Posts Tagged ‘prayer’

My mother now lives in the downstairs memory care section of the home where my Nana spent the last three years of her life. When Nana was upstairs in the assisted living residential area, one of my former CBS, Community Bible Study, teacher colleagues moved not far down the hall. Kyoko acknowledged me when I’d hug her and said hello then, but she didn’t chat much if I stopped by. She always had a warm smile and responded politely and respectfully. She still had a sweet-nature and was soft-spoken. I think sometimes she remembered me, and sometimes she simply didn’t.

After Nana went home to heaven, I only revisited the home a couple of times. I intended to go back and check on Kyoko, but the demands of daily life and the out-of-town commute soon ebbed away at my best intentions.

When my mom went to live there a year ago, Kyoko had transferred downstairs and was my mother’s next-door neighbor for the first few months before mom got her own permanent room. Most of the memory care residents spend their time in the large community room connected to the dining area.

My mom doesn’t know me or any of my sisters anymore. Shannon, my second youngest sister and mom’s former caregiver, visits mom daily and feeds her one meal, usually dinner on the weekdays on her way home from work, and lunch on the weekends. Kyoko is always there too. Most of my six sisters have come to know her and her gentle ways. She likes to be close to my mother, and she’ll point you to the chair next to mom and bow until you take it.

Many days when I make the commute to visit my mom is sound asleep when I arrive and she’ll doze for hours. It is such a disappointment for me not to catch her awake and alert. She still shows a flicker of a second of recognition, a smile flashes across her sweet face and then she’ll grab for my hand. But when slumbering, mom sleeps deeply. Kyoko is usually sitting on the nearby sofa and she’ll get up, walk over to me and it almost seems like she wants to speak specifically, as a comforting gesture like she can sense the depth of my heartache.

Back when we served together at CBS, we were both core leaders of groups with about fifteen women. One year I was also the secretary and another year I was the Prayer Chairman so our time was interwoven in a variety of additional ways. Kyoko T. was dearly loved by her ladies. She knew God’s word intimately and she lived the grace and beauty of the Lord in every aspect of her petite being. We used to sing together in the leadership meeting circle these beautiful songs of praise and worship and sisterhood. Sometimes we sat next to each other and raised our quiet voices in harmony with fellow CBS sisters gifted with lovely songbird perfectly pitched, and choir worthy cadence.

We also prayed together. That was my closest connection with this humble woman. We shared prayer requests and praises both within the leadership circle and outside of it. She knew all of my sisters names and my mother’s name, Mary. How faithful Kyoko was to remember to ask me about my family, my children, and my husband after a season of intercession.

She shared about her home and the longings in her soul. Those were precious days of special friendship within a circle of women that you often only experience once in a lifetime.

I eventually moved out-of-town and sent Christmas cards which eventually dwindled down over the next decade.

Kyoko’s tender heart remains despite the loss of the memories of herself, her childhood, her family, her country, me and all her other CBS sisters. A loving Father placed her in her current home where she unknowingly continues to be a blessing to my mother and all those around her. I watch the gentlemen and ladies respond to her meek compliance and kindnesses. Her outer image is much altered, but her inner-Christ light shines with a brilliance like a star illuminating a night sky.

I often sing to my mom if she is awake or to Kyoko if my mom is sleeping. Kyoko and I used to hold hands when we sang The Servant Song together in our CBS days. The lyrics hold a much deeper meaning to me now than almost twenty years ago. Kyoko remains a servant-hearted handmaiden of the Lord right where she is. There is hope where there is love.




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To Brighten Your Day

I rang in the New Year sick in bed with the flu. Basically, I spent the entire first week of January of 2014, in my pajamas, tucked between burgundy flannel sheets, with a tissue box on my nightstand, and copious mugs of hot water with Manuka honey and a cinnamon stick for stirring. The flu bug brought friends ~ fever, chills, nausea, exhaustion, and eventually, dehydration.

The second week of the month, I sipped broth, and nibbled on crackers. I ventured out of bed for short periods of time to walk down the hallway, let the dogs out, and sit on the sofa in the living room to gaze out the picture window and watch other people riding bicycles, jogging, and taking down outside Christmas lights. My home was still fully decorated and I now had a jolting cough.

Editing my manuscript was not in the picture. Critiquing my group’s latest chapters was not going to happen either. I missed all the first writer meetings of the year.

In the stillness of illness, I did have hours and hours of prayer time. And somehow when I read by Bible, my eyes did not ache in the back of the sockets like when I tried to read books to review.

I was offline for a week and it seemed I had fallen off the planet earth. When I got back on the for the first time, I was way behind with all the news, comments, and had more messages than I could answer.

So I prayed for more people. Read more scripture, and prayed again, and again.
It was joy. Slowing down was refreshing for my soul. I prayed for the people that rode those bicycles, jogged, and cleaned their houses and yards. Some I knew personally, some were strangers.

My perspective changed. The way I spent my time changed too.

Today I am cough-free, clear-headed, down ten pounds I was struggling to lose, and starting to catch up with all the writing.

Here in California we are experiencing a terrible drought. Today it was 74 degrees on January 24th. I drove out of town to buy groceries, had a meeting with another writer, edited some of the last chapters of my second novel, and was treated to a prime rib dinner here in town. Back to life as usual. No, I am keeping my revived prayer-first life. The new year brought a shortage of water, but God offered me an abundance that is still overflowing to nourish and hydrate me. I am choosing the best, everyday, early in the morning and all day long.

There was a box on my doorstep two days ago. A surprise delivery from an old friend in Colorado. The envelope inside read, to brighten your day. I have been sharing this delightful and thoughtful assortment of my favorite teas, honey and treats with my family and friends.

What perfect timing.

What a loving act of sweetness.

2014 is now a week away from going into the month of February. I see more what I have learned and been blessed by, than time I lost. There is joy to share and lots of time to pray. Another gift sent in love to brighten my day.

Perfect timing.

Perfect gift.

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<a href=”Harvest of Gold (Harvest #2)Harvest of Gold by Tessa Afshar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Harvest of Gold by Tessa Afshar was an answer to prayer for me.

This is the first book I have read by Tessa and it won’t be the last. The story is powerful and entering the world of these characters without having read the first book, Harvest of Rubies, I had no difficulties following the beautifully woven tale of Sarah and Darius. It is a stand alone book. Having done in-depth studies the Book of Nehemiah, one of my favorite books in the Bible, I was captivated by the way Afshar related the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem to the tearing down of walls of the hardened heart of a husband, and the rebuilding of a marriage.

The focus on Nehemiah, his perseverance, faith, life of prayer and fasting, service to a Persian king and to the Jewish people, reliance on God in the worst of circumstances, and sense of true justice, so convicted me in every area of my current personal walk.

After twenty-eight years in an unequally-yoked marriage this story stirred embers to flame again in my own heart to renew my prayers for my husband with fervency.

There is a thread of prayer woven throughout the book, an invisible spiritual refined gold that ties lives together. One man believes his God will help his repenting people do the impossible, and they do in fifty-two days. One women believes her prayers will outlive her time of earth for her son to know God. One wife prays that her husband will forgive her mistake, know God, and come to truly love her. One soldier finds his true self and strength in surrender to a God he can not see without faith, and cannot know without brokenness. One people unite under extreme hardship to rebuild, stone by stone, side by side, and prayer by prayer. And what about those who witness these changes?

A mystery surrounding a planned attempt to kill King Artaxerxes adds an intriguing twist and introduces new characters into play that bring the fictional part of the story to vibrant life. Lysander and Roxanna begin a story of their own that makes me wonder if there isn’t a future harvest ahead for them.

This is a timely book, well-researched and crafted for people of all faiths in the modern world.

If there is but a flicker burning in your heart for a story of true value that offers hope, then read the aptly titled ~ Harvest of Gold.

*The author sent me this book to read and give an honest review.*

View all my reviews” title=”Review ~ Harvest of Gold By Tessa Afshar”>Review ~ Harvest of Gold By Tessa Afshar

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I saw this question while on my Pinterest break in my writing work day today.

I love to watch the stars from my hammock in the backyard. One year when I was ill, I mapped the airplane flight patterns when I rested on my hammock and prayed for my neighbors late into the summer nights.

God brought healing into my heart, body, and soul during that season of prayer. I don’t know what He did for the people I interceded for, but I know he heard and answered every utterance.

Praying for others when faced with mounting trials of your own helps take the focus off yourself and tenderizes a deep place you might otherwise guard and protect. Every inch surrendered for Kingdom purposes grows miles in a God direction.

I don’t know about you, but my daily prayer request list is growing to the point I could live on my knees everyday. The world is crying out in pain and sickness, loss and bewilderment. Fellow believers are facing testing at an accelerated level. And the burden on my heart awakens me in the middle of the night.

The weather has been cool enough that I can venture outside under the stars and pray until the leading of the Holy Spirit lifts. The earth is quiet and calm. At least it is in my backyard. The brightness of those millions and millions of heavenly beacons, light up the darkest of skies.

I am in awe under that endless sea above me, but a speck in all creation. God’s still, small voice is clear. Come to Me in prayer. I am waiting for you.

Almost daily I learn someone has lost a loved one to disease or an unexpected tragedy, or has lost their job, their house, and their hope. I think it is pretty much the same worldwide at an increasing rate.

Lately I’ve been thinking about something my teaching director at Community Bible Study said decades ago. “Weigh whatever it is by this one measure ~ What is the eternal value?”

It is that simple.

My priorities are easy to balance under a starry night.

During the course of the day I am distracted by honorable things, work ~ I love to write.  I like to clean my home, water my plants, walk my dogs, swim laps in a pool, do volunteer work, go to church…

To pray without ceasing, to weigh the eternal value, wishing upon a star is not time wisely spent for me. But to pray to the One who created the stars, to Praise Him in the beauty of His holiness, to make the time he gives me a gift I give back to Him ~ lets the speck of light within me break through surrounding darkness.

How brilliant the starry specks must light up the earth when the Creator gazes down from the heavenly stars to breathe in the incense of our prayers.

* Quote from Karen Burrell of the Sacramento Community Bible Study* Late 1990’s.

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