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In a town nearby there is an old mill which was filled with all kinds of artisans.  I would look forward to my visits.  Each time I went there over the last five years, the shopkeepers seemed to improve the interior a bit more. Whenever I visited you could hear the sound of saws and see men building new shops for yet another artisan.  It was a place for students to exhibit their work, visit artists and housed so many beautiful shops offering all kinds of beautiful things in this huge three story mill.

Yesterday I drove by the remains of so much work, destroyed by fire and all of a sudden my worries seemed to vanish.  All those people who had invested their time and energy and funds into a joint effort that was ravaged by the fire.  I sat in my car looking at the devastation and thought about each shop representing that person’s work. I thought about all the crushed spirits of these people.

I had been consumed all day with my woes and cried at the thought of my burdens.  Then I turned on the news and saw so much tragedy being reported all over the world.  Just like the mill, there were circumstances in the world that people were enduring which certainly shook their lives and perhaps their faith.

Yesterday was a very gray, cool and windy day.  The starkness of it seemed to spell sadness, but instead it was as if that very starkness made me look at God’s blessings.  When my day at started out, I had read in my devotional:

“Then He spat on the ground and made mud from the spittle and smoothed the mud over the blind man’s eyes and told him, “Go and wash in the Pool of Siloam” (the word “Siloam” means “Sent”).  So the man went where he was sent and washed and came back seeing?”  John 9:6.7

Perhaps Jesus was trying to show us that when He takes His spirit and covers our eyes in the mud, we are able to truly see how He blesses our lives everyday.  We are able to see and feel compassion for others because we have endured the mud in our own lives. Through our own adversity we are able to see the pain of others instead of dwelling on our own.  I am not a Bible scholar and certainly a pastor or theologian could bring life to this scripture that would normally elude me.  But maybe, just maybe the way I saw today brings this scripture to life.

Jesus somehow removed my blindness by showing me how not to dwell on my own suffering.  By taking the mud of my own suffering, with His spirit He had led me to know compassion.  Through that compassion I was able to see the pain of others instead and pray for them.  I believe my wealth is the treasure of compassion that the Lord has taught me to know.

Sitting in that car I couldn’t help but feel that the Lord had sent me there to witness the pain of others.  He took the mud of my burdens and made me see.

“We went through fire and through water: But thou brought us out into a wealthy place.” Pslam 66:12

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It seems to me that there is no coincidence that I was encouraged by two distinct messages yesterday.  That of a friend who wrote about blessings on her blog, which I shared on my daily blog today.  The other message of why we are blessed  was the subject of yesterday’s sermon at Grace Chapel which strengthened my heart and my conviction of purpose.

Each message, though different in content, clearly spoke to my heart about why we are blessed.  A message I so dearly needed, feeling a bit weary by trials this week.  The most amazing part is that as soon as I remembered why we are blessed my energy came back.  I believe that when we focus on our lack, we become weary and when we focus on our blessings it strenghtens us. 

We all need to be renewed in our strength, and sometimes a story, a sermon or a gentle touch is all that we need.  I thought it fitting to share what I heard yesterday.  I can hardly articulate in this short post, the magnificent sermon on Genesis Twelve, verse one through four, which I heard by Jeanette Yep, Pastor of Global and Regional Outreach at Grace Chapel in Lexington, Massachusetts.

So today I thought I would leave this link so that you may enjoy such a moving and amazing sermon on how we are Blessed to be a blessing.  It is my way of sharing the blessing that I have received.

Blessings, Karen 

Genesis 12

The Call of Abram

 1 The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. 2 I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. 3 I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” 4 So Abram departed as the Lord had instructed, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran.

 

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“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:25-27 

Sometimes I get lost in the busyness of life and forget just how big  God really is, and how much He is with us in even the smallest details, as well as the times of adversity. I was reminded of just how much the Holy Spirit guides us, warns us, and prepares us, if we are sensitive to the still small voice within.

On Monday, I awoke in the morning with one of those feelings that mothers know so well. I sat up in bed and recalled the poem that little Sarah used to love to recite when we read the book Madeline. I could hear Sarah at three reciting with me… “In an old house in Paris, that was covered with vines, lived twelve little girls in two straight lines, they left the house at half past nine…the smallest one was Madeline.”

I always loved it when the nun, Miss Clavel, who took care of Madeline sensed something was wrong. That evening, the girls are tucked into bed for the evening. Miss Clavel goes to bed too, but she wakes up with a fright, “something’s not right”.  In the story, as Miss Clavel runs to the bedroom where the orphans are asleep, she discovered that Madeline has had an Appendicitis attack.  It seems her feelings were accurate, something was wrong.  I had been feeling like that since the night before.

I sat up in bed and read the Bible to comfort my soul. I said “Lord, I feel so anxious today, like something is wrong, but I trust that you will keep us safe.” In my prayer I prayed for my family and I knew in my spirit that I should rest. I stayed home all day and just rested for a change. No crafts, no art, no telephone, no computer, no rides in the country or form of busyness, I just rested. 

Then at exactly 6 o’clock the telephone rang, “Mom, there was a terrible car accident”. It was Sarah, my nineteen year old daughter who attends college just an hour away. As she explained how much damage was on her car, all I wanted to know was that she was okay. She has not a bump, scratch or hurt, even though her car looks like a truck hit it and she is terribly upset about her car. 

I quickly phoned my other daughter to tell her I was on my way to Sarah. Ashley said “Mom I was in a car accident too, I was just going to call you. I’m okay and my car only has a scratch, the policeman was nice and the guy who hit me too. I got all the information, Mom”. Just sixteen and so mature. Sarah called back to say that the tow truck had arrived and I waited for her to phone back with directions. When the phone rang again it was Ashley, “Mom, I am on my way to pick up Sarah, you don’t have to worry”. They came home, we ate, we talked and I was so thankful.

I got down on my knees and praised God for keeping my girls safe. I didn’t even want to think about what could have been. Prayer is a might covering, it doesn’t always mean that adversity will be magically brushed away.  Rather, prayer helps us to be bathed in the protection of the Lord.  It opens the window for His peace, so that we can be still in the middle of adversity, and have faith that He will see us through.

As I relived the day and the night before, I was so aware of the promptings of the Holy Sprit.  My husband was away on a business trip, and usually I go on a day trip while he is away.  Yet, I felt so led to just stay home and rest, and therefore I was available for my girls when they called.  That feeling inside that something was wrong prompted me to stay in prayer and on put my armor of mindfulness.  That feeling I just used to think was fret, was actually a warning that I must stay close to the Lord.  I always find such peace when I read the Bible, and often I am able to recognize a scripture that meets my current needs.

Tuesday morning I awoke with such a peace and a spirit of thankfulness. All that I can say is Thank you. Thank you Lord, every now and then I sing His praise for always being there, but today I want to shout it from the top of the mountains.

 

“O come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.”
Psalm 95:1

 

 

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The Storms of Life

He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves and it was completely calm.” Matthew 8:26

I watched from my window as the trees swayed with the windy day. My eye caught a remarkable sight. I watched as this bird perched high above the others clung to the branch he was on in a large evergreen tree. The tree swayed feverishly caught in the gust of the wind. He did not budge…he hung on despite the moving branch. I thought about how small he was and how dainty his strength compared to the strength of the wind, yet he was able to hang on never-the-less. Today my petty worries were getting the best of me. Thoughts of fears about my children, finances, and minor difficulties were festering at me like the wind. These thoughts were blowing through my mind making me fearful, and pecking at an otherwise glorious day. As I watched that bird hanging onto that branch, I thought about how I should hang on with faith, despite the windy thoughts blowing through my mind. To have faith that the Lord is in charge and I have no reason to be fearful. That little bird did not look afraid, in fact I am sure that the lack of fear helped him to withstand the heavy wind. Some days like today, thoughts that should make me fearful and fret need to be ignored. I need to be just like that little bird and hang onto the branch in faith and know that the Lord will provide. I need to present my worries to the Lord and dwell on the things I am thankful for today.  I must pray believing that He has already answered my prayer and give thanks instead of giving way to worry and fret.By being thankful and singing praise, I will still the winds of negative thoughts and regain my perspective. Perhaps then I too can cling to my branch despite the winds of adversity threatening to take away my joy.

“He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.” Luke 8:25         

 

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My daughter Sarah, gave me a beautiful pen for Christmas called a poetry pen.  I love the feel of the pen in my hand and the style suits me perfectly.  The style is vintage and it made me think of lovely ladies from another time sitting in their drawing room clothed in brocade trimmed gowns, writing poetry to be illuminated in books for keepsakes.

On my bookshelf I found two treasures this morning.  A Treasury of The World’s Best Loved Poems and The Book of Psalms.  I love poetry and certainly the sonnets of love are music to our ears when a wonderful romantic love is alive.  Yet, during my lifetime I have learned that romance wanes and sometimes romantic love disappoints.  The Psalms however, are written to remind us that not only does God love us, but He is there always in the middle of adversity.  He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.  His promises found in the scriptures of the Word of God reminds us how faithful He is to us, how He surrounds us with His angels, and He is always there to restore us.

Psalm 46 1-5

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  Therefore I will not we fear, though the earth be removed and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.  There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.  God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved.  God shall help her and that right early.”

My favorite Psalm which has helped me through so many difficulties is Psalm 91 and I prefer The King James translation because of it’s poetic words:

Psalm 91:1-6

“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most high shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in Him will I trust.  Surely He shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler and from the noisome pestilence.  He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust, his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.  Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night nor for the arrow that flieth by day, nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness nor the destruction that wasteth at noonday.” 

That Psalm is my shield and I rely on those words whenever I need comfort and protection. 

My favorite verse from Psalm 91 is verse eleven:

“For he shall give his angels charge over thee to keep thee in all they ways.”

In the book The Timeless Treasure, a commentary on the Song of Solomon Luann Dunnuck leads us through the Song of Solomon and how God has written this beautiful poetry to us.  She says “When I begin to feel discouraged and frustrated, I open my Bible to the Song of Solomon for encouragement.”  Her commentary is fabulous and leads you through each verse and interprets for us the meaning behind the symbols.

“When I found the one I love, I held him and would not let him go” Chapter 3 verse 4

When we finally understand how much God loves us, it is easy to read how He will not let us go.  In verse 9  it is written “The Beloved you have ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; you have ravished my heart with one look of your eyes, with one link of your necklace.”  When I read the book of Ruth for my Bible study I could see how the love Ruth finds is so much like our Lord and Savior.  Ruth found a wealthy man who became her provider, someone who cherished her and gave her his promise of forever love.  Our Lord has given us His promise to love us forever, and God has a storehouse of blessings that He wants to shower us with.  I love that we are His Beloved, you are His Beloved and there is no greater love than the love of God.

“I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine.” Chapter 6 verse 3

I love this verse because it reminds me that I am God’s beloved, and so are you.  When I finally understood this, I stopped relying on the approval of people because I have God’s approval and that is the most valuable love you kind find.  In Isaiah 55 there is an invitation to come sit with God and read His poetry found in His Word and to come to know that He is Lord and He longs to spend time with us and to give us His rich blessings. The milk is His Word and the honey is His sweet promise to us. We can come to God without earning His reward, but come as we are to His throne and sit with Him a while, as He pours out HIs blessings through His Word.

 “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.

In Isaiah 55 He promises us that when we speak His Word and we listen to God speak to us, it will accomplish great things:

“So is my word that goes out from my mouth:It will not return to me empty,but will accomplish what I desireand achieve the purpose for which I sent it .

You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace;the mountains and hillswill burst into song before you,and all the trees of the fieldwill clap their hands.”

The poetry of scripture is a beautiful Word from God written to let us know how much He loves us.  No matter what the translation of the Bible you read, the poetry of God’s Word, will comfort you and renew your spirit when trials leave you weary.  The poetry of scripture will uplift your heart better than any love sonnet can.  To read God’s promises as He asks us to be still and listen to  His Word, will renew your spirit so that you may receive the blessings God has for you.  The poetry of scripture teaches us, His purpose for our lives and it fills us with hope and with His love.  David sang praises to God, he knew the love that God has for anyone who listens and hears the Word of God will be blessed.

“Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live.  I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.”

Isaiah 55:3

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I recently finished reading the book The Gift of The Red Bird by Paula D’Arcy.  It was published in 2000, and probably has been on my bookshelf unread for that long.  The book is a small volume, but spiritually rich in enlightenment and contains her personal journey through grief and her quest to know God on a more personal level.  At a very young age, newly married, with a small child and expecting another child, suddenly her husband and daughter were killed in an automobile accident.  I can’t even imagine the grief, no less without a strong faith to carry her through.  She followed the road back from grief, by seeking her quest to know God.
 

Today, she is the author of many books, she is the founder of The Red Bird Foundation  and is a public speaker and helper to many about grief.  Since experiencing her loss, she counseled people,  wrote numerous books on grief and spiritual awakening, and leads retreats and workshops throughout the United States, Canada and Europe.

As I read her story and saw the familiar spiritual stops along the way, I couldn’t help but notice how God had allowed her to bear such a burden of grief at such a young age.  Her anger, bitterness and questioning was short-lived and was replaced by her spiritual quest.  As God held her hand through the powerful emotional turmoil of grief, and introduced her to the power of faith, she not only healed, but her healing was shared by many as she continues to teach.

How many stories in life can we see of how God has taken brokenness and healed the outcome for a divine purpose.  Perhaps viewing another’s life makes it easier than to accept our own adversity.  To witness how God has taken our own brokenness and allowed this adversity to share so that we might comfort others.  All He asks is that we seek Him.  In my own search for answers,  I have read many books about being alone with God and the wisdom that we can find in solitude.  Adversity with only regret cripples our heart, but to be open to God it can lead us to not only healing but to our purpose.

It seems that God continues to write the Bible through people like Paula D’Arcy.  Stories of people through a journey with God, who have been able to accept their adversity and as they search for the answers are willing to share their stories.  I think that when we examine the path and instead of asking why, we can pray that God turn our circumstances into a blessing. 

I wept this morning as I saw the body of work that Paula D’Arcy has created to help so many people walk through grief.  I wept because I could see the hand of God on her life, allowing her to experience such a profound loss, because He trusted her.  Only someone who had reached the depths of despair by such a loss, becoming intimate with that pain, could have become such an effective teacher on the subject of grief.  He knew that where others given the same set of circumstances, might have become bitter, and lost their way, she became open to know Him better.  Through that obedience God was able to use her life and her brokenness to teach her His ways of wisdom, and along her journey pointed out ways in which she could impart those truths to us.  I believe that God anointed her purpose to touch the hearts of many.

“God never uses anyone to a great degree until He breaks the person completely. Joseph experienced more sorrow than the other sons of Jacob, and it led him into a ministry of food for all the nations.  For this reason, the Holy Spirit said of him, “Joseph is a fruitful vine…near a spring, whose branches climb over a wall”  Gen. 49:22.  It takes sorrow to expand and deepen the soul.  from The Heavenly Life.

The story of The Gift of the Red Bird, A Spiritual Encounter, describes how “Paula journeyed alone into the wilderness for three days, allowing the Creator to speak through that creation.  As she surrendered to the power of God alone, a red bird appeared and without words began to teach.”  She found her inner voice and began to see with her heart.  I don’t remember who gave me this little book The Gift of The Red Bird, or if I purchased this treasure myself.  It has been on my bookshelf for a very long time.  I don’t believe in coincidence and all I can say is the timing was a perfect gift.  As I sat reading this treasure, tucked safely away inside the book was a beautiful bookmark with a red cardinal on it.  

“It is the simple things of life that make living worthwhile…things such as love and duty, work and rest and living close to nature.”

by Laura Ingalls Wilder

I read in Streams In The Desert the writing for January 20th; “Every person and every nation must endure lessons in God’s school of adversity.  In the same way we say, “Blessed is the night, for it reveals the stars to us,” we can say, “Blessed is sorrow, for it reveals God’s comfort.”  A flood once washed away a poor man’s home and mill, taking with it everything he owned in the world.  He stood at the scene of his great loss, brokenhearted and discouraged.  Yet after the waters had subsided, he saw something shining in the riverbanks that the flood had washed bare. “It looks like gold,” he said.  And it was gold.  The storm that had impoverished him made him rich.  So it is oftentimes in life.”  Henry Clay Trumbull

We all have to walk through the journey of grief at some point in our lives. The Gift of the Red Bird reminds me that walking with God and holding His hand in faith I can trust that he will take all things in my life to work toward His purpose.  By keeping our hearts open, bravely accepting our circumstances and surrendering our pain, God can take our brokenness and in comforting us in the middle of a storm, feed the hearts of many.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,

who have been called according to his purpose.”

Romans 8:28


 

 

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Prayer That Works


“Ask and you will receive.  Search and you will find.  Knock, and the door will be opened to you.  Everyone who asks will receive. Everyone who searches will find.  And the door will be opened for everyone who knocks.”

Matthew 7:7-8

 

I believe in the power of prayer, but sometimes I don’t know the exact words to pray for someone else.  One day I received a beautiful prayer taught to me by my favorite Bible teacher, Charles Stanley. When Charles Stanley pointed the way to this glorious prayer, I felt alive in the power of prayer.  Between knowing the exact words to bless my beloveds and being able to stand on the Words right out of the Bible, I felt His strength in every word. I promise to pray this prayer every day.  There is power in the Word of God, and when we say these words, we know that God will answer our prayer and that by saying this prayer we have surrendered the outcome to God.  In the book of Colossians we read about Thanksgiving and Prayer, and this beautiful prayer.  You can substitute the person’s name when you read the word “you”.  I say this prayer for my children every day.

“Because of this, since the day we heard about you, we have continued praying for you asking God that you will know fully what he wanted. We pray that you will also have great wisdom and understanding in spiritual things, so that you will live the kind of life that honors and pleases the Lord in every way.  You will produce fruit in every good work and grow in the knowledge of God.  God will strengthen you with his own great power so that you, will not give up when troubles come but you will be patient.  And you will joyfully give thanks to the Father who has made you able to have a share in all that he has prepared for his people in the kingdom of light.  God has freed us from the power of darkness and he has brought us into the kingdom of his dear Son.  The Son paid for our sins and in him we have forgiveness.”

Colossians I verses 9-14

 

I recently heard a wonderful sermon preached by Gloria Copeland on receiving God’s blessings.  She said that it takes more than just asking God in prayer…it takes believing that you have already received what you have asked for.  This new teaching really struck a note in my spirit.  Truthfully I had prayed many times for my children, family, friends and for guidance and help.  Yet had I really believed when I asked God for anything?  I think I kept asking and asking and asking, saying the prayer over and over again.  When I should have just believed I had received and thanked God even before I saw evidence of the answered prayer.

If I could give you a blessing today it would be that I know Jesus will strengthen you when you say this prayer, and whoever you are praying for will receive new guidance. He will shed clarity on all the decisions that you and the person you are praying for need to make.  He will mark His path with diamonds that will reflect His will for your lives.  He will give you His blessings and you and your beloveds will have God’s favor shining on your every step.  Expect great miracles for the Holy Spirit to brighten your thoughts and to renew your mind.  Believe you have received and thank God for your answer before you see the evidence.  Expect a miracle, and that miracle will strengthen your faith.  Thank God every day for answering your prayer and do not let doubt steal your miracle.  I have been praying the prayer from Colossians for a very long time, yet I had forgotten one important thing, to pray this prayer with the spirit of joy believing that He will answer my prayer and in the spirit of thanksgiving that my prayer is already answered:

 

“And you will joyfully give thanks to the Father”,

 

I must pray always with praise and thanksgiving believing that God is already answering my prayer as I speak the words.  

 

Thank you Father for giving me the words and teaching me about what spirit I should come to your throne with and believing with faith that you have already answered my prayer.  Thank you God for giving me the opportunity to share this new teaching with others and for sewing this blessing into their hearts so that their prayers are answered.  We give all the praise, honor and glory to your name in Jesus Christ. Amen

“And all things you ask in prayer, believing you shall receive.”Matthew 21:22 

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