Thank God louder than your loudest moments ~ Raelyn Pracht
Her final destination awaits.
The shadows of love lost still sit centered on the glass table. A beautiful, contradicting reminder of the illusion of trust.
Awake, my soul
from restless sleep.
Stir my heart –
inviting His presence.
Arouse my mind,
evoking His Word.
Awake, my soul
from the darkest depths.
Stir my heart
with love abounding.
Arouse my mind –
remembering His promises.
© 2022 Raelyn Pracht
I have decided to try something new. On Fridays, I will use a random number generator to come up with how many words my story should be. Doing these specific word count exercises has helped me clean up my writing.
If you would like to join in this adventure, post your story in the comment or put a link in your own story to ping it back here. I will be using a photo to prompt my story, but feel free to use any photo you would like. Here it goes . . .
Living off the grid, they established a new, peaceful life.
The previous year hadn’t been kind to her. Her hope and persistent self-preaching led her to believe that the new year would be different. It would hold a kinder story. However, the first two weeks had already fired the first shot in the battle raging within her – the battle between reality of this world and the faith in a God who was seemingly bigger than it all.
Iva rose and dressed quickly. She drew back the heavy, paisley patterned curtains to let the morning light in. The sun, risen from its own slumber, won the battle and shone brightly through her eastern facing window. Iva smiled at the yellow circle, curtsied at its sight, bidding it good morning. Walking through the dust ridden beams spotlighting the wooden floor, she walked across the room to her rainboots – a gift from her parents for her seventh birthday.
This was a short story I started in 2021, but haven’t gotten back to. Rereading it, though, sparks a renewed interest.
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
In silence, we wait.
Waiting quietly, anxiously outside the tomb.
His bloody and broken body lay in rags.
We feel the weight –
weight of our sins upon Him,
We are the reason He came –
the reason He lay behind the stone
on this day of darkness and grief.
In silence, we wait,
In hope, we trust.
Below is a paragraph from the novel I am writing. I hope you enjoy it!
Vivian sat impatiently behind the wheel as her mom adjusted the bags of yarn in the back seat as if they were as fragile as glass. Vivian’s fingers tapped on the steering wheel with anxious energy. Anticipation surged within her from the sudden onset of creativity. She was drowning in conflicting emotions in the moment. She felt a freedom from the creativity, but at the same time, felt imprisoned by the constraints of her present situation. She could feel her heart began to race and her chest began to hurt. She placed her right hand over her heart and her left hand on her stomach. She breathed in slow, deep breaths.
Spring blooms quietly,
nearly unnoticed – until floral hues announce their presence.
Romance blossoms below the vanilla pink petals,
embracing itself in the faint scent of resurrection.
I am going to go back to trying “Friday Firsts” where I will put the first paragraph, stanza, line, or even chapter of what I am working on into this blog.
The above is the first stanza of a piece and, consequently, the only stanza of the piece I just started writing in honor of National Poetry Month.
On the radio this morning, I heard Alistar Begg use this phrase in his prayer before diving into the Word:
“Show me myself and show me my Savior.”
If I hadn’t been on the interstate, I would have pulled right over and immediately began journaling about this beautiful prayer and the loving conviction in my heart.
How often I have opened my Bible and prayed for God to only show something about myself, my circumstances, my prayer need . . . you get the idea. I realized upon reflection that is the only way I pray before diving in.
At least, it was.
From now on, it will be “Show me myself and show me my Savior” before I even open the Book.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” – John 14:1-4
In the morning, before I get in my car to head off to work, I like to take what I call a “Prayer Walk”. I love doing this. It’s early enough that it seems that my whole street is still asleep. It feels like it’s just God and I on that walk.
A few mornings ago, I headed out the front door to do this routine. I hardly got out the front door when I looked up at the sky and saw so many stars. Every star seemed brighter than I had ever remembered seeing. I didn’t continue on my walk. I stood there, frozen, one step below my front porch. I couldn’t take my eyes off of the sky. My “Prayer Walk” quickly became a praise session with me standing there.
God placed every star exactly where it needed to be. He set the moon to hover above Earth each night and the sun to greet us in the morning. Every one of these has a specific place- a home. The same is true for us. God directs our paths and sets us into places where we can do His will while we are here. Then, when He is ready, He calls us home, to another place for us. Jesus has gone before us and prepared this very place for you and I.
Lord, You set everything in its place for Your purpose. I pray that You will continue to guide me and direct my path until I am called home. Thank You for the place that Jesus has prepared for me. Until I get there, please help me lead others to that same place. Amen.
What comes to mind when you think of the word fasting? For most of us, we think of it as not eating or drinking. However, during the season of Lent, there is much more involved in fasting.
Fasting during Lent means giving up something that won’t be easy to give up. It is something that tempts you, something that you will struggle to say no to, something that you will have to rely on God to help you fast from. That is the point of fasting – to bring you closer to God through prayer; to humble yourself during the struggle and admit that you can’t do it without Him.
What you choose to fast from can also be something that takes your time and attention away from God or His Word. Perhaps you spend too much time on Facebook and leave too little time to spend with Go? Maybe it’s even something that’s healthy, like going to the gym, but if you are choosing the gym over time with God then it is worth fasting from.
“But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” – Matthew 6:17-19
Fasting is a very personal journey, one between you and God. Pray and ask God to show you what you need to fast from. It may surprise you. Then humble yourself before Him, relying on Him fully, and spend your time in prayer.
Lord, I humble myself before You and ask that You reveal to me what I need to fast from. Show me what takes my attention away. Show me my true struggles. My strength comes from You. Be my strength when temptation comes. Help me make time with You a priority. Amen.
I struggle with getting my affirmation and my worth from other people. Perhaps you do too. This was a gentle, but loud reminder to me from my devotion this morning.
See how very much our Father loves us, for He calls us His children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know Him. (1 John 3:1)
Below is a paragraph from the story I am working on. Enjoy!
Evelyn could feel the anticipation in her rise as the cemetery came into view. It seemed farther than it was from the place where she left Vivian. She had traded the perfectly designed cobblestone road for a narrow country road running behind the town. Evelyn walked along the edge, consistently looking over her shoulder for any cars coming from behind. None were to be found. As the cemetery grew closer, her pace quickened, as if she had to get there before it disappeared.
© Raelyn Pracht 2022
This weekend I am doing something I have never done before – taking myself on a solo writing retreat. My goal is to finish the first draft of my novel.
Writing this has been an interesting adventure! I have known since day one that God has wanted me to write it, but had no idea why. Christian fiction has been something I had never written before. Honestly, it wasn’t even a genre I read.
However, I followed His prompting and I am almost at the end of the first draft. The most interesting thing about this is that now I am wondering if He wanted me to write this just for myself. Writing it has helped me revisit my own faith journey as well as provide a process of some healing from certain circumstances in my life.
So, would you join me in praying for this writing retreat? It’s easy to get distracted, but I want to stay focused on the work and on the words He will pour through me to the page. Thank You!
The only visible star’s brightness was hard to miss. It peered through the cloudy night, competing with the illumination of the moon, briefly seen behind an overpowering cloud. Seeing this shining star against the dark sky reminded me of John 1:5:
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
For me, this star, glimmering alone, gave me hope. No matter how dark the world seems, how bleak our circumstances, there is a glow – a radiating hope. We have a God who will never leave us or forsake us – a living promise.
By His grace and mercy, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we too can shine bright.
Below is this Weekend Writing Prompt #247, with 42 words using FLUMMOX.
Thanks to Sammi Cox for posting this challenge sammiscribbles.wordpress.com/2022/02/05/weekend-writing-prompt-247-flummox/
His favorite coffee mug sat beside the ceramic coaster, but not on it. Remnants of red lipstick graced the edge. He scratched his head, flummoxed. He closed his heavy eyes, searching his memories, making his head ache more. What happened last night?
Oh, how the words of Psalm 143:8 struck me this morning!
Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,
for in you I trust.
Make me know the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul.
I immediately thought this should be a morning prayer. I researched how it was written in other translations (the above is the ESV). From all the research, I have put together the following:
Lord, cause me to hear You this morning – to experience Your steadfast, unfailing, faithful love. Make known to me the way I should go. Teach me the path I should walk. I offer up my soul to You. I entrust this day to You. Amen.
I joined the Three Things Challenge where the three words I had to use were
MAKE, MINE and MELODY.
This challenge has created a prayer for my own writing:
Make mine a melody of words that will sing to the depths of the heart and soul of the reader.
© Raelyn Pracht 2022
Silence of winter –
a pause for meditation.
My soul’s desire.
I have decided to try something different. On Fridays, I will have a “Fictitious Friday”. Each post will be a 100 word piece based on a photograph. I believe this will help stir my creativity. Maybe it will lead to a story idea? We shall see.
You are welcome to join me in this new adventure. I would love to read your work! If you would like to join in, please leave a link to your story in the comments so others can read your work and feel free to link back to this story. (Use any picture you would like. It doesn’t have to be this one. )
Here we go . . .
Stuck in time, forgotten and unwanted, the sad porcelain clown sits waiting to be chosen. He patiently waits, living in a land of nostalgia and memories.
She stares into his hand painted, sad eyes and wonders where he came from.
“Who loved you?” she whispers as she gently picks him up. He awkwardly goes limp in her arms.
She adjusts the straps on his dark, plaid overalls, straightens his collar and silky shirt. His shoes are freshly polished though the soles are nearly worn through.
How odd, she thinks.
His white fragile face stares up at her.
He says nothing.
Perspective can be defined as “the faculty of seeing all the relevant data in a meaningful relationship.” As Christians, we don’t have to look at our symbolic chains or circumstances. Paul was a great example about perspective.
Shackled and in chains, Paul doesn’t wallow in sorrow for his circumstances. He sees what is happening to him as a chance to advance the gospel. He chooses a new perspective. Instead of seeing himself kept in chains by the guards, he sees himself in chains for Christ. His perspective is an example to the others and teaches them to have confidence when preaching the gospel and not to have fear.
King Herod’s perspective was one of fear. Fear is a powerful emotion. Fear is what drove King Herod to search for the baby Jesus. However, the wise men’s perspective was different. They searched for the baby Jesus out of love. Different perspectives lead to different paths.
“For I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know!” Phil. 1:19-22
We have a new perspective founded on our relationship with Christ where we see all relevant data working together for the plan that God has for you will. Spend time praying for your ability to trust in His perspective.
Waves crash icy shores,
Snow holds tight the rocky cliffs,
Sailors heed warning.
Below is a piece for a Weekend Writing Prompt. It had to be 69 words and use the word “Temerity”. Thanks to Sammi Cox for posting this challenge. See challenge https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/63199771/posts/5800
She turned the brass knob with her shaking hand, pulling the front door open with a fierce temerity, letting in the icy midnight air. The fears and challenges of the previous year were forced out the front door. New opportunities for the new year were welcomed in a tradition in her culture. Her grandfather clock chimed twelve o’clock hour from the makeshift dining room, ringing in 365 new chances.
Visiting the charming, quaint tea house in her small town was Claire’s favorite Saturday morning routine. She rode her cruiser bicycle, the basket filled with fresh flowers she picked along the way, slightly uphill to the shortbread-colored house with the sage trim on the corner of 1st and Main.
“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
These three kings followed the star that shined with royal brightness, guiding them to the Perfect Light: Baby Jesus. They were guided by a star; we are guided by the Word of God. It guides us to who Jesus is and how and why we are called to imitate Him and His ways.
We can be the light in this world for so many people. We can shine our living light and outshine the darkness which consumes this world.
How do we walk in the light? The first thing we have to do is stay faithful in the time we spend with the Perfect Light. This means, through our faith, maturing with His help, so we can lead others to Him.
Focus on the reminder from John in 1 John 1:7, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”
We need to be guided so we can lead others. Ask for wisdom and guidance. Ask HIs light to shine through so you can light the way through the darkness, leading others to the Perfect Light. It’s a procession which will never end on this side of Heaven.
“For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.” Psalm 56:13
Our lives, guided by faith; our trust in what we believe. Comes not by what we see, but rather through the faith we walk in.
(A synomatic version of 2 Cor. 5:7)
you were always a dreamer.
Now, you are a dancer among the stars –
a freed spirit from the torment which surrounded you.
life unfairly stole your breath.
But God holds you in His loving arms,
enveloping you in all that should have been.
Written in loving memory of someone gone too soon.
One of my goals for this year is to grow in my relationships.
This morning as I studied my next section of the Book of Job, I read this:
11 Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came each from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They made an appointment together to come to show him sympathy and comfort him. 12 And when they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him. And they raised their voices and wept, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven. 13 And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great. (Job 2:11-13 ESV)
THIS is a great example of what a true friend would do. It inspires me. So often I am quick to want to solve their problems, giving unsolicited advice and trying to fix whatever it is that is bothering them. Really, most of the time what people need is a listening ear or someone just to be by their side – to walk through a difficult time with them, to comfort them with a simple “presence”.
What a beautiful (and timely) example and reminder!
Her intrepid personality was something Beth envied. A polar opposite of herself, though Victoria was her identical twin, led to a fantastic comedy designed by nature. Beth’s life was quiet, unassuming, and led with no risk ever being taken. It was a sharp contrast to Victoria’s, full of wandering, risk-taking, and carefreeness. In the darkest corners of her mind, the voices in Beth’s head would convince her that the life Victoria was leading was meant to be hers. Somewhere the life she meant to lead was taken from her. Now, they convinced her, it was time to take it back.
I can’t tell you how many journals I have. They started off as places to take sermon notes, then I kept track of quotes I heard, interesting names, really anything that I may want to reference later. That’s how my journaling started.
Then, at the suggestion of a therapist, I began using them to write out my thoughts. It helped to keep obsessive thoughts at bay, to help process thoughts that needed to be process, but also to let go of the ones which were only noise.
Somewhere along the way, though, I stopped using my journals for it. I can’t explain why. I still used them for the quotes and sermon notes, but I stopped writing out my thoughts. I have been trying to figure out the when and the why this happened and can’t put my finger on it.
So, my first entry into diving back into journaling, will be about that. As I look back, I know that not doing it took a tool on my mental health. Clearly, for me at least, journaling is a way to stop thoughts from swirling around constantly and never dissolving.
I could, I suppose, call this piece you are reading my first entry.
Writing has the power to help us process and heal. It can also help us discover our true selves and dive into a world of gratefulness and understanding.
So, back to journaling it is.
In the New Year, I am going to do a Gratitude Journal. Would anyone like to join me? If you have done that, I would love to hear about how you did yours. Let me know in the comments.
“You will keep in perfect peace, those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3
The Oxford English Dictionary defines peace as “freedom from disturbance, anxiety or stress; emotional calm.” When I think about peace during this season, I can’t help but think of the song “Silent Night”. I imagine there being a peace over Bethlehem through the night which was unexplainable in human terms – a stillness and tranquility which could only be provided by God. The stress and anxiousness of waiting for the Messiah was removed and the peace that surpasses all understanding was given unto the people.
Now, we wait for Him in our lives. Among the busyness of the season and the pace and chaos found in this world, we can’t help but search for this same peace. We know this peace can only be found in Christ. We wait to hear His voice, to have our prayers answered. We wait for Him to return. We don’t have to be anxious or fearful while we wait. We can wait with the assurance that His peace will sustain us. We can rest our heads at night and sleep in the “heavenly peace” which comes from trusting and remaining steadfast in Him.
“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.” Psalm 55:22
Lord, thank You for the peace You have blessed us with. When I am anxious or fearful, please help me receive the peace only You can offer and to have the assurance that it will sustain me. Amen.
“And the angel said to them, Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you, is born this day, in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11
Joy to the World, the Lord is come…
What joy and what gladness the birth of Jesus brought to this world. He came into a world of oppressed and hopeless people. He came to bring them, bring us over 2000 years later, this same promise.
Let every heart prepare him room…
To experience the full joy of Jesus we must prepare a place for him. We must open our hearts to him, but what exactly does that mean? It means humbling yourself, letting yourself let go of the mundane and menial things of this world, and giving yourself totally to the control of God. It’s preparing your heart to meet Him each day by spending time in His word and in prayer.
And heaven and nature sing…
This joy, this unspeakable joy, is expressed throughout the heavens and earth. Open your heart and listen. The angels that sang that night are the same angels that sing over us today.
Open your ears…open you hearts and feel the great Joy! The Lord has come!
Have you been struggling with experiencing joy? Pray for God to show you what in your heart or life may be a stumbling block to it. We need open, clear hearts and ears. Sometimes prayer is the only way to figure out what is getting in our way of it.
REJOICING IN REPLY
Clouds and thick darkness are all around him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.Fire goes before him and burns up his adversaries all around.His lightnings light up the world; the earth sees and trembles.The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, before the Lord of all the earth.” Psalm 18:1-5
The hymn “Angels we have Heard on High” was written mainly to focus on the story of the shepherds meeting the heavenly hosts in field who are singing in full chorus, “Gloria, In Excelsis Deo. However, I think there is another beautiful part to this hymn. The part where the mountains echo the angels’ joyous strains. Throughout scripture, we see mountains tremble and shake. Here is a moment when the beauty of God’s creation echoes back with delight the lyrics and joy of the angels.
As a kid, echoes fascinated me. I remember standing above the Grand Canyon and yelling “hello” just to hear my own voice echo back to me. I remember what that felt like, the awe and mystery of it. When I think about the mountains echoing back the chorus of the angels, it makes me tremble. I can’t even imagine what those country shepherds felt like!
Just as the mountain replied, “Glory to God in the Highest” while rejoicing at the news of the Savior being born, the shepherds echoed the call by being sent to find the Newborn King. With echoes of rejoicing in delight, we can follow the example of the mountains and the shepherds.
“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Luke 2:20
What was probably just another night to them was transformed into a Holy night. A night that transformed the world. A Holy night that transformed us.
“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” 2 Corinthians 3:18
What burdens are you carrying? Maybe you feel hopeless, as the weights you hold bring you down. Hope came down that night. Hope came for you. Look up at the stars reflecting the light of hope brought by love down to earth. Hope. Freedom. All found in Christ. Lay your burdens down at the feet of hope.
“The holly bears a prickle, as sharp as any thorn, And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ on Christmas Day in the morn. The holly bears a bark, as bitter as any gall, And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ for to redeem us all.” – The Holly and the Ivy
“And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe.” John 19:2
Holly and Ivy have been decorations for the Christmas season for decades. The Holly’s green leaves with red berries makes beautiful accents. There is a powerful symbolism written in each leaf and berry. The Ivy, in its own right, displays strength in what its vine is rooted in. This Christmas carol displays the power of what we may consider as simple accents in its lyrics.
The edges of Holly are prickly and as “sharp as any thorn”. These represent the crown of thorns placed upon Christ’s head by the soldiers. In fact, in Scandinavia and Germany, Holly is known as The Christ Thorn. The red berries symbolize the blood of Jesus Christ shed for our sins upon the cross.
Ivy is a vine. Vines need something to cling to if they are going to grow. Ivy can be a reminder for us to cling to God’s Word, to His promises, to the hope which is found in Christ and Christ alone. We must “let our roots grow up in him” (Colossians 2:7).
It is my prayer for all of us to look at these decorations differently this Christmas and for every Christmas to come. They are more than just Holly and Ivy. When you look at them, stop and rejoice in celebrating His birth. Rejoice in Him who came to take away the sins of the world.
He bore the crown of thorns for us. He shed his blood for us. He came to redeem us all.
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” Ephesians 1:7
Great and merciful Lord, thank You for sending Your only Son to us. Thank You for undeserving redemption You have given us through the cross. Amen.
When we surrender our lives to Jesus, we are not guaranteed a life without heartache, pain, or suffering. In fact, the Bible states that in this world we will have trouble. We may suffer. We may be persecuted. We will have trials. Jesus was born into persecution. He suffered and lived through trials and temptations. We can take heart, though, because we know that He overcame them. He overcame the world.
“For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.” 2 Cor. 1:4-6
When we accept Jesus into our hearts, we aren’t just accepting Him for salvation. We are inviting Him into every aspect of our lives. He shares our joyous moments. He faces fears beside us. He holds every tear in His hand. When we suffer, He shares our suffering with us. He will never leave us or forsake us. He alone is our comforter.
Jesus suffered for our sins. We will suffer for the sake of Him. We can take comfort in knowing that we are never alone. He walks beside us down every path we take- the dark and frightening ones, the joyous ones, and the difficult, rocky ones. He is there to comfort us every moment of every day. Turn to Jesus. In Him, you will find your comfort.
One of the first Christmas gifts my husband and I received as a married couple was a nativity set. At first, I would put it out every Christmas because it was beautiful and made a nice decoration. However, as my relationship with Christ grew, so did my understanding of the miraculous and incredible story behind this ceramic display.
“And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.” Luke 2:16-17
Now when I put out this nativity set, I carefully place each figure where it belongs. As I do it, I find myself wondering what they must have been thinking at that time. I wonder if Jesus, being full human and fully God, cried and fussed like most newborns do? Were the shepherds truly aware of the miracle that were witnessing? Were Mary and Joseph worried about being new parents. Let alone the parents of our Lord and Savior?
The Nativity gives us a chance to explore the main characters of the story, but also even look beyond them. Who were the supporting characters? Are all the characters even people? How do all of these combine to bring us the most incredible and beautiful story ever told? The reality is that even if we look at the parts people play as individuals, we must remember to always look at how all the characters are a greater part of the whole.
Take some time to ponder the characters in the Nativity. If you are able, experience a live Nativity and think about how each of the characters complete the whole story.