For the Brokenhearted

O Lord my God, I come to You bereft in spirit with a heart that is breaking. My mind is in turmoil and I just do not understand all the anguish that seems to be hitting me from all sides. You know Lord exactly the pain that is in my heart and the sadness and grief that I am going through and I come to You, my God, seeking Your blessed peace in my heart.

Heal my hurting heart and bind up the lacerations that have penetrated so deeply into my soul, for You alone are my hope, You alone are my strength and stay. I have nothing and no one left but You Lord.

Bind up my fragmented heart I pray, as You have promised. It says in Your Word that You came to heal the broken hearted and to free those that were entrapped in the emotional suffering of their lives. Lord, that is my position now and I trust in You alone.

I give You my fragmented heart and pray for Your blessed peace, Your gracious peace, Your perfect peace that passes all human comprehension. Take me as I am Lord and fill me anew with your love and grace, for only through You can I be renewed in spirit, only in You can I rest in safety.

Thank You O Lord my God,

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Dear Heavenly Father, You are the Creator of all things and You sustain all of life. I come to you, acknowledging that your will is best and that your plan is far greater than any I could ever ask for or imagine. Lord, I come to you with troubles that are weighing on my heart and the hearts of many believers. God, I know that you carry all burdens, and I ask that you share your yoke with us now during this difficult time. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

God, I want to be a person who stands firm and trusts You wholeheartedly. I want to be unshakable and resilient, but that can only happen by depending on You and trusting You. Develop that deeper trust in me, God I desperately need it and want to trust you more. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

I waited patiently for the Lord;

he turned to me and heard my cry.

He lifted me out of the slimy pit,

out of the mud and mire;

he set my feet on a rock

and gave me a firm place to stand.

Psalm 40:1-2 NIV

You will go out in joy

and be led forth in peace;

the mountains and hills

will burst into song before you,

and all the trees of the field

will clap their hands.

Isaiah 55:12 NIV

The Prayer Box

Summary from Amazon

“When Iola Anne Poole, an old-timer on Hatteras Island, passes away in her bed at ninety-one, the struggling young mother in her rental cottage, Tandi Jo Reese, finds herself charged with the task of cleaning out Iola’s rambling Victorian house.

Running from a messy, dangerous past, Tandi never expects to find more than a temporary hiding place within Iola’s walls, but everything changes with the discovery of eighty-one carefully decorated prayer boxes, one for each year, spanning from Iola’s youth to her last days. Hidden in the boxes is the story of a lifetime, written on random bits of paper–the hopes and wishes, fears and thoughts of an unassuming but complex woman passing through the seasons of an extraordinary, unsung life filled with journeys of faith, observations on love, and one final lesson that could change everything for Tandi.”

I wasn’t far into the story when I wondered if I had downloaded the correct book. Was this really Christian fiction? The following extract, to me, has all the delicious eeriness of a Stephen King novel.

“. . . as I stood on Iola Anne Poole’s porch. It was my first indication of a knowing, an undeniable sense that something inside the house had gone very wrong.

I pushed the door inward cautiously, admitting a slice of early sun and a whiff of breeze off Pamlico Sound. The entryway was old, tall the walls white with heavy gold-leafed trim around rectangular panels. A fresh breeze skirted the shadows on mouse feet, too slight to displace the stale, musty smell of the house. The scent of a forgotten place. Instinct told me what I would find inside. You don’t forget the feeling of stepping through a door and understanding in some unexplainable way that death has walked in before you.

I hesitated on the threshold . . .”

After I finished reading the book, the story has stayed in my thoughts – the mark of a book well-written. The characters are realistic, struggling with believable problems. With her troubled background, could Tandi ever become a ‘good’ mother? Could she ever have the confidence in herself to even try? Would she ever trust other people? Could she trust God?

Extract

“I’d wanted to earn my own way, to do this myself, to form a new life on my own, but instead, this had been given to me. This life. This place. These letters.

This revelation. Prayers are answered in ways we don’t choose. The river of grace bubbles up in unexpected places.

I closed my eyes, and tears pressed hard, seeped through, traced hot and sweet over my cheeks. I tasted their salt, like the tip of an ocean.

“Thank you,” I whispered. “Thank you for this.” Zoey and J.T. could be sitting in a foster shelter right now, in a home with strangers. I could be in jail, caught up in Trammel’s mess, or dead beside a bottle of pills, gone just like my mama, while my kids still needed me. I could be living in Trammel’s house, existing in a fog, in the prison of believing everything he told me about myself.

Instead, I was here.

Thank you. I wanted to write it on paper and fold it up in a box to remind myself, the next time I couldn’t see anything but mountains ahead, that where there’s a mountain, there’s always a river flowing nearby.

Ultimately the river is the more powerful of the two.”

LISA WINGATE

Lisa Wingate is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of over thirty novels, including the instant NYT bestseller The Book of Lost Friends and Before We Were Yours, which remained on the NYT list for over two years and has sold over three million copies. She is a Goodreads Choice award winner for historical fiction and a Southern Book Prize winner. She lives with her husband in Texas.

www.lisawingate.com

Come Follow Me

I have decided to follow Jesus
I have decided to follow Jesus
I have decided to follow Jesus
No turning back, no turning back

Tho’ none go with me, I still will follow
Tho’ none go with me, I still will follow
Tho’ none go with me, I still will follow
No turning back, no turning back

The world behind me, the cross before me
The world behind me, the cross before me
The world behind me, the cross before me
No turning back, no turning back

Will you decide now to follow Jesus?
Will you decide now to follow Jesus?
Will you decide now to follow Jesus?
No turning back, no turning back
No turning back
No turning back

Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” – John 8:12

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”- Mark 8:34

Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:31-32

When We Try To Run Away

We all get times when problems pile upon us and everyone seems to get on our nerves. We think to ourselves if only I could get away for a while for some peace and quiet, then everything would be okay. Wouldn’t it? Here’s what Socrates said:

“How can you wonder your travels do you no good, when you carry yourself around with you? You are saddled with the very thing that drove you away. How can novelty of surroundings abroad and becoming acquainted with foreign scenes and cities be of any help? All that dashing about turns out to be quite futile. And if you want to know why all this running away cannot help you, the answer is simply this: you are running away in your own company. You have to lay aside the load on your spirit. Until you do that, nowhere will satisfy you.” Socrates (470 BC – 399 BC)

Prayer

Dear Lord, I come to You today to ask for help. You are my everything. Lord, I need rest. I give You my worry. Take it, Lord. I accept Your peace, love, and understanding. Help me to turn to You and not to myself, to stop doing and start trusting. Help me to wait on Your answers, because I know that they are good. Give me wisdom, hope, and peace. Thank you, Lord, for Your patience and grace. I love You, and I know You love me so much more than I could ever imagine. Amen.

Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:29

Labels

The following extract and poem are taken from Disguises of Love by Eddie Askew.

Another problem is that labels can restrict our own development. Our traditional piety sometimes makes us less than fully human. We curb our ability to enjoy life, or feel pain, because we feel we must conform to an expected role, to labels we stick on ourselves. Yet the most important thing is not that we can recognise others, labelled or not, nor that they acknowledge our labels, but rather that God recognises us. And the thing he recognises is love, not labels. That’s what he identifies with. Not the classification by which we proclaim our separateness from others, and certainly not the critical labels we apply to them, but the caring which shows our identification with them. What we claim to be is not as important as the presence of Christ in our lives. That’s what leads God to call us his children. ‘Because those who are led (not labelled!) by the Spirit are sons (and daughters of God’ (Romans 8:14).

Labels

They put labels on you, Lord,

Friend of sinners, Sabbath breaker.

Disturber of the peace.

They put all their fear and anger,

all their hate, into their labels.

It was easier to label than to listen.

Easier to condemn than to have their world altered

their customs questioned.

Easier to keep the blinkers on than face the light,

the discomfort of truth,

Your truth. Living truth.

They even nailed a label to your cross.

Just above the thorns of a bloody crown.

King of the Jews, it said.

Label. Laugh. Turn away. Forget.

Is that what I do, Lord?

The mockery of quick judgement

that takes fear as evidence,

prejudice as reason.

That shoots on sight

and leaves the bleeding body of truth

dead in a ditch.

And close my eyes, lest I remember.

Lord, when I meet someone new,

someone who threatens me by his strangeness,

whose presence asks for adjustments,

whose ideas don’t mesh with mine

and which shake the assumptions I wear

like a favourite jacket shaped to my comfort,

then help me to look,

not for his label, but for his humanity.

Not to close my mind, but to open my heart,

and see your presence in him.

Let me see you not just in my comfortable friends,

but in the eyes of strangers around me.

And Lord, help me to see

the only label that matters is love.

It’s not always easy to recognise.

Sometimes it looks like a bloody crown.

Eddie Askew (1927 – 2007) Previous General Director of The Leprosy Mission

Facing Reality

The following excerpt and prayer is from Disguises of Love by Eddie Askew.

As Christians, we must face the reality of the world. We can’t delude ourselves over the activity of evil or pretend that it’s all God’s will. We don’t know why some people suffer much more than others and why some break under it. But we do know that God is with us, even though sometimes we know it only in retrospect. Looking back, we see that, through the suffering, love was at work in one of his many disguises. Love is often hard to recognise, so close to the suffering that he’s hard to identify. So hard that we attribute to him the suffering itself, instead of thanking him for his presence and strength. We can find him in and through the suffering, love’s disguises slowly dissolving as we recognise his presence. Not necessarily justifying the suffering but turning it towards good.

Lord, I spend a lot of time

talking to you about myself.

I have so many needs.

Help me today to think of others.

I pray for people weighed down by worry.

Anxious people, who don’t know where to turn.

Who don’t know whose door to knock on,

bewildered by what life has brought.

Knocked off balance by the suffering and inequality

they meet at every step.

People without choices,

whose only way is down.

Somehow, Lord, in the turmoil of survival,

in the questioning and the doubt,

show yourself to them.

Let them find you, not in the abstract,

not in the smooth words of the practised preacher,

but in a hand held out to help.

In shared tears, and in the silence

that says everything without words.

May they recognise your purposes for them,

and learn that your will for them is good.

Help us, each one of us,

to face things as they are.

And though the world has forgotten the architect’s plans,

though the builders ignore the blueprint,

and the foundations shake with every pressure,

shelter us with your presence.

Help us to see you at work

not only in the good days

but in the bad,

and to know, beyond doubt,

not through others’ words but our own experience,

that you work together with us.

For good.

Then, Lord, our praise will be real,

our joy deep.

Eddie Askew (1927-2007), former general director of the Leprosy Mission who dedicated his life to the relief of leprosy all over the world.

Friendship

Ode to Friendships by Kayla Rae Pich

Friends…

They’re the few people who accept silence over conversation.
A relationship like this denies silly promises and persuasion.

You don’t feel the need to second guess thoughts or measure words.
Their love comes in wholes, not halves, not thirds.

They’re the ones that guide you through when fate takes a turn.
Fights, small and large, end in forgiveness, never a burn.

You forget about first impressions and the feelings they brought.
You’re grateful for who they are and you forgive them for what they’re not.

Success by Edward A Guest

I hold no dream of fortune vast,
Nor seek undying fame.
I do not ask when life is past
That many know my name.

I may not own the skill to rise
To glory’s topmost height,
Nor win a place among the wise,
But I can keep the right.

And I can live my life on earth
Contented to the end,
If but a few shall know my worth
And proudly call me friend.

Alone by Maya Angelou

“Lying, thinking
Last night
How to find my soul a home
Where water is not thirsty
And bread loaf is not stone
I came up with one thing
And I don’t believe I’m wrong
That nobody,
But nobody
Can make it out here alone.”

Disguises of Love

Written by Eddie Askew (1927-2007) – former general secretary of The Leprosy Mission.

Lord, there are times

when silence seems best.

And yet, when I’m faced with your love,

even with the little I know, I have to speak.

If nothing else, to say thank you.

I don’t deserve it.

Now there’s an understatement.

Sometimes all I am and do

seems designed to test your love to the limit.

And you go on loving.

Lord, it’s breathtaking. Immense.

I hear your voice, carrying crystal clear over the vast plain,

re-affirming life and presence.

A small point of focus in infinity. Infinity of love.

Great enough for all. Small enough for me.

A love that comes to identify, to tell me I belong.

That comes to strengthen to tell me it’s mine.

That comes to comfort with the knowledge that you care.

A love that comes to challenge and discipline at the point of stress.

That stretches me nearly to breaking point and makes me grow.

That faces me, in searching, insistent strength,

with the pain of truth I’d rather not see.

That strips my illusions and leaves me trembling, naked,

in the cold wind of honesty.

The love that fights me as I struggle to preserve the lies I love

from the buffeting storm of your Spirit.

And through it all,

a love that holds me, firm and close.

Making me aware, in the eye of the cyclone, of your peace.

And in the wind-drop of understanding,

my ears still ringing, eyes still smarting, from the gale,

I recognise our love.

In the glacier wind as in the valley breeze.

Seeing, as in the crackling flash of brief lightning,

brilliant and clear,

some of the disguises of your love.

Lord, I know there’s more,

but I’m not ready for it yet.

Yes To Life In Spite Of Everything

I’m just about to begin reading Yes To Life In Spite of Everything by Viktor E. Frankl and, on reading the Introduction by Daniel Goleman, I had to share this:

“There are three main ways people find fulfillment of their life meaning, in Frankl’s view. First, there is action, such as creating a work, whether art or a labor of love – something that outlasts us and continues to have an impact. Second, he says, meaning can be found in appreciating nature, works of art, or simply loving people; Frankl cites Kierkegaard, that the door to happiness always opens outward. The third lies in how a person adapts and reacts to unavoidable limits on their life possibilities, such as facing their own death or enduring a dreadful fate like the concentration camps. In short, our lives take on meaning through our actions, through loving, and through suffering.

Here I’m reminded of life advice from the Dalai Lama on the occasion of his eightieth birthday, when I wrote A Force for Good: The Dalai Lama’s Vision for Our World. First, he recommended, gain some internal control over your own mind and how you react to life’s difficulties. Then, adopt an ethic of compassion and altruism, the urge to help others. Finally, act on that outlook in whatever ways your life offers.”

Every Day is a Fresh Beginning

New Every Morning, Susan Coolidge

Every day is a fresh beginning,
Listen my soul to the glad refrain.
And, in spite of old sorrows
And older sinning,
Troubles forecasted
And possible pain,
Take heart with the day and begin again.

A Time to Believe, B.J. Morbitzer

To believe is to know that
every day is a new beginning.
Is to trust that miracles happen,
and dreams really do come true.
To believe is to see angels
dancing among the clouds,
To know the wonder of a stardust sky
and the wisdom of the man in the moon.
To believe is to know the value of a nurturing heart,
The innocence of a child’s eyes
and the beauty of an aging hand,
for it is through their teachings we learn to love.
To believe is to find the strength
and courage that lies within us
When it’s time to pick up
the pieces and begin again.
To believe is to know
we are not alone,
That life is a gift
and this is our time to cherish it.
To believe is to know
that wonderful surprises are just
waiting to happen,
And all our hopes and dreams are within reach.
If only we believe.