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Sunshine Over Manhattan

So, my roommate and I got back safely from Florida. I tried to post this several days ago (via phone because my antiquated computer was having an antisocial day), but then my phone decided the antisocial game looked like fun too and just like that my post was thwarted. Well played, technology, well played. If you were following along, God was doing big things in my friend Scott’s life. He has been hospitalized for the better part of 7 months now, and is finally home but has a long road back. God has been telling me for awhile that someone needed to lay hands on him and pray for a healing – both physical and spiritual. I had a hard time facilitating this from New York, with him living in Orlando, but when I was there in person for 10 whole nights, it was game on. If you were one of the many praying for us, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Anyway, the prayer for Scott happened. The results didn’t. I could feel God moving in those moments, I could feel things getting shaken up, but nothing actually physically happened. It was sort of anticlimactic really. I am trying to shed this part of myself that looks for results when I obey and serve, but part of me still totally does it. If I’m told to lay hands on someone and pray, told repeatedly for months, I want to lay hands on that person and have them be healed. I want the disabled to get up and walk. I want my friend Scott, who has been ventilator-dependent since 1989 or so, to suddenly breathe on his own. Or at least stop feeling like he isn’t getting enough air even though he is. I want results. I want miracles. I know God is able to do these things. So I want Him to go ahead and do them. And I want to see it happen. Maybe it’s an area of unbelief in my heart. Maybe it’s a pride thing, wanting to be the one to ‘usher in’ the miracle when I know full well I have nothing to do with it. Probably it’s both.

Either way, I am working on shedding this desire, to serve for serving’s sake.  After all, I’m just delighted to be His, to love Him and be loved by Him and to let that love pour out onto the world. It doesn’t really matter what I accomplish in the meantime. Right? Right.

Since I have yet to convince my heart of this, and still have a desire to see that pesky proof, doing the work without the results is frustrating. Coming home from Orlando, with Scott still heavy on my heart, I drove my roommate in to work. Several weeks ago I’d had the chance to chat with and pray for two homeless men. Wouldn’t you know, God sent both men back into my path on this day. One was a bit disillusioned that his circumstances hadn’t really changed despite our prayer and my delivering a word from God to him. The other man was asleep but by the looks of him, his circumstances hadn’t changed much either. I know, I know, these things take time. But it still sort of tied in with my ‘results’ theme of late.

So it was that a few days later (this brings us to yesterday), I was riding home from the nursing home after visiting my roommate’s mother (she had a tough day – something was wrong and she was clearly uncomfortable but we couldn’t get to the bottom of it no matter what I did). The weather was nasty, that need for visible results was pecking away at my heart and brain, I felt bad that I couldn’t help Jimmy’s mother, and I admit it: I had a bit of a moment. A sort of “why am I here if everything I do is useless?” moment. I mean, yes I obey. But surely God would be better served with someone who actually has success when they obey?

Yes, I know better. Like I said, it was a moment. Lord forgive my unbelief.

In that moment of despondency, however, I happened to look out the window, back towards the city. And in the midst of the storm clouds, still surrounded by storm on all sides in fact, a window of clear skies opened up over the skyline. With storm clouds to the horizon in all directions, there was in that one spot, the one place I’d been told to come to and where I hear God’s voice the most clearly, the sun came out and shone over Manhattan. Sunlight in the storm. Just what I needed to see.

Yes, logically, I know that weather patterns are not formed specifically to brighten my moods. But in that moment, I could totally hear God saying “See? I’m still here. I’ve still got this. Nothing to worry about.”

That, my friends, is the mercy and attention of the God we serve. Even when I’m learning the lesson of not relying on physical results to gauge my success in Him, He still sends me little signs of encouragement. Who else can give sunshine in the storm? Every day His love continues to amaze me.

God bless!

~Rebekah A

 

Honor Thy Father

Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. ~Ex 20:12

fatherSo I have a confession to make: in everything that has happened in my life I’m pretty successful on paper, but I have had one HUGE, MAJOR flaw. Don’t get me wrong, I love my dad, but I’ve treated him pretty horrible in the past.  I just have this pre-set tendency to be angry and to yell at him.  Do I have reasons for this- yes. I honestly feel like he doesn’t hear me. I’m not even talking physically, I mean I feel like he shuts me out when I’m speaking.  So earlier this morning, my mom sat me down and we had a discussion about it. With tears in her eyes, she was pleading with me to treat my dad right.  For anyone who knows me, they know that I love my parents SO much. I praise them often and, in my mind, I think respect them. God has used my mom (and kind of my brother) to open my eyes to the fact that I haven’t been. Of every one in my life, my mom is THE person to get through to me and for God to have her essentially crying before me… it ripped up my heart a little.

angryIt is never right for a child to yell at her father. Even if she’s saying “Mashed potatoes. Hey dad, I want mashed potatoes. Just tell mom I want mashed potatoes! DAD, TWO WORDS- MASHED POTATOES YOU CAN SAY THAT TO HER! WHY WON’T YOU JUST LISTEN AND TELL HER THOSE TWO WORDS?! MASHED. POTATOES.”  lol At the end of the day if I had just opened the car door and said it to my mom versus yelling at my dad (who was getting out of the car) to relay those words when all he kept saying in response was “tell your mother,” what’s the difference?

I realized the difference and why I didn’t just go the more peaceful route is because I just feel unheard. And in thinking about it, I realized that I HATE feeling like I’m not heard. For so long, a huge part of my life, I felt SO ignored and looked down upon. Not necessary by my parents, but I have had moments where I felt I had no voice and the memory of that feeling has never left me.

So as time has gone on and more and more incidents have occurred that left me feeling like I’m not heard (not always by my dad), it caused me to become quick to anger and yell at my dad. Was it right? NO. A big “N.” “O.” Am I justifying my actions? No because I have truly broken one of the 10 commandments.  I have endeavored from this day forward to honor my father even when I feel like he doesn’t hear my words.  However, I am saying that the biggest key in everything that happened today was to recognize within myself the “WHY” behind my actions.

I sat down with both my parents earlier today to talk things through and my dad actually literally did EXACTLY what I said was the reasoning behind why I acted the way I did- he shut me out. He literally would not hear my words. I was saying “I’m sorry for how I acted, it was unacceptable behavior and I’m sorry. I reflected and realized it was because for so long now, I have felt as if you don’t hear me and I’m sorry that my frustration about that has come out as yelling.” His response? To say that I’m moving in a few short days so it doesn’t really matter and all I was saying to him was that yet once again, it’s his fault- always his fault- none of mine.  Miracle of miracles though- even though he was literally proving my point- I didn’t yell. I actually prayed. “God, give me wisdom to know how to reach my dad. Help me mend this bridge that I have broken with my anger and yelling. Forgive me and help me honor him.”

Sometimes we’re called to swallow our pride and just keep apologizing until the other person accepts it. If that never happens though- I know that today, I honored my father like I never have before and I know that God is smiling. So dear readers, pray for my dad? I know he loves me, but I also know that he has SUCH a weight on him from everything else going on and this only added to it. I allowed myself to be an instrument of further burden to my dad. My brother’s job has been in the balance lately, my “sister” has been in a spiritual battle, I’m moving away officially… there’s a lot weighing on his heart. He needs God’s peace. He needs God’s love to shine on him more than ever.  So in advance, I thank you for your prayers for peace over my dad and I pray you all do a better job at honor your parents than I have done in my past 🙂

In Him and to a new future of truly honoring my parents,

Rebekah M.

Guest Spot: MJ of The Peace Filled Life “Plan B”

Editor’s Note: Our weekly guest spot is our effort to help our reading community connect with each other. MJ’s post on contentment in our moments reminds us of the truth that “…godliness with contentment is great gain” (I Tim 6:6). Thank you for sharing MJ! 

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I spent too long believing I was living Plan B. I thought that if I had just done X, Y and Z, I would be living Plan A. For now I was waiting, doing my “penance” – until Plan A would magically appear, and my “real” life would start and I would live happily ever after.

I could not have been any more wrong.

In reality, I have many blessings in my life – a wonderful husband, three beautiful children, a house in the suburbs, reliable transportation, and a good job.  My family has food, water, clothing, indoor plumbing, electricity, heat, air conditioning, and modern appliances.  I have an awesome extended family, many good friends, a great church and community.

And yet what did I find myself concentrating on? The ONE thing that I did not have. Is that not the most ungrateful thing you ever heard of?

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows). John 10:10

The evil one has one goal for your life – to steal your joy, kill your spirit and destroy your life. God wants you to have life! Not just in the life to come, but in this very life that you are living now. Not just merely an existence, but to the full, till it overflows!

Living my life as if it were Plan B was not what God intended. God made life for enjoying!

If I concentrate on the what ifs, and the if onlys – I will live my life disappointed, angry and bitter. But if I concentrate on accepting the many gifts that Christ has given me, I will have joy and peace.

In May of 2011, I had enough.  I made a decision:

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I chose joy and peace.

I chose to enjoy where I am.

I chose to accept the path that God designed for ME.

To be honest, 2011 was one of the most painful years of my life.  Yet after I made that decision –

I had never felt more joy and peace in my life.

I had never heard God’s voice so clearly nor felt His presence so abundantly.

I had never been more secure in the fact that I AM living the Plan that God intended for ME.

His Plan is good. I choose this.  Do you choose this?

*     *     *

“Seek peace and pursue it” (Psalm 34:14b)

MJ is a mom, wife, career woman, and follower of God.  She is passionate in her quest to “seek peace and pursue it”.  Her blog can be found at http://thepeacefilledlife.wordpress.com

See the original post at: http://thepeacefilledlife.wordpress.com/2013/02/23/plan-b/

Published by permission of the author. Submit your own post at beingrebekah@outlook.com. 

Being Isaac: Bill from Unshakable Hope “More than Just a Dream”

Editor’s Note:  Our weekly guest spot is our effort to help our reading community connect with each other.  “Being Isaac” is in response to our growing number of male readers. We think it’s important that there’s a male reply to our female’s call to live in passionate pursuit of Christ. Thanks Bill from Unshakable Hope for submitting an amazing post that reminds us that heaven is our destination and it will be more than just a dream. 🙂

I had a vivid dream last night –  In this dream I was completely healed and whole.

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The dream began with me simply stepping out of bed, which is something I haven’t been able to do in over 15 years. I could walk, talk, eat, dress myself and do everything else that I was once able to do. Mary and I were so excited that we began calling all of our family and friends and then we began visiting people at their homes and offices (Mary drove the car because I don’t have a driver’s license and the only thing I’ve driven in last 15 years is a wheelchair).

The dream was so real-to-life that I was telling Mary all the places I wanted to travel to and all the restaurants I wanted to try. I was even making practical plans like getting a driver’s license and making an appointment with the doctor to have my feeding tube removed etc. As you can probably imagine, this was so exciting; more so than winning a billion dollar lottery! But that incredible excitement soon turned to great disappointment when I awoke from this vivid dream at 4:15 this morning and realized I couldn’t even uncross my feet, let alone get out of bed.

1335964_sunsetThen my great disappointment turned back into incredible excitement when I remembered that, regardless of what happens in this life, one day I KNOW that I WILL be healed and whole! One day “…there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain…” (Revelation 21:4)

There was a time in my life that I feared death and the unknown in general. I later found out that these fears are quite common. But, as strange as it might sound, ever since I committed to following Christ and began believing the promises of God’s word, my fear of death has been replaced with an excitement of what lies in store for me after this brief and fragile life is over. Christ died and rose again to free us from sin AND from the fear of what lies ahead – “…only by dying could He (Jesus) break the power of the Devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he deliver those who have lived all their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.” (Hebrews 2:14-15 NLT)

In 1996, Bill was diagnosed with ALS (“Lou Gehrig’s Disease”) and the doctors told him he had 3-5 years to live. He is now completely paralyzed and unable to speak, but by God’s grace, he’s still alive and through his Unshakablehope blog he shares a message of hope in Christ.

See the original post at http://unshakablehope.wordpress.com/2013/02/13/more-than-just-a-dream/

Published with the permission of the author. Submit your own post at beingrebekah@outlook.com.

Fostering the Family

I was listening to this the other day. I’m not even sure what to call it. It’s not  a song, and not a sermon. Just a video, a call to family. It’s not a call to the immediate family, or even to blood relatives, but a call to the Christian family. Because we do, after all, share the same Father.

Which got me thinking. If we share the same Father, we are all family. Do we act that way? Do we treat every lost person we see as family? Unconditionally loved, happy to see them? In our hearts, do we recognize them as brother and sister?

I know I don’t. I try to. But all too often, going through my day, I treat people like strangers. Because really, they are. It’s both strange and eye-opening to walk through crowded streets of Manhattan, not knowing a soul but knowing that I’m walking through family and potential family. Because that’s what it is for those who are lost – a potential family. A family that is just waiting for them to join it. To come back to it. To come into their identity that Christ gave them, to live the way they were created to. To come into their inheritance as sons and daughters.

But what am I actively doing to welcome them in? To claim them as brother and sister and show them what this family looks like? God gives me discernment over people sometimes, and it guides my prayer. Other times He gives me a word for people and I do my best to be bold enough to speak it. But if it’s not a direct order, I usually leave them alone. And I don’t think that’s really enough. Yes it’s the crowded streets of Manhattan. But a smile, a greeting, a compliment…those things cost nothing. It doesn’t always have to be profound. Every moment is a chance to show our Father’s love.

Yes, some families here on earth are dysfunctional. Some family members don’t treat each other all that great. But not ours. Not with the Dad we have. So we shouldn’t act like it.

I posted the video below, just because it sparked all my rambling. And I leave you with a call of your own, as you go through your day. It’s a call to not just be outwardly nice to people because we know we should, but to see every person you come across through the eyes of the Father, and see them as a potential brother or sister. What family members have been right in front of you have been right in front of you this whole time?

God bless!

~Rebekah A

Curbing a Habit

Lately, I have been experiencing something that most New Yorkers know well: road rage. Extreme, “humanity-is-a-needle-in-my-eye-and-why-the-HECK-are-you-jaywalking-when-I’m-clearly-RIGHT-in-front-of-you-do-you-have-a-death-wish-you-crazy-fool” and “Lady-I-don’t-think-I-pushed-you-in-front-of-my-car-you-CHOSE-to-step-in-front-of-me-so-save-your-glare-for-the-mirror” kind of road rage. And don’t get me started on my opinion of bikers and cab drivers. Or people who honk just for the heck of it. But I digress.

Anyway, I was telling a friend about my extreme impatience and general hatred of the world that I feel every time I get behind the wheel. She in turn decided that I don’t in fact hate humanity, but am simply reacting to my environment. Could’ve fooled me, because I see plenty of taxis on the NYC streets and I’m pretty sure I hate them. Then again, I don’t necessarily count taxi drivers as humanity. They are some special demonic spawn sent to torment everybody else. And, if left to their own devices, probably to kill us all. I’m sure of it. But I digress. Again.

Joking aside, I don’t necessarily say all those things (except sometimes) and I don’t hate humanity. Or even cab drivers (except sometimes). But I do definitely notice some impatience. Is it from me? Is it reaction to my environment? I don’t know. But either way it’s not really ok, is it? Of course not.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s common. Acceptable. Expected, even. But not for me. Not if I’m living by the law of love. Sometimes I do wonder if mankind would still have been given salvation if Jesus were surrounded by taxi drivers. But something tells me that God’s grace is bigger than that, yes it would’ve been given to us, and Jesus’ reaction to being cut off and nearly run off the road would be much more polite.

SO, after doing some impatient soul-searching to go with my currently impatient soul, I decided that I was not going to stoop to the world’s standards for acceptable driving attitudes (ie pretty terrible ones). Instead, I am going to reach my attitude up to God’s standards. Stooping is bad for the back anyway. Much healthier to reach up.

So I had this plan in mind. Then I was praying with a friend and she said “Jesus we thank you that you give us joy in the face of the enemy, because when met with joy he doesn’t know what to do.” That clinched it. I was going to meet my road rage with joy. Instead of screaming and grumbling, and saying who-knows-what to the masses of people who seemed to have developed New Yorker amnesia (which basically consists of forgetting what a moving vehicle looks like – I blame the pollution), I was going to meet every near-death experience with a chuckle. A smile. A blessing or prayer for that person even. And then I was going to move on.

I put the plan into action this week. Some days I’ve remembered. Others I’ve haven’t. Sometimes I’ve remembered after the fact and what comes out of my mouth is something like “My-car-is-SOLID-and-no-matter-how-badly-you-want-in-my-lane-no-you-can’t-drive-THROUGH me….be blessed though”. It’s a work in progress. Ultimately it will involve abiding in His love for others, and having my heart be so united with His that my very instincts and reactions are one with His. I’m not even close to being there. I’m closer to the opposite extreme than the Jesus extreme. All I know is, with baby steps, I’m curbing the habit.

If you are trying to curb something, let me know. You can reach me at being.rebekah.a@gmail.com. I’ll pray for you. We’re in this together.

God bless!

~Rebekah A

Praise Report! (and a song)

I found out yesterday that my little cousin (‘little’ = freshman in college) has a tumor on her lung that was impeding her breathing. She went to the hospital for a biopsy; I went to my knees to pray.

Today I found out that her tumor is indeed cancerous. BUT it is extremely slow-growing and they will be able to remove it with surgery. AND, not only that, she will be able to finish out her school year first. No withdrawal or missing a semester necessary.

So I am full of praise today, and praying into God’s will over her life. Maybe He wants to show her more of Himself through this. Regardless I know there’s a plan, and I am praying into it wholeheartedly. I trust Him enough for that.

And because my praise has me bursting into song at random points throughout the day, I have a song for you:

God bless!

~Rebekah A

Beautiful Worship

“Take this body,

Take this melody,

Take Your heart’s cry,

And let it pour out of me,

In beautiful worship.

Let Your grace flow,

Through this voice raised high,

In this moment,

Let me proclaim Love’s cry,

With beautiful worship.”

I have posted once or twice before about writing songs – or really, just writing down the words that God gives me. Which is funny, because I am not a songwriter and extremely self-conscious when it comes to singing. I am much more comfortable at the piano. Usually.

However, recently I was sitting at the piano trying to worship through my playing. I was trying to put music to one of the tunes God had given me. It was going terribly. You’d think I was tone deaf and had never seen a piano before. In a moment of frustration, I prayed for Jesus to help me out – help the music flow and help me worship Him with abandon.

Prayer soon turned to song. The lyrics are above. I sat there singing it over and over again. Interestingly, the more this ‘beautiful worship’ manifested itself in random ways. Like just basking in Jesus while walking outside. Or having giddy giggle fests with Him (yes, Jesus is fun like that. I swear). Or unleashing a colossal Jesus-love hug onto my unsuspecting roommate. It was great and unexpected and definitely free-flowing. However, as of yet it hasn’t translated to the piano. But then again, until recently my worship didn’t consist of ANY original music. So I will take whatever comes, ride whatever worship wave God sends to me, and praise Him for blessing me with intimacy!

God bless!

~Rebekah A

Guest Spot: 40YearWanderer “10 Things Life Teaches…If We Are Learning”

Editor’s Note: Our weekly guest spot is our effort to help our reading community connect with each other. Even though this list only holds ten items, there’s a lot of wisdom if you’ll internalize and act on these words. Thanks for sharing this with our readers 40YearWanderer!!! ~Rebekah M.  
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1- LIFE is not about getting things perfect. It is about the destination of the journey. Have some place to go … daily and eternally.
2- Learn from the difficult things in life. They teach us many things if we are paying attention to the lessons.
3- Never, ever, ever miss a chance to LOVE. You will be loved back. In many cases you will find out you were loved first.
4- Weakness can cause our strength to grow IF we choose to let that happen. It really is all about a choice to move forward.
5- Life is not about understanding every thing that goes on. It is about APPRECIATING every thing that goes on. Life goes on.
6- We do not exist just for ourselves and our pleasures. We were made to love. Love one another.
7- Hiding and not sharing our needs and sufferings leads to the same thing as constant complaining. No effect.
8- Love is an action we MUST practice. Practice truly makes perfection in this instance.
9- Understanding, getting through, making a difference, overcoming, VICTORY – are all found simply by opening the door that you are standing in front of right now. Hear the knock?
10- Love is eternal. (NOT the end of the story.)
Be thankful that we each have a Choice to live in Grace. That is followed by many other opportunities to choose all the things of God’s plan for our lives. It’s all in the choice.
Live Blessed,
 ~ Heather
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Heather Mertens has spent 40+ years wandering through life – at first aimlessly and now at last with drive, passion, and commitment to Christ who called her out of the darkness. Her life has brought depression and healing, death and life, destruction and repair, sadness and victory – and above all else … Love.

What started as a gifted love for writing, blossomed into a ministry and a career.
She penned a Christmas poem at age 7 for her father who carried it in his wallet until the day he died a few years later. She knows deeply how words can touch a life.
Her writings can be found at
Life, Love, Joy… Found!

Reblogged with the permission of the author. Submit your own by emailing us at beingrebekah@outlook.com

Small Blessings

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” ~Philippians 4:19

Those of you who have been reading this blog know that I’ve been looking for work. It’s been difficult for 2 reasons: 1) my field doesn’t exist in NY; and 2) my roommate needs my assistance on Mondays and Tuesdays, making a typical 9-5, Mon-Fri work week impossible.

So it’s been a struggle, but God knows exactly what I need. He knows, and He provides. Just when I was getting truly desperate, He provides me with temporary employment. He did the same thing last year, but this time it’s twice as much as it was then!

It just goes to show the difference between ‘needs’ and ‘wants’. God provides for our needs (and sometimes blesses us with our wants too!). It’s as simple in that. In Him we need nothing else. And His timing might be a little tight in our point of view, but it’s always perfect. We are so insignificant, but still we always have His full attention. Praise Jesus! I’m thankful and blessed that He’s come through once again to take care of me!

God bless!

~Rebekah A