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Provision

There is no better time of year for looking backwards than this very moment.

Looking into the rearview mirror, I can see one thing above all others: Provision.

God in his loving kindness doesn’t stop at providing.

He continues on – gracefully sustaining.

I continue on trusting and believing with every seeking moment, every question asked, and every door I knock upon.

“Ask, and the gift is yours. Seek, and you’ll discover. Knock, and the door will be opened for you.” Matthew 7:7 TPT

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A Paragraph about Mabel

She leaned her head back against the sanded, smooth top of the rocking chair, closing her eyes against the brightness of the sun. The warmth of its beams kissed her skin in a glowing embrace. She lost herself moments like this. The old porch, refreshed with her welcoming style, had this effect on her. Paint could never cover up the memories. They would always lay quietly underneath the coats until summoned.  Silently, meditatively, she lifted prayers of thanksgiving up to the heavens.

The above is a paragraph from the novel I am working on.

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Throwback Thursday: CRAZY

I am not crazy. I can’t be. Would a crazy person be able to define the word itself? No, I am not crazy, but this . . . this defies all logic. No matter how hard I try, what is happening in this house is beyond explanation and that is exceedingly uncomfortable to me.

Note about the above: I have no idea when I actually wrote this. I don’t really remember writing it, but as I was looking through my “Stories in Process” folder and stumbled across it. I am sure it was based on either a writing prompt or a photo prompt. Regardless, I think it’s a cool and mysterious start to something.

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THROWBACK THURSDAY: Psalm 5:3 Poem (September 2020)

Psalm 5:3. 

“In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.” 

Breathing in the morning air.

I lay my requests before you,

Presenting them, lifting them up

To your awaiting ears – confidently, expectantly.

I will wait to hear your voice,

The soft whisper which speaks to my heart.

I am hopeful. I am calm.

My head has been lifted from the pillow,

My words lifted from my mouth,

Rising up like incense, they fall gently on your altar.

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One Line Series – Line 1

Starting a new series where I will post one line from the story I am working on. This will offer myself a challenge to find an appropriate photo to match. Join me in this challenge!

Today’s line:

With a bit of disappointment, she headed down the hill onto the narrow, paved road. 

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Throwback Thursday: SYZYGY (30 word writing prompt 2020)

We are a syzygy –

Connected by experience,

aligned by pain our hearts hold.

Now we float,

in the only realms

we can understand.

Life on earth,

is a distant memory.

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PSALM 130:5 – My Synomatic Version

I wait.

With eagerness and expectation, I wait for the Lord.

I trust in His enduring Word –

In it alone I put my hope.

My soul waits.

My whole being waits.

His help is coming.

I wait.

I watch.

He will rescue me.

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Favorite Paragraph from Chapter 4

I finished Chapter 4 of my novel. Oh, this chapter!

It really has so much of myself in it!

Here is my favorite paragraph from it:

For Evelyn, she was still that teenage girl dishing out a scoop of chocolate ice cream for the dreamy boy who sat at the bar. She piled it high with whipped cream and added sprinkles at no charge. It would take Lawrence three more visits over the next two weeks to gather the courage to finally introduce himself. Only one week after that to ask her if he could walk her home.  Four years later, he would ask her to walk down the aisle.

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Throwback Thursday: CHEERS! (100 Word Story- July 2020)

“Cheers!”

She was the last one to raise her glass and the only one not to take a sip. 

He was the only one who knew why.

He watched her, quietly and uninvited, from across the room. She looked beautiful in the long, fitted, red gown. Her toffee brown hair draped around her shoulders hiding her scarred, yet tantalizing neckline.

She smiled at the gentleman talking to her. Mustering out a fake giggle at something he perceived as witty, she lightly touched his arm.

She turned, locked eyes with the man across the room, and dropped her glass of champagne.

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THROWBACK THURSDAY: A Lesson in Self-Care (2016)

I sat in front of the therapist for the first time by myself. I had gotten to know her well through the many visits I had driven my daughter to. She tried her best to help my daughter, but in the end the Social Anxiety Disorder overtook her and I ended up having to take her for some intake care at a local retreat center.  

Before it got bad enough to take her somewhere, I spent 24 hours a day being her caregiver. Every moment of the day was spent worrying about her and catering to her every need just like a mother would. I gave her everything I had and everything else in the world stopped for me. I was consumed with the duty of making sure she was alright. I was exhausted on every level – emotionally, mentally, physically and even spiritually. 

I thought that when she came home from the center I would feel relief and less stress. However, this was not the case. It just changed forms. I was still on my toes constantly taking care of and overseeing her care. I was so obsessed with her that I completely neglected to take care of myself. 

I had nothing left to give myself. All I had was for her.

Shortly after she returned, I drove her back to the therapist for her first visit since. I was surprised the therapist asked to speak with me afterwards. I sat in the armchair across from her and waited for the update on my daughter. I did receive an update on her, but the update was not at all what I expected. She told me my daughter was worried about me!  

She asked me what I was doing to practice self-care. My response was quite curt to be honest. I asked if she was serious (in a not so nice tone).  I told her how this was not the appropriate time to be thinking about myself. I was angry that she even assumed I had time to do that.

She graciously smiled and reached out her hand, placing it atop of mine. She asked me in her pleasing, calm voice, “how can you possibly take care of your daughter if you aren’t taking care of yourself?”

It was at that point the tears rolled down and there was no stopping them. I listened to her tell me about the importance of self-care and stress to me that if I didn’t practice some form of it, I would actually be doing a disservice to my daughter. She spoke to my heart with those words.

Before this conversation I completely misunderstood self-care. I thought it was selfish. During this conversation, though, I grasped a completely new understanding of what it meant. Self-care was not selfish and if I wanted to be able to help my daughter, I first had to help myself.  

I immediately started practicing self-care. I still had doubts lingering, but I quickly realized how much of a difference it made. I felt tremendously better and was able to serve my daughter better than I ever had.  To be a good caregiver, it is a must that you care for yourself. 

Although it took a difficult experience to grasp an understanding of the importance of self-care, I am extremely grateful for it. 

I am a better giver since learning how to give to myself.

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Fill My Heart

Have you ever heard a line in a movie which instantly touches every fiber of your heart?  For the first time in a long time it happened to me.

We were watching “The Elephant Man” and John Merrick (a.k.a. The Elephant Man) said something that shook every ounce of my being in the kind of loving, convicting way which only the Spirit can do.

He turned to the doctor, his dear friend, and said:

 “My heart is full because I know I am loved.” 

When he spoke this line, tears instantly fell and a painful, spiritual twinge was felt throughout my body. I instantly became aware that my heart was not full and has not been for a while. I could write out all of my speculations as to why, but I don’t think I could give specifics. I only know that it’s been running on fumes – and I am just now aware of it.

For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, 2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Colossians 2:1-3

I was trying to fill this “emptiness” with some things of this world: Netflix, sports, food . . . way too many iced coffees.  I was trying to pour in gallons of “happiness”, only to burn through it.

It took me until now to learn how fleeting the things of this world really are. Their “liquid“ levels of happiness are not sustainable, only temporary.

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  2 Corinthians 4:18

I long to speak with the truth, love and beautiful confidence that John Merrick displayed when he said those words. The fulfillment my heart is craving can only come from the living water – the one who fills me up and lets my cup overflow.

My heart should be full BECAUSE I am loved.

And so begins my journey to fill my heart with the knowledge of who I am in Christ. 

To chase after the same contentment Paul felt as he wrote from within prison.

To daily fill my cup with His presence. 

To discover Biblical joy.

“10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. “ Philippians 4:10-12

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Isaiah 40:31 -My Synomatic Version

“but those who hope, trust and wait expectantly in the Lord will renew their strength, regain their strength and find new strength.

I will rise, mount and soar on wings like eagles;

I will run, I will race and not grow weary, tired or winded.

I will walk and not be faint.

I have taken up writing out one verse a day. I like to then look up the verse in various translations, seeing the different words used and then reading the verse with all of them. (It’s almost as if I unintentionally have created a translation.) I have been doing this for a couple weeks now. This morning it was placed on my heart to share these. I pray it speaks loudly to you through the synonyms used in the verse.

I also found myself making these much more personal – more reminders to myself. That is why I have replaced words with “I”, “My” or “Me”. It is my written version of self-preaching. A prayer, if you will.

Please note: The translations taken from vary day to day, so I am not going to list specific ones. Besides that, many of them use the same synonym as another. Just know the words are from different translations and sometimes even a thesaurus.

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THROWBACK THURSDAY: Lucidity (October 2020)

Lucidity is lost,

fading with memories of better times.

She is a fragment of who she was –

a vibrant girl she used to know,

stolen by unexpected grief.

Simple plans have vanished,

She blinks as nothing comes to mind,

but her uninvited reality of darkness.

©Raelyn Pracht 2020

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Psalm 112:8a -My Synomatic Version

My heart is steady, established, upheld, strong, maintained, assured and set firm.

I shall not be afraid.

I shall not fear.

I will not be shaken.

I have taken up writing out one verse a day. I like to then look up the verse in various translations, seeing the different words used and then reading the verse with all of them. (It’s almost as if I unintentionally have created a translation.) I have been doing this for a couple weeks now. This morning it was placed on my heart to share these. I pray it speaks loudly to you through the synonyms used in the verse.

I also found myself making these much more personal – more reminders to myself. That is why I have replaced words with “I”, “My” or “Me”. It is my written version of self-preaching. A prayer, if you will.

Please note: The translations taken from vary day to day, so I am not going to list specific ones. Besides that, many of them use the same synonym as another. Just know the words are from different translations and sometimes even a thesaurus.

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First Paragraph – Chapter One

Here is the the first paragraph of Chapter One of the first ever novel I am working on:

She held her favorite coffee mug between her palms embracing its warmth.  The mug, handmade and painted with what she called a mix of goldenrod and Dijon mustard, was her favorite possession. 

©Raelyn Pracht 2021

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1000 Likes! Thank You!

Yesterday, WordPress alerted me about reaching the 1000 likes milestone. Thank You!

When I first started writing this blog, I had a goal of at least reaching one.

What a blessing to know God has blessed it 1000 times!

On that note, I haven’t written in a while, at least on here.

I have started an adventure in writing my very first novel. With what little free time I have, it is consuming it.

I don’t know where God will take it, but I do feel a deep desire and push to write it.

I will gladly take your prayers and advice for the process.

Thank you again for all your love and support!

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19 Word Writing Prompt: RESTLESS

Restless souls dance beneath the weight of the earth

which smothers them until their last breath dances to Heaven.

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The First Blog Piece I Ever Wrote (April 23, 2016)

WAITING BY THE PHONE

How many of us, both women and men, remember sitting by the phone waiting for that person we liked to call us?  Sometimes, I admit it, I even picked up the receiver to check for a dial tone just to make sure the phone was actually working.  Looking back, it’s funny, albeit, even a little pathetic, to picture ourselves doing such a thing.  The reality is, however, that we still do it.  We still wait by our phones for that phone call … the phone call with the test results we are anxiously awaiting, the phone call that hopefully has a job offer attached, etc.

What about when we are on the other end?  When we call or text someone and wait anxiously for them to pick up or respond?  There is a level of disappointment when the voicemail picks up or the text, or even email, isn’t responded to.

Now, imagine what it must be like for God.  He calls us and waits for us to pick up, to respond, – to answer His call.  I can only imagine how many times we don’t hear “the ring.”  Or worse, we hear the ring, but still don’t answer.  Sometimes, like me, we may even answer the call waiting, putting God and His call on hold.  I did that with this blog.  I knew He wanted me to write it, but I let the other calls of life (mostly distractions) be answered before His.

Many of us are waiting for God’s call.  Be ready to respond and to answer when He does.

Isaiah 6:8 says,  “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

©Raelyn Pracht 2016

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Throwback Thursday: Untitled Start (circa 2020)

From wall to wall 

I rise and fall

From day to endless day

It’s just easier that way

The words were scribbled in near frantic handwriting accompanied with  smeared smudges of ink from her tired wrist resting on the pages. Evidence of a tear left its mark in the lower corner. Tara reread the last line over and over again:

It’s just easier that way.

Closing  the lime green journal with her hand-lettered name scrolled artistically across the recycled paper cover, she sunk down onto her bad. Exchanging the journal for a soft, white throw pillow, Tara realized she had no memory of even writing these words. 

© Raelyn Pracht 2020

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THROWBACK THURSDAY: On the Other Side of Easter (Written 2020)

Growing up we had two paintings in my house I can distinctly remember always being there. One was a painting of The Last Supper with Jesus standing up at the table, arms stretched out as if welcoming each disciple, even his betrayer, into them. The other was of an old man, hands folded in prayer, with a cup of wine and a loaf of bread on a wooden table.

As a child I didn’t grasp the full concept of the meanings behind these paintings. I didn’t understand the significance of The Last Supper and really didn’t understand the words Jesus had spoken at that table. The disciples were not much different then I was.

Today we are blessed to be on the other side of Easter. We know the significance of those words. We know what it means to pray like the old man in the painting before partaking in the Lord’s Supper. It is a blessing, an honor, a privilege. Every time that we “take and eat” the bread or “drink from the cup”, we remember Christ’s amazing love for us.

“We are the Easter people and Alleluia is our song” – St. Augustine

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THROWBACK THURSDAY: The Last Supper (& how it pertains to me)

Today we celebrate the Last Supper. I was thinking about it a lot this morning. Jesus sat at the table knowing full well the pain & suffering that he was going to endure. Yet, he faced it with an attitude of positivity and strength. When I was thinking about this, I realized that I must reflect that same attitude towards this injury.

I have always been an impatient person. This injury is no exception. I wanted surgery. I wanted the quickest fix I could get. I think God knew that I wouldn’t learn anything from that. What I will learn from is going through the pain & suffering and through that I will learn to be patient, strong, and I will learn to persevere. I thank Him for teaching me these things and for providing me with the most wonderful example of someone who has persevered.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Rom 12:12

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Throwback Thursday: WEAKNESS (Lent 2016)

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  Matthew 26:41

I love the above verse. I feel like it really encompasses the idea of Lent.  Lent gives us an opportunity to feel and understand just how weak we really are.  It doesn’t matter what you give up, the flesh will crave it.  We are human. We are tempted. We are weak. 

Our spirit can be incredibly willing to do the right thing, to say no to temptation, but the flesh is weak. Lent defines our weakness for us. Most importantly, it shows us how apart from God, we cannot be strong.

Whenever I think of my own weakness, I hear the voice of Patsy Cline singing those true and beautiful words from “Just a Closer Walk with Thee”:

I am weak but Thou art strong
Jesus keep me from all wrong
I’ll be satisfied as long
As I walk, let me walk close to Thee

During these days, let us walk close with Him because He can and will make strong.

PRAYER

Lord, I am weak, but you are strong. I am tempted, but you can guide me away from all those things that are wrong.  I ask that you help me to remember that with your spirit, I have the strength to move mountains, no matter how weak I may feel.

Isaiah 40:29; Ezekiel 34:16; 2 Corinthians 12:9

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Free Verse on the Book of Jonah

Tempestuous seas,

Waves crashing over my head;

Tossing and turning,

I feel myself being swallowed

by the jaws of guilt.

God’s love comes down

In the storm

Shifting the winds to

Overcome me

My unwillingness to let God Be

the God of compassion . . . to

Let God rain down the mercy

Upon those I have judged unworthy.

I am Jonah.

I ran. I still run.

I sit in stubborn silence,

I will not pray.

I avoid the storms. Ignorance. Not dealing, unfeeling.

Closing my eyes to the storm. 

Plugging my ears to the thunder.

My will to control

is stronger than my faith.

You, Lord, are relentless.

You will set me on dry land.

I will never leave your sight.

Who am I to even think so?

©2021 Raelyn Pracht

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IVA

This is the first paragraph of a story I just started writing. It’s based on a dream I had recently. It was such a vivid dream and played out like a picture book come to life. So much detail in the scenery! I don’t know if writing about it will ever do it justice, but I am going to try.

Iva awoke early that morning. The heavy rain and strong winds kept her restless through the night, not from fear, but rather from excitement. She knew the beauty which awaited her outside the dark, confining walls of Talman Manor. The universe was always brighter to her after a rain. Iva thought rain washed all the ugliness of the world away, leaving only the remnants shining with beauty behind. It was a gift from God wrapped in the remaining droplets which sat upon flower petals and in the greenery bursting with color. Although Iva was too young to truly understand the concept of contrast, she felt it in her innocent soul. All she knew was the world outside her bedroom, which was dark, musty and plain, was an enchanting place where colors danced. Her eyes could scarcely take the magic in.

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Throwback Thursday: LISTEN (Lent 2017)

“for gaining wisdom and instruction;
    for understanding words of insight;
 for receiving instruction in prudent behavior,
    doing what is right and just and fair;
 for giving prudence to those who are simple,
    knowledge and discretion to the young—
 let the wise listen and add to their learning,
    and let the discerning get guidance—
 for understanding proverbs and parables,
    the sayings and riddles of the wise.

 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
    but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”  Proverbs 1:1-7

We spend so much time in prayer, which of course is something we are called to do.  It’s a vital part of our walk with Christ and a meaningful, deep focus during Lent.  However, sometimes we get so absorbed with the “talking” part to God that we forget about the listening part.  

Solomon tells us in Proverbs 1:5 that the “wise listen and add to their learning.” If all we ever do is talk then how can we listen?  How can we hear that still, small voice?   

Keep praying daily but stop and listen as well.  It is how we can grow in our relationship and gain wisdom and understanding.

Psalm 34:11; John 10:16; John 10:27

PRAYER

Lord, help me to listen, to focus on hearing your voice. Quiet my mind from distractions and help me to hear only You.

©2017 Raelyn Pracht

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IN JESUS NAME

“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.  And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” John 14:12-14

Wonderful Counselor. Redeemer. The Alpha and the Omega. Light of the World. Good Shepherd. King of Kings. Immanuel. I Am.  These are just some examples of the names of Jesus.  

When we pray, we ask for things in Jesus name.  This is more than just repeating things we were taught to say.  Those words have incredible meaning.  They are reminders to us that we have a mediator, an advocate, who is there to answer our prayers and bring glory to the Father through them.  It is in His name that we pray.  It is because of His name that we can come boldly before the throne of God.  

Revelation 3:21; 1 Timothy 2:5-6; 1 John 2:1

PRAYER

Lord, may I always remember the many different roles You have in my life.  Thank you that I can come boldly before the throne and have confidence in praying in your Holy name.  Thank you for being my advocate, my counselor, my father, my friend and so much more.  Amen.

© Raelyn Pracht 2017

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FORGIVING OURSELVES

“He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
He does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:9-12

There has been a lot of teaching on forgiveness in our homes, schools and churches. However, I believe the subject of forgiving yourself sometimes gets pushed aside. We are taught that in order to be able to care for someone else, we must take care of ourselves first.  The same can be said of forgiveness.  If we can’t forgive ourselves for things we have done, or perhaps hurt we have caused, then how can we truly forgive others?

The truth and the promise is that God has removed our sins and our transgressions as far from the east is from the west.  If He can forgive us, and not let our past come between Him and His love for us, then shouldn’t we do the same for ourselves?

What are you walking around with, deep inside, that you feel you can’t forgive yourself for?  Shame? Guilt? Pain? Lift it up to Him who has forgiven you and believe your sins are forgiven.

Lord, You know what I am struggling with. You know that I can’t seem to put this sin behind me.  Help me to fully accept your love and forgiveness.  Help me see myself through Your eyes.  Amen.

1 John 1:9; Acts 3:19; Luke 7:47

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IN EVERYTHING: A Reminder that God Cares about the Little Things too

As I am reflecting on the last week of the awful weather here in Texas, I find myself crying tears of praise and thanksgiving. My family and I have so much to be thankful for.

We only lost some branches off a few trees.

We did lose power, but were able to find ways to create heat. Mainly, we heated up cast iron skillets on the gas stove and hovered around them.

We never lost water.

Our pipes never burst or froze.

We were able to have a hot meal every night.

The above large subjects were mostly what I prayed about for myself and others. However, I was reminded of something I had forgotten: How much God cares about the little things.

With the snow and ice finally melted, we ventured out to the grocery store. There was one thing we needed more than anything- dog food. We walked into the store and I immediately felt an overwhelming sense of anxiety. The shelves were emptier than even when Covid first hit.

As we got closer to the pet food aisle, I found myself praying for God to provide, for there to be dog food for Cooper. When I turned the corner, it did not look promising. With my heart beating fast, I made my way to the end where the dog food is. There were three bags left in the whole store and one was his exact dog food. A brand we recently changed to. God had provided.

Sometimes we forget that God wants us to bring everything to him . . . the big things like prayers for healing; the little things like prayers for dog food; and everything in between.

When in doubt, turn to the loving command in Philippians 4:6-7:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

In everything.

Not, in some things.

In everything.

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Eleanor: A Beginning

Eleanor closed her husband’s worn Bible, taking a moment to run her index finger across his name imprinted in gold. She exhaled with a slight smile and set it back into the drawer of the end table. She rose slowly from her wooden rocking chair, making an audible sigh as she shuffled her feet the short distance to the small kitchen in her apartment at River Oaks Senior Living Community. 

She grabbed the cherry-red teapot, removed the yellow post-it note stuck to it,  and filled it with tap water. Carefully, she set it on the front burner. No, she thought, back burner only. That was what Zie, otherwise known as Nurse Mackenzie had told her to do. Eleanor promptly moved it to the left, back burner and turned on the gas stove. 

While she waited for the familiar sound of the whistle alerting her to the water being ready, she looked around her kitchen. The yellow post-it notes surrounded her, all reminders for herself. Eleanor was angry when Zie first suggested it, but she made a promise to try it for a week. The suggestion came after she had left the bath running. Eleanor had every intention of taking a hot bath, but then her daughter called and she got distracted. That was all. Just distracted. 

She looked at the yellow piece of paper that she was holding.  It simply said in black magic marker:

THE TEAPOT IS ON. TURN OFF STOVE.

How did I get here? she wondered. It was just last year when Frank and I moved to this town. 

Frank and Eleanor spent nearly every moment together since he had officially retired from the restaurant business. They would watch movies, take walks and explore the new town they moved to. There was so much exploring to do in this new place and they wanted to take it all in. They never got to, though. They weren’t even in the house a year before his heart gave way.  

How did I get here? she wondered.  It was just last year when Frank and I moved to this town. 

Only it wasn’t just last year when they moved to Abingdon. It was seven years ago. In those seven years, grief took more than its fair share of Eleanor’s heart. It took pieces of her mind too. 

© 2021 Raelyn Pracht

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ASH WEDNESDAY

Genesis 3:19; Isaiah 61:3; Psalm 103:13-14

He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” Hebrews 9:12-14

Today will be a day when many Christians receive a cross of ashes upon their forehead.  This is done on Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.  What do ashes have to do with the season,though?

Ashes signify where we came from … dust. They signify God’s love, but also his punishment. They reflect our need for repentance from our uncleanliness and sin.  It is a reminder that we need to “cleanse our consciences … so that we may serve the living God.”  They were a sign in biblical times of humility and repentance. They serve as those same signs today.

We are broken people. We carry with us unclean hearts and consciences full of shame, guilt and many other things that can weigh us down. The only way we can be clean is by coming broken and humble before God and offering our complete selves to Him.

Let us humble ourselves before the Lord, confessing our sins in full repentance on this, the first day of Lent.

PRAYER

Lord, I humble myself before you on this, the first day of Lent. I pray that you cleanse me from any uncleanliness and sin that have been in my actions and words.  You and You alone can create in me a new heart and a new spirit. Amen.

© 2021 Raelyn Pracht

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REFOCUS

We all have something we have struggled with for as long as we can remember. For me, it is the struggle with self-discipline. Whether it’s in the area of diet, food, exercising, cleaning the house . . . it doesn’t matter. I struggle with self-discipline: – the discipline to start doing something or to stop.

I have learned one of the biggest and most meaningful lessons of my life because this struggle:

 I fail when I take my focus away from God. 

Peter is a great example of what happens when we take our focus away from God..Just look at Matthew 14:28-30:

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”  “Come,” he said.Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Peter took his eyes off of Jesus and focused instead on the wind. As soon as he did, he became afraid and started to sink. Sinking led to him calling out to the Lord to save him.

This is often what happens to us when we take our eyes off of Him, when we turn our focus to things or people in this world. Just look at the word “self-discipline” – it has the word “self” right in it. We fool ourselves into thinking we can do things on our own and only when we start to sink do we plead “Lord, save me!”

This isn’t what God intended for us. In fact, self-control is one of the fruits of the spirit we have been given. It is just a matter of diving in and grabbing hold of this gift to succeed. It’s about inviting Him to walk beside us in whatever we are doing. We must turn to Him, keep ourselves right beside Him where we belong. Most of all, if we want to succeed in anything, we must keep our eyes focused on Him. 

A TIME FOR REFLECTION

It’s so easy to lose your focus and turn to things, and yes, even people of this world. Even as well meaning and helpful as some of those things or people try to be. 

In what areas of your daily life do you take your focus off of Him and try to succeed on your own?

How can you keep you eyes on Him in these areas?

©2021 Raelyn Pracht

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Throwback Thursday: PROVISION (2016)

Psalm 46:1; Acts 14:17; 1 Timothy 6:17

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
 My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.”  Psalm 121:1-2

Recently I was dealing with something that I could not get through alone. I needed help. I had been praying every day, repeatedly saying, “Come, Lord Jesus, Come.”  Nothing seemed to be happening. I found myself still crying out for help, still waiting for it.  Days went by and I saw no evidence.  I was getting frustrated.  Where was He? Why wasn’t He coming to help me when I called?  Finally, after sharing this with a very wise friend, he said something I have since tattooed on my brain and heart.  He reminded me that sometimes the help we ask for comes from people God chooses to use to help us.

I was so focused on Jesus that I couldn’t see that He had placed the willingness to serve and help onto some of His servant’s hearts.  They were there all along just waiting for me.  I was too blinded by my own thoughts of how the help should come, and by my frustration, to see it.  It was a hard yet wonderful lesson to learn. It has forever changed how I look at His provision.

PRAYER

Lord, you always provide.  It is promised in your Word. Help us to have clear eyes and open hearts to accept and trust in the ways you will provide. They may not be the ways we expected, but our trust in your provision must be there still.

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UNTITLED STORY – One Paragraph

The snow falling outside her upstairs window was a picturesque and peaceful scene. It was a Christmas card image come to life. As she sipped her chamomile tea and stared out at the fresh, pure white precipitation painting the canvas of her world, she couldn’t help but feel the sharp contrast between what was taking place outside and the turmoil swirling inside her head. Or more accurately, her heart.

© 2021 Raelyn Pracht

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Throwback Thursday: SURRENDER ME (October 2020)

“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” Romans 12:1

In his book, “A Season for the Spirit,” Martin L. Smith defines surrender as

“the laying down of resistance to the One who loves me infinitely more than I can guess, the One who is more on my side than I am myself.” 

I would not describe myself as a person who needs to be in control. However, I would describe myself as someone who likes routine and is a creature of habit – both good and bad ones.

Surrendering is something I struggle with on a daily basis. I have discovered, at least for me, that surrendering involves presenting the first moments of my day before God and offering my whole self for Him to work through. 

Giving up control, even of those things that seem small and trivial, brings me closer to the God who loves and fully knows me – who is more on my side than I am myself. He already knows what the day ahead is going to look like – the temptations that will come, the struggles I will face. Surrendering makes my faith stronger, my trust in Him builds, and I continue to reflect on all His provision.

PRAYER

Lord, I surrender myself to you.  I give up my old self: who I was, my old habits, my sinful self, and ask you to create in me a new life, a new, clean heart – each day, everyday.

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JONAH: A HAIKU

After studying the Book of Jonah, I wondered if I could summarize the theme of the story in a Haiku. Here is my answer to that challenge:

He stubbornly flees

God relentlessly pursues

Repentance begins

Oh, how often I have run! I am thankful to have a God who is relentless in His love and compassion. A God who sees me though I may try to hide.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
Psalm 139:7

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WINTER’S BREATH: A Haibun

Snow floats down slowly as if it dances to its own symphony. Oversized flakes, wavering from their normal path, drift in the slight breeze and lay upon all they touch. It is more than snow I see through the window panes. It is hope. It is peace.  Above all, it is a promise of better things, more beautiful things, to come.

Winter’s breath enfolds

Nature welcomes the embrace

Hope is found again

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On the Other Side of Easter

Growing up we had two paintings in my house I can distinctly remember always being there. One was a painting of The Last Supper with Jesus standing up at the table, arms stretched out as if welcoming each disciple, even his betrayer, into them. The other was of an old man, hands folded in prayer, with a cup of wine and a loaf of bread on a wooden table.

As a child I didn’t grasp the full concept of the meanings behind these paintings. I didn’t understand the significance of The Last Supper and really didn’t understand the words Jesus had spoken at that table. The disciples were not much different then I was.

Today we are blessed to be on the other side of Easter. We know the significance of those words. We know what it means to pray like the old man in the painting before partaking in the Lord’s Supper. It is a blessing, an honor, a privilege. Every time that we “take and eat” the bread or “drink from the cup”, we remember Christ’s amazing love for us.

“We are the Easter people and Alleluia is our song” – St. Augustine

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