The Sweetest Gift

Prayer Closet project

It was tempting for me to show the “after” first because the “before” though functional, is not the prettiest to look at. It stood in Elaine’s Mom’s room to hold adult diapers and miscellaneous stuff while she was in the care-home. Her name, which you can still see the shadow of, had to be kept on it because she forgot that it was hers to from time to time. When Joyce passed two weeks before Christmas this year, Elaine just couldn’t part with it. Then a vision began to take shape.

These are her own words on the Facebook post she made when she posted the pictures of the finished product, my incredible Christmas gift:

Lori has used my little shop for her prayer closet for years. When I go to do a project I have to clear Bible’s candles, pens, reading glasses, little pieces of paper with names on them. I never say a word. Well maybe once, for I am sure she has prayed and shed many a tear there for me. When my Mom passed I had her little chest of drawers to take home. Lori said just donate it. I said no!. I have a plan for that… And here it is. Took me many hours in the little shop.

I had an inkling of what she was doing, because she had mentioned seeing “Prayer Cabinets” online and on Pinterest. I was ordered to stay out of the shop until it was done.
Finally, the day before Christmas Eve it was complete. That night, a sheet covered dolly was wheeled in from outside by Elaine, looking much like one of Santa’s mischievous elves. She could hardly contain her excitement, she said……”You are gonna cry.”
Cry, I did……and you can see why:
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It was beyond my expectations. Standing before me was a labor of love born out of the deepest kind of sorrow. That was why it meant so much. She could have chosen any old chest to refurbish but she wanted this one. Now when I go out to pray, I see a vision of someone who looked inside her heart and refused to cave in to despair, but instead made an unspeakable thing of beauty for someone else…….and I got to be the recipient. I will cherish it the rest of my days, because I know what it took to make it.
I had stood in her Mom’s room and seen those drawers slide in and out, her looking for socks that her Mom had stashed in her purse, and marking the backs of “Depends” with permanent markers. I love that those drawer liners weren’t wasted. And the crosses……those crosses were made out of driftwood we collected from Moss Landing, one of our favorite places to go in California. It’s personal through and through.
I see it, and I think of how so many times in life God brings hope and beauty after our deepest times of despair. I think of that Psalm that talks about joy in the morning.
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And God looks at us “castoffs” by the side of the road and sees what He will make us into, because He sees what we can’t. And He’s determined to make a thing of incredible beauty out of us, even when we can no longer believe in ourselves.
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And He says:
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4: 6,7
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And someday, when we are on the other side……..He will nod approvingly and say, “I do good work.” Come inside now and see what I have prepared for you…….

Advent Idea: A Prayer Closet

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“But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.  And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.” Matthew 6:6,7

This morning I had to hastily arrange a different place to pray because “someone” has a secret project going on in the shop. First I tried my bedroom…..that didn’t work, it was too open. Then I tried another place in the living room and it didn’t feel right either. E said, “Why don’t you go in your closet?” Well, my closet had become a disaster zone since all the Christmas stuff had come out of hiding. But, as I traipsed from room to room feeling kind of disoriented I pushed open the door and entertained the possibility of my bedroom closet.

First, I got a chair out of what used to be Joyce’s room at the Care Home thinking that might work. I had forgotten they had a dog at the place for a while and there were smells, lots of them  on that chair. Briggs the cat wandered in the wouldn’t leave, those smells on that chair were just too intriguing. Remove chair. Sit on floor.

It was actually kind of cozy in there. I could still hear faint outside noises which I find an agreeable backdrop…..keeps me in touch with what’s going on outside. And when I took this picture I had to smile……the baby doll on the shelf in the background reminded me of the baby Jesus, wrapped in swaddling clothes. Actually, it’s my very own baby blanket that my Mom wanted me to have. It’s the one they wrapped me in on the way out of the hospital. All 3 pounds of me. The doll is a Thumbelina. Those of us in the older range of middle-age will remember who she is. I just Googled her, she still comes up!

Anyway, here is the final result. It works……..

I find that any space will do as long as it provides an atmosphere of peace and quiet where you know you will not be distracted or interrupted.

I have been plagued by distraction and unease lately. I sense a big change coming in my life and my soul is not at rest, so I knew this morning it was expedient that I find a place to pour out my anxiety to the Lord. I realized that on some level I didn’t even want to pray because I didn’t necessarily want to hear what the Lord might place on my heart.

And you know what? That is the time you need prayer the most.

Run to Him friends. He will satisfy your every need and quiet every fear.

The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

He Delights in Us

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

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

“The Lord your God is in your midst,
A victorious warrior.
He will exult over you with joy,
He will be quiet in His love,
He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.

Zephaniah 3:17

God delights in us! Is it possible the One who hung the moon and the stars, personally delights in me? Is is possible the One who created the earth and sky and sea and everything in them, personally looks forward to my little prayer time with Him?

Yes, a resounding yes!

Even when I bring all my junk from the past week, even when I drag it all in with me, He still delights in me and looks forward to our meeting. Can there be anything more astounding than that? Scripture also uses words like “passionate”and “jealous” to describe His love for us. In God’s world there are not 50 shades of grey, there is only light and dark and no room for anything in between. He loves us with a love that is total and complete and perfect, lacking in nothing.

He went to the ends of the earth and all the way down to hell for us. He left perfection to come to this soiled planet to rescue us, and He smoked the Dragon of death forever. That’s the kind of God worth knowing, worth committing my life to. His commitment to me is total. He said, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” When He said, “I do” to me, He meant it.

I don’t know about you, but that’s the kind of God I want.

Big enough to create everything we see and hear and touch. Small enough to fit inside my heart. He delights in me and loves our time together and I love that about Him.

My “War Room”

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 “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you………” Matthew 6:6

I have yet to see “War Room” but I plan to soon. Miss Clara has her closet I have heard. And me?  I have this little shop which has become so very dear to me. I guess you could say it’s also the birthplace of this blog. When I determined to take the first portion of my day out here back in 2009, I didn’t know what would come out of it, I just knew it’s what I needed to do.

I can’t begin to say how this one simple thing has enriched my life. I miss it on my work days when I can’t come out here. On those days, my car turns into a “prayer closet.” Of course we all know we can pray anywhere, that to me is the essence of a relationship with God, that we have this ongoing communication with our Heavenly Father, anywhere at any time.

But there is something to be said for having a central place to go when you need to be alone with God with only the silence as your backdrop.

I love being out here surrounded by all the buckets, storage bins, paint, projects, Christmas decorations, you name it.

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“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephesians 6:12

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And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people…….Revelation 5:8

It’s a miracle isn’t it? That we have this gift, the knowledge that God Himself hears our every prayer, that every little whisper is captured in His bowl for all eternity. Every word we speak will be saved, every word is treasured………My bowl isn’t exactly gold, it’s a Longaberger ceramic.

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After my Birthday I took the names of everyone who posted on my timeline and placed them in this bowl. Each day I draw a name, and then I add whoever else God brings to mind. And sometimes, I am just silent for a while.

Sometimes I like to think of what’s going on in Heaven right at that particular moment. I like to think of Jesus interceding for us, for He is you know……

My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. John 17:20-23

The world is outside…….but in here it is well with my soul. The world batters us, and like shipwrecked survivors we come in out of the cold…… we cling to the promises because we know the gates of hell are powerless against them.

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I encourage you to find that quiet place. Carved out a little niche somewhere, just for you and God. I promise you won’t regret it.

Until next time……..