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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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“Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I will say, Rejoice.”
Phillipians 4:4

Getting back to joy, that is exactly what I set out to do when I realized that I was just living one day at a time, but not living it with joy. I have been thinking about how do we get back our joy when we might be living one day at a time suffering with depression, enduring a troubled marriage, coping with a sick or difficult child, failing health, facing the death of a loved one, battling addictions, and facing all kinds of adversity. Living in such an uncertain world, I thought is it truly possible to not let these circumstances effect our joy? Relying on the Lord living one day at a time is the way we need to live, but to live one day at time does not not mean to just get through the day and survive. One day at a time with the Lord means that we can walk through fields of gold no matter what our circumstances. I have faith, but sometimes I don’t have joy.

“Whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy.”
James 1:2

Recently, I heard a sermon about joy. In the middle of the sermon he said “If you want to get your joy back, re-joy.” RE-JOICE! This is exactly what a did, I had felt like I was just getting through the days, studying the word, doing the right thing…waiting to feel joy. Feel joy? I remembered all the times that the Lord’s Word says that it doesn’t matter how you feel, we should count it all joy. But it was the pastor that said, if you want to get your joy back, no matter how you are feeling rejoice. I remembered wonderful Darlene Zschech and her story of writing Shout to the Lord, which was written in one of her darkest times. The song is all about praising God, shouting our voices in praise, even when we don’t feel like it. Learning this lesson, it made perfect sense…after all, when we are in the depths of a storm and we raise our voices in worship or thank Him with our words, aren’t we really demonstrating the ultimate sign of faith?

“Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous ones, and shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart.”
Psalms 32:11

I started getting up each morning and thanking Jesus for my blessings. When things would go wrong in the day, I would say “Jesus, thank you I know that you have a reason for this, even though I can’t see it now.” I started concentrating on the feelings in my heart for the Lord, rather than the feelings provoked by my circumstances. As I began to thank Him, step by step I was reclaiming the joy I had once known at the beginning of my walk in faith. I would say to Him “Lord, I don’t know what the reason is for this adversity, but thank you Lord because I know that you have a plan, a plan for my life to prosper.” I made a stack of all my books and resources about Praise and began my study. I listened to music that would connect me back to joy. I remembered All things are possible.

Recently, the Lord has blessed me with a new Bible Study in the home of this wonderful couple. The other night they broke out in song and sang “The Lord Will Make A Way.” All week long that song has covered me, and when something has come up to steal my joy, I can hear them in my head singing that song. That’s what the Lord does, He covers us in His infinite Love, all we have to do is ask. This is the door to miracles and blessings, just ask Him to do something and He answers, but expect that He will shower you with even more than you asked for…His storehouse is full just waiting for us. As I walked my way back to praise I was renewed with the reminder I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. I looked for the music to add the link, but none could compare to the pure heart of this couple singing these lyrics:

God will make a way
Where there seems to be no way
He works in ways we cannot see
He will make a way for me
He will be my guide
Hold me closely to His side
With love and strength for each new day
He will make a way….
He will make a way

Oh God will make a way
Where there seems to be no way
He works in ways we cannot see
He will make a way for me
He will be my guide
Hold me closely to His side
With love and strength for each new day
He will make a way…..
He will make a way

By a roadway in the wilderness
He’ll lead me
And rivers in the desert will I see
Heaven and earth will fade
But His Word will still remain
And He will do something new today

Oh God will make a way
Where there seems to be no way
He works in ways we cannot see
He will make a way for me
He will be my guide
Hold me closely to His side
With love and strength for each new day
He will make a way…
He will make a way

With love and strength for each new day
He will make a way….
He will make a way

This reminded me that another wonderful way to renew your mind is through spiritual music. It took me a long time before I started to listen to contemporary Christian music. When I was a new believer the music that was offered to me was lovely praise music and gospel music. I am one of those people that always need a soundtrack to match how I am feeling. Contemporary Religious music gave me a modern sound with words and lyrics that renew my spirit and remind me of God’s Word.

Now I have learned that no matter what you are going through, there is an uplifting piece of music out there that will renew your spirit and let you know that you are not alone. Lovely upbeat music that serenades our heart and lightens our spirit reminding us that the Lord is so Faithful. Even when we are facing a huge trial, it is so inspiring to know that He wants to give us our Heart’s Desire.

I have been following Jesus for twenty-years and yet, I remember when I didn’t know Him. When I hear certain songs I cry, not because I am sad, but because I am so thankful that Jesus is in my life. He has slowly changed me, from a broken heart and taken away the hurt, bitterness and confusion. He gave my life direction, purpose and restored me to a child-like heart.

Hope is born from a broken heart, the blessing He has poured into my life overwhelms me even now. I praise you Lord, thank you for changing my life and leading me in JOY one day at a time. I promise I will love you Evermore

Another great story of someone writing a praise song out of adversity is the song “I Can Only Imagine”. It was written by a grieving son, Bart Millard of the group Mercyme. He wrote the song after losing his father, trying to console himself, by thinking of what his father was experiencing in heaven. I found a beautiful flash movie with the wonderful song, it cleansed my spirit and reminded me, that when I get to heaven, I can only imagine what it will be like when I meet Jesus face to face.

Listening to Christian music, reading the Word of God and having the ability to sing Praise in church next to other believers in a country where we are free to worship, we need to ask ourselves, how can we not live one day at a time in JOY?

How do we get back our joy when we might be living one day at a time suffering with depression, enduring a troubled marriage, coping with a sick or difficult child, failing health, facing the death of a loved one, battling addictions, and facing all kinds of adversity? Living in such an uncertain world, is it truly possible to not let these circumstances effect our joy? I found the answer to these questions in God’s Word…

“The joy of the Lord is your strength”
Nehemiah 8:10

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