31 Specific Prayers for Your Children

One of my favorite sites is Greg Laurie’s Harvest.org. I receive his daily devotional emails, and although I’m a little late in sharing this because it was for Father’s Day, it is always appropriate for parents to pray for their children.
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31 Specific Prayers for Your Children

By Greg Laurie
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Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong.
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Happy Father’s Day! For Dad (or Mom), here is a prayer list you can use to pray for your kids! 
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  1. Pray that your child will come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
  2. Pray that your child will have a healthy fear of the Lord.
  3. Pray that your child will have a heart for the lost.
  4. Pray that your child will love obedience.
  5. Pray that your child will develop godly character.
  6. Pray that your child will love and want to live God’s Word.
  7. Pray that your child will recognize God’s voice.
  8. Pray that your child will love learning.
  9. Pray that your child has an appetite for truth.
  10. Pray that your child will love the things God loves.

Read the rest here.

Used by permission from Harvest Ministries with Greg Laurie, PO Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514.

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Adjusting to Serious Illness

This is an excellent article from CFIDS & Fibromyalgia Self-Help. It is not easy to live with chronic illness, whether you’re the patient, the caregiver, friend or family member. Included in this article are ten practical ways that patients and their families can use to make their households and relationships work better.

Adjusting to Serious Illness:
Strategies for Patients and Their Families

By Bruce Campbell

CFS and fibromyalgia force profound adjustments, both for patients and for those around them. Household tasks are juggled, finances are often strained, and all family members wonder what the future will bring. What strategies will help you and your family adjust if you are struggling with the disruptions created by CFS or FM?

Understanding Your Unique Situation

The foundation of an effective response is understanding your unique situation. Every family’s circumstances are different. Just as each patient must individualize his or her self-management strategy, families need to develop a response to CFS or FM that fits their individual circumstances.

The scope of adjustments will be dictated by the seriousness of the patient’s health problems. CFS and fibromyalgia vary greatly in severity. The average person in our self-help program reports that she functions at about 25% of normal, but there are sizeable numbers who are housebound, while others are less affected and continue to work part time or full time. The severity of medical issues will set the limits on the amount of adjustment required.

The family’s financial situation is also crucial. Some families can afford to let the ill person stop working or have her take an early retirement, while others are stretched financially and may be forced to make financial adjustments of various kinds. The presence or absence of children and, if present, their ages is significant. Couples with school-age children have to juggle work and child care. Those with adult children may get help from their kids. The health of the spouse is another important factor. In some families, both spouses are ill or a normally-healthy spouse has a health emergency like a heart attack or surgery.

A final factor is the strength of the bond between the partners. Some marriages are made stronger by illness, while others become frayed and still others break. The response of the well spouse to illness may vary from strong support, on the one hand, to disbelief, abuse and abandonment on the other. Some people in our groups, who have had multiple marriages report that they have experienced the full range of possible responses, most commonly a lack of support in an initial relationship and understanding in a later one.

Ten Strategies

Here are ten ideas for how families can adapt to CFS or FM.

SeriousIllness10Strategies

Read the rest here

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2015 Fibromyalgia Awareness Day

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Tomorrow, May 12th, is designated as Fibromyalgia Awareness Day. There are too many people who live with this disease. I have had to count myself among them since 1999, when I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) plus Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS)—also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

“Fibromyalgia (pronounced fy-bro-my-AL-ja) is a complex chronic pain disorder that affects an estimated 10 million Americans. While it occurs most often in women, it strikes men and children, and all ethnic backgrounds. For those with severe symptoms, fibromyalgia (FM) can be extremely debilitating and interfere with basic daily activities.

  • The FM diagnostic criteria, established by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) in 1990, includes a history of widespread pain in all four quadrants of the body for a minimum duration of three months, and pain in at least 11 of the 18 designated tender points when a specified amount of pressure is applied.
  • Since people with FM tend to look healthy and conventional tests are typically normal, a physician knowledgeable about the disorder is necessary to make a diagnosis.
  • Physicians should rule out other causes of the symptoms before making a diagnosis of fibromyalgia.”

Read more here.

One of the most distressing things that people with FMS experience is disbelief from family and friends because we mostly look normal, that is, like there’s nothing out-of-the-ordinary wrong with us. The common phrase we hear is, “But you look so good!” I have often replied, “Thank God for makeup” although I seldom wear makeup these days.

The truth is this: My hair may be nicely fixed and I have taken the time to do my eyebrows and apply some lip balm or lip color. I may even put in some earrings if I feel up to it. My hubby frequently compliments me on how good I look.

But most days when I look in the mirror what I see is a tired and wrinkled old hag. Really. Because that’s how I feel inside.

A typical day for me begins with my daily migraine (usually with nausea) and includes extreme pain in joints and ligaments. I often have pain in my chest similar to what a heart attack feels like. But it’s not a heart attack. It’s called Costochondritis and is one of my FMS symptoms. Even though I am used to these episodes, I still wonder every time if this is the day I am having a heart attack.

Stressful? You betcha!

And I haven’t even touched on the debilitating fatigue that is part of both FMS and CFIDS. No matter how much sleep I get, I always—and I mean always—feel like I haven’t slept at all.

I normally wake up between 6:00 and 7:30 a.m. but a couple of hours later I’m already thinking it’s time to get back into bed. Some days I do. Other times I keep pushing myself to get a few things done until lunch time. After lunch I either get back into bed or slide into my recliner for a snooze in front of the TV. Even though Rick is always volunteering to do things for me, I thank him and reply that I need to do as much as I am physically capable of doing, for as long as I am able to do so.

When Rick and I have planned activities such as going out for a meal, meeting up with friends, going to church or even just grocery shopping, I have to prepare myself beforehand with plenty of rest. That doesn’t guarantee that I’ll actually be able to get to any of these planned events, but at least I try. And if I do make it, there’s the payback afterwards—sometimes for days (or weeks), especially if some traveling was part of the activity.

I happen to be blessed with a family and many close friends who do their best to understand all of this. I have had to cancel or reschedule countless activities with them, yet they still stand by me. And for that I am truly blessed. 

Thank you for taking the time to read this and visit the NFMCPA site (National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association) for more information.

God bless you all!

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The Marriage Triangle

The Marriage Triangle

by Anna Popescu


Does the title of this column seem a bit risqué? Well, it could be but read on to find out what it’s really all about.

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Marriage is a very strong yet fragile bond. That makes it somewhat of a paradox. I’m guessing all husbands and wives enter into marriage with the intent of staying true to their vows, but eventually real life breaks in. What started out as a strong union can begin to unravel, and that’s when it becomes fragile.

Many couples manage to stay married for many years. Barbara and George H. W. Bush recently celebrated 70 years together. It is obvious that their marriage has stayed strong in spite of the inevitable rough patches we all go through.How did they—and how do countless other couples—stay true to their vows?

I have been married twice. My first marriage lasted 23 years and I have two very wonderful children from that marriage. The marriage ended because my ex-husband no longer wanted me in his life. However, in retrospect, that was not really why we divorced. We had a long history of reacting badly to each other.

Let me explain. When one of us had an issue with the other, we did try to talk it out but more often ended up yelling at each other. That kept us at an impasse, and all those impasses accumulated into one big boatload. Oh, we gave the appearance that all was well with us as a couple, but the reality in our home was something else altogether.

I had given my life and my heart to Jesus Christ about 10 years after we were married, but I allowed myself to backslide for many years for reasons best left unsaid here. The huge turning point in my life happened after I was divorced. Almost 18 years after being saved, I finally returned to the Lord, rededicated my life to Jesus Christ, made my public testimony and was baptized. This changed everything for me, and I vowed that I would always live for Jesus.

Wedding photo w-Kathy&AlanA few years after that, I met Rick, and we were married in a special covenant ceremony at the home of a very dear friend. Those are my children, Alan and Kathy, in this photo taken at our wedding. We recently celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary and are still going strong in spite of some circumstances we never would have predicted. You can read the story of how we met online here.

Here are some excerpts about covenants and the covenant marriage ceremony at preceptaustin.org1, one of my favorite sites:

♥ Covenant as defined by the Scriptures is a solemn and binding relationship which is meant to last a life time.

♥ In ancient times, covenant was the most solemn and binding agreement into which two parties could enter.

♥ In the Covenant of Marriage remember the following truths…

  1. Two lives become one. In covenant, you become identified with the other individual, and there is a supernatural commingling of two lives.
  2. There is a sign to remember which serves as a witness and a memorial. When you enter a covenant with your beloved, the sign is usually a ring which serves as a constant reminder (memorial) of the solemn and binding marriage covenant.
  3. There is a change in name. As the wife takes on her husband’s name, this change symbolizes the supernatural identity and oneness God intended for the partners who had entered the marriage covenant.
  4. There is a meal shared. Biblical covenants were often commemorated with a “covenant meal.” [Husbands and wives] will celebrate your new covenant relationship by feeding each other wedding cake which is a picture that you are now sharing a common life, that two lives have become one.
  5. There is a friend who will stick closer than a brother. Friend is a covenant term and is beautifully seen in God’s covenant with Abraham. “… and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God” (James 2:23).
  6. There are witnesses to testify. In the Old Testament, the solemnity of a “cutting covenant” was often witnessed by setting up a memorial or sign. “So now come, let us make a covenant, you and I, and let it be a witness between you and me.” Then Jacob took a stone and set it up as a pillar” (Genesis 31:44-45).
  7. There is a covenant partner to defend. Webster’s definition of the verb to defend = to protect a person from harm or danger. To keep safe from attack. To cover. To shield. To safeguard. To shelter. To support someone in the face of an onslaught of criticism (how often do we criticize our covenant partner rather than lovingly defending them from criticism?).

We’ll explore each of these items in more detail in the future.

One of the things that Rick and I talked about during our courtship is crucial to our commitment to stay married no matter what. Rick had never been married before and would say, “I am only going to be married once.” Since I had previously been married, I would reply, “I am only going to be married once more.”

So Rick and I started out with the right foundation, but still butted heads from time to time as all married couples do. We would fall back on the illustration of the orange given to us by our premarital counseling pastor. If you take an orange and rip it in half with your hands (versus cutting it), you have two pieces with very jagged edges. That orange can only fit back together one way—by fitting those uneven edges together exactly. That’s the way the husband and wife work together within a marriage. The strengths of one may be the weaknesses of the other, but fitted together—in other words, by working together—they can solve a problem or complete a task that one of them may not have been able to do alone.

Rick and I love the example of the orange, and have remembered that image many times. We have a great marriage but we are no different than countless other married couples. We still sometimes struggle with some silly, sometimes stupid, ridiculous things that can build up to cause a heated discussion or argument. The single greatest thing we have learned is that to have the best marriage possible, we need to remember that we are each at the bottom corners of a very special triangle in which Jesus is at the top. We call this The Marriage Triangle.

It is very easy to get into a fiery argument by focusing on our own selves and our own agenda. We’ve all done this. We get so involved in what we’re trying to communicate to our spouse (maybe very loudly?) that we forget what brought us together in the first place.

LOGO-Official-MarriageTriangle-smaller--AMP

The triangle image above is a great way to show that husbands and wives are to keep their eyes focused on Jesus rather than just on each other. What happens because of that is the more time we each spend focusing on Jesus and His will and plan for both of us, the better and closer our relationship with Jesus will become. And the closer we walk with Jesus, the closer we get to each other.

Rick and I know this to be true in our marriage, and are absolutely thankful for this truth. It has also helped defuse many an argument when we stop to consider that Jesus is watching and listening to every single word that pours out of our angry, frustrated mouths. And even when we forget to look up to Jesus, it is only because we have become closer to Him that we still remember—most times—to stop and take a break. There is a lot of praying and thinking that goes on during that break, and we always come back together by asking forgiveness for speaking so carelessly. After that we are able to calmly continue the discussion until we’ve figured things out.

Beloved, God wants us to live in a harmonious marriage. He created marriage to be a man and a woman. He knows everything, so He also realizes that the inevitable problems will arise. However, He has provided us with ways to help our marriages become stronger in spite of the hurdles or difficulties.

That’s what this column will be all about, and I’m looking forward to writing about the ways in which God can help all of our marriages become even better!

“The first secret to loving others is to immerse yourself in a love relationship with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit—and abide there.” —Anne Graham Lotz

1 PreceptAustin.org: The Covenant of Marriage

 

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To Those Hurting This Christmas [Repost]

So many of us are hurting, mostly in ways not easily understood by our friends and family because we put on a good front. We don’t want to bother our loved ones with the details of how much pain we endure each day. Or we’re so busy caring for others in dire physical circumstances that we don’t have the time or inclination to think about how much we go through as we care for these dear ones. Perhaps we don’t know how we’ll pay the bills this month. When or how will we get our next paycheck—or meal?

Oh, we may have a deep and abiding faith in God because we know He loves us and cares about every single little detail of our lives…but these days we are clinging to that faith by our fingernails.

We are understandably so focused on our own pain and suffering or that of our loved ones that we’re afraid to confront our frustrations about a situation that never seems to end. How do we get through this Christmas season of joy when everything around us is in shambles?

Beloved, I’ll be writing more about this in the next days before Christmas, but today I want to share something with you that arrived in my inbox this morning. I pray you will be blessed by this as much as I am, and I will be praying for each and every hurting heart who reads this.

To Those Hurting This Christmas

by John Knight | December 9, 2012

TheWorksOfGod-John9-3-desiringgod.org

I know some of you are praying you’ll make it through Christmas—just make it through—not anticipating anything good will come from gathering with extended family and friends. It has become a cliche—right next to the article on what second-graders are excited about for Christmas is the article on the rise in depression during this last month of the year.

You know the sadness is real. While you change the diaper of a teenager, or administer complicated medications, or prevent your non-verbal ten-year-old from hurting himself again, or explain yet again the complicated life of your five-year-old without a diagnosis for her disability, your nieces and nephews and young friends are playing and running and eating, happily talking about the toys they want or travel they’re excited about or things they are doing in school. They easily do things your child will never do, no matter how many therapies or medications or prayers are offered.

Or maybe the disability in your family member means you can’t gather with other loved ones, and the heartache is almost more than you can stand.

Jesus knows.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15, italics added)

More than that, he endured and is victorious!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1–2, italics added)

And there are some of you who can’t see it. There is still hope!

From Pastor John’s book, When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy,

It is utterly crucial that in our darkness we affirm the wise, strong hand of God to hold us, even when we have no strength to hold him. This is the way Paul thought of his own strivings. He said, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own” (Philippians 3:12). The key thing to see in this verse is that all Paul’s efforts to grasp the fullness of joy in Christ are secured by Christ’s grasp of him. Never forget that your security rests on Christ’s faithfulness first.

Our faith rises and falls. It has degrees. But our security does not rise and fall. It has no degrees. We must persevere in faith. That’s true. But there are times when our faith is the size of a mustard seed and barely visible. In fact, the darkest experience for the child of God is when his faith sinks out of his own sight. Not out of God’s sight, but his. Yes, it is possible to be so overwhelmed with darkness that you do not know if you are a Christian — and yet still be one. (216, italics added)

Jesus understands. Jesus is victorious. Jesus is the answer. May you find him, and in finding him, find hope and peace in these hard days.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)

John Knight is Director of Development at Desiring God. He is married to Dianne and together they parent their four children: Paul, Hannah, Daniel, and Johnny. Paul lives with multiple disabilities including blindness, autism, cognitive impairments and a seizure disorder. John blogs on issues of disability, the Bible, and the church at The Works of God.

http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/to-those-hurting-this-christmas

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The LORD Goes Before You

Although today’s post is about something that I went through about 18 years ago, the message is still pertinent today.

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But you will not leave in haste or go in flight;
for the LORD will go before you,
the God of Israel 
will be your rear guard.
—Isaiah 52:12

Have you ever needed to be in two places at the same time?

The week before I was to serve as a counselor at a special camp for abused and abandoned children, I received a call from my father. My mother’s heart was acting up and she was back in the hospital. This time the doctors needed to perform surgery as soon as possible.There was no time for the camp staff to find a replacement for me, but I really felt the need to be with Mom right then.

I diligently prayed about this for several days, wondering what I should do. Then one morning I read the above passage during my devotions. The words leapt off the page as I read them again and again, especially the admonition
not to leave in haste or go in flight. I realized that even though those words were originally meant for the Israelites, God was using the same verse that day to tell me to calm down and go to camp as scheduled. He would work out the details and take care of Mom and her surgery.

And as usual, He did exactly that . . . and so much more.

While I was at this camp up in the mountains, I phoned Mom in the hospital after her surgery. After a short conversation with her, I gave the two little girls in my charge the opportunity to talk with her too. They did not know Mom, nor did she know them, but they were excited to be able to talk to “Anna’s mom.”

When we ended the call, one of the girls hugged me around the waist. “Your mom wanted me to give you a hug from her.” And then the other precious child motioned for me to bend down closer to her. When I did, she kissed me on the
cheek. “That’s a kiss from your mom.”

As tears filled my eyes, I hugged both girls and quietly thanked God for allowing them to experience a close family moment with me. These girls—and many others like them—had been bounced from one foster home to another. They had no first-hand knowledge of what it means to be part of a family.

As I made the two-hour drive home at the end of the week, I was struck anew at how well God leads us in our decision-making processes, if only we’ll completely trust in Him and His plans for us. He will always show us the right direction to take!

 

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Mother’s Day Blessings

This is a repost of last Mother’s Day message. Enjoy!

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This is for all of you Moms out there and for all of us whose Moms have already left this world.

The Lord took my Mom home six years ago but this is how I often remember her:

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When I was growing up, one of the houses we lived in had built-in brick planters that bordered the front porch. Every year Mom would plant bright red geraniums in those planters—just like the ones in this photo. They made the entrance to our home look so pretty! I wish I had a photo of her standing next to those gorgeous geraniums but I guess that doesn’t matter because I’ll always have the memories in my mind and in my heart.

Beloved, whether your Mom is still here with you or dancing in heaven, what memory is your favorite about her?

I love and miss you Mom!

Mom(smaller)

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2014 Update: In Mom’s honor, I decided to continue her geranium tradition. I bought a gorgeous red geranium plant the other day and will be buying more in the next couple of weeks. I can’t wait to see them all in bloom!


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Fireproof [repost]

I am trying to get back into posting more regularly but life keeps getting in my way. The past couple of weeks haven’t been very good for me, so in an effort to get more consistent, I’m going back to posting things by days of the week. Since today is Tuesday, here’s my Tidbit Tuesday blast from the past. The message is just as relevant today as it was last year!

Tidbit Tuesday

FireproofMovie

When the movie “Fireproof” first came out in 2008, I wanted to see it because my son is a firefighter. Simple, huh?

Actually, not so much. Seeing this movie greatly impacted Rick’s and my marriage and we decided to buy the DVD as well as the “Fireproof Your Marriage” Couple’s Kit Bible study. And I also bought the paperback Fireproof to read. If I like something a lot, I want to know as much as I can about it! That’s how I roll.

Our 10-year anniversary was in 2008 so we decided to have a private ceremony—just Rick and me—in which we renewed our covenant vows and exchanged new, matching wedding bands that have three etched crosses on them. Now, please understand that our marriage was not in peril but seeing this movie reinforced in both of us the need to tend to our relationship in a new, special way. Every. Single. Day.

It is so easy to let things slide in order to avoid conflict, but that just causes the little things to pile up into a huge mountain and then watch out! Here’s where a full-on blow-up can happen. One of the things we have learned is to let go of what doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things and yet make sure we talk over what does make a difference in our marriage. We make sure to be constantly and consistently vigilant to not let the embers of our love die out because of something we said or didn’t say. Or did or didn’t do.

I shared that I would be writing about “enough” this year, but let me clearly state that our marriages are not to be taken for granted. We need to nurture our marriages and our marriage partners every day. This is a case where “enough” is NOT enough!

Here’s a video trailer of “Fireproof” to whet your appetite in case you haven’t seen it. And if you have seen it, I’d like to challenge you to watch it again with a new frame of mind for how much more your marriage can be… even if—as was the case for Rick and me—you think your marriage is already the best it can be.

If you have trouble viewing the video here, click on this for the direct link.

AnnaSmile…..

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Thankful for the Little Things

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This just happens to be a Thursday so I thought I’d celebrate that by sharing a “Thankful Thursday” post from almost two years ago, titled Thank You Challenge.” I love what the image above states about gratitude. It really ties into my blog tagline:

gratitude turns what we have into more than enough

How about you, Beloved? Look around you. Do you view even the tiniest of blessings with thankfulness and gratitude?

AnnaSmile…..

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Thankful for my Home

Psalm 118_24_Fall-ThisIsTheDay

Rick and I absolutely love where we live in northern Arizona. Although I do miss the vivid autumn oranges and reds of where I grew up in New England, I have lived in several states in my adult life and I have to say that this area amid the mountains and hills is my second favorite place.

Arizona has more than its share of sunshine and gorgeous sunsets, and we totally appreciate both. Neither of us are big-city people so living in a rural area such as this fits us well, and I love the fact that we’re not that far from my children who live in the Phoenix area.

Rick and I are very thankful to God for moving us here. In spite of some setbacks that might have tested our faith if we hadn’t fully trusted God, we’ve been living here for 9 years. You can read more here about that story.

This is the day which the Lord has made;
Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

You are my God, and I give thanks to You;
You are my God, I extol You.

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.

—Psalm 118:24, 28-29

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AnnaSmile……

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