Sunday, December 14, 2014

A season to believe


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles,/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

            
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. – Isaiah 7:14 NIV
      
Nothing, you see, is impossible with God. – Luke 1:37 The Message

      
I met Sue Swan in 1997 when I began a writers group in Punxsutawney. She and her family had recently moved to the area when her husband accepted a job as the director of a local ministry.
      
Sue was the answer to my prayers. I’d been writing and submitting my work, but I had much to learn about the craft of writing and the world of publishing. Even though I’d gotten several pieces published nationally and was a feature writer for the local newspaper, I felt like I was way out in left field, all alone without a clue what to do when the ball came to me.
      
Enter Sue Swan. She’d read my classified ad about a writers group I was starting and showed up at the first meeting. Not only was she a published author, but she was also a member of the board of directors for the St. Davids Christian Writers Conference, held at Geneva College in Beaver Falls every June.
      
We became fast friends. She had much to offer, and I was so hungry to learn. We discovered we had much in common: faith, a love for tea and reading, a desire to serve God through our writing, and our birthday—November 5.
      
Sue was instrumental in me attending my first writing conference, nominating me for a scholarship to the St. Davids conference, which I received. I couldn’t have afforded to attend otherwise. Eventually I became a member of the board of directors myself. Not only did I learn a great deal about writing and publishing, but I also made lifetime friendships.
      
Sue and her family eventually moved back to the Pittsburgh area. Her new job prevented her from staying involved with the St. Davids group, and we drifted out of touch. One year she showed up at the conference wearing an oxygen mask. A cylinder of the life-giving gas accompanied her wherever she went.
      
She’d been diagnosed with sarcoidosis, a chronic, progressive lung disease, which led to pulmonary arterial hypertension. There is no cure for either disease. Her only hope for her worsening condition was a lung transplant. Despite her prognosis, however, she remained cheerful and upbeat—and encouraging to others.
      
I continued to pray for her and receive updates, but the news was never good.
      
Until July 24, 2014—the day she was healed.
      
Yes, I said healed.
      
That was the day she and her husband, Tom, attended a breakfast session at the International Gideons Convention in Philadelphia, and a man asked to pray for her. She consented. Here is what happened, in Sue’s own words:
      
“I drew in a deep breath—and for the first time in ten years felt my lungs fully inflate. I took another deep breath with the same result. The constriction that had been getting progressively worse was gone. I jumped up, sobbing, laughing, and praising God. I threw my arms around Tom and said, ‘I can breathe! Sweetheart, I CAN BREATHE!’ ”*
      
I saw Sue in October. She drove up from Pittsburgh for the Punxsutawney Christian Women’s Conference and stayed with me overnight Saturday night. There is no sign of her illnesses.
      
Christmas is a season of miracles. Everything surrounding the birth of Jesus was miraculous: barren Elizabeth conceiving and bearing the forerunner of the Messiah; the appearances of angels to an old priest, to an engaged young woman, to a bewildered fiancé, and to a group of shivering shepherds; a virgin birth; a wondrous star that guided three wise men from the East to the newborn baby; the escape of that baby from a crazed king.
      
You’ve read the story.
      
But it’s more than a story. It’s more than God reaching down and touching mankind, blessing us with a miracle.
      
It’s God actually leaving the splendors of heaven to inhabit a human body and live with us on earth so He could provide the way for us to be with Him forever.
      
Christmas is the season we want to believe in miracles. So many need one now.
      
So go ahead—believe a miracle can happen. Believe in the impossible.
      
“We serve a God of power, love, and miracles,” writes Sue. “I am living proof that miracles did not end with recorded scripture. God is still sovereign and still delights in miraculously healing His children.”
      
      
I do believe, Lord! Help me overcome my unbelief! (Mark 9:24) Amen.

      
Special-Tea: Read Luke 1:26–38


NOTE:
*To read Sue’s story, “God Still Works Miracles,” on her blog, click here.  http://susanreithswan.com/2014/08/03/god-still-works-miracles-part-one/

The story is told in four parts, which include her miraculous healing, the story of the man who laid his hands on her head and prayed for her, her subsequent visits to her doctors, and other “God-incidences” surrounding this miracle.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Christmas Joy


Dear Lord, I’m feeling down today,
The bills are stacked up high;
With Christmas just two weeks away,
Our bank account’s run dry.
The kids have all presented lists
Of things they want to see;
I hope and pray there’s nothing missed
Beneath our Christmas tree.
But I don’t have the money for
Expensive clothes and toys;
My credit card can’t take much more –
Lord, where’s my Christmas joy?
Perhaps it’s wrapped up in that hug
My daughter gave this morn;
Or stacked with wood my son did lug
To keep us nice and warm.
Perhaps it’s in my oldest’s eyes
When he comes home on break
And sees I’ve baked those pumpkin pies
He wanted me to make.
Perhaps it’s in the tired lines
Around my husband’s eyes.
Perhaps in love that’s grown with time
I’ve found the greater prize.
A friend who gives a hearty smile,
And cupboards that aren’t bare;
And, even if they aren’t in style,
I’ve got some clothes to wear.
A family who believes in me
In all things, great and small –
Dear God, I think I finally see
I am not poor at all.

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
- Matthew 6:21 (RSV)

                     

© 1997 by Michele T. Huey. All rights reserved.


Sunday, December 7, 2014

X-travagant God

The ABC’s of knowing God better: the letter “X”
                                                                                                   
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness. –Lamentations 3:21–23 RSV
      
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. – James 1:17 NIV

      

“How much are you spending on me for Christmas this year?” my husband asked me last week.
      
I didn’t want to tell him I’d already ordered everything on his list. His list, by the way, is comprised of dog-eared pages in several Cabela’s catalogs with which we get inundated this time of the year.
      
So while DH was out vainly looking for a first day buck, I was online not so vainly spending bucks. I was supposed to spend only a third of what I did—that’s what he says he’s spending on me. But trying to pick and choose is too agonizing. It’s a lot easier just to get everything.
      
This seems to be our Christmas history—well, mine, anyway, because I’m the one who’s done the Christmas shopping all these years.
Jaime & Todd, Christmas, 1980

When the kids were little, I tried to get everything on their lists, too. The money was short, but seeing the look on their faces when they opened their presents on Christmas morning was a gift of its own. I wanted to be as extravagant as our budget allowed.
      
We have a heavenly Father who wants to be extravagant with His children, too. Only He can afford to lavish every good gift upon us—and He does. Oh, we don’t get everything on our wish list, but He gives us exactly what we need when we need it and in His way.
      
Some of His gifts we don’t even think about. Or maybe we don’t even realize we’ve been given them.       

Take, for example, His LOVE. It reaches to the heavens (Ps. 36:5), surrounds us (Ps. 32:10), never ceases (Lamentations 3:22), and is the reason He sent His Son to provide the way to heaven for us (John 3:16).
      
His FAITHFULNESS shields us (Ps. 91:4), “extends to the clouds” (Ps. 36:5) and continues through all generations (Ps. 119:90). 
      
His unlimited MERCIES—we receive them daily, fresh as the morning dew (Lamentations 3:22–23).
      
He supplies all our NEEDS, and He doesn’t skimp, either. He provides them “according to His glorious riches” (Philippians 4:19). Wow! All we have to do is ask (Matthew 7:7).
      
His GRACE, which is His daily care, strength, guidance, and favor. His grace is all we really need, for what we lack, He provides (2 Corinthians 12:9).
      
His WISDOM—Once again, all we have to do is ask: “If any of you lacks wisdom he should ask God, who gives generously to all, without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5).
      
Did you get that? He gives generously to all.

So go ahead. Make up that wish list—then watch your heavenly Father do what He loves to do—be extravagant with His child.
      
      
Forgive me, Father, when I whine and complain that I don’t have enough or I don’t have what I want. Open my eyes to the gifts You shower me with every day. Amen.

Special-Tea: Read Matthew 7:7–11

 
NOTE: For more examples of God’s extravagance, read about the miracles of the loaves and the fishes and see how many baskets of leftovers were gathered up (Matthew 14:13–21 and 15:32–38). Or the miraculous catches of fish in Luke 5:4–7 and John 21:4–6.

Monday, December 1, 2014

December Goodreads Giveaway


 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

God, Me & a Cup of Tea by Michele Huey

God, Me & a Cup of Tea

by Michele Huey

Giveaway ends December 15, 2014.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win