Comfortable

I thought of a word to describe you. . .

Comfortable

Like a much-traveled shoe
A blanket worn and soft
A tree with old bark
A coffee cup stained
The coziness of a tattered chair
The bare path much traveled upon
Openly frank and unpredictable, yet predictable in every way

Comfortable

A rainy Monday splattered on a tin roof
The familiar whistle of the train
A song you love to hear
An orchestra of melodies upon a memory
A frayed letter never sent
A smooth hand
A promise unbent

Comfortable

A fresh fallen snow
A cozy old quilt
A warm soothing drink of tea
An embrace that folds into one
A child’s laughter
A long golden nap
A book that takes you on a voyage
A porch swing on a cool night
An uncomfortable silence wrapped up in ease

So comfortably, Comfortable

couch

 

Flying Beyond the Hardship

 

Flying Beyond the Hardship

November 14, 2016

dandarell

By: Tekoa Manning

Gratitude. Thankfulness. Usually, neither of those exist without first experiencing heartache, loss, and hard times. You have to go through one, to embrace the other in a manner worthy of noticing. Sometimes we miss the gratitude and turn bitter like lemons. This is the month of thankfulness. We try and become more aware of the simple things like our eyes opening in the morning and our very breath. Life. A gift. A treasure upon treasures–often spent in loathing, complaining, or wishing it looked different.

There is a thorn in the rose bush for a reason, but I’ll get to that later. There is always going to be hard fallow ground, sharks, buzzards, and yes, thorns, but how do we have gratitude in the midst of suffering, depression, and feeling like an empty shell? We cry out in prayer and our prayers feel like they hit the ceiling. We wallow in our self-pity and miss out on the joys of life.

One of my favorite books is The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemmingway. In the book, Santiago is a very unfortunate seasoned fisherman who after eighty-four days without a fish inherits the nickname unlucky. Even a young lad who has faith in him is not allowed to go out on his boat anymore due to his parents, along with the locals’ belief that he is under a curse. Ah, haven’t we all felt that way? The job ended, we got the terrible news about our health or child, failed our exam, flunked out of nursing school, was cheated on by who we thought would be our future spouse or can’t seem to even get a date. The ongoing question is, how can we find things to thank the Father of Heaven for in the midst of our storms?

Finally, after three days at sea with a fish so determined to live, it drags his boat farther and farther out to sea. The fish is fighting hard to stay alive and the old man respects the fish but tells him that he is going to die and finally catches the biggest Marlin ever. In fact, it is so large when he ties it to the side of his boat, it seems bigger than the boat itself. Soon the fish is bleeding in the waters and a group of sharks begins to circle the boat. He fights them with all he has losing his harpoon and rope on one and stabbing the rest with a makeshift knife and finally a club. They eventually eat his catch that he worked so hard for. He is left with the bones of the marlin.

Life can be just like this. We can fight and claw our way through college or our career, waiting for the big fish that never comes and not even notice the one we were given. Not even taste it. Not even wake-up with excitement that we are NOT working or breathing for men, but for the Father who created the stars. We need thankfulness and expectancy.

If we try and make something happen before Our Abba Father wants it to happen, it will not happen. Fruit picked off the vine too early is sour, bitter and tough. When we take a cake out of the oven too early it sinks. When we remove a cast the doctor put on to heal broken bones, we can stop the process, but what about you and I? Where are we at in our own process? Try and think about what you would enjoy doing every day even if you had to do it for free– were never noticed– and no one even tasted the fruit on your tree?

Once the old man in the story comes back from his three-day fishing journey, battered and bleeding with a fish skeleton tied to the side of his boat, many, including his daughter tell him he needs to retire, stop fishing, give up, and that he is laden with a curse of bad luck. Of course, as all good stories go, luck would have it that the young boy in the area has great faith. Childlike faith–the faith that says we can go fishing again. We can catch a bigger fish. We can beat the sharks– outwit the nay Sayers and return with a prize winning catch!

One creature I want you to picture is the butterfly. Its beginning is not so beautiful and will require four stages before it is able to fly. If I asked you a personal question right now, could you answer me with all honesty? Do you feel like you are flying or doing what it is you were created to do? Are you thankful for the process?

Do you think Joseph knew he was going through a process to become a great leader over all of Egypt while he was sitting in the prison? He went through the cycles. First, he was given the dreams and the picture of what he was to become. He was given the special coat. He got confirmation from His heavenly Father and his earthly father that he had a calling. Afterward, he was scorned by the ones he loved. This may have already happened to you? His own family members throw him in a pit and proclaim to his father that he is dead. Then he is sold into slavery. He is given a good position as a servant for a prominent man but later is wrongfully accused of a crime he did not commit. Just when you think things in his life couldn’t get any worse, he is thrown in prison and in chains. This journey is one that took a long time. Thirteen years later he becomes second in command of all Egypt and is reunited with his family. His process was a long time coming. Many of our biblical heroes were.

Psalms says, “He sent a man before them,

           Joseph, who was sold as a slave.

     They afflicted his feet with fetters,

           He himself was laid in irons;

     Until the time that his word came to pass,

           The word of the LORD tested him.” 105:17-19.

All the testing molds us, but can we thank Him for it? Most the time the things we desire and pray to have are not part of the plan. Often, in order for Him to give us what we ask for, we have to be humbled enough to carry it out. Going through the hard times with gratefulness knowing that it is changing us from a caterpillar into a butterfly helps.

Before a butterfly can flap its wings, it starts out as something completely different and transforms itself through four stages. First as an egg, then as a caterpillar, on to a pupa in its chrysalis, and finally, it emerges as a glorious butterfly. . . As I was researching these eggs that the Monarch butterflies lay, I was surprised that out of 500 eggs the size of a pinhead, only about twenty will make it, but what really threw me for a loop was where she lays her eggs.

“After the egg is laid, the caterpillar hatches four days later. It’s pretty hungry so it eats its own eggshell and then the leaf the egg was on. The first bite of milkweed is a dangerous one because milkweed latex can act like glue. Some caterpillars die from that first meal because their mouths gum up. If it survives, the caterpillar then takes a break to shed (or molt) its skin.”

The first bite is dangerous. The very thing that can kill it, it needs to survive. Oh, you will get that in a minute. Its mouth can become glued shut from the milkweed latex. But the stronger ones eat what was meant to destroy them and continue to grow and shed their skin. Life is a process and we are being changed daily by what we allow in our spirits and what we remove. Metamorphism is a change of the form or nature of a thing or person into a completely different one, by natural or supernatural means.

We all go through this process but what happens if we try and go through it too soon? What happens if we are complaining and ungrateful for the manna that we are being provided within the desert and start murmuring and requesting meat? What happens if you try and skip the stages? If a caterpillar skips some of its 4-week changes and tries to become a butterfly right off the bat it will never make it. Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted and tried by the adversary and he could no more skip that event any more than he could skip the cross.

A rose bush is beautiful but also has thorns. Is the rose thankful for the thorns? These prickles are actually hooks that aid the rose in hanging over other vegetation while growing over it. Some of the thorns are densely packed and keep animals from browsing or eating of it. Possibly, the thorns trap windblown sand and reduce erosion, protecting the roots. The Apostle Paul was given a thorn. We often look at the thorns life has given us without an ounce of thanks, when in all actuality they are protecting us from something or someone.

I recently finished writing an inspiring devotional that will be ready to purchase in the next few weeks. At the end of the book, I thanked my enemies for the gifts they have given me. I want to share that here and I pray it causes you to be thankful for many things and many people you never knew were giving you a gift.

Devotional Closing: The Blast of the Shofar.

“In humility, I would like to thank every enemy sent from Abba Father to buffet me. Paul said it best. “Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me– to keep me from exalting myself!” 2nd Corinthians 12:7 NASB.

I want to bless (not curse) every person who proclaimed I was a Jezebel or worse because it caused me to search my heart more carefully. I want to thank every adversary that caused me to hide in caves and rocks from fear and trepidation because it was there that I grabbed ahold of The Rock, The Chief Corner Stone. I want to thank the Father for every sickness and disease sent to humble me and cause me to go through a fiery furnace like Job, in which I will come forth as gold tried in the fire if I do not faint. I want to thank every person who was silent at the time of birth, for it was in their silence that I was able to make it all about Him and not me.

I want to bless every person who proclaimed they cringed when I spoke or wrote a devotion and tried to shut my mouth, for if it wasn’t for them I would have never ROARED.

I want to bless my enemies because after all they are what made me who I am today and that is a servant and a Bride who is lovesick for her Beloved. I encourage each of you at this moment to thank the Father for every Judas kiss upon your brow and every Saul who chased you over the hills right into your loving Father’s arms.

“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27-28 NASB.

 

Sources:

http://www.flightofthebutterflies.com/life-cycle/

Photo Cred: Dan Darell

about the authorTekoa Manning is the author of two fiction works, Polishing Jade & Walter the Homeless Man. After a neurological illness left her disabled and eventually homeless, Tekoa began to channel her creativity into writing and devouring the Word of Yahweh. She is the wife of a retired police chief and the mother of three sons. Tekoa and her husband reside in a small town in KY. The pen name Tekoa means Trumpet, the instrument that unites people at a sudden impulse.

You can find out more about Tekoa and her writing endeavors at tekoamanning.com

Darkness brings Light

lights

Darkness Brings Light

 

I was asked to write a blog on gratitude for the month of Thanksgiving 2016. This is not it, but it was one of the most difficult devotions to write in this wilderness, desert place I’ve been traveling through. Life happens. My father recently had a stroke. I am recovering from a major surgery. My husband’s job fell through. My children have been battling difficult obstacles and the list continues. Often in life, we stay stuck in the past, frozen and unable to find gratitude on our journey or in the present. Why? Because it doesn’t look like we perceived it would.

When it feels like tumultuous storms are wreaking havoc on our identity and the ones we love are going through their own battles, it can get very dark. I call it the dark night of the soul. I think our Savior felt that the night he begged for his disciples to stay awake and pray while he was sweating drops of blood. They all fell asleep. The sheep scattered and left him. The ones he loved the most were gone. One even denied him three times. To top it off he is crying Father, take this cup from me! But not my will, but thine be done! Oh, what hard words to utter when you know what happens to lambs.

The Apostle Paul talks about us being a living sacrifice. Sacrifices don’t live but are tied to the altar and burned. When sheep were brought to the temple to be sacrificed and they had spots and blemishes, they could not be sacrificed. Those lambs were a representation of Jesus/Yeshua and nothing imperfect would do. So the sheep with blemishes were called “living sacrifices” and kept at the temple but not killed. Picking up a cross and carrying it is hard enough but getting on a cross and dying is much harder. How did Mary find gratitude when they were nailing her Son to a cross? Did she know the end of the matter? Jesus told those standing before him on crucifixion day these words. “But from now on THE SON OF MAN WILL BE SEATED AT THE RIGHT HAND of the power OF GOD.” Luke 22:69.

He was going to go through a dark night of the soul, but soon he would be in Glory and seated at the Right Hand of His Father. Revelation 3:21- “The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.”

The end of the matter is all that matters. After several weeks, my dad is home and doing well. I am stronger after this surgery than I was before. My husband has some new developments for business, and my children are making great strides and working through some difficulties. The end of the matter. . .

Joseph was sold into slavery. Betrayed by those he loved. Thrown in a pit by his own brothers who would one day bow before him as he would be 2nd in command of all Egypt. But right now he is just their arrogant brother—the brother they hate and are jealous of. Rejection of family is the worst feeling, and rejection can hurt even more so by a spouse. If you want to hurt someone you love, reject their choice in a mate. Reject their gifts. Reject their children. Jesus/ Yeshua was coming to die for His Bride, not reject her, yet, he was rejected by the very ones He would die for.

Paul and Silas in a prison cell with rats and sewage, their backs a bloody mess and yet they sing praises to their King and lead the jailer to MESSIAH! The end if the matter. . .  “But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them;  and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened.  When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped.  But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!”  And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Acts 16:25-30.

Such darkness brought such LIGHT.

How do you find things to be thankful for in the midst of obscurity, death, addiction, chronic illness, rejection, joblessness, and pain? You feel lifeless like a walking corpse, but then you turn on the news to see refugees battered, and scared. Many have been raped, sodomized and traumatized. You see them living in tents, sleeping on mats and hoping a food supply arrives as enemies draw closer.

You watch in horror as story after story unfolds–fires, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, wars, murders, and riots. All the nasty dross is heated and overflowing from the vat, and you wonder what the future holds as the earth cries out. Abel’s blood had a voice. Sin speaks. Yes, it roars, but gratitude and thankfulness often whispers, goes unnoticed and isn’t spoken enough.

Perhaps, you have all the comforts of heat, air conditioning, a bed, pillow, blanket and food to last until pay day –these simple items go unnoticed like our favorite coffee mug in the morning or a pet that longingly snuggles close to us. We neglect to notice or appreciate our clean pajamas and water that can be attained from a handle. We forget what the rest of the world around us might be experiencing.

Homelessness is something I have experienced and I can tell you it changed my whole attitude for simple things. I became sick with a chronic illness and lost my home and everything I owned. Sometimes I would go to a bookstore or a coffee shop and sit for hours. I would think “I just want to go home. I am so exhausted and sick.” But I had no home to go to. I’d wake up early in a strange place wanting coffee, a shower, a turn of the thermostat to warm me, but sadly I’d realize none of it belonged to me. I didn’t want to disturb the people who were kind enough to give me their couch, bed, or air mattress. I was living out of bags in the back of my van and clean pajamas sounded amazing. Gratitude.

Many times I would train my brain on awaking and say thank you Abba Father that I slept and had shelter and that you are taking care of me. In the midst of my tears and fears, I would ponder Philippians 4:8. I would speak to myself, “Tekoa think of something right now that is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and are of a good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

The Father caused manna to fall from heaven and eventually all the things I lost came back. I learned so much from the pain that I wouldn’t trade one moment of it, but I still lack being grateful in other areas. Let me give you some examples.

If you’re reading this you have eyes that work, but over 39 million people are blind. They will never see the beautiful fall colors adorning the hills. If you are reading this most likely you have internet access. Did you know that sixty percent of the world doesn’t have internet access? Let’s discuss electricity. One statistic shows 1.3 Billion People are living in the dark tonight. More statistics that caused me to scratch my head involve a simple glass of water. We have bottled water here in America. You can get water from Fuji or buy purifiers with filters to cleanse it of more waste. But 783 million people do not have access to clean water and almost 2.5 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation. Disease. How many pair of shoes do we own? Coats? So many small things go unnoticed.

If we woke up and just realized we had breath in our bodies and freedom to worship our Father and His Son, oh the gratitude. Life. Life. Life. A precious gift was given to me today and also to you. We woke up. We can never get this day back again. Tomorrow is not promised.

At some point, millions of sperm were traveling and only one crossed the finish line and hit our mother’s egg. BAM! We came into the world and opened our eyes. There is no one like you. No one with your thumbprint. You are unique. You are amazing. You are wonderfully made!

Yes, we were given life, but one day our eyes will close and our hands will fold until the shofar sounds and these bodies become amazingly new. In the meantime, let’s all be thankful for the simple things and yes the huge things we take for granted like a simple cup of water.

“In everything give thanks, for this is what God wants from you who are united with the Messiah Yeshua/ Jesus.” 1st Thessalonians 5:18 CJB.

Sources:

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs282/en/

http://www.unwater.org/water-cooperation-2013/water-cooperation/facts-and-figures/en/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/world/world-without-power/

 

 

Season of Thankfulness

marilyn

My dear cousin, Marilyn Loy Turner sent me two inspiring and thought provoking pieces on being thankful that she wrote years ago.  They were published in the paper under Empty Nest Syndrome. After much division in our great nation America, and Thanks Giving drawing closer, I decided to go ahead and publish these to help get our minds on grace and gratitude. Many times we miss the small things while worrying about things we cannot change.

Season of Thankfulness, by Marilyn Loy Turner

This season reminds  me how thankful I am for so many things.
I enjoy reading  other’s  lists  of what  they  are  thankful  for.  I recently  ran  across  two state­ments by different  generations about  what    they   counted   as blessings.
The first one, an elementary school child said “I’m thankful for  my grandmother’s    hands’. What a beautiful  thought.  I too am thankful  that  I had two wonderful grandmothers  al­ though their gentle hands have been folded in eternal  sleep for many  years.    They used  their hands for good. My grandmother Loy’s hands  never  ceased  crocheting  and quilting  from day­ light to dusk.  I would do well to follow the pattern  of her life.
An elderly  person  wrote  he was thankful  that  he still  had his eyes, teeth, and hair. I agree. I also am thankful  for tooth­less grins.   Nothing  can cheer me up better than a baby’s smile. How I loved it when my children lost their front teeth.  They were  so cute.   The photos I have  of them  with  empty grins  makes my heart  full.   Those pictures are priceless.
I’m thankful  for my hair  too although  I have  frequent  bad
hair days. I’m thankful  that my children have gotten out of the stage when they wanted  to ex­ experiment   with  different   hair colors.   Thank  goodness  they haven’t  had  green  locks since Halloween. (Although some people can pull it off)

I’m thankful  for my eyes that I can  see the  beauty  of God’s
Earth.   I can see the changes in my full nest.   The children  are growing, maturing,  and  learn­ing.  I hope and pray  someday they’ll give me beautiful  grand­children  who will be thankful for their grandmother’s  hands.

 

 Season of Thankfulness Part #2

This year as Thanksgiving draws near, I am thankful for all the  near-misses   I’ve had  that didn’t turn into catastrophes.
Have  you  ever  had  a  near­ miss?  An accident, an injury, a traumatic    event   that   nearly happened  but didn’t?  I’m talking­  about when something saves you from tragedy.

Maybe you were about to run off the road in your vehicle but corrected just in time, perhaps someone al­ most backed their car.into yours but responded to your desperate horn blowing. I’ve  had  many  near-misses.
Once I ran over a deer and wasn’t hurt, although my car was badly
damaged  and my kids accused me of “killing Bambi.” Recently I was on an airplane that  was  struck  by lightning. Like my fellow passengers, I sat up, wide-eyed  and  frightened. Nothing was visible through my window seat.   The pilot in­ instructed the flight attendants  to stay seated and belted.  An eld­erly lady behind me screamed, “oh, my heart!” and grabbed her chest.  My nurse husband  and I took her pulse, it was rapid like the  descending  of the  plane  to 10,000 feet and the winds that were keeping us from receiving landing clearance at the airport.
All I could do was pray and think of other airplane crashes. How horrible  for those people who must have realized  in the few seconds, their fate.
How very thankful  I am that allowed me and my fellow passengers, including the eld­erly lady, to arrive safely at our destination.
We have so much to be thank­ful for, for life, for health,  for family, and friends.
This  Thanksgiving,   remem­ber,   it’s   not   about   material things, the name brand clothes or the flashy cars. Had our plane crashed, no one would have seen what  we  were  wearing.     We would never drive again and we certainly  wouldn’t  have  taken our luggage to eternity.
This   year don’t near-miss being thankful  to God in your heart  for his mercy in keeping you safe and allowing you to live to see another scrumptious meal on your table.
By MARILYN  LOY TURNER