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Posts Tagged ‘Miracles’

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I love books that are written in such a way that I feel as though I have a personal relationship with the characters within.

When I read a book by Karen Kingsbury, that is what happens. She is a delightful story-teller, who makes me mourn when the book is read and I need to get on with real life without the relatable characters she works into her stories.

The following is a real-life story, lived though and told by Karen herself (from a Guideposts magazine article … http://www.guideposts.org/inspiration/fiction/karen-kingsburys-inspiring-encounter-on-the-high-line?page=full).

I ‘tried’ to read it, in a mature, story-telling manner, but blubbering ensued … and that’s okay, because tears are Cleansing 😉

I’ve been writing novels for more than 15 years, and I’ll admit it: My imagination can run pretty wild sometimes! I see the stories come to life in my mind way before I ever get them on paper—envisioning the characters and the twists and turns they’ll take on their personal and spiritual journeys.

Then last year something unexpected happened in my own life, something so incredible that even I couldn’t have imagined it.

I’d gone to New York City to meet with my publisher. My daughter, Kelsey, and her husband, Kyle, came with me because they wanted to see the city.

It was a glorious autumn afternoon. Kelsey, Kyle and I were walking on the High Line—a park built on a historic elevated railroad line above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side.

That morning I’d had a dream-come-true meeting with my publisher. My novel The Bridge had become an overnight best seller and they’d signed me to a 10-book deal! I felt so blessed, especially to be able to celebrate with Kelsey and Kyle.

Yet, standing there on the High Line, looking up at the bright blue sky, all I could think was, I wish I could tell Dad about all this.

My father had passed away six years earlier. He was my rock. My very first and biggest fan.

“Have I told you lately that I love you, Dad?” I whispered. That was Dad’s favorite song—the Rod Stewart version of “Have I Told You Lately.” He’d called me the first time he’d ever heard it.

“This song is how I feel about you, Mom, our whole family,” he said. “Whenever you hear it I want you to know that I love you.” I was surprised. Dad wasn’t usually into pop music. But the more I listened to Rod’s distinctive raspy voice belting it out, the more I understood what Dad meant.

“Have I told you there’s no one else above you? You fill my heart with gladness, take away all my sadness, ease my troubles, that’s what you do.” When one of us heard the song, we’d call the other. Sometimes we’d hear it when we were together and Dad would give me a wink.

I can’t say it any better than Rod,” he’d say. The song was that powerful for us. It connected us. So much so that my family had the title engraved on Dad’s headstone.

Not long after Dad died, I began to hear our song at odd but significant moments. Like when my husband, Don, and I were driving home from watching Kelsey and our oldest son, Tyler, in the opening-night performance of the school play—the kind of occasion Dad wouldn’t have missed for the world—and the second we turned on the car radio, there it was.

Or when we took our first family vacation to the Bahamas without Dad. I stepped out onto the balcony overlooking the sparkling sea. “Oh, Dad, you would’ve loved this!” I said. Then I heard a familiar melody.

I looked down onto the deck below and the Bahamian band had switched from playing island music to—yes, you guessed it—“Have I Told You Lately.”

Now here I was, at one of those moments when I knew Dad would have been so proud of me, and I couldn’t share it with him. I missed him more than ever. Lord, I prayed, please tell Dad that I love him.

“How ’bout we take some pictures?” I said to Kelsey and Kyle, hoping to distract myself from missing Dad. “We’ve got this amazing view of the Hudson from up here.”

I pulled out my camera and took some shots of Kelsey, then of her and Kyle together. I wanted to get one of the three of us. I was stretching my arm out, trying to hold the camera far enough away so we were all in the frame, when a man and a woman walked up.

“I can help take your picture,” the man said to us. He was older than me, dressed stylishly in a sweater and jeans. He had a slight accent. Australian? English? He was a tourist like me, probably. “Would that be okay?”

“Yes!” I said. “Thank you so much.”

“Just show me how to use the camera,” he said.

Kelsey walked over and showed him which button to press, then we got into place again.

He snapped the photo. “That’s lovely!” he said, brushing a wayward strand of blond hair from his eye. He handed me the camera. “God bless you,” he said, then he and the woman went on their way.

When they were almost out of sight, Kelsey turned to me. “Mom, did you hear what that man said when I was showing him how to use the camera?”

“No, honey, I didn’t.”

“He said, ‘I’m usually on the other side of this thing. But this is fun too.’”

“Why would he say that?” I wondered aloud.

Then it dawned on me: the spiky blond hair, the fashionable clothes, the lilt in his voice…. Could it be?

I followed the couple, walking as fast as I could.

“Sir, sir! Excuse me, sir!” I called. The man stopped and turned around. We were face-to-face.

“You just took our picture back there,” I said.

“Yes,” he said. By now Kelsey and Kyle had caught up to me.

“Can I ask you something?”

“Sure,” he said.

“Are you Rod Stewart?”

“Sometimes,” he said.

“No, really, I have to know,” I insisted. “Are you Rod Stewart?”

He must have seen something in my eyes because he said quietly, “Yes, I am.” My knees went weak. If only my dad could have seen this!

“Can I tell you a story?” I asked.

Rod nodded.

I told him that “Have I Told You Lately” was my father’s favorite song and that just an hour earlier I’d been wondering if Dad knew how much I missed him.

Rod gently put his hand on my arm. I rested my hand on top of his. “And now I’m meeting you,” I said. “It’s crazy. Your song’s title is even on my dad’s gravestone.”

Tears came to Rod’s eyes. “Can I give you a hug?” he asked. He pulled me in tightly. “Thank you for sharing that. You made my day.”

When we let go, Rod clasped his hands together and pointed them heavenward. Then he and his companion walked away.

Kelsey, Kyle and I looked at each other and sat down on a bench. We all felt stunned. Just at the moment when I was missing my dad so badly, the rock star who sang our song crosses my path? Really? You could never plan or even imagine something like that!

But Someone had. Someone who orchestrates unforgettable encounters and writes amazing moments into the stories of our lives. I looked up into the bright blue sky. There really is no one else above him.

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I re-encountered a teaching the other day that gave me a fresh perspective on the way Jesus thinks and teaches.

The teaching was on the story of Jesus feeding the crowd of five thousand (John 6:1-15) with five barley loaves and two small fish. The crowd had gathered after seeing and/or hearing about his miracles of healing. He had healed the blind, the mute, the lame, the leper and the dead … definitely the stuff of attention getting!

As this crowd was forming near Jesus and his disciples, he says to Philip, “where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” (John 6:5) Now, I was not there, and have never been to the Sea of Galilee, but I am pretty sure there was no 7 Eleven near by, or even a bread vendor. Jesus really is asking a redundant question, because what he is doing is testing Philip, not asking for a suggested shopping place.

The following verse confirms this, “he asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do” (John 6:5).  This was the unit test, and Jesus was looking to see if his followers had been paying attention.

The first response came from Philip, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” (vs.7). Philip was being practical, I like that. Sadly, it did not reflect the unit teaching on the power that Jesus had, through his father, to do all of the miracles he had performed. So, sadly, Philip pulls off a fail.

The second response came from Andrew (Simon Peter’s brother), “here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” Now he is offering a solution that is practical, but he is not sure how so little could meet the needs of so many. Hum, maybe pass him, but just barely a pass (or, if I was punny, I might say, ‘barley’ a pass … but, I digress).

Then Jesus gave instructions to his disciples about how to go about sharing the small offering, after he gave thanks for it. He gave thanks because he knew who the small answer to prayer was from. He also knew that any offering, no matter the size, that was in the hands of the redeemer, could be multiplied exponentially.

When the masses were satisfied, Jesus gave further directions, “gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted” (v. 12-13). The disciples did as they were directed (maybe with their heads hanging, for not paying attention to the miracles performed in recent days), and when they were finished they had filled twelve baskets with the left overs! They were given more than they ever hoped for or dreamed. And that is the abundance that God lavishes on us.

It is easy to read this story and, like when I was a kid, focus on the bread and fishes. I think though that the lesson had less to do with the sustenance that food provides, and more to do with reliance on our heavenly father that sustains us in daily life.

Too often we hear of a need, and our response is towards the practical. We listen to the person, we give them money, we invite them to church, we help them find professional counseling, we bake them a cake, or take them a casserole. Maybe what we should do, first, is take their need to our heavenly father, and ask Him to provide the sustenance that satisfies.

“Don’t waste your energy striving for perishable food like that.
Work for the food that sticks with you,
food that nourishes your lasting life,
food the Son of Man provides.
He and what he does are guaranteed by God the Father to last.”
John 6:27

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