Archive | November 2013

Praying His Words of Thankfulness

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I entreated Your favor with my whole heart. Psalm 119:58 NKJV

Father, thank You for the blessing of Your favor upon my life! Thank You that Your blessings come to me abundantly, unexpectedly, delightfully— like showers from heaven, like the dew upon dry ground, like rivers flowing through a thirsty land. Your blessings are mine through Your promises, by Your Spirit, and in Your Son, through whom I have become an heir of all that heaven has to give.

Thank You for all Your favors— the joys of Your holiness, the touch of Your gentleness, the sweetness of Your nearness, the care of Your kindness, the grace of Your loveliness. Thank You for opening doors that no one could shut, for saying “no” to pathways that would have led me away from Your will, for Your amazing timing, and for the people You brought into my life to pray, to help, and to encourage me in my walk with You.

Thank You for surrounding me with Your favor as a protection; with Your glory as an adornment; with Your wisdom as words of life; with Your generosity as a gift of goodness; with Your blessings as a downpour of joy.

Thank You for the way You influence my heart, draw my spirit, and delight my soul. Your gracious generosity will keep me forever grateful!

Scriptures: Psalm 5: 12Psalm 102:13Psalm 89:17Proverbs 8:35Proverbs 11:27Proverbs 12:2Proverbs 14:35Proverbs 16:15Luke 2:52

Thank you, Roy Lessin

Crowning glory

Isn’t long hair a woman’s pride and joy? For it has been given to her as a covering.  1 Corinthians 11:15
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Creating Locks of Love (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is a blog about hair, something “hair” today and gone tomorrow. Even though the text refers to the female gender, hopefully there is something here for every reader. Hair is something we often take for granted. We are born with some and we’d like to keep our collection of strands all of our days. It grows rather painlessly. And silently reminds most of us every few weeks when a trim is needed. (I don’t know how your hair lets you know, but mine does by refusing to cooperate; becoming very unruly.) It grows and goes without our input. Most of the time it’s our decision what we choose to do with it. We shampoo it. We cut it. We curl it. We straighten it. We perm it. We shave it. Fashion, seasons,  and boredom inspire us to make changes. 
It so happened today was my regular appointment to be trimmed and tinted in my losing battle to turn back the waving hands of time. Do you know anyone who can relate? So I walk in intending to take a seat, relax while thumbing through mindless magazines, and wait my turn. But I stopped in my tracks just inside the door. Yes, I was in the right shop, but who was doing a customer’s crowning glory in place of my hairdresser? I approached slowly . . . glasses would have helped clarify more quickly, but why bother? I stepped closer still. The words were organizing themselves while working their way from the back of my brain forward to my lips. Did I have the wrong day or had my hairdresser been replaced? And then clarity. I was looking into the face of my hairdresser of twenty-something years . . . but she had no hair! Her thick bob had been shaved off, revealing a dark brown shadow where had once been beautiful auburn hair.
My befuddlement was not lost on either woman and they both smiled. Over the next few minutes as my hairdresser finished foiling her customer’s hair, she shared the story, which no doubt had been repeated over and over with other customers as surprised and curious as I.
You see, the hairdresser who works behind the first chair at the front of the salon is battling cancer. She continues to work in and around her treatments, but the effects of those treatments has led to the loss of her crowning glory, lock by lock. She revealed little to her co-workers in the beginning, but it was obvious to everyone what had happened the day she wore a wig in for the first time. The presence of the wig seemed to stimulate dialogue, breaking down barriers and increasing understanding and deepening trust. They got it. They understood. She no longer felt isolated and alone among her co-workers.
What came next may have surprised her. All the ladies in the shop decided to forge their bond of solidarity in the fight against the cancer monster by shaving their hair off and embracing baldness together. They’d stand openly side by side as they worked . . . no wigs allowed. And *Locks of Love would benefit from their generosity. First the shared shaves and then the henna tattoes. Whoo, whoo! The cancer fight goes on. Hair will grow back. She and her comrades can resume choices for length, tint and shape. And may she live her life to the fullest all of her days.
Afterthought:
I was struck by my ignorance at how hair has defined my recognition of a person. Yes, changing styles may bring on a double take, but total absence of hair created a new awareness. The hair, the glasses, the this, the that, may change our exterior, but when all hair was removed, I was forced to look beyond the exterior for recognition. I was forced to look deeper into the face of my hairdresser ~ to look deeply into her eyes which do not change. Eyes will always be an open window into the hearts of those we know.
Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. Matthew 6:22
*Locks of Love is an non-profit charity based in the United States who accepts donations of human hair with the stated intention of making wigs for needy Canadian and American children with medical conditions that have caused them to lose their hair.
 

“For Such a Time as This”

Queen Esther before the King

Queen Esther before the King (Photo credit: Lawrence OP)

“Do not flatter yourself that you shall escape . . . if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance shall arise . . . from elsewhere, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows but that you have come for such a time as this?  Esther 4: 13-14   

Dear Heavenly Father,

I felt a tug on my heart as I read Esther’s story. You were working undercover in the kingdom to bring about each circumstance, and Esther being chosen as queen, was huge.

She agreed to put her life on the line to save her people. To come uninvited before the king could easily have been her death sentence, but she stepped forth in faith.

I do not face an earthly king, but I face You, King of Heaven. You are calling me to step out of my private silence to write; something I have never studied or practiced or even thought about until now.

I remember asking You to give me something to say, like a personal testimony that would have a greater purpose. I got what I asked for, but it is bitter to my tongue and almost fatal to my heart.

My testimony, my story, is about the loss of my son to suicide. What an ugly, horrible tragedy and yet from it as come an awesome responsibility to share it.

The silence of suicide must be broken. It is time to step forward and share what You have given me to write so that other families who suffer from loss can see You and how much You love them; how tenderly You hold them while they grieve.

You have so much love in Your heart for every person on earth – all are Your precious children, and You want them to know the truth.

You give me the words God, and I will be Your scribe. This assignment is too big for me alone and I will need You every step of the way. Thank You for trusting me – this mound of clay.

Love You forever,

Your daughter and mother of your sons

from Shattered by Suicide: My Conversations with God After the Tragic Death of My Son

This entry was posted on November 17, 2013. 4 Comments

“Thankful for the Thorns”

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I don’t wish to be disrespectful to any business’s holiday timeline, but when I walked into a popular, all-purpose store yesterday and quickly noted the hustle and bustle of Christmas preparation, it gave me pause. Where is Thanksgiving? Hidden beneath the branches of the Christmas tree? So I will share this piece before time slips away and we are once again inundated with Christmas preparations. May it bless you is my prayer. And may we discover even the tiniest blessings tucked here and there throughout the holiday season and all year long.

Thankful for the Thorns:

Sandra felt as low as the heels of her Birkenstocks as she pushed against a November gust and the florist shop door. Her life had been easy, like a spring breeze. Then in the fourth month of her second pregnancy, a minor automobile accident stole her ease. During this Thanksgiving week she would have delivered a son. She grieved over her loss.

As if that weren’t enough her husband’s company threatened a transfer. Then her sister, whose holiday visit she coveted, called saying she could not come. What’s worse, Sandra’s friend infuriated her by suggesting her grief was a God-given path to maturity that would allow her to empathize with others who suffer. “Had she lost a child? No, she has no idea what I’m feeling,” Sandra shuddered. Thanksgiving? “Thankful for what?” she wondered. For a careless driver whose truck was hardly scratched when he rear-ended her? For an airbag that saved her life but took that of her child?

Good afternoon, can I help you?” The flower shop clerk’s approach startled Sandra. “Sorry,” said Jenny the shop clerk, “I just didn’t want you to think I was ignoring you.”

“I….I need an arrangement.” “For Thanksgiving?” Sandra nodded. “Do you want beautiful but ordinary, or would you like to challenge the day with a customer favorite I call the Thanksgiving Special?” Jenny saw Sandra’s curiosity and continued. “I’m convinced that flowers tell stories, that each arrangement insinuates a particular feeling. Are you looking for something that conveys gratitude this Thanksgiving?”

“Not exactly!” Sandra blurted. “Sorry, but in the last five months, everything that could go wrong has.” Sandra regretted her outburst but was surprised when Jenny said, “I have the perfect arrangement for you.” The door to the shop once again opened.

“Barbara! Hi,” Jenny said. She politely excused herself from Sandra and walked toward a small workroom. She quickly reappeared carrying a massive arrangement of greenery, bows, and long-stemmed thorny roses. Only, the ends of the rose stems were neatly snipped, no flowers.

“Want this in a box?” Jenny asked. Sandra watched for Barbara’s response. Was this a joke? Who would want rose stems and no flowers! She waited for laughter, for someone to notice the absence of flowers atop the thorny stems, but neither woman did.

Yes, please. It’s exquisite,” said Barbara. “You’d think after three years of getting the special, I’d not be so moved by its significance, but it’s happening again. My family will love this one. Thanks.”

Why so normal a conversation about such a strange arrangement? She wondered. “Ah, said Sandra, pointing. “That lady just left with, ah….” “Yes?” “Well, she had no flowers!” “Right, I cut off the flowers.” “Off?” “Off. Yep. That’s the Special. I call it the Thanksgiving Thorns Bouquet.” “But, why do people pay for that?” In spite of herself, Sandra chuckled. “Do you really want to know?” “I couldn’t leave your shop without knowing… I would wonder about nothing else!”

“That might be good,” said Jenny. “Well,” she continued, “Barbara came into the shop three years ago feeling very much like you feel today. She thought she had very little to be thankful for. She had lost her father to cancer, the family business was failing, her son was into drugs, and she faced major surgery. That same year, I lost my husband. I assumed complete responsibility for the shop and for the first time, spent the holidays alone. I had no children, no husband, no family nearby, and too great a debt to allow any travel,” Jenny said.

“What did you do?” “I learned to be thankful for thorns.” Sandra’s eyebrows lifted. “Thorns?” I’m a Christian Sandra and I believe God gave us all things in life, but I never thought to ask Him why good things happened to me. But, when bad stuff hit, did I ever ask! It took time to learn that dark times are important. I always enjoyed the ‘flowers’ of life but it took thorns to show me the beauty of God’s comfort. You know, the Bible says that God comforts us when we’re afflicted and from His consolation we learn to comfort others.”

Sandra gasped. “A friend read that passage to me and I was furious! I guess the truth is I don’t want comfort. I’ve lost a baby and I’m angry with God.” She started to ask Jenny to “go on” when the door’s bell diverted their attention.

“Hey, Phil!” shouted Jenny as a balding, rotund man entered the shop. She softly touched Sandra’s arm and moved to welcome him. He tucked her under his side for a warm hug. “I’m here for twelve thorny long- stemmed stems!” Phil laughed, heartily. “I figured as much,” said Jenny. “I’ve got them ready.” She lifted a tissue-wrapped arrangement from the refrigerated cabinet.

“Beautiful,” said Phil. “My wife will love them.” Sandra couldn’t help but ask, “These are for your wife?” Phil saw that Sandra’s curiosity matched his when he first heard of a Thorn Bouquet. “Do you mind me asking, Why thorns?” “In fact, I’m glad you asked,” he said. “Four years ago my wife and I nearly divorced. After forty years, we were in a real mess, but we slogged through, problem by rotten problem. We rescued our marriage our love, really. Last year at Thanksgiving I stopped in here for flowers. I must have mentioned surviving a tough process because Jenny told me that for a long time she kept a vase of rose stems-just the stems-as a reminder of what she learned from “thorny” times. That was good enough for me. I took home stems. My wife and I decided to label each one for a specific thorny situation and give thanks for what the problem taught us. I’m pretty sure this stem review has become a tradition.” Phil paid Jenny, thanked her again and as he left, said to Sandra, “I highly recommend the Special!”

“I don’t know if I can be thankful for the thorns in my life.” Sandra said to Jenny.

“Well, my experience says that thorns make roses more precious. We treasure God’s providential care more during trouble than at any other time. Remember, Sandra, Jesus wore a crown of thorns so that we might know His love. Do not resent thorns, actually be thankful for them.”

Tears rolled down Sandra’s cheeks. For the first time since the accident she loosened her grip on resentment. “I’ll take twelve long-stemmed thorns, please.”

“I hoped you would,” Jenny said. “I’ll have them ready in a minute. Then, every time you see them, remember to appreciate both good and hard times. We grow through both.”

“Thank you. What do I owe you?”

“Nothing. Nothing but a pledge to work toward healing your heart. The first year’s arrangement is always on me.” Jenny handed a card to Sandra. “I’ll attach a card like this to your arrangement, but maybe you’d like to read it first. Go ahead, read it.”

My God, I have never thanked Thee for my thorn! I have thanked Thee a thousand times for my roses, but never once for my thorn. Teach me the glory of the cross I bear, teach me the value of my thorns. Show me that I have climbed to Thee by the path of pain. Show me that my tears have made my rainbow. ~George Matheson

Jenny said, “Happy Thanksgiving, Sandra,” handing her the Special. “I look forward to our knowing each other better.” Sandra smiled. She turned, opened the door and walked toward hope.

HAVE A BEAUTIFUL THANKSGIVING! REMEMBER: BE THANKFUL FOR THE THORNS.

This entry was posted on November 8, 2013. 5 Comments