I came across this article about the White Christmas Stocking that I felt I wanted to share it with others.
THE WHITE STOCKING (adapted by Carolyn Cox, Canberra)
‘Twas the night before Christmas as I walked through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The presents had been wrapped and placed under the tree
I paused, tired, excited, and then giggled with glee.
The stockings were hanging and were beautifully filled
No one had been forgotten, though the credit card was billed.
As I looked at the scene with the stockings on the ledge.
I noticed one was empty, the one on the edge.
Where’s the Spirit of Christmas – What have I done?
The children’s stockings are all full, except for this one
It was the stocking intended for the child of Bethlehem.
The White stocking for Jesus that was hung up by them.
Of all the people at Christmas, that might be forgotten
How could I not remember the Fathers Only Begotten?
Only He had been left out of the festivities.
As we planned and prepared all, for our families.
As I pondered, I realized this just was not right!
It was His birth that was being celebrated, after this night
I resolved then and there to remember the Lord
And quickly made changes that were easy to afford.
I hung the white stocking in a special place in our home.
And corrected the atmosphere to provide a more spiritual tone.
On Christmas morning I gathered the family together
And each of us wrote on a special piece of paper,
We gave Jesus a gift which we placed in the stocking.
A sincere change of heart, not there for the mocking.
The white stocking hung in our home as a symbol for us
Of the true meaning of Christmas – the Savior, The Lord Jesus
So take your white stocking and hang it with pride
Remember the Savior, put his gift inside
(The White Stocking found at motivatedmamas.net)
Grace and Peace to You My Friends
I am so glad you are here! I’m Ashley, I am 26-years young, a coffee-addict, Army wife and future Chaplain’s spouse, INFJ, extroverted introvert and a 2 on the Enneagram. Originally from Indiana but currently in Missouri, I love Jesus, summer nights, ice cream and coffee dates with my husband, comfy sweatshirts and the feeling of finishing a good book.
I have a heart for helping other women learn to plant deep roots in Christ and grow in their faith; I struggled for many years to achieve any kind of deep spiritual growth and I have a passion for helping other women who may be struggling too. You are not alone.
Prayer is one of those basics of our Christian life, but can be one of the most difficult to begin implementing. A lot of Christians say they need to pray more but struggle to make prayer a daily habit.
Prayer was something I really struggled to incorporate into my life when I became a Christian. I had no idea what I was doing or what to say and this kept me from growing in my faith for a long time. Eventually, I learned more about it from watching others and learning from more mature Christians, but it still overwhelmed me.
When you start to think about who you should be praying for and what you should be praying about, it can start to get incredibly overwhelming. We worry about what to say and how long to pray for and a bunch of other things that don’t really matter.
Learning to pray and pray consistently is just like any other positive habit you try to implement; it’s going to feel odd at first because it’s new but the only way to make it part of your life is to just start.
You might stumble a little and miss some days, but the more you do it, the easier it will become.
Here are some simple ways you can have a better prayer life, starting today!
Keep It Simple
Praying every day really doesn’t require a lot of time and can be done anywhere. After I realized that, I was convicted pretty hard and made the decision to make prayer a priority in my life.
Simplicity took me a long time to get my head around, because talking to the Creator of the universe made me feel like my prayers had to be articulate and long and full of zealous words. But prayer is really just a conversation, just like if you were talking to a friend about your life.
Some of my most honest, raw and intimate prayers have been the ones with the fewest words. A prayer for safety can simply be “Lord I trust in your protection, please keep me and my family safe as we go. Amen.”
Don’t overthink it; just start talking to God about your life, your hopes, dreams, fears and anxieties. It will get easier over time.
Use the Lord’s Prayer found in Mathew 6: 9-13 as a guide if you are unsure where to start or how to pray.
- Start with Praise;
- Pray God’s will to be done in your situation;
- Pray for and thank God for provision over your situation;
- Confess any sin and pray for forgiveness; ask the Holy Spirit to reveal your heart and shine a light on areas that need forgiveness;
- Pray for protection, safety and deliverance from temptation.
As you are studying the bible, you can also use any passage or verse as a guide for prayer. The Psalms are a great place to begin if you are searching for words for prayer and praise.
Find Prewritten Prayers
From guided books to blog posts, there are tons of resources out there for people who are unsure what to pray about or what to say during prayer. These are a great way to get you started and build your prayer vocabulary.
Just on Pinterest alone you can find pins with pre-written prayers for just about anything: anxiety, focus, healing, health, safety, your husband, your kids, your family, your finances, your friends, etc.
Start a prayer board on Pinterest and start grabbing some for future use. You can go follow my Prayer Board on Pinterest to get some ideas!
This may seem like an odd tip, but part of the reason we struggle to pray is because it requires us to slow down and be still in the presence of God. We feel like we don’t have time to slow down, and thus, struggle to pray.
I am not talking about the meditation you may be thinking about; I am talking about meditation on Christ & who He is, on the attributes of God, on His goodness and faithfulness and on Scripture.
Meditation can help you get into that habit of slowing down. It can put your heart at mind in a primed state to engage in meaningful prayer because you are already still and calm, instead of anxious because of all the things you have to do that day.
A good way to do this is to listen to scriptures while practicing deep breathing or reading through a Psalm. You can also play worship music and meditate on the lyrics. I have even created a playlist of my favorite worship songs on Spotify you can use!
By listening to or reading a short passage of encouraging Scripture, your heart is tuned to the Holy Spirit and speaking to God will feel like the natural next step.
The best way to fight prayer overwhelm is to organize it. Spend some time writing down all of the different areas of your life you want to cover in prayer. For example, your categories could be Personal, Marriage, Family/Kids, Friends, Church, Community, Requests, etc.
Under each category, write specific things you want to pray for. Choose 1-2 categories a day to pray through.
If you are someone who writes a to do list or uses a planner to schedule your day, write in your prayer time! Things that require discipline and forethought rarely occur organically during our day. It is important to make time for it and block it off in your schedule.
Set a reminder on your phone, write it in your planner, or leave post it reminders for yourself.
Use a Prayer Journal
Using a prayer journal completely changed my prayer life. Physically writing out my prayers helped me to focus and keep my mind from drifting.
You can use any blank journal for prayer, but the one I use is a yearly prayer journal from ValMarie Paper. It takes care of the Organizing and Journaling all in one!
A big thank you to Ashley for sharing about prayer, you can find more with Ashley at faithfullyplanted.com
I would like to welcome back Crystal Russell back as our guest blogger today.
On Sunday mornings we have a special time of prayer before everything gets started at church.
A group of women gather together to pray.
We pray over the Word that the pastors will bring, the Sunday school teachers, and everyone who will be attending that day.
“for where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” – Matthew 18:20
Promise from Jesus
I often think of this verse when I think of our prayer time.
We can (and should) prayer on our own but I also think that is important to gather together for prayer as well.
We have this promise from Jesus.
Why would we not gather together. He tell us He will be with us in a special way when we do.
The prayers of the early church opened the doors of a prison for Peter (Acts 12:5-10).
It makes in difference in our lives today too.
One of the blessing of learning to pray with another is the rich friendships I have gained. My most trusted friendships are with friends that pray with me.
I challenge you to spend time in prayer
alone, with a friend, with a group.
Prayer is our most powerful weapon.
We need to use it.
Father, thank you for the privilege I have in prayer to come into Your Holy presence. I stand in awe of you as my God and Creator. If that weren’t enough, and it is, when I come before you I get to call you Father. You call me your beloved daughter. You hear every world I pray and when I have no words you know the cry of my heart. Thank you Jesus for your promise you gave us that where two or three are gathered you are with us. Prayer is powerful, may we (your church) be faithful to come before you and use it.
Good Morning, I would like to introduce to you Sarah:
My name is Sarah Ishaku. I set up this blog purposely to provide helpful advice and resources for women who are desiring to build strong marriage relationships. After being married for close to 3 decades, I can testify that a strong marriage relationship not just happen; it takes a woman who draws her strength from Christ to build it.
Are you almost giving up on your spouse? Do you wish you would have known his person before answering yes I do? Maybe you have already labelled your marriage as a failure because you think your spouse can never change. Perhaps you have made all effort to make him behave as you expect but your effort is not making any impact on him. I understand how unresponsive emotions can be in such kind of a relationship. It can be frustrating trying to connect with someone whose attitude irritates you.
We all cherish a relationship where a partner does what you want, but in most cases, we do not get it our own way. What do we do when the situation is not as we expected; should we refrain from the relationship? I don’t think so, there must be a way out, and that is what I want to share with you in this post.
So, this is the way out:
A. Facts You need to know about a man.
1. Know that a man hates to be confronted by his wife.
Your spouse may be doing the wrong thing but he wouldn’t like you to challenge him. He already knows and doesn’t want you to confirm it for him. He would try to be on the defensive side so that you do not intimidate him.
2. Know that too much of complaining makes a man hardened.
When you complain a lot about his attitude, he may want to indulge in it more, to prove to you that he cannot be intimidated by your actions. So he would want to prove that he is a man.
3 Know that men tend to ignore the problem in a marriage.
A man would prefer to be somewhere to find comfort than face the problem in his marriage. He would rather dodge the problem than stand and face it. Check it, how many men go for marriage counselling on their own without their wives pushing them?
A man will always show that he is in charge of the affairs of the family.
No matter your effort to make things work for the family, a man would not want you to take the glory. He wants you to accredit it to him. Failure to do that amounts to a conflict of interest which may push him farther away from you.
A man tends to focus more on work, money, and sports.
A man cherishes his work, money and sports. Usually these three things may take his attention off from you at a point in time. If you try to force yourself on him ahead of those three things it may result in disagreement, and he may accuse you of being dominant.
B. Ways you can Make Positive Change on Your Spouse.
Accept the fact that every human being has limitation.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.Rom.3:23 If we claim we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not us.1 John1:8 When you understand that we all have limitations, you would not easily judge your spouse’s failures. You would appreciate the fact that you are likely to make mistakes also. We are only declared righteous by what Christ did for us; it is not our own effort. Instead of judging your spouse, pray for him.
Instead of dwelling on his negative side, dwell more on his positive side.
No matter how bad a person is, he must have his good side. So, appreciate his good qualities and ask God for wisdom to help him overcome the negative side.
Don’t just complain about everything.
Instead of complaining about everything out of annoyance, let him know clearly the attitude in him that irritates you. While you do that, you must do it with respect. Approach him in the right way and at the right time. For example, if your husband drinks, don’t wait until he is drunk before you complain about it. Instead, talk to him when he is calm, and in a good mood, and respectfully tell him about the effects of his attitude on your married relationship.
4. Have confidence in your spouse
Let your husband know you believe in him. Don’t relegate him to a low status simply because he is failing in some of his responsibilities. No matter the shortcoming of a man, he wants his wife to believe in his capabilities.
5. Accept him.
Accept your spouse for who he is without conditions. If you fail to accept him, he would always go to where he feels relevant. We all want to be accepted by the people around us, every person wants to be relevant.
6. Allow Christ to have control over your life.
Learn to depend on Jesus in everything you do, and stop depending on your emotions. Jesus is the prince of peace; if you remain in him, you would enjoy his peace that surpasses the one you expect from your husband.
7. Take prayer seriously.
Be a woman of prayer; never relent in your prayers. Take time to pray for yourself, and your spouse. By this, God will make His grace available to you, and you will be surprised how great an impact you would make in the life of your spouse. The changes may not be automatic, but gradually they will manifest.
Above all, no matter how you feel, always remember that God loves you, and He means well for you. Imagine God giving His only begotten Son to die in your place so that in him you might have a life. If God can do that for you, what else would He deny you? Surely, He will grant you peace and a loving relationship with your spouse.
Two other men, both criminals were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with two criminals, one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. The people stood watching and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others, let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the chosen One.” Luke 23:32-35
The seven times Jesus spoke on the cross are like seven windows that gave us insight into the mind and heart or our dying Savior. In the first three, our Savior elaborates on the love in His heart for His enemies, the two thieves on the cross and also His mother Mary.
Today, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we reflect on these words, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing. The crucifixion was a brutal act that was not only accompanied by humiliation and scorn, but also by terrible suffering. In those moments of Jesus’ deepest agony, Christ speaks not a curse but a prayer, not a prayer of vengeance, but of sympathy and forgiveness. It is unbelievable by true.!
However, Jesus has a haven amid his suffering: His Father. His Father is also our Father. In our worst grief we can pray to Him. Jesus prays a prayer of compassion. “They don’t know what they are doing!” Jesus prays for others, not for himself. He makes excuses for them rather than condemning them. He preached it, now He was doing it. It was a test of discipleship. He loves us until the very end. His prayer includes everybody: “Father, Forgive them.: And to this day, Jesus intercedes for us. We learn to receive and grant forgiveness at the cross.
Dear Jesus, by your wounds we are healed, thank you for your great sacrificed in our place and your forgiveness of our sins even when we don’t deserve it. Help us to forgive others the way you have forgiven me. Amen
Grace and Peace to You My Friends
Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves.” It is written,” he said to them, “My house will be called a house of prayer, “but you are making it a den of robbers.” The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them, But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant. Matthew 21:12-15
It was Passover week. The Passover was the highlight of the Jewish calendar. People came from all regions and many countries to be present for the celebration. Upon arriving, they were obligated to meet two requirements. First, an animal sacrifice, usually a dove. The dove had to be perfect, without blemish. If you brought a sacrifice from your won source, it would be considered insufficient by the authorities in the temple. So under the guise of keeping the sacrifice pure, the sellers sold doves at their price. Second, the people had to pay a yearly temple tax. During Passover, the tax had to be rendered in local currency. Knowing many foreigners would be in Jerusalem to pay the tax, money changers conveniently set up tables and offered to exchanged the foreign money for local for a modest fee, of course. It is not difficult to see what angered Jesus. Pilgrims journeyed days to see God, to witness the holy, to worship his majesty. But before they were taken into the presence of God, they were taken to the cleaners.
So I often wonder if Christians today take the time on a Sunday morning to just worship God, one of the ten commandments is this Remember the Sabbath to Keep It Holy, or are we too busy conducting other business instead of doing what we are called to do. To be able to spend sometime on a Sunday morning worshipping God should be an honor for all, to give thanks for all He has done this past week. In order for all of us to have a walk with our Risen Lord we need to take the time in getting to know the “Great I Am”
Grace and Peace to You My Friends
Lent is a time for self-reflection and deepening one’s relationship with God in Jesus Christ. For many this season leading up to Easter will be weeks of giving up something they enjoy as a sign of contrition for mistakes they have made. Others will spend extra time in devotions and prayer, while a few more will carry a cross or nail in their pocket as a reminder of the sacrifice Jesus made for them and the whole world.
If those practices work for you, wonderful! Others may want to find different ways of observing this holy season. Consider adopting one or more of the following creative uses of the days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday.
- Pray for others you see as you walk to and from throughout your day
- Volunteer one hour or more each week with a local shelter, tutoring program, nursing home, prison ministry.
- Participate in a Lent-a-Day-practice and pray each day with your camera in your hand. start praying
- Cultivate a life of gratitude. Write someone a thank you letter each week and be aware of how many people have helped you along life’s journey.
- Create a daily quiet time. (this is something I do, I drive my youngest back and forth to school, and when I pick her up I am at her school an hour to spend time alone with God. Read a daily devotional for the season of lent.
- Give up soft drinks, fast food, tea, or coffee. Give the money you save to help local folks or those in a different part of the world who are in crisis.
- Forgive someone who doesn’t deserve it ( maybe even yourself)
- Go deeper into your study in the Bible, be a part of a study group, and meditate on the words “I Am” sayings of Jesus in the Gospel of John
- Start a prayer rhythm. Each day of Lent, pray for another person.
- Tray and electronic fast, give up tv, face book, tweeting, e-mail and all things electronic for one day each week.
Grace and Peace to You My Friends
These are the words from Jesus according to the Gospel of Matthew 7:7-12 Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who ask receives; and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish will give him a snake? If you, then, through you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
Anyone who prays would like to know what kind of God they are praying to. They want to know in what kind of atmosphere their prayers are heard. Do they pray to such a kind-hearted God that He is more willing to give them they are to receive? Jesus was born into a nation that loved prayer and He learnt to cherish prayer. In this part Jesus gives us the Christian principle of prayer.
Jesus’ examples are carefully chosen. Matthew mentions to and Luke adds another one. If children ask for bread, would their father give them a stone? (of course not) If they ask for a fish, would he give them a snake, or a scorpion of they ask for an egg? Small stones on the seashore looked just like small loaves of bread. The snake mentioned here probably refers to an eel that was forbidden food according to Leviticus 11:12 which can be found in the Old Testament. A scorpion looks very much like an egg when it is falling asleep, but it is deadly when it wakes up.
God will never refuse to listen to our prayers, or ridicule them. The lesson here is that God will always hear our prayers, but He will answer them in His way. His way is the way of the perfect wisdom and perfect love. Jesus says we must persevere always because the test of our sincerity lies in this. God will always answer our prayers in the way He sees fit, in wisdom and in love. We must continue praying to God and never stopping. For prayer to a Christian life is just as important as the air we need to breathe each and everyday of our lives. For in prayer we begin to grow closer to God in our daily journey.
Grace and Peace to You My Friends
We, give thanks to You, O God, we give thanks! For your wondrous works declare that Your Name is Near. Psalm 75:1
Don’t ever forget that God is near to you! At times He performs mighty miracles to remind us joust how close He is. But there are many times when we are not so consciously aware of His mighty and righteousness. This prayer address this problem directly. If we feel tempted to question whether God is even aware of our problems, we should begin to praise Him for his might. We should also remind ourselves that God is close to us and we should think of all the times that we have seen His power at work in the world. (the sun, clouds, stars, a newborn baby etc. ) God promised to bring justice to this world, but in His time. While we wait for God to act, we should keep praising him.
When we experience problems in life, it is often extremely difficult to wait on the Lord. The Israelites who were under the yoke of the Roman Empire felt exactly like that. They couldn’t wait for the Messiah to come. After centuries of waiting their hope was fulfilled in the baby who was born in Bethlehem. All that they had to do was wait for His perfect timing.
Whatever situation you might find yourself in today, think of one thing God has done for you recently, and sincerely thank Him for it. Praise Him because He is always near to you and rest assured that you will receive an answer to your prayers.
Jesus Christ is God’s everything for man’s total need (Richard Halverson)