand anything he wanted as a gift for honouring his invitation. The golfer asked for a golf club, and was so anxious to receive it, going to the mail day after day to check if it has arrived. Days turned to several months but in the end the king gave him a huge land of already built and ready golf course.

Also a man told of how he fell in love with a house while he was house hunting and prayed and fasted to have that particular house, he lost the deal and was very disappointed. But as he continued his search he found a bigger and better house at a far cheaper rate than the former one and he sealed the deal with ease.

Sometimes when God does not give us what we want it is because He has something far better in mind for us. God always wants to give us His very best and we must trust Him enough to wait on and for Him.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:9 (AMP)

I say this because I know the plans that I have for you.” This message is from the Lord. “I have good plans for you. I don’t plan to hurt you. I plan to give you hope and a good future.  Jeremiah 29:11 (ERV)

Is there something you are waiting for, is your trust in shape?

© 2013 ugochi-jolomi.com

Ugochi, thank you so much for giving us a lot to ponder and pray about!

AnnaSmile

What if…

Thankful Thursday

Something for all of us to ponder,

not only on this Thankful Thursday,

but every single day…

WhatIf

I read this saying recently and have been mulling it over. I know I’ve shared this with you before but I always want to remember all of these below for which I am thankful each and every day.

My Lord and Savior: Jesus Christ

Calvary

I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior.—Isaiah 43:11

My sweet husband: Rick

Rick-Anna05192012-sm

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. –Ephesians 5:31-33

My precious children: Kathy, Alan and Denise (my daughter-in-love)

Left to right: Dad, Kathy, Denise, Alan, me, Rick

Left to right: Dad, Kathy, Denise, Alan, me, Rick

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. –Proverbs 22:6

Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me. –Mark 9:37

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. –3 John 1:4

My loving parents: Mom (now home with the Lord) and Dad

Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you. –Exodus 20:12

My four wacky and wonderful sisters

Mar2005-Seesters(2)Left to right (youngest to oldest): Maria, Julie, Palma, Nancy and me!

In the cookies of life, sisters are the chocolate chips. –Author Unknown

To the outside world we all grow old.  But not to brothers and sisters.  We know each other as we always were.  We know each other’s hearts.  We share private family jokes.  We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys.  We live outside the touch of time. –Clara Ortega

All my close and special friends

[Too many to display photos or mention by name but you know who you are!]

friends-are-forever

A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked. –Bernard Meltzer

 A friend knows the song in my heart and sings it to me when my memory fails. –Donna Roberts

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.’ –C. S. Lewis

A caring and supportive church family:

CVGraceCrossThis is the actual stained glass cross in our church sanctuary. Isn’t it beautiful?

Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers. –Acts 9:31

A snug and cozy home in a beautiful part of the country

My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest. –Isaiah 32:18

 For you will go out with joy, and be led forth with peace; the mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. —Isaiah 55:12

Enough food, clothing and everything else I need to be comfortable

He enjoys much who is thankful for little; a grateful mind is both a great and happy mind. –Unknown

My precious Bible

[with tons of hand-written margin notes, highlighted passages and sticky notes marking certain pages]

Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart. –Psalm 119:2

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. –2 Peter 3:18

AnnaSmile

Sisters on Vacation

tues

Since I seem to be in the mode of sharing some of my published work with you lately, today’s Treasure Tuesday offering is a story I wrote years ago about one of the times my sisters and I got together. “Sisters on Vacation” was published in a collection of family memory stories titled The Rocking Chair Reader: Family Gatherings, published in 2005.

As I read through this again after so many years, I was struck by how much things have changed … and not changed.

I wrote in this story that none of us would miss these get-togethers, but the reality is that for the past several years, my health has kept me from traveling by air. This means I haven’t been able to get together with my sisters for quite a while. That’s a big change.

What has not changed is the constant love, affection and support my sisters and I will always have for each other no matter how much time and distance separates us. In spite of difficulties we have shared in our lives, we’ve always got each other’s backs and are “there” for each other in spirit and prayer, if we cannot be there in person.

To my seesters reading this right now: I love and cherish each and every one of you!

 Sisters on Vacation

Pretty in pink(2)

[Here we are together pretty in pink. Left to right: Me, Nancy, Palma, Julie, Maria.]

I was exhausted after being on an airplane all day, but my fatigue was tempered by excitement at seeing my sisters again. I disembarked and lugged my suitcase toward the main terminal for what seemed like miles. As I rounded a curve in the walkway, someone shouted my name. I looked up and saw my sisters standing a few feet away. I broke into a huge smile when I saw the sign they held above their heads: my name imprinted in huge letters, just like a chauffeur would have.

In the next instant, I was enveloped in hugs, all of us trying to talk at once.

My four sisters and I live in various parts of the country. Two live in the Northeast, another two are in Florida, and I live in northern Arizona, all the way across the country. This scattering of family makes it difficult for all of us to get together in one place, but our annual Sisters’ Vacation is something we cherish, and none of us would miss it.

I’m the oldest, and though fifteen years separates my youngest sister and me, the age difference is barely noticeable now that we’re all adults. In spite of the age spread and the various places we live, the similarities among us are striking. We all have some degree of the curly dark hair that denotes our Italian heritage, and we each have two children. No matter where we go, people do a double-take because we all look so much alike.

A couple of years ago, we decided to meet in Orlando, Florida, to do some shopping and tour Universal Studios, and then travel to Largo to reunite with our parents. We hadn’t seen each other in more than a year and were really excited to have this special time together. We got very little sleep that first night as we shared snacks and caught up with the events in each other’s lives. We’re fairly good about keeping in touch by email, but some things just can’t be conveyed through cyberspace.

We couldn’t wait to get to Universal Studios that first day. Even threatening rain clouds didn’t dampen our enthusiasm. We were happy just to be together. The nasty weather held off for the first hour, but then the clouds opened up and we were caught in a downpour. We were immediately drenched and didn’t waste any time joining the long line to purchase rain ponchos.

What a sight we were in our powder-blue ponchos stamped with the Universal Studies insignia. It took some time for our clothes to dry under the ponchos, but we kept touring the park anyway. A little rain wouldn’t ruin our day, and the photos we now share prove it: five women with dark, damp, frizzy hair lined up in light-blue ponchos and huge smiles.

5 seesters [We always seem to line up according to age, most times not even realizing it until later. Here we are again, left to right: Me, Nancy, Palma, Julie, Maria]

When my sisters and I get together, we have the time of our lives. People give us amused glances as they pass by because we’re usually laughing about something one of us has said or seen. That’s when we turn to them in unabashed chorus and proclaim loudly, “We’re sisters, and we’re on vacation!”

Even though we’re a close-knit family, life sometimes gets in the way, making it difficult for us to always agree or be completely comfortable with one another. Differences of opinion, distance, and unresolved disputes have conspired to place a wedge in the constancy of our affection for each other. But when all is said and done, we are five women with a common, very tight-knit bond: we are sisters.

Mar2005-Seesters

[On another sisters’ vacation, we all decided to have our hair professionally straightened. In order of age (again), this time right to left: Me, Nancy, Palma, Julie, Maria.]

We’ve learned that it doesn’t matter how unique or disparate our opinions are. It makes no difference that we don’t all think alike. In fact, our differences are what make us a strong family unit.

On our last vacation, I was the first one to leave. At the airport, my sisters waited with me as I checked in. We shared one last hug, and then I joined the long line to the security checkpoint. About ten minutes later, as I was inching forward in this seemingly endless line, I once again heard my name being shouted. I looked to the left, and there were all four of my sisters—waving, laughing, and shouting my name. I waved back and threw them a kiss. Several people behind me smiled at our unbridled enthusiasm.

“We’re sisters,” I informed them, nodding at the four women who were still waving at me. “And we were on vacation!”

My family

[Our entire family many years ago while Mom was still with us. As usual, we sisters somehow managed to line up around Mom and Dad in order of age. Left to right: Me, Nancy, Palma, Mom, Dad, Julie, and a very pregnant Maria]

Rocking-Chair-Reader

[From The Rocking Chair Reader: Family Gatherings. Copyright © 2005 Adams Media, an F+W Publications Company]

AnnaSmile

Eyes on God

EyesOnGod

Hear me, Lord, and answer me,
    for I am poor and needy.
Guard my life, for I am faithful to you;
    save your servant who trusts in you.
You are my God; have mercy on me, Lord,
    for I call to you all day long.
Bring joy to your servant, Lord,
    for I put my trust in you.

You, Lord, are forgiving and good,
    abounding in love to all who call to you.
Hear my prayer, Lord;
    listen to my cry for mercy.
When I am in distress, I call to you,
    because you answer me.

—Psalm 86:1-7

AnnaSmile

The Good Old Days

In keeping with my 2013 enough theme, today’s post is taken from The God of All Comfort: Devotions of hope for those who chronically suffer, by my friend, Judy Gann. This book was published in 2005 but I believe this particular devotional will shed more light on my journey with chronic pain illnesses.

Judy and I met in 2003 at the annual Christian Writers’ Conference in Mt. Hermon, which is outside Santa Cruz, California. We got to know each other a bit as we shared our personal and writing stories. Later on, she asked me if she could use some of my story in a book of devotions she was writing, and I said yes.

Side note: the following devotional refers to Rick’s and my wedding taking place in a sanctuary, but we were actually married in the beautiful home of my close friends, Donna and Dub Baker. Here is a photo from that special evening. Those are my children, Alan and Kathy, with us in the photo.

Wedding photo w-Kathy&Alan

The God of All Comfort is a wonderful book filled with devotions describing people who live with chronic illness with comfort and joy because of their faith, hope and trust in Jesus Christ.

Please visit Judy’s site to read more about her and her writing projects.

better-days-ahead

The Good Old Days

For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. —Philippians 4:11-12

Rick and Anna stood at the altar, surrounded by family and friends. As they exchanged marriage vows, their future seemed as bright as the candlelight illuminating the sanctuary.

Two years later, the onset of Anna’s troubling physical symptoms cast a shadow over their plans. Assaulted by muscular pain, most days, Anna’s energy reserves wavered between low and empty. Although the diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia gave a name to her symptoms, Anna’s fragile health encroached on the life she and Rick had envisioned.

Soon, Anna yearned for the “good old days.” She craved the limitless energy she’d enjoyed only a few years earlier. Anna’s mind churned. I wish Rick had known the younger, healthier Anna.

The apostle Paul was familiar with the “good old days” syndrome. Surely in the midst of beatings, shipwrecks, hunger, thirst, and imprisonment, Paul indulged in moments of discontent. Contentment wasn’t an automatic response for Paul—something he could muster up for himself.

Good-Old-Days

In Philippians 4:11, Paul stated that he “learned to be content” through the experiences God allows in his life. Bombarded with difficulties, he realized that circumstances do not define contentment. Paul’s secret for true contentment of the heart was found in his relationship with Christ. In Christ, Paul found the strength to accept and meet the challenges of each situation. Regardless of the circumstances, for Paul, Christ was enough.

The Lord taught Anna lessons in contentment, too. The words of her favorite Scripture verse, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart” (Proverbs 3:5-6), gave Anna the courage to embrace the reality of her “now.” As she trusted in the Lord, she gained a new appreciation for all she and Rick possessed in Christ. A thankful heart and trust in the Lord’s sufficiency replaced dwelling on her life before the illness.

Unfilled longings are scattered across this imperfect, earthly life. Living with illness is a harsh reality. But as we find out sufficiency in Christ and not in our circumstances, we will experience true contentment. Contentment far richer than we had in the “good old days.”

Lord, thank you that you are sufficient for every need. Sick or well, may I, like Paul, find contentment in you.

1Tim-6-6

“Godliness with contentment is great gain.” –1 Timothy 6:6

GodOfAllComfort

[From The God of All Comfort. Copyright © 2005 Living Ink Books, an imprint of AMG Publishers]

AnnaSmile

Prayers urgently needed! [UPDATE]

[UPDATE] Sign up to receive emergency notifications

To all my readers who live in Yavapai County, please check this out. It is fast and easy to sign up for this.

YCSO Emergency Notification System

Posted on Wednesday, June 19, 2013 8:09 am at http://www.regionalinfo-alert.org/

Residents may sign up to receive notification information from the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office by going to their website at http://www.ycsoaz.gov/?page_id=3724.  Messages can be received by phone, text or email.

DoceWildfire

This was the scene last night at a wildfire that is burning very close to where we live. Yesterday, one day after Yavapai County ordered no burning whatsoever up here in northern Arizona, this wildfire broke out in Prescott, which is adjacent to where we live in Chino Valley. The Doce fire (aka Dosie fire) as it is called is about 20 miles to the southeast of us. All afternoon and evening we could clearly see the immense clouds of smoke from our front windows.

Although Rick and I and our neighbors and friends are not in immediate danger, we live in a very windy area. That wind made the fire spread quickly, which caused many mandatory evacuations yesterday. Right now it is very calm outside but the pattern for months has shown that the wind will kick up soon and continue throughout the day. The report this morning is that about 5000 acres have been burned so far.

Please pray for all the firefighters who are trying to contain this fire and for the emergency personnel who have been called to treat any injuries. Also, pray that there are no personal injuries or worse from this fire.

The Red Cross in Prescott has set up a shelter for evacuees, and since this is also horse country, they have also set up a shelter for their horses.

You can read more about the Doce fire and view more photos at:

http://prescottenews.com/index.php/news/current-news/item/21840-doce-fire-continues-to-spread-more-evacuations#axzz2WfiWowRb

Thank you for all your prayers! I’ll keep you updated as I learn more.

AnnaSmile