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Archive for the ‘faithfulness’ Category

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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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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    My life has become a scrapbook of layered dimension of the Lord’s Word.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13

As I sat at my computer, I listened to the hymns on my computer, singing of the Lord’s faithfulness. A music window remained on my screen. “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” played in the background, as I brought to the screen a Bible website. As I started to complete the Bible Study homework, I brought to the screen another window for a Bible dictionary, and yet another screen that helped me to copy and paste into my document all the important notes to help me understand the book of Ruth. The screen resembled a scrapbook.

It was so amazing to me, as I looked at the table filled with my Bible, books and resources to help me know the Lord even better. Tonight I attend beautiful Evening Joy with a group of women that are so special. Each one brings to the table a view that enhances and teaches me about the Lord. Stories will be told around the table that will edify how He works in their lives. Questions will be discussed amongst seekers and answers will be given by the elders.

As I layered the screen with all the Windows of The Word, I could not help but reflect on The Lord’s provisions. Just like the layered windows on the screen in front of me, the years of studying and seeking the Lord has added more depth to my understanding of the Word and has abundantly blessed my daily life. My life has become a scrapbook of layered dimension of the Lord’s Word.

The Book of Ruth parallels the love story of how I found Jesus Christ. He is my redeemer and I am now a kindred (of like mind) soul to the brotherhood that follows Jesus Christ. “Sing to Jesus He is our Redeemer” plays in the background and my heart is made full. Self has become transparent once again as I bathe in the presence of the Holy Spirit. I owe everything to my beautiful Savior. He has given me hope and continues to give me a future. I now know after so many trials in my life, that He does listen to me and He will answer my prayers. I no longer have to think about seeking Jesus, He is in my thoughts all day long. My heart knows my Savior’s voice. When He calls me to prayer, I obey. When I ask to sit with Him in counsel, He is always there. If it weren’t for the trials in my life I would never have developed the faith I have today.

There is no longer any question, there is no longer the “Why is this happening”, there is only trust because my Father in heaven is always Faithful and just. I totally know the words of Jeremiah 29:11-13 as if it were written as a personal love letter to me:

Dear Beloved,

“For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart.”

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This morning I awoke from a beautiful dream. I dreamt that I was sitting next to the Lord. He was on His throne, and I was kneeling at His feet. He was telling me not to take my story so seriously. That all the circumstances surrounding our lives are mere details necessary to complete His work in us. He said that these circumstances are measures to fulfill God’s promise and to finish our story.

I suppose if we are characters in a play, our author can create any story-line to fulfill His destiny for us. The dynamics in life are as vivid to me as the details. Sometimes I am more aware of the dynamics than the pieces that reflect it’s detail. These symbols are God’s parables meant to teach us. Signs that add direction to our lives helping us to overcome our difficult tasks while here on earth. Some call this synergy, serendipity, coincidence and other fascinations, but I see this as the divine at work around me creating harmony and peace if I allow it to lead me. Watching and waiting to know how God would want me to handle my circumstance, or which way I should go.

Nature is a perfect way for God to teach us His ways and give us hope along the way. I can never walk through the woods, visit the ocean or watch the birds and not think of God. I love to be surrounded by nature and reflect on it’s meaning. I always return with a fresh perspective and a new approach to whatever it is that I need to accomplish.

We become living parables to others when we follow Christ. His language and teachings become part of our fabric. The threads that tie our story and link it to others fulfill our service to the very people that Christ wants us to touch.

“Your peace lies in letting go. Leave it all to me. Let go of every interpretation of judgement, only God can determine another’s heart.”

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“Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctant or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Corinthians 9:7

When I was just four years old, we lived in Queens, New York with my grandparents. Both my mother and father worked, and I stayed with my grandmother. I went to Public School #58 with my Uncle Bobby who was just two years older. We were not poor, because my parents both worked and so did my grandfather. yet we lived very modestly. Bobby and I had nice clothes, plenty to eat and many toys.

The most important life lesson that I learned was on the day that my mother returned from work carrying a beautiful doll. It seemed that her employer had received dolls for a nearby orphanage every year. Every employee was asked to take one home and make doll clothes and dress the doll to be given away.

I watched day after day as my mother carefully made her clothes and even a little fur stole for the doll. When she was finished the doll looked more beautiful than any doll that I had ever seen. Of course the notion that the clothes had been made by my mother made her seem even lovelier to me. I wanted that doll so much, but I trusted that I would have one just like her some day.

My mother had carefully explained to me where the doll was going. It was the first time I recall understanding from my heart instead of my head. I learned from that gesture of kindness that we are required by God to provide for the less fortunate. That doll paved the way for me to continue to give to the poor as a natural way of life. I trusted my mother so much, that I didn’t worry that I would not receive…I trusted her. I believe that these lessons created fertile ground for the day to come when as a young woman I would give my heart to Jesus Christ.

On my eighth birthday my mother and father gave me the most wonderful gift. I opened up this large box only to find a Revlon Doll. I was thrilled because she wore stockings and high heel shoes. She looked just like the doll my mother had provided for the orphan all those years ago. She wore a pink organza dress with red hearts and she had real earrings and a pearl necklace. This doll meant more to me than any other gift that I received that year and during the many years to come. In my little girl heart I believed that I had received God’s best as a result of my being a cheerful giver and not begrudging an orphan for receiving my mother’s best.

Looking back I realize that on that day I learned about God’s timing. You see, my mother was pregnant with my sister Susan. Up until then I had been an only child. When I received such a meaningful gift on that particular birthday, I was reminded that I can trust. I welcomed my baby sister into the world five days later. Being reminded that God is faithful helped me to love my baby sister and not to be worried that I would have to share my lovely mom.

We can never out give God. He is always stands waiting with open arms to give to us where we lack the most. Like a smiling parent overlooking an obedient child wanting to reward their good behavior. In his perfect timing He will give us our heart’s desire. God wants to give us His favor for being a cheerful giver.

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