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Finding Your Prayer Closet

Praying is such an important part of our growth as Christians and it is our best defense35446842_s when life throws a sucker punch at us. It is very important to have place we call our own to pray. I have a favorite chair in my living room where I do my study but there is a window by the chair and when it comes to my prayer time, that doesn’t work for me. I see one thing out of the corner of my eye and “Squirrel!!” I am off track. If I see the dishes in my sink, I feel like I need to get up and wash them. So many things in my home can easily distract me. After watching the movie, War Room, I knew I needed to make a place to pray.

Not everyone has a closet big enough to turn into a prayer closet. I understand how valuable closet space is but even more valuable is your time with God. Every one of us needs to find some uninterrupted time where we can be open and truly honest with God. I encourage you to find a place in your house where you can do that.

Being empty nesters our son no longer needs his closet. My husband and I moved in and set up shop. Your prayer closet doesn’t have to be anything fancy. You may not even have room to put a chair in there but a pillow and a blanket on the floor can make your closet feel cozy.

Be creative. Do you have a spare bedroom that you could go in, close the door, and step away from everything? Do you have a storage room that has room for a chair? Maybe there’s an empty shelf to put your Bible and your prayer journals. If you have a little light and an extension cord, put the light in there. Turning off the overhead light keeps your eyes from being distracted by what you are storing in that room. We keep post-it notes in our prayer room. We can write short prayers or a scripture that really speak to us and stick them on the wall. Using the blue sticky material for hanging posters keeps our post-it notes on the wall.

Maybe your laundry room has no windows but has room to put a chair. Put a little light near the chair and turn the overhead light OFF so you’re not distracted by any laundry that needs to be done. Don’t run your laundry while you’re there either. You don’t need to be distracted by the sound of the washer and dryer. For that matter, turn your chair away from any laundry that needs to be done. If that means looking at the wall, so be it. Use the wall in front of you for a few pictures of your family and sticky notes with prayers and scriptures. Do you remember the lesson about Mary and Martha?

She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:39-42 (NIV)

Be a Mary, not a Martha. Your laundry can be started after you spend time with God. God is not asking for anything fancy. Uninterrupted time is what he’s seeking. Find a place in your home where you can step away from everything and spend a little time with God. I have found that when I step away from all the distractions I really feel the peace of God. I’m excited to step into my prayer closet. Every day I step in with the expectation that God will give me just what I need. He has blown my mind with what He has shown me during our quiet time together and I believe He will do the same for you.

But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Matthew 6:6 (NIV)

 Posted on The Whatever Girls and Living Better 50 Magazine

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Thanksgiving is not just about the turkey

A few years ago, we invited our friends to join us for Thanksgiving and I learned something very important. Although my friend is an amazing cook, I told her I would do the turkey and the main dishes if she would handle the dessert. “Are you sure you don’t want me to cook the turkey?” she said. I was excited to use my grandma’s roaster so I told her I had it covered.

The two of us began to plan the table decorations, and between both of our houses, we set one of the most beautiful tables I have ever seen. “Everything is going to be just perfect,” I told myself. I was going to make a Thanksgiving dinner to be remembered.

Sometimes the best-laid plans go sideways. Thanksgiving morning the comedy of errors began. As I set the turkey in the roaster pan, another friend told me, “You need to add water because if you don’t it will burn.” I questioned that, but then again, what did I know. I had never used the roaster before and cooking is not exactly my gift. An hour later the turkey was steaming, not roasting. The legs looked like they were going to fall off. Help!FullSizeRender

I tried to call my friend, who was also my neighbor, but she was not home. Her husband told me she was at our other neighbor’s house. In a panic I called, and when my neighbor answered the phone, I said, “I have a turkey emergency!” Within minutes, I had three women in pajamas standing in my kitchen. The first thing they said was, “Why is there water in here?” As one of them tried to lift the turkey out of the pan, she said, “You didn’t get everything out of the inside.” I had looked in the wrong end apparently. There I stood in my kitchen in tears as they tried to fix the turkey.

My friend, the amazing cook, said, “Let me take it to my place and cook it because I have a new electric thermometer.” Out the door the turkey went. Silently I cried, as I put the roaster away. I wanted so badly to cook the “perfect turkey” so I could have the “perfect dinner” to go with the “perfect table”. A few hours later my friend called to tell me the turkey was done. “Are you kidding me? It can’t be done yet,” I said. “We are not going to eat for a while.” Her response was, “My thermometer says it is.”

As we were getting everything ready to serve dinner, my husband began carving the turkey. I will never forget the look on his face as he informed us that it was not cooked all the way through. The turkey was then cut into pieces and placed on the barbecue. The poor thing was steamed, baked, and barbecued before it made it to the table. My “perfect dinner” was not perfect. Then again, maybe it was better than perfect.

I had put so much emphasis on the “perfect dinner” that I forgot what Thanksgiving was all about. It took a turkey to put things in perspective for me. As we sat down for dinner, we gave thanks and spent an evening filled with laughter about the stupid turkey. What mattered more than anything was the fellowship that took place around the dinner table. Too often we get so wrapped up in the production of the meal that we forget the reason behind Thanksgiving. Looking back, it was a Thanksgiving to be remembered. Maybe it wasn’t what I had originally envisioned but I am glad that it turned out the way it did. That day has become one of my favorite memories.

Now I am not saying I still don’t go a bit overboard on my table but I have learned that family and friends are more important than the turkey. Last year the same family came over and we shared what we were thankful for as we ate our dinner. We played Bunco and the room was filled with laughter. As I watched my friend hold her grandson, I gave thanks that she was responding to her cancer treatment. I had learned a lesson in what was truly important.

This Thanksgiving, don’t get so wrapped up in the table decorations, the “perfect turkey”, and all the other details that you forget to really enjoy the day, instead make memories that will last a lifetime. Take time to give thanks, and remember, Thanksgiving is not just about the turkey.

Also Posted on The Whatever Girls and on Living Better 50 Magazine.Whatever-Girls-ButtonLB50ContributorSQ

 

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You Owe Him Nothing

37465687_mIt was the end of the day and I could not wait to get home from school. Just before the final bell rang, an office TA walked in with a bouquet of flowers and a card. The room erupted with remarks about, someone having an admirer. Much to my surprise the long stem roses were for me. The card attached said, “What does a guy have to do to get on your busy calendar to take you out?”

When the bell rang, I ran to my car trying to avoid running into him. The roses were beautiful but I did not want to go on a date with him. I felt like I was somehow obligated to accept his invitation because he bought flowers for me.

When my dad came home he asked me about the flowers and I explained my dilemma. I will never forget what my dad told me. He said, “You do not owe this boy or any other man that comes along, anything. You did not ask for the flowers, he bought them for you because he chose to on his own.” My dad went on to say that I was never to feel obligated to any man who bought me something or was nice to me. My dad also told me that I should never go out with someone I was not interested in and that if a guy made me feel like it was an obligation, I should tell him, “I owe you nothing.”

That next day at school he asked when I was available to go out. I very nicely explained to him that I was not interested and said, “Thank you for the flowers.” He was not very happy about my nicely put “no thank you” and told me that he had spent his money on the flowers so I at least owed him one date. The wise words of my dad blared like a bullhorn in my head. I looked him straight in the eye and said, “My father told me that I owe no man anything. You chose to buy flowers but that doesn’t mean I owe you a date.” I know he was not happy but he seemed to clearly understand what my dad told me and he accepted it and moved on.

The words of my father are for you too. You never owe a man anything because he bought you something or was kind to you. If you think that you need to go out with someone because you feel obligated, that is a red flag. Healthy relationships do not start out of a sense of obligation. Never allow someone to pressure you into a date and if a “no thank you” is not enough to get your point across, go to your parents and tell them what is happening. In the words of my dad, “you owe him nothing.”

 

Originally Written for the Whatever Girls.

 

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