Lifting Hands in Praise

And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. Then all the people answered, “Amen, Amen!” while lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. Nehemiah 8:6 (NKJV)

Today I want to share with you my “Lifting Hands” story. I grew up in a Presbyterian Church where beautiful organ music, a talented choir, and often a university orchestra accompanied every hymn. The congregation stood solemnly, singing the traditional songs from the hymnal. You could sing as loudly as you wanted because the organ would drown-out any wrong words or off-key notes. But you would never think of moving as you stoically clasped your hymnal like the rest of the congregation.

When I met Jesus in college, I attended a group called the Baptist Student Union. A few of the students there would lead us in singing, one playing the guitar and others leading the choruses. I realize now that all the songs we sang were Bible verses, for when I read those verses today, the BSU songs immediately come to mind and I hum them the rest of the day. The words were cast on the wall with an overhead projector and we were free to sit or stand and bump arms with our friends.

From there I went to work at a Lutheran summer camp where God’s Word and songs became more alive for me. I learned songs with actions that kept the campers and counselors active. We sang tunes like “Pharaoh, Pharaoh, Oh, baby, let my people go!” while doing the actions of an Egyptian hieroglyphic. We sang “Jesus is real, He’ll never fail,” while casting an imaginary fishing rod into the lake and reeling it in. And, of course, we learned to “march in the infantry” and “ride in the Calvary” and “shoot the artillery” and “soar over the enemy” because we were in the Lord’s army! Singing to Jesus became a fun time of laughing and movement.

My first job after graduation was teaching sixth grade at a Lutheran Day School where I was also required to join the Lutheran Church. There we learned and enjoyed the singing liturgy of the Lutherans, the good old hymns, and the joy of being in a congregation filled with children. The Day School held a service every Thursday morning. Once a month they recognized the children who had been baptized during that month with a song that runs through my head yet today… we are baptized, I am baptized, we have passed through the waters and that’s all that matters, I have passed through the waters, oh thanks be to God! Yet still we sang traditional hymns as we stood in the pews.

When we moved to a new town, we joined a Methodist Church because my husband had grown-up Methodist. It was also a traditional church, but without the singing liturgy. A dedicated choir marched up the center aisle every Sunday in their red robes, inspiring us all to join them in praising the Father. As I juggled young children and a hymn book, I tried to join them in singing. It was truly a Spirit-filled congregation, for there we often sang, “Here I am, Lord, is it I Lord,? I have heard You calling in the night, I will go, Lord, if You lead me, I will hold Your people in my heart.” We received our calling into church camp ministry and they laid hands on us, praying and sending us forth.

From there, our family moved to a United Methodist Church camp. Our first summer, we had only a handful of counselors and none of them were song leaders. Over and over we sang a favorite one young man remembered, “He’s my Rock, my Sword, my Shield, He’s the Wheel in the middle of the Wheel, He’s the Lily of the Valley, He’s the brightest Morning Star, doesn’t matter what you say, I’m gonna get on my knees and pray, I’m going to praise Him till the day that Jesus comes – Hee, haw!” This was accompanied by appropriate hand motions, of course! We prayed for a guitar player the next year, and soon our campers were enjoying a variety of new and old songs at the morning outdoor chapel with fun arm movements lead by the counselors.

God called us to a new church camp in Montana in the year 2000. One summer, a group of volunteers created an outdoor chapel on the hillside where we could hold Sunday evening worship services. One week, a volunteer, a retired Methodist, told me about his call to lift his hands in worship. Why did he tell me? The Lord must have put it upon his heart. As a Methodist, he had never lifted his hands at church, but one day he was reading Psalm 134:2. and the Lord spoke to him, telling him this is what he should do. And so he did! And God put the desire in my heart to do the same.

Lift up your hands in the sanctuary,
And bless the Lord.
Psalm 134:2 (NKJV)

At the time we were attending a Methodist Church and a closer Lutheran Church, both with choirs and traditional hymns. As the desire to raise my hands increased, I would grasp the pew in front of me, keeping my hands down during the hymns, not wanting to be different or cause a stir. When I would go home to my parents’ church, I would again grasp the pew ahead of me, knuckles turning white as I resisted the urge. For 10 years I did this, even after we started attending an Evangelical Church so our kids could partake in the youth group.

Finally, one Sunday, I let the Holy Spirit take over and I raised my hands as we stood in the back of this Evangelical Church, noticing a few others scattered around the sanctuary were also raising their hands. Finally, I followed the example in God’s Word, the desire of my heart, and the call of the Holy Spirit, reaching my hands up to our Father in heaven as I magnified His Name in song. And now we attend our Sabbath home church and a fellowship group where most hands are raised. And for me, as the good old hymn “I have decided to follow Jesus” says, there’s “no turning back, no turning back.”

…“Stand up and bless the Lord your God
Forever and ever! Blessed be Your glorious name,
Which is exalted above all blessing and praise!
You alone are the Lord;
You have made heaven,
The heaven of heavens, with all their host,
The earth and everything on it,
The seas and all that is in them,
And You preserve them all.
The host of heaven worships You. “You are the Lord God…
Nehemiah 9:5-7 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP: What is your posture when you are praising the Father? Are you standing in the pew, singing with the congregation? Are you curled up on the sofa with pen in hand, writing in your prayer journal words of adoration? Are you sitting with head down, hands clasped, heart beating for the Lord? Are you prostrate on the ground, bowing in honor? Are you standing with hands up high, exalting, lifting the Name of Jesus, reaching toward His throne in heaven? However you position yourself, Our Father God sees you, knows you, loves you and is so blessed by your love and praise. Keep exalting Christ our Lord, dear sister!!!

If you would prepare your heart,
And stretch out your hands toward Him…
Job 11:13 (NKJV)

Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. Psalm 63:4 (NKJV)

Let my prayer be set before You as incense,
The lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.
Psalm 141:2 (NKJV)

My hands also I will lift up to Your commandments,
Which I love,
And I will meditate on Your statutes.
Psalm 119:48 (NKJV)

Hear the voice of my supplications
When I cry to You,
When I lift up my hands toward Your holy sanctuary.
Psalm 28:2 (NKJV)

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

A favorite hand-lifting song from church camp

But we see Jesus

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. Hebrews 2:9 (NKJV)

But we see Jesus... these four words from God’s Word have been filling my thoughts during the past few months.  As we endured the hardships of a mold evacuation and relocation, we have seen Jesus at work in our lives.  From my husband’s knee to two Gideon Bilbes to our milking goat, we have seen the miracles of Jesus.

…nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You. 2 Chronicles 20:12 (NIV)

But we see Jesus… in my husband’s knee… In early November, my husband Kent’s knee started feeling funny at a Thursday Taekwondo workout with our youngest son Joel. By the next day, it was swollen to three times its normal size and he could barely walk.  We attended our Friday fellowship that evening where they laid hands on his knee for over half an hour and prayed for him in Jesus’ Name.  While they were praying, his knee visibly shrank, but still had a little swelling. The next day it was still sore and Kent thought one of the titanium screws from his 2002 surgery had pulled loose.  We found his old brace and he started wearing that, continuing all his farm chores, snow shoveling and working.  One day after about a week, my husband forgot to wear his brace to work and never put it on again! But the knee was still swollen in the evenings, so he kept his December doctor appointment where he had the surgery twenty years ago.  The doctor took four X-rays and said, “It’s just arthritis! Keep doing what you’re doing, working, walking, hiking, doing Taekwondo and all. All the screws are in place!  Staying active is the best thing.”  And so, we praised Jesus for this amazing healing, especially at a time when we needed a little extra good news!  🙏🥰

Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always. Remember the wonders He has done, His miracles, and the judgments He pronounced.  1 Chronicles 16:11-12, Psalm 105:4-5 (NKJV)

But we see Jesus… in two Gideon Bibles… The morning after our final mold evacuation, we awoke at a guest house, so thankful for beds, mattresses, and quilts for a good night’s sleep.  Yet now it was morning when I like to have my quiet time with Jesus.  All of our books had been thrown away because of mold spores, but I could not let my Bible be tossed out with all the notes in the margins and prayers for family and friends.  So my Bible was packed into one of the many boxes that went to storage.  How could I have my morning tea time with Jesus?  He had a plan!

Way back in 2011, when we first left church camp ministry to begin caring for guest houses, we had asked a friend who is a Gideon if he had some Bibles we could place in the houses for which we caretake.  Our friend was glad to provide the Bibles and we placed them in two of the guest houses.  Only the Lord knew that years later, we would be homeless and the owners would so graciously let us stay in one of these very guest houses. That morning after our evacuation, I went to the bedside table where I thought the Bibles might be, and sure enough, the two Gideon Bibles were still there! One for me and one for my husband!  Kent said most of Ephesians and Galatians were missing from his, we hope a guest enjoyed those so much he wanted to take them home!  And so, I never missed a morning of reading my Bible, because 11-1/2 years before we had placed Gideon Bibles in the very guest house that we would someday visit as “homeless” people on a cold winter day.  And now a friend has given us new Bibles, too. God is so good!

I rejoice at Your word
As one who finds great treasure.  Psalm 119:162 (NKJV)

But we see Jesus… in our milking goat…  And here is one last story you will like… we first got the goats because Joel can’t digest cows’ milk. Our goats have been such a blessing with the mama Gloria producing enough milk for Joel and sharing with others. However, with everything going on in November, we thought we should dry-up our mama goat to make our move easier. Kent reduced the grain and started milking less, but she kept producing! Gloria would not dry-up, she kept giving milk! And so, Kent started giving her the usual amount of grain again and she is in full production, being milked twice a day. Joel has plenty of milk to drink and we have extra to share… it’s like the flour and oil that were never used up during the famine in 1 Kings 17! God is so very good! 💗🐐🥛

For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah. 1 Kings 17:16 (NIV)

But we see Jesus… in the love of brothers and sisters…  thank you so much for all your care and prayers. My tears in God’s bottle are now tears of joy! We thank Jesus for you!

 I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy. Philippians 1:3-4 (NIV)

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone (Hebrews 2:9 (NKJV). O Jesus, we see you… this is our story! We see You! For like Stephen, the clouds have parted, the heavens are open, You are sitting at the right hand of the Father, saying, “Hold on a little longer.”

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Read 2 Chronicles 20 for an amazing prayer, story, and promises from God’s Word.  Keep looking to HIM, Jesus loves you so much, dear sister!  He sees you and cares about you.  He knows exactly what’s going on in your life right now. Keep looking to Yehovah God, Yeshua Messiah, Our Lord and Savior!

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2 (NIV)

If disaster comes upon us—sword, judgment, pestilence, or famine—we will stand before this temple and in Your presence (for Your name is in this temple), and cry out to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save.  2 Chronicles 20:9 (NKJV)

…Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. 2 Chronicles 20:15 (NKJV)

 You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you… 2 Chronicles 20:17 (NKJV)

...Praise the Lord,
For His mercy endures forever. 2 Chronicles 20:21 (NKJV)

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

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

My Tears in God’s Bottle

You number my wanderings;
Put my tears into Your bottle;
Are they not in Your book?
Psalm 56:8 (NKJV)

 Mattresses outside the door… a garbage bag split open spilling books onto the frozen ground… trailers weighted down so much the tires are compressed… 33 years of belongings headed to the dump… the framed wedding picture, the toddler ride-on toys, the school books, the bunkbeds, the easy chair (nothing is easy, who gave it that name?) … even a 54-year-old teddy bear… all waiting in our yard for dump day. But the Lord must have been smiling down on us, for the sun shown on this January day, He sent helpers, and the massive haul to the transfer station was completed.

Just two weeks before, the temperatures had plummeted far below zero. The snow sculpted the landscape, biting bare fingers. “No one should have to evacuate for mold in winter!” we cried! Thank you, Jesus, for warming Montana by 70 degrees, from 30 below to 40 above! Thank you for this lull in the weather to bring my brother and other helpers. Thank you for all the dear ones who are praying for us!

God’s Cloud has definitely lifted from our home on Dry Creek Road, and we are following Jesus where He leads us, our next stop being a temporary guest house. Turns out that Dry Creek may have been dry, but the ground around our rental house was not. All the irrigation water from uphill came right to our cellar, which, combined with attic problems, created a mold sandwich with our family in the middle! So, all the mold-spore-infested-sandwich-fixings were strewn outside the door, awaiting their doom at the dump.

My dear husband still has the garage and barn to finish sorting, tossing, packing and cleaning. He could use a hand if you have one, or two. There is nothing more depressing than throwing away all your belongings, but if you have company, the job is lighter. For God tells us to bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. Thank you to my brother and dear friends who have already come to our rescue. God bless you all!

We are counting our blessings. The other evening I left our borrowed house in a borrowed truck wearing borrowed clothes and realized that even our very breaths are borrowed from the Lord until He calls us home. And so I thank Him for dear praying friends, a box of notecards, a new prayer shawl, new Bibles for our family, a bag of sweaters, a winter coat, a home for our kitties, grocery deliveries, a surprise envelope, sheets for the new mattresses we will have someday, school supplies for our son, bits of cheer, packing and sorting, cleaning and delivering appliances to the thrift store, a trailer loan, a truck loan, a guest house loan, loading and unloading, a love offering, a phone call, a text, an email, a smile, a note, a prayer… thank you, dearest Jesus for taking care of us with all these dear ones. Bless each one! And we thank You in advance, Lord Jesus, for the next home You are preparing for us… please remember the barn for the animals and a garden, and please heal us. Thank you, Jesus, You know what we need before we even ask!

Today’s TEA CUPP:   A tent or a cottage, why should I care? They’re building a palace for me over there; Though exiled from home, yet still may I sing: All glory to God, I’m a child of the King (Hattie E. Buell, 1877).

p.s. Please keep praying for our healing and new home. God bless you!!! 

…I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will heal you… 2 Kings 20:5 (NKJV)

Hear my prayer, O Lord, And give ear to my cry; Do not be silent at my tears; For I am a stranger with You, A sojourner, as all my fathers were. Psalm 39:12 (NKJV)

Those who sow in tears
Shall reap in joy. Psalm 126:5 (NKJV)

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

My new temporary Daniel window with borrowed mug and Gideon Bible and dish towel prayer shawl.  

…she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. Luke 7:44 (NKJV)

For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.  Matthew 6:8 (NKJV)

You shall laugh at destruction and famine…
You shall know that your tent is in peace. Job 5:22-24 (NKJV)

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

No Room in the Inn

And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:7  (NKJV)

I’m having a “No Room in the Inn” Christmas. The place I’ve called home for 11-1/2 years no longer has room for me because it is full of mold. And so while most people are gathering to celebrate with family, we are moving in sub-zero temperatures to a temporary guest house (thank you, Jesus, for providing this for us!). Ironically, this guest house was once a barn, now converted into a lovely dwelling.  We can pretend to be like Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus as we sleep in “the barn.” 

And so this Christmas I share with you one of my favorite Christmas devotions from years ago.  I never really attended this Christmas pageant, yet Jesus showed it to me one day as I sat in church…

“NO ROOM in the INN” the sign proclaims on the make-shift inn created by the Sunday schoolers for their Christmas pageant.  The beautiful story of our Savior’s birth will soon be portrayed by the youngest members of our church family.  As the students and teachers make the final preparations for this year’s production, my mind contemplates the words on the sign — “NO ROOM in the INN.”

The sign is taken right from the book of Luke, And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the innWhy do these words from the Christmas story strike such a chord with me?  Is it because God allowed me to share in Mary’s experience?  Is it because He showed me “NO ROOM in the INN?”

Not once, not twice, but three times God let me be pregnant and then moved us to a new place! In each instance, during a span of 18 years, a home, a job, and our future were uncertain.  Oh, how I wrestled with God each time!  And just as He provided a stable for Mary and baby Jesus, God provided homes for us, from a rustic cabin in the mountains to a spacious home near town. But best of all, He gave us the babies.

The Sunday schoolers suspend my thoughts for the moment,  now parading onto the stage  in their costumes.  Instead of the usual bathrobes and shepherds’ staffs, they are dressed in modern outfits.  One holds a sign that reads, “Super 8, No Vacancy.”  Another says, “Holiday Inn Express, No Vacancy.” Another proclaims, “Comfort Inn, No Vacancy.”  I look down the line at all the children, each with another hotel sign, all claiming, “No Vacancy.”

The last little girl comes in a red velvet dress.  She has a different sign.  It reads, “My Heart Inn.”

“Oh, what can this be?” I wonder.  We sing “Oh, Little Town of Bethlehem” before the children commence with the play.

Mary and Joseph wander onto the modern Bethlehem stage, looking for a place to stay.  First the Super 8 manager explains how he has no vacancy because of a cattlemen’s convention. He turns his sign so we can read, “No Vacancy, Welcome Cattlemen!”  Next the Holiday Inn Express manager tells about the craft show people filling her motel. She turns her sign to read, “No Vacancy, Welcome Craft Fair!”  The Comfort Inn manager is excited about the basketball tournaments in town and turns his sign to read, “No Vacancy, Welcome Basketball Players!”  And on down the line it goes, with each motel manager giving reasons for no vacancy.

Finally we come to the little girl in the red velvet dress.  This sweet little girl explains why her “My Heart Inn” has no vacancy.  She turns her sign so we can read, “No Vacancy.  Welcome American Girl dolls, video games, cell phones, ballet, new clothes, earrings…”

The congregation lets out a gasp.  We are all so shocked, just sure the little girl was the one to welcome baby Jesus.  We can’t believe it!  How is it possible?!  Such a sweet little girl with no room for Jesus.  It causes us to think, “Are we making room in our hearts for Jesus? Is there room in ‘My Heart Inn?’”

And so Mary and Joseph continue outside into the cold.  We see them standing outside the church window, shivering in the snow. There is an uncomfortable pause as we await whatever is next.

The little girl in the red velvet dress stands trembling in front of the congregation.  Tears form in her eyes because she also sees Mary and Joseph outside.  A sob escapes her as she cries, “Yes, baby Jesus, Yes!  I do have room in my heart for You!”

The little girl tears up her  “No Vacancy” sign and throws it into a nearby manger, sobbing uncontrollably on the alter steps.  Tears spring from all eyes as we watch the little girl helplessly, not sure if we should go and comfort her. From out of the shadows appears an angel who reaches down and touches her, giving her a new sign.

Looking surprised, the girl in the red velvet dress stops crying to read, “My Heart Inn. Welcome Jesus.”  She smiles, wiping away her tears, delighted with her new sign.

The pastor stops the production to point us to our church bulletins.  Inside we find hearts like the “My Heart Inn – No Vacancy” sign.   Pastor asks us what is filling our hearts, creating no room for Jesus?  Is it money, things, toys, activities, computers, cars?  He asks us to write it on the No Vacancy heart.

I consider my heart and the Christmas story.  I didn’t really share in Mary’s ordeal.  I don’t know what it is like to have a baby in a stable.  I haven’t really shared in Jesus’ sufferings, from His humble birth to His sacrificial death.  I ponder what to write on my heart, and then I know.  I write down all my worries that keep me from trusting Jesus. I write down my busy projects I think I have to do for Him, when all He really wants is my heart.

Pastor invites us to come forward and leave our  torn hearts in the manger, just like the little girl.  There is not a dry eye as we file to the front of the sanctuary. I imagine the paper hearts contain all kinds of confessions from addictions to broken families. Each one laid in the manger is like nailing it to Jesus’ cross. Wise men and shepherds appear on the scene. They give each person who places a “No vacancy” heart in the manger a new heart ornament that reads, “My Heart Inn.  Welcome Jesus.”

The children’s choir softly sings, “Jesus is knocking at the door of my heart.” Then the congregation sings “The First Noel” and other Christmas hymns until the manger is overflowing with our torn hearts, and everyone in the congregation holds a new one.  As the piano music ends, the girl in the red velvet dress runs to open the door for Mary and Joseph.  The couple walks in holding baby Jesus, Who Mary carefully places in His manger bed (we wonder if He was born in the snow, but we don’t ask).

Pastor leads us in a prayer, asking God to help us truly give up these things that have cluttered our hearts, and for Jesus to fill our hearts instead.  The prayer ends and we look up to see…

The little girl in the red velvet dress, standing behind the manger.  She begins to sing, “Joy to the World, the Lord is come.  Let earth receive her King.  Let every heart.  Prepare Him room…” The children’s choir and the congregation all join her in singing this beautiful hymn.

Suddenly, with great joy, it is every holiday all mixed in one.  There are red heart balloons with John 3:16 falling from the ceiling like Valentine’s Day.  The Sunday School teachers bring in a cake for baby Jesus and we all sing “Happy Birthday to You!”  The cross on the alter reminds us of Resurrection Sunday and Jesus’ reason for being born – to die for our sins. And outside the head elder sets off fireworks like the Fourth of July to celebrate our freedom from sin.

We gather our children in our arms and sing “We wish you a Merry Christmas” as we all share a piece of Jesus’ cake.  And you know, I think it really will be a Merry Christmas this year. For this is the year Jesus found room at My Heart Inn.

Today’s TEA CUPP: Read the Christmas story again in Luke 2 and Galatians 4:4-7 today. Ponder the love of God who came as a Baby to be our Savior. Give Him Your heart, invite Him in to stay forever.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. Revelation 3:20  (NKJV)

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16 (NKJV)

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. Titus 2:11 (NKJV)

And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. 1 John 4:14 (NKJV)

Thank you for stopping by My TEA CUPP Prayers! If you enjoyed today’s post, you might also like to read: My TEA CUPP for Christmas.

Mold Overturned My Table

…and overturned the tables. John 2:15 

How is everyone doing today?  Has your life been overturned this past year by illness, or job changes, or death of a loved one?  Are you feeling a lot like Job who had his life overturned in a single day?  Please let me tell you my story…

It seems that my tea has spilled again.  Almost three years ago my tea spilled when our granddaughter was diagnosed with cancer. We joyfully celebrated her survival last June.  But now our lives have been spilled and overturned once again, knocking over not just my teacup but the whole table!

So, what happened?  The most mysterious illness of all… mold!  We are learning that the symptoms of mold mimic so many other conditions that doctors are slow to discover it.  Once you finally know, you’ve been living in the mold situation so long that your health is even worse.  The only action is to get out! The mold spores are what makes us sick. 

Mold is a fire without flames, a hurricane without winds, an invisible plague that invades lungs, guts, joints and brain cells.  Our home we anointed with hyssop and grape juice at Passover is now condemned. We have to throw away most of our belongings. Every book and pillow, every picture frame, lamp, sofa and bed… it all must go in a dumpster because of mold spores.  I must say good-bye to my Daniel window, my Jesus spot, my Bible, my prayer journal and my hymnal.  It will all be no more.  

My son Joel and I were discussing how you can’t take anything to heaven.  The Lord is just letting us experience that a little bit early.  But usually you have the joy of being in heaven when that happens!  Our hearts empathize with all those who have been through house fires (my in-laws), floods (my parents), hurricanes (the people of Florida), forest fires (my prayer friend Laurie), and many others!  Oh, how these disasters bring us closer to the ONE who provides for us all.

This fall I was asked to write a bio for the back of my new book, More TEA CUPP Prayers (please pray it will still come out spring 2023!).  I looked for ideas on the backs of my other two books, My TEA CUPP Prayers and Mom’s TEA CUPP Prayers But then I realized how much God has pruned me these past few years.  

My TEA CUPP Prayers explains, “Jennifer Grace is an author, speaker, blogger, homeschool mom and grandma, Sunday school teacher, tutor, but most of all, God’s child and prayer warrior.  Mom’s TEA CUPP Prayers says, “Jennifer Grace is a wife, mom, grandma, runner, scrapbooker, prayer warrior, but most of all, God’s child.”  

What has He pruned?  Speaking engagements left when covid hit.  Blogging slowed down with my health.  The Lord called us to be Sabbath keepers, so we now worship on Saturday. He called us to home church, so I don’t teach the little kids anymore.  He took away my health so I couldn’t run.  And now He is even taking my scrapbooks.  Yet, I am still a wife, mom, grandma, and author, and I will always and forever be a prayer warrior and a daughter of the King of kings.  

And so we leave, not even with the clothes on our backs, for those also will be thrown away, showering and changing at a laundromat.  We relocate to a safe guest house and pray for the Lord to provide and guide us in our next steps.  Seems like this would be the time to take that trip around the country (especially to dry climates) in an RV and be witnesses for Jesus Christ.  The Lord knows the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few.  Could this be the open door that no one can shut through which we must walk?  Please pray for us!

  • Please pray for…
  • Jesus to guide our next steps.
  • Healing for our bodies.
  • The provision of a home or RV.
  • Comfort for our children.
  • That Jesus is glorified even in this!

The words of Job 1:21 and Habakkuk 3:17-18 come to mind… The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord…. Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls—Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Will you please pray for me and my family this Christmas?  Thank you, dear one!  Your prayers are a blessing. The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you.  The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.  Love, Jennifer Grace

P.S.  Matthew 6:25-34 is encouraging!  Check it out!

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 6:33-34 (NKJV)

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  Matthew 6:18-20 (NKJV)

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

And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.Matthew 8:20 (NKJV)

And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 (NKJV)

A few mold resources:  https://paradigmchange.me/stories/https://momsaware.org/

We had to give away our dear Lucy Lamb, the first of many sad good-byes…

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

 

 

Jesus, Our Greatest Example

In celebration of Thanksgiving this year, I’m re-running this post from June 2021. This devotion and many others will be in my new book, More TEA CUPP Prayers, coming out in spring 2023. Thank you for praying for me and the publication process! Happy Blessed Thanksgiving to one and all! Thank you, dearest Jesus, for so many blessings!

…Give thanks to the Lord Almighty,
    for the Lord is good;
    His love endures forever…
 Jeremiah 33:11 (NIV)

Whether you are new to prayer, or this is a regular routine for you, it is always a blessing to be reminded how our Lord Jesus prayed when He walked this earth. Jesus is our example in all things, including THANKSGIVING to the Lord. Isn’t it a wonder that Jesus the Son gave thanks to the Father, showing us how to give thanks to the Father, when He and the Father are One?

We find so many times in the Gospels when Jesus gave thanks…

  • When the 70 disciples returned from their first mission trip (Luke 10:17-24):

In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight.Luke 10:21

  • When Jesus fed the 5000 with five loaves and two fish (John 6:1-14):

And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted. John 6:11

  • When praying to the Father to raise His friend Lazarus (John 11:1-44):

Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me.” John 11:41

  • At the Last Supper with His disciples (Luke 22:7-20):

Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said,  “Take this and divide it among yourselves.” Luke 22:17

And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” Luke 22:19

With these true stories in mind, I follow Jesus’ example, beginning my prayers with THANKSGIVING. Whether I’m welcoming my sons home from a mission trip, feeding my family, praying for healing for loved ones, or just having TEA with Jesus, I begin with thanks. Perhaps my biggest THANKS recently was attending my granddaughter Kennedy’s preschool graduation one year after she was diagnosed with cancer. You can turn to one of the last sections of this book to read how this Grandma’s heart was broken and cried desperate pleas to God the Father for over a year for healing for our granddaughter. She had no hair and couldn’t walk after the first rounds of chemo. I prayed and prayed, “Talitha, Cumi, Little One, arise,” and God raised her from her sofa bed to attend preschool and gymnastics! And Jesus let me witness her graduation while her new baby sister was being born. Oh, what double blessings all in one day! I thank you Lord Jesus, for you have heard my prayers and seen my tears and sent life to this family!

There is always something for which to be thankful, dear sisters. Even when the whole world is falling apart, we can thank Jesus that our names are written in heaven and that we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken. Hold onto these precious verses of THANKSGIVING this coming year…

Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.  Luke 10:20

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.  Hebrews 12:28 (NIV)

Today’s TEA CUPP: Read one of the selections of Jesus giving thanks, noticing the miracles that came after His thanksgiving. Select one THANKSGIVING verse to write in your prayer journal, pouring out your thanks to the Lord. The Father will be so happy to hear from you!

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. Colossians 2:6-7

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


Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
Oh, give thanks to the God of gods!
For His mercy endures forever.
Oh, give thanks to the Lord of lords!
For His mercy endures forever.
  Psalm 136:1-3

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

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011

She Did What She Could

She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial. Mark 14:8 (NKJV)

My neighbor Marie stopped by for tea the other day. She was telling me about a mutual friend who had taught at a country school before she was married. Our friend had to be very careful not to share her faith openly with the students during the school year. But when summer came, the school board amazingly gave her permission to hold a Vacation Bible School at the country schoolhouse. Marie commented, “She did what she could.”

The week before Jesus went to the cross, He was at a supper in Bethany hosted by Simon the Leper. While Jesus was sitting at the table, Mary (the sister of Martha) took an alabaster flask of very costly oil and poured it on Jesus’ head (John 12:3). Some criticized Mary for this “waste” of the precious oil, yet Jesus praised her, saying, “She did what she could…” The Father Himself must have put this upon Mary’s heart to anoint Her Lord and Savior for His death and burial, thus selecting the Passover Lamb. Mary did what she could for Jesus.

My friend Kathy and her husband stopped by this summer for a visit. What fun it was to host old friends from the Midwest in our mountainous region of the country. While visiting, Kathy shared all the things she would be doing when she returned home. One task was to drive an hour to pick up a friend at the airport and then drive that friend two more hours to her family. Kathy says, “because that’s what friends do.” Jesus would say, “She did what she could.”

A few days later, with Kathy’s example still fresh in my mind, a homeschool mom asked if I could drive her to the next city for a day of appointments because she had broken her wrist. We always have a hundred things we could be doing, but I knew that was where God wanted me that day, so I said, “Yes,” and was so blessed to spend the day with my long-time mom-friend.

A month later, I had a call from an old college teammate I hadn’t seen in over 20 years. She wanted to buy me a plane ticket to help her deliver a car for her college daughter. She had it planned beautifully from the flights to the motel stops. My tummy and back had been bothering me and I had a doctor appointment coming up so it didn’t seem feasible, but what did God tell me in His Word that very day? Arise and go! So, with the prayers of many uplifting me, I arose and went and was so blessed to catch up on 20 years of stories with my sweet college teammate as we traveled 700 plus miles together, handing out my testimony to hotel clerks, gas station attendants, motor cycle riders and others along the way. I hope Jesus will say, “She did what she could.”

Today’s TEA CUPP: Read Mary’s story in Mark 14:3-9 and John 12:1-8. What can you do for Jesus today that would cause Him to say, “She did what she could”? Perhaps it’s as simple and powerful as saying a prayer or taking soup to a neighbor. While I was away, a troop of local missionaries was serving our community, painting, gardening, and helping their neighbors. There are so many ways you can be a blessing! Be on the lookout for “what she could” opportunities this week! God bless you, dear sister!

Not to us, Lord, not to us
    but to your name be the glory,
    because of your love and faithfulness.
Psalm 115:1 (NKJV)

Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause you to hear My words. Jeremiah 18:2 (NKJV)

…Blessed are you of the Lord, my daughter! For you have shown more kindness at the end than at the beginning… Ruth 3:10 (NKJV)

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16 (NKJV)

...Well done, good and faithful servant… Matthew 25:21 (NKJV)

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 (NKJV)

...As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. James 2:26 (NKJV)

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

Marking His Word

For who has stood in the counsel of the Lord,
And has perceived and heard His word?
Who has marked His word and heard it
Jeremiah 23:18 (NKJV)

My youngest son gave me some Bible highlighters for my birthday this year.  I’ve been having lots of fun with them as I read God’s Word each morning.  I chose seven of them to mark verses for My TEA CUPP Prayers, one for each letter of the TEA CUPP:

Red: T for Thanksgiving

Orange: E for Exalting the Lord

Yellow: A for Admitting my sins

Green: C for Calling (God’s calling for my life)

Blue:  U for Understanding my story

Purple: P for Promises (claiming God’s)

Pink: P for Petitions (pouring out my heart to the Lord)

Perhaps you noticed, I put them in order of the rainbow. Remember, the rainbow was first given to us by God after Noah’s flood, as a promise that He would never flood the whole earth again (Genesis 9:13).  Let’s re-claim this symbol for the Lord! 

So, how do I get started with my Jesus tea time? After rolling out of bed each morning, I heat the kettle for myself and my husband, pouring each of us our favorite cups of tea along with a water bottle.  I set his cups on the counter so he can find them for his quiet time, then I go to my special Jesus spot on the sofa with my cups, ready to meet my Savior in His Word (my husband and our youngest son who is still home and I pray together at breakfast).

Now as I read my Bible each morning, I can quickly find verses for any category with this color-coding system.  Besides writing the letter “T or E or A or C or U or P or Pet” next to my underlined verses, I now also add this splash of color. Sometimes a verse fits more than one area, so I have to choose which color is most meaningful to me that day.  

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.  2 Timothy 3:16 (NKJV)

The type of highlighters my son gave me are ACCU-Gel Highlighters, Acid-Free. They say they won’t bleed or smear or show through the page.  They came from Christianbooks.com. One neat thing, when you think the pen is running low, you just twist the end (like you might do with chapstick or a glue stick) and the tip gets longer.  

What is a verse that was especially meaningful to me recently as I highlighted God’s Word?  Psalm 17:8 is always a favorite… Keep me as the apple of Your eye; Hide me in the shadow of your wings. As I got on board my first plane flight since Covid to help a friend I hadn’t seen in 20 years, it was good to know He would keep me under His wings as the plane flew above the clouds. Thank you, dearest Jesus.

Today’s TEA CUPP: Try reading and marking Psalm 18. Remember, you want to begin each day in God’s Word, letting Him speak first.  Mark the words that touch your heart, then use these as conversation starters as you pour out your heart to the Lord.  You may write the verse in your prayer journal along with your prayers, or just speak aloud to the Lord.  God bless you, dear praying sister!

Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.
Psalm 119:105 (NKJV)

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
Isaiah 55:11 (NKJV)

The words of the Lord are pure words,
Like silver tried in a furnace of earth,
Purified seven times.Psalm 12:6 (NKJV)

For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Romans 15:4 (NKJV)

The law of the Lordis perfect, converting the soul;
The testimony of the Lordis sure, making wise the simple;
The statutes of the Lordare right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lordis pure, enlightening the eyes;
The fear of the Lordis clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lordare true and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
Yea, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
Moreover by them Your servant is warned,
And in keeping them there is great reward. Psalm 19:7-11 (NKJV)

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

 

Still Aiming High

Recently, I was saddened to receive from my mom an obituary for a high school classmate who was one year ahead of me. We shared the same first name, ran on the same track and cross country team, and both lived in the north part of town. She had the sweetest smile and was so kind to me, the slower underclassman. Her obituary told of running for a small college in Iowa after high school and setting many records there. Then she went on to serve in the political arena. I wept because there was no mention of church or faith in Jesus Christ. That could have been my story (except for the running records).

We attended high school in a budding midwestern college town called Ames, Iowa. Long run days led us into the countryside where we were surrounded by cornstalks, while easy workout days took us by the local ice cream shop.  At every every pep rally and home game, we proudly sang the school fight song, “Students of Ames Senior High, proud of our school are we, cheering the orange and the black, on to a victory (go-fight-win!), comrades in work and in play, loyal and true are we, doing our best for our high school, Ames High aims high! Ames High aims high! Ames High aims high!

After high school, I walked-on as a cross country runner at Iowa State University where I was the slowest one on the team. Often, as I cried at the end of the line as we ran our 1000 meter repeats, I wished I had gone to a small college where I might have been on the varsity squad. But if I had not been at Iowa State University in 1985, when I lost my beloved cross country team and coaches in a plane crash as they flew home from a second place finish at nationals, I may never have come to a saving faith in Jesus. It was that ISU tragedy that made me run away from God for two years, before the prayers of dear friends brought me back to the feet of my Savior (who washed away all my sins and messes).

It hasn’t been an easy road since the day I gave my life to Jesus, but it is a blessed path and the only highway I want to follow. His straight path leads me to the narrow gate at heaven’s door. He has been beside me each day to encourage me, above me to watch over me, and within me to give me His peace. As I wept for my dear old running friend, I thought of my other classmates who might not have found Jesus after high school, and I long to tell them, there is still time to turn to Him. He is patiently waiting for all His children to come to Him before He returns to this earth. And the signs of the times are pointing to His imminent arrival, with wars and rumors of wars, good being called evil and evil being called good, and a lawlessness the likes of which America has never seen. Jesus is coming soon and I want you to be ready.

Dear one, I invite you TODAY to be one of Jesus’ comrades in work and in play, in service and in prayer. I invite you to live up to our fight song motto of loyalty and truth, for Jesus is our greatest example of this, loyal in giving His life for us on the cross to pay for our sins, loyal in rising again as the first-fruit from the grave, claiming victory over death so that all who believe in His name will have eternal life with Him. And He promises that you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (John 8:32).

Dear classmates, keep aiming high. God tells us in His Word,  Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory (Colossians 3:2-4). And so I follow His path, and I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14). Please, aim high with me!

And it shall come to pass
That whoever calls on the name of the Lord
Shall be saved… 
Joel 2:32 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP: I implore you to keep aiming high by putting your faith in Jesus Christ, He is the way and the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father but through Him (John 14:6). Jesus came for the Jews first and also for the Gentiles (everyone else!). If you’ve been putting it off, please don’t delay any longer, for none of us knows when we will have our last day on earth. Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2).

…The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel. Mark 1:15 (NKJV)

If you haven’t prayed the sinner’s prayer, please pray with me right now…Dear Jesus, I want to be in your family.  I want to be Your child and be washed clean from all the bad things I’ve done in my life, all the times I didn’t listen to You, all the times I went my own way.  Please scrub away all my selfishness and pride and_______ and everything else I’ve done that is not of You. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit and be with me each day.  Help me walk on Your straight and narrow path.  I believe You are my Savior who died for my sins. I believe You rose again and are preparing a place for me in heaven. I believe You are the only Way, the only Lord, the only God.  Please help me live as Your child from this moment forward.  Thank you for loving me and dying for me and letting me be in Your family.  In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. John 3:16-17 (NKJV)

That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9 (NKJV)

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 (NKJV)

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)

…choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve… But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15 (NKJV)

Thank you for reading my devotion. If you liked today’s message, you may enjoy reading what I’ve been doing since high school, and my Dear Loved One and Get on the Ark posts. I also encourage you to explore my blog, My TEA CUPP Prayers. My mission is to invite ladies everywhere to TEA with the King of kings, bringing them and all their families into the kingdom of God. I’m still aiming high!

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

Let Freedom Ring!

Praise the Lord! Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Psalm 106:1 (NKJV)

Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices;
My flesh also will rest in hope.
Psalm 16:9 (NKJV)

In June 2022, God answered the cries of my heart, taking me back to Wisconsin to be with my grandchildren. As I played with the kids in their backyard, I heard the bells of St. Mary’s Church chiming over the rooftops. Those same bells had been my companions in the early days of our granddaughter’s cancer, as we came to help for weeks at a time.

On a 100 degree June Tuesday, we had the joy of witnessing our granddaughter Kennedy ringing the cancer survivors’ bell at Milwaukee Children’s Hospital. After almost two and one half years of chemo, Kennedy is finally finished with all her treatments and pronounced, “cancer free!” We praise the Mighty Name of Jesus for this miracle and glorify His Name!

I want to thank everyone who prayed for our granddaughter these past three years. Your prayers rocked the throne room of heaven and the Lord heard your every cry. Your prayers gave healing to Kennedy, strength to her parents, comfort to her grandparents, and hope to so many. You are a blessing, and I thank Jesus for you!

I want to thank the doctors and nurses and physical therapists who cared for Kennedy all this time. God has put His kindness and compassion into your hearts. You poured it out on our granddaughter when she was so very sick. You encouraged her parents when the nights were dark, assuring them there was a light at the end of the tunnel. You were the hands and feet of Jesus, reaching out to heal the sick and lame.

I want to thank Kennedy’s Mom and Dad, Nana, Papa, and Auntie who were on the ground, doing the hard work each day, taking Kennedy to appointments and babysitting the little ones. You were there during the worst of times. The love you poured out on our grandkids is unmeasurable. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

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.  Luke 17:15-16 (NKJV)

And, most of all, I thank Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior, who heard the cries of Kennedy’s grandmas’ hearts. You were there when the “tea first spilled,” as we cried “Abba, Father, take this cup!” When we didn’t feel able to bear this load, You were able and bore it for us. You promised to send healing when I anointed Kennedy with oil (even anointing her hospital room and house). And when our little girl could no longer walk and we cried out, “Talitha Cumi,” You helped her to walk and leap again! You taught this precious girl to pray and blessed her with not one, but two younger siblings, first a Robin in spring and then a Princess in summer. You carried our granddaughter through every sick day and night, every treatment, every set back… You were there. Thank you, dearest Jesus.

And now, we celebrate this great and awesome victory over cancer. It was on a Tuesday that Kennedy rang the cancer victory bell, and Tuesday’s child is full of grace. The Grace of God healed our Kennedy Grace. This girl who was born on her paternal grandma’s birthday, rang the cancer freedom bell on her maternal grandma’s birthday. How awesome is that! He who died for our sins, healed the sick, made the lame walk, and raised the dead has now set our granddaughter free from cancer! My TEA CUPP overflows!

Today’s TEA CUPP: This 4th of July we have so much to celebrate… freedom for babies who will be given life instead of death, freedom from cancer for our granddaughter and others, and freedom from sin because of Jesus’ work on the cross. Our nation, the USA, was founded as one nation under God that we may also live in freedom. Let us glorify the Lord and celebrate all this freedom today! Let Freedom Ring!

Grandma and Kennedy in 2020

Kennedy and Grandma in 2022

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:1 (NKJV)

Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases.
Psalm 103:3 (NKJV)

Who executes justice for the oppressed,
Who gives food to the hungry.
The Lord gives freedom to the prisoners.
Psalm 146:7 (NKJV)

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:2 (NKJV)

A few “Ring the Bell” Hymns for you to enjoy…

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