Archive | July 2018

The 5-Minute Prayer Experiment

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I have 5 grown children who have all left me!
  The nerve of those kids …

They are now pursuing their gifts and destiny in the only Kingdom that really matters.

They are figuring out life for themselves without their mamma’s daily input or opinions.

They are on a journey of joy … of pain … of challenge … of significance … of success … of failure … of hope … of love.

Now, I certainly hope that what my 5 children learned while living at home has given them some type of road map for the journey of life.

I hope that they haven’t forgotten to pray … to read the Word … to be kind … to sing … to play … to dream … to make meaningful priorities … to be unselfish … to trust God.

That timeless saying is really true –

“A mother holds her children’s hands for just a little while but she holds their hearts forever.”

But … that’s not really what I wanted to talk to you about today.  I actually want to talk to you about prayer.

So – allow me to segue …. Or perhaps I should just begin again!

I have 5 grown children who have all left me!  The nerve of those kids …

The hardest days of the year to be away from all of my children is on the day of each of their births.

(You know – I am not sure that birthdays are for the person who is born on that particular day as much as it is for the mother.)

A mom remembers the joy … the pain … the challenge … the significance of the day of each of her children’s births.

A mom remembers and cries … and smiles … and sighs … and aches … and prays.

My youngest was born when I was standing on the threshold of 40 and she has been one of the greatest miracles of my entire life.

After giving birth to 4 of the most dynamic, energetic and creative human beings ever born, I was given the gift of one more.

Her birthday is May 30 and this year I wasn’t with her on her birthday.  She was celebrating with friends and some of her siblings in the city where she lives which is thousands of miles away from me! (The nerve of my kids!)

What I often do on the day that commemorates the birth of one of my children is to spend extra time in prayer for the one whom my heart is celebrating.

There ain’t no heart like a mama’s heart!

There ain’t no prayer warrior like a mama prayer warrior!

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I pray for the birthday child’s walk with the Lord and for wisdom in all of their life decisions.

I pray that they will be kind and that others will be kind to them.

I pray that they will climb mountains with diligence and experience valleys with humility.

I pray that they will think like God thinks and experience the joy of His presence.

I pray that they will be people of honor and of integrity.

This year, as I was ending my prayer celebration in honor of Joni, my youngest, I began to think about whose birthday was next.  I realized that the next birthday that belonged to a member of the original Clan McLeod was on September 2 … which was basically three months hence.

And then, I had the instant realization, that these two birthdays were separated by a mere 3 months … a little over 90 summer days.

A light bulb went off in my spirit!

The Holy Spirit spoke to me in that moment,

“Carol – what if you prayed for specific needs in all of your children’s lives for 5 minutes a day for the next three months?  It will take you 25 minutes a day – 5 minutes for each of your 5 children.”

The Holy Spirit continued His prompting …

“Carol – would you want to do a “5-Minute Prayer Experiment” with me?!”

I was literally breathless with anticipation to see what I, prayer and the Holy Spirit could accomplish to strengthen my kids’ lives in only 5 minutes a day over a period of roughly 90 days!

The next day – I found one scripture for each of my children that I would be praying over them over the course of the next 2,160 hours.

I was in!!  All the way in!

So … let me tell you how this works …

Every day from May 30 through September 2, 2018, I will spend 25 minutes in prayer; this will consist of 5 bursts of 5 minutes each.

Sometimes it is when I am walking … sometimes it is when I am unloading the dishwasher … sometimes it is when I am folding clothes … sometimes it is when I am driving.

Sometimes I pray out loud and sometimes it is an inner prayer.

I pray the Word over each of my children and I pray for specific needs in their individual lives.

5 minutes a day.  All summer long.  90 days.

The minutes fly by and the presence of the Lord is tangible!

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I am expecting God to intervene in the lives of my children and I am beginning to realize that expectation is the breeding ground for miracles.

A mother’s prayer is a powerful way to impact the lives of their children even after they are grown and gone.

Our grown children can run away from our words but they can never escape our prayers so our strategy should always be to talk less and to pray more!

It’s not too late for you to join me and the Holy Spirit on this journey!  Why don’t you take the month of August and pray 5 minutes a day for your children or for those people that you love the most?

I’d love to hear all about your 5 Minute Prayer Experiment!  And just know .. while you are praying for others … I will be praying for you!

“Prayer is the breath, the watchword, the comfort, the strength, the honour of a Christian.” – Spurgeon

Thanks for listening to my heart this week.  As you know by now, my heart is truly not a perfect heart but it is a heart that is filled to overflowing with gratitude for the life I have been given and for the people who walk with me.  And, it continues to be a heart that is relentlessly chasing after God and all that He is!

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Spoiler Alert!

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As most of you know, I have several addictions in life, some of which I am proud and some of which I am sure are fairly unhealthy.

Some of my unhealthy and addictive habits might be but are certainly not limited to….

How many times in one lifetime can a woman tell herself that chocolate is NOT a daily vitamin?!!

If there were an Olympic sport in hitting the snooze button on the morning alarm clock – I would win it.  Hands down.

And don’t even get me started on Target and please don’t ask my husband about that particular drug of choice.

But … now … as I have already stated … not all of my addictions are harmful – some are very healthy, indeed!

Let me share with you one of my healthy addictions –

A singular addiction that has me under lock and key since about the second grade has also benefitted me in ways too numerous to even count.

I am a self-diagnosed, avaricious read-aholic!

In my book – there is no such thing as owning too many books.

Many days of my life I would rather read than breathe … rather read than eat … rather read that talk.

“What is a bookshelf other than a treasure chest for a curious mind?”

Whenever I walk into a bookstore or a library, my blood pressure rises, my heartbeat accelerates and I have to remind myself to “Breathe in … breathe out … breathe in … breathe out!

I am the kind of girl who fantasizes about being locked up in the library overnight!

The books that I have read over the course of my life have helped to mold the person that I am today.  I have traveled through time and have met fascinating people on the pages of a book that I otherwise never would have known.

I have climbed mountains, survived blizzards, experienced poverty, dealt with difficult people, and lived on other continents simply because I opened the pages of a book.

I have been the President of the United States of America … the Queen of England … a housewife during the Dustbowl … and a missionary who gives her life for the cause of Christ … simply because I have opened the pages of a book.

“One must always be careful of books and what is inside them, for words have the power to change our lives.”

Because I am so very human, I have even developed a frighteningly bad habit right in the middle of this excellent obsession with reading.  Actually, let me attempt to re-describe the questionable habit that thrives in the midst of a stellar habit –

To me – this particular practice of which I speak is actually not a bad habit at all but a dire necessity to my emotional investment.

However, most of my friends say it is simply a bad habit. A very bad habit.

“What is the habit of controversy?” you may ask.

I am so glad that you asked because I can’t wait to answer you fully!

Whenever I pick up a book – fiction or non-fiction – before I read the first chapter, I always read the last chapter.

That’s not a sin, is it?!

The reason that I do this is because I refuse to give myself wholeheartedly to a book that has a murky ending. I refuse to read a page of a book that comes to erroneous conclusions or communicates that which I consider to be a broken theme.

I refuse.

Other well-meaning bibliophiles may accuse me of spoiling the ending but I think not.  Knowing the ending before the beginning actually stirs my interest in and investment to the book. It is true, this habit removes both fear and suspense from my emotional thermometer – but who needs fear and suspense anyway?!

I love the development of the characters to a deeper and richer degree knowing how it is all going to turn out for them. I feel that I own a sweet secret that I am unable to share with anyone whose life story is being written before my very eyes.

And so I trudge along through my well-set pattern of literary perusal and continue to read the last chapter first.

One particular day, as I was reading the greatest Book ever written, I realized how powerful it is to know exactly what the end of the Bible says!  My heart leaped for absolute joy out of my chest as I embraced the knowledge that I know!

 I know how all of this ends for the people of God!

I know how God will tie it all together!

I know what the final act will look like!

I know who wins!

And I definitely know who loses!

I don’t mean to spoil the ending of the Bible for you … but everything really is going to be o.k.

Go ahead!  I dare you to do it!  Read the last chapter of Revelation and break out in exuberant worship!

God has written the end of your story and it’s a good one … a really good one!

There is no reason for fear or suspense in the life of a believer because the ending to all of our stories is simply out of this world!

God has been to your future and it is good because He is good and He is already there.

God has spent eternity past writing out the details of your life and has made an eternal investment in the ending that will trump all other endings … you win because He has already won!

“Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me when as yet there was not one of them.” – Psalm 139:16

Thanks for listening to my heart this week.  As you know by now, my heart is truly not a perfect heart but it is a heart that is filled to overflowing with gratitude for the life I have been given and for the people who walk with me.  And, it continues to be a heart that is relentlessly chasing after God and all that He is!

Kindness Matters

JoyForTheJourney

We live in a broken world, don’t we?

Politics are a mess … the media doesn’t always tell the truth … people are mistreated … the laws need changing … entertainment is warped … the list could go on and on and on.

We live in a broken world.

Do you want to know what I believe?

I believe that the reason God placed YOU in this world is because it is broken and it needed someone just like you to heal its brokenness.

We all know what John 3:16 days, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

That’s a “WOW!” Scripture of the very best kind!  God loved … He gave … we believe … we live!

However – do you know what John 3:17 says?

“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”

Jesus didn’t come to judge us … He came to save us!

He came to save us from sin, from politics, from opinions, from waywardness, from confusion, from pain, from hatred, from war, from anger, from sickness and from death.

I also know that often He needs to save me from myself.  Isn’t that the truth?!

He came to save us and to give us a new way of living … of thinking … and of processing life!

You see, when we partner with Him in loving this broken world … miracles happen!

 

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The world doesn’t need another Christian with an opinion – it needs a Christian who will be kind.

The world doesn’t need another religious person to judge it – it needs a gentle word and a loving smile that will serve as a source of encouragement.

This doesn’t mean that we accept the sin and gloss over the compromise – what it means is that we are kind in spite of it.

Your opinions will never change this world – but your joy might change it!

Your judgment will never revolutionize this world – but your heartfelt goodness might do the job!

Your negativity will never deliver this world – but your kindness might make an impact!

Can I tell you a story?

I’ll try to make it short and I really don’t mean to glorify anything that I have done … I just want to remind you that kindness matters.  It matters very, very much.

It was the summer of 1996 and our family home was on a busy street in a small town in North Carolina.  I would often sit on the porch while my boys played basketball in the driveway and while my little girls decorated the sidewalk with all kinds of amazing chalk designs.

One day while we were outside enjoying an August afternoon, I noticed two young men walking up our driveway. I immediately recognized them as Mormons because of the way they were dressed and due to their clean-cut appearance.

I judged them before they even opened up their mouths.

They chatted with my boys for a while about Michael Jordan and about who was going to have the better team that year – UNC or Duke – and then they marveled over my daughters’ sidewalk masterpieces.

I knew that I was next.

As they paused on the front steps, I pondered what to say to these two boys whose belief system was so very different from mine.

They smiled and introduced themselves and asked if they could have a minute of my time.

Being the softie that I am, I said, “Sure! Join me on the porch.”

While they were settling themselves, I went into the house and brought ice-cold lemonade out for my five children and for these two young men.

It also gave me a minute to pray.

After I came out with red plastic cups and with store-bought cookies, I settled myself back on the porch swing and let them take a gulp or two of the refreshing beverage.

I chatted with them for a few minutes about where they were staying, where they were from and how hot it was in North Carolina in the summer time.

I then took a deep breath and then said, “Look – I know that you are Mormons and that you have come to talk to me about your faith and to try to convince me to believe like you do.  But I never will.  I believe that Jesus Christ is the only Son of God and the Savior of the world.  I believe that He died on the cross to forgive me from my sins and that it was a complete work.

I really don’t want to argue or debate with you but I know that you are far away from your moms and I am a mom.  So – if you need anything while you are here – let me know. If you need to do laundry, or need advice or just want to hang out with a rowdy family – you are welcome here.”

One of the boys looked at me and sheepishly said, “Can you give us the name of a dentist? I have a really bad toothache and don’t know what to do about it.”

I got up from the porch and called our family dentist who was also a believer and made an appointment for the young man who was far away from home. I also told the dentist what my strategy was and told him to bill us for the appointment.  My sweet dentist said, “Carol – you can’t afford to do that.  The first appointment will be on me and then we will see what we can work out.”

The young men left that afternoon after shooting a few hoops with my boys and I assured them that they were always welcome to just stop by.

After that afternoon, I often saw them on their bikes, in the grocery store and just around town. They would engage with my children and would always chat for a minute or two with their North Carolina mom.

Then Hurricane Fran hit my small town during the first week of September.

We were without power for over a week while other parts of the community didn’t regain power for nearly a month. My town looked like a war zone with trees scattered all over streets, houses and cars.

One day, shortly after our power came back on, my two young friends from Utah came walking up our driveway.  They looked hot and bedraggled.  When they told me that they still didn’t have power and wondered if they could do a load of laundry, we welcomed them into the cool of our delicious air-conditioned home.

They did their laundry, took showers in the kids’ bathroom and then I fed them dinner right along with our kids.  We didn’t talk about religion or about differences but they told us about their younger brothers and sisters. We laughed and talked and ended the evening with a rousing game of Uno.

Several days later these boys appeared at my front door again with notes from their moms thanking me for being kind to their boys.

I never saw them again. But I was honored to love these boys who were so very different from me.  It was the plan of God for me to be kind to these young men whose worldview was in direct contrast to mine.

I don’t know if they ever came to Christ or not but what I do know is that their world was touched by the love and compassion of a believer.

Oh – I could have argued with them!  I could have put them in their place theologically but I felt called to love them in spite of our differences. Sometimes words are cheap but actions will always be priceless.

This world may seem broken to you and to me but it becomes a place of miracles and of wonder when we respond like Jesus would respond.

 

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So – rather than spew opinions on Facebook this week … just be kind.

Rather than judge your neighbors … be good to them.

Rather than criticize the media … pray for them.

Restore the wonder to this broken world!  It is, after all, what Jesus would do and it is why you are here!

We live in a wonderful world simply because you and Jesus are in it!

Thanks for listening to my heart this week.  As you know by now, my heart is truly not a perfect heart but it is a heart that is filled to overflowing with gratitude for the life I have been given and for the people who walk with me.  And, it continues to be a heart that is relentlessly chasing after God and all that He is!

Summer’s Song

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I absolutely delight in the lazy, crazy, hazy days of summer!

Do you?!  Surely you do!

I am addicted to sunshine … to fresh cut grass … and to a slight breeze blowing through my windows at night.

I love the buzzin’ of the bees … the sound of the neighborhood children laughing on my street … and I love having a quiet time on my deck in the early morning hours with a steaming cup of coffee in cradled in my hands.

I love the hanging baskets that I see out my kitchen window … the flags flying proudly from nearly every porch in my neighborhood … and I even love the dandelions that audaciously poke their heads up through my well-manicured lawn.

Summertime … I wait for it all year long!

Summer is a time for enjoyment, for growth and for beauty.

Let me share with you how I incorporate all three – enjoyment, growth and beauty – into my summertime routine.

Enjoyment!

First of all, I am determined to enjoy every day of this fleeting season of summer and not to let one gorgeous day fly by without my acknowledgement of it.

I go for long walks outside in the summer warmth and I revel in the glory of God’s creation.

I listen every morning for the birds outside my open windows.

I watch the menagerie of animals that stroll across my backyard in the evening hours … bunny rabbits … very brave chipmunks … sweet mama deer and her twin fawns … and a critter that I have yet to identify!

I water my flowers diligently and find such simple pleasure in snipping off the dying blooms while waiting for the new ones to come alive.

We often eat dinner on the back deck and silently drink in the wonder of God’s brilliant creation known as “summer”.

I enjoy every single day of summer as if it were the last day of summer!

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Growth!

Due to the fact that my schedule generally eases up during the summertime, I am also diligent about creating a space for personal growth in my life.

In addition to my daily quiet time, I choose one book of the Bible and just swim in it!  This year – it is the Book of Hebrews.  How I love this epistle whose authorship is still contested to this day. Was it Paul?  Was it Priscilla?  I’m not sure but I know that whoever wrote it knew the God that I know today in the 21st. Century!

I love the strength of Hebrews … and the theology of Hebrews … and the Christ of the book of Hebrews.

“And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the world of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” – Hebrews 1:3

I can barely come up for air as I delve into the depths and richness found in this book that presents history and life from God’s perspective.

I also have a long list of books that I read during the summer. This year my list includes:

Hearts of Fire – The Voice of the Martyrs
The Grave Robber – Batterson
The Making of a Leader by Dr. J. Robert Clinton

Martin Luther by Eric Metaxas
Caroline by Sarah Miller

Now … I don’t just grow intellectually and spiritually during the summer but I also “up” my exercise routine.  Instead of walking a mere 3 miles a day, my goal is 3.5 – 5 miles per sweaty, sizzling day and I love it!!

I also try new recipes during the summer that use fruits and vegetables that are only available during June, July and August.  Here is one of my favorite new recipes that I just discovered on Memorial Day and I have made it 4 times since! Let me know how you like it –

Summer Squash Casserole

12 Cups of Summer Squash cut into bite-size pieces
1 cup chopped sweet onion (I use Vidalia)
2/3 cup of salted butter, divided
1.5 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 eggs beaten well
1 sleeve crushed round butter crackers (Ritz)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 13x9x2 inch baking dish; set aside

Place squash in a 6-quart Dutch oven with enough water to cover. Boil over high heat until fork-tender; approximately 10 minutes. Remove from heat and drain well. Return squash to Dutch oven but not to stovetop; set aside.

In a small skillet over medium heat, cook onion in 1/3 cup butter until onion is translucent. Pour over cooked squash.

Add sugar, salt, pepper, and eggs to squash. Stir gently to combine.

Pour mixture into prepared baking dish. Top with crushed crackers.

Melt remaining 1/3 cup better in the small skillet over low heat. Drizzle over crushed crackers. Bake until golden brown. Approximately 1 hour.

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Beauty!

I look around my home and my eyes linger around my yard during these delicious months and I wonder what I can do to make a more beautiful dwelling space around me.

Do I need more throw pillows on the couch?

Could the guest bathroom use a new hand towel or two?

Can I weed around the front tree to make the yard look neater?

Does the back deck need a fresh coat of paint?

Should I plant flowers around the mailbox?

I also look at me and wonder what I can do to improve what people see …

Do I need a new hairstyle? A pedicure?  To lose 10 pounds or more?

Do I need to smile more?  Listen more attentively?

I know that I need to cultivate the fruits of the Spirit to a greater degree … that will certainly make a more beautiful me!

Enjoyment … growth … and beauty! Those are my words of summer!

I hope that you will join me in jumping into summer and splashing in the joy of every hot day with childlike wonder!

Have a watermelon for dinner … buy some popsicles for the neighborhood kids … open your windows so you can hear the song that only summer sings.

Thanks for listening to my heart this week.  As you know by now, my heart is truly not a perfect heart but it is a heart that is filled to overflowing with gratitude for the life I have been given and for the people who walk with me.  And, it continues to be a heart that is relentlessly chasing after God and all that He is!

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