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The Power of Praise Tags: freedom God grandmother hymn praise sing

"Be exalted, O Lord, in Your own strength! We will sing and praise Your power”—Psalm 21:13.

Nursing homes are never an easy place to be. Many times they are the last destination for ones that have lived a fairly long life. Most residents are not in the minds they once knew, and all ail from one sickness or another.
 

Bruce's 93-year-old grandmother had been in a nursing home for quite some time. No longer able to stay with her family because of medical issues, she became a permanent resident.

Bruce, my mother-in-law Betty, and I made our way to the secured area of the facility where she resided. She sat in her wheelchair, absently staring at the floor. As we approached her, she looked up, sheer delight spreading across her face. We hugged and kissed her, wheeling her into the little living room reserved for private family visits.
 

Although happy to be sitting there together, our conversation started to get a bit strained. Grandma was hard of hearing, couldn't talk very well, and suffered from memory loss. Long silences filled the gaps in our conversation.
 

There had to be some way of communicating together.

Suddenly, I felt the Lord impressing on me to sing. However, I choked up with emotion as I fumbled around for a starting point. I sensed the impression again, urging me to continue. Pulling myself together, I asked, "Can we sing?" With great relief, all three of us plunged in, enthusiastically singing out the old familiar hymns: Amazing Grace; What A Friend We Have In Jesus; How Great Thou Art.

Grandma's face lit up and away she went! The strain was chased from her face as she sang with us at the top of her voice. The wheelchair seemed to melt away. We were all lifted up and out of that nursing home to a familiar and happy place where communication gaps and sickness don't exist. For those moments, we enjoyed the same space and the same time.

Intrigued, I watched her joyfully expounding on every word. She remembered the words!—words she had sung long ago that had been tucked away in silent rooms somewhere in the recesses of her mind. The melodies of those old hymns led her heart straight to those rooms, unlocking them like special keys to forgotten doors.

Apparently, the singing from our little room wafted through the entire wing of the nursing home, and more than one heart was unlocked that day. The nurses still talk about it. God's Presence had a profound affect on patients and staff alike.
 

Praise in the form of music is powerful and transparent, walking through any wall that has been erected and unlocking every door that has been tightly shut. It knows no boundaries.

(Acts 16:25-26)

 

Resisting Temptaion
Category: Member Blogs

Resisting Temptation

 
I try to be good. Really, I do! But when something is just too good to resist, you just gotta have it.

I guess that's why it's called a temptation, not a resistation. Sigh.

The funny thing is, most of us go where we're tempted the most. A few years back, I worked at a Joann Fabrics. For those of you who don't know me, I'm a fabric crafter and artist- okay, I'm a fabric addict who hasn't sewn in forever (due to time constraints, mom-clutter, book creation, and a sporadic job), and I lovebuying new fabric- after all, they call it a fabric 'stash' for a reason...right?

So I apply and get this job at Joanns eons ago. It was supposed to be for extra pocket money and to be out of the house a few hours a week. Let's call it Mom-sanity. But me in a fabric store is like an alcoholic in a liquor store- not the best idea.

Remnants were stashed and bought at the end of the shift. Sale fabrics were stuffed into shopping bags only to be brought home and fussed over before being shut in the stash cabinets. Yes, I said cabinets. Plural. Temptation bit me on the butt big-time, and my stash grew. So much for pocket money.

When I stopped working there a few months later, my stash had grown enough that my husband implemented a fabric 'fast'; until I started using those precious stored fabrics, I wasn't buying a single thread more. After looking at my stuffed sewing space (at the time), I had to begrudgingly agree. 

I've been on that fast for ten years! 

During my fabric fast, I discovered a loophole. Sometimes when crafting a new quilt, I didn't have enough yardage in my stash for the backing fabric. Only then was I let loose in Joanns to get a coordinating fabric so I could complete the project. Reprieve!

Now some of you might think that my husband is being too hard on me by not 'letting me' buy fabric. He isn't. In fact, when this whole fabric addiction happened, he was helping me! We were in Lancaster for our fifth anniversary (quilting hub of the universe and Fabric Central), and I wanted to make a quilt for my baby daughter (who is now fifteen). But there were so many fabrics to choose from! I strolled from aisle to aisle looking, feeling, pulling, and putting back bolts of fabric, sometimes with a shake of the head, but most times with a small sigh of 'I wish I had that'. 

What I didn't know was my husband was walking behind me and collecting the bolts of 'sighed upon' fabrics. By the time we got to the cutting counter, a significant stash was acquired. Then we went to two more stores and did the same thing. By the time we came home, I had enough fabric to last me a lifetime! 

And yes, I still have some of it! So don't blame him- he just knows me well, and as long as I'm using the fabric, I can get off of this fast anytime I want. But It's. So. Pretty. Too pretty to cut up!

My Precious....

Ahem. Okay, back to temptations.

I'm not good at resisting anything, no less a temptation. Oh, I can be good for a while, but eventually I'll crack and indulge (read: overindulge) and then regret everything the second it's gone (or stashed). My resistance is indeed, futile. At least in the long run.

Some things you have to resist. Drugs, alcohol, fabric- you know, things you can physically live without but can get hooked on. Other things, like food and breathing, must be done in order to survive- but you have to control it or you get too fat or thin (or in the case of breathing, pass out either from hyperventilation or lack of oxygen!)

have to resist overeating. I should resist fabric stores. Big difference. Especially in my rumpus. Sigh.

Some things I just can't resist on my own. I need God's help. Prayer works, and sometimes fasting (how ironic is that?), but just talking to God about it before I eat or do something does wonders- and if you're having trouble like me- even if it isn't the same temptation- I would highly recommend doing the same!

Resisting temptations isn't easy. Especially when on your own. God give us the strength we need to resist and walk away from temptations. And nothing feels better than succeeding! 
“A Glorious Dark” by A.J. Swoboda – a celebration of Easter – book review by Michele Morin Tags: A Glorious Dark A.J. Swoboda A.J. Swoboda a celebration of Easter Easter book review by Michele Morin Michele Morin

For years I celebrated Easter as if it were a stand-alone holiday, singing “Up from the Grave He Arose” without giving much thought to the horror of the Dying or the silence of the Dead. Providentially, my early efforts to incarnate and to enliven an invisible God in the hearts of four sweet boys found a way into the obtuse heart of their mother as well.

Therefore, this Lenten season, I will be re-reading A Glorious Dark, a book about believing which confronts the loss and defeat of Friday and the awkward silence of Saturday with Easter Sunday morning resurrection truth. Where memoir meets theological pondering, author A.J. Swoboda’s story winds through his faith journey, with the bonus of startling spotlight quotes which he aims at himself and at all of us who say that we believe.

Here’s one of the dozen or more:  “Many envision faith as a kind of hall pass for laziness, excusing them from a life of action, doing, and working hard.”  Ouch and amen.

What we believe about one weekend in history, the three days’ journey from Golgotha to the garden tomb, impacts our whole experience of the Christian life. A Glorious Dark challenges the reader to enter into Friday, to “own up to our part of the evil in the world.” This involves trusting for the lavish grace to have our emptiness filled, our requests denied, and our fatherlessness remedied by the Father. On Friday, we turn our faces away from our “sponge” of choice and embrace our identity as pilgrims, lifelong seekers of the will and the voice of God.

With candor, Swoboda describes the bleak-hearted rising of post-crucifixion Saturday, and because much of the Christian life is lived under Saturday-like conditions, it is helpful to hear that we must “sit in Saturday;” we must “squat in the tomb” in order to enter into the grief and disappointment of the original disciples. Saturday is our opportunity to remember our own mortality, to remember that we live with Jesus in his death. On Saturday, we evict ourselves from the center of the universe by “embracing the gift of waiting,” and by mourning our failure to see others and their grief.

Resurrection Sunday not only verifies all that Jesus claimed, but it points to his future coming, the ultimate surprise which will serve to further verify all that we hold true. As the church meets to celebrate the resurrection every Sunday, we also reenact the resurrection, celebrating the mystery with “people we normally wouldn’t love, [who] breathe down our necks, [but who] hold our feet to the fire of our beliefs.” Sunday faith perseveres when my theology cannot account for the chaos I see around me.

A Glorious Dark reveals a God who “stand[s] tall” above human history and invites (rather than scorns) the questioning heart.  After all, of the thirty-one questions Jesus posed in the Gospels, He answered only three. When God does not break into history to rectify the list of problems set forth in my latest memorandum/prayer, it will be helpful to remember the messy way in which that one weekend in history played out for those who were on the scene. Once again, the life of Jesus will be made manifest, a glorious life emerging from a glorious dark.

 

Michele Morin is a teacher, blogger, reader, and gardener who finds joy in sitting at a table surrounded by women with open Bibles.  She has been married to an unreasonably patient husband for nearly 27 years, and their four children are growing up at an alarming rate. She blogs at Living Our Days because “the way we live our days will be, after all, the way we live our lives.”

“Senseless” by Thea Williams Tags: Senseless by Thea Williams Thea Williams

My neighbor’s dog was deaf and blind. She started out with hearing and vision, but age took its toll on this “short person in a fur coat.”


We knew this beige, wide-eyed shih tzu for 13 years. Her name was Dusty Miller, and she comforted everyone in our family at one time or another. When my father lay weak and helpless on what would become his death bed, Dusty curled up at his feet. When my sons had a bad day at school, they went down the street and scooped up Dusty. 


In her later years, Dusty found the most enjoyment from being in familiar surroundings because she was minus two of her senses. We carried her up and down stairs and guided her in safe directions when walking. 

 

One night towards the end of her life, I took Dusty out to “do her business” so her “mommy,” Anita, could do some business of her own. As usual, I steered her around obstacles and out of harm’s way, nudging her onto grassy surfaces so she could do her thing. I watched with great interest as Dusty circled and sniffed and even poked her whole face into the earth beneath her. 


She was compensating for what she didn’t have, calling on her senses of touch and smell to make up for that which she lacked. 


Like Dusty, I’m playing hurt at the moment. Breathing trouble secondary to a bad case of flu sent me to the hospital yesterday in the wee hours of the morning. Technology problems have me in a tizzy, spending many hours and dollars on computer snafus which an end user like me just doesn’t cotton to. In short, life on life’s terms isn’t pleasing me right now.


What’s a girl to do? Here I am, trying to serve the Lord with my writing talents, and I’m running into stop signs. But we don’t sit at stop signs endlessly, do we? We pause, evaluate our surroundings, and use our best judgment to move ahead when an appropriate amount of time has passed. 


That’s just what God’s been guiding me to do. He’s assuring me He’s in control, despite appearances to the contrary. He’s instructing me to move forward in any direction that’s not blocked, making headway wherever possible. This article is the first step in that direction.


Like Dusty, I’m figuring out how to work around my deficiencies, and not let them render me senseless.

 

“If there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have.” 

2 Corinthians 8:12

Thea Williams’s short story, “Phoenix,” appears in 50 Over Fifty: A Celebration of Established and Emerging Women Writers. Her work appears in Focus on the Family Magazine and Al Anon’s The Rap. Subscribe to Thea’s blog at www.reflectionsbythea.blogspot.com  By day, Thea educates and prays for young minds at a local school district. Contact Thea at https://www.facebook.com/thea.williams.16 or https://www.youtube.com/user/theabwilliams

“I Am Waiting” by Suzane Avadiar Tags: I Am Waiting by Suzane Avadiar Waiting Suzane Avadiar Suzane Avadiar

Have you ever waited??

For someone . . . for something . . . for the next step . . . for healing . . .for breakthroughs and miracles . . for life to happen? I think at least once in our life, we all experience a season of waiting; I know I have.

At times, my season of waiting reminded me of the winters in Minnesota – perpetual and in sub-zero temperatures! Still, I was constantly finding pockets of warm relief and burning hope in Jesus and it kept me going.

Until not too long ago when I hit a frozen wall and felt the chill right down to my bones…

I still don’t quite know what happened but suddenly I felt encumbered by the weight of waiting. I felt snowed in and all at once, my season of waiting simply became too excruciating.

And the disquiet began; the 3am restlessness in bed that allowed panic and anxiety to arrest me, as I grappled with the unknown.

The fear that would only subside when sadness stopped by to lull me back to sleep.

The constant need to put on my “game face” so I wouldn’t inconveniently break down in random places or worse still, let people see my fragile interior.

Because that was my true state – I was fragile. I was struggling. Plain and simple. I believed God had forgotten me and His Word that promised me that “He will never leave me nor forsake me” threatened to become a mere theory.

My head grasped His Words but my heart resisted it – because my reality did not reflect it.

I began to allow my fear of the unknown and the uncertainty, which accompanies a season of waiting, to push God’s Word back into that tomb.

Only He could resurrect it again in my heart.

Then one day during my draught, when the usual silence deafened my ear, I heard something that felt like a punch in my gut. I had just come home and as I turned the key into my door, I heard:

“If I do not give you anything else, will you still love me? Or will you fall out of love with me?”

I knew it was God because I heard those words in first person and the writer in me knew enough to know that they weren’t my words or my thoughts.

I collapsed to the floor and broke down in wailing tears! All I could think of at that moment was that I broke my Father’s Heart!

And I said, without flinching or thinking and with all the conviction I could muster, “I don’t want anything else Lord. Just you. You are enough. I’m sorry.”

And finally, for the first time, I fully understood what it meant to say that Christ is enough. I got it and more importantly, my heart got it!

Not a whole lot has changed since that day. That season is not yet over. I am still waiting, but I’ve come to realize that SO IS HE!

Not unlike the time when He waited for Noah to complete the ark. While Noah took what must have felt like an eternity to build the ark, probably under scrutiny and scornful gazes, God had patiently waited.

He could have snapped a finger and built the ark in an instant to accomplish what He needed to do on earth. After all, He was eager enough to start, afresh but He didn’t.

God waited.

He waited for Noah to build the ark in his own time because He needed to accomplish something in Noah, too.

“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

Centuries later, my Abba is still waiting. The great I AM is waiting – this time for me.

Waiting for me to take my eyes off what I don’t yet have and set my gaze back on what I do have – Jesus.

Waiting for me to let Him do what He needs to do in me during this season of waiting, so I will be ready for where He is leading me.

He is waiting for my transformation to be made complete and for me to wholly step into all that He has called me to be.

Just knowing that He too is waiting for me, makes me eagerly say, “Take this too Abba. Take my waiting.”

Because the truth is, the winter of waiting is a burden that’s too heavy to bear alone and giving it to Jesus so I can be still, and rest in Him makes the walk lighter and the wait warmer.

Have you been waiting? What does your season of waiting feel like?

 

Suzane Avadiar is a freelance writer, cat-lover and avid traveler. Over the last 16 years, she has written extensively for various publications and companies in the global marketplace. Writing is not only her full-time job but also her passion and instrument of worship. She now writes solely about her faith and has a deep desire to reveal the heart of God through her writings. Suzane writes daily devotions on social media for her church, C3 Subang and is currently completing her first book, Sent to Journey – a Devotional for Travelers. She blogs at www.senttojourney.wordpress.com and resides in Malaysia.

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