Taking Back Father’s Day

Who I am in Christ, I trace back to my relationship with my Father. It is how my blog’s persona, GwenByFaith was born; it derives from that relationship. man hat Since the sudden death of my father when I was 12 years old, I never thought much about “Father’s Day.” This day always left me feeling numb for I reasoned, I have no father any longer so what’s the point? Today I have formed a renewed relationship with the Lord and this relationship compels me to honor the Father who introduced me to my Heavenly Father.

Daddy worked for the rail roads as a porter/cleaner. He was well over six-feet and seemed like a giant to me. He had a strong frame, curly/wavy hair, light-brown skin, a dazzling smile, a booming laugh and dark piercing eyes that twinkled when he was happy and were like black diamonds that would stopped your heart when he was angry. My Daddy instilled how important it is to serve and honor God through weekly church services, youth fellowship activities, home Bible study, singing songs of praise and daily morning and evening prayer. My father was not one for using many words. He was soft-spoken with a no-nonsense attitude.

My parents were not physically nor verbally affectionate. Despite that, my father taught me about love and how to love through his relationship with God. My earliest and most profound memory of my Daddy is when I recall his respect and treatment of my mother. It left me in awe and filled with pride. By example, it shaped how I thought of men and what kind of man I wanted to marry. He pointed out to us in the Bible this principle and would read to us this passage “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her, that he might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.” (Ephesians 5:25-28 NKJV).

My Daddy stressed for us to be thinkers, not to blindly follow others just to fit in. To honor our word when we give it to another, to use common sense, to be true to God and self and to choose our friends wisely. He encouraged us to have integrity and to cherish family values. He pointed out to us in the Bible this principle as he read these passage to us “For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding, He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity. He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him..” (Proverbs 2-6:8 NLT)

I struggled through my teens being raised by a distraught, full-fledged alcoholic mother whom I discuss in more details in my blog (A Letter To Momma); I no longer felt God’s love and with my father’s death, I felt cheated out of a chance to experience a lasting sense of love with my father. I abandoned what he taught me and doubted this heavenly father any longer existed nor gave a damn about me. I looked for love and mistakenly believed I found it in all the most destructive places. I met a young man who showered me with physical and verbal affection. This drew me to him like a moth to a flame. I had a child and I raised my son as a single mother. My son has had no relationship with his father since he was 5. By choice, he walked away and once again it caused me to reason, why bother with Father’s Day?

Years later after an attempted suicide at 17, a continuous broken heart, oceans of tears, countless wasted opportunities, a life filled with all manners of sinful behavior and developing serious health problems, the prodigal daughter returns to the place where I felt sure of myself and certain of where love lived. I could blame the death of my father for all the troubles of my life, but that would not be true. I willfully went down these paths and my heavenly father, just like my earthly father did when I was a child, let me travel; patiently and lovingly waiting for me to find my way back. I was lost; my Daddy and God were right where they should be. It has taken me a lifetime to honor my Fathers in the way they so lovingly deserve. From this day forward, this is why I bother with Father’s day. With a humble, undeserving yet grateful heart, I give tribute to my Fathers.

To the man who raised me and taught me through examples the ways of God; to my Heavenly Father who has brought me through the storms, welcomed me home and is my true north; “Happy Father’s Day to you both for I love you with every beat if my heart.”

From your daughter who walks in faith,
Gwen

Side Note: My Daddy loved collecting hats and he looked so handsome wearing them 🙂

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Essence Of A Woman Of Faith

The door opens, a woman gracefully passes through, tiny smile curls her lips.
She enters the room, walking tall, moves purposefully, with a quiet confidence,
The men immediately notice, caution to approach, she must be spoken for
She takes a seat, from a distance their eyes watch her, they admire and adore woman Softly she greets those around her,
yet her words are loud and clear,
Lyrical is the sound of her voice that floats through the air and caresses the ear,
She is not haughty, not flashy, a striking feminine presence, modest in dress
The men want to know her, want to get closer, learn the secret she posses

She rises and crosses the room with authority, once again that secret smile
Oblivious to the stir she caused among the men watching all the while
One finds the courage, he approaches and asks with a nervous grin
Who are you, you have to tell me, I’ve been sitting here wondering.

“Forgive me, hope I did not offend? It’s just you are someone I want to know”
Lashes lower as almond-shaped eyes rest pointedly upon his face
For a time that feels like a century, she stands before him, still, silent, poised
Barely breathing, he studies her quiet beauty, quite alarming, full of grace

She tells him her story, he studies her as she finishes, turns and walks away
She goes and mingles among friends, he resumes his place among the men,
Thinking back on the conversation, lips shape a smile, just a trace,
So tell us, who is she, that woman, who caused such a stir in this place?

She has come through the fire, been through much more than she would tell
From all that she said, much of it I found myself hard pressed to relate
Her parting words left me with pondering, so many things to contemplate
She said “Trust In God.” Who I am and what you see is the product of my belief,
This is what she did state, “I am this and much more all possible by Faith.”

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4 Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”
(1Peter 3-4)

After reading this story I’d like to poise some questions:
1) King David spoke of the lure of a woman who walks in faith; how would you describe such a woman?
2) Can faith shine on the outside of a woman? Is it sexy?
3) What is spiritual beauty to you? Can it enhance a woman’s outer appearance?

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Healing Faith

The year is 2001; it is 3:00 am on a Tuesday morning in the ICU unit. SG_Phuket Hospital Room 1 The CT scan of my chest, completed. Fear gripped me tighter than the pain that racked my rib cage with each inhaled breath. The doctor returned and said “I have good news and bad. The bad news is that you have multiple pulmonary embolisms.” I did not know then what an embolism was; my mind raced with thoughts of death. The doctor continued, “The good news is that you followed your gut instincts and did not go to sleep, instead called us and you are here being treated.” Somehow those words brought me little comfort, it brought an overwhelming sense of anxiety and tears burst forth flowing out the corners of my eyes.

The doctor pat my hand and said “Don’t worry, you are in good hands.” He began to explain my condition and course of treatment. He might as well have spoken a foreign language, it was like in the Charlie Brown cartoon when the teacher spoke, it was all Greek to me. I could not control the doom and gloom that steam rolled over all reason. Each day that went by I found myself drowning in my own fears. The constant blood testing several times a day, specialists mulling over treatment options among themselves as if I had no input into my care. I became depressed. The enemy was working overtime. Satan had me. He laid claim to my thoughts, my peace and my trust in the outcome of my health.

On Saturday as my son visited, he asked what he could bring to help me feel better. I replied “please bring my Bible.” I had not been to church in years nor gave God any real thought. I was wandering along in control of my own life and that suited me just fine, until I needed him. I did not know what I had expected to find in the Bible to help me but somewhere deep inside I knew this book had the answer, held the secret of reassurance that the doctors, my family and friends could not offer. I turn to the reference pages in my study Bible and look up fear and anxiety; *Isaiah 41:10 & *Philippians 4:6-7 caught my eye. I read them, over and over.

At first it was just scriptures, words, that on the surface seemed to slow my racing thoughts of fear and lessen my anxiety over what was happening; but only for short periods of time. I started to cling to those scriptures and meditate verse by verse on what they really meant. Slowly meaning came to me when I would close my eyes, laid very still and just listen to the verses in my head. They were no longer words on a page, they became arms around me, a gentle, soothing voice caressing my mind, filling me with self-assurance, peace, courage and strength. Two weeks later I was released and faced with new challenges from my diagnosis. I continued to seek God’s word. I started going to the Lord lifting up my fears in prayer; something that I had not done in forever.

During those months of healing, the prodigal daughter had come home. And like the story in the Bible, my heavenly father was over-joyed. Did I face fear, felt anxious, stumble and strayed since then? Most certainly yes. I have had other challenging illnesses. I have heeded my own voice instead of his and always pay the price. What I have learned is this; although I will fall to the nature of the flesh, my heavenly father does not turn away from me. I do not have all the answers, yet I know where to find them. True healing came when I turned to the Great Physician, he had all the treatment I needed.

My prayer: “Praise be, for you are the Great Physician. Father, forgive me when I fall short and let my will supersede your will for my life. I may fall ill in body, mind and spirit, but when I do, through the Holy Spirit, I can turn to you and be healed. Thank you for having the cure for all that ails me, Amen.”

*Isaiah 41:10 (ESV)
fear not, for I am with you be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

*Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

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Open Mic (The Battle For The World)

Lucifer takes the mic:

From the beginning of time I made them mine, mic
So easy to deceive,
Promises of knowledge, insight into the secrets of Big G,
Foolish, like taking candy from a baby, so easy; wasn’t it Eve?

I got skills, got brother to hate brother,
Dangle a little insecurity here, cajole a little jealousy there,
Bam! I’m the man, cloud reason with rage,
Abel raised up and slain Cain, I tell ya son, that was a good day.

Did I stop there? Are you kidding; that’s just the tip
Reached into my bag and pulled out my favorite lure,
Got him to kill his best friend, just so he could steal his woman,
Nasty, twisted you might say? Don’t hate on me, cause I don’t feel bad,
King David made it easy~Lust~man they always want what they see and shouldn’t have.

Now I gonna tell you something that’s really dope,
Big G, he let me, have my way with this dude named Job,
I was all over him, relentless, I could break him, any day now I would take him,
Job was hard-core, no matter what I threw his way, faithful, all prayed it
A little mishap, I lost that battle (shrug), didn’t matter, so many others out there to gather.

Century after century I’ve come into my greatness, so many losing hope
Y’all feeling me? Pat myself on the back, people-I am no joke!
I got my soldiers wrecking havoc all over this world,
Man I got them killing people in the name of Big G, ain’t that a blip?
Sweet, let me take a page from Micky D’s ” I’m loving it.”

I got them to take Big G out the schools and almost every public place,
Roping them in by using the guise of “fringing on constitutional rights and the separation of church and state,
It’s so delicious, keep it PC, happy holidays they wont even say his name,
Silly rabbits, making it so easy for me to reign.

Most poweful nation, the US, divided into blue and red states,
Each claiming to believe in something bigger than their selves,
I barely have to lift a hand, I lean back, watch them going at each other
brings tears of joy to my eyes,
Who are they kidding, Big G is reduced to a thought, a concept, a myth,
Believers~suckers I say, they must be on some serious trip.

Y’all better recognize, I’m in control. I’m lurking in the Church, I’m the corruption in your political leaders, I’m the hand up the spiritual skirt.
Son, my full mastery over this world is just a matter of time,
Only thing standing in way is a few that won’t bend, won’t divert,
Faithful, prayerful, focused, submerged in the Word of Big G,
But I’m not sweating that, their numbers getting smaller everyday.
I got em, pulling out the ultimate hook~Fear
I couldn’t be more pleased, shout out to all you Believers! Are you ready to do battle with me?

My Prayer: Almighty Father, cover us believers in the full armour of your protection. Satan is busier than ever and we need to stay vigilent. Father, guide and direct us Lord to fight the Good fight which rages within the battlefield of the mind.

Scriptural Warfare:
Eph 6:10-17 (NIV) …Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled round your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

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A Letter To Momma

Dear Momma,  letter

I never knew you although you were always there in our home. Our relationship was a tug of war. Growing up, in my eyes, you appeared detached, harsh, unfair, highly critical and never allowed me a voice. This girl longed for a mother and daughter relationship that I had witness between my friends and their mothers. Yet, with you I met indifference. I never saw you and Daddy fight in front of me; yet the angry, straining stares between Daddy and you spoke to me in volumes.

When Daddy died suddenly as I entered to my teens; I looked to you for guidance. The secret Daddy tried to hide came out in full vengeance; your alcoholism. I was growing up, body changing, big girl feelings and desires filled me and confused me. Momma, I needed to understand these things, but you were too drunk to care. Shame and anger overwhelmed me from the pointing fingers, whispers and nasty jokes of the children and the mothers in our neighborhood. It crushed my spirit and left me numb.

Longing for love to rid me of the emptiness, I had a child earlier then I had dreamed. My dream was to have a long marriage like you and Daddy and raise my children. I feared telling you. When I finally did, you coldly said “I already knew, I was just waiting for you to come to me.” Then you said something I will never forget; “This is your child, I raised mine.” When my son was born, it was a joyous and life altering time. I remember thinking, now I am someone’s mother, how will I measure up? Over time I understood these things: the gift of motherhood comes with no manual. This tiny life God allowed me to have stewardship over for a time is serious business.

Momma you made mistakes, and so had I. The special bond you had with my son let me see you in another light. You did the best you could under the circumstances. The love of your life, your rock, had suddenly died and you were left to pickup the pieces while struggling alone with the demon of alcoholism. Could you have done things differently between you and me, my heart says YES, but who is to say you did not do things exactly as God had planned. Over the months, weeks and days caring for you at your hospital bedside taught me all about obedience, responsibility, acceptance, patience and most importantly a mother’s heartache and her undying love. I discovered you always loved me and you had many dreams for me and dreams for yourself.

Momma on this Mother’s Day, I finally I ask for your forgiveness. I have been unfair, detached, harsh and highly critical. I judged you from the eyes of a lonely, hurt, misguided child who did not know the challenging undertakings of being a mother. Momma, I found my voice and I use it with unwavering respect, honor and devotion for you. I would not be the woman who walks in faith today if not for all we have been through. The night before you died I recall our conversation like yesterday. It went like this; Me: “Mommy, I will see you in the morning. Mommy: “You see me now.” Yes Mommy, years and years later, I SEE YOU NOW. You are with our Savior and there is no more pain. One day we will meet again. Until then let me say ” Thanks for being my Momma, I love you.”

Your loving humble Daughter,
Gwen

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Through Faith, I See Jesus

Who is Jesus? People have asked this question throughout the ages. As I mediated on what my answer would be, I found myself reflecting on Jesus’ time here on earth. I examined the Gospels and the perspectives of those whom he walked among. Jesus is many things to different people depending on the lens. Eye

To the Jews who rebelled against Gentile rule, Jesus was not the savior desired. He spoke of peace, brotherhood, forgiveness and love of your enemies. Jesus did not forcefully remove them from under Roman control. Through their lens, they felt betrayed by his words and actions. During his trial this was clear. The crowd vehemently cried out, “Not this man, but Barabbas.” Pilate answered, “What then shall I do with Jesus?” The fierce cry immediately followed. “Let him be crucified.”

»Num 24:17 ~ I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.

The Pharisees were protectors of the Mosaic laws, Jesus was a just a man with blasphemous ways. He kept company with sinners, whores, tax collectors and the like. Through their lens, Jesus would lead the people astray.

»Hebrews 7: 11, 12 ~ If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood—and indeed the law given to the people established that priesthood—why was there still need for another priest to come, one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? 12 ~ For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also.

The Sadducees honored tradition of religious practices and worship. Through their lens, Jesus often disregarded these things, he even performed healing on the Sabbath. Jesus and his disciples appeared to shun established ways.

»Matthew 15:2 ~ “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”
»Mark 3:2 ~ Some of them were looking for reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would break the Sabbath.

The Elders were leaders in the community and held judgment over its behavior. Through their lens, Jesus was instructing the people in disconcerting ways. The crowds he drew did not sit well with the Elders. His popularity was a threat to their status within the community.

»John 9:28 ~ Then they hurled insult at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses!
*Him-Jesus gave sight with the placing of mud on his eyes*

The Chief Priests hailed from among members of the high priestly families; from their lens, Jesus was low in status, yet laid claims to heavenly treasures. How can he makes such claims? He was poor, nor was he grandly adorned as was King Solomon.

»John 9:29 ~ “We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.”
»Mark 11:27-28 “By what authority are you doing these things?”

The scribes interpreted Jewish law. Jesus’ instructions challenged their area of expertise and threaten their influence among the people. Through the lens of the scribes, Law is established through the covenant made between Moses and God. Who was Jesus to instruct anything contrary to it?

»Luke 23:4a ~ But they insisted, “He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching.

To the Roman Authority, Jesus on one hand was insignificant, yet one the other, his popularity, mass appeal and ability to draw huge crowds was a threat. The threat of large-scale rebellion was always of concern to the Romans. In the end, through their lens, Jesus was as they say all smoke and mirrors. For all his acclaimed powers, this Jesus could not even save himself from death on the cross. If he was all he claimed to be, in their eyes, surely he was powerful enough to prevent such a fate.

» Luke 24:26 ~ Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?
» Hebrews 7:16 ~ one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life.

I see Jesus as my source of strength, comfort and assurance in times of discord. To me he is a living testament of God’s love for me. He loves me more than any person can. Jesus loved me before I came to know him. He championed on my behalf to the Father from the cross asking him to forgive the wicked sins of the world who saw fit to crucify him. Jesus is my teacher and guide who left a blueprint (the Bible) on how to live my life to the glory of God . Jesus is the architect of my faith. He is my best friend who I share my deepest concerns and most cherish desires. I can talk with him anytime for he is never too busy and I can always reach him day or night. Jesus assures through the Holy Spirit what God deems best for me. Jesus never walks away from me when I am less than I am. He encourages me to be more than I dare be. Through my lens Jesus has my back and I could not ask for anything more.

My Prayer: Father Almighty, may I be a testament to your love, grace and mercy so that others through my words and actions will see and recognize you. Lord, may you help me see you clearly when sin smugs my faith and blurs my vision, I ask this in the name of Jesus whose death brought my salvation, Amen.

Scriptures say who Jesus is:
Hebrews 7:18-22 ~ The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless 19-(for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God. 20-And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, 21-but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him: “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: ‘You are a priest forever.’  22-Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant.

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Chaotic Faith

wheelchair Bright skies and warm temperatures drew the people to the park. It was a delicious day to be outdoors. Local merchants selling various items lined the park’s parameters. Within 10 minutes of arriving, Rachel noticed the park was full. Nearby a little girl squealed “he’s here!” released her mother’s hand, dimpled smile broke her face, curls bouncing as she raced towards the vendor who made animal shapes out of balloons. Rachel watch the child interact with the vendor as the mother stood close by. Lips twisted into a smirk. She envied the child who frolicked about unrestrained, unconcerned of how she appeared, following her desires without fear. Even as a girl, Rachel was never brave, never free with her feelings. Never willing to take risk. The accident that put her in this wheelchair where she would stay, left a bitter seed in Rachel’s heart. It cemented her fears. “Months of daily prayer and still I can’t walk. God has no use for me;” she reasoned.

Rachel paid small attention to the men who entered the park. Now her focus dragged from the child to the them as they spread out walking about. Then it came, in deafening rapid fire. Screams of terror filled the air. Bodies scattered for cover. Rachel’s hands gripped the wheels. Frantic, her eyes searched for the exits. Scores of people, pushing, trampling others as they mowed through the park’s exits. Her mind raced “I have to get out of here.” The barrage of gun fire went on and on. Blood streaming down the left side of her face; the woman darted about with the dimpled face little girl screaming alongside her. She staggered towards Rachel. Succumbing to her wounds she fell upon Rachel and rolled, her hands frantically gripped Rachel’s thighs. The child wailed as the gun fire continued. A gunman pursued. Rapidly approaching upon the three, pointing the gun. The child froze near Rachel’s chair, trembling, the girl gulped down her cries. Her Arm swung out; Rachel drew the child tight to her.

Eyes stared up pleading as Rachel stared back. “What can I do in this chair,? For this child? For this woman; she is hurt bad? I’m trapped in this chair. Oh Lord, we are all going to die;” Rachel muttered not know what to do or how. She felt the weight of her disability as terror raged around her. Rachel grasped the child mother’s hand. She groaned inward; fear made her deaf to the sounds about her. With certain death looming, Rachel shut eyes and prayed. Without ceasing, she prayed and prayed. (1 Thessalonians 5 :17) In Rachel’s hand the mother’s hand went limp. The child watched as the gunman abruptly turn, ran as police raced after him. One of the officers sprint towards them. His eyes quickly surveyed the area noting many wounded. The officer approach the limp body of the woman, frantically trying to revive her. Gathering the child into her embrace Rachel and the child wept.

Years have passed since that fateful day. Rachel watch the curls bounce about the young woman’s shoulders and dance along her back as she lifted her head to the skies watching the sea of caps fly about. The graduates squealed with ecstatic accomplishment. Now they would take on the world. The girl gave Rachel a wide dimpled smile. Rachel realized God had use for her. In her wheelchair on that frightful afternoon she placed all her faith in God; the same God whom she secretly felt had condemned her to that chair. Rachel cried, dreamed, found courage and dared to loved through the awkward painful years of raising Myka since her mother’s death. The same little girl Rachel envied became the young woman who a short moment ago had honored Rachel in her valedictorian speak. “My mom Rachel is so brave. She is fearless. She loves so openly, so giving. She is a woman of God, she taught me the power of prayer. My mom Rachel…..”

My Prayer: Almighty God and the great physician, remove the illness of bitterness and despair from the heart so the we can realized its full potential even within physical limitations. May we always turn to you when we have reached the confines of our abilities and trust that your will be done. We are all special in your sight; divinely fashion for purposes beyond our human understanding. I offer up this request for courage and acceptance, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV

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Walk of Faith

woods He gazed out at the lake; frogs croaked in the distance. Three days, time away from the hassles of life he uttered as he blissfully sighed. Nate’s cellphone rang. He stared at the unfamiliar number. A strange, emotionless voice said “Is this Nathan Chambers?” Frowning, Nate grunted “Yes.” The caller continued. “Your Father has been in an accident. He is at Memorial General in the ICU unit.”

Nate quicken his steps, it would take 45 minutes to reach back to the house. As he walked memories of past times with his Father flickered through his brain; movie frames slowed down, pictures without sound. Suddenly, like a camera’s shutter firing off, images of his Father dying played in his head as if on an invisible video projection loop. Tears pooled at the corners of his eyes threatening to overflow. With a defiant shake of head, Nate continued on.

Half the distance there, his legs seemed as if they were heavy logs. His shoulders felt like a million hands were pressing downward. Needing to keep all negative thought at bay, Nate’s mind searched to recall Bible verses his Father had taught him through the years to recite during times of distress. Frantic, his thoughts fumbled around, no complete verse would materialize.

As he reached a winding turn, a stream of light broke the dense tree-lined path. Nate stared, transfixed upon it. Soft, whispered, a voice caressed his eyes “Do you not know me?” Nate’s eyes looked about. Again it came, louder, forceful. “Do you not know me?” Returning his gaze back to the stream of light, he began to tremble. Closing his eyes the tears ran unrestrained. A short time passed and his eyes opened and Nate continued towards the house.

Sometime later in the hospital room, Nate stared down at his sleeping Father. He took his Father’s strong, aged hand and gripped it tightly. Leaning in close he whispered “Dad, I am sorry I could not get here sooner, but God was here all along. You said if I trust him, he would never forsake.” His Father’ s eyes slowly opened fixing on his son’s face. In silence, love, understanding and forgiveness were exchanged.

That was a year ago and Nate still goes to the lake. Now it’s not to escape the trials of life. It’s time dedicated to prayer and reflection. Nate uses this time in solitude to fortified his spirit to withstand life’s demand. Nate still struggles at times in his Christian walk; but now he KNOWS God is God and reinforces his faith through the reading of scripture and not relying on the scripture to give him faith.

My Prayer: Heavenly Father, the believer’s journey is not an easy walk. Thank you for taking this walk with me, step by step. I ask that you guide my path, sustain my spirit, lay open my heart and clear the dense clutter from my mind so I can hear your voice and KNOW you. All praises due you, in the name of Jesus Christ I pray, Amen.

Genesis 28:15 – “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

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In The Mist There Is Faith

Hand-Butterfly Eyes watch filled with an unwholesome gaze,
leaving me feeling small, exposed and afraid

But you, God see the trouble of the afflicted;
you consider their grief and take it in hand (Psalm 10:14a)

No Father to protect me made it easy for this to be, she had what she needed,
closed her eyes to what was happening to me

The victims committed themselves to you;
you are the helper of the fatherless (Psalm 10:14b)

Fingers stealing my innocence, greedy digits stripping away my soul, incomplete,
rage deep, losing, losing control

When wickedness comes, so does contempt,
and with shame comes reproach (Proverbs 18:3)

Small, shivering, eyes burn from spent waters of shame, searching your face desperately
for a sign, pretending ends, this madness will cease right away

It is not good to be partial to the wicked and
so deprive the innocent justice (Proverbs 18:5)

Fleeting moment, expression of deliverance! wrong, so deceived; the trinkets she receives
are much more valuable than little old me

Keep me safe, Lord from the hands of the wicked;
Protect me from the violence, who devise ways to trip my feet (Psalm 140:4)

No where to turn, quivering lips, eyes casted to the skies, from the depth of my belly I cry

I say to the Lord, “You are my God.” Hear, Lord, my cry for mercy.
Do not grant the wicked their desires, Lord; Do not let their plans succeed
(Psalm 140:6, 8)

Other eyes watch, a decision made; across the room threats are flung,
in reply, words of disgust are slung, feet race across the floor, hand takes hand, out we run, door slams

Because he loves me, “says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.” (Psalm 91:41)

Arms blanket me, sad is the gaze, eyelids slowly close; tiny sounds break my lips, sudden recognition, “I see me”
hurt flows, tear stained faces, shared pain now exposed; she’s been there too, I am not alone; my God the things that go on in a home

May the Lord answer you when you are in distress;
may the name of the God of Jacob protect you (Psalm 20:1)

My Prayer: Merciful Lord, so many are suffering in silence from the hurt of sexual abuse.
Touch each soul and deliver them to a place of safety and protection. Bring peace to the weary soul and release from the shame. Heal the wounded heart and create a new spirit. May you cover them in the full abundance of your love, in the name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

FOOTNOTE: poem is written by Gwen Miller with scripture inserts

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Toiling Faith

Purple African violet (Saintpaulia)

Purple African violet (Saintpaulia) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I think about from whom my blessing flow, I mediate on how God works in my life. I liken my faith journey as a work in process. Growing up in Brooklyn, New York; my mother had a garden out front of our house. I could admire it from the big bay windows of my parents’ bedroom that opened out to the garden. Big, tall, hello yellow, sun flowers leaned in towards the windows as if to say “Good Morning.” My eyes were always drawn to the rows of violets. I love the color purple; these kisses of purple peeping throughout the garden fascinated me. One day after reading the Upper Room daily devotional which touched on African violets and faith; I mediated on it. I did some research on the African violet and it was interesting to me how the plant’s care parallels the faith walk. I’d like to share my thoughts.

The African violet is beautiful but takes meticulous measures to assure growth and longevity. It is particularly important for the successful growth of African violets that they be potted in a wicking container (a pot-within-a-pot with the larger pot holding water and an overflow spout, and the smaller pot holding the soil and plant.)

We are like the smaller pot, seemingly self-contained as we go through life. Then the harsh sunshine of trials comes about, the temperature of certainty changes and now we are uncomfortable in our environment.

Violets are a little persnickety in the water department. They don’t like being watered directly and will show their displeasure by curling up and dying if water gets on their leaves. (Dramatic, aren’t they?) They will tolerate very light misting as long as the moisture can sink in before the histrionics begin.

As trials linger even as we are praying and praying over them, faith begins to wither. Constant, prolonged disruptions cloud our outlook; no longer are we flourishing.

African violets get nutrition from sunshine and soil, the soil’s nutrients can deplete over time so it will be necessary to feed it.

Faith is the sunshine; its brilliance is sustain when we read the Word daily. It has the nutrients required for growth and healthy harvesting. God is the larger pot holding water with an overflow spout; he has enough and is enough to see us through.

African violets will flourish with a weekly routine of watering and removing the lower leaves and blossoms as they pass their prime. In fact, in a few months the plant will be in danger of over growing the pot. When that happens, it’s time to re-pot your African violet.

It is essential for us to stay in the word especially during the potting seasons of life. Often we go about our walk feeding on what we think is in the Word. Daily reading, meditation, prayer and living the Word helps removed those overgrown leaves of stagnated faith.

Your first re-potting might be slightly daunting, and it is understandable to be reluctant to interfere with something that is obviously loving life. However, the plant’s longevity, beautiful symmetry, and health requires this.

Many times we miss out on the good fruit awaiting us because we are afraid to step-out on faith. We drop the hoe (a hand tool used in gardening) and throw away our hopes and dreams. Every once in a while, life will turn over your soil which leaves us exposed; for this necessary for us to blossom. Trust in the Lord and believe that better things will come.

My Prayer: Most gracious Lord, at times the soil is turned leaving me exposed and I might be challenged by the elements; you promise to never forsake me. Father, help me to stay focused in my worship and reap the good fruit that awaits me for I am willing to stay the course. In Jesus name I pray Amen.

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