A Prayer for Suffering and Sorrow…

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O Lord of Life, In these beautiful days approaching Spring- we are painfully aware of the human condition which cannot understand Your Divine Ways. Some of us bear the final grief of loss and loneliness standing by an open grave; and others bear a living grief which has no grave and sees no end to suffering and sorrow. We think of those-

  • whose eyes are glazed over by constant pain,
  • whose ears hear the deafening silence of inner rooms darkened by worry,
  • numbed by losses which came too soon,
  • who sit in speechless shock.

Will You enter those grief-filled rooms with the Comfort only You can bring, whispering Grace scented with Mercy and Great Love? Human sympathy and healing cannot mend broken hearts- cannot heal broken spirits. We ask You to reveal Yourself as the One Who has suffered, Who has felt forsaken and Whose Human Flesh gave up, as You exhaled Your Spirit into Your Father’s safekeeping. Fill us now, with Springtime Resurrection Reassurance, grant to us Faith which shines through our tears. We pray that we will do more than just endure- that we will seek our Rest in Your Loving Arms; lean into the full Divine Embrace You always offer. May our weary heartsick souls seek You often. And when we survey the Cross of Calvary, we are grateful for Your Divine Permission to cry out- ‘My God, why have You forsaken Me?’

  • Disease is the dull key,
  • Pain is a sharp chord,
  • Suffering is a sour note,
  • Death is the broken chords of the human experience.

We confess we have never been able to orchestrate more than somber funeral marches to the tune of human suffering. We do not understand it, we hate the sound of it- will You give us Comfort in knowing that farther along we’ll understand why- that one day when You have wiped away all of our tears and put an end to all human sorrow- we will finally hear how You added the Grace Notes, blended an Angelic Chorus and brought all of the unfinished songs, the bitter notes and broken chords of Life together into a Divinely Glorious Melody. Give to us now that Faith which continues to seek the twinkling stars through tear filled eyes. Grant to us a stubborn Hope when the darkest night holds forth. Fill us with an unshakeable conviction that You are the Eternal Embodiment of Springtime filled with Exceeding and Abundant Love beyond the confines of mere mortal existence. May we be forever sustained by Your Great Love, upheld by Your Immense Power and enabled to live in the steady Light of Your Eternal Peace.   In the Name of Life Eternal, we make our prayer. Amen.


IMG_2254 With sweet thoughts and prayers for those who suffer and sorrow now- On this blessed Lord’s Day, please know-

We love y’all, Camellia

Prayer for Hope and Healing…

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O Eternal Emmanuel, we are thankful You dwell among us. When we recall the masses of people who walked with You, the favored ones seem to have been the sick, the maimed, the infirm, the overwrought and always the children. As birds twitter and soft sunlit breezes blow open the first blossoms of spring- there are those who sit in waiting rooms with white knuckled strain waiting for diagnoses, eyes hollowed out from pain, are now glazed over with hopelessness, wheelchairs hold those weakened by injury and disease; weary and worn caregivers wrap the infirm in whispers of love, while wondering how much longer they can hold out, even as some loved ones fumble with that gauze curtain that separates this life from the next. Down hushed corridors and disinfected hallways, pleasant voices direct patients to labs, treatment rooms and sophisticated machines that hum, whoosh and beep. We confess it is in the dim rooms, the sweat soaked sheets, the twilight terrors that we cry out- ‘When God, when?’  Clinging to hopelessness like fretful children, who have been there so long, it feels like home. Before the break of dawn, whisper a gentle reminder of the time when You were pressed on every side, yet You felt a feeble feminine hand reach out and touch the Hem of Your Garment. She had spent all she had on all manner of treatments and physicians- with desperate hope her fingers touched the Healer in White Linen. Help us recall the one with useless limbs on his sick bed of pain, the one with congenital blindness, the one who was tortured with uncontrollable seizures, the many with decaying leprous sores, and the faithful woman who was bent double for 18 years! They were loosed from the grip of infirmity. We know You saw them, You heard their cries, for You have said- ‘Even if it were possible for a mother to forget her own child, I will not forget you- you are engraved on the Palms of My Hands’.  Even now, we hear the swish of angel wings ushering humanity to the Throne of Your Mercy, where heavy sacks of heartache are piled up, hope has burned into ashen heaps, broken dreams are puddled at Your Feet, prayers are murmured for weak hearts to be strengthened, for endless pain to be removed, for chronic illness to be relieved and for spirits to be lifted. Prayers are offered for those who serve the sick, for those who stand ready in surgical gowns, for those who monitor life supports- that they would be ever aware of Your unseen Presence and the support You give to the patients who depend on their skills. Grant to them all, unfailing certainty that prayers are heard and Grace is given. May we never forget that You are still guiding gifted hands, still granting healing wisdom and still performing miracles. For those recovering in hospital beds alongside the beeps and hums of mechanical companions, we pray You will enable these to hear the rustle of guardian angel wings, the whir of dancing cherubim, the exquisite light of Your Presence and above all these precious words- ‘I will bind up the wounds, heal the broken hearted, console and comfort the afflicted, give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for sadness, a garland of praise instead of a heavy burdened spirit. In the Valley of Achor, the vale of trouble will be found a Door of Hope… The Son of righteousness brings healing in His Wings. I will never leave or forsake you. Ask and receive that your joy may be full.’* To the One who explored the vast measures of pain and deepest treasures of human suffering on the Cross of Calvary and rose victorious- grant to the Infirm hope and healing in our Magnificent Savior.  Amen. img_2212  


Love y’all, Camellia

*Scriptures are derived from Isaiah 49:15, Isaiah 61, Hosea 2:15, Malachi 4:2, Hebrews 13:5, John 16:24  Photographs of Camellia’s Cottage white daffodils are mine.

A Prayer for our Country…

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O Ancient of Days, our Great and Glorious God, we pray that You will grant to us the same strong conviction of Patriot Dreamers, the firm will forged on the Anvil of Freedom, the moral character of a people willing to humble ourselves before Thee on bended knee with the same sweet spirit of Abraham Lincoln who was more concerned that our country unite on the Side of Almighty God rather than expect You to stoop down and take sides in a divided nation. Enable us to take up the heart of Lincoln- ‘with malice toward none and charity for all’. We beseech You to mend the cracks along unseen fault lines, strengthen fearful minds and heal broken hearts. We dare not get ahead of ourselves by venturing into an uncertain Future when Thou Alone knows our Destiny.

O Lord our God, give rise to Hope in our hearts. Keep melancholy and apathy far from us. Help us to remain calm and unruffled in any and all circumstances. Hope is a glorious gift from the Throne of Heaven. What has kept mankind going is the refusal to stop hoping in the face of great odds, so we pray that Your Strong Hands will continue to fan the flickering flame of Hope when we are worried, tired and weary.. May we be united in prayer, united in seeking Thy Will and united in our desire to hear what You are saying. Enable us to govern ourselves so that we prize hard work and duty above rank and privilege.

Help us recognize the deep concerns and needs of our fellow citizenry and do what we can to lift them up; cherishing our obligation to love one another as You have so graciously loved us. May we abide with You and be completely convinced that You are mindful when one tiny sparrow falls and You also take notice of the fluttering hearts and the furrowed brows of Your Children and are even now, lending Your Divine Ear to our prayers for this Nation wherein we are blessed by Thee to dwell.

To our Savior, the Hope of Mankind and Lover of our souls, we make our prayer with a mighty Trust in Thee. Amen.


Have a Blessed Lord’s Day.

Love y’all, Camellia

*wonderful opening photograph of the Porches of Alabama by Jeremy Miniard @ http://www.jeremy.miniard.fineartsamerica.com

Redbirds…

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When a streak of red passes my window in the gray days of winter, I know the Redbirds have returned. In the South, we call these stunning Cardinals-Redbirds. Their cheerful ways and bright feathers always make me happy and remind me of a beautiful poem called ‘At the Winter Feeder’ by John Leax. Winter Holidays can be difficult- may we never forget those who are broken. The Winter Season falls hard on some. These are the special ones- the ones whom God has sent to us as Messengers of Need. Look for them, offer them relief if you can- a kind word, a gentle embrace, a seed of hope at the Winter Feeder.

At the Winter Feeder

His feather flame doused dull by icy cold,  the Cardinal hunched into the rough green feeder but ate no seed. Through binoculars I saw festered and useless his beak, broken at the root. Then two, one blazing, one gray, rode the swirling weather into my vision and lighted at his side. Unhurried, as if possessing the patience of God, they cracked sunflowers and fed him beak to wounded beak, choice meats. Each morning and afternoon the winter long, that odd triumvirate, that trinity of need, returned and ate their sacrament of broken seed.image

An ‘odd triumvirate that trinity of need…a sacrament of broken seed…’ We would do well to watch for Messengers of Need throughout the Winter Season.image

Love y’all, Camellia

These Amazing Photographs were taken by my friend Sally Smith of http://www.CampCreekCreations.com and are used with permission.

John Leax is a retired English Professor and Poet in Residence of Houghton College. His author page and wonderful books may be found on Amazon.com and other major book retailers. All material may be subject to copyright

If…

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Such a little word…IF. Right in the middle of the word ‘Life’ is that tiny word – If… Part of the human experience uses the word- If… generally in a ‘looking back sort of way’. IF often stands for questioning regrets, the ‘what-if’s’ -the ‘if only’s’ which haunt us, disappointments with life and with God…

  • Lord, if You had been here…
  • Lord, if You had not allowed this.
  • Lord, if You loved us…

‘Help us Lord, to watch for that day, when our eyes see You. Give us that gift of faith, which believes when all else says impossible. While we are waiting for You to heal our broken hearts, to straighten out our paths- give us Light for an unsure future- let us see a shimmering glimmer of You. You know there are hidden places in our hearts where we just gave up. Help us renew our commitment to believe, until You reveal Your purposes in circumstances that puzzle us, in situations that are stubborn and have not changed in many years. Whenever we stumbled; whatever happened that made us stop believing; wherever the IF’s are in Life, wherever we were-whether by the grave or by the way, give to us the courage to lay down the IF’s; so that we might pick up our faith once more. In the Strong Name of Jesus Christ. Amen’


Trouble, regrets and storms are a part of life, I hope we won’t waste too much time using that ol’ word IF. Remember the old saying? ‘We can’t always control the wind, but we can adjust our sails’ as you listen to this beautiful meditative version of ‘Sails’ by Chet Atkins!https://youtu.be/TkVKPfEBoiE

Love y’all, Camellia

Top photograph- the Beautiful Sunset by our photographer friend -Jeremy Miniard. Prayer and Excerpt from Chapter 7- If is a Part of Life, page 48 of ‘Four Days-the Lazarus Principle’ by Brenda Wyatt- more information on ‘About Us’ page Bottom photograph by Tony Marlar for his YouTube video of ‘Sails’ by Chet Atkins

The Stalwart Pear Tree…

On this – the 15th anniversary of 9/11- I hope you will find encouragement from the beautiful Stalwart Pear- the last living thing removed from the rubble… Love y’all, Camellia

Camellia's Cottage

This little dogwood tree struggles and survives every year despite it’s poor location, yet it reminds me of another tree,  ‘The Quickened Stalwart Pear’, found in chapter 38  of my book- ‘Four Days- the Lazarus Principle’img_1996

Here is an excerpt with some added emphasis…

“Go with me…to New York City. While we were there we visited the 911 Memorial. I was expecting to be moved by it. I was expecting to feel anger. That is not what I felt – I felt anoverwhelming sadness for what America had lost…the loss of a type of innocence which turned many of our people into distrustful cynics. A harsh rhetoric, indicative of anger and fear has descended on our people…the-stalwart-pear-planted

The most hopeful thing of all in that tragic somber place was a Stalwart Pear Tree, known as the Survivor Tree. It is now 30 feet tall and was the last living…

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Find Your Own Calcutta…

Every day, more than once I read these words:mother teresa

‘Do no great things, only small things with great love.’ Mother Teresa

The year was 1994, in a bone chilling month of February- we made our way to Washington DC. As the taxi drove us from the airport past the Potomac, the water was not flowing, it was filled with boulder chunks of ice.  We were there to attend the National Prayer Breakfast at the invitation of our congressman, Glen Browder. Alabama was the host state for the Prayer Breakfast. We were going to be eyewitnesses to this remarkable event. And while this was an amazing invitation- we had also decided to make it a religious pilgrimage of sorts.  We visited the landmark New York Avenue Presbyterian Church where Chaplin of the U.S. Senate, Dr. Peter Marshall, delivered heartrendingly beautiful sermons and prayers, during World War II and beyond. This is a very historical church just 4 blocks from the White House, where more than eight U.S. presidents, cabinet members, congressmen and justices of the Supreme Court worshipped- beginning with John Quincy Adams.  Abraham Lincoln attended services there during the War. His famous Gettysburg Address had coined the phrase ‘One Nation under God’ -more than 80 years later, Lincoln’s address inspired Scottish born  Peter Marshall’s sermon ‘A New Birth of Freedom’, which he delivered on another freezing February day. That sermon inspired Dwight Eisenhower and others to amend the Pledge of Allegiance adding Lincoln’s phrase. Martin Luther King Jr. would later give an impassioned address in this same church. And long after we had come home- this church provided prayer and comfort to the capitol city after 9/11.new-york-avenue-presbyterian-church

We were taken by an official bus and dropped off very close to the presidential motorcade, parked exactly where President Reagan had been shot a few years before.  Ushered in and seated on the front row at table four in a huge ballroom, the room was packed. The security was tight. We listened in rapt attention at the amazing Tuskegee Choir from Alabama. We could not believe we were there, much less on the front row- eyewitnesses to history, why, we were in the presence of national leaders in our nation’s capitol city, along with citizens just like ourselves, however- seated at our table were two missionaries from Japan. When I asked them where their missionary field was- these lovely Asian people said- ‘We believe that the people of the United States need to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ’…To this day, I am moved by the profound love and kindness in that simple statement.

What must folks from foreign countries think of the American people? From the news media to print to music to lifestyle- what conclusion would a person who is not from the United States draw from all of the disagreeable messages we send out across this globe?

The keynote speaker at the 1994 National Prayer Breakfast was Mother Teresa of the Sisters of Charity in Calcutta. The speech was very long- the news media drew from her profound words a few statements and conclusions– when actually Mother Teresa had so very much more to say than what the headlines distilled and became politically charged rhetoric.

I was there, I can tell you firsthand that this tiny woman, Mother Teresa was a mesmerizing figure.  A two step high platform was placed behind the podium and still her head could barely be seen from our tables on the front row. On our tables, along with the program was a bookmark with her words on them- I won’t quote them verbatim due to length- however, I recall being enlightened to the point I am still moved to tears whenever I think of them- Mother Teresa’s words were-

  •  When you see the poor and pitiful
  • When you see the maimed or mental
  •  When you see the  rejected and despised
  • When you see the orphaned or sick
  • When you see the hungry or the homeless…
  • Look into their eyes- ‘You are looking into the Eyes of Jesus’

 ‘When I was hungry you fed me, when I was thirsty you gave me drink…when you have done it unto the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto Me.’

from Matthew 25:35 image

  Mother Teresa’s ministry was among the ‘poorest of the poor’ in the streets of Calcutta, India  The Sisters of Charity literally feed, clothe, pick worms and vermin off the heads of the poor- they clean their stricken bodies, clothe them and put them in clean beds, give them meager bowls of rice or broth; and often hold a quiet vigil as the least of humanity die in the comfort of a clean bed. The Sisters of Charity know they are looking into the Eyes of Jesus.

The ballroom that freezing winter day, was hushed into a reverent silence as she spoke unforgettable words.  We had no idea that this tiny remarkable person would walk this earth only a few more years.Later I read that a nun in New York City begged to come work in Calcutta alongside the Sisters of Charity. Mother Teresa said-

‘Find your own Calcutta. Find the sick, the suffering and the lonely right where you are.’

That is what we all must do, beginning in our homes,  spreading out into our communities, unto those who are outcasts.. even unto the ends of the earth, we must look at a suffering world and see the Eyes of Jesus. interpreted from Mark 16:15

Find your own CalcuttaLook for the Eyes of Jesus. The world is watching.

Love y’all, Camellia

photographs from AOL images, except the bottom one from the wonderful book- ‘Come and See’ by Linda Schaeffer- which we edited.

Christ the Redeemer…

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Cristos  Redentor, Mount Corcovado, Brazil

As the 2016 Summer Olympics close in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil- I will always remember among all of the inspiring competitions- that one of the most dramatic scenes of the Games was from high above the city, where stands the Statue of Christ the Redeemer. It is one of the new wonders of the world- standing 98 feet tall, with an arm width of 92 feet since 1931, this is the tallest statue of Christ in the world. With His Cross in His Right Hand and His World in His Left Hand- this is a constant reminder that He is on the side of humanity; with all of its flaws. He loves and embraces us all in victory or defeat.

It seemed fitting for our Sunday Inspiration to listen to the ever inspiring Cuban born immigrant to the United States- internationally famous Jaimie Jorge, as he plays his violin in Brazil; 1924 Gold Medalist Eric Liddell’s last requested song…Be Still My Soul’.

Ain’t that pretty? Hope you’ve had a blessed Lord’s Day!

Love y’all, Camellia

Christ the Redeemer

Jaimie Jorge

Champions 2…

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In your lifetime, you will see lots of winners-only a few can be called Champions. On or off the field, whether winning or losing-Champions are those winners who are unforgettable.

Joy. Valiance. Poise. Passion. Determination. Courage. 

Those are my favorite words to describe a Champion-Yes, competitive, strength and skill are also part of a champion’s tool kit. Barbaros and Eric Liddell  were in the winner’s circle. Off the field- they lived their lives with  joy, poise, passion, courage and determination- they were Champions!

Barbaros’ trainer, Michael Matz competed in the Olympics in 1976 and 1992 then in 1996 Matz helped his equestrian teammates win the Silver Medal. In 2006, Matz said he knew Barbaros was special-the horse joyously won the Kentucky Derby- then was frolicking in the grass with joy the next Monday when no one was watching!   Barbaros’ veterinarian surgeon, Dr.Dean Richardson, wanted to be an actor before he found his passion for horses. A horse named Barbaros put Dean Richardson in front of the cameras! In press conferences-the veterinarian said he was amazed at Barbaros’ courage and poise, for 8 long months. Champions have an indefinable star quality – you may see lots of winners, you’ll never forget champions!

 ‘In the dust of defeat as well as the laurels of victory there is a glory to be found if one has done his best.’ 1924 Gold Medal winner-and Scottish Missionary to China -Eric Liddell

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Unforgettable- that’s what a Champion is. Soon after Liddell arrived in Paris to compete- he preached a sermon, from Isaiah 40: 26,29-31- those famous words ‘They  shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not grow tired.’  Harold Abraham, Liddell’s fellow countryman, the privileged son of a wealthy Polish immigrant, financier Isaac Abraham, was Jewish. Harold was a winning sprinter and long jumper from youth through his years studying law at Cambridge . He continued to be a runner- but was upbraided for hiring a coach; it was considered ungentlemanly for an amateur to hire a professional coach. The two men won races in Great Britain before competing in the 1924 Olympics. Abraham won the Silver Medal in the 100 meter and Liddell won the Gold in the 400 meter. Liddell went to China to do his life’s work as a missionary. Abraham continued to compete and in 1925, he broke his leg ending his career in competitive sports- ironically, his brother Sir Adolphe Abrahams was the founder of British Sports Medicine. Harold Abraham became a sports journalist and commentator for 40 years.

Eric Liddell was sent to a Japanese prison camp called Wiehsein Interment Camp in Shantung Provence, China-after Pearl Harbor. Norman Cliff recalls when he arrived as a POW, there was a Scotsman who had won a gold medal in the 1924 Olympics. The man was Eric Liddell- tall, tanned and very thin and always smiling. Liddell had permission to teach the young boys science and physical education.  His wife and children had been sent to Canada in 1941, he was captured in 1943. Eric deeply missed his own children; teaching children in the camp helped him endure captivity. In 1945, a mere five months before the war ended…Norman Cliff, received word that Eric Liddell wanted Cliff to play ‘Finlandia’, the song of peace– the melody is also the hymn, ‘Be Still My Soul’.

Be still my soul, The Lord is on thy side…leave to Thy God to order and provide…Be still, my soul- thy best, thy Heavenly Friend…Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.’

Less than a week later, Eric Liddell died. The British and American armies liberated the Weihsein Interment Camp on August 17, 1945. Eric Liddell was born in China, joyfully ran the race life set before him, then was buried in China. Eric Liddell was a Champion.

British screenwriter Colin Welland, immortalized Eric Liddell and his teammate Harold Abraham, in his 1981 Oscar winning film- Chariots of Fire. The success of the film was as unlikely as the pairing of Olympic medal winners- a wealthy Jew, who ran to be visible to Anglo Saxon society and an Anglo Saxon preacher who ran to honor God. Welland wanted to be an actor, his father insisted that he become a teacher, he was a professor of Art. The screenplay, a historic drama- must have had the qualities of a Champion– for Hollywood to produce it.   Welland chose the name- Chariots of Fire, while listening to Britain’s stirring hymn, Jerusalem– from the chorus refrain- ‘Bring me my Chariot of Fire’… th2MTLOYT4chariots of fire movie pic

Winning 4 Academy Awards- including Best Screenplay and Best Original Score. The famous Greek composer, Vangelis wrote the well known soundtrack. Composing since the age of 4, Vangelis is not a trained musician- he is self taught and cannot read or write musical notation! Vangelis plays almost exclusively on electronic instruments. He says: ‘…I think that technology and music have always been together…music is science.’ Vangelis is a Champion.

 Tommy Emmanuel is known as ‘the world’s greatest living acoustic guitarist’…the defining quality I found in him is JOY. He plays with joyful abandon- would do it if no one was listening or watching! At CAAS in Nashville recently, he circled up with a small group of amateurs with the same enthusiasm as onstage. The international tour schedule for the 61 year old Australian guitarist reveals his stamina. He will perform at the Lyric Theater in Birmingham Alabama! His music is indefinable- he played with Eric Clapton, Tina Turner and Chet Atkins!  Tommy  Emmanuel said the greatest moment of his career was playing with his brother Phil at the Sydney Closing Ceremony of the 2000 Olympics! It seemed only fitting to close my treatise to Champions for you to hear-Tommy Emmanuel play Chariots of Fire with Japanese rock star Kyoji Yamamoto electronically as Vangelis prefers- the video is not good, but close your eyes…and listen.

Love y’all, Camellia

I See the Stars…

Well, I’ve introduced you to the fiery pit BBQ, my personal angel, Eleanor, and shared  Stars falling over Alabama this week. For your Sunday Inspiration, as you read the inspiring words to a great hymn, listen to a little star, named  Melissa Venema playing her trumpet along with Andre Rieu’s orchestra when she was only 15 years old…

  • ‘Oh Lord, My God-
  • When I in awesome wonder-
  • Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made…
  • I see the stars,
  • I hear the rolling thunder,
  • Thy Power throughout the Universe displayed…
  • Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee…
  • How great Thou Art!
  • How Great Thou Art…’

I hope you’ve had a blessed Lord’s Day. As always thank you for stopping by Camellia’s Cottage and sharing a little bit of our world…

Love y’all, Camellia