I Have Not Arrived

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI have not arrived

For the journey has just begun.

Oft I am weak and weary,

In the shadows, am undone.

–     –     –

I am a work in progress

The destination still in play.

Regret and disappointment

Often mar the traveled way.

–     –     –

Perfection far exceeds me

Far down the path it dwells.

Never grasping, always reaching,

All ‘round the shadow swells.

–     –     –

But in the distant twilight

Hanging in the shady nether,

A lamp is waiting yonder,

Reaching out beyond the tether.

–     –     –

Birds of carrion hover ‘round me,

At my heels, nip fear and galling.

Stumbling forward, I blunder onward,

All the while, the Master’s calling.

–     –     –

Words of comfort Jesus whispers,

In my ear, throughout the day.

“Stand thou fast and do not falter,

Darkness ends, for dawn holds sway.”

–     –     –

“Out of sorrow, hope is springing,

From your weakness, strength abounds.

Ever press you forth to journey,

Each step moves t’ward holy ground.”

–     –     –

“Soon the trials of life be over.

Then the day will e’er be won.

Rest awaits you ‘round the corner,

But for now, keep moving on.”

–     –     –

I strain to see the far illumine

I can almost hear them sing

Crying out in joyful tribute,

“Holy, holy is the King.”

–     –     –

Rest awaits me ‘round the corner,

So for now, I am revived.

I am a work in progress,

For I have not arrived.

~ Susan

 

Finding Joy in the Absence of Happiness

Happiness…People are always looking for happiness. But happiness is fleeting. Happiness is conditional. It is in response to what is occurring in our lives that makes us happy. Let’s face it, sometimes there is nothing to be happy about.

Joy is what we should seek. Joy comes from within. It is constant. Even in the worst of situations, when there is no happiness to be found, we can experience joy.

Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15:11

But how does one obtain joy?tumblr_m4avwpwxhL1r1o6z3o1_500

Philippians chapter four gives us a look at how we, as Christians, can have joy in the absence of happiness.

Look at verses four through five:

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.”

So the first thing we must do is to rejoice always! Not just when we feel good about life, but in every situation. Not an easy thing to do! Sometimes, we just want to feel sorry for ourselves, to pout. Sometimes we want to wallow in our grief. I know, I have been there. But Paul tells us to rejoice anyway.

Next, we are instructed to let our gentleness be evident to all. Our gentleness….not our impatience, or roughness, or sharp tongued better than thou attitude. When I am happy, no problem. But what happens when I am mad, or sad? Can I still maintain an air of gentleness, meekness, and patience? Ah, that is the challenge.

Let me get this straight, Paul says we are to rejoice even when we don’t fell like rejoicing, and be kind when we don’t feel like being kind. How is that possible?

Moving on, verse six and seven give us more insight into this troubling guidance.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Do not be anxious about anything. Easy, right?

Let’s look deeper.

Take the word anxious. What do we know about that word?

The dictionary says that it is mental distress or to be greatly worried.

So verse six says – do not be anxious, or rather don’t worry. Even better – don’t worry about anything! Ever! How can we do that when there is so much to worry about?

Paul goes on to tell us how.

By prayer and supplication – wait. Supplication? What does that mean?

Supplication – humble prayer, entreaty, or petition

It just means to ask.

“You do not have because you do not ask.” James 4:2

So just ask. Ask God in every situation, no matter how big or how small, ask Him.

But there is a catch.

We are to ask Him with a thankful heart. Thanking Him even before we receive an answer.

Then what will happen?

Verse seven goes on to say that God will give us peace, peace greater than our understanding. This does not mean He gives us what we want, but whatever His answer, we will have peace.

This peace guards our hearts and minds.

Think of it this way- our heart is our soul. Our mind is our knowledge and feelings.

Why do we need to guard them?

The enemy is out there trying to make us afraid. Trying to make us doubt God. He will constantly try to make us stumble, to put bad thoughts in our minds – thoughts of self-doubt, depression, self-hate.

If we take everything to God, and give it all to Him, He gives us peace, and the devil has no power over our soul or our thoughts. But we have to obey God always and seek His will, not our own.

“You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” James 4:3

Okay, so we are to rejoice in every situation, be kind and gentle, and give all our worries to God. That is quite a list. But Paul gives us another step toward finding joy. Verse eight tells us to think upon only what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable. If anything can be found that is praiseworthy, dwell on that.

“The best memory is that which forgets nothing, but injuries. Write kindness in marble and write injuries in the dust.” Persian Proverb

If you do as you have learned from Paul, the God of peace will be with you. He will grant you peace. And where there is peace, there is found joy. Joy that permeates into your very being. Even in the face of trauma and trials, joy fills your heart with the peace that passes all understanding.

Lastly, Paul demonstrate to us this peace as he writes:

“For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Philippians 4:11-12

Contentment in all situations, knowing that God is in control, that He supplies every need, and that He walks beside us through the fires of adversity.

And here in verse thirteen, Paul gives us the answer to how we can do what is necessary to obtain this joy beyond measure.

“I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.”

It is not by our strength, but through God’s strength that we are able to experience joy even in the dark valleys of life. No matter what disappointments or trials you must face, give it all to God. Let Him work it out in His way and in His time. Don’t hold on to your burden, but leave it at the cross. Then your heart will be open to experience true joy.

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4: 19

~ Susan

I have faced dark days. On September 11, 2001, my father was killed by terrorists. In the aftermath that followed, my faith was shaken to its very foundation. Through it all, God has shown me His benevolent nature as He walked each step with me. Truly, there is joy in the Lord.

Join me as I share with you a message of hope: SILENT RESOLVE AND THE GOD WHO LET ME DOWN (a 9/11 story).

He Calmed the Troubled Sea –

Rembrandt 1633

Rembrandt 1633

One day, Jesus and his disciples were on a boat in the middle of the Sea of Galilee. While Jesus slept under the bow of the ship, a storm rose, violent over the waters. The wind whipped against the sails and the waves tossed the boat about with such force that the men began to fear for their lives.

Unable to stand against their anxiety, the disciples woke Jesus, crying out, “Master, how can you sleep? Do you not know we are all going to die? Will you do nothing to help us?”

Slowly, Jesus rose and looked with disappointment at His men. “Where is your faith? Did you think that I would bring you here and not help you?”

Then the Lord went and stood upon the bow of the ship. Stretching out His hand against the storm, He commanded, “Peace, be still.”

And the wind died away. The waves ceased to churn. He calmed the troubled sea.

sea2

One day, terror struck my life. Death entered at the hands of an enemy I could not fight. The winds of doubt whipped against my sails. A storm brewed, tossing me violently upon a sea of fear and doubt. The very foundation of my faith was torn away.

WallUnable to stand against my anxiety, I went to Jesus and cried out, “Lord, where are you? Do you not know that I am dying? Will you do nothing to help me?”

Then Jesus stood in the path of my life and looked deep into my eyes. Softly and tenderly, He spoke these words, “Susan, where is your faith? Did you think I would have brought you here and not helped you?”

So this same Jesus lifted His hand to me and said, “Peace, be still and know that I am God.”

And the wind died away. The waves ceased to churn. He calmed the troubled sea.

~ Susan

To learn more about my experience with September 11, 2001, read my book: SILENT RESOLVE AND THE GOD WHO LET ME DOWN (a 9/11 story). You can find it at Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, or your area retailers.

In the Belly of the Beast

goforitI can hear the rhythmic beat of its heart, pulsing behind my ears.  Lub-dub, lub-dub, the unending cadence paces the rhythm of my own heart. It is impossible to ignore the sound. I try to go into my mind, thinking of something else. Yet always I return to the sound of that beat.

Slowly, my body slides into the waiting maw of the terrible monster. I cannot move. I just lay there, waiting to be devoured. And always that pulsing beat pressing against my ears. This moment will change everything. But it must be endured. The beast closes its jaws around me. Then a new sound, a terrible chomping and clicking. The noise is so loud it swallows the beating rhythm of the monster’s heart. Again, I attempt to let my mind wander, yet the sound of the gluttonous beast drowns out all thought.

An age goes by, and yet the ordeal continues. Seconds become minutes, minutes turn to an hour. My muscles begin to protest, tensing and railing against the forced immobility. How much must I endure before it is over? How long….

It began several months ago. I remember it clearly. I leaned against a stool waiting for the children to finishing singing. They were so sweet, their voices young and pure. Then I noticed my right leg was going numb. My hand upon the microphone lost feeling. Strange, I thought. I must have cut off my circulation. So I shifted my weight and shook out my hand. But the sensation did not return. Over the course of several weeks, the numbness remained. Gradually, the loss of sensation became a decrease in fine motor coordination. One day as I walked away from the table, my right leg stayed behind. It was time to see the doctor – well, probably past time.

Words were thrown around such as stroke and MS. So here I am, lying within the belly of the MRI machine. Eight hundred images are being taken of my brain and neck. Suddenly, as though nothing has occurred, the chomping sound stops. Again, all I can hear is the rhythmic pulsing of the beating heart. My head is swimming from being supine for so long. Slowly, I rise and the waiting game begins. What the outcome will be, I cannot guess. I hope for the best. But I do not fear. I am in the Master’s hands, and there is no better place than that.

I have been thinking about fear of late. Fear is a lack of faith in God.

“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:9-11

The same God that fashioned the heavens, that framed me in splendor, is the same God that walks beside me through the hard times. None of us knows what the future holds, but we can be sure that God is in control. What seems bad will work out for good. Whatever path He chooses, I will take, knowing that if I stumble, He will brace my fall. He will lift me up on eagle’s wings, and I shall rise. I cast my fear on Jesus and will not be afraid.

~ Susan

All I Ask

All I ask is You be with me;

Stand beside me, linger near.

Please stay with me, ever present;

Do not leave me here alone.

 

All I ask is keep me standing;

Do not let me taste the fall.

Do not let the world abate me,

Keep me in Your loving arms.

 

To Thee I will be faithful,

No matter what the cost.

All I ask is to be near me,

Keep me ever in Your arms.

 

Many trials I have ventured,

Over hill and through the vale.

Troubled waters have assailed me,

Yet Your Spirit did avail.

 

In this world we shall be battered,

And the billows roughly roll.

Yet to Thee I will be faithful,

No matter what the cost.

 

So I’ll sing to You Thy praises,

For Your help is always near.

Come to me, be ever present,

Hold me close and chase my fear.

~ Susan