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Archive for the ‘hope’ Category

 

 

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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“I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him.”
1Samuael 1:27


When I was just six months shy of my third birthday my mother learned that I had a disease called Kohler’s disease. This was the reason that when I would run to play my left foot would turn inward and I would fall to the ground. Sometimes this would happen even as I was walking. I had developed a limp and I had pain in my ankle. My mother took me to the doctor and they suggested that I wear special shoes that would prevent me from falling. Back in 1951 casting was recommended and the duration of the disease was unknown.

I remember going with my mother to look in the store windows in Jamaica in Queens New York and looking at the beautiful red shoes in the shoe store window. My mother said that I used to ask for the pretty shoes, but it broke her heart that she couldn’t give them to me. Instead I wore the typical shoes that a child would wear with a leg brace.

One day my mother decided to go to one of the best hospitals in New York. She took me into New York City to the New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center -The Harkness Pavilion, to see a specialist. She told me that after examining me and ex-raying my legs that the doctor showed her the ex-ray results and then took down a large medical book and showed my mother what the disease was and how to date they did not have a cure. They said that the recommendation was to put me in a full body cast because they were unsure what other bones would be affected by this rare bone disease. It had been a long way for my mother to travel and she said that she had taken my stroller with her through subway staircases and different trains. She took the long ride home feeling despair.

She said that the very next morning something unexplainable happened. She was led to go to a church located on Sutphin Boulevard in Jamaica Queens which was quite a distance away. There was a bus that stopped in front of our apartment and it took us to that church. Once inside, she told me to stand and to ask God to heal me. She said that as I stood there before the altar trusting her with all my faith I asked God to heal my leg. She said that she wept at hearing the innocence in the voice of a child. My voice was little but the power of the Lord is great. She took me back three days in a row. On the fourth day she began to notice that my leg was no longer turning inward. She never did take me back to the doctor again. I have had many pairs of red shoes over these fifty-five years. In fact, as a young woman I walked all over my sales territory in downtown New York to visit clients wearing very high heels. When I lived in New York City I had this very charming apartment but my closet opened up to the living room, so I wrapped my shoe boxes in wrapping paper to look pretty when I had to open the closet while company was there. Each box contained a pair of gorgeous shoes but I had forgotten who I should praise for this luxury.

I couldn’t help but notice the word Hark within the name of the Harkness Pavilion where my mother searched for answers. I looked up the definition of the word Hark and one of them was “a hunter’s shout to hounds, as to encourage them in following the scent, a Verb phrase” I believe that is the way we are led by the Lord through promptings and resources that arrive at just the right time, or perhaps a word from someone we know. God’s shout to us encourages us to be led to where there is an answer to our prayer, a resource that might fill our need.

I lived many years taking it all for granted until I gave my heart to the Lord at thirty-four years of age. It was when I found Jesus Christ that I began to appreciate how he had healed me and given me a mother who knew all about prayer. To this day I know that if I ask my mother to pray for me I am safe in the arms of the grace of prayer. Twenty five years I have been studying the Lord’s Word and now my prayer life is as full of faith as that little voice I had the day the Lord healed me of Kohler’s disease. If you look up the word Prayer it is listed as a noun and the definition says “a devout petition to God or an object of worship.” Prayer is more alive than what the definition would claim and to me it is an action verb.

“Pray to Me in a time of trouble, I will rescue you, and you will honor me” Psalm 1:20-3


I have studied prayer through books, and the Bible and have heard countless sermons on prayer. Nothing reminds me better than what Jesus said “You do not have, because you do not ask God.” James 4:2

We must ask, and as we begin this process and see prayers being answered our faith will become stronger and stronger. Prayer is an action, a verb not an adverb or a noun…a thing or a sweet sentiment found in a greeting card. Prayer is the very tool we can use here on earth to help us through our trials, grief, and circumstances.

If you are reading this today and you need prayer, you can leave me an anonymous comment, a prayer request. I promise you that I will pray for you. Leave your prayer request, because even if you don’t have faith today that your prayer will be answered, I do. I have that same child-like faith that I did the day I stood in that church in front of that altar believing that I would be healed.

“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

The medical profession has conducted much research over the last fifty-five years, since I was diagnosed with Kohler’s Disease. Today they know so much more than they did then and the harsh treatment has been replaced with an encouraging diagnosis as found on the Mayo Clinic web site. They say that after a few months the symptoms go away. The Lord healed my foot back in a day when little was known about this disease and he removed my symptoms overnight. The Lord heals…

“Everything you ask for in payer will be yours, if you only have faith. And when you stand in prayer, forgive whatever you have against anybody so that your Father in heaven may forgive your failings too.”
Mark 11:24-25

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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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“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” Jeremiah 29:11

I stood at the sink and emptied the vase of old water for my Gladiolus. Bright yellow flowers at the middle of the stem and buds with promises to bloom were placed in the sink. I carefully removed the old dead blossoms from the bottom of the stems and gave each stalk a new cut. I filled up the vase with fresh water and arranged the freshly cleaned stems in the vase.

As I cleaned up the old flowers and stems and discarded them, I thought how similar old hurts are to those dead flowers. In order to feel joy in life, we need to be constantly forgiving and letting go of the thoughts of old hurts. Our wounds need to heal, but if we harbor any hurtful feelings, anger or angst towards others, our heart becomes hardened. That in itself keeps us from enjoying each day and certainly from being healthy in the moment.

If I had left the old flowers on each stem, perhaps the new buds would never bloom. The bouquet certainly would not have looked as healthy and vibrant as the flowers in the vase did at that moment. I cried as I saw the meaning in the exercise of arranging these lovely flowers. The Lord is doing that same thing in my life right now. Reminding me that I have not forgiven someone in my spirit, and in doing so the Lord was bringing to mind memories I would rather not remember. As each thought comes to mind and I ask God’s grace to forgive, I am given the peace that shows me why the circumstance happened and how that resentment eats away at my joy.

Sometimes life feels like that, old hurts keep me from going forward in a healthy way into a new chapter that awaits me. As soon as I walk through the memory of the pain, forgive and let go, the reward of a new door is opened for me. It is difficult to walk through the pain of some leftover hurt. I really dislike that part of healing.

I felt so much anger this week that I had allowed others to hurt me over the years and keep my peace. Now I see that I truly had not forgiven the offence if I just kept quiet, the forgiveness is unhealthy for my heart. If I still feel resentment than I have not forgiven at all. Perhaps in keeping quiet the person that hurt me does not know that I have unforgiveness, but I do. I learned that telling someone how they hurt you doesn’t always fix anything. Telling the Lord always fixes not only the situation, but adds another dimension to my understanding.

Funny but the anger that I was allowed to feel again, gave me the compassion that I needed to feel how that person feels who cannot get rid of the anger. God allowed me to walk around feeling angry for days now, even though I prayed for him to remove it. This exercise allowed me to feel compassion for those who don’t know how to ask for God’s grace, and have to spend their lifetime angry. I understand now that it is by God’s grace only that I usually am slow to anger and can easily forgive. I can see that by not forgiving someone hurting me, I receive that same greed, selfishness, anger or sin that they do not have God’s grace to repair. Forgiveness is an act, a choice, but sometimes we need a little help in knowing just what God’s word teaches us. We just need a dose of what His perspective is on the circumstance.

The vase of Gladiolus in a bright blue vase seemed to smile. They comforted my soul as I trusted that the Lord was allowing this trial to heal me of old hurts. I read in my favorite devotional Hearing God, by Lory Basham Jones this morning. In it she writes what the Lord spoke to her during a healing:

“I will continue until I have healed all your wounds and restore everything the canker worms have eaten. For I know the thoughts I think toward you. My child, thoughts of peace and restful understanding.” (Read Psalm 107:7)

It is the restful understanding that soothes my spirit. In understanding and accepting instead of trying to reason why, we find our path back to spiritual health.

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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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“Now give me wisdom and knowledge so that I can lead these people in the right way, because no one can rule them without your help” God said onto Solomon, “You have not asked for wealth or riches or home, or for the death of your enemies, or for a long life. But since you have asked for wisdom and knowledge to lead my people, over whom I have made you King, I will give you wisdom and knowledge. I will also give you more wealth, riches and honor than any king who has lived before you or any who will live after you”. Then Solomon left the place of worship, the meeting tent, at Gibeon and went back to Jerusalem” 2 Chronicles 1:10

One of my loved ones suffers with depression. It hurts my heart to see him hurt, yet after so many years I know that I am helpless in this situation. I pray and surrender him, and I ask the Lord to comfort him. Some days I get so angry that he lashes out in his frustration and is like being with a dark cloud, who steals all the joy out of an otherwise happy day. Other days I just feel weary of the same darkness returning unexpectedly. I understand there are many people who suffer with depression and it is not something that they willfully intend. Somewhere deep within the mind is a key to escape the maze that seems to spiral into opressive sadness and anger. That key eludes those who suffer with depression. There are triggers that provoke the depression, but it is clearly a physical condition. Some days I can cope, but that is not enough for me. I want to still be joyful and to appreciate and be thankful for all the Lord’s blessings in my life. I once told a dear friend, who has a husband who suffers with depression. Is it possible that the Lord created some of us to have the ability to see the beauty around us? To house that beauty and joy to share with those who are blind in spirit because of the disability of depression? Instead of the condemnation we sometimes feel for those less fortunate, perhaps our gifts are there for the sole purpose of uplifting others. Afterall, the beautiful mind that eludes the darkside only holds in their hand the key to escape, by the Lord’s Grace.

My Prayer For Today

I need to trust the Lord and not feel worried today. I need to be more thankful and not let the spirit of sadness steal blessings which are mine. I read the verses Jesus, but the meaning of the words are falling apart within my troubled mind. I want to be a better servant. I watch and listen to your disciples and how through their faithfulness they are model steward’s of your word. I want to be that Lord…to walk through my day fully equipped to respond in total obedience. I want to complete the work that you have called me to do. I need to fulfill your purpose for my life. I want to be seen as a joyful example of your promise.

Help me Lord to feel worthy of your Grace,
As I plan to meet with you Lord,
I will leave my troubles at the door of your altar.

I ask that you fill me with forgiveness and remove my anger
remove my judging spirit and cover me with your Peace,
I will leave my strife at the door of your altar.

I ask you to strengthen my weary steps,
Please fill my heart with Joy,
I will leave my burdens at the door of your altar.

I ask you to remind me of all the sweetness of life,
to be rekindled with passion for creating again,
I will leave my hardness of heart at the door of your altar.

I ask you to whisper again your sweet promises into my soul,
Teach me a new revelation today, Lord,
I will leave all my unbelief at the door of your altar.

You know me Lord and you know that I need to be renewed in Spirit,
I need your gentle presence to surround me today,
And when it is time to leave you again,
I will take your sweet embrace with me,
as I leave the door of your altar.

It wasn’t long after I wrote this that I was led to a book called Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder written by Julia Fast and John D. Preston. The book outlines triggers, strategies and an action plan to coping and understanding the loved one who suffers with Bipolar Disorder. I feel like this was the gift of answered prayer. This book is full of the wisdom I was so desperately seeking.

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