Preparing a Place for Our Lord

Seven years ago, I was asked to write this post. I never published it and I honestly don’t know why. I don’t remember why Preparing a Place was discarded and forgotten. But I do know why I want to publish it now.

Preparing a Place

I don’t remember a time when I have felt more honored or more sheepish. My friend, Debbie Hughett, has asked me to be a guest writer on her blog, Musings on Prayer. Her request was to contrast CoziNest (simple, beautiful, cozy, home) with Our Lord “preparing a place for us.” (John 14:2)  I am honored to guest-post, Debbie, and in so many ways…. I love you for asking.

Debbie had no idea what she was asking, but HE knew. You see, my heart has not been a very welcoming place for Him for a few years. I can blame it on moves, not finding a church home in a new community, preachers teaching from Hollywood headlines, etc. etc., (not my current church 🙂 )  but I know the real problem. As a child, I was known to stomp my feet, march down the hallway and slam the door to my room when I didn’t get my way; and I’m pretty sure that I’ve done just that as an adult with my FATHER. I’ve taken up the welcome mat and kept that door shut indefinitely. And… just like as a child, it was over something juvenile. I didn’t get my way.

How Cozy is My Nest?

Now, as Debbie has obediently followed the leading of the Holy Spirit, I’m forced to ask the question, “How cozy is my spiritual nest? How simple is my faith? And as He prepares a beautiful place for me someday, have I, in turn, made my earthly nest a cozy place for Him to dwell?” Do I feel at home with Him? No, not in a long time. But, in His everlasting love and mercy, He has ever so gently nudged me through Debbie, 7 years ago, and a Covenant Bible Study today, to “Come Unto Him,” again. This is where I feel sheepish. We all, like sheep, have gone astray. (Isaiah 53:6):

We All Like Sheep.jpg

Here is the scripture Debbie originally referenced:

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also… (John 14:3)

Isn’t that the ultimate form of welcome? I want you where I am. Let me repeat that… I want you where I am. He wants me where He is? Who am I? I’m a foot-stomping, hall-marching, door-slamming, mat-taker-upper… brat! I’m reminded of Jesus writing in the sand while those around Him asked to stone a woman to death. (John 8: 6-11)

Writer on the Sand.jpg

Jesus doesn’t stomp His foot…no He simply writes in the sand. You may recall, as the adulteress was thrown in front of Him while self-appointed judges asked to stone her, He first addressed them, not her. He knew they were testing Him on the Law, so He faced their accusers. It’s amazing that as I read this, I noticed for the first time that they were both facing accusers. Jesus and an adulteress, facing the same crowd of finger-pointers. And His response…”You, without sin, cast the first stone.” One by one, they left, leaving Jesus alone with the woman. She was alone with The Son of God. He straightened up from His drawing in the sand, looked into her face and offered these words of comfort….”Neither do I condemn you; go your way. From now on sin no more.”  Oh my!  Alone AND forgiven.

I’m reminded…He wants us where He is, in a warm, forgiving, cozy space without a single accuser. On earth, we can have that in our prayer closet, but someday, we will have it in the place He has prepared for us.

Today, I am forced to see myself as a woman thrown in the sand. I am forced to see myself as He does. I’m the one who doesn’t stay in the sand, but gets up and stomps my foot in it. I have tested my Lord just as surely as those men did thousands of years ago. But where are my accusers? Who stands to cast a stone? Not a single person. Why?  Because they do not matter as much as one grain of sand in my salvation. I am face to face with THE ONE who wants me where HE is. And home, my friends, is where there is no condemnation. Simple. Cozy. Beautiful. Home. with HIM. Because of HIM, I am not condemned.

I originally drafted this post 7 years ago. So much has happened in those 7 years, but suffice it to say, I am now face to face with this same question. During the study, Covenant, by Kay Arthur with Precept Ministries God has once again reminded me of the importance of giving my WHOLE heart and life to HIM. I am faced with the question again, “Have I prepared a place in my heart and in my life, where HE is KING?”

In all honesty, my home is filled with all sorts of things I love, but not enough of WHOM I love. Are the things wrong? I’m not sure yet, but I’m open to the possibility. As I think about preparing a place here on earth for HIM to dwell, I know it is in my heart, not my home per se that HE lives. But has my heart become so crowded that there’s no room for HIM? Is HE forced to once again, be turned away for lack of space? Has HE found a more suitable place in a cave with animals than with one HE created in HIS image? I’m 61 and as I get older these questions weigh heavier on my heart than they did when I was 31.

The future of this website and in particular this blog is under the prayerful watch of my LORD. I’m not sure as I write this where it’s going. I know that when I drafted this post 7 years ago I was convicted that my house needed remodeling. It was time to redecorate with my DESIGNER. As Covid forced us to stay home, like many others, we noticed things that needed physical updating in several rooms. We began planning what to do in each room and then each week in our study, the LORD began to show me areas in the chambers of my heart that needed sweeping, updating, and sprucing. I am seeking a freshness. Cleanliness. I want a clear vision in each room, without clutter and needless stuff that could fill barns to overflowing, but leave me empty and wanting.

Matthew 6:20

“But store up for yourselves treasures in heavenwhere neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;

Luke 12:20

Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

Source: https://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Barns

“Now who will own what you have prepared?”

This sentence spoke to me. In my business, I go to a lot of estate sales. When we do finally arrive at the place HE has prepared for us, there’s a lot of stuff left over that our family doesn’t want or need. Have you noticed how the next generation doesn’t want or seem to need the heirlooms we want to pass down to them? They also desire a simple, more minimalistic lifestyle. Oh, that I might be a student of this generation!

What if we passed more love, joy and kindness or goodness down to the next generation? What if our kids remember us for our faithfulness? What if our neighbors tell others how patient and gentle we were them? What if we prepared a place here that others want to mimic in their own homes? A place where rust or moth can’t destroy, and a place where if a thief tried to break in and steal, they would find things we would want them to have?

Galatians 5:22

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians 5:22)

There are nine characteristics of the fruit. Only 9. I pray that our homes will be filled with love which is likely the only real path to joy. I ask that the LORD help us to be at peace with our families and neighbors. I beg HIM to help us be longsuffering with our fellowman, since HE is our ultimate example of this. May our hearts be filled with kindness and goodness toward each other. Like Thomas, I pray that we can see and feel HIS scars so that we are faithful in return. I ask that our judgment and callousness be replaced with gentleness. And so that all this might be real and obvious in our lives, I ask for self-control and discipline.

The Spirit of Loveliness

I am prayerfully preparing a place. I hope it’s a place where people feel loved, experience joy and know HIM deeply. HE has a long way to go as my DESIGNER, but HE is faithful. I pray my heart is open and receptive to HIS plans.

Thank you, Lord for wanting me where YOU are. Thank you for preparing a place for me. I want YOU where I am. In my heart. And I pray that my home is where YOU want to be, so that others will want to be here, too. Fill my home with the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Seeking Him in our Sweet Hour of Prayer – Hymns for Him

Hello Newlywed Brides! This is a series of praying hymns for him, your new hubby. Sweet Hour of Prayer is our hymn for him this time. There’s no sweeter prayer than that with scripture, praise and melodies we remember.  Please enjoy, comment, share. The more we pray for our husbands and families, the stronger our faith.

Sweet Hour of Prayer

Sweet hour of prayer
Sweet hour of prayer
That calls me from a world of care
And bids me at my Father’s throne
Make all my wants and wishes known
In seasons of distress and grief
My soul has often found relief
And oft escaped the tempter’s snare
By Thy return, sweet hour of prayer
~ Chorus ~
The joys I feel, the bliss I share
Of those whose anxious spirits burn
With strong desires for Thy return
With such I hasten to the place
Where God my Savior shows His face
And gladly take my station there
And wait for Thee, sweet hour of prayer
 ~ Chorus ~
And wait for Thee
Sweet hour of prayer

Praying for our Husbands

Dear Father, as we enter this time of prayer for our husbands, please meet with us, prompt us of how to pray and how to worship. Let this series draw us closer to you, improve our prayer life and bless our marriages.
In this sweet hour or even a few minutes of prayer, O Father, I ask that we can disconnect from all of our worries of the world in order to focus on You. Show us all of our wants and wishes in each season of life. No matter Lord, if we are in the midst of distress or relief, lead us always back to our time of prayer.
Father, in the times of joy and even bliss, let us continue to yearn for Your return. Let us long to see Your face and enjoy our time in Your presence. O Lord, how we wish to see Your face.
Finally, in case you missed the rest of the series, here are the links to other Hymns for Him:

Hymns for Him-Just as I Am

Do you ever doubt your faith? The hymn, “Just as I Am” was written by Charlotte Elliott after a night of spiritual struggle. I’ve been here several times in my Christian walk, but never thought to do what Charlotte did. In the morning after her tumultuous night, she sat down to write all the things she was absolutely certain of in her faith. She made a list of sorts of all she knew about her own salvation.  The poem, “Just as I Am” was the result.

“Hymns for Him” is a series of prayers for the newlywed bride to pray for her husband. See other prayers like, How Great Thou Art, The Lord’s Prayer, and Be Thou My Vision.

Just as I Am

Just as I am—without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee—
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am—and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot,
To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot—
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Repentance

Just as I am—though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings and fears within, without—
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am—poor, wretched, blind;
Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea, all I need in Thee to find—
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am—Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe—
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am—Thy love unknown
Hath broken every barrier down;
Now, to be Thine, yea, Thine alone—
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am—of that free love
The breadth, length, depth, and height to prove,
Here for a season, then above—
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

Just as I Am

The Lord God is Indeed God

I’m reminded of the verse Deuteronomy 7:9:

Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps His covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes His unfailing love on those who love Him and obey His commands.

Amazingly, He does this for each of us, just as we are, if we believe and call out to Him. Billy Graham knew this. This song became the signature hymn at the close of his crusades. Many people have been moved to repentance through the words of this song. So how does this song relate to a newly wed bride as she prays for her husband? I can suggest this:

Prayer for Newlywed Husband

O Lord, my God,  just as I am, I come to You. I thank you for the blood you shed for both me and {insert your husband’s name}. Thank you for calling us into Your kingdom. You are the Lamb of God! We come to You.

Lord, we will not wait to rid our soul of even one dark blot. Your blood is powerful, O Lamb of God.  Cleanse us both of any spot that separates us from Your goodness.

Struggles Come and Go

You know the struggles we have, Lord. There are fears in our soul and fears in our world. There are conflicts every day. We come to You, for we know that Your burden is light. Thank you for sharing the load.  Thank You for blessing our marriage. Keep us safe. Give us strength for temptation and enough love for You to choose righteousness. You became our lamb of sacrifice. We come to you with any doubt and trust in You to see us through.

Just as we are, Lord. We bring You the blindness and weakness of our faith. Show us the way to spiritual sight. Heal our mind. Help us not to entertain thoughts that pull us away, but to always come to You.

You Keep Your Promises

You are faithful, O Lamb of God! I believe in Your promises to receive, welcome, pardon, cleanse and relieve. All the worry. All the angst. Are we good enough? Have we confessed it all? Is this sin to much to forgive? You receive us into Your arms. We are welcome to empty our weary souls into Your hands. You pardon our offenses. And oh, Lord, the relief we feel when it’s all at Your feet. You handle it all in Your time, in Your will and in Your way.

It is Your Love, O Lord, that breaks every barrier between us. Your love brings us into Your perfect peace. It is Your love, that makes us Yours. We can do nothing to earn Your Love. He has done all the work. Paid the price. O Lamb, we worship You.

Father, we have a breath of life here on earth. Let us come to You to experience the breadth, heighth, width and depth of Your love. We know that there is so much more to learn of You. Lord, we come. We come.

Be assured dear bride, that He hears and receives every sigh, every yearning. Go to Him.

How to Activate Your Inner Peace

You’re sitting at your desk and reeling from the insulting remarks made by a coworker. You want to blow your stack. How can you activate your inner peace to alleviate the stress and handle the situation professionally? Consider praying silently, while adding a touch of fragrance. What is this you ask? Some new age mumbo jumbo? No, it’s not. Instead, it’s an idea from an old southern gal who is seeking new ways to talk to her FATHER. Prayer changes things. David asked that his prayer please the Lord.

May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice. (Psalm 141:2)

The Sweet Fragrance of Prayer

Furthermore, our prayers are treasured in heaven. In 1888, J. R. Miller described where our prayers are stored in heaven:

The picture of the golden bowls in heaven containing earth’s prayers, shows us the precious regard in the divine heart, for the desires and supplications which believing ones send up to God. As they rise in holy breathings or in earnest cries, HE receives them—every sigh, every yearning, every pleading, every intercession of love, every heart-hunger—and puts them all into golden bowls, that none of them may be lost! Often our prayers may seem to remain long unanswered, for some blessings are so rich that they cannot be prepared for us in a day—but we may be sure that they are not lost nor forgotten. They are sacredly treasured and are always before God, and in due time they will receive gracious and wise answer.

These golden bowls are described in Revelation 5:8 as “holding incense, which are the prayers of the saints.”

Gold Bowl

In no way am I saying that we should be ritualistic in burning incense as an offering to our Lord. The Bible says that after the Israelites became careless with their offerings, God rebuked them saying, “no more vain offerings…incense is an abomination to me.” Isaiah 1:11, 13. HE has made it clear to us that our genuine, heartfelt prayer is what pleases HIM. HE saves our prayers and David even suggests that HE saves our tears in a bottle. (Psalm 56:8)

In ancient times priests used bottles to save essential oils for healing. I can’t help but wonder if somehow the two are related. Our tears in a bottle, oils from plants in a bottle to heal our hearts, bodies and souls. If you doubt the “hype” about essential oils, consider this. Where do pharmaceuticals come from? Plants, the ocean, minerals. Where do essential oils come from? The exact same place only without other non-living chemicals.  So even as pharmacists sit counting pills, our FATHER sits counting our tears and longs to heal us.

Lavender Oils for Inner Peace

Inner Peace

The scents of essential oils have properties that can calm us or invigorate us. The days that we need a bit of energy, we use tangerine, grapefruit or eucalyptus. And when a coworker insults us and we want to blow our stack, we use lavender, frankincense and orange to help activate our inner peace. But how do you use them in the workplace? Here is where the fun begins. Bracelets made from natural stones have become all the rage. Beaded necklaces and bracelets made of rose quartz, marble, or agate to name a few, are available in most jewelry stores. Keep the natural oils with you and drop a tiny amount onto the beads. Rub the bracelet between your hands gently. The stone and your hands absorb the oil.

Stone Bead Bracelets

Therefore, as you sit at your desk, in traffic or anywhere you feel the Holy Spirit urging you to activate your inner peace; touch your bracelet, fold your hands over your nose and inhale deeply. As you exhale, breathe your hurts, desires, praise and worship into those golden bowls in heaven. The bowl that HE holds close to HIS chest. Receive HIS comfort. HE cares about the coworker. Rest. HE cares about you. As a result, HE will activate your inner peace when you trust HIM with every sigh.

 

 

Partying with these lovelies:

Thursday’s Favorite Things, 

Mommy Moments 

Feathered Nest Friday

Message in a Whisper

Over 100 Baldwin County women attended an Impact 100 meeting last night and I am so proud to say I was one of them. You can read all about this non-profit organization with the above link. I know that becoming a member of this organization is going to be a life changing event in my life and I will be writing more about it in the future.

For today, I will share a quote from one of the speakers last night that has been echoing in my mind over night and first thing this morning.

“Your life is your message.”

That’s it. Just one sentence, in the middle of a speech that I could have missed if I weren’t listening. It was almost a whisper, but profound, and so true.

What does your life tell about you? We make thousands of decisions, and perform millions of tiny little tasks across the span of a lifetime that tell our story, what do yours tell others about you? What will your legacy be?

I am on a spiritual journey that is different from any in my 40 years of being part of the royal family. You can read here how I came to know my KING. I am a follower of Jesus Christ, but I’m struggling to keep up with Him at this point in my journey. You see, I believe that just like the revolution of earth, there are seasons in our spiritual journey. Sometimes we are in season and sometimes we are out. There are times when we are facing the Son and times when our face is hidden. And, it is all in His divine plan.

I have been a church-goer my whole life, until about 2 years ago.

Empty Pew

Circumstances that brought about the need to travel back and forth between our coastal home and Birmingham interrupted that time of corporate worship. For a time, I really missed my church family. And then, it happened. My husband and I got into a routine of completing some of those above mentioned tasks on the weekends. Some things were mundane household chores, some were fun, exciting adventures that are now part of a very happy memory.

Waterfront Arts Center

So what message is this part of my life telling about me?

I still love my Lord. Prayer is sporadic and honestly, even a struggle on most days, but I am comforted knowing that when I can’t pray, the Spirit prays for me. (Romans 8:26)

Prayer Bench

And the thing I want to take to heart from last night’s message in a whisper is this….

It’s my whole life that is my message, not any one part by itself. There is no guilt in that. There is no conviction in that. Jesus took care of it all on the cross. His whole life including the eternal one, is His message. From His part in creation, His lowly birth in a manger,

Birth of Jesus

His eagerness to stay behind in the temple at the age of 12 or so,

Naive

His occupation as a carpenter, His relationships with the disciples, His dealings with authority, His righteous anger at the money changers, His love and compassion for sinners and His excruciatingly painful death

Crown of Thorns.jpg

and joyous resurrection are all recorded for us to see a message in The Life.

As we approach the most joyous of all holidays, I want to leave you with this message. Easter is about The Life and how we embrace Him. It doesn’t matter where you were born or into what circumstances. At some point in your life, spend time in the temple and remember that He is now our tabernacle. In all occupations, we are busy building something. Relationships are remembered. Some anger is righteous. Love others as yourself. And even if our death or the death of a loved one is painful, the resurrection with THE LIFE is joy unspeakable.

We are all like thirsty sheep. Drink from the Fountain of Life.

Thirsty Lamb

Your life is your message. Share it with me.

Day 31: A Spooky Story

31 Days of Starting Over

 

Well, I did it. Thirty-one days straight of writing about starting over. I have proven to myself that I can start and finish a project, stretched my creativity, hopefully improved my writing skills and made some new friends.

Today is the last day. And…..it’s Halloween! So I thought I’d finish up with a spooky story.

On a dark, but busy freeway in Birmingham, Alabama, a young girl is driving home after visiting her parents. She is driving a Chevy Impala with a broken gas gauge. Her car is in the shop and the car dealer has loaned her this car to drive until hers is repaired. He failed to share the information about the gauge.

There is a section of north Birmingham that she must drive through that is not safe. The gauge reads 1/2 a tank, so she is just motoring on through without a thought about a gas station, until the car begins to sputter to its death. She manages to get the car over to the left shoulder and begins to cry. It’s close to midnight in 1981. There are no cell phones. The only way she can get to a phone is to cross 4 lanes of freeway traffic and walk into a deserted area of town and knock on a stranger’s door.

She begins to pray. “God, please send me a policeman, send me a policeman, send me a policeman,” she continues, begging God for a miracle. She keeps looking in her rearview mirror. She locks the doors. Her fear is that any minute now, someone is going to stop who isn’t a policeman and she will not know whether to open her window or not.

“God please, please, please, send me a policeman,” she prays again. She looks again in her rearview mirror. The headlights of something that looks like a Ford Pinto are slowing behind her. The car door opens and a tall man gets out and begins walking toward the driver’s side of her car. She begins to cry again and tells God, “I asked You for a policeman!”

Looking in the side mirror, she sees that the man approaching is dressed in some sort of a uniform. She cracks the window and the gentleman says, “Good evening ma’am, I’m a UAB Security officer. Do you need some help?” She hesitates because he IS driving a Pinto. He offers, “I’m on my way to work and will be happy to help.” All kinds of thoughts cross her mind, like “this could be a serial killer, dressed in a fake uniform; or a rapist who prays on women in broken down Impala’s on the side of the interstate in Birmingham, AL.”

But then, she thinks she really has no choice here and after all, she did pray for this. “Where is your faith?” she thinks to herself. “I live in Homewood, in Ski Lodge III Apartments. Could you take me there to get my husband?” she asked shaking. He agrees and she gets into the Ford Pinto with the “security officer” who takes her home. She thanks him over and over, but seems to be in shock that the whole thing happened. She fails to read the name on his badge.

With all the stress of retrieving the gas-free car behind her, she goes back to her life as usual, and doesn’t think much about the policeman. A couple of days later the dealer calls to say that her car is ready. With her spirits lifted and driving her own car again, she finds herself along that same dark, busy freeway in Birmingham, AL.  As she passes by the spot where the Impala had died, she thinks about that night again.

The next day she decided to call the UAB Security Office to see to whom she could send a thank-you note. After relating the story to several different employees in the office, the only thing they can do to find the man, is put her note on the bulletin board and hope that someone will come forward as her hero.

She sends the note to the address they give her and waits several days before calling them back. When she speaks to the office again they share with her that they have shared the note with every shift of officers and not one person has stepped forward. And…. not one of their officers drives a Ford Pinto.

Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing so some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.          (Heb. 13:2)

And on one black, ghostly night in a deadly part of town, an angel just may have shown hospitality to me.

Angels Unaware
Angels Unaware