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We officially have a one-year-old on our hands, and I have to admit, this stage is F-U-N.

 

Sure, there’s still nap struggles and defiance in the face of vegetables and blowouts. It’s a “nose goes” game anytime we hear the rumble. But at this age, there’s an unquenchable curiosity, a little mimicking, that’s just downright amusing.

 

We clap, she claps. We scream, she screams. We laugh, she fake laughs back. I moo like a cow; Mabel moos like a cow back. Every day, we play this game of back-and-forth.

 

She’s just our little imitator. Our baby copycat. Our sweet mimic. And because of this, never before has Ephesians 5:1 made so much sense: “Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children.”

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Do you have a hard time surrendering control of your life to God? If so, you are not alone. On today's Connecting Faith, Jo talks with author Shannon Popkin about what it means to have control issues and how to remember that our story is really God's story. 

Check out the podcast of Jo's show here:

http://myfaithradio.com/2017/surrendering-control-life/

 

You can listen to Jo on Connecting Faith live every Friday at noon on Faith Radio/KTIS AM900 or 90.7 FM

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I was always a little nervous about praying out loud in a group. Even praying a dinner blessing would sometimes cause a bit of stress. I would worry that I was somehow doing it wrong. The words always sounded fine in my head but when they left my mouth they were somehow less than lovely. I wanted to take them back, to edit, and then put forth my prayer in perfect grammar and proper theology.

 

I have tried acronyms in order to craft the perfect prayer: P.R.A.I.S.E., ACTS, PRAY, P.R.A.Y.E.R. They are all wonderful tools and have brought great clarity to my prayer time. But for me, I find myself holding back. I find myself more concerned with the format than I do with the subject.

 

At least I know I’m not alone. Maybe you’ve struggled too? Jesus taught his disciples to pray. They wondered how to communicate with the God who loved them, so Jesus encouraged them to come to him whenever they felt a need. He wanted them to know that the door was always open.

 

So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. (Luke 11:9-10)

 

There have been other times in my life when I can’t seem to stop the words from spilling out. These prayers may not have any continuity. There is no structure. But these prayers are real as well.

 

Many of the psalms are laments that come out of times of great distress and trouble. They are unashamed cries for help, for salvation, and for rescue. David used prayer to cry out to God. I’m so grateful that he did. It gives me license to cry out too.

 

In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help… (Psalm 18:6)

 

Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck… I am worn out calling for help… My eyes fall, looking for my God. (Psalm 69:1-3)

 

In 1 Samuel, we hear of Hannah’s prayer. She is praying with a mixture of praise, wonder, pain, and pleas. She is so desperate to hear from the Lord that she goes right to the temple. But there were certain behavior expectations for a woman at that time and she doesn’t want to violate any of the social norms. So she prays without making a sound. She motions, she moves her lips, she shows great expression and emotion…so much so that the priest takes her for being drunk. She laid it all out, without even voicing a word.

 

I heard one friend say that sometimes she gets in her car and just has to “barf it out before God.” She just lets it go without thinking about who might be watching.

 

Is it okay to use the word God and barf in the same sentence? It sounds strange to me. It can’t possibly fit the format.

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'Cause Jesus paid it all
All to him I owe
My sin had left this crimson stain, he washed it white as snow

It's washed away, all my sin
And all my shame

Jesus Paid It All, Elvina M. Hall

  

 

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One of my favorite people to visit when I was a young girl was my great-grandma, Anna Johnson. With her loud flower dresses, large-beaded necklaces, fancy hats, and solid build, she could have been quite intimidating. But with her frequent giggle and her busy hands sewing yet one more outfit for my dolls, she was anything but. And you knew every visit, you’d be greeted with encouragement to open the bottom doors of her homemade wood pantry to dig out a homemade cookie from one of her many large glass jars. (Even if she knew your parents wouldn’t necessarily approve because it was right before dinner.)

 

By the time I knew my great-grandma, she had settled into retirement in a small, second-story flat above our Main Street stores. A handy place to visit almost any time.

 

There was one time each year the street below my grandmother's place became quite loud: Crazy 8 Days. Held each summer, I loved Crazy 8 Days! The stores on Main Street would set their merchandise outside at a steep discount. It was a good time for my mom to stock up--with my help of course--and it was one of the few times our streets were buzzing alive with activity.

 

But, my first experience alone at this event was a little embarrassing, I have to say.

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Tagged in: Freedom salvation

“There is nothing more beautiful than someone who goes out of their way to make life beautiful for others.”

Mandy Hale

 

“I tell you the truth, anything you do for the least of my people here, you also do for me.”

Matthew 25:40

 

I have taken hundreds of photos of flowers over the years, perhaps thousands. But, there’s a photo I took last summer, on a hike in Montana, of tiny pink bell-shaped flowers cascading down from somewhere high overhead, that still comes to mind every now and then.  

 

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I think the reason they cross my mind so often is their humble appearance.

 

Even if no one else stopped to notice them that day, those Twinflowers willingly bent low to bless anyone on the lookout for little love gifts such as these. They certainly blessed me.

 

But, for all their sweetness, few people would have noticed them, because looming large nearby, tall stalks of bright fuchsia-colored Fireweed and fiery red Indian Paintbrush eclipsed them. Tiny pale flowers clinging to rock’s edge are easily overlooked.  

As is often the case, it’s the bright showy blossoms that catch folk’s eyes.

 

That seems true of people too. We are often enamored by the bright, the beautiful, and the talented.

 

Perhaps that’s why the upstaged Twinflowers touched me so. And touch me still. Their humble presence reminds me so much of my Grandpa Simey…and of the Savior.

 

My gramps walked gently upon this earth of ours. He was unassuming. A man of few words. Whose love of God was lived out in humility. Caring. Generosity.  

 

His father died when he was six. At the age of ten he was sent to live in a boarding house where he worked for his keep. Skilled, but, not schooled, he became a machinist by trade. With carpentry skills to boot, he also built a few houses in his day. But, it wasn't these abilities that made him memorable.

 

It was what my grandpa did behind the scenes that is his true legacy. Growing up in poverty, he never forgot what it felt like to have nothing. Once, after reading a story about a family living in their car in his small-town newspaper, he went in search of them. When he discovered their whereabouts, he brought groceries, clothing and money to help tide them over.

 

When my grandpa died, over 700 people came to pay their respects. Story-after-story was shared by those who attended, telling of his generosity and gentle, unpretentious life of self-giving. Each one touched by God in some way by my Twinflower grandpa who, too, bent low to bless.

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