post

The Conversation Begins: Parachute Prayer

Parachute Prayer PostI confess. I’m cheating this week because I’m enjoying holiday time with my family. The following post was first printed at Wildflower Thinking on September 14, 2008. It’s where the Parachute Prayer concept began.


Dear Readers,

When I first started writing this blog, I told you my goal is to become more intentional about seeking, finding, and sharing the Truths God has for me to learn. He’s planted life’s lessons everywhere, like wildflowers. I just have to slow down and pay attention, so I won’t walk on by leaving them unnoticed, unlearned, and untold—to wither and die unseen.

Another goal of mine is to become more intentional about sending up prayers about anything and everything all the time. Paul told us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17KJV). Practicing that concept can be fun! So from time to time, as I come up with a new prayer prompt or trigger, I’ll share the idea with you.

I realized these prayer reminders need a name you’ll recognize, and I wanted the name to fit my wildflower theme. Dandelions immediately came to mind. You pick a dandelion, blow on it gently, and send the seeds flying through the air. Prayer is like that. You send your prayers to Heaven, and God just blesses everyone! You never know where the blessings will land—but God does. They aren’t as random as they seem.

Interestingly enough, the little, fluffy grey things that blow off the dandelions to carry the seeds are called parachutes. And that image fits the concept I’m trying to communicate so perfectly from my perspective, that I think I’ll use it. When you see a blog titled, “Parachute Prayers,” you’ll know it’s an idea to promote prayer without ceasing in our lives. I hope you’ll find these ideas useful. I won’t post them unless they’ve been helpful to me.

Parachute Prayer #1
As you read the headlines in your paper or on your homepage, whisper short prayers for the people involved. Today we could pray for victims of Hurricane Ike, their families, and their rescuers. We could also pray for those injured in the Los Angeles train wreck and the Ural Mountain plane crash. Of course, the election outcome should be fervently in our prayers.*

You may come across local and human interest stories to pray about while you read, too. As you pray for strangers in your city and around the world, God will bring people you know and their personal needs to mind as well. Send up a few prayers for them before you go on your way. Parachute prayers are like wildflower thoughts. When you stop to consider one, you’ll find another behind it, then another and so on as you go through your day.


Since 2008, I’ve written many more Parachute Prayer prompts now available in my book by that name. To purchase it on Amazon, click here.


*Those were the headlines in 2008. Today I’m praying for tornado and flood victims. Of course, election issues are already and still in the news.

post

Book Review: “The Methuselah Project”

The Methuselah ProjectThe Methuselah Project by Rick Barry was a surprisingly fun find. Barry has combined historical fiction, science fiction, action adventure, and romance to create one curiosity-grabbing story. Though highly unlikely, Barry is convincing. He leaves the reader believing it could have happened that way.

The story begins in 1943 in the skies over the Third Reich during WWII. When American pilot Roger Greene is taken prisoner, his captors use him as a test subject in an experiment that changes his physiology. Seventy years later is still a captive, and he hasn’t aged. When he finally escapes, it’s into a world full of technology and lingo he doesn’t understand. Greene must convince someone that his story is true before the people who imprisoned him catch up to terminate their experiment.

At the same time (in 2015), Katherine Mueller, a young woman raised by her uncle after her parents’ deaths, is in training to rise in the ranks of a secret society called the Heritage Organization. Her uncle has been grooming her for this most of her life, but, while she wants to please him, she also longs to be free of his control. He doesn’t approve of her career and won’t even let her choose her own dates. When the organization calls on Katherine to participate in a field assignment while her uncle is out of the country, all that Katherine knows of her world must change.

I enjoyed reading this book and recommend it to fans of WWII fiction and modern day suspense. Kregel Publications sent me a complimentary copy of The Methuselah Project in exchange for this review.

post

Book Review: “Lethal Beauty”

Lethal BeautyLike the first two books in the Mia Quinn Mystery series by Lis Wiehl with April Henry, Lethal Beauty is intense, unpredictable, and a little bit educational. Wiehl has a gift for bringing all sides of societal issues to light. Mia Quinn’s Lethal Beauty cases deal with human trafficking, slavery happening in America—now, and steroid hazards. She also explores the strengths of America’s justice system and weaknesses criminals try to exploit.

If you haven’t met her yet, Seattle prosecutor Mia Quinn is a recently widowed, single mother. She often works with homicide detective Charlie Carlson to solve the mysteries that come her way. She also works with public defender Eli Hall as an adjunct professor at the University of Washington law school, often crossing paths with him on cases, too.

Lethal BeautyIn Lethal Beauty, Mia is prosecuting an American businessman accused of murdering a Chinese prostitute. But everything is going wrong in what should be an open and shut case. As Mia tries to discover why, she learns that a character from Wiehl’s previous book, A Deadly Business, is trying to reach her, seeking her help. When he goes missing, Mia’s life gets really complicated. Getting justice for victims and keeping her family safe start to seem like conflicting goals.

Though the overall mystery is introduced and concludes with this one book, Mia’s personal story has continued from the first. In other words, you can read them out of order, but I recommend starting at the beginning with A Matter of Trust. I thank Thomas Nelson Publishers for sending me a complimentary copy of Lethal Beauty for this review.

post

A Parachute Prayer for Groundhog’s Day

Parachute PrayerHappy Groundhog’s Day!

I feel so sorry for that rodent. Punxatawny Phil must be the world’s most famous scapegoat. According to the calendar, Winter doesn’t officially end until March 19. That’s six and half weeks from today. Yet when February rolls around, many of us start longing for Spring—especially if we happen to live in a snowy climate. We become dissatisfied with Winter and look for someone to blame. I just learned that Phil isn’t even the one who decides whether he will see his shadow or not. The outcome is predetermined by an elite group of groundhog handlers known as The Inner Circle on Gobbler’s Knob.

Poor Phil doesn’t stand a chance! . . . except that he’s probably the most pampered and prized rodent on the planet, so I can’t feel too sorry for him.

Genesis 3 shows us that since the Fall, it’s been in our nature to blame. Adam blamed Eve. Eve blamed the serpent. God saw the truth and disciplined them all. Which was a good thing because if He’d let Adam or Eve off without consequences, they’d have stayed in Eden, eaten from the Tree of Life, and been stuck living in a fallen world for all eternity. God loved them too much for that. God loves us too much for that. His “curse” was an act of grace.

Groundhog Day ParachuteSo in honor of Groundhog’s Day, let’s practice a new Parachute Prayer. Whenever you’re reminded what day it is, pray that hurting (or hurtful) people will stop looking for someone or something to blame, even if that blame is deserved, and take responsibility for their own choices and actions. Pray they’ll learn to offer forgiveness where it’s needed, to ask for it when they should. Pray that they’ll move forward to make things that have gone wrong right (as far as they are able) and that they’ll look toward a better future while letting go of any resentment toward what’s past. This is where healing begins. Let’s pray this for them.

The groundhog doesn’t determine how long Winter will last. Neither does The Inner Circle of Gobbler’s Knob. Blaming them won’t make the snow go away, so let’s be thankful for each season’s gifts and rest assured that Spring will come someday.

Father, when people use their energy to find scapegoats to blame, they get stuck in bitterness and pain. Please help them to move forward. Help them to forgive or ask forgiveness. Help them look for ways to make things right no matter who made things wrong. Please bless their lives with peace. Amen.

post

Sutter’s Vision

“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.”Hebrews 6:10

DSC00213eNear the end of our recent trip to Northern California, my husband, son, and I visited Sutter’s Fort in Sacramento. Because I grew up in California, I figured I had a pretty good grasp on its history. But I really learned a lot! John Sutter was fascinating person, though his story is tragic.

Sutter immigrated through the existing United States to California from Switzerland. California was part of Mexico at the time, so Sutter became a citizen of that country. The Mexican government welcomed him because they appreciated his vision for the area and wanted to encourage him. Sutter dreamed of creating a strong, agricultural community. He invited immigrants to live at his fort, free of charge. He only asked that they work to learn a trade and support the community. He trained farmers and blacksmiths and merchants. He even invited the Native American population to be a part of it all.* In fact, according to the narrative at the fort, he is the one who taught them to weave the blankets so popular now at southwestern, roadside souvenir stands.

Sutter was generous and well-respected, known as a true gentleman. And all was going well until some kid just happened to find a bit of gold at Sutter’s Mill. Generosity, community, and cooperation were replaced by greed just that fast.

One of the seven deadly sins? Oh, yes.

Sutter spent the rest of his life fighting for the rights to his land and died alone in an East Coast hotel, a penniless pauper. His story broke my heart!

DSC00190eAs we traveled through Northern California, though, from San Francisco to Sacramento to Grass Valley to Paradise to Chico to Yuba City . . . we were surrounded, not by gold mines, but by crops. Walnuts, Almonds, Peaches, Apples, Strawberries, Grapes, Lettuce, and Rice . . . lots and lots and lots of rice! It seems to me that Sutter’s dream eventually came true. The Sacramento Valley is a strong agricultural community. Evidently, some of the people he taught stuck to the trade instead of seeking gold. Others returned to the trade once they recovered from gold fever. And others came after to follow in Sutter’s footsteps. Sutter never saw his dream come true—and yet, it did!

It’s a lesson to remember. When God gives us a vision of some good that we can do, our place is simply to do it, leaving all results to Him. When we serve Him faithfully to show Him our love by caring for His people, He is faithful to us in return. We may never see the fruit of our labor, but our God will not forget. We can trust Him with this.

Father, please show us daily how we can best serve You. Help us remember that we love You best by loving people, by doing our part to build Your Kingdom on Earth. Thank You for seeing and remembering the work we do for You. It’s a honor to do what we can. Amen.

DSC00208e*Note: I used Wikipedia to double-check some facts and discovered that it doesn’t portray Sutter’s character in such a positive light, indicating that he actually coerced the Native Americans of the area into working for him. Other sources imply this was an act of self-defense: they attacked; he enslaved them in order to teach them his ways. Sutter’s own words indicate this is probably true: “The Indians began to be troublesome all around me, killing and wounding cattle, stealing horses, and threatening to attack us. I was obliged to make campaigns against them and punish them.” According to the story as the fort told it, however, he did teach them agricultural skills, just as he taught the other inhabitants of the fort. He even had his cooks learn to prepare meals they were accustomed to and to serve them in the manner they would have served themselves. It seems to me that, in the end, he hoped the different cultures would learn to get along, but only God knows the motives of anyone’s heart.

This post is listed with the Missional Weekend Link Up. Visit that site to find more inspirational posts.

post

Praying for People Who Don’t Feel Thankful

Parachute PrayerThough Thanksgiving is a time set aside for giving thanks to God for all He’s given us, I know with certainty that there are many people among us right now who are struggling to do this—if they’re even trying at all. Some are grieving. Some are lonely. Some are desperately in need. Some suffer from depression. For whatever reason, they just aren’t feeling thankful, and, though people can offer thanks to God whether their emotions are involved or not, this is a choice they must wrestle through, one that requires great trust and determination. It’s one that many give up on or refuse by settling for bitterness. As we give thanks for our blessings this week, let’s boost these people with prayer.

And since we’re praying for people who aren’t feeling thankful, let’s let the most unthankful one in our midst remind us to pray for these. When we see our Thanksgiving turkey (or ham), let’s remember that not everyone gets to enjoy a happy Thanksgiving. We make jokes about the poor turkey’s sacrifice, but it is a sacrifice just the same—and we’re thankful for it as we enjoy our dinner with all the fixings!

When God gives us reason to celebrate, we honor Him by doing so with all our heart—especially at Thanksgiving. We’re thanking Him by enjoying the blessings He’s provided, by inviting Him to be present, the Guest of Honor at our feast! But we honor Him even more when we remember in the midst of our fun that some aren’t experiencing it. Let’s take time to pray for their needs.

Father, Thanksgiving is a curious thing. It’s a matter of the heart really. On this soon-coming day, You will watch as some of the most wealthy grumble and complain while some of the most impoverished thank You for whatever they can all day (and the other way around). Circumstance isn’t what enables us to give thanks. So please help people who are struggling to be thankful to find reason for gratitude. Even the turkey, if turkeys could be thankful, might be grateful to discover the purpose of his sacrifice. You created him to feed someone hungry, to be the main course at a meal that honors You.

And Father, as those who are struggling to be thankful wrestle with this, please send comfort their way. You care about heart attitudes, but You also care about circumstances. Please provide what Your people need. Encourage them on their way. Let them know that You are the God Who sees and that You are taking care of them always. For this and so much more, we thank You, Lord. Amen.

post

Of Christopher Columbus and Trying to See Beyond the Horizon

Finding Home“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”Hebrews 11:1

I know Columbus’ Day was ten days ago, but as I work up the courage to face yet another move, I’m wondering if maybe he and I are kindred spirits of a sort.

No. I’d have probably related better to his crew—looking over his shoulder on the boat and asking, “Just how sure are you that we’re not going to drop off the edge of the earth?”

Evidently, Christopher was pretty sure since he and his crew found land before they reached the horizon.

Funny how that works.

Preparing for a move is kind of like sailing toward such a horizon, don’t you think? Your calendar is full of things to do right up to moving day—and then it just goes blank as if you’re disappearing over the earth’s edge. Will there be things to do and friends to make in your new community? Will you find meaningful activities, a church to get involved in?

Of course, you will. You know you will. But you can’t see it, so it still feels like you’re headed for a fatal precipice.

Columbus sailed by faith that he would find land, not destruction.

Columbus put his faith in an idea, though. We move forward with our faith set in God. All just happened to work out well for Columbus. Trusting God, we can’t go wrong.

Father, please give us the courage to obey and go, even when we don’t know much about the place where we are going, even when it feels like we’re headed for the edge of the earth. We don’t have to see beyond the horizon to know that You’ve prepared good things for us to discover in our new land. Thank You, Lord! Amen

If you’ve found this message encouraging as you prepare to move, you might enjoy my book: Home Is Where God Sends You: Lessons in Contentment from Nearby and Faraway. Available at Amazon.com.

post

Book Review: “Citizen”

CitizenCitizen by Rob Peabody wasn’t exactly what I expected, but it was a great book to read. Peabody, founder of the Awaken movement in London, takes the biblical analogy of citizenship and explains every facet, every implication for life. As Christians we are citizens of God’s Kingdom, living here on earth. Jesus died to save us from our sins, but He also saved us for life in His Kingdom—a life that begins right now, not after we die.

In the introduction, Peabody gives his personal testimony and explains how he ended up moving his family from Texas to London to launch a new ministry. That move itself provides many illustrations for this book on being a citizen of one country while living in another. But the Bible is the foundation for all of his ideas. He has taken the teachings of Jesus and clarified for Christians of today.

Personally, I thought the first two chapters dragged just a bit, but I realized as I read them that they were foundational—defining. By the third chapter, I was engrossed. I appreciated Peabody’s easy-to-read, storytelling style. I enjoyed the quotations at the beginning and scattered throughout each chapter. I loved the way he took this simple, yet profound analogy and fleshed it out into a well-written book. This is one I recommend.

I received my copy from Kregel Publications in exchange for this honest review. I thank them for the opportunity to read this book.

post

Praying as Things Change

Parachute PrayerAlways with Autumn comes an abundance of seasonal shopping displays: back to school, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas . . . One of our local stores got so carried away with this last year that they actually started putting out Valentines before the New Year! I guess they just couldn’t wait to start promoting the next big thing.

Personally, I love the Autumn displays. Except for when I’ve lived in climates where I knew Autumn leaves meant I was about to be buried in snow for months on end, I’ve always appreciated all signs of the end of Summer—including store displays.

When we notice these, let’s let them remind us to pray. Changing displays signal other changes, too: changes in season, changes in activities, changes in temperature, changes in clothing styles, changes in décor. So let’s pray for people we know who are going through some kind of life change. This list could include people who are moving or going to college for the first time, people who are changing jobs or struggling through divorce, and people who are adapting to changes brought on by illness or injury.

As we recognize changes in familiar store displays, let’s remember that lives all around us are ever-changing, too. Let’s ask God to help the people we love to adjust.

Father, change is inevitable. Some changes are welcome, but others bring pain. When we notice the subtle changes all around us, please remind us to pray for those who are struggling. Thank You, Lord, for caring. Please make us aware, so we’ll learn to be caring, too. Amen.

Note: If you struggle to find contentment whenever life begins to change, my book, Home Is Where God Sends You: Lessons in Contentment from Nearby and Faraway, is full of devotionals I wrote to encourage you. I wrote most specifically about the change that comes with a move, but I’ve discovered that these lessons are relevant to other life changes, too. Click here to purchase your own copy at Amazon.

post

Setting Little Records to Reach Big Goals

IMG_6578eOne fun thing I’ve noticed about the American Ninja Warrior television show is the creative way they invent records for just about everything. The challenge isn’t just about being the first person to make it to the top of Mount Midoriyama. The athletes in this competition celebrate every achievement they can think of!

Every time builders create a new obstacle for one of the courses, the commentators make note of the first person to conquer it. They know who has completed each course the fastest—for the season and for all time. They keep track of several other achievements, too. This year, for instance, Kacy became the first woman to complete the qualifying course and earn her right to compete in Las Vegas. Jon became the oldest man ever to qualify. Meagan made it two obstacles farther in the Las Vegas competition than any other woman ever has. And, of course, Brian currently holds the record for coming closer to that final obstacle than anyone else. Every week, it seems, someone is setting a new record for going farther or faster in some way than those who’ve gone before.

Hmm. I wonder if I could be the first Army chaplain’s wife to attempt the course. (One giant jump, splash!) Yeah. I think I’ll leave that record for someone else.

I am applying the concept to my personal workouts, though. I have an overall speed goal I’m trying to reach. Some days (like today!) I’ll successfully set a personal best record that brings me closer to this goal. Other days I watch for other records I can set. I may try to run farther than I have before (instead of faster). Or I may start out at the faster pace I’m reaching for overall and try to maintain it further than I ever have before. Or maybe I’ll run for a longer period of time between walking intervals or with a steeper incline than I’ve ever used. Reaching these goals encourages and strengthens me as I work toward my overall goal.

What’s really exciting about this idea is that it works for any discipline—even the spiritual ones. Maybe you’ve never read through the whole Bible and find that idea just too daunting. Instead of trying to reach that goal, challenge yourself to read just a little every day for thirty days instead (even if you only read a verse or two each day). You can also challenge yourself to read just the New Testament or one book of the Bible that sounds interesting to you. Set a goal, reach it, celebrate your success—then set another goal.

Prayer is another spiritual discipline. If praying is new to you, the thought of kneeling for an extended amount of time, talking and listening to God, may seem impossible, if not unrealistic. So make your goal to set aside a few minutes for prayer each day or to write in a prayer journal every day for a month or simply to pray for family members each morning as they leave the house for the day. Set a goal that will challenge but not overwhelm you, then reach for it, celebrate your success, and move forward from there.

One caution, however: remember to offer yourself tons of grace. Whether you’re running or reading or praying, you don’t have to set a new record every day. Some days it’s enough just to attempt the course. Ask God to help you know when you should push yourself a little harder or try something new, when maintaining your current pace is best, and when you must slow down to give yourself a break. We’re pressing on toward the goal, but we won’t reach it if we break down and stop.

Father, thank You for the ability to train ourselves through discipline and diligence. Please help us to set good goals, to reach for them with all the effort we can muster, to know when to rest, and to count on You for strength and endurance. We can’t do anything on our own, but with Your help, we’ll progress steadily until You take us home, triumphant at last. Amen.