Would you please pray for me…NOW?

Several times each day I see requests on social media for prayer. From Facebook to Instagram and Twitter, group Bible studies, countless emails and everything in between.  There are needs.

Endless needs.

The request usually goes something like this: “My daughter is in the hospital and I am worried sick, would you please pray?”

“I have a coworker whose husband left her and she needs prayer. Would you pray with me?”

“We just lost our grandson, we are devastated. Please pray for us.”

Of course, these are just examples but they mirror true requests that we all see every day.

The response?

“I will pray.”


“Joining with you in prayer.”

“Believing and praying for your need!”

“Casting all your care upon Him for He cares for you…”

Again, these are examples and well-meaning replies. We all do it and thank God we do!

But speaking from experience, how many times do we reply with that good intention, to be sure and pray for them when our prayer time rolls around again? Then, when that happens, whether it is six hours, twelve hours or twenty four…we have forgotten the literal pile of requests that have accumulated throughout the day!

I am guilty. Sometimes I do not even mutter a simple prayer as I scroll through to the next one…I am in a hurry, I will pray later.

It doesn’t mean we have to go get our Bible, run to a particular spot and pray for 15 or 30 minutes.

It means to pray a sincere prayer, asking God to meet that need, right then, right there.

There would be hundreds of us, sometimes thousands, calling out the need all day long, when we see it, when we hear it, when we are asked…when we won’t forget.

I received an email from a missionary this week and he had an urgent need. He needed prayer. Right now.  His request for us?

Stop. Drop. Pray.

Stop Drop Pray

Whatever you are doing, wherever you are, Stop. Drop everything. Pray.

“What if I am driving?”

You can still pray! Don’t be careless, just call on His name!

I had another message this week from someone close to me. He related a story of their coworker who came to him at work saying her two year old grandbaby was at the ER right then. She was very upset and extremely concerned. She also wanted to be there. She just asked, “Would you be sure and pray?” My friend turned to her and he said, “Why don’t we do that right now?”

Then he just gently took her hand…and prayed. Right there. In the office. Nothing big and loud, nothing to draw attention, yet not hiding in a corner. He prayed a simple prayer of protection, healing and peace for all involved.

Naturally, she began to cry, as soon as he started to pray, but God showed up! Her countenance changed and she was so grateful that someone would actually PRAY, not just say they would pray

Have you tried that? Have you reached out when the need was urgent, when it just couldn’t wait, and prayed for a friend?

It will overwhelm them, comfort them, touch them like your promises may never do.

You know what will happen? They will feel Jesus! He will come, because you asked, and He will touch them, bless them, let them feel His presence near. That peace, that passes all understanding, will surround both of you as you release those burdens to the Savior.

Why don’t we make it our motto?

Stop. Drop. Pray.

If it is convenient, sure, get on your knees! Humble yourself before a mighty God and call on that Name above every Name!

But if you cannot do that, at least stop where you are, drop what you are doing, and pray. With your heart, pour the need out to God sincerely.

Watch what will happen and how it will increase not only your faith but those around you.

Because faith? Well, friend, it is contagious.

Here are some other posts on prayer that might encourage you: Ceaseless Prayer, But Prayer, Gossip and Prayerlessness, and Praying or Prying?


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Slow and Steady wins the race…

It’s #FiveMinuteFriday! I hope you enjoy these word prompts as much as I do. When one speaks to me, jumps out at me, as this one did, it makes it easy to write. A flash mob of writers all focusing on one word and yet coming up with so many good thoughts is exciting. Today, the prompt is Finish.


One of my favorite memories of the story, The Tortoise and The Hare, is the old Bugs Bunny cartoon. (Warner Bros.) I have read the book to My Three Sons, many moons ago, it is an easy one to remember, one that you can tell over and over again and relate to so many facets of life.


In case you do not remember the story, or perhaps have never read the book, Mr. Hare (or that old wascally wabbit, as Elmer Fudd liked to call him, was a big-time bragger.

He was fast and he knew it.
He was first, and he was proud of it.
He was so sure of his lightning speed that he challenged, of all people, a tortoise; a slow, sluggish, unhurried, turtle.

How many times have you seen a turtle cross the road? Probably, none. You have seen a turtle crossing the road, but how many of us have sat and actually watched that poor turtle start at one side and reach the other?

No patience.

But the rabbit was so confident of his speed and ability that along the way he stops to rest, several times depending on which version you read or watch. Eventually, he falls asleep.

Where is the tortoise? He is doing what he has always done; walking.

Slow and Steady,

Steady and Slow,

That’s the way we always go!

But Slow and Steady (that is his name in one of the books!) didn’t stop. He didn’t dawdle, he didn’t look to his right or to his left. He didn’t get distracted, and if he was tired he didn’t stop. He kept going, no matter what.

He finished.

Slow and Steady

He not only finished, but he got to that finish line before the rabbit. While he was snoozing, the other team takes the baton. Not because he was faster, not because he was sly, but because he was steady.

Are you steady? Don’t worry about it if you think you are slow, as long as you are not lazy. We all are different, God made us that way.

But He does want us to be


Not looking to the right or to the left.

Not being swayed by those on the sidelines that say, “Come on over and take a little rest! It’s okay! There’s plenty of time…”

No, we keep pressing on, even in uncertainty. We push, we press, we work while it is day.

There is a Finish Line approaching. The signs of the times are everywhere and we cannot afford to be distracted in this late hour of the race. While we are being steady, while we are pressing on, we are reaching out to those that we meet along the way and say, “Come join me, walk with me, and get to know my Jesus…”

He makes the race endurable! He makes it all worthwhile. He gives strength for the journey, a light to our path and a purpose to our walk.

He is the One waiting at the end of the race, waiting to welcome us home. Hearing Him say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant…” will be all the reward we will want.

“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:7-8.

Just finish. The best is yet to come.




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DIY Vanilla Extract & A Bonus!

When I first came overseas four years ago, I was surprised at the number of things that were readily available here in Northern Europe. Our first visit to the market was quite interesting.

We could read NOTHING.

We did not speak the Estonian language, and we had taken about eight weeks of Russian in anticipation of getting to Latvia the next year. That was not going to help us here in Tallinn.

I may have told the story of The Sweetheart trying to talk to an older lady behind the meat counter when he was attempting to decipher what was staring back at him. Was it beef? She just stares. So he did what we all do when we are talking to someone who doesn’t speak our language: we say it s-l-o-w-e-r and LOUDER! BEEF?!!

She stares…and raises an eyebrow.

Finally, and forever forgive me for not having a camera or the FLIP going, he puts two fingers up on top of his head, leans over a bit and says, “MOOOOO!”

“AAAHHH! MOOOOO!” She was excited then, she understood.

We all have a love language. (smile)

Yesterday we made a trip to Stockmann’s,  a very nice department/grocery store. In the States we would compare it to Macy’s with a Kroger in the basement. I know, hard to imagine, but it is nice.

They are known for having American items from time to time. Today we found this!

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 And this…

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Just in case you cannot convert from Euro’s to U.S. dollars, that would make the Aunt Jemima $11.50 and the A1 a whopping $18! No, we did not buy either one.

But as I mentioned in the last post, there are some things you must make yourself if you feel you just cannot live without them.

One of those for me was pure vanilla extract. Or any liquid vanilla extract would have sufficed. The cheap stuff would have been just as good when you cannot find any!

They did have vanilla sugar in Estonia and Latvia but I couldn’t find extract. So, my good missionary friend, Robin Shutes, says that is no problem, “We make our own!”

Back then I had not heard how incredibly easy it was to make your own vanilla…nor had I heard how incredibly delicious it was! Pure vanilla extract is so expensive in the States, so many opt for the store brand of vanilla flavoring. It is NOT the same.

Robin takes me to a neat cash and carry store in Riga, Latvia where we find our vanilla beans. They come in individual cylinder tubes here in Tallinn also and run about $1.40 each right now.

vanilla bean tube

The beans here are smaller and sometimes not the best quality, but when you order them from the States they are usually very good quality.

Now for the rest of the ingredients; let’s fill up our cart!

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Yes, that’s it! Vodka! Some use bourbon but vodka is pretty cheap over here so that is what I went with every time. (And yes, ALL pure vanilla extract is made with vanilla beans and alcohol. McCormick’s, for instance also adds corn syrup, but it is NOT necessary. You will have plenty of sugar in your baking! Again, you are NOT drinking the stuff, heaven forbid, just adding 1/2 to 1 teaspoon in a recipe.)

Now, let’s get busy!

Take your vanilla bean, slit it down the middle, that splits the bean open a bit so the vodka can get inside. Don’t cut them in two lengthwise but you may cut them in half to shorten them. Here, I already had the scissors handy for cutting them in half so you can start with a slit with the scissors then just split them the rest of the way up. You can also use a cutting board and a knife just as easy.


If you are making one large bottle, like I am here, just put about five or six split vanilla beans in the bottle. Make sure your bottles are clean and dry.


Now, just pour your bottle of vodka over the beans until it reaches almost to the top. You can fill it all the way if you want, I ran out of vodka!

Now, for the hard part; the waiting.

make your own

It is best to let it steep for about eight weeks. I have used it at four weeks before and it was still good but the longer you leave it, the better.

What is so great about vanilla extract is that you can just keep adding vodka to this set of beans for the longest time! Depending on how fast you use vanilla, just keep filling it up. In a year or so you could replace the beans if you want or start over. It really will not hurt anything no matter how long you leave them. You can store it in the cabinet just like store-bought vanilla. It will keep forever!

Every year, when the holidays roll around, I say to The Sweetheart, “I’m going to make my sister and SIL’s their own vanilla this year!” “Sure you are…” is his reply. I never get it accomplished. I always forget to order my beans and before I know it, it’s too late.

But this is one of the best, and easiest, homemade gifts you can give! It doesn’t have to be made eight weeks in advance; if you do, they will really love you because they can use it right away. But if not, they still have a treasure awaiting them when it is finished.

You can buy the cutest jars from Amazon, like these 4 oz. dark bottles, 24 for $33.49. Here are some Amber 4 oz , twelve for $16.80. Not bad once you add a cute label and a ribbon! Or, if you want fancier  and bigger ones, these are adorable 8 oz. jars, also at Amazon.  You can also do a Google search for little glass jars and jump back! There are plenty.

For the beans, these Madagascar beans from Planifolia can’t be beat. You get 25, 6-7″ beans for $19.99!

If you do make up some for gifts, just halve your beans, split them, and you will only need about one bean, split and cut in two, per two ounces of vodka. It’s still a great buy!

Another great trick I worked up this week I had read about many times but never tried it myself. I always just ran across the street and borrowed from family. This time that was not an option as I could not show up on my Estonian neighbor’s doorstep and ask to borrow a cup of brown sugar. I knew suhkar but was pretty sure I would scare her to death. So! I made my own!

They do have brown sugar here in Estonia, we were just out of it. All you need is regular white sugar, or organic white cane sugar to begin with and one other ingredient.

Molasses! Don’t you just love two ingredient miracles?!

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For each cup of white sugar add about three full tablespoons of molasses. With a fork, I mixed it up until it was coarse.

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This is what it will look like when you begin to incorporate the molasses with the sugar…don’t despair!! It will eventually look like store-bought brown sugar. (This is a terrible picture of the inside of the bowl, but work with me.) I also tried using a regular hand mixer and that works just as well. You don’t want it to turn to dust; it will just look like, well, like brown sugar. But kind of like coarse sand, depending on the type of sugar. In this part of the world the sugar is much grainier than what I am used to. It is still the same taste; just a different texture.

If you want dark brown sugar, just increase the ratio of molasses, about four tablespoons to each cup of white sugar.

homemade brown sugar

Store as you normally would and you are finished!

In a few weeks you can be baking up a storm. Be sure and save a few vanilla beans to make homemade ice cream. It’s summer!

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