Tag Archives: prayer

Gift From “Miss Annie”

Whether growing lemons, crocheting angels, teaching English in the ESL program, or playing the piano at her church, “Miss Annie,” as she’s often called, is the personification of kindness mixed with creativity. She would quickly add that she’s simply responding to the love of Jesus and her main aim is to glorify Him.

I’d like to tell you about the Christmas gift Miss Annie gave me. But, first, let me tell you a little about Miss Annie.

I first met Anne Parks in 1968 when my husband and I visited the church where her husband was pastor and she was pianist. We chose to join a different church but have always been friends since then and, a little later, became co-workers in literacy missions. Anne and I first took a literacy course in about 1972, learning how to “each one teach one” in the Frank Laubach adult reading ministry. Then, about twenty-three years later, we both took a weekend course to be eligible for teaching English to folks of other languages. All along, she has inspired me with her enthusiasm and love for the Lord. She never fails to have some new neat idea for teaching. She and I can have an exultant conversation in the middle of Walgreen’s or wherever we meet as we talk about “our children” of all ages.

Anne and her husband Lester were very, very close. When he died suddenly of a heart attack her life changed drastically. But she held her head high and constantly looked for ways to help other people, thus assuaging her grief. The Lord comforted her, she said, in so many different ways, some kind of odd. She tells of a time when she felt very lonely. Her brother also had just died and she was tending his garden and wondering just how she would endure the long rows of peas and corn without even a dog to keep her company. She prayed, she says, that something, or someone, would fill the terrible holes in her life. In less than five minutes she heard a hassling sound, a dog coming down the row. That dog she viewed as an instant answer to prayer. She stayed at her side all day every day, then went home at night. “Miss Annie” laughed and said she had a dog and didn’t even have to pay his bills.

So—that Christmas gift I mentioned. Annie left it at the animal hospital for me, so Charles came in with it one night when he came home from work. It was a generous box of fruit from hers and her neighbor’s yards: grapefruit, lemons, satsumas, and nuts. I laughed when I saw what she had wrapped each globe of citrus in. She used old patterns, the perfect weight of paper for wrapping lemons! Her note indicated she was recycling and if I wanted an outfit made with the pattern I could keep the pieces. This was a reminder of another characteristic of my special friend. She is a very good steward of whatever the Lord has given her and considers waste a sin.

But the best part of the gift was right on top. It was a photocopied poem she’d written. I knew she must have put copies in other gift boxes she prepared. Around the edges of the paper she’d written in bold black marker “Thank you–For Your Gift of Jesus….Blessed Christmas”

Here’s the poem:

Thank You Lord

Just this once, Lord, I want to come to You with no problems, but to simply say: THANK YOU…

For your forgiveness when I fail.

For the sheer joy of sleep when I’m terribly tired.

For the silent strength of humility when pride overtakes me.

For the justice of your laws when men are cruel.

For the remedies for sickness when I am ill.

For the simplicity of orderliness when I face confusion.

For the assurance that you have made a place especially for me when I feel inadequate among my peers.

For the joy of helping others when I see people in need.

For the earthly evidences of your will when I’m trying to find out what life is all about.

For the reality of your world when I stray too far into fantasy.

For the rightness of reason when I panic too quickly.

For the fun and laughter that refreshes when everything gets too serious.

For the renewal in moments of silence when I’m dizzy being so busy in a hectic world.

Thank you, my Lord, for all these things. But most of all, thank You for your abiding presence, and your Book of Directions I can read daily. Your WORD–for directions and how to live a fulfilled life… THANK YOU MY LORD!  —A.T.P.

May we, like Miss Annie, write our thank you letter to Jesus.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

citrus

 

 

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Prayer Shawl in Progress

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The very rhythm of knitting is soothing and healing

 

I took my current knitting with me to the assisted living facility where I give devotionals each week. I wanted my “girls” to pray over it with me.

Most of the ladies understood my request. I showed them the dozen or so rows I had finished and explained how long it would be. We talked about the recipient of the shawl, that as yet I don’t know who it is but am sure God does. We talked about the mingled shades of blue and dusty green and about how the variegated yarn makes its own pattern. I told them I would pray out loud while they prayed in their hearts and passed my knitting around the circle so each one could touch it as we prayed.

A prayer shawl, as described by the original Prayer Shawl Ministry team, is a shawl prayed over in the making, given to someone who is prayed for, who then can pray while comforted by its warmth around her shoulders. To learn more about how to knit and about the ministry, go to http://www.shawlministry.com.

My sister Jackie introduced me to the making of prayer shawls. She and another knitting sister, Suzanne, are part of a knitters’ group who make prayer shawls every year where they live. I don’t belong to a group. Thus, my desire to ask my sweet praying friends at Magnolia Place to pray over my work with me.

It was a sweet prayer time, each passing yarn and needles to the next as I prayed. We prayed for the well being of the shawl recipient, whoever she is, for her health and happiness and peace. One lady misunderstood about passing it so sat clutching it too long. I had to gently extricate it from her fingers and send it on around the circle. With these friends, misunderstandings are frequent because of hearing loss or confusion or whatever. And it’s all okay, because we understand each other’s hearts.

And certainly God understands too!

One of the “girls” asked me to teach her how to knit. I said sure I’d love to teach her. Immediately, she began back-pedaling. Oh, no, she said, she’s too old to learn. Fear fleeted across her face. I wished so much I could pass on my little bit of skill because I longed for her to have that comfort and companionship.

The very rhythm of knitting is soothing. Aside from that, it is a joy to create something beautiful. God made us in His image and there’s something in all of us that cries out to “make something.” Then, thirdly, what absolute fun it is to give away a completed prayer shawl, pair of mittens, or a hat.

If you are a knitter or a crocheter I hope you’ll consider making a prayer shawl. If you’re not either of those, maybe you’re a baker, a tailor, a photographer, a gardener, or a candlestick maker. Or maybe, joy of joys, you make music! Whatever you make, use it to make a “joyful noise” unto the Lord!

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How Do You Worry?

While giving a devotional at a nearby assisted living home I asked the residents in my small group how they worry. They looked at me with very puzzled expressions. One shrugged, and then said she doesn’t worry. Others were quiet. I prodded a little. How about when someone didn’t do their task just as they’d like it done? How about when a friend spoke sharply to them? How about when they learned family members were sick or having some other trouble? How about world news?

Slowly their faces showed they were somewhat involved in worry. But one insisted she doesn’t worry, that she just trusts in God. I told her that’s exactly what she needs to do. But then I added, “What if you did worry, how would you do it?”

Silence. A shrug or two. Eyes facing their laps. (“What is this crazy woman trying to do, make us start worrying?”)

Yes, I began to tell them how to worry. By thinking about the problem, whatever it is. Thinking and thinking and thinking. All day long, maybe all night long.

Understanding appeared in their sweet wrinkled faces. Slowly they began to express some worries they had. One had been very irritated by an attendant at the home who wouldn’t make her bed the way she wanted it. Another has a friend who isn’t well.

Having established how we worry–by holding onto some thought as stubbornly as a bulldog gnaws his favorite bone–then I could tell them that prayer works the same way, only it’s positive and good and brings peace. When those worrisome thoughts try to take over we need to replace them with prayers.

Paul in Philippians 4:8 tells us some things to think on, prayer thoughts to send the worries away: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

We spent a few minutes thinking about what is true, honest, just, pure, lovely and of good report. The Bible is true, they said. They named folks who are honest. We decided God is just, the weather is just, time is just, same for every one of us. Babies are pure, God is pure, newfallen snow is pure. Our grandchildren are lovely (most of the time!) as well as camellia blossoms, birds perched on a branch, smiles of friends. And we talked about the report that so many folks have come to know the Lord through Billy Graham’s recent video, that the Lord is still using Billy Graham in his nineties to bring thousands to become children of God.

We are worrisome creatures. We worry about almost everything, our fingernails, our credit cards, our doctor’s appointments, our dinner menu, our children, our church, whether it will rain or whether it won’t rain, etc. etc. Deciding not to worry doesn’t work nearly as well as deciding to replace worry with prayer. Next time the train is taking forever to pass and you’re drumming your fingers on the steering wheel in impatience, begin to pray for the conductor and other employees on the train, pray for the people behind you, and thank the Lord the signal stopped you so you’re safe watching the train and not in front of it!

 

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