The Lord has need of ME?? (Prayer Devotional for the week of December 13, 2015)

In a passage frequently referred to as “Jesus’ Triumphant Entry” (see Mark 11, Luke 19, Matthew 21, & John 12), we read the story about Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. Here’s an excerpt from Mark’s account:

“As Jesus and his disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to the towns of Bethphage and Bethany on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of them on ahead. “Go into that village over there,” he told them. “As soon as you enter it, you will see a young donkey tied there that no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks, ‘What are you doing?’ just say, ‘The Lord needs it and will return it soon.’” (Mark 11:1-3, NLT)


If you’re like me, you may have heard that story so many times over the years that it feels very familiar, but let’s look a little more closely. First of all, a lot happened around Bethany in the New Testament, and this story is no exception. Bethany was the hometown of Lazarus, the raised-from-the-dead friend of Jesus (John 11:1); it is also where a woman anointed Jesus with expensive perfume (Matthew 26:6); and, it is the place where Jesus cursed a fig tree (Mark 11:12). Bethany is also where Jesus blessed his disciples after his resurrection, right before he ascended into heaven! (Luke 24:50-51)


Next, Jesus chose a donkey in fulfillment of the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9, but I find it interesting that God – in his wisdom and sense of humor – selected an untamed colt as his animal of preference. He could have specified any magnificent creature on earth, yet he chose a lowly, stubborn, beast of burden. (May we remember that little fact whenever we think too highly of ourselves in the Lord’s work – if he can use an untamed jackass … er, donkey … then who are we to think we’re so important?)


Lastly, Jesus instructed his disciples to respond to any inquiries by saying, “The Lord needs it.” This word for Lord is the Greek word Kyrios, which is translated “master.” In essence, the Master of the universe is asking to borrow a lowly, untamed donkey so that he can ride into the city where he will ultimately sacrifice himself on our behalf. Let that sink into your heart for a few moments.


God always has a reason for why he asks things of us. He does not demand them of us, but he gives us opportunities to partner with him in his work. Sometimes the things he asks of us don’t make any sense right then, and to be frank, they may not ever make sense in our lifetimes. But, one day, all will be revealed in his perfect, eternal timing. In the meantime, we are called simply to obey. The Lord has need of you … are you willing to serve?

Forced Rest (Prayer Devotional for the week of May 17, 2015)

The latter part of Daniel 9 introduces us to a fascinating end-times prophecy, but I’d like to draw your attention to the beginning of the chapter. As foretold by the prophet Jeremiah, the people of Israel had been in exile for nearly 70 years because of their disobedience to the Lord. (Daniel experienced the exile first-hand, as he was one of the young Israelite men selected to be trained in Babylon for service to the king.)


In keeping with God’s example of creating the world in six days and resting on the seventh, the people of Israel had very specific regulations about their work ethic, including honoring the Sabbath day each week and letting the land rest every seventh year. As we read time and time again in the Old Testament (as well as modern day, if we’re honest about ourselves), the people had veered away from following God. Jeremiah tried to warn them to get back on track, but they didn’t listen.


God has a way of bringing his will to pass, even when we are stubborn and don’t follow it, in the first place. I think it’s interesting how the people of Israel neglected the Lord’s instructions to let the land rest every so often, yet the land went fallow for decades while they were in exile. It reminds me of how we go-go-go through life, and then – wham! – you get sick and have to stay in bed for a few days, smack in the middle of a busy schedule. Our bodies need rest, even if we have to be forced to do it.


Daniel realized through his own studying of Jeremiah that the period of exile was coming to a close, so he prayed to the Lord in humility to ask for God’s forgiveness and mercy. I think this is interesting, as well. God said that the people would be in exile for 70 years, but instead of just waiting out the time, Daniel approached the Lord submissively and asked for forgiveness for his people. Daniel was a young man when he was exiled; he could hardly be blamed for the decisions of his forefathers, yet he bore the burden and interceded on their behalf. May we, too, stand in the gap for our communities in prayer.

DIY Replacing a Toilet

I have changed the flapper, adjusted the chain, replaced the whole inside guts of a toilet tank, and plunged more than my fair share of toilet bowls (especially with five boys in the house). I finally decided that I’m tired of constantly trying to fix them, and I just need to upgrade to a toilet that does what it’s supposed to do on the first flush, every flush. So, this is how I spent part of my day off today …

I’ve been researching options for a while, starting with auto-flush sensors. I realized that not only are these very expensive, but they could be problematic if the toilet is clogged. The last thing you want to do in that situation is flush repeatedly! (Spoken from experience, I might add.)

The problem, as I see it, is two-fold: 1) Water-saving toilets are a pointless, ridiculous invention. It doesn’t save water if it takes three flushes to get everything down the drain! 2) Flappers frequently need to be adjusted and/or replaced, and if I add up all the money I’ve spent fixing them, I could’ve probably bought a new commode.

So, I bought a new commode.

I really need to replace all three toilets in the house, but I decided to start with one and be sure that I could handle it. Besides, the installation fee offered by the hardware store cost more than the commode (!!), so being the stubborn frugal gal that I am, I wanted to see if I could do it myself. I’m sharing the adventure with you, so you might feel more confident to try something like this, yourself.

2014-04-18 15.18.54My 14 (and a half) year-old helped me with lifting , as well as some of the work that required squatting down on the floor, like loosening bolts. They were pretty badly rusted, but with the help of some WD-40, we made it work.

(As with my foray into washing machine repair, I would not recommend replacing a toilet as a one-person job — it can be quite heavy.)

It certainly wasn’t a graceful endeavor. I put a throw pillow in the bathtub to rest my knee on as I straddled the edge of the tub so I could reach the toilet. It wasn’t pretty, but it helped!

Disconnecting the old toilet wasn’t very complicated — it was just a matter of turning off the water supply, disconnecting the hose and loosening the floor bolts. First, we flushed the toilet to get the water out of the tank, but there was still some left in the bowl. Be sure to have some towels handy, because water will leak out from the hose and/or the base when you move it!

2014-04-18 17.00.402014-04-18 17.00.33The next part was pretty gross, but I just kept reminding myself that it was only wax. For the record, whoever decided to make the wax rings for toilets the same color as poop has a sick sense of humor. Why not make them out of clear wax? Eww.

The photo on the left shows the hole beneath the toilet that goes into the sewer. I have already scraped off the old wax ring and adjusted the new bolts in place. The photo on the right shows the new, albeit still disgusting-looking, wax ring in place on the new toilet, ready to be squished into position and bolted to the floor.

2014-04-18 17.09.23At this point, it was just a matter of tightening bolts — first the two on the floor, then the three in the tank.  Then, I connected the hose and turned the water back on. Oops! I didn’t tighten one of the tank bolts firmly enough, and it started dripping. Turn the water back off, tighten more, repeat.

2014-04-18 17.21.14Check out the canister in the tank. It came completely assembled, so I didn’t have to do anything with the mechanism. There’s no flapper! It is supposed to flush more efficiently, more powerfully, and best of all — not clog. If I never have to plunge this commode again or waste clean towels by sopping up an overflowing toilet, then it will be money very well spent!

Voila! One down, two to go …2014-04-18 17.45.49