Where are the other Nine?

And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. Luke 17:15-16

One of my favorite thanks devotions from my first book, My TEA CUPP Prayers, comes from the story of the ten lepers in Luke 17. The lepers were shunned members of society, ones who must have desired more than anything else to be healed and welcomed back into the community. The ten lepers had just been hollering at Jesus, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

Jesus told them to go to the priests, and as they were going they were cleansed. But only one remembered to come back and praise God and give Jesus thanks. So Jesus answered and said,

“Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?” Luke 17:17

Don’t you think Jesus still asks that today? Where are the other nine? WHERE ARE THE OTHER NINE? For what have you prayed recently that God heard and answered your prayers? Was it a safe trip home? Was it a check in the mail? Was it healing for a loved one? What blessings has He sent our way before we even asked? Oh, let us run back to Him and throw ourselves at Jesus’ feet and give Him thanks!

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever. Psalm 107:1 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP: Remember, the first “T” in TEA CUPP is for Thanksgiving. Read the story of the ten lepers again in Luke 17:11-19. Have you forgotten to thank Jesus for anything? Ask Jesus to open your eyes to any overlooked blessings. Tell Jesus THANK YOU today!

What are some things I’m especially thankful for this year?  Jesus, God’s Word, my family, miraculous healing, a new grandbaby on the way, strength to run a marathon, publishing my second book, Mom’s TEA CUPP Prayers, and for you, my dear TEA CUPP friend. Thank you for reading my devotions and accepting Jesus’ invitation to have TEA with Him each day.

 In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NKJV)

Scripture from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.

French Fries for the Father

I’m rerunning this golden-arches-oldie for you today as I try to meet a publication deadline on my next book …stay salty, dear TEA friends!

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
James 1:22

One day, God the Father decided to try out the local fast-food restaurant. He drove His car past the golden arches to the drive-through, contemplating what to order. God heard French fries were popular with the people, so He resolved to give them a taste.

“Hello. Welcome to the Golden Arches. May I take your order?” the speaker squawked at God.

God, with His exceptional hearing and knowledge of several languages, had no trouble understanding the faceless voice. “Yes, I’d like to try your French fries today,” He answered.

“Would you like a drink with that?” asked the voice.
“No, just French fries, please,” answered God, the Living Water.
“That will be $2.29. Please drive to the window,” instructed the voice.

And so, God the Father pulled ahead to the window, found some coins with Caesar’s picture in the glove box, and purchased His French fries.

God drove away from the restaurant, sampling the fries. They were cool. Room temperature. Not steaming hot, like French fries fresh from the deep fryer should be. God was not pleased. This reminded Him of some of His people who were not cold nor hot. They go to church and hear His Word, but don’t act upon it (James 1:22). They love God with only part of their hearts, instead of all their hearts (Matt. 22:37-38). He spit out the lukewarm fries and drove back to the drive-through.

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of My mouth.
Revelation 3:15-16 (NIV)

“Hello. Welcome to the Golden Arches. May I take your order?” the speaker squawked at God again.
“Yes, I was just here and ordered fries, but they aren’t hot,” replied God patiently.
“Oh, we are very sorry. We’ll replace those with a new batch,” answered the voice. “Please pull forward.”

So, God drove ahead to the pick-up window again, eager to try some properly cooked French fries. He was handed a container of piping hot French fries.
“Thank you,” said God as He pulled away.

Almost on the road, He sampled this new batch of French fries. They were definitely hot out of the fryer, steaming as He lifted one to His mouth. But the taste! There was no salt. How could they forget the salt? This reminded God of His people who had lost their saltiness. They were not willing to give up everything to follow Him (Luke 14:33). God drove to the nearest trash can and tossed out the un-salty fries, before heading again to the drive-up window.

Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land nor for the dunghill, but men throw it out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!
Luke 14:34-35

“Hello. Welcome to the Golden Arches. May I take your order?” the speaker squawked at God for the third time.
“I was just here twice for French fries. The first time they were lukewarm, and I spit them out. The second time they had lost their saltiness, and I threw them away. Do you think you could give Me some HOT and SALTY fries, please?” His voice commanded.
“Yes, Sir!” responded the wise worker inside the restaurant. “Please pull forward.”

So for the third time, God drove to the pick-up window and received His French fries, hoping for piping hot, salty ones this time. And He was not disappointed. They were just as He desired.

Today’s TEA CUPP: God the Father wants us to be hot and salty for Him. He spits out the lukewarm and those who have lost their salt. How can we stay hot and salty? Dig into His Word the Bible, pray for God to show us where we fall short, meet with other Christians for Bible study, keep seeking Him, share with others… never stop growing and serving Jesus. Then we will be fit for service, not with the burger king, but with the true King of kings.

You are the salt of the earth…
Matthew 5:13

Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another.
Mark 9:50

…With all your offerings you shall offer salt.
Leviticus 2:13

Scripture from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.

Tea in the Storm

The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Genesis 1:2 (NKJV)

God has always been in the storms.  Ever since He created the earth, His Spirit has hovered over the face of the waters (Genesis 1:2).  Today with hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, blizzards, cancer, rushing children to hospitals, family difficulties, government corruption…we may wonder where God is.  Yet He is right there, ready to carry us through the storm. 

One Sunday our pastor gave a sermon on the passage from Mark 4:35-41 about Jesus calming the sea.  He pointed out for us in Mark 4:36 where it says, “And other little boats were also with Him.”  There are other little boats on the sea, too.  We aren’t the only ones in this storm.  Others need Jesus’ help and our example of faith.  Let’s ask Jesus to calm the storm for everyone.

Today I give you a special TEA CUPP with verses from this story.  You can claim God’s promise to still the waves.  You can wake Jesus up and ask Him, “Don’t You care?”  You can stand amazed at His miracles and proclaim, “Who is this, that even the wind and sea obey Him?”

T for Thanksgiving:

He calms the storm,
So that its waves are still.
Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men! Psalm 107:29,31 (NKJV)

E for Exalting:

 And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!” Mark 4:41 (NKJV)

A for Admitting:

 

But He said to them, Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” Mark 4:40 (NKJV)

 C for Calling:

On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, Let us cross over to the other side.” Mark 4:35 (NKJV)

 U is for Understanding our story:

Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with HimAnd a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. Mark 4:36-37 (NKJV)

P is for Promises:

Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, Peace, be still! And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.  Mark 4:39 (NKJV)

P is for Petitioning:

But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing? Mark 4:38 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP: Read the amazing story in Mark 5:35-41, The Sea is Stilled.  Use these verses as conversation starters in your prayer time with Jesus today, all week, or any time you or loved ones are going through a storm.

The waters saw You, O God;
The waters saw You, they were afraid;
The depths also trembled. Psalm 77:16 (NKJV)

You rule the raging of the sea;
When its waves rise, You still them.  Psalm 89:9 (NKJV)

Scripture from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.

Tools, not Rules

Every job has tools.  Baking a cake calls for a bowl, spoon or mixer, and an oven.  Building a fence takes a saw, hammer, nails, level, and maybe even a post driver.  Painting a house requires paint, brushes, a ladder, and perhaps some scaffolding. Prayer is no different. My TEA CUPP Prayers is about giving ladies tools to pray with Jesus each day. 

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints. Ephesians 6:18 (NKJV)

There is no right way to pray to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. But My TEA CUPP Prayers will help you get started so you can spend time with Him in your own special way.  Let’s unpack the toolbox and see what we might need…

  1. A Bible to read and let Jesus speak to us first.
  2. A bookmark list of prayer requests.
  3. A hymnal to sing praises to God.
  4. A journal to record our prayers.
  5. A pen to write those prayers.
  6. A teacup or mug of your favorite beverage.
  7. A quiet spot for just you and Jesus.

As you sit in your quiet spot, sipping your morning mug, open your Bible (the Psalms, or Genesis, or John are good places to begin).  Read a chapter or two and let God speak to your heart.  Underline your favorite verses and use those verses as conversation starters as you pour your heart out to Jesus in prayer.  You can write the verse in your prayer journal and then add to it all you want to share with the Lord. You’ll find some verses are good for telling God, “Thanks.”  I like to mark those with a “T” in my Bible.  Some verses are good for exalting or praising Jesus. I mark those with an “E” in my Bible.”  Some verses are good for admitting our sins. Those I mark with an “A” in my Bible.  And I keep going with the CUPP for Calling, Understanding, Promises, and Petitions. You can pray all the parts each day or just one part a day, depending on the verses you underline. Soon you will have a prayer routine that is just right for you and Jesus.

If you lose your toolbox or forget to bring it with you, remember, you can still pray!  Strip away the quiet spot, and you just pray amidst the chaos.  Remove the hot drink, and you find yourself drinking Living Water.  Lose the pen and journal, and you pour your heart out with your voice.  Forget the hymnal, and you sing new songs to the Lord of your own.  Misplace your prayer list bookmark, and pray for whomever God puts upon your heart.  Hide your Bible and it’s just you and Jesus (but you best find it for next time!). 

A dear lady in my Bible study group earnestly shared one Wednesday morning, “It doesn’t matter what words you use to pray.  God knows your heart and hears your prayers.  You can’t make your prayer any better with more words or fancier words.  Just pray your heart.”  This stuck with me from that day forward.  It doesn’t matter if I do the entire TEA CUPP or just part of it, or write my prayers, or say them aloud, or use clever words, or simple words…God hears all my prayers.  And when I’m at a loss for words, His Word, the Bible, gives me all the words I need to keep on praying.

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  Hebrews 4:16 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP:  My dear friend, it’s time to pack your toolbox so you are ready to pray!  Find everything you need and lay it out for tomorrow morning.  Set your alarm for 5 a.m., get up, fill your morning mug, be amazed at what God will do with your prayer time.

If you enjoyed this devotion, you might also like to read Prayer Journal How-tos and My Jesus Spot and How to Get Started with Your Jesus Tea.

Where I Met Jesus

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2 (NKJV)

This past weekend I had the joy of sharing my testimony at a reunion with my Iowa State University Track and Cross Country team.  Oh the happiness and tears of seeing these dear sisters again.  Thank you, old teammates, for letting me share my story with you…

For 34 years I’ve had a dream to run a marathon. Two weeks ago God helped me fulfill this dream when I ran my first marathon in Bozeman, Montana. The good news is I finished the race.  The bad news is it took me 34 years, but that’s okay. My goal was to run it in 4 hours.  After 8 miles my legs were hurting, at 18 miles I was ready to stop, but I pressed on. At 22 miles some fellow hollered that I could break 4 hours if I kept going, so I kept going, but crossed the finish line in 4 hours and 7 minutes.  I was so thankful to Jesus to be done, thankful to be close to 4 hours, but a bit disappointed to not have made my goal.  But later, when sharing a meal with my family, I asked my college son Kevin to look up the reference for “I fought the good fight, I finished the race, I kept the faith.”  He found it in his smartphone BIBLE.  The verse comes from 2 Timothy 4:7, 4-7 just like my time, 4 hours and 7 minutes. It was then I knew that God had His hand in the entire race, I was in His will.  I believe God has had HIS HAND on all our lives, ever since He brought us together and through the tragedy that seared our hearts in 1985.

God’s hand has been upon us all since He brought us to Iowa State University in the 1980s.  I see this in those He called into ministry, in those He blessed as wives and mothers, in those who are leading lives of integrity in your chosen professions, and in those who are still seeking, trying to put the pieces back together like me.

I’ve wanted to run a marathon ever since I was 18.  Like most of us, I was in the best shape of my life in the spring of 1985, my freshman year of college, but it didn’t fit in with our track schedule to run a marathon.  I carried the dream with me into the fall cross country season that year, and then came the accident that changed all our lives forever.  In that one day, you and I lost everything dear to us and our dreams crashed in a yard in Des Moines, Iowa. 

But there is Someone who can pull dreams back up and make them happen.

There is Someone who can give us beauty for ashes, joy for tears, and dancing for mourning. 

There is Someone who is with us here right now, still reaching out to hold us in His hands.

I want to thank you for letting me share my story with you today. I’ve had the blessing of sharing this story with ladies groups over the years as I invite them to have TEA with Jesus, but this is my first time to tell you, the dear people who were all so much a part of it.  In my ministry, I encourage ladies to sit down with their Bibles, a cup of tea, and spend time with Jesus each morning.  We all have this cup called life, and we need to refill it with His Word each day.  But sometimes, our cups spill and everything goes pouring out on the ground, all in a moment.  November 25, 1985, was a day like that.

We all have a story to tell.  Yours is just important as mine.  I think of in the BIBLE how there are so many people gathered around Jesus at the cross and some are mentioned like Mary, but there are those on the sidelines who are hurting just as much, but who aren’t mentioned.  Their lives were also forever changed by Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, just as all of us on the cross country and track and men’s team and students and roommates at ISU were changed by the loss of our beloved coaches and teammates.  Thank you for letting me share my part of the story…

I share this in honor of my Savior Jesus and the lives He took 34 years ago so that we could live.  My testimony is a tribute to these dear souls: Coach Ron Renko, Coach Pat Moynihan, Runners Sheryl Maahs, Julie Rose, Sue Baxter, Trainer Stephanie Streit, and their Pilot Burt Watkins. I can’t wait to see them all in heaven!

I run in the path of Your commands,
for You have set my heart free.
Psalm 119:32 (NIV)

This is my running story.

I was not always a runner.  I was the one with the side ache walking at the tail end of the grade school PE class.  I was the one who could never hope to qualify for the presidential fitness award.  I was so slow!  But something happened in late junior high.  I discovered I had something that was needed to be a long-distance runner…perseverance.  And so I left the sprinters to their fast legs and joined the distance runners.  Slowly, slowly the side aches went away and I learned how to run.  In high school, my coach, my team and my workout became the centerpiece of my life.  I was dedicated to a fault, always running my complete workout, never cutting corners, such perfection was my religion.

When I headed to college, I wanted to continue running, so I walked-on as a cross country runner here at Iowa State. I remember the summer day when I walked up the stairs in the old State Gym to Coach Ron’s office to ask if I could join the team.  I was so scared, but he must have already talked to my high school coach and decided to take a risk on me.  A month later I was in the van headed to the grueling pre-season training in Wisconsin with many of you.

Let’s talk about those van rides.  Somehow, everyone knew that the passenger seat in front was a hot seat, whoever sat there got to talk to Coach Ron.  And for some reason, since I didn’t know anyone else on the team, that seat was left for me. When we would return from training or meets, since my parents’ home in north Ames was close to where Coach Ron lived, I was the last one to get dropped off.  I remember him talking and talking to me and I wish I could repeat one sentence for you today of what he said, but I was so young and nervous and just wanted to get home, I don’t think I heard it.  But now I know he was pouring himself out for me, as he did for many of us when we went to his office, sharing his wisdom and love for Jesus. And it was not in vain. Neither were the encouraging words from Coach Pat when I ran my spring track workouts, nor the inspiration from Julie and Sheryl and the smiles from Sue, nor the healing from Stephanie, nor the service from Pilot Burt. None of it was in vain, God had His hand on us all.

Do you recall how twice a day we met together for workouts, running dozens of miles a week?  I was the slowest one.  When the team did 1000 meter repeats, I would finish my 1000 meters just when you were leaving for the next 1000 meters.  I would run up and down the hills crying at the end of the line, but I kept running.  And the miles paid off by spring of my freshman year when I ran my best 10K ever. I kept on running for our coaches and team, you were like a family to me, you were my church, until that November day of my sophomore year…

The sidewalks in Ames, Iowa were glazed with ice as we ran our afternoon workout. We, the junior varsity runners, were on our own this day because our coaches and faster teammates were at the National meet in Wisconsin. We thought of you as we jogged along, mostly in the grass because the walks were so slick.  After running together as a team twice a day for months, we felt a strong connection to those of you at the National meet, even though we weren’t there.  As we dutifully completed our workout in the fading light of that November afternoon, we hoped to hear news of victory at Nationals.

As you all know, the year was 1985, long before the days of cell phones.  We didn’t get news in our pockets, nor text messages from friends, nor emails on a computer.  All we had was television news and corded telephones plugged into a wall. And so we awaited good news.

But what interrupted the TV shows that evening was news of a tragedy.  I lived at home with my family still and was watching Wheel of Fortune in our basement with my brother, before diving into another evening of homework.  Partway through the show, newscasters broke in with a startling news announcement:

“A plane has plummeted from the icy skies and crashed in a yard in Des Moines, Iowa.  It was one of three planes returning with the ISU athletes after a second-place finish at the National Cross Country meet.”

I ran screaming up the stairs, unable to believe such awful news.  I called my teammates at the dormitory (on the corded phone) who had just heard the news also.  We decided to meet at the Student Union chapel for prayer (I think Paula set this up), an amazing act for a public university team.  We met and cried and prayed, not knowing who was on the plane that had crashed, and me not truly understanding the ONE to whom we prayed.

The next day we were called together for a meeting with the athletic department in Beyer Hall.  There we embraced you, our teammates who remained, and there we heard the news of who we lost. That single accident took the lives of seven dear people, and changed the lives of all those who knew them:  Our two coaches, three teammates, athletic trainer, and pilot were taken from this world. Now they are part of the great cloud of witnesses who surround us.

The grief was heart-wrenching for their families, and for those of us who lived like a family on the cross country team.

Classes were canceled at the university for a day when a memorial service was held for the athletes.  Our team marched in our gold uniforms and sat together in misery in the ISU Coliseum.  Memorials were given for each beloved person.  The one I remember most was the one Dawn gave for her friend Sheryl.  Before the thousands gathered there, Dawn spoke of how Sheryl was a Christian and is in heaven now, and that if Sheryl had the choice she wouldn’t come back to earth, even if she could.  As I listened with tears spilling from my eyes, I just didn’t understand such faith. Sheryl’s mom was so sad. Why wouldn’t Sheryl want to come back? Why?

In the days that followed, I tried to continue my running workouts along the streets of Ames, Iowa, but could barely lift my legs.  How could I go on without my coaches and teammates?  I questioned, “Why, God? Why?”

Since God allowed my coaches and teammates to be taken away from me, I ran from Him, in search of peace elsewhere, in food, in poor relationships.  Yet those gave no comfort. The plane of my life was on its way to crash, too.

I remember the following spring I made an Easter basket for a boy I liked, filled with M&Ms and other yummy things I never ate because Coach Ron told us not to eat sugar.  But then I found out the boy liked someone else so I was stuck with this basket.  One day I decided I would just eat it, and I ate it all.  That led to another and another and another bag of M&Ms until I had a big problem, eating too much and then running 15 miles to burn it off.  Somehow I found out about a group for people with eating disorders on campus. The day I went there were four of us there from the track and cross country team.  The tragedy had affected us all! But there was no group session or counseling that could take away our eating disorders or sins. We needed a Savior.

By the fall two years after the accident, I had wrecked both my parents’ cars, my bike was stolen, my life was a mess.  One morning on my way to class, I stopped by the chapel of the church where I grew up.  I got down on my knees and poured out my heart to God, asking Him to help me through the mess I had made of my life.  For half an hour I prayed and prayed in that empty church.   When I left the chapel, my heart was lighter, even though I did not know what God was going to do.

Some of you must have been praying for me, because a short time later, my roommates (Becky and Sarah) were invited to attend the Baptist Student Union and brought me along.  It was in the weekly testimonies and singing, that I got to know the Savior of my soul, and my forever friend, Jesus Christ. I learned how God sent His only Son to die for our sins and someday we will be in heaven with Him and all our loved ones. My quest was over – I learned…

Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12 (NKJV)

This was truly a miracle from God.  Jesus gave me the peace and comfort for which I’d been searching.  He washed away all my sins and mistakes.  He took my broken soul and healed me. He filled my teacup.

I traded…

My stopwatch for the cross of Christ,

My will for God’s will,

My earthly coaches for a heavenly Father who will never leave me nor forsake me,

And instead of beginning my day with a workout, I begin it with daily devotions in God’s Word,

And so God’s Word has become my life…

And, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me…the task of testifying the gospel of God’s grace. Acts 20:24 (NIV)

My friends, PLEASE DON’T WAIT FOR ANOTHER PLANE CRASH to turn your heart to Jesus! Look unto Jesus TODAY! 

Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.  2 Corinthians 6:2 (NKJV)

The Lord is calling us to know Jesus, to meet with Him each day!

Whatever you are facing, wherever your tea has spilled, reach out to Jesus and let Him heal your circumstances, let Him refill your cup with His Word and promises. Let Jesus give you back your dreams. Let Him hold you in the palm of His Hands.  And someday, we will all be able to say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race.  I have kept the faith.” And Jesus will say, “Well done.” And we will be reunited with these loved ones who went before us into glory, and they will welcome us with open arms like it was just yesterday, and we will have that celebration that never happened the day after the race.  It will be a day of victory!

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:57 (NKJV) 

Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. 2 Corinthians 2:14 (NKJV) 

There is no one like the God of Jeshurun,
Who rides the heavens to help you,
And in His excellency on the clouds.
The eternal God is your refuge,
And underneath are the everlasting arms… Deuteronomy 33:26-27 (NKJV)

To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified. Isaiah 61:3 (NKJV)

Holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.  Philippians 2:16 (NKJV)

My times are in Your hand Psalm 31:15 (NKJV)

 Scripture from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson and Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984

God is Love and so much more!

He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 1 John 4:8-9 (NKJV)

O Father, You are love. And I love You, but my love is so small compared to Your huge, huge love.  Even if my heart is filled to overflowing with love,  my heart is tiny and Your heart is as big as the universe, bursting with love for all humanity, sending us Your One and Only Son Jesus to die for us, and filling us with Your Holy Spirit. Blessed Trinity be glorified today! 

Today’s TEA CUPP: Dear Friends, today I share tidbits from the EXALTING section of my prayer journal, just to show how you can use God’s Word to praise Him.  Pray these prayers as your own, find more EXALTING verses in your Bible and write them in your prayer journal. Share your heart with Jesus, it doesn’t need to be fancy, just tell Him you love Him.  Make EXALTING Jesus a part of your daily TEA time together.  He will love to hear your praises!

Who does great things, and unsearchable,
Marvelous things without number. Job 5:9 (NKJV)

O Father, O Jesus, this is You!  You do great things that we don’t even know and ones we do know, like rain and rainbows and salvation and forgiveness and heaven and peace and comfort and strength and protection and guidance.  You do it all!!! O Jesus, be glorified and magnified today, especially in my prayers for…

Who is the Almighty, that we should serve Him?
And what profit do we have if we pray to Him? Job 21:15 (NKJV)

O Jesus, I know You!  You are the Christ the Son, God the Father, Creator of the universe, Judge who is coming soon, King of kings, Lord of lords, Emmanuel, my Savior, my Friend, my Comforter, my Joy, my Crown, my Life, my Rock, my Fortress, my Deliverer, my Stronghold, my Protector, my Hiding Place, my Redeemer, my all in all! I love and praise You, Jesus!

But You, O Lord, are a shield for me,
My glory and the One who lifts up my head. Psalm 3:3 (NKJV)

O Jesus, this is You!  You are my Shield, You protect me from the enemy and send me helpers.  You are my Glory, and one day You will come again in glory!  You are the One who lifts up my head when I’m discouraged.  I love and praise You! Be glorified today!

Lift up your heads, O you gates!
And be lifted up, you everlasting doors!
And the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord strong and mighty,
The Lord mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, O you gates!
Lift up, you everlasting doors!
And the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord of hosts,
He is the King of glory.
Psalm 24:7-10 (NKJV)

O Jesus, I imagine You returning and the gates and doors that open to let You out of heaven, even those gates and doors bow before you and then lift their heads in honor of the King of kings who reigns for all eternity.  O Jesus, be glorified!  I love You!  Come, Lord Jesus, Come!

then they bowed their heads and worshiped. Exodus 4:31 (NKJV)

Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”  Matthew 14:33 (NKJV)

O Jesus, they worshiped You!  Here are the Israelites in Egypt who haven’t heard from You in 400 years and they know how to worship.  Here are the disciples who also haven’t heard from the prophets in 400 years, since the Old Testament times. They are in the boat with You and they worship You!  They believe in you! They bow! They exalt and praise and worship!  O Jesus, may I do this too with all my heart. I love you!

The Lord is King forever and ever;
The nations have perished out of His land. Psalm 10:16 (NKJV)

O Jesus, You are King forever and ever. Some people don’t realize it (oh, touch their hearts!), that You are King of heaven and earth and You are coming again. That is exciting!  And every knee will bow and tongue confess that You are Lord to the glory of God the Father. O Jesus, be glorified this very day!

Give unto the Lord, O you mighty ones,
Give unto the Lord glory and strength.
Give unto the Lord the glory due to His name;
Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness…The Lord sat enthroned at the Flood, And the Lord sits as King forever. Psalm 29:1-2,10 (NKJV)

O Jesus, You are King forever! You are Glory and Strength!  You sit on the throne.  Oh, sit on the throne of my life and be glorified!

Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel,
Who only does wondrous things!
And blessed be His glorious name forever!
And let the whole earth be filled with His glory.
Amen and Amen.
Psalm 72:18-19 (NKJV)

Scripture from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.

 

 

What’s in your mug?

I will take up the cup of salvation,
And call upon the name of the Lord. Psalm 116:13 (NKJV)

What are you sipping in your morning mug? Tea, coffee, espresso, orange juice, water, Gatorade?  We all have a favorite beverage.  I have a teacher friend who used to walk around school with a coffee mug filled with Mountain Dew because it was okay for teachers to drink coffee, but not soda pop, and she was the PE teacher! I love her sense of humor! Now she is a principal; that Mountain Dew must have worked!

My favorite morning beverage has changed over the years as my health has changed.  I used to just hold a mug of hot water in the mornings until I found out the benefits of various teas.  I also enjoyed a hot cocoa every day, but that doesn’t agree with my tummy anymore.  This summer green tea and Hammer sports drinks are my favorites as I train for a marathon, but that could all change by winter!

The important point today is not what’s in your morning mug…coffee, tea, etc…but what you are doing with your first hour of the day.  Fill up your cup and sit down with your Bible and Jesus.  You can have coffee time with Jesus while saying your TEA CUPP Prayers, it’s okay! The TEA CUPP is just an acronym for things you can talk about while you are together.  Using God’s Word we can pray: Thanking, Exalting, Admitting, Calling, Understanding, claiming God’s Promises, and Petitioning.

My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord;
In the morning I will direct it to You,
And I will look up. Psalm 5:3 (NKJV)

As you sip your favorite drink, emptying your mug, let Jesus refill your cup with His Word, joy, peace, and love.  Jesus is all we ever need.  He is the way, the truth, and the life and no one comes to the Father but through Him.  Let Jesus fill your heart and life and cup today and every day!!!

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP: Fill your cup with Jesus!  Plan to start every day in His Word. Set your alarm early, pour your favorite beverage, and sit down with your Bible (before even checking your phone for messages).  Let Jesus speak to you and fill you with His Word.  The chorus of a hymn by Richard Blanchard says:

Fill my cup, Lord;
I lift it up, Lord;
Come and quench this thirsting of my soul.
Bread of Heaven, feed me till I want no more.
Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole. 

Let this be our prayer today. Enjoy this precious version by Hope Montana. 

Scripture from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.

Remembering Gloria Anne…10 years later

July 25, 2009, is a day etched in my memory for eternity.  On that day, we lost the desire of our heart, the baby for whom I had prayed for 9 years.  In the time following, we lost two more sweet babies (Angelica May and Gabriella Hope) and two dear grand-babies (Our Baby J’s). But God has now blessed us with a smiling son Joel who loves Jesus, and our beautiful granddaughter Kennedy Grace.  We are so thankful for these children and look forward to the day we’ll all meet up again in heaven.  So today, in memory of Gloria Anne, I share a post I wrote one year after Gloria Anne passed from this world into the arms of Jesus.

…Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5 (NKJV)

Bump. Bump. Bump.  Our old Suburban found every rock and pothole in the road as we made our way to church yesterday.  The jostling vehicle reminded me of the ride I took exactly one year ago.  At least this year I could look out the windows and enjoy the beautiful mountain scenery.  Last year, if I had been conscious enough to look around, I would have seen the sterile insides of an ambulance.

I remember the EMTs bravely combating the bumpy road, taping IV bottles, securing cupboards, keeping their balance as they moved around the ambulance.  Then they gave me something for the pain and I was able to sleep through all the bumps after that.  Finally, a relief from the intense sadness and aches that had engulfed me for the nine days since the doctor told me our baby had no heartbeat.

I had awakened that morning at 4:15 a.m. with profuse bleeding.  I grabbed my Bible and prayer journal and headed to the restroom as the doctor said I would bleed for an hour. There I was in our tiny purple bathroom, having My TEA CUPP time with Jesus, trusting Him for a good outcome.

At almost 7 a.m. Kent knocked on the door to see how I was doing.  I decided to take a shower because I was so tired of sitting.  After the shower I was very dizzy, then sick to my stomach, and then the painful contractions began.  I no longer could sit in the bathroom, but had to lie on the bedroom floor.  I had been bleeding for almost 4 hours at this point and was very light-headed.  Soon I couldn’t feel my contractions as I was slipping from this world. Kent called 911 and invited our older three kids to say good-bye to me.

The ambulance arrived at 10 a.m.  It took them a while to get me loaded and out to the ambulance.  Our 9-year old son Kevin had to watch his Mommy be carted away on a stretcher, he even helped carry the oxygen tank.   My brother George who was visiting took care of Kevin, while Kent rode the ambulance with me.  Our daughter Kallie was cooking for the campers and our son Jacob was mowing lawns.

When the EMTs brought me out of our dark bedroom into the glorious sunlight of our front yard, I thought “This is it. Jesus is coming, this is the bright light!”  The sky was so blue with the mountains and pine trees shaped so clearly against it, an upside-down view of the world I don’t often see.  I was thinking, I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7 (NKJV).

That glorious moment soon ended as God said, “I’m not finished with you yet.” I was whisked into the ambulance and poked with an IV, and endured the very long ride to the hospital in Big Timber.  A nurse met us part-way down the road, and she put some pain killer in the IV, which let me rest the remainder of the trip.  In the emergency room, the doctor made certain I had delivered everything and sent me with an IV and medicine to rest in one of the hospital rooms.

I remember how the stretcher felt as they carried me to the ambulance.  It hugged me closely, swaddling me like a blanket around a newborn baby. Perhaps because our prayer friends were already praying, perhaps because the Sweet Grass County Ambulance, doctors, and nurses all took good care of me, or perhaps because our camp ministry team kept the camp running while we were gone…I sure felt like those were God’s arms wrapped tightly around me, a sensation that continued for weeks after our miscarriage.

  The eternal God is your refuge,
And underneath are the everlasting arms
Deuteronomy 33:27 (NKJV)

In my partially-conscious state in the ambulance, still wondering if I would make it, I prayed for everyone I could think of…my family, our ministry team, our campers, our prayer friends, the EMTs, and everyone on my salvation list that they would come to know Jesus.  Because if I leave this world to be in heaven with Jesus, I want others to be there, too!  Yes, I had My TEA with Jesus, even in the ambulance, and I didn’t spill a drop on that bumpy road!

Still, a year later, we do not understand God’s plan in all this.  We don’t know why God would give us this hope of 9 years, begin knitting this baby together inside of me, only to stop knitting.   We thought He had given us the desire of our hearts, yet now she is in heaven. In all our grief, we still pray for God’s name to be glorified, so we named our sweet baby, Gloria Anne. Thank you, dear Jesus, for Gloria Anne. We love you, dear Gloria Anne!  Hug your sisters for us.  We’ll be with you as soon as we finish God’s work here.  xoxoxox

Our joy in the morning.

Today’s TEA CUPP:  My dear TEA friend, perhaps you have lost a baby or know someone who has lost a baby.  It hurts.  Keep praying, keep believing, keep trusting Jesus to turn your sadness into dancing,  and your tears to joy.  He will, my friend, He will.

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness. Psalm 30:11

Scripture from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.

 

Out of Prison

…he declared to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison… Acts 12:17 (NKJV)

The cell was cold.  The walls were gray. The paint was peeling. The treatment was harsh. The privacy was nonexistent.  The despair was real.  It was a prison.

How many of us find ourselves in such a place?  For some, it is a real prison from our wrong choices, for others, it is a real prison from persecution.  Yet for most of us, it is a prison with imaginary bars that trap us from the outside world, bound by fears, addictions, unforgiveness…  What is the name of your prison?

My friend, today we’re going to lead you out of that prison into the marvelous light of Jesus.  There is an amazing story in the book of Acts about Peter escaping from prison.  It is so amazing that even Peter didn’t believe it was happening to him.

Peter was one of those in a real prison because of persecution.  King Herod had just beheaded his friend James and now he was preparing to do the same for Peter.  Herod put Peter in prison with FOUR squads of soldiers (Acts 12:4).    While Peter was there the church was praying constantly (Acts 10:5).

Now here, dear sisters,  is where you must remember the power of prayer.  Those prayers of the early church were heard by God and He sent His Angel to rescue Peter!

This was no sweet angel singing anthems.  This Angel of the Lord flooded Peter’s jail cell with bright light and struck Peter on the side. Then He pulled Peter up, saying, “Arise quickly!”  And off they went, past the first and second guard posts, past the iron gates, and out into the city.  Finally, the Angel disappeared and Peter found himself at the home of his friend John Mark.

And when Peter had come to himself, he said, “Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel, and has delivered me Acts 12:11 (NKJV)

At John Mark’s home, the church people had been praying so hard for Peter. But when Peter showed up at the gate they didn’t believe it!  How is that for not believing God can answer our prayers.  Isn’t He amazing?  God does answer all our prayers. Jesus does rescue us from our prisons.  The Holy Spirit does carry us forth in victory.

I know, because I’ve been in various prisons over the years.  One was in college before Jesus saved me.  I was in such grief over losing my cross country team and coaches in a plane crash that I turned to food for comfort. This became an eating disorder called bulimia.  There seemed to be no cure.  One time I went to a gathering to help people with eating disorders and discovered four of my surviving teammates were also there.  We had all dealt with the tragedy the same way.  Some addictions you can choose to avoid, like smoking or drinking, but with an eating disorder, you have to keep eating.  The only One who can rescue you from this prison is Jesus Christ. And He did.  When I gave my life to Him, the eating binges disappeared and I was free!

A newer version of the hymn Amazing Grace by Chris Tomlin has the chorus, “My chains are gone, I’ve been set free…”  That’s how it is when Jesus leads us out of the prison into His marvelous light.  The enemy wants to keep us behind bars, but Jesus has the victory. Come, my friend, let the Angel of the Lord escort you out of your prison today.

Today’s TEA CUPP:  My dear TEA friend, whatever you are facing today, in whatever prison you find yourself, turn to Jesus. Read the miraculous story of Peter’s prison escape in Acts 12:5-17.  Imagine the Angel of the Lord shining His bright light upon you and saying, “Arise quickly.”  And the Angel leads you out of your prison, past all the guards to the home of praying friends.  And you are free!

Bring my soul out of prison,
That I may praise Your name;
The righteous shall surround me,
For You shall deal bountifully with me.
Psalm 142:7 (NKJV)

I sought the Lord, and He heard me,
And delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4 (NKJV)

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 1 John 4:4 (NKJV)

Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand
. Isaiah 41:10 (NKJV)

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NKJV)

For with God nothing will be impossible. Luke 1:37 (NKJV)

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)

Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” John 11:40 (NKJV)

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson

Mom’s TEA CUPP Prayers…Coming Soon!

Ho! Everyone who thirsts,
Come to the waters…
Isaiah 55:1 (NKJV)

I’m so excited about my new book that I just have to tell you about it today!  Coming this fall, Mom’s TEA CUPP Prayers!  In this companion to My TEA CUPP Prayers, I share devotions for moms to draw you into a daily TEA time with Jesus, blessing your children and homes for all eternity.  Please join me in praising Jesus for His faithfulness, taking another prayer and making it a miracle.  Here’s a tidbit from the back cover:

Mom’s TEA CUPP Prayers is an invitation to moms everywhere to sit down each day with Jesus, a Bible, and a cup of tea.  The TEA CUPP is an acronym for parts of prayer, as we pour out our hearts to the Lord.  God’s Word is the basis for Thanksgiving, Exalting, Admitting, Calling, Understanding, claiming God’s Promises, and Petitioning.

Jennifer Grace takes every day examples of being a mom and relates them to God’s truth in His Word.  Jennifer Grace is a wife, mom, grandma, runner, scrapbooker, prayer warrior, but most of all, God’s daughter.  Through the joys and sorrows of life, she finds lessons in faith, weaving it together with God’s Word.

Mom’s TEA CUPP Prayers calls another generation of moms to the foot of the cross in prayer.  A lady who sits with Jesus each morning for tea will honor the Father, glorify the Son, and, by the power of the Holy Spirit, impact her husband, children, neighborhood, community and world.

Come quench your thirsty soul!

To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty,
Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen. 
Jude 25 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP:  If you’d like a taste of Mom’s TEA CUPP Prayers and you missed some of these devotions this spring, check out my Bible Mom series.  These Bible moms will encourage you in your walk with Jesus.

Thanksgiving with Sarah

Exalting with Mary

Admitting with Eve

Calling with Samson’s Mom

Understanding with Ruth

Promises with the Shunammite

Petitioning with Hannah

…For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations. Isaiah 56:7 (NKJV)

Scripture from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson