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

 

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What’s In a Name

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“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet.”

Romeo and Juliet, Act II. Scene II

Really? Is not a name important? If you called a rose “fetid” would it smell as sweet?

In the ancient Hebrew culture, a person’s name, or “shem,” was significant. It told of the person’s character: of his birth or some future hope. God often changed a person’s name after His call came into their life.

Take Paul for example:

His given name was Saul, which means “desired” or “asked for” in Hebrew. It was changed to Paul – which means “small” or “little” in Greek – after his conversion. The bold and dangerous Pharisee was sent in humility to witness to the Gentiles of Greece.

And then there was Peter, whose name was Simon (meaning “he has heard”). His name was changed by Jesus to Peter – meaning “rock or stone.” It was upon his faith that Jesus was the Christ that the Church was built.

Was it not Jacob (“heel holder” or “supplanter”) who stole Esau’s (Esau means “hairy”) birthright, and thus, supplanting Esau, by tricking Isaac into blessing him instead of his elder brother.

It was as though by calling a child by a particular name, one could predict the future character of the person the babe would grow to be. And so, as I began my journey through the Hills of Ephraim that I took great pains to name the characters within my novel according to their given purpose.

Each name has a specific meaning in relation to their role in the telling of this epic tale.

There is Nagad, the haunted protagonist, whose name means “messenger” in Hebrew. His story reaches us through the warfare in his life, both physical and spiritual, as he works through old hurts to find how he measures into Yahweh’s plans.

His foil, Ekwesh, is a Philistine struggling with the same issues of faith as his counterpart. His name is found in writings describing the Sea Peoples of old, and the ancient Greek warriors such as Homer’s Achaeans in the Iliad.

Tiphcar (“captain” in Hebrew), his very name denotes strength and leadership, is captain of the Israelite forces. He is a pillar of courage on which the young conscript, Nagad, can lean.

And so the characters enter into the midst of the story, each bringing a message to the reader by the name they bear.

So what is in a name? Join the story and see what message the characters have for you.

THE STONE OF EBENEZER

Spring 2015

~ 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).

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

What’s In Your Lint Trap?

So, I was blowing my hair dry the other day, when I realized that I was not experiencing the full power that my hair dryer should be providing. Then it struck me, “Look at the lint trap.” I flipped my hair dryer over and saw that indeed, the lint trap was full of that white fuzzy stuff that appears out of nowhere. I ran my fingers over the webbed wire mesh that covers the inner workings of the hair dryer, pulling firmly until I removed as much lint as I could. Satisfied with the job well done, I resumed blowing my hair dry. Wow! What power! I was able to quickly finish the task, amazed at the power that emanated from my ordinary hair dryer. I had no idea that all this time I had access to so much power, if only I would have removed the lint sooner.

Then the thought crossed my mind, how much our lives are like this hair dryer. Here we have a great source of power and yet we do not utilize it. How many times in life we struggle without success because we just do not have the strength and fortitude to finish. We struggle under the weight of adversity, unable to carry the burden, for we are weak and do not know how to proceed.

Here we are as Christians, a favored people, promised to be empowered with the full strength of the Holy Spirit, yet we are unable to utilize that power. Why is that? Could it be that our lint trap is full? That the power of God’s Spirit is obstructed in our lives by the lint we carry with us? What is in your life that clogs your power? Is it busyness? Worry? Past trauma? Unforgiveness? Laziness? Striving for success? No matter what it is, if it is obstructing the air flow of your spiritual life, it needs to be removed so that the Spirit can imbue you with power on high. We have access to an unlimited source of power, a power that in its full force can create worlds out of nothingness, can conquer the destructive powers of sin and death. So look to your lint trap. Clean out what clogs your life and access the full power that is promised to you, the power of the Lord Most High. See what can be accomplished, what trials can be overcome, when your lint trap is unobstructed.

“Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” ~ Luke 24:49

~ Susan