Anne Frank - The Power Behind A Young Girl’s Diary

    Friday, August 5, 2011, 2:35 AM [General]

     

     

    Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

     

    Anne Frank has been on my heart for the last 24 hours, and I wasn’t quite sure why.

     

    She was someone I looked up to as a girl (and still do), and, amazingly a year or so ago, a bookstore that was going out of business was selling a copy of “The Diary of a Young Girl” for a greatly reduced price, so I purchased the book.  I was thrilled to find it, as my copy disappeared many years ago.

     

    I feel this is a book that a young person, or someone older must read.  I also grabbed it because it is one book I would like my children to read when they are a bit older.

     

    I knew I wanted to write a post about Anne, and, my reflections on her life, and, as I skimmed the book to prepare for this post, I realized the importance of writing about her now:  August 4 was 67 years to the day that the Gestapo raided the “Secret Annexe”, and took Anne, and the seven other residents of this Amsterdam hideaway, to Nazi concentration camps.

     

    With accounts that I read over the years, the Nazis were, first interested in dehumanizing the Jews by seizing them, and either taking them to camps for death, or excruciatingly hard labor.  And then, moreover, they robbed these Jewish families of anything of financial value that they may have had; from cash to jewelry to valuable paintings, these Nazis did nothing but steal and destroy – just like in John 10:10 - "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."

     

    But on August 4, 1944 as they led the Frank Family away, there was something very valuable that the Gestapo overlooked, and left strewn on the floor, as to them it looked like nothing but worthless sheets of paper:  Anne Frank’s diary.

     

    The testimony of a girl, who kept record from the ages of 13 through 15, of the tyranny the Jews were subject to, and the humiliation they endured.

     

    The Nazis were beautifully ousted by the most important evidence against them: the truth. 

     

    What is hysterically and simultaneously laughable and pathetic are the attempts over the years to debunk testimonies like Anne Frank’s.  Unbelievably, there were guilt-filled individuals claiming the diary was a forgery, and Anne never existed.  Others claimed Anne’s father created the diary.  Eventually, they located Karl Silberbauer, the officer who arrested Anne Frank’s family, and he confirmed he was the one who arrested them, and he specifically remembered Anne.  Silberbauer even confirmed dumping paperwork on the floor in a briefcase…most likely Anne’s diary and her stories. 

     

    To boot, the diary was verified as authentic by groups, and courts, that have performed forensic studies, and lawsuits persisted against groups and individuals claiming it is a fake, and challenging it.  The defendants in the case have had to serve jail time, and pay hefty fines for their assertions that the diary is bogus.

     

    That, combined with other nonsense out there disputing the occurrence of the Holocaust overall is absurd. 

     

    I was actually taking photographs at a parade for one of my publications when a woman, who was handing out pamphlets for a Catholic Church handed me one.  The pamphlet had all sorts of statements, including an allegation that the Holocaust never happened.  In whose imagination is that?

     

    There is enough hard evidence that it did exist, including the people who, to this day, whether Jew or German, can attest to it.  I have met a number of concentration camp survivors,such as Eva Brown (formerly Rosenfeld), who gives her tattooed number: A17923 on her website.  Her book is incredibly written, and the vivid details of what she endured, so shocking.

     

    In my own family, one of my family members was also a survivor who bore her own tattoo.  I never saw it, but heard about it from my father.  This woman was the sweetest, kindest, most huggable and huggy person you could meet.  I met her as a little girl, and she just took me into her arms, and embraced me with one of the warmest hugs I ever experienced. 

     

    My relative survived because she could sew; Eva Brown learned to shave the beards of Nazis at Auschwitz.

     

    And there are many other stories.

     

    But Anne Frank is probably the most prominent. 

     

    I was blessed at 15 years old to see where Anne Frank lived those two years in hiding in Amsterdam.  It was an attic portion of the building above the office and warehouse of the company that her father helped to manage.  Four of Otto Frank’s colleagues helped to conceal the family, as well as another family of three, and another gentleman.  Helping the Jews was a “crime”, punishable even with a death sentence.

     

    It was amazing for two years they lived in an atmosphere where, most of the time, they could not speak above a whisper. During the day, they also could not flush the one toilet the eight of them had access to, did not have a shower and took sponge baths, and simply, were not allowed to step outside of their three floors, let alone outside – period.

     

    Anne’s diary chronicles these days, and there are a lot of ironies in there.  She wrote:

     “Bolkestein, an M.P., was speaking on the Dutch News from London, and he said that they ought to make a collection of diaries and letters after the war.  Of course, they all made a rush at my diary immediately...But seriously, it would seem quite funny ten years after the war if we Jews were to tell how we lived and what we ate and talked about.” – Anne Frank, March 29, 1944

     

    There are other poignant passages, especially when Anne described the fear she had for fellow Jews, who she had heard on the radio, were headed to concentration camps, and facing death.

     

    What is interesting too is Anne’s view on religion.  Although Jewish, Anne, like her father, was not very Orthodox.  Her mother, Edith, and sister Margot, on the other hand, were very devout.  Anne writes plenty of passages about God, and even has a notation in there about Jesus Christ.  I think she was spiritual, and not necessarily religious or legalistic, which may have helped her in many ways, especially as she endured the further horrors of the concentration camps.

     

    She was wise above her years, as she asked herself these questions.

     

    “Who has inflicted this on us?  Who has made us Jews different from other people?  Who has allowed us to suffer so terribly up till now?  It is God who has made us as we are, but it will be God, too, who will raise us up again.  If we bear all this suffering and if there are still Jews left, when it is over, then Jews, instead of being doomed, will be held up as an example.”…”Be brave!  Let us remain aware of our task and not grumble, a solution will come, God has never deserted our people.  Right through the ages they have had to suffer, but it has made them strong too; the weak fall, but the strong remain and never go under!” – Anne Frank, April 11, 1944

     

    When Anne Frank was seized after the inhabitants of the “Secret Annexe” were turned in to the Gestapo by an anonymous informant, like Eva Brown, Anne Frank had a stint at Auschwitz, only a few months later after Eva.  Anne's head was shaved, and she was tattooed.  Anne was a spirited girl, who tried to remain positive.  Eva Brown tells in her book how the Nazis preferred an upbeat attitude from their prisoners, and she would act that way as well, and even would take drops of blood from her fingers, and place on her cheeks so they appeared flush, and more lively. 

     

    Anne, her mother and sister were kept at Auschwitz, and her father, sent to the men’s barracks there.  Witnesses who spent time with Anne there said she assumed her father was sent right away to the gas chamber.  When others saw Anne break down into tears especially, it was when she saw small children being led to the gas chambers. Otherwise, she tried to appear “up”, and she was rewarded with extra food rations, which she shared with her mother and sister.

     

    She joined the other women in hauling rocks and digging rolls of sod.  Her mother fell ill and gave her bread rations to Anne and Margot.  The mother died of starvation, and Anne and Margot transferred to Bergen-Belsen, and both succumbed to typhus in early March 1945, less than two months prior to the liberation of the camp by the allies in April 1945, and only a few months shy of Anne's sixteenth birthday.

     

    “I want to go on living even after my death!”  Anne Frank declared to her diary, which became a friend-like confidante to her, and she named it “Kitty”.  She wrote these words on April 4, 1944.

     

    As I read this passage, I can’t help but cry, because she reminds me so much of my younger self,  and the dreams she held in her heart are like mine (not to mention, like Anne, I love genealogy research, history, and cinema stars (Old Hollywood especially – more in her era and slightly later)…

     

    I can so relate to her writing, because of the nature of my work now. 

     

    Only written less than a year before she died, Anne affirmed, “I must work, so as not to be a fool, to get on, to become a journalist, because that’s what I want.”

     

    She writes about her stories, and critiques her own works in her diary, and recognizes her talent, yet said, if her work wasn’t acceptable enough for newspapers or books, she would simply write for herself, and the sheer joy of it. 

     

    “And therefore, I am grateful to God for giving me this gift, this possibility of developing myself and of writing, of expressing all that is in me,” Anne continued.

     

    “I can shake off everything if I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.  But, and that is the great question, will I ever be able to write anything great, will I ever become a journalist or writer?” Anne asked.

     

    With tears in my own eyes, I must reply, “Anne, you accomplished your dream, you reached your goal.”

     

    At an age when she hoped she would be writing as an adult, Anne accomplished this as a child, and became a journalist – as she reported the happenings of the current world at that time, as well as the world she was living in...that is truly what a journalist does.

     

    As far as I’m concerned, Anne Frank’s young voice, which is so mature for her age, is one of the strongest and most powerful of the last century, and I hope, continues to lead into this one and well into the future.

     

    I pray no one forgets Anne Frank. And thankfully, her diary was released; Miep Gies,  one of the guardians who concealed the Frank Family, kept Anne’s diary in her desk drawer, and gave it to Anne’s father.  She said had she known the content (she never read it), she probably would have destroyed it, as it would have been incriminating evidence pointing to those who aided the Franks, including herself.  Anne'a diary has been published in many languages, and time and again since 1947.  So have her short stories. 

     

    If I could ask a question back to Anne it would be, “Anne, who DOESN’T know who you are?”  Even Eleanor Roosevelt provided the introduction to Anne’s book.

     

    As a journalist myself, I know how powerful the written word is.  William Wordsworth wrote, “Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.”

     

    That is exactly what Anne Frank did, and she breathed life into each page, capturing millions of hearts over several generations, and connecting them with her’s, including mine, with her written account.

     

    And I believe her story will only continue to do so.

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    The Mighty Maple

    Wednesday, August 3, 2011, 11:26 PM [General]

     

    “Look Mom, it’s growing back,” my son remarked.  He pointed at it in amazement.

     

    Just two weeks prior his sister, and our neighbor’s cousin, a young lady of about 11 years old, decided to busy themselves by giving a makeover to a petite Maple Tree on our property.

     

    My other half had left a hammer hanging in the crook of the tree after using the hammer in the yard.  The girls began peeling at the bark with their fingers, as they were playing outside, and then, thought the job would be more effective with the claws of the hammer.

     

    When I stepped outside, I was shocked as I saw the bottom half of this tiny tree was stripped bare.  Lengths of its bark were lying on the grass nearby the tree.

     

    The neighbor’s cousin had left to return home, and I explained to my daughter, the dangers a tree could face without its protective covering, just as if our skin was to be torn.

     

    Concerned for the tree, I began researching on the internet what I should do.  I read how trees could contract diseases, or die without their bark.

     

    To our astonishment, we have seen the strength of this little tree, as a new covering has forced its way to its surface.

     

    And its leaves have remained vibrant, and green in spite of its injury.

     

    God encourages us to be strong when we feel we have nothing left to shield ourselves from the elements, and to trust in Him. 

     

    Somehow, He also helps us to rebuild that protective skin.

     

    At first, we may appear and feel weak, and raw from the injuries of the world, however, our skin grows stronger, and tougher.  It may be scarred and uneven at first, yet it becomes more resilient, and able to withstand future attacks.

     

    Now, of course, I have explained to my daughter not to do this again to this tree or any other one. 

     

    In the meantime, it has been an encouraging lesson watching this diminutive yet mighty Maple regenerate and flourish, and I look forward to monitoring its continued growth.

     

    It is a reminder to me that even in the toughest times, God teaches us to stand strong, and know that we also will survive, and be even more powerful in the end.

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    The Lump in my Throat from Hope

    Sunday, July 31, 2011, 5:30 PM [General]

     

    After digging into my past and the depths of my heart in yesterday’s post, I was feeling a bit drained and uninspired this morning.  Bringing up those old hurtful memories, although I am glad to have brought them forward in hopes to help others, was at the same time upsetting in some ways.

     

    Then there were concerns, even with my “disclaimer” prefacing my post – would I hurt someone with something I’d written?  I’d hoped not.

     

    I had an assignment today, plus church, and time with my family, which I knew would help me to get out of my funk.

     

    Little did I know how all of these events would truly lift me back up…and be a reaffirming way for me to be humbled by my dual Christian and Jewish heritages.  

     

    My first stop was for my assignment, which was a special event coordinated by a Jewish group.  This group helped economically deprived youth to shop for school at their temple.  It was an extraordinary fundraising program, with hundreds of volunteers who helped the students.  Brand new items were donated for the children to choose an outfit, a coat, and school supplies. 

     

    The Rabbi who blessed the event reminded the group that God did not envision a world of poverty, as in the book of Deuteronomy.

     

    “But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.” – Deuteronomy 8:18

     

    Seeing the abundance of the thousands of items this group had collected, was overwhelming, I was brought to tears…hearing the stories of the volunteers speaking of the children and how thrilled they were to receive this items, choked me up.

     

    I was choked up, not in a sad way though, with joy.

     

    The joy in knowing that there were children in difficult circumstances, who were being blessed by a group of people who had favor in their lives.

     

    What was even more blissful was seeing the faces of the children, who were so excited to receive their items.  To have a choice to pick something out themselves, and to have a special item that they could call their own.

     

    A few times as I looked through my lens, and when I talked to these precious kids, I felt the tears well up, as I shared in their elation, and watched their special moments.

     

    After the assignment, my family was waiting, and I couldn’t wait to hug my children.  It made me realize how truly blessed we are, and I pray blessings for the people that I saw today…the volunteers, the families, all of them – for their giving and receiving hearts – may they realize how blessed it is from both sides, and may they pass it on.

     

    Image: Jeroen van Oostrom / FreeDigitalPhotos.net - The Western Wall in Jerusalem

     

    From there, I went to church, where the water works in my eyes had another time to gush.

     

    At the service, several people were baptized.  Although I knew no one there being baptized, I could not help but feel elated as men, women, and children were immersed into a tub, and received this special gift, just as Jesus was baptized (Matthew 3:13-17).

     

    It is such a special step in the life of any Christian.  I was baptized myself only a year and a half ago, although as a toddler, I was “baptized” into my church, in the act where they put the water onto a child’s head only (where my mom said I kept asking the pastor why he was putting water on my head, and had the church in stitches).

     

    When I was baptized I was one of about 50 who elected to be baptized.  I was one of the last ones, after all of us gave our testimonies…for me it was the next step in my journey, which was the reason I’d given. 

     

    Following the baptism and during the worship service, the pastor’s sermon was about the Book of Acts, specifically Chapters 6 through 8.

     

    These chapters particularly reflect upon the martyrdom of Stephen, the first sufferer of the Christian Church.

     

    The pastor’s message spoke of how when one is persecuted, that is the time of growth.  After Stephen’s death, the church scattered, and from there, the church grew to places all over the world. 

     

    This was something I recently reflected on in this post, as I spoke about the various churches I’d been to.  It is so amazing to know God’s Word is preached in so many languages and countries.

     

    As for Judaism, I feel the same way about it.  Throughout the centuries, Jews have also been persecuted, and, in turn, grown more powerful.  God’s mighty hand has protected and blessed the Jews throughout the years, in spite of all the tyranny they have faced.  And Judaism has endured over time as well, with the same traditions going back to the days of Moses.

     

    And some “end times” scholars believe power is on its way to being returned to Israel.

     

    Pastor Terry Smith was the pastor I had the blessing to hear speak this weekend on the Book of Acts.  He said if we're not facing opposition in our lives, we should ask why.  And the more Christians are mowed down, the more they will grow.

     

    Of the Jewish People, Mark Twain wrote:

    ”...If statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one percent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of stardust lost in the blaze of the Milky way. properly, the Jew ought hardly to be heard of, but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his commercial importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk. His contributions to the world’s list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine, and abstruse learning are also away out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers. He has made a marvelous fight in this world, in all the ages; and had done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself, and be excused for it.

    The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed; and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other people have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?” 

     

    Image: luigi diamanti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

     

    Seeing all of the wonderful things happening this weekend, and all of the blessings in both the Christian Church and Jewish Temple, it reiterated how very blessed I feel to have roots in both.

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    The Christian Jewish Blessing

    Saturday, July 30, 2011, 4:29 PM [General]

     

    Disclaimer:  This post is reflective of my true life experiences, and my hope in using them to help others.  Nothing in my personal account is written to offend any persons or parties.

     


    Image: luigi diamanti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

    Image: luigi diamanti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

     

    I consider it a double blessing being Christian and having Jewish Roots. 

     

    And so do "real" Christians that I have met over these past few years.  "Real" meaning those who have a true love of God in their hearts, who really have correctly grasped His Word, and are doers of the Word as well.

     

    Prior to that, more extreme Christians and Jews, and those from both sects who were basically Biblically uneducated (as I was until a few years ago myself because I honestly had no clue about the specialness of it all), looked at me like I had three heads. 

     

    As in Galatians 3 though, we learn the Jews are from the seed of Abraham, who God declared the “Father of Many Nations”.  Jews are of the vine; Gentiles grafted into it.  All those who belong to Christ, are heirs, however, whether Jew or Gentile. 

     

    As a special hybrid, I am classified as a Christian Jew, also known as Jewish Christian which is very exciting to me

     

    The Jews are God’s Chosen People to begin with.

     

    This scripture is a beautiful reflection of this principle: 

     

    "for you are a people holy to the LORD your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the LORD has chosen you to be his treasured possession." - Deuteronomy 14:2

     

    People who I met later in my life, including my sweetheart, told me how great this is to be both – Christians I have met have said how envious they are of me with this dual heritage.

     

    If only I knew sooner the specialness of this double blessing...

     

    But I didn’t, and growing up there was a lot confusion about being a Christian with Jewish roots...

     

    For both of my parents – a Jewish Father, and a Christian Mother who has Jewish roots but denies it, it was a tug-of-war that preceded their divorce.

     

    One of them thought it was a good idea for me to attend Jewish ceremonial events, such as Passover Seders; the other didn't.  One of them thought Christian practices only were important; the other didn't.  Obviously, you can guess who's who.

     

    My father didn’t want us to be raised Christian I remember when we were small, and, my mother likewise, did not want us participating in Jewish traditions.

     

    Then there was the “extended family” – my paternal grandmother who pressured my mother to convert to Judaism, and she refused (which she also did to my stepmother).

     

    No wonder why there was so much strife and tension within the family.

     

    Add in a particularly cranky branch on my father’s family tree.  This group has chastised him since the beginning for choosing non-Jewish women to marry.  First my mother, and then my stepmother.  And my father eventually warmed up to the idea of Christianity for my sisters since their mother wanted to raise them Roman Catholic. 

     

    All of us are “Shiksas” in their eyes, aka “non-Jewish” women – as for me, I am probably the most “Shiksa-ish” of all since Shiksas are stereotypically blonde.  This crew makes sure to emphasize it in the nastiest sort of manner, with one of them actually daring to ask my stepmother, because she is of Latin American Descent, if she could help them find a housekeeper – bringing about a whole other stereotype about her culture.  But, now I’m digressing here, and that is a complete other topic to write about. 

     

    My only comment about the whole nonsensical scenario is “Oy gevalt!” which in Yiddish means, enough already.

     

    As you can imagine with all of the stupidity among the adults, there was a lack of clarity for the children.

     

    Here I knew and loved Jesus Christ from when I was a tiny girl; have a Jewish dad who was not comfortable with that; have a Christian Jewish Mom who told me not to tell people about her paternal grandfather being Jewish, or her having been married to a Jew (in fact, she made sure the spelling of my brother’s first name had a Scandinavian Twist just to avoid any question); and my Jewish relatives who were cantankerous in front of us and behind our backs about us being Christian.

     

    And then, I’d hear people tell the stereotypical Jewish jokes to me about being tightwads with money as soon as I told them I had Jewish blood, including a couple of people I dated, and thinking they were real comedians.  Yeah, OK, real great way to try to win a girl's heart by making jokes about her heritage...can you spell b-r-a-i-n  s-u-r-g-e-o-n?

     

    Or certain crass friends of my mom and stepdad who made their own jokes about the Holocaust, which a horrible extermination of people is obviously nothing to be joking about.  

     

    And then there was this really mean person my mother dated right after her divorce, a horrendous alcoholic who referred to my brother as “that Jewish bast**d son of your's" to her.

     

    Thinking having Jewish heritage mixed with Christianity was not a good thing based on all of the above examples, when I did date someone in college who was Jewish, and he found out, and bragged to his all-Jewish Fraternity that I was Jewish, I told him, “Oh no, I’m Christian, people take the religion of their mother”…which is what she told me.  And this is a debatable topic, if you read about it here.

     

    But I stayed as strong as I could in my understanding of who God and Jesus were, although growing up I wasn’t involved in a strong Bible-based church.  It wasn’t until my late 20’s or early 30’s that I seriously began reading the Bible, and learning more about God’s Word. 

     

    Naturally, I was curious about other doctrines, which can be dangerous.  I think it was because I tend to be more liberal having these double roots, although I know I belong to God and Jesus.

     

    Someone I knew was a religion that I will not name by name, just because this group has a tendency to be sue happy.   I went to church with this person a few times to this sect’s services.  I never felt pressured by anyone there, they did say they acknowledge Jesus, and said so during their service, although they said they do not consider Him Lord and Savior…I made sure to reiterate He was mine in a polite way.

     

    And then a cousin of mine, Linda, who passed away two years ago and was raised Jewish (she knew the cranky branch, and was also somewhat ousted by them herself), kept raving about the book, “The Secret” to me in our last conversation, and saying I should read it, because of what an achiever I am and how it could help me more, and how she believed in me that I could do anything.  Others had told me about this book, and as I read it, I realized it had some great principles, however, it was a rip-off of one of my favorite books, “The Power of Positive Thinking”, which is Christ-based…."The Secret" takes God and Christ out of the book, which to me, deflates the entire thing.  I abandoned reading it not even halfway through because it just didn’t feel right.  Sorry cuz…

     

    As my faith has stayed strong, I realized Jesus and God must be at the center of my existence for any good in my life to happen.

     

    One thing that always disturbed since I am a child is how Jews persecuted Jesus, when He was a fellow Jew.  I just never understood that.  But it happened, and prophesied by Isaiah how this would happen, in Isaiah 53 (which, by the way, was not left out of the Jewish Haftorah, despite popular belief).

     

    On the other hand, it is easy not to become equally troubled by Christian groups like this, who are obviously intolerant of all different groups of people, and have an obvious hatred of the Jews based on this and this. For this author in those links to state that it is a lie from Satan that Jews are God’s chosen people, is obviously someone who twists scripture and is calling God a liar.  These are the types of Christians that looked at me like I had three heads. These are the types of Christians that need to be kept in prayer themselves because of the hate and judgment they hold in their hearts and cast on others…their hate and judgment do not belong to God, but to the enemy.

     

    But I am digressing again and need to return back to task…

     

    And this post may sound like a rant by the way, or a tirade, but I assure you it is not though…it is to inspire hope.

     

    There is a light at the end of the tunnel for those who are Christians Jews who may feel persecuted, left out, and unsure where to go.  I do know this is the case, after speaking to several - we kind of feel caught somewhere in the middle of the two groups. 

     

    That light at the end of the dark tunnel is Jesus Christ.

     

    "When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'" – John 8:12

     

    One day I happened to be having breakfast at a local small eatery I frequented, and nearly choked on my breakfast when a tall man walked in, who a person I knew pointed out to me when picking up my kids at school, and suggested I should date him.

     

    I was divorced over a year at this point and not planning to date after dealing with creeps like the one who made the Jewish jokes.  And seeing this man at school, I surmised he probably was married, since I saw him often standing with a woman with a bunch of children by a car when I’d be picking up my children (as it turned out, she was someone from his church).  He always managed to say hi to me, and I made sure to say hello to both of them, thinking she was his wife, and it was the right and respectful thing to do.

     

    That morning we engaged in conversation, and I saw he was wearing a wooden cross on his neck, and I asked him about it.  He told me he was in construction, but worked at the local hospital ministering to the sick.  We started talking about God, and other things with regard to Christianity.  And he was also a divorced and single parent.

     

    I really felt the workings of God in my life that morning.

     

    From there, there were more conversations, then texts, then excursions with our children, and group outings with mutual friends, and church services together.

     

    Finally, we had a lunch date, and things launched from there.

     

    During one of our early conversations as our kids played on the playground after school, I mentioned to him, with reservation, about my Christian Jewish Heritage.

     

    “I don’t know if this is a bad thing, but…”

     

    Especially with his being so devout, I expected some kind of attitude, joke, or nose up in the air.

     

    Instead the response surprised me…

     

    “Are you kidding me?” He asked.  “I wish I was Jewish.  You are of the vine, I was grafted in.  You are from the seed of Abraham.  You are from the chosen people.”

     

    He told me to have the combination of Jewish Christianity in one's life was special, and that He felt Jews had a true and natural understanding of God, Jesus, and Biblical Principles more than Gentiles, who had to work harder at it.

     

    My heart welled up with warm feelings, and joy...and I prayed and asked God to teach me more about my family background.

     

    It has made me not only proud of my heritage, but curious about the purpose of how God will have me use my double blessing. 

     

    Image: luigi diamanti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

    Image: luigi diamanti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

     

    And, I look forward to it.

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    Different Locations, One Body, One Heart

    Friday, July 29, 2011, 12:27 AM [General]

     

    Image: luigi diamanti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

     

    Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a Christian Service in the Amharic Language for my job as a reporter, at an Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. 

     

    As part of the service, it made me think of Acts 2:1-13 when the Holy Spirit touched a body of believers, which Jerusalem Jews thought they were speaking in their own language, when they were actually speaking in tongues.

     

    Here I was with a body of believers, and, despite our earthly language barriers, I still felt the presence of the Holy Spirit very strongly.  As they prayed in their prayer language, and I prayed in mine, I still felt as if we were praying together…and as far as I’m concerned, we were.

     

    Amazing how more than 2,000 years later and across the world, Christianity is still strong with different languages, cultures, and even worldly resistance – it has endured.

     

    I made a friend online recently who is a minister in Pakistan who runs a Bible Camp for children, as well as teaching adults about God and Christ.  Here is a country where Christians are the minority, and it is so wonderful to see how the love of God and Jesus persist there.

     

    I’ve been blessed to have visited some of the world’s loveliest churches, as well as to have attended some. 

     

    I was raised Presbyterian although I have Jewish Roots. My childhood church was built in the 1700’s and is one of the oldest churches in our area.

     

    In keeping with its traditional look, the services I attended there were more conventional. 

     

    Over the last few years, I’ve attended services at more contemporary Christian Churches – some more of a charismatic nature.

     

    I’ve visited some of the most gorgeous cathedrals in the world including St. Patrick’s, Westminster Abbey, Notre Dame, and Sacre Coeur.

     

     

    Image: chrisroll / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

     

    One of the most memorable services I ever attended was at La Collégiale de Neuchâtel.

     

    I hiked up to the church one brisk fall day as my fellow students slept in.  The church was gorgeous and from 1530, which was mind-blowing to me. 

     

    A small group of protestant believers worshipped there.  We prayed together in a circle, and took communion from one communal cup. 

     

    I was the youngest there, and being an American who spoke French was also intriguing to the parishioners.  They were extremely kind, and welcoming, and thrilled I was there. 

     

    Church is more than just a building – it is what is in our hearts.

     

    To know we all celebrate God in similar ways, despite all our differences, is so encouraging – and to know Christianity will continue to last beyond our years, and our children’s years, and our children’s children’s years…and beyond – is reassuring.

     

    Image: dan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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    God Reaches Down To The Road

    Wednesday, July 27, 2011, 7:08 PM [General]

    Image: kai4107 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

     

    About five years ago I was stopped at a traffic light behind a pickup truck packed with debris, and I assume, headed for the landfill.

     

    The truck reminded me a bit of the one from Sanford and Son, like a junkyard on wheels.

     

    For some reason, my focus was on a wooden chair with a cane seat, precariously balanced on the mound.

     

    At the time, I didn’t recognize it, but The Holy Spirit implanted a warning in my mind, to be careful of this chair.

     

    The light turned green, and I followed behind, keeping a safe distance, and bracing myself, as the chair flew out of the truck’s bed, and onto the roadside.

     

    Since there was enough distance between our two vehicles, I was safely able to swerve out of harm’s way.

     

    This past January, I was riding home on one of the highways, about an hour from my home, after returning from a chamber of commerce breakfast.  Following the breakfast, I had to head to an assignment.

     

    I noticed in front of me a car and dump truck that nearly collided as two lanes merged.

     

    Like I had the insight about the airborne chair, I had a “feeling” about a truck and vehicle collision, and felt that “warning” feeling. 

     

    The highway opened up, and two lanes became three, and then merged back to two.

     

    At the merge, I was suddenly startled, and turned to my driver’s side mirror, which was now squished against the side of my window.  I looked up at the door of a red dump truck (not the same one I’d seen earlier), which was pressed against my car door.

     

    I prayed as our vehicles stayed attached, traveling at 65 miles per hour. 

     

    I gripped my wheel tightly, and eventually broke away from the truck, which sped off. 

     

    Although shaken, I quickly regained my senses, and pursued the truck, as the driver continued to cut people off, and swerve in and out of the lanes.  I wrote the plate number down on my notepad, and called the police.  The police dispatcher instructed me to pull onto the shoulder and wait for an officer.

     

    Since I was on a busy roadway and it was dangerous to assess the damage, I waited for the officer.  He told me he could see the tire mark on my car. 

     

    I could only imagine the damage to my vehicle as I drove home, with plans to take photos, in case I needed them for insurance.

     

    In the meantime, the police officer was not able to come up with information about the plate, and returned to headquarters.  After careful research, he called me a week later, and said he was able to match the plate, which had been filthy with road salt, and one of the plate digits I wrote down as an “E” was actually an “8”.  He contacted the vehicle owner, who told him his driver was not even aware he hit me.

     

    I pulled into my driveway, and my sweetheart was home, and as expected, concerned and grateful that I was OK. 

     

    Having been a truck driver himself at one point, he said, “Honey, you are lucky your door was not ripped off, and you are still here.”

     

    He pointed out the rubber mark, which implanted itself on my door.  I only thought there was a section of it, yet the outline of almost the whole tire was visible, right along most of my door.  I gasped when I saw the side of it.

     

    He said by all means my vehicle should not have been intact...which means of course, neither should I have been.

     

    The damage to the vehicle was minimal – there were scuffmarks as well on the mirror, but otherwise, no dents or damage.

     

    He said he envisioned God’s hand intervening between our two vehicle doors, saving both parties from harm.

     

    “I have put my words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow of my hand — I who set the heavens in place, who laid the foundations of the earth, and who say to Zion, ‘You are my people.’” – Isaiah 51:16

     

    That is quite a vision, to imagine His large hand intervening and preventing disaster. 

     

    But I can surely and personally vouch for, and have a visual reminder, that He did.

     


    Above photos courtesy of Jennifer Jean Miller
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    You ARE Healed

    Monday, July 25, 2011, 8:38 PM [General]

    Image: nuttakit / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

     

    Today, I went through some tests to see how everything is healing up with my Crohn’s/Colitis attack, and just because this is customary for someone with this health issue to go through. 

     

    I am pleased to report since the massive attack, the doc said internally things are looking good and are healing.  This was encouraging to me, especially because in the past when I was in "remission", there was always "something"...and here I had the most severe attack yet, and things are looking up.

     

    My other half and I frequently discuss the topic of medical issues and faith.

     

    “In Jesus’ name you are healed!” he will proclaim to me.

     

    He gets frustrated easily that I even acknowledge I have medical issues, and thinks I am too worldly-minded, and not enough spiritually-minded in this particular arena.

     

    As a Christian couple, this is an area where we need to give up our rights to be right, and just agree we disagree here.

     

    “Mom, don’t you want to be better?” my son asked me recently.

     

    “Of course!” I replied, surprised by his question.

     

    He explained to me I am healed. 

     

    I knew where this came from.

     

    I acknowledged, and I clarified to my inquisitive little man, I know I am healed (the results of today’s test further proves the proof is in the pudding in terms of my healing), yet we cannot deny God allows illness and other things to happen, so we can see the glory of how He works in our lives (Matthew 5:45).

     

    Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

     

    I made clear to my son, although I naturally would rather not be sick, I do not want to miss what God is trying to teach me through the example of this illness, especially this most recent incident, which was the worst I have experienced since my diagnosis.  I was diagnosed 13 years ago, and at times had moments of illness, and remission.  I really don’t think in the times I was ill, I  “got it”, in terms of what God wanted me to learn.

     

    OK, God, you have my attention now. 

     

    In Merlin Carothers’  book, “Prison to Praise”, God spoke to him and reminded him that when anything happens to him that is less than difficult than what happened to Jesus, to rejoice in it.

     

    One morning when Carothers didn’t want to get up and out of bed, God reminded him of their previous conversation, and the oath Carothers took to be joyful in everything and to be thankful, even in getting out of bed.

     

    God asked Carothers if he could move his big toe, ankle, and knee, and if he was grateful for it.  Carothers replied he was, but how he really just wanted to go back to sleep. 

     

    God urged Carothers to rise, walk into the bathroom, and look into the mirror.

     

    God asked Carothers from there if he was thankful that he could walk, stand, see, speak, and hear.  Carothers replied he was.

     

    “My son, because I love you I am going to teach you to be thankful for everything.  You can learn standing right there with all the things you are thankful for, or, I can let you go back to bed, and not let you move, see, or hear, until you learn.”

     

    Image: graur codrin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

     

    Naturally, Carothers learned to be thankful, and was never sorrowful for getting up in the morning afterward. 

     

    In our world, believers and non-believers do have times of illness.  Those who believe in God's power, however, as in Acts 5:12-16, were and are completely healed based on their faith.

     

    Although on earth we have doctors and medicines to help ease our health at times, the ultimate healer, and physician is God Himself. 

     

    We need to have faith we will be healed, and we will be.

     

    God wants to test us, so we can grow closer to Him, and be inspiring to others through our trials so we can lead them to Him, and, I think this is what He wanted me to carry away the most from my most recent health trial.  He has already put people in my path, while I am still recovering, including one who was just diagnosed with Crohn’s.  To boot, when I talked to this person about how I read my Bible, and healing scriptures, she told me she accepted Jesus Christ into her life a number of years ago, and wanted to ask me more about Him, and finding a good church.

     

    Image: Pixomar / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

     

    Isn’t this what sharing about God’s love and miracles is all about?  Had I not been ill with this, would I have had this opportunity to minister to this person.

     

    Think about Dodie Osteen, who was miraculously healed from cancer in 1981, and how her testimony has helped, and inspired millions worldwide.

     

    We cannot pretend illness does not exist, or it is a figment of our imaginations.  It is as real as the enemy who doles it out is.

     

    But God is real, and He is even greater than both the enemy and the illnesses that He created.  Yes, remember, God created them all and for good (1 Timothy 4:4).  And through our faith in Him, illnesses and difficult circumstances can be annihilated if we persevere and trust in Him.

     

    Pastor Matt Jones of Mountaintop Church in Hackettstown, NJ taught in a lesson to pray against darkness, not just the inconvenience and pain we are experiencing at the time we are dealing with trials.  He added that if we are faithless, God is faithful, because He can’t deny Himself. 

     

    At a Night of Hope I attended in March 2010, Pastor Joel Osteen summed it up perfectly:

     

    Image: nuttakit / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

     

    “God sees the big picture, God does not stop every adversity, but stay in faith, and He’ll get us where we need to be.”

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    On The Write Path

    Monday, July 25, 2011, 12:12 AM [General]

     

     

    I feel so blessed by my job, and, I know it is the place where I am intended to be.

     

    How do I know this? 

     

    First, is the confirmation I have received from the Holy Spirit, because God keeps expanding my territory in so many ways. 

     

    Secondly and simply, because I opted for the wrong path for so long; and when one is there out in the wilderness, it is painful, and you just know you are not in your intended place.

     

    For close to a decade, I marked time in jobs that really didn’t suit me.

     

    I really feel it is because I was pushed onto a path in my youth that was not the one God had chosen for me. 

     

     

    "In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps." – Proverbs 16:9 (NIV)

     

    As a young person, I had a dream planted into my heart by God to pursue something in a creative field.  I loved to sing, dance, act, write, draw, and more…anything that was artistic, I had my hands in at some point.

     

    What echoed in my ears from my mother, stepfather, grandfather, and a few other elders, were discouraging phrases to deter me from the life I sought. “For every light on Broadway, there is always a broken heart.” Or, “They key to the future is in mathematics and the sciences.”

     

    I did perform, yet some of my talents I kept to myself just because of the fear of reprisal from my family.  So I wrote pieces of poetry, short stories, and other works in the solitude of my room.

     

    When I was 15, I remember taking a career test, which also pointed I should pursue a creative job.  I read a book in the guidance office at school, which listed an address for UCLA’s admissions office.  How I dreamt to go to school there, and California, both places I had always wanted to visit (I did end up visiting the Los Angeles area a number of times in adulthood, and fell in love with the place).

     

    This was in the days before internet so I wrote a letter, unbeknownst to my elders, to UCLA for a college catalog.  I figured I would intercept the catalog from the mail when no one was home.

     

    Slap.  I was sitting on my bed doing homework, and my mother flung the UCLA catalog next to my legs.  It arrived on a Wednesday, one of her days off.  Naturally, some expletive vocabulary popped into my head at this misfortune.

     

    “You are not going there, you will go to school where we say you go,” she stated.

     

    “I can get a ska-lar-sheep,” I retorted, languishing on the syllables in the word “scholarship”, in a way I had heard it said in a recent film about a boy striving to get out of a bad situation with a basketball scholarship.

     

    “You can’t get a scholarship,” my mother replied cruelly.  “You don’t do anything special.”

     

    The words cut my fragile heart and self-esteem like a knife.

     

    Soon, as a people-pleasing, and easily influenced young person, I took on a dream that wasn’t my own and belonged to them.  I internalized their beliefs that I couldn’t use my talents to find professional fulfillment in life.  I was told I could only go to the college of their choice, and the subject matter they advocated, or, mama and papa no pay.

     

    This scared the heck out of me naturally, and, again, being the obedient daughter, I consented and pushed the dream deep down, and tried to make best with their vision as a foreign language teacher. 

     

    “You are good in your language, you need a practical skill, this is what you will do,” my mother told me.

     

    Push, push, push…if I pushed the dream further and further down, no one would see it, not even me.

     

    “I thought you wanted to be an actress,” a longtime friend of my aunt’s asked me at my cousin’s bar mitzvah in my early 20’s.  She remembered speaking to me about it when we spent a weekend at a home they rented on Fire Island.

     

    “Ah, that was a long time ago,” I said, waving the idea off.

     

    Inside though I was completely miserable, and only wished I had listened to that small still voice that had urged me in that direction. 

     

    I went through college and excelled in my studies, did get a job as soon as I graduated (and I finished my student teaching a quarter early).  My job was the first one I took – since there were cutbacks already in the schools consolidating foreign language positions, and the only jobs I could qualify for in teaching were part-time, I took the first job I was able, as a receptionist for a perfume company in the city.

     

    I spent a few years at this company, and then at a chemical company.

     

    I often felt like inside, something in my heart was dying, and I didn’t quite know what.  Those closest to me had the “Eyeore” kind of mentality that, this was just how life was – you graduate from college, and pass the time like a robot for a paycheck and benefits until retirement, and just be miserable until then.

     

    And miserable I was – dealing with acid reflux, lower back pain, temporal mandibular joint (TMJ), and later Crohn’s Disease.  All brought on, or aggravated by stress.

     

    Hmmm…can we spell c-o-n-n-e-c-t-i-o-n?

     

    I remember when my work was criticized here and there, and inside I was screaming, “This is not what I was created to do, this is why this job isn’t to your satisfaction!”

     

    I felt like a square peg in a round hole, as I mindlessly tapped away on my keyboard day in and day out.  I would look around at my co-workers quietly typing around me, and I wondered if they felt the same way I did.

     

    Throughout it all, I still felt God had a purpose for all of this, and none of that experience would be in vain.

     

    After my son was born, and we decided I would stay at home to take care of him, I knew this was a gentle way for me to achieve a fresh start, and, find who I wanted to be when I “grew up”.  I was 30 years old at this time (interestingly is at church today, part of the sermon focused on God's plan for our lives, and, where He has us today, may not be where He wants us tomorrow).

     

    I knew if I jumped back on the train I had been on, and I gave up on my dreams once again, it would teach my children to give up on their dreams…something I never want them to do.

     

    Over the summer of 2006 especially, I spent a lot of time in prayer over my career options.

     

    I knew God had a purpose for my life, I just didn’t know what yet.

     

    I explored some career options, including real estate and sales, yet, doors I had an interest in seemed to close at that time.

     

    One day, as I was returning from church alone and I prayed in the car, I heard a small still voice telling me I was going to write. 

     

    Although I had been a practicing Christian since I was small enough to sing in my childlike voice at about age 3, “Jesus Loves Me”, I never recognized the voice of God’s Holy Spirit until then.

     

    "He says, 'Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.'” – Psalm 46:10 (NIV)

     

    The interesting thing was, I pictured in my head a life of peace, joy, and fulfillment with this thought.

     

    Just before I enrolled in college, I mentioned to my mother that, perhaps I could be a reporter.

     

     

    “No, you don’t want to do that, they don’t make any money, they work long hours,” she said.

     

    I always loved to write, and everyone always noted I had a gift for it, from childhood through adulthood, whenever there was something to write.

     

    I came home and did a Google search on “becoming a writer”.  A website popped up seeking writers for a company specializing in biographical books about famous and every day people, and said they would accept samples.

     

    I decided to go for it, and wrote a sample about my grandmother, who, as it turned out when I finally began writing professionally, I also learned she had this dream in her heart herself, and it was never fulfilled.

     

    I held my breath when I sent in my sample…two days later I received a reply that, my writing ability made up for my lack of published work, and I was accepted.

     

    Tears of joy slid down my face, and a light came into my heart that I had not felt since my teenage years.

     

    What I learned is God never forgets our dreams, even if we do – and He restores the lost years, and gets us back onto the path, if we choose to take His hand and allow Him to lead us through the process.

     

    "In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths." – Proverbs 3:6 (AMP)

     

     

    Naturally, the enemy will try to divert you from God’s chosen path.  Never forget John 10:10 (NIV) though, and stay on course with God and Jesus Christ, and you will stay on His intended path.

     

    “This must be a fluke,” was the next thought that popped into my head.

     

    I found an online job board and, began sending samples in…a number were accepted, for paid positions.  How exciting was that to be paid, even if a small check, for something I love to do?

     

    So I ended up getting busy with my computer, and my camera, posting creative pieces on different internet sites.  Not much different than I do now, except, I wasn’t working under the advisement of an editor like I do.

     

    I ended up writing for a content site, a company that sold a particular product line, and, also doing some independent writing and blogging.

     

    Some of the blogging at that time, unfortunately, involved a group of us who were arguing over a cause.  People ended up fighting with each other over the internet and, it grew ugly and immature.  Guess you could say we were pioneers in some way on the internet, because now, unfortunately, ugliness on the net is rampant. 

     

    “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—“  - Ephesians 2:8 (NIV)

     

    I know God blessed none of us who were in this dispute, and the fruit of this did not result in anything positive.  And me, I was using a God-given talent gift, and was abusing it. 

     

    Personally, I felt ashamed, but it took time to recognize the harm my snarky writings were causing all around, as I wrote back to the retaliations. 

     

    Eventually, we all walked away from the foolishness, and, a small group of us ended apologizing to each other for the hurt we caused, and we became friends.  So there were blessings that emerged from the darkness because of the forgiveness, and grace.

     

    I personally started to see God’s blessings in my life following that period, as I sent in an application for a local newspaper, and ended up freelancing.  As a now divorced mom, I needed a job with flexibility to be there for my children. 

     

    I covered a few stories, and was asked to take photos at an event.  I loved taking pictures, and my father is a retired photographer, and professor, so I know this is in my genes.  Although we were not in each other’s lives for a season until my mid-thirties, I always felt I had an interest, and decent eye for shooting.  I didn’t know for sure, however, until I picked up the small point and shoot camera I used, and felt I was limited at that assignment.

     

     

    My father helped me to choose my Nikon D90, and from there, I started to see the world in a different way through the eye of my lens.

     

    To me, it reminds me of the parable of the talents, where, the good servant used his talents (which was actually a sum of money) wisely, and God multiplied them. 

     

    Not only do I write, I take pictures too, and have been a freelance photojournalist, writer, and columnist for over three years now. I have also branched out into the marketing department as well for one of my publications. 

     

    I cover a few municipal beats, and write feature stories on a variety of topics, and people. I am also researching two topics for books I hope to have published by next year.

     

    I have met and interviewed so many amazing people, taken pictures of great events, and overall, been so blessed.

     

    Last year, I was nominated for and selected as the only member of the media for an award for an article I’d written focusing on mental health stigma, for the New Jersey Governor’s Council on Mental Health Stigma.

     

     

    To me, it was a miracle to learn something I’d written guided others to their right path that they needed for their health, and this award was a physical testament to this, and gift from God.

     

    And even further, God brought back some other wonderful surprises to my life in the creative arena.

     

    As I was reading one of the publications I write for, I read a clip that one of the local theater groups, Cornerstone Playhouse, had auditions for the show, “Annie”. I had stayed away from theater for close to 20 years, because, after being cut from even the chorus of a production, and combined with the lack of family support, I believed I could not do it, and buried the dream away.

     

    I felt the nudge from The Holy Spirit, and went for it, and I decided to audition for the role of Grace Farrell, Oliver Warbucks secretary.  I brought some sheet music with me, and sang.  They auditioned me for Grace, and Miss Hanningan.  A week or so later, I received the call that I was cast as Grace Farrell.  Two of my children were in the chorus of the show, and it was a fantastic experience to be a part of this cast, with my family.

     

    To me, this was a gift God returned to me.

     

    And right after the run of my show, I became a worship team singer at one of the local churches.  This too was a gift, as I had sung a solo here and there at church.  To sing my heart out for God, and know I was a part of leading people to Christ through song, was a blessing.

     

    In April of this year, I was part of the Easter Cantata with my church, and was chosen for the solo in the song, “Who Am I?”  We ended up singing it at a local nursing home, before I sang it on Easter Sunday.  Click here to listen to a rendition of Elvis Presley singing this beautiful song.

     

    There are testaments though that are not visible – our job is to trust and have faith in the invisible and know this comes directly from God, and run with it when He tells you.

     

    "We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God—those whom he has called according to his plan." – Romans 8:28 (GW)

     

    My life is back on the intended path where God wants me to be, and how He brought everything back full-circle.  This gave me a further trust in Him, and I don’t even want to imagine where I would be had I not listened to small still voice in 2006 telling me to write.

     

    Even writing this blog, I know comes from Him – and I thank Him and feel blessed that I have the opportunities, and ability to convey my thoughts into words, and in a way that people enjoy reading and benefit from. 

     

    It is my hope that this post, and anything I’ve blogged about here or anywhere, brings someone hope, and encouragement to never give up…

     

    Never forget - God never gives up on you and your dreams.  And if you have veered off the path, once He guides you back, know He will restore what was lost to you.

     

    "And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you. And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed." - Joel 2:25-26 (KJV)

     

    He will blow you away with the plans He has for you.

     

    "He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end."  – Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NASB)

     

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    The iPod Favor

    Friday, July 22, 2011, 1:20 AM [General]

     

     

    It was one of those moments that happens in slow motion in a movie.

     

    My children piled a bunch of items in my arms as I was picking them up from their father in the usual spot we meet on visitation days.

     

    One of these items was my daughter’s iPod Touch.

     

    There was a lot of activity at the same time, and the next thing I knew, the iPod slipped from my hand, face down on the pavement.

     

    Not to say this hasn’t happened before, because it has, and I expected the iPod to be unscathed as usual.

     

    To my horror, however, I picked it up from its position on the ground, and was stunned, because of the spider web cracks against the glass.

     

    I moved my finger across the glass and saw the iPod functioned, and even the camera worked.  Of course, the broken glass was a major hazard, especially for my daughter’s little fingers. 

     

    Now to break the news – she had dropped it several times, but for it to have happened because of me, was upsetting.

     

    At first, my daughter was too busy to notice, and she continued to horse around with my son, her older brother.

     

    I was able to get her attention, and confessed how it slipped from my hand, and suddenly, her entire world stopped.  She began sobbing deeply, and I felt terrible.

     

    “Can my iPod be fixed Mommy?”

     

    “I want it to be the same.”

     

    Tears filled my own eyes because of the pain I knew she was in.

     

    “Nah, they can’t fix it, might as well call it a day and get it a new one,” her father said, and she sobbed even harder.

     

    Um, great, thanks…

     

    Suddenly, I felt a burst of confidence in my heart, and shook my head at this statement, knowing this would all turn out, because we serve a God of restoration.

     

    “What’s important to us is important to God,” was something I remembered from a sermon by Pastor Tom Litteer of Living Waters Fellowship.

     

    I called the Apple store in my local mall and an employee named David picked up the phone.  David, a dad himself, sympathized with the wailing little voice in the background, asking how to get her iPod repaired.  He told me they repair screens all the time, and he was sure they could help.  I booked the appointment for the next morning.

     

    Even before the mall officially opens, the Apple store is open, and I showed up to the store, shattered iPod in hand. 

     

    A young woman helped me at the counter, and I explained to her how it slipped, and how it was my little girl’s birthday the next day. And of course, the little girl tears over the broken iPod.

     

    The technician was totally kind and told me they would replace the iPod for no extra charge.  I was so grateful and thanked her immensely.  We needed to sync it at home – which required it syncing on her father’s computer, and from there, I would exchange the broken one for a new one.

     

    And I can tell you, her father was shocked when I told him everything was absolutely no charge for the replacement.

     

    Two days after her birthday, I returned to the store, and exchanged the iPod. 

     

    Initially, my little lady was upset at the prospect that she would not have the same iPod.  However, when she saw it charging from my computer, she squealed with excitement, and thanked me several times, and told me how much she loved me. 

     

    “Thank you mommy for getting me the new iPod!  I am so happy you got this for me!”

     

    This whole experience was a lesson for me, and for both of my children, to see how God works, and that He takes care of the ones He loves and what is important to them. 

     

    Thank you God for blessing us with things big and small in life, and showing us favor.

     

    “For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.” – Psalm 84:11

     


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    Feed Your Faith!

    Tuesday, July 19, 2011, 11:03 PM [General]

     

    Franklin D. Roosevelt is known for the famous quote from his 1933 Inaugural Address, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

     

    A quote I always admired, and pondered as great.

     

    However, as my walk with the Lord has grown closer, I’ve meditated on this phrase, and realized the danger of this quote as a Christian.

     

    Not to down FDR, he was, and still in my eyes remains, an amazing leader who brought the country through a difficult time in history.

     

    However, fear, as the world knows it, does not come from God – it is a tool used by the enemy to hold us back from moving to where God wants us to be.

     

    To me this quote is a double negative.  God does not want us to be afraid to start with.  So, how come we should be fearful of something that should not exist in our souls to begin with?

     

    Fear is the opposite of faith, which exudes a confidence, and surety, even of what is not known to us, and only known by God.

     

    In my eyes, the only acceptable instances of fear in the Bible are when “fear of the Lord” is mentioned.  Here is a scripture depicting fear of the Lord:

     

    “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” - Proverbs 1:7

     

    Fear does not equate to how we know it in our modern day language; it instead is a reverence of God.

     

    Another example, is this scripture:

     

    “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” – Psalm 139:14

     

    The psalmist is in awe, of God and how He created us – it is not meant, as we would know it in this world and the modern day definition, which if defined by today's standards, we would be afraid of how we are made.

     

    Fear is defined typically as an emotion incited by danger, evil, or pain, which is real or imagined.  It can be a fear of something in our own hearts, triggered by a specific incident, or fear we may have of something happening in someone’s life. 

     

    We do not want to feed into fear, instead, starve it.

     

    In its place, we need to fill up our plates with mounds of faith.

     

    Faith is defined as a confidence and trust in person or thing, a belief not necessarily based on proof, and a belief in God and His teachings.

     

    The last part is what Christians want to focus on.

     

    Many scriptures about fear show God wants us to trust in Him, and not be afraid.

     

    Here are some instances of that:

     

    "But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them." - Genesis 50:19-21

     

    Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.” - Exodus 20:20

     

    (The above describes both the “reverent” fear and the anxious type of fear.)

     

    "'Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.' Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, 'Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the LORD swore to their ancestors to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.'" - Deuteronomy 31:6-8

     

    "But the LORD said to him, 'Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.'" - Judges 6:23

     

    "say to those with fearful hearts, 'Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.'" - Isaiah 35:4

     

    "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
    I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." - Isaiah 41:10

     

    "For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you." - Isaiah 41:13

     

    "Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west." - Isaiah 43:5

     

    "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." - 1 John 4:18

     

    How do we become less fearful and more faith-filled?

     

    And, just know, this is something I am working on myself, and we are all working on.  Trust me when I tell you – when I read that even some of our most prominent television evangelists battle fear every time they take to the pulpit, just know, many members of humanity struggle with it - not just you and me.

     

    We just need to give fear to the Lord, and in turn fill up and meditate on scriptures feeding our faith.  And then throw our fears where they belong…

     

     

    Here are some helpful scriptures to help increase your faith:

     

    "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." - Proverbs 3:5-6

     

    "You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal." - Isaiah 26:3-4

     

    "If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?" - Matthew 6:30

     

    The Faith of the Centurion

     "5 When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. 6 'Lord,' he said,'my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.'

     7 Jesus said to him, 'Shall I come and heal him?'

     8 The centurion replied, 'Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.'

     10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, 'Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. 11 I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'

     13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, 'Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.' And his servant was healed at that moment."

     - Matthew 8:10

     

    "Jesus turned and saw her. 'Take heart, daughter,' he said, 'your faith has healed you.' And the woman was healed at that moment." - Matthew 9:22

     

    "He replied, 'Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.'” - Matthew 17:20

     

    "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God." - Romans 5:1-2

     

    "Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ." - Romans 10:17

     

    "For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you." - Romans 12:3

     

    "My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power." - 1 Corinthians 2:4-5

     

    "For we live by faith, not by sight." - 2 Corinthians 5:7

     

    "Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham." - Galatians 5:7

     

    “We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified." - Galatians 2:15-16

     

    "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—" - Ephesians 2:8

     

    "In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence."- Ephesians 3:12

     

    "In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one." - Ephesians 6:16

     

    "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." - Hebrews 11:1

     

    6 "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

     7 By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.

     8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise."

    Hebrews 11:6-9

     

    "But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. - James 1:6


     

     

    Fill you plate with a serving of faith - today!!

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