Tag Archives: spirituality

BEYOND DREAMS

Five-Minute-Friday.1Joining the Five Minute Friday community of bloggers today with a one word prompt. With a one word prompt we write for five minutes, unedited.

 

 DREAM

fIRST thoughts.2Ephesians 3:20

God is able to do more than we can ever ask for or imagine.     

 I never dreamed about my retirement years. I loved teaching too much; the challenge of reaching my students became my ministry, my passion. Even on holidays and summer break I continued to make plans, create lessons, design units of study.

After age 60 I told people I would continue teaching as long as it was fun. Which meant, only as long as I enjoyed the challenge and felt somewhat successful would I continue to teach.DMSawards

And then in 2010 the fun was gone; I couldn’t see improvement in my students. By October I knew it was time to go. I told my principal I hoped I could make it to Christmas.

In retirement I have found opportunities I did not expect: time for relaxing, reading, and writing this blog, ways to minister and give mercy, a space and supplies to create in a variety of ways – even opportunity to teach some teens and pre-teens art.

I’ve found a group of prayer warriors who circle round each other each Wednesday night to pray for others and those among us in need. These women have battled cancer and other diseases that hover close when we reach our sixties and seventies. Some have become caregivers for their child or husband or other relatives.   Together their collective wisdom can address most any crisis with a compassionate spirit of encouragement. Just this week, instead of spending half the hour in prayer we spent the whole hour praying for each other and others we knew.

SewingHandsThe other thing about these women that challenges me is how many ways they minister to others, from collecting supplies to fill backpacks in the fall, organizing toiletry supplies for the homeless in the winter, preparing and delivering food to many in need, fundraising for a women’s shelter, visiting assisted living homes, sewing and crocheting items to send to Haiti, Honduras, and Africa. I’m leaving out more of their good works. They are widows, single mothers, married with grandchildren, black and white, who welcome all who enter our class.ChloLucy

I’ve also found a beautiful deep well of riches of spirituality from writers and bloggers. Women I’ve never met, except through their writing, have stirred my heart, challenged my thinking, opened my mind, and given me dreams to share my story and my writing.

The verse in Ephesians from the Amplified Bible says this about what God can do: far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams]

Today I thank God for

  • the blessings I have found in retirement
  • Wednesday night prayer warriors
  • His power that is at work in us
  • writers and bloggers with hearts dedicated to their Father

JoyMartell

Confession: I began this in morning and when I came back to at 7:30 P.M. it turned into a blog much longer than five minutes!

 

 

 

 

Finding Joy in Old Hymn, Part 2

OthouFountO THOU FOUNT OF EVERY BLESSING

Love this old song. Read the post on Part 1 here.

So often I find myself singing without engaging my brain. The melody may reach my heart, but I can sing the words while engaging in totally different thoughts. This song is rich with truths; you just have to dig a little to grasp some of its depths.

I’ve connected this verse with the Scripture shown below.

Slide7Slide3OThouFount.4

I’ve put all of these quotes in a PDF (click here: OthouFount.Cards) so you can download them and print them out. You can hang them as a banner to remind of our “hope of endless glory” throughout your day.

banner of hymn

I’m thankful for the blessings found in singing old familiar hymns and for our Hope found in our Savior.

JoyMartell

 

 

The Pocket Prayer

I’m reading Max Lucado’s book, before amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer. As usual, Max’s writing takes those deep subjects on spirituality and makes them memorable and practical. In this book he takes the Lord’s Prayer and pares it down to its bare bones. He calls this prayer a pocket prayer.before amen.2

How often have you prayed the Lord’s Prayer? When I was in elementary school I remember every morning standing with hand over heart and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Then we all bowed our heads and repeated the Lord’s Prayer. But the thing about reciting or repeating a familiar prayer or pledge is that it becomes so familiar that the meaning is often forgotten.

The study guide at the end of this book provides a rich in-depth personal study that I’m still working through. I love this format that you can use with any Bible study: P R A Y

  • Personalize – examine yourself
  • Reflect – study Scriptures that provide deeper insight
  • Abide – pray with specific guidance from your study
  • Yield – surrender your heart and comply with God’s willPocketPrayer

And then there is the Pocket Prayer itself. I’ve written it on Post-its and shared it. I’ve put it on a wall, and I’ll share it with you here.

Father

you are good.

I need help. Heal me and forgive me.

They need help.

Thank you.

In Jesus’ name, amen.

I hope you can see how these simple statements can expand with your words and thoughts so this prayer becomes specific to your needs yet the format remains the same.

Read the book to be enriched by this study. And resources? Oh my, there is a DVD study with Max, a small book for $2.99 with 40 simple prayers, a journal for your prayers, greeting cards, and a worship collection with various artists.

Sign up for the Pocket Prayer challenge by Max at Bible Gateway and get the Pocket Prayers ebook written by Max and his daughter, Andrea.

#74. Today I am thankful for this resource to deepen my walk with my Father.

JoyMartell

Are you counting gifts every day? Are you writing them in a journal? It’s the best way I know to be in continual prayer with the Giver of every good and perfect gift. (James 1:17)

DEAR

Joining the Five Minute Friday community of bloggers today with a one word prompt. 

Dear Jesus,

I have a problem.

Dear Child,

I am the answer.

Are you old enough to remember this? I used it for a bulletin board sometime around 1971. Don’t know where it came from but have always found it powerful.

Dear Jesus.

Dear Father.

What a gift we have that we may address these beings so easily, in such a familiar way. Talking to the Father about ANYTHING.

Now notice this response. Jesus doesn’t ask us what the problems is. He already knows. One of my favorite verses from Romans 8 says the Spirit intercedes for us through wordless groans. Sometimes that’s all I have — groans because of

  • deep pain that cannot be expressed in words.
  • confusion or stress
  • situations that seem to have no solution
  • friends or family walking through grief

And the reassurance? This part requires belief, but even when you doubt, He hears you.

He. Is. The. Answer.

He has the answer, and He is the answer.

This song’s lyrics just run through my head. Elvis and the Jordanaires sang it, but Mosie Lister wrote it.

My Jesus knows when I am lonely;

He knows each pain;

He sees each tear.

He understands each lonely heartache,

He understands, and always cares.

My Jesus knows just what I need.

DearJesus

Today I thank God for

  • access to Him at any moment
  • His Spirit who knows my needs and intercedes for me
  • assurance that He is always with me.

JoyMartell

 

NOTICE

Joining the Five Minute Friday community of bloggers today with a one word prompt. 

NOTICE

Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts, taught me to notice God’s daily, ordinary gifts. This gift of noticing moments in my day truly changed my perspective. By putting them down one at a time, every day, I learned to give thanks in all things.

I’ve given many of her books away; I want others to learn this amazing joy in what really matters. God gifted Ann with words to awaken this joy —- the New Testament is full of thanks and words to encourage our thankfulness. But Ann’s words touched my broken heart, and each day that I counted gifts, I slowly healed.???????????????????????????????

Walking in a valley of grief and heartbreak can just consume a soul; your head is down, looking at your feet, and you miss the rainbow, the mockingbird’s song, the smell of spicy apple cider.

Ann’s story of counting and finding God in the moments moved me to begin this blog and to continue to notice God’s blessings.

In this traditional season of thanksgiving, notice the small, the ordinary, the overlooked blessings.

How amazing is this gourd?

How amazing is this gourd?

That gratitude for the seemingly small and insignificant — this is the seed that plants the giant miracle in the midst of it all.                Ann Voskamp

Today I thank God for

  • every moment of grace
  • a story in today’s mail from my great-niece (we’re going to add to this story by mail!)
  • prayer with two friends at table in Panera
  • warm gingerbread with pumpkin applesauce

JoyMartell

 

 

STILL

Joining the Five Minute Friday community of bloggers with a one word prompt. Today was a “Grace” day so it’s late when I can sit down at the computer.

STILL

Even when I feel empty and sad,

He still waits with me.

Even if I get too busy to talk to Him,

Still He is ready to listen when I finally make time for Him.

Even if I rush to solve a problem on my own,

Still He waits for me to seek His wisdom.6AMmist.2

Even when I work myself into a frenzy,

Still He gives me rest and peace.

Even when I walk in the valley of regrets,

He still forgives and forgets.

Even when I think I don’t deserve His grace,

Still He offers amazing, abundant grace!PathHeb.13

Even if the future looks bleak, full of pain,

Still He offers to heal me with the promise of a home where there is no death, no sadness, no pain.

Thank You God for the hope of Heaven. I look forward to a never ending home where there is no night, where the glory of the God is its light.

JoyMartell

 

 

Trails of Memory

Heart Lessons

BrookeJen.5gr

Yesterday morning heading north on the Interstate I take the exit for Bethel Road. I’m trying to remember the turn-off road to camp. And then what is the next turn? I miss the road but see a small sign and turn back.

Winding through farm land and carefully mowed houses until the woods come up on both sides of the road dark, green and cool. Just when it looks like the road goes even deeper into the forest, a clearing appears, a big sign and I’m here.SignCampentrance

I’m here for the day as a volunteer for a camper with special needs. I’ll just hang out with him, making sure he participates where he can and supervise his favorite activity, wading in the creek.

We swim in the morning, but I forgot how steep that hill is to the top of the ridge. When we finally reach the top, a clearing surrounded by tall pine trees is bathed in bright sunlight. The perfect spot for a swimming pool.IMG_0200

All day memories reach out and tug at me: the pool, the gravel road straight up to the pool, the bridge to the cabins, the creek. But the most  important picture I must take today for both Larry and I is the flagpole and the words below it..flagpole

I drove Jennifer down the road to camp for many summers. Once she had a drivers license she drove herself.

I’ve not been here since 2004, two years after she died.

She loved this place, loved being a counselor, even continued to work in summer camps while in college.

But the first trip for overnight camp was a little shaky. Packing for camp began a ritual that stayed with her through her twenties – make a list of EVERYTHING you need.

The list from 6th or 7th grade

The list from 6th or 7th grade

Notice the medicine list on the right. This kid had allergies of most anything growing outdoors along with a strong possibility of getting a case of poison ivy.

Her best friend, Brooke (on the left), joined her on this adventure; Jennifer was 11 and Brooke was 12 this year, two quiet, shy friends who could play together for hours with never a cross word.

Crossing the bridge to the cabins

Crossing the bridge to the cabins

Unfortunately the bare concrete cabin did not reassure her or Brooke  that this was the place for them.BrookeJen.cabin.5gr

Her journal from those days reads like a schedule (spelling is her creative version):

I just arrived at camp. I’m very very bored. My medcine just fell on the floor and broke into pieces. What a drag! This night we had a devotional then we did silly games. Dinner was pretty good with hambrugers, pato chips and walermelon. When I went to sleep I was home sick so Brooke slept with me.

The homesickness continued for both girls. She called me Wednesday night and then slept with her counselor. Brooke woke them up at 3 AM when she threw up.The next two summers the girls went to Brooke’s church camp.

As her participation in the church youth group expanded during her high school years, Jennifer returned to Valley View first as a junior counselor. During her junior and senior years she served as a senior counselor.

Counselors spent hours in training for their positions to learn teamwork, leadership skills, Bible lessons to teach, how to handle difficult situations, etc. Relationships with the counselors and her campers gave her confidence and a sense of purpose as no other activity did.

Trust Fall during training

TRUST FALL DURING TRAINING

Jennifer on back row with her campers and other counselors

JENNIFER ON BACK ROW WITH HER CAMPERS AND OTHER COUNSELFORS

Friendships formed and these girls remembered her influence after her death

FRIENDSHIPS FORMED, AND THOSE GIRLS REMEMBERED HER INFLUENCE AFTER HER DEATH.

Throughout my day at Valley View these pictures flashed through my memory. After Jennifer died some of her friends who had worked with her at camp wanted to remember her time of love and service there. This is the plaque they left for such a memory.

I am so thankful for her years at Valley View Camp, for

  • learning sacrifice for the team
  • sharing her spiritual walk
  • opportunities to grow
  • those who have worked to continue this Christian camp for each generation that follows

    My favorite picture of her at camp

    MY FAVORITE PICTURE OF HER FROM CAMP

JoyMartelll