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I Bet You Just Laugh All the Time: Tom’s Surprise Party 2016

Dear Friends, One of the things that’s kept me busy over the past few months has been planning what would hoped would be a wonderful SURPRISE sixtieth birthday party for my husband, Tom. As a part of the party, we asked friends and family to submit stories and memories about him to a special website my son-in-love created. We shared these stories, along with lots of pictures, as a slide presentation at the party and will also turn them into a scrapbook for him. And of course, I had submit something, too. So indulge me in, once again, sharing some up-close-and-personal thoughts. And continued Happy Birthday to my husband–whose real birthday isn’t until March 23. For His glory, Marti “I bet you just laugh all the time.” This line has become a byword between my husband and me because people tell me that so often. After all, when they meet someone as warm, outgoing, and funny as he is, they assume we must have lots of fun at our house. And we do. But, like most families, we’ve also had our share of hard times. The people who tell me I must laugh all the time may not realize that the funny guy they know is also the guy who rocked our son Samuel (born at 21 weeks) to sleep in the arms of Jesus. The guy whose humor has been misinterpreted in sometimes-painful ways. The guy who moved his family across the country for a position that went away. The guy who wondered if he would ever use his creative energies to do more than sell cars. But Tom is also the guy who saw God move heaven and earth to give us our first daughter by adoption and five other children (including the one in heaven) by birth. The guy who started what has become the Pieper missions tradition by taking the first-ever mission team from our New Mexico church to serve at the New Mexico Baptist Children’s Home. The guy who kept turtles in his college dorm room (and in every home/yard where we’ve lived since). The guy who has traveled across the country and around the world to preach and play his horn. The guy who cared for two preschool daughters for two months (while still pastoring and preparing two sermons per week) while I was living 150 miles away. The guy who is walking out a calling to do so much more than direct a choir. The guy who’s made mistakes and suffered consequences. The guy who’s experienced grace and freely extends it to others. The guy who was and is there for our kids and me in so many ways. And the guy who...

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PRAY: Prayer for Physical Healing

Our God, I recognize You today as the God who heals. I praise You because of Your great grace and the way You use it to pour your power through our weaknesses. Today, I surrender the physical needs in our lives to You. No diagnosis, illness, or wound surprises you. I ask for Your protection from the enemy who so often invades this area of our lives. You designed a world without sin and sickness, without cancer or chronic pain. But You also use physical problems to bring people closer to You. While I ask for healing, I pray for the grace to endure. Allow no one to suffer in vain. May our light and temporary afflictions bring us into the greater glory that is ours in relationship with You. May we know You more and more in spite of— even because of—our physical needs, concerns, and problems. As Jesus knelt to make a mud ball to place on the blind man’s eyes, so I bow in life’s dirt to offer Your healing and hope. Remind us all to pray for those who fear the future, those who live with constant pain, and those who have already suffered much. I ask You to come to those who have physical problems, to be present and powerful in every conversation with doctors and other medical personnel. Give these instruments of healing Your wisdom, Lord God, and allow them to see Your glory as they serve.  May we see You and show You as we lay our physical bodies before You each day. In the holy name of Jesus I pray with faith, AMEN.  Do you or does someone you know have a special need in the area of physical healing? I’d be honored to lift your request before Him. Feel free to leave a comment or email me. Thanks for sharing in this time of...

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PRAY: Love Connection

“We can do no great things—only small things with great love.”—Mother Teresa God drew me to himself through authentic prayer. I don’t mean that others prayed for me, although I’m sure they did. I don’t mean I prayed for myself, because I didn’t know how. Instead, God showed me that real prayer flowed from a real relationship. Up until then, my prayer life consisted of 911 calls: “Lord, help me pass this test” or “God, help Grandma feel better right away.” But the more I encountered real prayers that expressed genuine faith, the more I realized my need for Christ. As I grew in the Lord, my prayer life enlarged and expanded. In fact, my first major writing opportunity came through a prayer project. Since then, God’s allowed me not only to pray but to speak and teach about prayer. A few years ago, I began to pray a simple request almost every day, “Lord, teach me to pray.” Who knew he would use pain as a teacher? The pain came because someone didn’t like me. Someone really didn’t like me. That realization came as a shock because I barely knew this person (we’ll call her Jane). Not like me? How could it be? Nonetheless, the situation existed and, because of the circumstances involved, I could do nothing to change it. Nothing, that is, except pray. And that’s what I did. I typed out a list of specific Scriptures to pray for Jane and added more as time passed. My first prayers were selfish. I prayed for her attitude to change and for truth to prevail. But as time passed, I began to pray in new ways. I prayed that she would know the surpassing love of Christ. I prayed that Jesus would increase and abound in her life. I prayed that God would keep her in his name. I prayed that her marriage would be strong, that her children would rise up and call her blessed. I prayed, but I didn’t see God’s change Jane—at least not right away. What I witnessed instead were the ways he worked in mine. I found myself praying for her more and more. I began to see how precious she was to other people and to God. She mattered to him, so she mattered to me, too. Praying for Jane became a joy, not an obligation—a delight, not a duty. One day, I whispered a prayer of thanks as I realized that my wise Father had used this broken relationship to teach me to pray. What he whispered back shocked me: I wasn’t teaching you to pray. I was teaching you to love. Who’s the problem person in your life? Pray for...

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