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Barbed Wire Pain

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I may have written on this subject before, but here I go again. Each day I’m encountering people who are going through dark, dark valleys. It may be life-threatening diseases; it may be divorces,  criminal acts against the innocence, grief, and disasters from the elements–flooding, hurricanes–or even God’s own people threatening to destroy themselves.  My heart aches for anyone in sharp pain because evil, like barbed wire, has bound them in suffering. We may be that individual, or we might be watching someone raw with pain. What can we do? Where is there help?

In biblical days, people would go to Gilead which was located east of the Jordan River. There many spices grew which were mixed together and made into an ointment. When I was a child, my folk bought a salve from the Watkins man. Yep, I’m telling you my age. Many of you may never have heard of the Watkins’ man, but he went door to door selling the Watkins’ products. Looking back, it seems funny that no one bothered with his name; they just called him the Watkins man. Salve, ointment, or balm, I use the terms interchangeably, could cure about anything. If we got a cold, then we were slathered in menthol salve. But the balm in Gilead was even more valued. It was made from resin taken from a flowering plant. It was referred to three times in the Bible–once in Genesis and twice in Jeremiah. In Jeremiah 8 it speaks of the prophet hearing bad news and crying out, “Is there no balm in Gilead?” He was really asking is there no healing?

Today, we shake our heads at the unbelievable horrors that are occurring in our world, and we might ask like Jeremiah, “Is there no balm in Gilead?” What we’re really asking is God, what are you going to do about this? We may become desperate for relief; this is where some people get in trouble by turning to alcohol or drugs. We may say we can’t stand it and some choose to end their life. But Jesus has a word for us; in fact he had many words for us. Let’s take a minute and look at what he says.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD.”  John 16:33 NIV (Capitalization mine.) What is he saying? That sin is in the world, but he is the VICTOR. You stand with him if he’s your Savior. If he isn’t, then invited him into your heart.

A very wise pastor once gave me some good advice. He said, “Don’t ask God to take you out of the valley, but ask him to go with you and teach you.” Also, I believe it was Rick Warren who said, “We’re either in a valley, just came out of a valley, or getting ready to go into a valley.”

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The truth is that as long as we’re alive, we’re not going to escape the valley, so we’d better stand with the Victor and have Him go with us through it, refining us as we go. Terrible things are not God’s will, but he may allow it, and he will use our suffering for good. We’ll be more compassionate with others who are going through similar things. We’ll become more kind-hearted, we’ll realize what Christ’s death on the cross cost, why it was needed, and how valuable life in Christ is.

I’m not telling you to deny your pain. It’s real; you’re bound to feel it. But I do encourage you to take it to the Father. Tell him your feelings and ask him to carry it for you. I can promise you he will. John 14:27 reads, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart! And the peace I give isn’t fragile like the peace of the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” TLB

Doctor Janet, here, prescribes reading 5 Psalms per day while you’re walking your dark corridor. Devour the words of comfort. Then get an envelope or a prayer box and write down your problems. Give them to the Lord. Every time you take them back, write them down again and give them to him again. Do this until you can release them to HIM and let HIM carry them for you. You may be in the darkest valley, but you don’t have to walk it alone. Cling to Jesus as if your life depends on it. It does, my friend, it really does. You’re going to make it—He’s got this! In HIS love, Janet

 

The Emotional Trip

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Dear Friends,

 

I don’t mean I’m on an emotional trip, but rather my emotions have caused me to trip. I’ve fallen and skinned my spirit. I was doing fine, but then I became physically tired. When tiredness strikes, my spirit gets vulnerable, and emotional scars are easily roughed up. My balm? You guessed it–food! Ah, what relief, even if it is short-lived.

 

My first thought is to chuck the plan! Oh, how easy it is to slip back into old habits–skip the exercise, forget about nutritious foods, and just wallow in fast foods mania. But then I remember that the prize goes to the one who stays in the race Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 9:24 to “run in such a way as to get the prize.” I know the only way to do that is to get back on track.

 

One summer when I was recovering from surgery, I was sitting outside watching an ant carry a heavy load back to the anthill. Oh, how that ant struggled with the task, often dropping the treasure, and having to start over. I was amazed at the ant’s stick-to-it-ness. Remembering the ant’s perseverance, I resolve to keep starting over, and starting over, until I have mastered the plan. I won’t give up!

 

I’m including a favorite poem I’ve had for years. It is by John Greenleaf Whittier. It packs a whopper of a message for me.  Just in case you’ve tripped up, I hope it will encourage you, too.

 

In HIS love, Janet

 

Don’t You Quit

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,

When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,

When the funds are low and the debts are high,

And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,

When care is pressing you down a bit-

Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,

As every one of us sometimes learns,

And many a fellow turns about

When he might have won had he stuck it out.

Don’t give up though the pace seems slow –

You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than

It seems to a faint and faltering man;

Often the struggler has given up

When he might have captured the victor’s cup;

And he learned too late when the night came down,

How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out –

The silver tint in the clouds of doubt,

And you never can tell how close you are,

It might be near when it seems afar;

So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit –

It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

 

  jpeg 16   John Greenleaf Whittier (1807 – 1892) was called a “Fireside Poets.” His work was well-known and read widely in America. Whittier was fortunate enough to make a comfortable living from his poetry

 

Be joyful in hope, Patient in affliction Faithful in prayer.

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Romans 12:12 NIV

I.  Be joyful in hope

Webster defines joy and hope in the following manner:

JOY—an emotion of sudden pleasure; exultant satisfaction; keen delight

ful—being full of, filled; characterized by

HOPE—expect or look forward to, with desire and confidence; confidence in a future event; expectations of something desired.

The English language often uses the word joy as a synonym for “happy.” But the meaning that most of us attach to the word joy is dependent on a moment of delight—getting a present, a special day (wedding, birth, etc.), taking a vacation, receiving a special phone call, reward, signing a book contract, getting “the job,” and the list is endless.  But while this joy does make us happy, it is fleeting, and disappears in a few days, weeks, or years.

Paul’s use of the word joy in Romans 12:12 has a deeper meaning when used with the word hope. Joy, as used in this Scripture, comes from the Greek Word CHAIRO meaning to “be glad.” Thus joyful would mean to be full of gladness. In Romans 12:12, the Apostle Paul is speaking to the Roman Christians, trying to encourage them.  The joy Paul speaks of is not dependent on the events or circumstances of life, but is directly related to the hope man has in Christ and His promises. This is joy that cannot die.

We know Paul had this joy for in  Philippians 4:11 b. he says, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” How could that be?  This man had enough sorry to put him under numerous times.  He worked day and night, he was imprisoned many times, flogged repeatedly in many ways, and exposed to death on numerous occasions.  He had been stoned, shipped wrecked, constantly on the move, almost drowned in rivers, almost killed by bandits, his own countrymen, and the Gentiles.  Everywhere he went men wanted to kill him.  He was sleep-deprived, hungered and thirsted, and lacked clothing.  Add to this, the extreme emotional and spiritual burden he felt for the churches and you can’t help but wonder how he even had the strength to get up each morning.  (2 Corinthians 11: 23-30)

What did Paul have to be joyful about?  Why wasn’t he in the depths of despair?  Surely this man was not bubbling over with joy or chuckling every day?  What kind of joy could he feel?  What kind of joy can we feel when life beat us up????  The answer is the joy that hopes in Christ.

Despair was what Paul’s life had been before ChristThose were the years he had nothing to be joyful about.  Joyful in hope is what Paul’s life became after he met Christ on the Damascus Road.   Acts 9

Joy that cannot die, the joy of hope in Christ, is the kind of joy that Christ offers to us.  If you have been mistakenly thinking that you have to be one constant chuckle every moment of your life, that you have to continually soar with the balloons in the sky, you’ve got the meaning of Christian joy wrong. We can’t always be having a Kodak picture moment, but we can always be joyful in hope.

  • Joy in the fact that when life rains problems and burdens on you, you have a Helper, and you have a future in Heaven.
  • Joy in the fact that while the end times are going to be terrible, God is in control and Jesus will come back for you.
  • Joy in the fact that while you may feel financial stress on this earth, you are rich in Christ and have everything you need in Christ Jesus.

Be Joyful in hope( in Christ Jesus). 

Name other biblical characters that had this type of joy.  Heb. 11, Abraham, Joseph, Mary the Mother of Christ, others

Name people of today or in recent history that have displayed this type of joy.  Mother Theresa, Billy Graham, Dr. Dobson, missionaries, others 

Think of someone in your community that has had this type of joy.  

How have you associated “JOY” and the Christian?  Did you think it was just talking about being happy on a daily basis?

Is the thought of JOY being connected to HOPE in Christ, and apart from circumstantial events, a new thought to you?

Do you have this kind of joy, but didn’t think of it as joy? 

How will joyfulness in hope become evident in your life?

II. Patient in affliction

PATIENCE—endurance of pain or provocation without complaint; the power to wait calmly; perseverance

PATIENT—having patience.

AFFLICTION—distress or pain; a cause of distress or pain; an illness or disease

Patient in affliction means to endure without complaint, to wait calmly; to persevere in of spite of distress or pain (mental, physical, or spiritual).

There is an old spiritual, which says, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through.”  Scriptures tell us our citizenship is in heaven.  Based on our joyfulness in hope (in Christ), we can put up with trials here on earth.  The best is yet to be.

Joni Erickson Tada is an example of a person being patient in affliction.  I’m sure this courageous lady has her moments, in fact she shares them in some of her writing, but when all is said and done she is patient in affliction.  (Can you think of others in history or in the present?)

Perhaps, you too, have been patient in affliction at some point in your life.  You personally know that in “due season, we shall reap, if we faint not.”  (Galatians 6:9) Sometimes those situations are evident to the community, and sometimes people are being afflicted with private pains/conflicts that are growing them up in patience.

Why did I use the term “growing-them-up?”  Scriptures assure us that trials can be used for our spiritual growth.  Consider Romans 5: 3-5

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials for we know that they are good for us—they help us learn to be patient.

And patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we use it until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady.  Then, when that happens, we are able to hold our heads high no matter what happens and know that all is well, for we know how dearly God loves us, and we feel this warm love everywhere within us because God has given us the Holy spirit to fill our hearts wit his love.  TLB James 1:2-4

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  NIV

The must let God refine us.  Please understand that not all affliction is caused by God, but it is allowed by God, and can be used for spiritual growth.

Read Job 1: 6-13  God allowed the testing, but it wasn’t from Him.  Job 42 is a picture of the end result of Job’s affliction. We learns of his increased faith in God’s sovereignty, the note the reestablishment of his family, friends, and material blessings, and we can only imagine what his heavenly blessings are.

Do you ever think about what heaven will be like for Joni Erickson—what it will be like for her to run free.  Imagine the lifting of all affliction from body, mind, and soul!  What joy!

Name other biblical characters that were patient in affliction.  Hannah who couldn’t have a baby (mother of Samuel)

Name people of today or in recent history that have displayed patience in affliction.

9-11 people.

Name someone you know who has or is being patient in affliction.

What will be the reward of their patience? Character and hope (growth in faith).

Has your faith grown through going through some type of trial?  Perhaps you need to share

III. Faithful in prayer

Webster:

Faith—1. belief without proof; confidence; reliance; 2. belief in God; 3. loyalty; fidelity to an agreement or promise, 4. a religious creed.

Faithful—loyal, conscientious, exact; true

Prayer—1. a supplication to God;  (pl) a religious service, 2. entreaty; petition

The Israelites decided they wanted to be like other nations and asked for a king.  Through Samuel’s spiritual guidance they realized that they had sinned making this request and begged Samuel to continue to pray for them.

Samuel replied, “As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you.”.  1 Samuel 12: 23  We realize from this verse, that we are to intercede for others.  Indeed, Samuel considered it sin not to pray for others.

God lets us know that He listens, waits, and watches for our prayers to ascend to Him.  In Ezekiel 22:30, God is speaking through the prophet Ezekiel to Israel:  I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none. NIV

Who are you standing in the gap for?  Are your prayers building a hedge around our nation, around your family, around a lost soul?

Paul tells us that men ought always to pray.  1 Thessalonians 5:17 Pray without ceasing. 

The Bible is full of promises regarding faithfulness in prayer.  You may even be able to quote them.  The infamous, ASK: Matthew 7:7-8 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:  For everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 

Verses that often confuse us:  And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.  Matthew 21:22  (Also Mark 11:24) Can we take it literally?

Matthew 18:19 Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.”

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?  Matthew 7:11

Wesley L. Duewel (a Greenwood resident and senior) has written a wonderful book entitled, Mighty Prevailing Prayer (Zondervan 1990).  I think I have met Mr. Duewel when we were at a book signing at Berean.  Now, that I have read his book, I want to meet Mr. Duewel again.

I want to share a few highlights from his book with you, and suggest that you might want to order this book via Amazon.

***

FROM MIGHTY PREVAILING PRAYER:

Prevailing prayer is intercession intensified.  There are levels of prevailing prayer.

  1. Ask –Matthew 7:7
  2. Seek– Asking longer intensifies
  3. Knock–Interceding becomes more urgent and insistent
  4. Fast—To the previous crescendo of intensity and urgency of intercession, fasting is added.
  5. Prayer Burden—Burden may be intense and brief or extend over a long period of time.
  6. Wrestling—very intense praying
  7. Prayer warfare—Prayer battle extending over a prolonged pd.

Instead of giving up, we move into ever more determined intercession until we prevail.  Prayer warfare is usually over long prolonged periods of time and may involve alternating from one level to another as the Holy Spirit guides.

Prayer was never meant to be incidental to the work of God. It is the work of God.  Whatever keeps you too busy for God is a hindrance.  You can’t affor it.  You have no greater ministry or leadership more influential than intercession.  You have been saved to reign through prayer.  You have been Spirit-filled to qualify you to prevail in prayer.

All you need to do to learn to pray is pray.  There is no right or wrong way to pray.

God’s cause moves slowly when there are more organizers then agonizers.

Spiritual life dies without prayer.  Prayerless Christians are not filled and controlled by the Spirit no matter what they may profess.  1 Tim 2:1-2  We are to make intercession for everyone. Prayerlessness is the sin of the casual Christian.

To pray for oneself is petition.  To pray for others is intercession and prevailing is for others.

***

May God bless you as you make this prayer a reality in your life. God bless

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FEASTING ON HIS WORD

 

“They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples

picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish.

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            What do these verses have to do with us today? After all, we are far removed from the time Jesus fed the 5000 men, or are we?  I know this story well, but when I read it recently, new meaning clicked into my mind.

Picture Jesus, tired and weary and longing to escape the ever-pressing crowds to spend time with his disciples. They had taken a boat out on the water, but the people spotted them on the lake and ran to the other side. When they arrived, Jesus saw a huge crowd waiting.  Weary as he was, he had only eyes of compassion for he saw all the way to their souls—their physical ailments, their sorrows, their deepest needs. So he went up on a hillside and taught them the things of God. Scripture tells us it was already late in the day and the disciples were worried about feeding them. They were in a remote area and they wanted to send them home early. Instead, Jesus said, “You give them something to eat.”

Today, we would definitely think he had lost his mind, and the disciples were no different. How could he even say such a thing? There were at least 5000 men there and that wasn’t counting the women and children. It was ridiculous to suggest such a thing.. That would take almost a year’s wages. Surely he didn’t expect  them to give up that much money.

Then Jesus asked how many loaves they had. They checked and found five loaves and two fish.

Definitely not enough. But Jesus very calmly had the people sit down in groups of fifties and hundreds. Then he took the loaves and fish, gave thanks to God, and started breaking them.

Well you know how this ends. They ate until they were filled—we would say “stuffed.” Then the disciples began to gather up the leftovers and found they had twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. This was definitely a miracle! After all, a feat such as this was unheard of.

The people had been feasting spiritually on the teachings of Jesus. I suggest the physical miracle of this story is to demonstrate to us that when we feast on God’s Word, reading our Bible, asking the Holy Spirit to teach us, we will have spiritual leftovers to give others. You can’t give out Jesus unless you are filled with Jesus.

Thus, feast on Jesus continually and you will be surprised at how many pieces of the bread and the fish (think of it as spiritual  fruit) from your life will be gathered. I can promise you, he will heap blessings on you and those you share with.

God Bless,

Janet

©Janet Teitsort April 6, 2017

Susan, My Encounter with an Angel

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I had stayed to talk to an editor one-on-one after a session at a writer’s conference. The conference was being held in Green Lake,Wisconsin at the American Baptist Assembly. Leaving the building, I noticed that it was dark and the parking lot was nearly empty except for a couple of cars. I was staying a mile out on the Lakeshore road in one of the large homes. While staying to talk to the editor had seemed like a good idea in the daylight, it didn’t seem so good after darkness fell. Not wanting to bother the editor by asking her to run me home, I decided it’d be okay. The lights in the parking lot were still on. Surely, there’d be enough light from the windows of the houses to light my way.

But as I walked away from the conference area and turned on the Lakeshore road, I was plunged into total darkness. Thick, blanketing blackness covered me. The ebony night pressed in on me, smothering me—there was no escape. There wasn’t a moon or star in the sky. There weren’t any cars on the road, nor did a light shine from nary a window. I knew the lake was to my right and it was deep. What if I lost my way? The road was very curvy. What if I walked into the lake? I couldn’t swim.

Panicked, I let out a blood-curdling scream. I cried out, “God you  have to help me! I can’t see anything, I can’t find my way. Then the very second I’d cried out, she was there by my side with a flashlight.

In that instant, I thought, God sent an angel in response to my cry for help. But I have to confess, in my humanness, I was a bit skeptical.

“Who are you and where did you come from?” I asked.

“I’m Susan. I’m staying back there in my car for I don’t have a room.”

Realizing that she was probably breaking the rules, I asked, “How did you get on the grounds?”

“I drove in yesterday and I’m just staying in my car. I want to stay until tomorrow and talk to an editor. I have to find the Writer’s Cottage.”

Finally, we reached the home where I was staying. I thought about asking her in, but knew it would be the wrong thing to do even if she had saved my life. What if she decided to stay downstairs and sleep on one of the couches? The people at the main office would be upset that I had given her shelter when she hadn’t paid the fees. I didn’t want to get myself thrown out of the conference. Plus, she was a stranger. What did I really know about her? I needed to make a split-second decision and I was never very good with those, so I pointed the way to the Writer’s Cottage. “If you go on down the road a piece, you’ll find the Writer’s Cottage just around the bend. It’s the next house.

“Goodnight,” she called. “Maybe I’ll see you at breakfast.”

The next morning I looked for Susan, but she was nowhere to be found. I asked those staying at the Writer’s Cottage if they had seen her, no one had.

I finally concluded that Susan was an angel (earthly or heavenly, and I believe the latter) sent by God in my moment of crisis. I don’t believe she could have appeared that fast if she wasn’t an angel. In my mind, there just isn’t any other explanation. What do you think?

 

 

 

 

Joy & Peace Dancing

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I was at work in my office when the phone rang. The caller had a most unusual request. At first, he struggled to find the words to express his need. Finally, he just asked? “Are you the one who writes poetry and books?”

“Yes, I am,” I told him.

“Well, my wife is very ill, and she’s had a vision. I wonder if you’d come out and talk to AnnaBelle, try to get it down on paper for her?” He explained that he didn’t know how much time she had left. She had known I was a writer and had asked him to call me.  I assured him I’d be happy to try.

The day was bathed in sunshine-yellow as I drove to their nearby farmhouse. Spring leaves pranced and danced in their early childhood, casting shadows on the rural countryside. The beauty of the morning lifted my spirits as I drove to what I expected to be a difficult task.

I realized that this would probably be AnnaBelle’s last spring, and I hoped she’d be able to enjoy some of it. I had visited the terminally ill before, and somehow it didn’t seem fair that someone’s life should end when earth was budding with newness. As I drove, I speculated on what AnnaBelle’s story would be. Her husband had mentioned angels.

The housekeeper opened the door with a cheerful hello and ushered me into the living room where AnnaBelle was seated in a recliner. I had met her on a few occasions, but didn’t know her well.  After our initial greeting, I got down to the topic at hand and asked her about her vision. I was expecting her to tell me that she had seen white-winged angels, but soon learned that God had blessed AnnaBelle with unique visitors of comfort.

AnnaBelle explained that on this particular day her pain was unbearable, but her medicine lay in the kitchen on the table. The housekeeper had stepped out and the men were busy with farm chores. AnnaBelle was alone in the house. She considered getting up and going to get the medicine. But she knew it would be too much for her; she didn’t have the strength. In her torment, she cried out, “If it would be Your will, O’Lord, then help me, for I can’t bear this pain.”

In that moment the veil was lifted between heaven and earth. In front of AnnaBelle stood two visions of loveliness. AnnaBelle knew they had come straight from the heart of God.  They weren’t the typical pre-conceived image of angels. Instead, they appeared dressed in ballerina attire, the shades of a glorious sunset.

Captivated, I listened as AnnaBelle continued her story. Their faces were ovals without features.  At the time, that fact hadn’t seemed important to her, for the words they spoke were like the Balm of Gilead, soothing her spirit and giving her sweet relief.

“We will help you,” was their simple message of assurance, and in that instance all of her pain was gone.  AnnaBelle had briefly glanced away, and when she looked back, the twin angels had disappeared.  For the first time in months, AnnaBelle was pain free, and using the age-old clique she quipped, “That night, I slept like a newborn baby.”

AnnaBelle never saw her visitors again, but she often felt their ministering presence.  Several months later, one of her granddaughters got married, and she had been well enough to attend.  AnnaBelle shared that that when she danced with her husband, she felt her angelic ballerina friends holding her, supporting her, as she glided in his arms.

When I had first entered the room where we sat, I had noticed a beautiful work of art, lighted, and hanging above the fireplace.  She guided my eyes to the painting now.  Granddaughter Kate, an artist, had managed to capture AnnaBelle’s vision on canvas.  “I don’t know how she did it,” AnnaBelle said.  “But that is exactly the way they looked.   The only difference is Kate’s painting has them turned away from me.  When I saw them, they were facing me.”  She paused a minute, then continued, “I think God had Kate paint them that way.  That’s how they will be turned when they escort me to heaven. The picture gives me such comfort.  I love to sit and look at it.” AnnaBelle felt that God had been merciful to her, relieving her pain.  But she confided that she often contemplated why dancers, and why two?

Immediately, my thoughts turned to Hannah Hurnard’s book, Hinds’ Feet on High Places.  In Hurnard’s delightful allegory, the main character, Much Afraid, begins her journey to the high places.  The Shepherd gives her two lifetime companions, Sorrow and Suffering, to accompany her on her journey.  At the end of the story, she finds that Sorrow and Suffering had turned into Joy and Peace.  I personally think the Lord gave AnnaBelle, Joy and Peace for the end of her journey.  I excitedly shared Hannah Hurnard’s allegory with AnnaBelle.  I could see her face relax with perfect understanding.  I don’t believe it was a coincidence that I was the one they had called to record AnnaBelle’s vision.  God knew that I had read Hannah Hurnard’s book and would be able to share the meaning of the vision with AnnaBelle.

I had gone to cheer and comfort, but I was the one who was elated as I drove home.  Through AnnaBelle’s eyes, I had glimpsed the threshold of heaven. How blessed I felt to have been allowed to record her vision. In the brief span of time that I had spent with AnnaBelle, I learned that dying is not to be feared; it is to be prepared for, but not feared.  Joyfully, I had sat on the edge of my chair as AnnaBelle made her anticipated trip heavenward sound as exciting as packing for a much-awaited vacation. True, she was reluctant to leave her family, but she knew that eventually they would be joining her.  She was just going on ahead of them, but she would always be with them in their memories.  The decision was not hers to make. God had made the decision, and she would joyfully abide by it.

The appearance of Joy and Peace had spoken volumes about the depth and breadth of God’s love to AnnaBelle, her family, and friends. She had no fear of dying, for God had cast out all fear. God was with her on earth, and He would be with her in her transition.  Just as the veil had parted and she had witnessed Joy and Peace’s presence, AnnaBelle knew it would happen again. That would be when she’d glide up the stairs of heaven, escorted by her ballerina angels and into the throne room of God.

My life is sweeter because AnnaBelle shared her vision with me and taught me that dying is just stepping through the veil and into the arms of God. AnnaBelle has gone to heaven now and her funeral was a love story between AnnaBelle and her husband, her family, her friends and above all, her God.  She stepped through the veil into heaven in the spring of 2005, and I am confident that Joy and Peace escorted her. In my mind’s eye, I can see her now–dancing with Joy and Peace, glorifying the Lord.

©Janet Teitsort

 

RICHER THAN CHOCOLATE

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Father,

The other day I vowed to cut back on chocolate and immediately, it was all I could think about.  You know, how rich and yummy it is.  I love chocolate, in any form,

chocolate fudge,

chocolate caramel,

chocolate brownies with walnuts,

and chocolate pie with meringue.

Oh my—my taste buds are literally tingling with anticipation.

I really like that quip, “chocolate is a vegetable.”

Why isn’t it?  I could indulge every day without any traces of guilt.

Instead, I have to refrain from destroying my health and packing on the pounds with rich chocolate desserts.  Woe is me, I can only feed my whim now and then!

What do I do when I get a chocolate attack?  I need discipline!

But I do know of a richness that I can indulge in, one that is good for me.  One that I’ve already tasted.  It consists of something far richer than chocolate and that ingredient is Your love in all its forms.

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I savor the richness of Your grace and mercy.  You gave Your Son and He shed His Blood so that I might live eternally.  Father, for Your grace and mercy, I give Thee thanks.  (Eph. 1:7-8 and Eph. 2:4)

I have tasted and continually partake of the richness of Your patience and goodness.  You do not treat me as I deserve, but patiently wait for me to grow and learn, to repent and confess my sins.  For Your goodness, unconditional love and patience, I give Thee thanks. (Romans 2: 4, 9:22-24)

I dine upon Your wisdom and knowledge.  Your Word tells me that Your ways are far above mine; that the depth of the richness of your wisdom and knowledge is beyond comprehension–all I have to do is ask for it.   Father, for Your wisdom and knowledge, I give Thee thanks.  (Romans 11:33)

Tenderly, You open the eyes of my heart, giving me more and more understanding of Your truth.  You have blessed me with power through Your Spirit in my inner being; it is the same power that raised Christ from the dead.  Christ dwells in my heart through faith.  Oh, the blessings You have given to me when I believed—blessings for today and a home in eternity.  What richness!  For the glory and blessings of my inheritance, I give Thee Thanks.( Eph. 1:18, 3:16)

Father, increase my spiritual appetite that I may feast upon the richness of Your love in all of its facets.  May I always remember that in Your “Box of Richness,” every nougat satisfies my soul.  Thank You for reminding me that life is much more than a box of chocolate!  Amen and Amen!

 

 

 

WHEN A QUILT IS NOT JUST A QUILT

The January theme for my “Touching Hearts” blog has been quilts.   459334979

Everyone likes to snuggle under a nice warm quilt.

We have looked at quilts in numerous ways—from God’s covering of protection to the story of our lives. But today I want to talk about how quilts can be used to minister to the hurting.

Through the years I’ve heard of individuals who make lap quilts for patients in nursing homes and those who make small quilts for children in the hospital. In fact, as a first grade teacher, I had my students make quilt squares and I sewed them together in lap quilts for nursing home patients. It made an impression on the children and the quilts were appreciated by the patients.

But in my research of quilts I’ve ran across some unique ministries which I would like to share with you. Prayers and Squares is an interfaith outreach organization that combines the gift of prayer with the gift of a hand-tied quilt.  The group began in 1992 at Hope United Methodist Church in San Diego, California. There are now thousands of individual chapters in thirteen countries. Each chapter has to follow the “Three Commandments of Prayers & Squares. The quilts are given to people with medical, emotional, or spiritual concerns, difficult family situations, personal crisis, or grief. If you are interested in starting a chapter, you can read more at http://www.prayerquilt.org. Their motto is “It’s not about the quilt; it’s all about the prayers.” There is a prayer said with every tie. I am very impressed that such a group exists, and for it to be in thirteen countries is simply amazing.

Another quilt ministry that I learned about is making “Fidget Quilts” for Alzheimer’s Dementia patients and those with Autism. I couldn’t find an established group of quilters, but you could certainly start your own. For more information and lots of ideas, check out fidget quilts on Pinterest. You can follow me on Pinterest, I have created a board called “Fidget Quilts.” They are very unique.

I haven’t been around Alzheimer patients very much; but I understand that in the last stages of Alzheimers, patients get fidgety. These quilts have all kinds of snaps, zippers, buttons, laces, and Velcro on them to keep fidgety fingers busy.  You can find patterns at http://www.favequilts.com/Throws-and-Lap-Quilts/Fidget-Quilt-Patterns-for-Alzheimers-Patients.  I think this ministry is another great project to touch a heart.

At http://www.cnn.com/2009/LIVING/12/20/gif.soldiers.quilts/ you will learn about a group of quilters in New York who send quilts to project helping injured soldiers. In 2003, the project began to help soldiers returning home from war. American Red Cross volunteers distribute the quilts to soldiers. The entire project shows our soldiers that the entire nation is supporting them.  There are numerous groups that make quilts for injured soldiers, just google quilts for soldiers online. You’ll be amazed.

Wow! I’m in awe of how quilts can minister. Maybe every church and community should start a quilting ministry and reach out to lift up the hurting. Just a touch can change a life!