Friday, October 28, 2011

regarding prayer...from Faith Barista Bonnie Gray's challenge...

mmmmm....so sweet.

i LOVE praying! alone, together, on my knees, or in a large group...with words in my heart or floating around my ears - my own or others...love to be a part of it.

praying comes easy for me - i love to talk - so don't use flowery words and "Christian-ese" language - just talk to God. He IS my FATHER...and He understands my heart (even when it's broken), my mind (even when it's pre-occupied) and my physical needs (even when they are great). He knows my silences...and i'm grateful that it's ok to "be still and know that He is God". He loves me, and wants to hear from me. i want to walk with Him in every area of my life!!

a partner in ministry and i began to meet at the start of summer one night a week, for one hour, to pray for others - the global community of workers sharing the gospel of Jesus abroad. for missionaries, unreached people groups, and for others who would be passionate to come and pray about these things with us. i love seeing who He leads to join us each week! i'm ALWAYS amazed at how quickly that time flies by!!

in some areas of Christian work, we see a lot of hurt and loneliness  in worker's lives....the problem - the inability to join together and pray in agreement. to do spiritual warfare against the common enemy. i'm praying for these men and women and families to lay down their pride, their shame, and be willing to lift each other up in prayer!! my prayers for them can only go so far....so i'm praying that they will put on their armor and do battle, that HE will equip them to do it, and lead them in prayer!

i think that one of my most motivational prayer resources has been "The Power of a Praying Wife" by Stormie Omartian (all her books are good, but this was my first one years ago). i LOVE how she states at the start - we have no right to pray for God to change our husbands unless we are willing to ask God to change us too -  that has become a part of my foundational prayer in MANY sessions - "God, change me; change "them", or change the circumstances" - and He always answers that prayer (can you guess who gets changed most?).

a book sitting on my desktop waiting to be read is "And The Place Was Shaken" on leading prayer groups...i've heard good things about it!

my favorite thing to do- when someone says "would you pray for me..." i will stop right then, and pray for them! often they are caught off guard - they don't want to BE praying but want the benefit of prayer - but it's a good thing to do! you get the benefit of leading someone else into a time of prayer (perhaps they have never prayed with another person, out LOUD?!) and God is glorified through our act of praying - coming into His presence (good for all of us!!) and we may get to play a part of seeing an answer to prayer.

some good ideas for prayer, from my youth group leading days:
 
     P - praise God for who He is!! use scripture to define His attributes, His character.
   
     R - remember what He has done! scripture is great to focus on, but it may be something recent too. also         remember what WE have done - do we need to confess anything to Him, to clear the air?
   
     A - ask - is there something we are requesting from Him??
   
     Y- yield to Him...this might be in quiet, silence, listening to hear His quiet voice speak something to us.

it doesn't have to be long, flowery, or in detail - all we may be able to pray is, "God, i don't know what to say - but i love you and trust you, and ask that Your will would be done in this situation..."

thanks for sharing Bonnie...you can bet i'm getting off of here and getting into some serious prayer time...

grace and peace (and prayer...)
marina

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pseudo blogging

A few weeks ago, as I was preparing to leave for North Africa, I thought that I'd indulge in a new blog site to capture my trip on. I had done the same thing when Mark and I went to China a few years ago (http://mnmgo2.blogspot.com) and I found it an easy way to document our journey and keep up on things day to day (or every few days). I thought it would be a blessing to share it this same way, and started "Marina Goes To..." to chronicle the journey.

Well, it hasn't worked as well as I'd planned. Right off the gate, internet access was not as easy, ready, fast or free as what we had in China (mostly because in North Africa we moved around so much, and none of it was really good service). Part of it too was that I didn't bring a laptop along, but used my iPad - a great tool, but a pain to get photos uploaded and then inserted into the Google system I am used to using - and with the slow speeds on the internet it was really impossible to get them uploaded at all. :(  So, I've not done a great job on EITHER blog for a few weeks - but am hoping that this will all be corrected soon enough...starting now. :)

I hope that you'll join in on our travel blogs. I'll post more on the latest trip when I'm done processing it all, and once we've given our Team Trip Reflections a week from Sunday at church...I have a little fear that if I tell ALL about the trip before then, no one will show up for the Reflections!!  : P

SO come and join us, and keep checking into the blogs to see the newer material to learn about our experiences...and trust me that next time, I'll likely just post about it here from the start...

Grace and peace,
marina

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

(in)spired deals by DaySpring = an amazing book!!

Have you seen the recordable storybooks, where the parent (or grandparent) can record their own voice reading a story to their child (or grandchild)? Last winter we got one to give to our grandgirls in PA, but wanted a storybook to convey the REAL meaning of Christmas, and could not find one, settling on another common storybook favorite.

I'm SO excited that now the line of books has expanded, and I've just received the title "God's Christmas Promise" through the (in)spired deals program through DaySpring.

The story is delightful, telling a simple version of the Bible's history of Jesus' birth. The illustrations are soft and muted and precious...just like a DaySpring Christmas Card!

I'm really excited to get to record and give this storybook to my granddaughter's, who will move out of country in the next few years to continue the mission work their parents are called to. I know that for now it's just a storybook they will fight over, but KNOW that in the coming years, it will still be a well loved connection between our grandgirls and us. I can't wait to record it with my husband, and give it to them at Christmas...guess I'm glad that my daughter doesn't read my blog!! :)

I am prayerfully excited to be leaving soon for my own journey - and ask that you follow along from my new blogsite at "marina goes to..." to read up on the coming week's travels. It won't be a prayer post, but more the geography and experiences that we have. If you read between the lines, I'm sure you'll find things to pray for us!!

Blessings,
marina



Tuesday, October 11, 2011

new blog for this journey...

I'm starting a new blog, so I can divide my life into the categories of what I'm thinking, doing, learning, and this amazing journey I'm about to embark on.

If you would like, please join me at http://marinagoesto.blogspot.com and follow my trips - this first one to North Africa...

I appreciate your continued prayers, and hope that we remain in connectivity so I'll be able to post along the way...

grace and peace,
marina

Monday, October 3, 2011

Ah...the Garden...

In response to a favorite blogger's challenge  - Faith Barista Bonnie Gray - has given, I'm going to post here daily, in addition to whatever else God leads me to blog about...

Today's topic was which of the 3 habitats that God originally created for us to find, am I longing for most TODAY:

a garden (beauty)

relationship (community)

1-1 friendship with Him (intimacy)

In my life, God has blessed me ABUNDANTLY with COMMUNITY (especially when I compare it to the 19 years I spent wandering in the Ozarks). In preparing for my upcoming trip, I have been surrounded by opportunities and challenges to draw nearer to Him, so my INTIMACY is not lacking (and in His perfect timing, we started a new series of teaching in church, on Intimacy With God!). But, OH, the Garden in my life is lacking...and even though it excites me to see the cool-ness of fall temps coaxing out the colors of fall... I'm too busy to enjoy them...to soak them in... I need a garden...so below is the response I put on her page...
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


OH - a GARDEN - literally - not "just beauty".

Two things that draw me into intimacy with God...
     1.   WATER (i.e.: ocean, lake, river, creek, rain, fountain, bathtub..)
     2.   GARDEN (i.e.: rich dark dirt, laden with worms, flowers, trees, privacy, or anything in the process of...)

I KNOW where the water is, and where it's not. My local sources are the Ohio River, the pond at Audubon State Park, the fountain in my back yard (soon to be drained because of freezing temperatures), and my bathtub. I grew up near, and LOVE the Pacific Ocean, and I know where it resides -  but it's reserved for very special days. My hubby treated me to a few days on the Gulf Coast last winter - a real splurge, and God has gone over and above all my expectations when a service trip scheduled to serve and assist our Global Workers in North Africa recently disclosed that (gasp) we'll be staying on the Mediterranean! CRAZY!! Again, a time that I thought that I was going to bless others will end up blessing and filling me!! Gosh, I love how He works that out!!

And then there's the GARDEN. My back yard is full of ...nothing. Soil - well, if you want to call it that....it's really tricky that way. It looks like clay, but when it gets wet, it becomes quicksand! SERIOUSLY!! I've had my foot stuck in it, and it sucked my shoe right off my foot!! Grass (that my Jack Russell Terrier, Abbey the Wonderdog, loves to dig in), which also hides the puddles - because, much to our dismay, the neighborhoods' water runs down the hill into our backyard, and across the back of it - it is worn down like a riverbed, and across the side fence - where the gate is, of course - and it becomes a small lake. Not the kind of lake that acts as a water feature and soothes the spirit. sigh.

When we bought the house we saw the floor plan we loved, and a backyard full of opportunities. We thought of the qualifiers, "You can't change the footprint of the house or the neighborhood", and failed to see that all the neighbors in back of us can see directly into our yard (they sit uphill from us), and that the few things growing were dangerous or prolific - as in they take over the growing spaces and hold them hostage.  We're making baby steps, as I dutifully pull out the wild things, donate them to others with bare-er yards than I, and Dear Hubby tears out the shrubs that are placed in weird places, as if they were a security system, blocking windows and doors.
at least our canoe is not there any more! :) 

Slowly, but surely, my vision for a private garden draws me in. I'm learning the nuances of the sun cycles and what likes to grow where....like the hostas along the house REALLY don't like to grow there in late summer, when heat is at it's peak and everything  else overtakes them, but the newly planted redbud tree loves it's new location where I imagine I'll be able to watch its changes in season and monitor the birds as they build nests in it's branches in spring. The arbor vitae along the back fence is taking root, now topping the fence by height, and although we couldn't convince the building dept. to allow a permit for us to put up a storage shed in one corner (water run off and under the power line),  we plan to landscape in more trees, and turn the water ditch into a dry bed...mimicking a creek with our occasional heavy rains. We don't have a plan settled on for the side run off, but we continue to pray and study it each time we get stuck in the mud.

one ugly yard! this will be a dry bed someday!

Notice the lack of privacy

morning glories on the fence 
OH, and the flowers are growing!! The iris I planted when we first moved in (in the wrong season, and the wrong places I found out later), are getting moved this fall (right time AND to the right places). We continue to clean out areas of ugly shrubs, and plant much appreciated grass (that hubby loves to not have to mow around!). We'll keep enough flat yard space to allow a swingset or play area, but I'm looking forward to the day that I walk out the back door and see nothing but flowers. AH. I can imagine it in my mind's eye. Quiet times with God on the back patio, coffee in hand, morning glories going crazy (already growing from a friend's shared seeds on an impromptu fence we put up), water running through the jar fountain that runs there, wind chimes from the neighbor's house...

I hope that it turns into another place to practice hospitality...guys enjoying the sights as we BBQ...kids chasing butterflies that come to visit, all of us enjoying God's creation within the confines of our yard.

Yes, I seek the garden....


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Precious Intimacy with God...

After following a few of my blogs this week, and tonight's lesson at church (which was really good!), my heart is turned towards the topic of the sermon, "Intimacy With God". Do I take enough time with Him? How do I express my love for Him in my daily life? Do I celebrate enough? (have I ever even THOUGHT of celebrating my intimacy with God?). I was reminded of a favorite book, sitting on my shelf, "A Celebration of Discipline" and how I had drawn so close to God through it, and then set it off on the side...on to read other things...and to not continue in the Disciplines in the ways that I could Celebrate them...but to make them more of a ritual, a tradition, instead of something to be celebrated...


So, those are my thoughts. 


I know that time with God is like growing in our walk - there is never enough - we never "arrive" as a mature Christian - there is always farther to go, room for more, ways to change to become more like Him...and the closer I draw to His heart, the more I know this.


I love that He is patient with us! Love how He woos us to Him...gently, quietly, so precious...like when we hold a newborn, how we gently speak to them...coo in their ear...hum a favorite tune softly so they will lean in even more. 


oh, how I love to draw near to Him! Especially in the times of craziness (like lately) I am drawn to Him like a cat to a warm sunny spot on the floor, like a child's hand to the candy dish, like a bee to honey...


when I get there, snuggled in that spot, I love to rest there. Love to draw near to His chest, hear His heart beat. Hear His Word whispered in my ear...His breath warm on my cheek...


i need to spend more time in that spot...resting in His arms...learning to celebrate the disciplines of following Him...learning to celebrate Jesus.