"The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion — to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair." ~ from ISAIAH 61 Bible verse for this Blog

Thursday, December 6, 2012

GRIEVING GOD'S WAY ~ The Path to Lasting Hope

GRIEVING GOD'S WAY
THE PATH TO LASTING HOPE
by
Margaret Brownley
and
Haiku by Diantha Ain

"Grieving God's Way" by Margaret Brownley with Haiku by Diantha Ain helps lead the reader to a path of hope and healing through a 90 day devotional that starts you on the process of grieving in a healthy way; God's ways. The book is divided into four parts of healing: I. the grieving body, II. the grieving soul, III. the grieving heart and IV. the grieving spirit along with a Bible verse and devotion for each day and an inspirational haiku by Diantha Ain. My favorite part however was what she shared from her heart and in the section "Healing Way" at the end of each day.

Through the author's own personal experience with grief after the loss of her oldest son, she showed me how to grieve God's way instead of how I have been dealing with my losses, mixing some of man's ways with God's ways and not being able to let go. Weeks, months and even years go by without visible signs of improvement or change on their special days, wondering about that person. "Then one day, it happens ... we are no longer consumed by our loss and our thoughts turn outward. These are the first signs of healing." "Grieving God's Way" offers and inspires a different course of action than our society tells us that says "get over it", stuff itforget it, suppress it, "shouldn't you be over this?", move on ...

I. Man's Way: Numb the pain 
God's Way: Heal the pain through healthy choices
II. Man's Way: Don't dwell on your loss. Keep busy
God's Way: Slow down. Take your time. Share your pain. Heal through Beauty, Art and Nature
III. Man's Way: Grieve alone *
God's Way: Grieve with the help of family &friends
IV. Man's Way: Time heals
God's Way: Faith heals
~Margaret Brownley~

Time definitely has not healed the loss of each person no longer here in my life. Each death is different and each of us deal differently with the death of a loved one. The pain is very real. But "out of the pain comes a gift of a deeper faith" (Day 87). I have experienced death from illnesses, sudden death and the traumatic death of a suicide. Not one is the same. I felt that Margaret walked honestly through her grief and how she shared it like she "gets it". I had done many of the same things that Margaret shares throughout her book but especially Part II. I love the opening introduction of each section but Part IV's spoke the most to me from this beginning part:

"When grieving God's Way,
peace of mind is the reward
we receive for faith ..." 

through her message to the very last words on that page

"Grief is a very dark cave with no visible way out. Hope and joy are distant memories. Faith deserts us ... We cry out to God ... We question His wisdom and purpose. This is how the spirit grieves."

"Fortunately, God doesn't hold a loss of faith against us; ... This is the wonder of God's aMazing Grace."

"The spirit heals when life becomes meaningful again and we face the future with hope, courage, and a more lasting and mature faith."
my spirit received the healing that flowed from these words  ... 
Thank you, Margaret!

I am now moving forward after reading this like a devotional for the past 90 days (finishing up on the exact day 3 years after my most recent devastating personal loss from suicide of a special significant friend of mine for the past 13 years here in Mexico ) with a new hope and hopefully a more healthy way to cope that will be lasting. In some ways, reading this at this point only surfaced the pain once again but this time I was able to take hold of God's truths and ways to cope and deal better. I'm learning how to embrace my grief with hope and promise, realizing that I don't have to 'let go' of the people but can express my grief in a healthier way by continuing to love them. Now I'm pressing on to learn and apply this in an entirely different kind of grief: the entire loss of our home and belongings to a fire.

The final author note of Margaret Brownley seemed to help me the most summing up her journey so beautifully and truthfully with these words: 

"Grief knows no end, but neither does God's healing." ~ Margaret Brownley ~

Grief is an inner journey and Margaret Brownley captures it and the healing necessary to start over, hold on to our memories and look forward with hope that is lasting through her words and God's Word, we can heal God's way finally through "Grieving God's Way". 

I have read only one other book that has helped me at all, although I'm noticing more and more available. I do recommend this book for those grieving and even for helping others you know or yourself to understand more completely grief, loss and a path to healing. I know I will go back often when I'm in that valley so I can lift up my eyes to the hills from where my help comes(Psalm 121)...

Disclosure of material connection:
I received this book free from the publisher Thomas P. Nelson through the BookSneeze.com book review blogger's program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

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* although I found, that there are now many sites and support groups to help us deal with our loss and our grief, I prefer to be surrounded by Christians with like beliefs.
 
My problem was that I am out of the country and do not feel comfortable enough to share in Spanish as I would back home. However, I was not able to talk with family and friends back home about these things, there are places you can. And for me to share with or even see the family here bought back painful memories and increased my heaviness. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

THEN SINGS MY SOUL, Book 3

Then Sings My Soul Book 3 : The Story of Our Songs: Drawing Strength from the Great Hymns of Our Faith, Robert J. Morgan
Then Sings My Soul Book 3 : The Story of Our Songs: Drawing Strength from the Great Hymns of Our Faith by Robert J. Morgan is the long awaited third installment of the world's greatest hymns and their stories ... and this is not just the description of the publisher, but mine also, because it's been a 'long awaited' review from me of this third book from his series, that I so enjoyed as I've been 'long awaiting' to read at least one of the 3 books he's written. Since I missed the first two - this was a MUST! I took my time drawing strength from the great hymns of our faith that were featured in this 3rd book and plan to use much more. It's a great addition to any home or church library.


I love church music and I was sure that I'd love learning about the hymns through this magnificent collection spanning from, believe it or not, the first biblical hymns, all the way to our current contemporary praise ones, crossing through worship music in the church from ancient to medieval to Gospel from German and English ancestors to current generations. Truly an amazing accomplishment and quite the collection to treasure so very well written!

I must admit that I have never been much of a "lover of hymns" though so that may be why I tarried so because I hardly knew many of these hymns. Although I have my favorites and love to hear their stories, reading "Then Sings My Soul..." has definitely made me much more interested in listening and appreciating our hymns. I learned so much soaking in this book.

I was so thankful that this detailed collection of over 50 hymns, not only includes an overview of Christian hymnody through the centuries, as I already shared, but it includes the actual music and all the verses. This allowed me to sit and read the music to become better familiar with the hymn and in some cases, I was able to figure out that I actually did know the hymn. For this alone, I took much time in thoroughly acquainting myself with the hymns, the stories behind them and the well documented church history as told by Robert J. Morgan, truly a master of concisely covering so much history and information in such an interesting manner, making it  easy to enjoy reading.

My favorite part, in addition to singing through the hymns, was learning more about the hymn, its composer, and its composition - the behind the "hymn". When you read the biographical sketches and the lyrics, knowing what part of history they were written, it takes on so much more meaning and it does strengthen your faith as well as deepen the meaning of our church music history, realizing the great importance of hymns to our contemporary music.

The book is divided into four sections: an overview of Christian "hymnody" from Biblical scriptures to modern times as I already noted; a series of short stories for a variety of many unknown hymns to me; then the section I liked best because of familiarity of six well loved hymns that gives more detail then the previous section for these and finally the role of hymns in private and public life. I completely agree with Morgan's concluding part of "interwoven worship", blending hymns along with our contemporary worship and praise songs.

"Then Sings My Soul..." Book 3 stands alone with all of Robert Morgan's detailed background information. I'm sure that the first two are just as great but I'm glad to add this unique book to my collection and so would you. "Hymns are great therapy" (as he wrote) to draw strength from the song, the words. I love the recommendations that Robert Morgan gives us in the final part to read the hymns, memorize the hymns, meditate on the hymns, play the hymns, PRAY the hymns, proclaim the hymns, quote the hymns, lean on the hymns, start each day with a hymn, but most importantly pass them on to our children.

Even the wonderful texture of the pages makes it one that I will return to often for information and using it in my time alone with God because the 3 indexes which make it so easy to access the hymn by first line, title or author/songwriter.I believe strongly in starting each day with praise and prayer so I hope to do so more often with these hymns after reading this unique book and becoming more of a hymn lover. My soul will continue to SING more hymns and unto HIM with a deepened faith strengthened by "THEN SINGS MY SOUL, Book 3..."

Thomas Nelson Product page
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*Note: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

* extra blog NOTE:
I'm hoping to make my WOW posts into Worship OWeds. for awhile to focus on the great hymns in this book with hopes to strengthen your faith too. Remember there were more than 50 in this book alone covered...

I do not know anything about 'Scrap booking' but I bookmarked a wonderful blogger I encountered who does beautiful scrap booking and up until she was moving, she had been doing a great Challenge on this: Hymn and Scripture Challenge so I'm sure I'll be linking to hers rather than duplicate info if I do any of the ones that she's already covered... and I hope that she continues on her blog soon with this challenge. 

Maybe you would like to join me in sharing one of these great hymns/songs of our church history every week. (Weds. for me but you can do it any day) Should we do a LINK UP? Now that's real accountability and inspiration from just reading the 3rd Volume. Imagine if I had read all 3 volumes. So check back on Weds. or SONdays for more about this.

I've found many wonderful resources and today I'd like to share just one, where you can learn about a hymn each week and so much more at Center for Church Music Songs and Hymns. Also every Sunday, they have a spot for just 5 minutes on a Moody radio station for you to listen. Check this out also on the link to their website.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

MAGI ~ 1



Matthew 2:1-12
(you can read this here in its entirety on my blog)
"Secrets of the Magi: by Pastor Denyes,
Emmanuel Christian Center in Minnesota
1) Go on the journey with friends
2) It's alright to go on a journey without knowing all the details
3) Don't give up when it's not like you expected
4) Look for the King in your present situation
5) Understand the value of the Gift

Yes, I do realize that CHRISTmas is over, but I'm thinking that I may not be changing my background of "The Star of Bethlehem" with the 3 Magi... though the Bible does not mention how many wise men came to visit the King Jesus as a baby and hopefully, you'll better come to understand why I'm not changing my background back this year but leaving the "star" to guide my light... His Light on my journey. My WORD for 2012: LIGHT!

January 6th is known as "El Dia de los Reyes" (The Day of the Kings) in Mexico and much of Latin culture. Sometimes the word "magos" similar to the Greek word, is added after "reyes"(Kings) which in English relates to magic or magician, socerer ... but generally understood as wise men. Some say they were astrologers, which associates them to astrology: study of the stars, which some have applied to the occult/witchcraft. However, some think that they may have been astronomers rather than astrologers. Whoever they were, they came to bring GIFTS to the King Jesus and traveled following what we call the Star of Bethlehem (which is another interesting phenomena). The reason that it is thought to be 3 kings or wise men, is only because of the mention of 3 gifts that were given to Jesus. In the Catholic Church, which celebrates this day as the Feast of Epiphany (usually the first Sun. twelve days after Christmas, where we get the "12 days of Christmas" that I shared here). This day is very important to the children here in Mexico, because they look forward to receiving GIFTS on this day. I'm sure that I have shared in the past about this day, and if not, there are many places that do explain the tradition here like About(dot)com and Inside Mexico because that was not the intention of this blog post yet I could not ignore this.

Many of you have visited me here at aMazing Grace, Mazes, Messes, Miracles for quite some time without realizing how/why my name came to be or even that my URL address reads maz magi (dot) blogspot (dot) com (and I use to have "mazmagi" instead of Peggy for my name). However, I shared this near the beginning of this blog in 2008 and the link is always in my sidebar under ABOUT my BLOG(s)"Blog's name - why?"

The "Maz" part is the easiest to explain, having to do with where I am located in Mexico, Mazatlan, a Nahautl word for "land of the deer". And throughout the Christmas season, I referred to the "más" part of Christmas as meaning "more" of Christ. 

But then I come across this sermon above from Pastor Denyes, from a church that is almost like my 3rd church home, ECC -Emmanuel Christian Center. I listened and I didn't really focus in on his points (writing them down that is) until the 4th and 5th points struck me and then I had to listen to it all over again. Now as I look at all of his points about the "secrets of the magi", I realized that they were all from God, speaking to my heart for this new year and where I am at and planning to be or do (all in  hands of God). 

I began writing this thinking that I would be sharing on the "GIFTS of the MAGI", because I have become very interested in their symbolism and intrigued by the Star of Bethlehem. All three gifts are ordinary offerings and gifts given to a king. Myrrh being commonly used as an anointing oil, frankincense as a perfume, and gold as a valuable. But on a spiritual level, they represent so much more, and that God had this all planned in advance, documented in the Old Testament (i.e. Isaiah 60 and Psalm 72): gold as a symbol of kingship on earth (or virtue), frankincense (an incense) as a symbol of deity (or prayer), and myrrh (an embalming oil) as a symbol of death (or suffering). Now that's the quickest, most concise explanation I've ever given.

Yet, I believe, since I was not searching for Pastor Denyes message, nor anything to do with "magi" that God wants me to personalize the meaning of these "secrets" to my life (but that would take an entire book) and hopefully you can do this with your own situation.

1.
I came on this part of my life journey to Mexico in 1996 and returned more and more each year (so how do you write 16 yrs. in a blog post? and get anyone to read it). I stayed a little longer each time, until I finally live here more than my home back in Minnesota. My last trip in 2010 home, various well intended friends and family members, too... asked me to perhaps consider staying home, starting over there, etc. but something deep within me, told me "no, I must go back", I really have not accomplished or worked on all of what God has placed especially most recently on my heart, and I do have a "mission" here (on my MISSIONS blog, I recently posted 3 videos here, here and/or here to show you what's happening in some parts).

This past season here, I've been having second thoughts and I have seriously began wondering and pondering, maybe even faltering. All of which applies to the 5 points that Pastor Denyes made. 

My journey here, was not with friends or even my spouse, as I had hoped and come to expect would happen when he retired back in the mid 90s (in fact, he had told me this most of our marriage that we would retire in Mexico, Spain, or Argentina... but life happened and in '95, he changed his mind) yet I had waited to do missions work here and was sure that God had called me to Mexico back in a Spanish class trip from high school, so this has laid heavily upon my heart for years to be here. But maybe there was more work to be done in my home, in my marriage, through my church or other short term mission trips. After all, missionaries are sent out in twos and usually husband and wives (families) go together but mine is a unique situation, Lord... my husband does not believe that Jesus is the only way, the truth and the life... he believes that church is nothing more than another social organization. However, since 6th grade I had been waiting to do this calling on my life and preparing for this day. Disappointment and disillusion and maybe even doubt crept in to deter what God purposed in me. Or did I get this all wrong, God?

From '96 until 2009, I had a Mexican friend join me somewhat in this journey. But not committed as I was, yet a great help to me living here in Mexico and making the necessary trips to the border for permits, etc. a bit more safe for me. That ended in Dec. of 2009. Since then, other friends have helped, like you all... but no one person was here as a friend to make those trips, which keep getting longer, more dangerous, more problems along the way and I'm getting older and less able in so many ways. God has shown me that He is my pilot and He is here with me, as My Friend, my Guide, my Provider, my Everything... so I remain. I seek a fresh anointing... a refilling of His Spirit. I expect great happenings this year as I reflect His Light! (my new Word for 2012 if you've missed that)!

2.
I definitely went on this journey, without knowing all the details. And my husband has remained faithful in providing for my monthly costs, which makes him my sponsor or partner somewhat without knowing all the details either, yet I believe God still requires more of him and more of me although we are separated in more than just the distance. I trust God with the details. Now I just need to fine tune my listening skills because I know God is working on me and pray that He is continuing to work on him. I stepped out in faith and I continue in faith, doing my part, with all of my heart, I lean into Him. 

3.
When we arrived at the 3rd point of  this sermon "not giving up when it's not like you expected" God got my full attention. My ears perked up and my heart followed quickly. I thought about the "magi" making this trip, following the night skies, watching and looking for the Bright Star that would point out the place. I recall many nights trusting in that Bright Morning Star along my journey also. He shines so much brighter when you are seeking Him in the pitch darkness of either the night or your life journey. If you've been in the dark, you know what the Light brings. Hope, warmth, acceptance, significance, security, growth, freedom.

4.
The most important part was when Pastor Denyes mentioned to "look for the King" in your current situation. That I needed to hear and grab hold of...how about you? Can you see the King? My purpose is to worship my King and follow what He purposes still in my life! The wonderful power of the Holy Spirit keeps me focused on God's plan and purpose for me but He has asked us to make our journey and be in fellowship, not try to make it "on our own". I no longer want to be deceived or walk in deception of others. I want to keep my distance from darkness, yet it is in this darkness that my light must shine. Mexico has become ruthless in the fight against corruption and cartels (reminds me of Herod's time) yet from the news I catch from back in the USA, there are many ruthless battles going on there as well. Can I see the King? Can I hear from the King? This is my personal desire this new year of 2012 to see and hear my King in every thing I set out to do and every way I travel just to touch the hem of His garment and know He's there, He cares, He's with me in this, He's guiding my steps and making a way. No camels, no entourage, no regal wardrobe, no expensive extras; just me and my King! 

5.
Finally, I arrive at the point that I wanted to write about... the value of the GIFT! With as much as I have written already however, even trying to be brief, not possible 'cuz... I could go on and on about the value of the GIFT! 

It is Priceless and that is what I hope to convey to many here in MX or wherever God wants me. I truly cannot put into words just how priceless and valuable His Gift to me has been or is...

I treasure and cherish the value of His GIFT so much, that I must continue to seek and share the greatest GIFT ever given to human kind... Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Without Him, I am nothing, I have nothing... life is meaningless and so hard but with Him, all things are possible, I am something of value, I have all that He provides through His grace and I depend on His Provision. It does not mean that my life will no longer be hard or have difficulties, but I have Him and His assurance, His guidance, His promises, His Word to meet each one with Him and His help. This Gift is a gift that keeps on giving!

I must increase my understanding and role that God has given me and what part of this Gift, He wants me to share and where, according to His will. I do not have gold, frankincense or myrrh (can't even play a drum and have trouble with my tambourine) but I can offer virtue, prayer and any suffering for His Name's sake and shine my light into the darkness of another's life. I must see with His eyes and hear with His heart and move in His Spirit, not my own or another.
 
This GIFT was very costly for Our Heavenly Father, Our Lord Jesus gave His every thing for you and me! God has given me and you resources/treasures that we can bring to the King! But the greatest Gift we can give is ourselves. We all have things that we value, whether economical or sentimental. Yet God treasures His ordinary people, flawed and imperfect, so in need of His Grace... and He wants us to follow Him in humility and repentance that comes as we follow Christ as His disciples. The treasure is to walk with Christ and experience a deeper relationship with Him as we present ourselves completely to Him. We need to develop a rich and satisfying relationship that brings real JOY for us and our loved ones! A lasting JOY! One that is our eternal JOY! May each one come to know Him...

Isaiah 9:6-7

God is with us
"Emmanuel"

Can you even wrap your head around this concept?
God, Divinity with me... awesome!

* Although I'm not linking up with them yet, this is the closest I've come to this, but I'd like to direct you to "Hear it on Sunday, Use it on Monday" even though it's Tues., the links are there and you can link up until Weds. midnight with Graceful. Then there's the special round up on Thurs. that Michelle DeRusha does (host and author at Graceful). 

BE SURE TO READ MY NOTE AT THE END OF MONDAY'S POST!

APOLOGY

On July 18, 2017, I drafted almost 3000 blog posts that I had published since 2008 when I began blogging rather than edit each one. So if you clicked from somewhere and ended up here and the post was unavailable, I am sorry. It would be too much work for me to go back through each one and fix. I guess I'm still learning. I apologize also to anyone who subscribes that perhaps received many old ones in your email. There's somewhat of an explanation on 7/19/17.
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This blog is ALL about HIM, for HIM, not about me!
I hope that is what you see
this is why I am



To my faithful visitors;
all of you who spend your valuable time here with me
I do appreciate you so much!

Thank you for taking your time to visit!

Love, Sweet blessings & Hugs!

DIOS TE BENDIGA
GOD BLESS YOU

always

Peggy