..........Contact me at Mom25dogs@gmail.com.........

Contact me at Mom25dogs@gmail.com

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Home Decorating - Vignettes

Let me define the word "vignettes".

Here are the official definitions:
A picture, illustration, or depiction in words, especially one of a small or dainty kind;
To make, as an engraving or a photograph, with a border or edge insensibly fading away;
A running ornament consisting of leaves and tendrils, used in Gothic architecture;
A short descriptive literary sketch;
A brief incident or scene (as in a play or movie);

Now, how do I mean it when I'm talking about a vignette in decorating your home? I believe each room is a large stage with smaller divisions of focus. A table top is one small part of the whole and yet, you can focus someone's attention to that table top by arranging things to form a vignette, a mini-scene. A wall, a coffee table, a shelf or bookshelves, a cabinet, etc. can all contain little scenes that focus your attention on all the little details.

This is my dressing room area. The walk in closet and bathroom and bedroom are joined by this area. Because it is part of the bedroom, I wanted it to be pretty and yet, it actually has to work too.

I'm a very feminine person and I like feminine stuff. I have a small collection of vintage boudoir boxes and matching accessories and trays. One tray is a mirror tray and the other is a fine woven tray with a lace handkerchief folded under glass.

I used a red and cream toile wallpaper for the dressing area and bathroom. So I went with a dark red lampshade with this inexpensive boudoir lamp. The rose "plate" is from Hobby Lobby. I have my perfume bottles here. the bedroom is painted the cream and the vanities are painted in cream.

With powder and stuff being used, this area can get dusty and needs to be cleaned often. This would not work if it was dusty. It's beauty is in it's sparkling presentation, it's orderliness and the pleasing color combinations. I did not spend much money on these things, they are not professionally grouped by a decorator. I didn't spend hours or days looking for just the right pieces, etc. It's just clean, orderly and touches my feminine side. The mirrors and pictures and chrome and glass all shine. I even wash my perfume bottles to keep them looking nice.


If I didn't have time to keep all this sparkling then my option would be to pare down. Maybe just have my perfume bottle(s) on a little mirror tray and the lamp. Be sure to vacuum the lampshades too. I don't happen to wear makeup, but if you do, keep it down to necessities and store in basket(s) in the vanity. Pull out, use and put back. Maybe 3 or 4 times a year go through your makeup and cull out old's and unused's and toss. Wash your baskets and rearrange. I have no idea why someone needs tons of makeup. You can't possibly wear it all! So find what works for you and keep it at that. When you get close to the bottom of your compact, either throw it away or finish it and replace. Don't have bottles of half used stuff waiting to be finished that is accumulating.

Home Decorating - Vignettes


Here are a couple more vignettes in my kitchen. The knives and wooden knife holders are antique knives from my Great Grandma Addie Mae Michaels Barnes. Except the green one which has sentimental value to my husband's side of the family. It came from a manufacturing plant that my husband's father worked at all his life. Stan and his brothers also worked there until it closed down back in the 1980's.

The oak paper towel holder is conveniently located beside my microwave oven/oven duo. Covering your food with a paper towel before putting it in the microwave ensures that there is little, if any, splattering and keeps my microwave clean. On the little shelf I have a few things that I like. I got the blue bottle at a yard sale for .25. The Lucy card was a birthday card from one of my sisters this year and I Love Lucy, literally! The little doll china cabinet has tiny coffee mugs with the names of my parents, their daughters and husbands and 3 grandchildren.

This is one of 4 white shelves in my kitchen. With the 9' ceilings I could have these shelves to display little things. There is the Avon I Love Lucy salt & pepper shakers, some bottles, some colorful tins and a colorful little china figure that was from my Grandma's. The little white bird house is just cute, as is the little yellow bucket. The light blue knitted doll hat was included with a bunch of stuff in a lot I bought at a yard sale for .10. I washed it and hung it on this peg. I have a pretty English porcelain tray below the shelf. Below this tray is a bright yellow Homer McLaughlin plate.

Home Decorating - Fall

Decorating for the Fall
Today is September 1 and it's Labor Day weekend so I put away my summer decorations and took out my Fall decorations. These are the splashiest Fall decorations but not my only Fall decorations.

According to my first and most important tip on decorating (see blog entry in entries below), I believe that keeping your house clean and dusted, with your knick knacks sparkling allows you to get away with almost any decor. So, I took this time to wash all my knick knacks so they would sparkle for the Fall. I also washed any summer decorations. I stuck all summer flower picks under the water to wash off dust and put them upside down in the guest bathroom shower, separated by color (in case the dyes run). I will let them dry for a few days before packing in their plastic lidded bins (to prevent mildew). I have one closet that holds all my seasonal decorations including Christmas. It has deep shelves from top to bottom and I label my plastic bins by season. While I was doing the washing up, my housecleaner and friend, Diane, was doing her normal routine. It makes the dusting go faster to leave everything drying in the kitchen until she is through dusting. Then I put it all back out. And I began to arrange my Fall decorations.

The first photo is the Lane cherry/cedar chest on legs that works as a small buffet or a sofa table. I wanted to make a vignette that reminds of tail gating, picnics, apple cider....so I used my old, primitive, oak picnic basket and some vintage thermoses. I'm going to look for a tartan throw to drip out of the picnic basket.

I bought this cornucopia at Hobby Lobby one time when they had 40% off Fall decorations. I filled with 3 Fall flower and leaf sprays. I also bought the Fall candles at Hobby Lobby. I do love good smelling candles. I prefer floral scents. This is our coffee table. The other side of it has 4 drawers.

On my mantle I placed these small tall hurricane lamps filled with the beaded beaded gourds and pumpkins, nuts and leaves. I also placed the orange glass pumpkin.

As I was going through the flowers bits and pieces came off. So I filled this cranberry colored basket with the beaded fruits, nuts, gourds, pumpkins and tucked the leftover flowers and leaves among them. I also pulled out my little "Bambi" fawn. I got it for $1 at Garden Ridge.

I have several wooden trunks throughout the house. This one is my first one. Stan bought it for me for a Christmas gift and had it refinished. I have them all filled with family quilts, quilt tops, quilt squares, doilies. I carefully washed them, drip dried them thoroughly and whipped stitched acid free paper labels on them to describe who made them, how I got them, etc. Then I folded them and stored them in my trunks with sachets. The little cedar doll trunk was a bargain buy and has the quilt tops in it.
My Dad's sister, my Aunt, handpainted this mailbox for him one Christmas before she died. It means a lot to us. I keep it on an old flour chest that I bought for $35 at an old junk barn. I refinished the chest by taking off the old paint and flour inside and out. It's been professionally refinished 7 years ago for the 2nd time. Anyway, for each season I fill up the mailbox with seasonal flowers.

I hope this gets you in the mood to decorate for Fall. If you do it now, you can enjoy the decorations for 3 months until it's time to decorate for Christmas. With all the hot, humid, triple digit weather we've been having, I'm realling looking forward to the cool weather of Fall this year.

Fire Ants

Last night, as my husband and I came home from eating out, I saw my sister, Elaine, and her dogs in her backyard so I walked over to visit. I reached down and picked up Toughy and was snuggling him up to my neck. Suddenly my neck was on fire and I was being stung. I put him down and started brushing at my neck but it was getting worse. I told Elaine that I was going to have to go home. I ran inside and jerked all my clothes off and found fire ants in them. I was stung probably a dozen times around my neck and down my chest.

Two weeks ago I was stung 3 times on my feet and they swelled and the bites blistered. That was a hefty reaction.

But this time it was a much worse allergic reaction.

Stan threw my clothes into the washer while I jumped in the shower to make sure I got them all off of me. By the time I got out they were welping, itching and burning like crazy and I was getting very agitated. I took 2 Benadryl and lathered Benadryl cream all over. I went and sat down with Stan in the den. He had the light off and was watching TV. It just kept getting worse and worse. I could feel the swelling and it itched and burned. After 30 mins watching TV and hearing me complain, he took me in the bathroom and I showed him. By then my face was blood red and I had a rash over 50% of my body. Angry, red and inflamed. I was also starting to get chest pains. It wasn't my heart or lungs because it wasn't a constant pain (with every beat of my heart) and I was breathing OK, no vomitting. The pain was on the right side and would come for 10 seconds or so and then subside for a minute or two. I could feel some pressure like a lump at the bottom of my throat. I told him to take me to the emergency room. The pain began to come more often and last longer so that within the 15 mins it took for us to get dressed and drive to the emergency room I was having that chest pain every 45 secs and it would last about 15 secs.

Fortunately it was a slow time at the ER and they took me straight back and put me on an EKG (which showed my heart was normal). My blood pressure was high for me. I'm usually around 72 for the bottom number and it was 84. But not abnormally high and once they got me in the back and I got settled down it went right back down. They gave me a shot of Benadryl (on top of the 2 pills I had already had), some Prednisone and Pepcid (she said it had some kind of histamine blockers too). They kept me for observation for about 2 hours and sent me home with a prescription for all. After the shot and pills, within the hour the rash was gone (down to just a couple of streaks), the pain in my chest was gone and the crazy itching and burning was gone. I was able to come home (12:00am) and go to sleep. I woke up at 5:30am this morning with the itching again and took 2 more Benadryl. The bites are starting to blister.

The doctor said I have to stay away from fire ants because each time you get a bite, you can react a little worse the next time. She said since I had such a severe reaction this time, it was important to try and avoid them. She also said to be sure and take the meds as prescribed and through the whole period so that I won't re-react. I can't wait for the pharmacy to open so I can get these meds.

Can our dogs be bitten and react? Melinda says she has a dog that was adopted out that got into a fire ant nest and had to be rushed to the Vet and have similar treatment. So, yes, our dogs can be affected. But, pay attention to ants on the dogs that are then brought in the house or on you as you hold the dogs.


I have been bitten by fire ants 4 times this season already. Despite the immediate shots I have been having re-reactions and have suffered recurring rashes and allergic itching for a couple of months now. We've tried more shots and prednisone and that worked until I was out of the prednisone and then it started coming back again. About once a day, I will get an allergic outbreak somewhere on my body and it will itch and raise a red rash. I just keep taking Benadryl which makes it settle down until the next day. So it's still not done with me yet.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Quote to make you think

The consolidation of the States into one vast empire, sure to be aggressive abroad and despotic at home, will be the certain precursor of ruin which has overwhelmed all that preceded it. --General Robert E Lee

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Conversation with Dogs

Conversation with Dogs

My Uncle lives on a walking trail here. He wanted me to come over and bring some of my dogs and take a walk with him and his dog. He has a morose Border Collie that is totally trained. Even off leash the dog keeps in perfect order! He reminds me of Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh. So I DIDN'T take Miss MoneyPenny. Her little headstrong self would have given my Uncle's dog bad ideas. So I took the tall ones (for those uninitiated ones, those are my Italian Greyhounds, the miniature kind, I.G.'s, Iggies). We got there at 8:15am and walked 2 miles. For those of you who don't know me I can barely walk to the mailbox and back and catch my breath PLUS, being a mature woman, the heat slays me. I thought it was early enough not to be too hot. I guess my air conditioner has spoiled me. The humidity was like a steam room. It's been in upper 90's and 3 digits with a high heat index for the whole month of August. Anyway, here is the conversation today.

"COME ON, MOM! I WANNA RUN!" -Capo the Clown

"I'm pulling her the best I can without injuring my trachea." -Dresden

"Huff, huff, huff" -Sharon

"What the heck is a trachea?" -Cap

"My throat, now you pull too and maybe we can at least get a lope out of her." -Dresden

"Lope? That's for sissies! If I can't run flat out then I'm gonna walk and take in the sights, get a few smells going here." -Capo

"So I guess I'm gonna have to pull her myself?" -Dresden

"I guess so. Mmmmm, smell that pee? That's a Rottweiler that came by yesterday about noon. He has been feasting on Iams dog food and scratched his back about 25 feet back. Looks like he's in love with the Poodle who lives next door to him. She likes to watch TV but every once in awhile she climbs on the back of the couch to bark at him and tease him. Yeah, and smells like his owner took a bath and used Prell shampoo. Says it's way better than that other stuff she used to use..." -Capo

...:::gasp:::...We...:::huff:::...are...:::gasp:::...losing...:::huff:::...Uncle!" -Sharon

"Mom, don't die on us, OK? I'll stop pulling if you just don't die. We need you to feed us! So stay with us." -Dresden

"Yaarrrooowwwllll, YoooooHooooo, Yaaaahhhhhh, Whooooooo, Uncle come back, don't go so fast. Mommy can't keep up." -Capo, in singing barks

"What the heck was that?" -mutters uncle's border collie, Jack, in a monotone.

"That's us, you dip wad! Who do you think? We take opera lessons." -Capo

"And what is opera?" -Jack in his monotone

"Yee gads, man! You don't know what opera is?" -Dresden in surprise

"Let's give him a dose of our talents, Drez. Yeeeeeooooowwww, Wooooooooohooooooo" -Capo

"Yaaaarrrrooooooowwwwwlllll, Yoooooowwwwwllllll" -Dresden chiming in, the boys doing a duet as Jack looks glum and puts his paws over his ears.

...moving....:::gurgle:::" -Sharon

"Hey there's a butterfly!" -Capo

"Ah, the papilio, or, as the French say, the papillon. Did you know there are 4750 species of papilio world wide? And some ants are dependant on some butterfly species and therefore defend them. While this relationship is usually facultative, the mutualism..." -Dresden

"Ah, shut up, you big blowhard! You're just trying to show off! But I can tell you this, some butterflies poop yellow stuff that looks like butter and they call them Butter S**ts BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!" -Capo, dancing around the butterflies and Sharon rests on a bench.

"There they go using filthy language, Father. Let's distance ourselves from them." -Jack to uncle in his monotone

"OK, let's go again." -Sharon, ready to get back home to the air conditioning.

"Well! Try to teach some dogs new tricks and they just want learn. Hmph!" -Dresden and he trots ahead.

"You know this river sand is pretty nice to walk on. Much better than that asphalt at that other trail. It'doesn't get too hot or too cold, not too hard on the old pads if you know what I mean." -Capo

"Uncle...:::huff:::...my feet...:::gasp:::...have...:::wheeze:::...blisters...:::gasp:::
from the...:::huff:::...river sand...:::gasp:::...in my sandals! -Sharon

"Hey, it's better than my pads getting blistered on that ole hot asphalt! I can even dig in this stuff and there are great smells caught in it." -Capo

"Leave it to you to dig in the dirt, you silly dog." -Dresden as he paws on Mommy's leg wanting her to carry him.

"No...:::huff:::...Drez...:::gasp:::...I can't...:::wheeze:::...carry you." -Sharon

"So you are down in the dirt with the rest of us 'silly' dogs, are you? Hee hee" -Capo

"Father, those mutts are still behind us. Can't we please leave them?" -whispered Jack in his monotone

"Who are you calling mutts? Put'em up! Put'em up!" -Capo

"I say, that was low class Mr. Jack. I have a brown belt in Dogeh and can show you a thing or two!" -says Dresden as he does his Dogeh preparations. - "Yaaaaha!"

"Dresden...:::huff:::...stop it...:::gasp:::...:::wheeze:::...:::gurgle:::" -Sharon

"Yeah, he's a weinie. Just leave him alone and lets get back to the house. I'm a little pooped myself. Ha ha, get it Drezzy...pooped? They don't call me butter sh**t. It's a little brown, if you know what I mean?" -Capo, laughing

Dresden rolls his eyes and trots on.

"I think Mom is getting slower and slower." -Dresden

"Yeah and I have to admit I am too." -Capo

"Ah, finally the car! Let's go home, Mommy" -Capo as he gets in the car.

"Good bye" -mutters Jack in his monotone voice, as his tail wags (secretly he's just glad the tall ones are gone).

"Aurevoir" -Dresden as he climbs in Mommy's lap and looks at Jack through the window.

"See ya" -Capo and he starts making his 3 turns on the passenger seat.

He settles down and he's immediately asleep. Dresden's sleepy eyes follow the scenery as he snuggles up to Mommy in her lap. He thinks he has to make sure Mommy doesn't fall asleep at the wheel.

"Whew, guys let's clean up and go to bed." -Sharon

"Sounds good to me, Mother." -chimes the boys, sleepily

Monday, August 27, 2007

Heat by Archibald Lampman

Photo by Orlin Wagner


From plains that reel to southward, dim,
The road runs by me white and bare;
Up the steep hill it seems to swim
Beyond, and melt into the glare.
Upward half-way, or it may be
Nearer the summit, slowly steals
A hay-cart, moving dustily
With idly clacking wheels.
By his cart's side the wagoner
Is slouching slowly at his ease,
Half-hidden in the windless blur
Of white dust puffiing to his knees.
This wagon on the height above,
From sky to sky on either hand,
Is the sole thing that seems to move
In all the heat-held land.

Beyond me in the fields the sun
Soaks in the grass and hath his will;
I count the marguerites one by one;
Even the buttercups are still.
On the brook yonder not a breath
Disturbs the spider or the midge.
The water-bugs draw close beneath
The cool gloom of the bridge.

Where the far elm-tree shadows flood
Dark patches in the burning grass,
The cows, each with her peaceful cud,
Lie waiting for the heat to pass.
From somewhere on the slope near by
Into the pale depth of the noon
A wandering thrush slides leisurely
His thin revolving tune.
In intervals of dreams I hear
The cricket from the droughty ground;
The grasshoppers spin into mine ear
A small innumerable sound.
I lift mine eyes sometimes to gaze:
The burning sky-line blinds my sight:
The woods far off are blue with haze:
The hills are drenched in light.

And yet to me not this or that
Is always sharp or always sweet;
In the sloped shadow of my hat
I lean at rest, and drain the heat;
Nay more, I think some bless├Ęd power
Hath brought me wandering idly here:
In the full furnace of this hour
My thoughts grow keen and clear.

by Archibald Lampman (1861-1899)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Prayers of God's People

The Prayers of God's People

Everyone has seen this adorable photograph that has circulated over the Internet.
What does God say about prayer?

Matthew 6:5-18
And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. After this manner therefore pray ye:
Our Father which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.
For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.

I think we can easily understand what Jesus was saying here. Don't have the wrong motives for praying. If your motives are pride so others will see you and think what a devout person you are, your prayers will go nowhere. Prayer is suppose to be a conversation with God, a communion with Him, a recognition of our need for Him. He is the focus not ourselves. In fact, He tells us NOT to pray with exterior motions that can be observed by others for the purpose of showing off. If we are showing off, it's pride and self and flesh. Your prayers will go nowhere.

Notice how the Lord's Prayer starts with acknowledging God as our Father and for worshipping Him. "Hallowed be Thy Name." The word "hallowed" means highly respected, honored, to realize how holy He is. Then it goes on to asking for God's Will on earth as it is in heaven. Not our will but God's Will. Then we humbly ask Him to provide for our needs. Then we ask forgiveness for our sins and ask God to help us to forgive others who have hurt us. Asking God to help us when temptations come, to protect us and deliver us. And then it ends with praise and worship again. Again, it's all about Him, He is our focus.

Isaiah 1:15-18
When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood. "Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow. "Come now, and let us reason together," Says the Lord, "Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool. If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of the land; But if you refuse and rebel, You shall be devoured by the sword";

The Lord knows our heart. He knows if our motives are pure when we pray. He knows if our hearts are right when we bow before Him. You aren't fooling Him. He knows if you are doing it to get attention, playing along, wanting to look good, self righteous. He knows if your heart is really in it. He doesn't want or need your worship if it's insincere. If it's all a put on, then you've wasted your time. You can wear the clothes of a priest, live in a parsonage, attend youth groups, sing with the voice of an angel from the church platform, hope that the church TV camera is on you, act all holy and righteous...but if your heart is cold as stone, He is not fooled and He is not happy!
On the other hand, if you do love the Lord and you honestly and sincerely praise and worship Him. He hears your prayers. God is looking for a heart who seeks Him, who longs for Him. Would you want to be with a snotty brat that could only talk about themselves and demand attention for themselves, someone so full of pride and arrogance and selfishness? Or would you rather spend time with someone who loves you, who has a good time just being with you? If you can tell that your peers are snobby and self centered or sincere and kind, don't you think God can? You better believe it!
Psalm 95: 1-7
Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the Lord is the great God, And the great King above all gods. In His hand are the deep places of the earth; The heights of the hills are His also. The sea is His, for He made it; And His hands formed the dry land. Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture, And the sheep of His hand.

Psalm 96: 1-4, 9 Oh, sing to the Lord a new song! Sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, bless His name; Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples. For the Lord is great and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods...Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness!

Have you ever thought about Jesus praying? I used to think that because He was the Son of God, He wouldn't need to pray. But I was wrong. As I studied the New Testament I found that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, often prayed. He went off alone and prayed, sometimes at dawn, sometimes after a long day, sometimes at night.
Mark 1: 35
Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed
Matthew 14: 23
And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there.
Matthew 26: 36-39
Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, "Sit here while I go and pray over there." And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me." He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed,...
We are to pray in faith for God's Will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. I know if I ask anything according to God's Will, it will be done. It is promised.
Mark 11:22-26
So Jesus answered and said to them, "Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses."

It is not praying in faith for MY will to be done. I.e. if I pray for a pink Cadillac and a matching pink "Michael Jackson" mansion I probably won't get an answer to my prayer. If I pray for someone to be saved, or a church to reach the lost, or a missionary to be given courage to preach the Word...it's guaranteed that He will hear my prayer.
James 4: 2-3
You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.
But what about all those things in between? Is it wrong to pray and ask God for a new home, another job, for a spouse? How do we pray for specific needs and desires?
I think it all has to do with our heart and our relationship with God. If we are new Christians we may ask amiss until we learn better and God understands that. If we are in need or have concerns, then God wants us to discuss it with Him in prayer. He can give us a new perspective. But we must go to Him in humble adoration, in recognition that He is our source, showing our love for Him. And then, we must be willing to lay down our rights, our desires, our demands and be willing to accept His answer and to recognize that He is in control and is working for our best interests no matter what happens.
Matthew 7: 7-11
"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!"
Romans 8: 26-28
Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

I Thessalonians 5: 16-18
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
James 5: 14-18
Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.

Revelation 5: 6-8
And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.

Revelation 8:1-5
And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets. And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand. And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.

The harps were instruments of praise; the vials were full of fragrance, or incense, which signify the prayers of the saints (believers in Jesus Christ): prayer and praise should always go together. The prayers of the saints themselves stand in need of the incense and intercession of Jesus Christ to make them acceptable and effectual, and there is provision made by Christ for that purpose; He has His incense, His censer, and His altar; He is all Himself to His people. The angel merely burns the incense given him by Christ the High Priest, so that its smoke blends with the ascending prayers of the saints. The saints themselves are priests; and the angels in this priestly ministration are but their fellow servants. These prayers that were thus accepted in heaven produced great changes upon earth in return; the same angel took of the fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth, and this presently caused strange commotions, voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake; these were the answers God gave to the prayers of the saints, and tokens of His anger against the world and that He would do great things to avenge Himself and His people of their enemies. There is only one mediator between God and man, Jesus our Lord (1 Timothy 2:5). The angel here did not produce the incense; it was given to him. "Therefore, the angel is not here represented as giving efficacy to prayers." The incense is "the prayers of the saints;" these to reach the throne must be lighted from the altar of sacrifice; or by faith in the blood of the Lamb of God. As the smoke arose before the throne, so the prayers of the saints in the name of the crucified Savior arise to God. The special significance of all this is that in the terrible judgments about to follow, the prayers of the true and faithful saints will still come before God, and his providence will be over them. And the angel . . . filled it with the fire of the altar, and cast it upon the earth. Fire is usually a symbol of suffering. This fire cast from the altar upon the earth indicates that the judgments of God are about to fall upon it.

-This last paragraph is gathered from BiblePro Online Bible commentaries.

If we are sincere and we love God and we are asking with the right motives but our prayers still aren't answered, what does this mean?

We've already discussed asking for God's Will. But I've prayed for some unsaved loved ones for many years and haven't seen them saved yet. Am I doing something wrong?

First, there is no formula for praying, there is no magic number of rote prayers that have to be said in order to receive. We can't just write a prayer on a piece of paper and stick it on a clothesline so that our prayers go to the wind.

Second, our perspective is pretty low and God's is pretty high. He sees the big picture, He knows all the variables involved, He knows everyone involved, He is looking to do what is best for all His people. So we are suppose to be tenacious with our prayers. Don't give up. Continue to pray and continue to trust in God. In His time and in His way and in His power He will work His Will.

Then there are other people involved. They have a free will too. If I'm praying for the salvation of Jane Doe but Jane Doe doesn't want to get saved, it may not happen. God will never let Jane Doe go, because of my prayers. He will continue trying to get through to her and trying to open her eyes. But she has the free will to refuse His invitations until her last breath and she goes to hell. But this is not something we know. Since we don't know the future and God instructs us to pray for the lost, then we should continue our prayers for their salvation. Even if it does Jane Doe no good, it will do us good by teaching us patience and tenacity.

If we are living in habitual sin it may hinder our prayers. If we don't tithe as God commands, or we aren't forgiving those who have hurt us, if we are hateful and bullying, treating others cruelly or running around on our spouses, if we are getting high on drugs or alcohol, gossiping and lying...then we may need to get on our knees and repent before we expect answers to our prayers. Sometimes God answers our prayers, in His mercy, despite our sins. But He doesn't make a regular habit of it because He wants you to turn away from your sins and turn to Him because it is in your best interests in the long run.

Sometimes God answers our prayers with a "No" which is hard for us to accept. But God never withholds what is best for us. If a particular job is withheld from us, and our hearts are clean, then God has a better situation for us.

God is more interested in our spiritual development rather than our physical or material development. If we need to learn humility, He may withhold that new Mercedes you've been praying for. If we need to learn how to sympathize with others we may need to be sick a little while longer. Just know that we are God's children and that He loves us so He will be with us every step of the way. We are never alone. He does not send temptations or terrible things like sickness since that comes from satan. But He does allow some things in order to use them as tools to polish us into an even better child of God.

So please take time to talk to God. He is not only ready and available to listen to anyone at any time but He is the only one who has the power to actually do something to help us with our problems. We can even tell Him how mad or hurt or angry we are about something. We can question Him. But, as long as we have an honest, sincere heart and we love Him, He hears all our prayers. Don't quit praying.

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