My Christmas Miracle…

Christmas Day.  The alarm rang at 9am and I looked outside.  Rain.  Lord, it isn’t supposed to rain till this afternoon, I complained. The thought of going into the City to Union Square to see the Macy’s tree and ice skaters, something I love to do each Christmas, in the cold and rain made me want to climb back into bed.  But no, I knew I had a divine appointment, so I dressed warmly and ran for the train.

Christmas Eve, I had visions not of sugar plums dancing, but of meeting my husband-to- be over the skaters park, perhaps a surprise rendezvous.  I had asked the Lord for a husband and a car for my Hanukkah/Christmas miracles, not necessarily in that order, and he had promised me a Christmas miracle the next day. I knew the time was getting short until He brought that special man into my life and hoped Christmas day would be it!

Cold, freezing winds met me at the San Francisco train depot. I pulled my jacket tightly around me and hopped on Muni (the bus). I got off at Powell Street, seeing a man peeing in the street, a typical sight in San Francisco’s panhandler area.  Merry Christmas, I thought to myself.

As I walked past the line of tourists waiting for the cable car ride over the hill, I began to see the beggars on the street.  Compassion started to fill my heart and I rustled through my change purse for some money.  I usually give a $1 and a Billy Graham tract entitled “Peace with God” as food for their soul.  What use is giving money when I can give the gift of Jesus and salvation instead?  I blessed the first young man with the lost look in his eyes, praying God would bless him that day.

I have been studying the concept of blessing in my Beth Moore Believing God Bible study. Today’s lesson was on using our tongue to bless God and others, not to curse, but to bless.  I wondered as I sat on the train watching the familiar scenery go by, why do we have to bless God?  Doesn’t He have everything He needs?  I know we are to praise Him, as He is our King and Lord, our Holy One.  So I pondered over this.  Beth states God SPEAKS His blessings over us, using our names.  I envisioned Him saying this morning:  Miriam, I bless you with meeting that special man today.  WOW, I could just picture it.  There is such power in our tongues and while we don’t have the supernatural power God possesses when He speaks, we can use our tongues positively by quoting Scripture and using Jesus’ name to move mountains and bless others. (Mark 11:23, James 3:10)

As I hurried up Powell Street to Union Square, looking for a place to get my hot cocoa to sip while I watched the ice skaters and waited on my husband, I glanced to my left.  There sat a dejected young man who looked on the verge of tears.  “Iraqi Vet, need some help” his cardboard sign said.  My heart was instantly pierced with compassion for him, but I was out of change.  I saw a Starbucks open up ahead and went in.  Miriam buy that man a sandwich and tell Him I told you to do so, I heard the Lord’s voice whisper to my heart.  I picked out a ‘grandma’s turkey and dressing’ sandwich, got my hot cocoa and returned to the young man.

Hi, what’s your name? I asked.

John, he replied,  He was shivering without a warm coat.

My name is Miriam and I am a Christian,  I said.

I am a Christian too, he replied.

God promises us we will not have to beg for bread, so what’s going on? I asked.

I lost my job and am living in my truck.  I need a master cylinder for my truck and I am trying to get the money together, he responded.

Here’s a turkey sandwich, the Lord told me to buy it for you. He looked gratefully down at the sandwich in his hands, placing it on top of his garbage bag belongings.

Do you know about City Impact, a Christian rescue mission nearby in the Tenderloin?  I asked.

No, he softly replied.

They have a breakfast of pastries and coffee with a service in the morning, and a homemade dinner in the evening, all free.  They have bible study in the afternoon and you can hang out there out of the cold. I used to volunteer there to pray for the homeless.  They are just over on Jones and Turk streets,” I told him. They are even having a big Christmas dinner today.

His eyes got big and he excitedly told me Thank you Miriam, I will go there.

He shared some more with me that he suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and had shrapnel from the war, with no family to help him.  Well, you have the family of God to help you John, and you were my divine appointment for today.  God heard your prayers and saw you sitting here, and brought me up from San Carlos to help you find your way.  Tears came to my eyes and his.  I offered to pray for him and then hugged him.  I went into the nearby McDonald’s and returned with a hot coffee for him.

Thank you again, Miriam.

Tell them at City Impact Miriam sent you! I cheerfully replied.

As I walked away it happened.  A small flame of fire ignited in my heart and the love and compassion of Christ flooded me. Contentment and peace filled my heart. The joy of Christmas exploded in my soul. I silently blessed the Lord for allowing me to be His hands and feet to bring a Christmas miracle of hope to this lost little lamb of His.

Ice Skaters at Union Square, San Francisco

As I stood in the drizzle watching the ice skaters go round and round, reflecting on the beauty of the tall Christmas tree with its gold and red bulbs, I realized God had given me the best Christmas present ever.

I am a missionary by calling, and there is nothing that makes me happier than sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ and reaching out to those lost in homelessness and mental illness.  I was once in that place myself, having returned from the mission field after being traumatized by people in the occult.  I fought a different type of war than my friend John, a spiritual battle and war with the enemy of our souls, the Devil.  I came home with a clinical depression and PTSD, lost in the blackness of my mind.

My family, not wanting to be financially responsible for me, dumped me on the County mental health system, abandoning me to a shelter.  Not just any shelter but a psychiatric shelter  Think drama. I share this part of my story in my pre-published book Running from the Witches:  How the Redemptive Love and Power of Jesus Christ Healed My Life.  Stay tuned for chapter 7 –  One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest)

I could relate to John’s mental illness, his being down on his luck, needing the hand of Christ to pull him up. God allowed me to go through that darkness and homelessness so one day I could help another in the same situation. What Satan meant for evil, God meant for good (You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. (Genesis 50:20))

Just last evening, I told the Lord how much I missed hands on ministry and praying for people one on one.  And then today, He gave me this opportunity with John.  Do I believe God had me get out of my warm bed just to go to the City to meet up with John and be the answer to his prayer?  Yes I do.  And in my faithfulness, I was blessed in return.  As I walked away after giving John his coffee, another homeless man begging for change said to me God bless you for doing that. I knew God had given me my Christmas miracle, I had indeed met a special man. I had set out to get a miracle, instead I became a miracle for someone else.  I got back on the train, thanking, and BLESSING my Lord, for now I understood the concept of blessing; a blessing will always comes back to bless you.

Will you pray for John and others suffering homelessness and mental illness? The next time you see one on the streets, take a moment and speak to them and find out their story.  Most are hungry and you can buy them a meal and be their blessing for the day.  After all, that is what Jesus would have done.

How has God blessed you this holiday season?  Leave me a reply…

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The Light of the World…The True Meaning of Hanukkah

Hanukkah Candles called a Hanukkiah - 8 candles plus the 'shemesh' or servant candle that represents Jesus (Yeshus) The servant candle lights the other candles giving 'light' to the world, as Jesus does.

 

As I write this post, the cold night air stings my face from my open window, allowing me to hear the Holiday Lights Celebration going on in my hometown of San Carlos, California. Soon they will flip the switch and the holiday lights crisscrossing above the main street will light up along with the Christmas tree in City Park.

Strains of “I wish you a Merry Christmas” float through the window as I hear the squeals of children playing in the artificial snow, even though we celebrated sunny, 70 degree weather today. I hear the ‘toot toot’ of the little train that will take them around the block.  I wish I could squeeze in a car and go for a ride too!

Toot Toot!

Reminds me of another “Festival of Lights’ that starts tomorrow night, December 8th, Hanukkah!  As a Jewish believer in Jesus, I celebrate Hanukkah as well as Christmas.  I believe in celebrating all the Jewish Biblical Feast days, as Jesus did, and he was Jewish too!  Jesus, or Yeshua as He was known throughout His life, celebrated Hanukkah, known as the Feast of Dedication.  We find the Scriptural reference in John 10:22-23:

“And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch.”

Every year at the Feast of Dedication, the huge menorahs (Jewish candle holders 70 feet tall) in the temple courtyard were lit and could be seen from all over Jerusalem, the glow was that bright. Some bible scholars believe Jesus said “I am the light of the world, He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life (John 8:12) as he walked in the Temple, the light from the huge menorahs overshadowing him.  While in the temple some of the Pharisees (Jewish religious leaders) questioned Him as to whether He was the Messiah. Jesus replied:

“I told you and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of Me.  But you do not believe, as you are not my sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.  And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any snatch them out of my hand.  My Father who has given them to Me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.”  (John 10:25-30)

That’s a lot of promises if we believe in Jesus as our Messiah, our Light of Life.

He promises to: Dispel the darkness we walk in through our sin and addictions.  Give  the light of His love and Word through Scripture.  Be a shepherd to follow like the stumbling sheep we are.  Allow us never to perish, or taste death, but to have Eternal Life.  To be forever in the presence of Him and our Heavenly Father.  To shine the ‘Light’ we receive for others stumbling  in the darkness.

Hanukkah is really about Yeshua being the “light of the world.” He represents the ‘shemesh’ or servant candle that lights the other candles on the Hanukkiah. For He gives us all light. He came as our Servant Messiah to offer us forgiveness for our sins through the cross. (Isaiah 53: 4-6))

Traditionally, when we light the Hanukkah candles for eight nights, we celebrate the great miracle of God that happened in Jerusalem during the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd century BCE. The Syrians had desecrated the Jewish temple by sacrificing a pig, an unclean animal, on the altar.  When the Jews recaptured the Temple, the temple priests found only enough oil to last one day.   God did a great miracle by making it last for eight days, the time it took to clean and rededicate the temple back to God.  In Hebrew we say, Nes Gadol Haya Sham, “a great miracle happened there.”  And indeed it did.

Spinning the Dreidel, a Hanukkah game with the four Hebrew letters that represent the phrase "A Great Miracle Happened There"

A bigger miracle can happen in your heart and life right now. At Christmas time, we celebrate the miracle of the baby boy born in a manger in Bethlehem, who grew up to be the Savior of all, the Prince of Peace and Emmanuel “God with us.”  Will you dedicate the ‘temple’ of your heart to receive the light of eternal life in Jesus this holiday season?

Pray with me:  Dear Jesus.  I ask that you take the darkness of my sin and replace it with your light to shine deep within my heart.  I believe you died on the cross for my sin and rose from the dead, with the promise of eternal life with you in Heaven.  I ask you to be my Savior and Lord over my life today. Thank you for loving me with an everlasting love and giving me peace with God through you.

Angels rejoicing in Heaven

Angels are rejoicing over you right now if you prayed this prayer. Welcome to the family of God.  May you experience the true peace, the peace of Jesus, that comes at this season of miracles.

Please reply to me if you prayed this prayer and asked Jesus into your heart so I can rejoice with the angels over you!

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A Thanksgiving Miracle: God at work in Israel

My heart is torn for the war now happening in Israel, as the Israeli people are assailed with rocket after rocket by the terrorist groups in Gaza.  I pray constantly throughout the day from Psalm 125:2: “As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people both now and forevermore.”   My heart also goes out to the innocent Palestinian people wounded and killed in the crossfire.

Moutains Surrounding Jerusalem Israel

As the war has escalated, I have heard from some of my friends in Israel and others who are in ministry there bringing the Good News of Yeshua (‘Jesus’ in Hebrew).  I read on Facebook that some staff from Jews for Jesus in Israel were most likely going to be called up from the reserves to serve.  My friend Shaqed, a  young Israeli women whom I met while working in a Jewish summer camp near my home, wrote on Facebook that 847 rockets had been fired so far  and defended her nation’s right to defend themselves.   I have also seen first hand a video of Israeli families with children experiencing the rockets while in a bomb shelter. It’s terrifying.

I know too well the fear and terror this causes, having served in Israel as a Jewish Evangelist in the mid to late 1990s.  I remember Israeli citizens walking around with gas masks after President Clinton ordered an airstrike on Iraq. The Israeli people, fearing a return airstrike from Iraq on Jerusalem, carried them wherever they went, as I sat huddled in a closet wondering if I should return home to America.  (At the last minute, Clinton cancelled the airstrike.)

A few days ago, I received an email that encouraged me that God is still in control and still surrounding His people in Israel. May I share it with you? The email contained a letter from a Christian couple who run a guest house outside Tel Aviv.  To my surprise, they report on Messianic Jewish soldiers in the Israeli army, Jews who believe in Yeshua as their Messiah, whom God is using to bring victory in the conflict with Gaza. Below is the touching letter.

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The Director of the guest house writes:

We visited with Elan* (not his real name), a Messianic Jewish soldier serving with the new anti-missile crew “Iron Dome” just 15 kilometers from Gaza. Here’s our report:

This past Shabbat (Sabbath), Beer Sheva was like a ghost town. The streets were empty except for the few cats and dogs roaming for scraps. As we drove to the southern outskirts of the city, we turned right up a dirt road and ascended the deserted hilltop overlooking the city where the Iron Dome crew await the next missile attack from Gaza.

With the population of over 200,000 nestled just below the hilltop depending on their missile defense, the crew seemed surprisingly relaxed, some even in their Shabbat tee shirts and sneakers, munching on midday sandwiches watching the skies and waiting for the next attack. “It was not like this when those first missiles came in,” said Elan, a Messianic Jewish member of the unit. “When the alarms went off and that first barrage of missiles came, we were really scared,” he admits. “15 rockets all at once came raining down on us,” he said, “and it looked like they were going to fall right on top of us.” The hill these brave young men and women command on the southern edge of the city is in direct line of fire of the missiles from Gaza.

“At first we were not sure the Iron Dome would work,” said Elan. “We put on our helmets, kept our heads down and prayed” he said. “Now was the moment of truth if all our hard work training would pay off.” Pay off it did, as 85 percent of the missiles aimed at Israel’s city centers have been brought down by Iron Dome. “When we saw those missiles blown up by our unit we all started laughing and jumping up and down,” said Elan “We could hardly believe it!”

As we are talking war sirens ring out over the city and within seconds two rockets blast out of the Iron Dome battery on route to intercept the missiles. “Watch this,” Elan smiles. We cannot see the incoming missile, only the Iron Dome rocket’s white tail of smoke making its way up into the blue skies in search of the deadly missile. Then sure enough we see a grey puff of smoke about a kilometer above our heads and within seconds comes the echoing boom of the missiles’ midair explosion. After a week of fighting the soldiers are far more confident in the system’s capabilities.

Civilians are also feeling much safer with the Iron Dome success. “People from the city come up here to bring us care packages,” says Elan. “They want to tell us thanks for saving their lives,” he says. “Although it is forbidden, we allow a few to come. It’s great that we are joined together in these difficult times,” Elan explains. “It really feels like one big family. Everyone wants to help.”

Like most Messianics in Israel, Elan is proud to serve his country. There are hundreds of
Messianic Jewish believers serving in the Israeli Army. Many of them in elite fighting units now amongst the ground forces moving into the Gaza Strip. Most are exemplary soldiers who want to demonstrate that faith in Yeshua is not a betrayal of their Jewish heritage. In fact, faith in the Messiah is giving them an even greater purpose and desire to serve the nation of Israel. “I feel like I am doing something really important,” says Elan. “This is something I have waited my life to do for my people,” he says. “I am glad that I can be here for such a time as this.”

As we were about to leave Elan asked that we pray for him and all the soldiers in the Israeli army at this time. We assured him that we would and that people all around the world are standing with them praying. We hope that you will also join with us in prayer for these fine young men and women now serving Israel. And may God bless Israel.

NEWS FLASH:  As I go to publish this article, news is in a ceasefire has been reached between Israel and Hamas, the terrorist group in Gaza!  However we have seen from experience that this peace is just temporary, and in fact rockets continue to be leveled at Israel tonight.

I am grateful this Thanksgiving for the Lord’s miraculous intervention in protecting Israel especially though soldiers that believe in Him. He has answered our prayers. I therefore ask you to pray that all the soldiers, especially Elan and the other Messianic soldiers, who are  in harms way, will return home safely. Please pray Psalm 121:8 “The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.”

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The Counterattack…The Devil Strikes Back

One of the lesser know facts about being a Christian, is that as we step out in Faith to serve the Lord in our ministries, we have an adversary, the Devil, who is not happy with our progress, particularly when we have a huge Victory for Jesus.  This was the case Halloween week which I shared on my blog how God gave me the Victory of raising money and advocates for She is Safe and the work they are doing around the world for abused and exploited women. (see Blessings, Paintings and Spooks….Oh My!)

Cross with Pearls Matthew 13:46

Not only did I sell quite a few paintings, but my blog post on how people could help stop human trafficking went viral!  I had over 100 views a day on my blog post and trafficking to my entire site was up well over 200 views.  Now that might not seem like a lot, but it is for me!  I only started this blog last summer and I have watched the Lord increasingly bring more traffic to my site and receive good feedback.

So I shouldn’t have been surprised when I came down with the flu/bronchitis/sinusitis with a vengeance, feeling like a bomb was dropped on me. The Devil loves to put illness on God’s Saints and I was down for the count.  I had just started a holiday job at Sees Candies (another blessing) and had to stop in the middle of training.

Would I lose my job?  Would I still be able to go to the Jews for Jesus Retreat the following weekend?  All these thoughts rumbled around in my feverish head, at one point wondering if I was going to be called home when my fever spiked to 104 degrees.  Getting this sick is scary for me as I am allergic to most antibiotics so it is a risk for me to take them.  I dragged my body to my Zip car and drove to the doctors (one of the worst things about living alone is getting sick alone) where my doctor played a guessing game of which antibiotic to give me.  “Let’s try Zithromax, I’ll give you a five day high dose that will last in your system for 10 days.”  “Alright” I nervously replied, hoping and praying this one would attack the virus.

As I tossed in bed with my fever, the Scripture “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me,” ran through my Spirit. (Psalm 23:4) Yes, I was at a breaking point for either life and healing, or death and eternal life.  I knew I was in God’s hands and was a peace with His outcome.  I had the assurance that I wouldn’t taste death, that my soul would go straight to heaven, and in fact, Jesus would come get me as He promises He will do. (John 14:3: And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.)

My fence and rail quilt

As I slowly got better, I sat on the couch covered in my rail-fence pattern quilt I had made, slurping chicken noodle soup and sucking on sugar free popsicles, all spacy on the codeine cough syrup, yet coughing, coughing, coughing.  I realized I was going to have to stay home from my retreat.  I had so looked forward to hanging out with my Messianic Jewish friends at the Jews for Jesus retreat, singing to the Messianic music, eating wonderful meals at Missions Springs Conference Center in the Santa Cruz Mountains and the divine appointments the Lord had for me.  I was sensing that this might be the time that I would meet that Jewish believing husband I have been waiting patiently (o.k. not so patiently!) for.  To hike in the beautiful redwoods, sit in on stimulating lectures and just be all around blessed and relaxed.

California Redwood Forest

So it made me start wondering, Lord why does it appear you let the enemy win this round and keep me too sick to go to the retreat, which I know was your will for me?  What He said to me surprised me: “You have been working too hard, and not having enough fun.  I have been missing spending time with you and now we have all week to snuggle together on the couch as you watch movies and hold you at night so you rest comfortably.” To be honest, I much rather spend that time with Him at the retreat but He is Sovereign and knows best. I trust He can cross my path with that future husband another way very easily.

Last night, I asked Him to reveal what He would have done for me at the retreat.   He showed me my low self esteem and the negative messages I tell myself, mostly about how unattractive I feel growing older, especially losing my neckline, which I laughingly tell my friends, is getting the “turkey neck”.  “I want a neck job as a wedding present” I tell them, but I am serious!  Having been a former beauty queen at age 18, Miss Belmont of 1979, my looks were always something that made me feel good about myself, as inside I felt such shame and ugliness from the abuse I suffered as a child.

Me modeling at Miss Belmont 1979 pageant, look at that hair!

I know Scripture tells us we are fearfully and wonderfully made in Psalm 139:14:

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.

So I asked the Lord to let me experience His love for me in a more deep and personal way as I recover this next week, before I return to work at Sees.  Because this brokenness in me that let’s me see myself in this negative light, is my real sickness, my soul sickness.   God can turn what the enemy meant for evil (this flu sickness) and work it for good, (healing me by allowing me to see His viewpoint of me). “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” – Genesis 50:20.

Will you pray that the God who made us and knew us before the foundation of the world, who brought us together in the dark places of the womb, would heal our souls of the lies and wounds of the enemy, giving us Victory today over our pasts?  Do you need to ask God for this soul healing for yourself today?  If so you can pray this prayer along with me:

“Dear Lord:  I need to feel your love for me as your child.  I know I have believed the lies of my family, friends and the Devil, who have spoken negative things into my life.  I believe you created me in the innermost places and made me unique and like you.  Help me to let go of the shame and self hatred I feel, and replace it with your love and the way you see me.  Bright. Beautiful. Full of your Joy.  Accepted and Loved in the Beloved.  For this is truth and you are Truth and I ask you to pierce my heart with this truth today.  Thank You Jesus, I love you.”

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To view my art click on ‘my art’ above or here.

 


Blessings, Paintings and Spooks…Oh My!

 

Me and Michele Rickett of She is Safe

Halloween is not a favorite holiday of mine.  I hate how it celebrates the Devil and his works.  Every week right before Halloween I feel the intensified evil in the air as witches and satanists do their ritual sacrifices in the forest areas around my home. Spooky ghosts and goblins decorations on nearby homes sends a shiver down my spine. So this week I am celebrating how God used this season to glorify Himself.

It started Thursday night. Excitement was in the air as Michele Rickett of She is Safe, the ministry I advocate for, came to speak at my church to people who were interested in hearing more about human trafficking.  I was invited to show my art, as a percentage of my art goes toward the work they are doing in China with Aids orphans.  These are precious little girls who have lost parents to Aids and are in danger of being trafficked.

I call them ‘my girls’ as in “gotta sell a lot of paintings for my girls” and “Lord please bless my paintings and bring people to buy them for the girls” and “oh goody, sold another painting, more money for my girls.” I get so excited and can’t wait to make the donations via their website SheisSafe.org.

Michele’s speech was great and we had a good crowd.  As I stood in front of the group,  I shared how my goal as an advocate was to rescue one girl and support her for one year.  I imagine one little girl in East China around 6 or 7 years old, malnourished, living in poverty and unwanted because she is a girl.  She is vulnerable to being sold in child marriage by her family or to a trafficker and then brothel.

I imagine how the money I am raising will go toward the $1 day it costs to educate, feed, shelter and clothe her.  While it doesn’t seem like much to rescue one girl, this is one girl rescued from the ravages of darkness and the clutches of the Devil.  Just imagine if we all did this and rescued one girl, what an impact that would have on ending the evilness of human trafficking. And after that I will rescue another little girl, then another. (God was faithful and paintings were sold.)

“Miriam, what can I do to help?  It seems so overwhelming and impossible to stop?”  Here are some immediate ways you can help:

Purchase a Scripture painting on my website giftsofhisglory.com.  What says unique gift more than an original piece of artwork with Scripture in it? (think holidays around the corner)  $50 of each sale will go to help ‘my girls’. That’s 50 days of her being ‘safe’.

Forget Me Not Tulips Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me"

Donate money. Visit She is Safe’s website and click on donate.  What I love about SIS is that you can donate directly to a specific work or area of the world via their work page map.  So if you have a heart for helping former Muslim women in Indonesia learn a trade and become self supportive or want to reach out to children in India being tutored and taught about the love and value Jesus has for girls, visit this page.

Become an advocate like me. Click on Advocacy for ways to get easily involved. Consider hosting a Village Gathering party, where you host a group of friends in your home and sell jewelry made by rescued girls that goes to support them in their new lives in Jesus Christ.  Or organize a Run to Rescue to raise money through a walk or run sponsored marathon.  Better yet, get your children involved at home or in your Sunday school or classroom by doing Read to Rescue, raising money by reading books, yes reading books!

Rescue beads and earrings for your Village Gathering party

Subscribe to their blog and keep yourself informed on what is happening in the world of abuse and exploitation of women and the wonderful work SIS is doing. Then pray regularly for their work. You can also read the interview they did of my art ministry Gifts of His Glory.

Join an advocacy group in your area. I will be leading a new group on the San Francisco Peninsula soon.  We will raise money as a group for the China Aids orphans and study the book Forgotten Girls, written by Michele and my friend Kay Marshall Strom. For more information email me at miriam@giftsofhisglory.com. (Many people signed up to join!)

LIKE and TWEET this post below so your friends can hear about how they can help too!

SheisSafe.org

I recommend She is Safe because I love how they PREVENT girls from being abused and trafficked into sexual slavery.  Won’t you help through one of the above ways and make a difference in these precious children of God? They are suffering in the worst possible ways and are crying out to God and someone to help them.  Thank you!

 

 

 


A Miracle in my Heart

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A Miracle in my Heart

Today is Labor Day and like most, I celebrated by going to a local Greek Festival in my hometown of Belmont.  I wanted to spend the day with the Lord doing something fun and I love Greek food and music.  There were dancers in native costumes, homemade moussaka (eggplant casserole) to die for, art showing the beautiful blue of the Greek Isles and a wild shuttle ride where we all snapped our fingers and sang to Greek music on the way back to the parking lot.  But mostly, there was peace in my heart.

Peace in your heart Miriam?  What is so different about that?  You see on Sunday the Lord did a miracle in my heart.  He finally took all the anger, resentment and unforgiveness that was in my heart, over the pain and trauma of my life.  In particular these past 12 years since I came home from the mission field, wounded and ill.  I had been crying out to Him to help me take the anger I felt all the time when someone hurt me, when I had to protect my wounded heart by pushing them out of my life…with the anger at myself for making the wrong choices on the mission field that led to my being deceived into the occult and terrorized.  Of the betrayal of male family members when they sexually abused me as a child.  Of my mother’s abandonment and cruelty over the years due to her own pain and illness.

I had become a judgmental, self righteous woman, always pointing out others inappropriate or ‘non Christian’ behavior, in the effort ‘to speak the truth” and hold others accountable.  I cried out to the Lord for a new beginning, to start over, but to please take this anger out of my heart.

That Sunday morning at church, we had a communion service.  The worship singer sang of God giving us a new start, of coming and holding our hand, asking us to trust Him with our hearts and lives.  Tears ran down my cheeks as I told the Lord I so missed how I used to be able to trust Him and hear His voice clearly, how all the years of pain and illness had robbed me of that.

As I closed my eyes, I had a vision of Jesus in a white robe, kneel down besides me and take my hand.  He whispered to my heart “Child, I want to give you a new start, a new beginning.  Will you take my hand and trust me anew with your life? Can we start over again?  As I nodded my head, I felt the Holy Spirit start to do a new work in my heart, I felt the old shackles of anger and pain break off, as if the Lord was doing surgery on my heart.  I felt a wave of refreshment and then peace just flooded my heart and body.

The spiritual surgery continued all day as I basked in the peace of his healing.  I chose to forgive my family and all those who had hurt me over the years, particularly in ministry, and release them from their debts of sin against me.  He taught me through Colossians 3:12-16 to forgive those who hurt and offend you, to put on love, and to be a peacemaker.  I had been a conflict maker and now I felt His love fill my heart where all that anger had been.

How will I keep this peace?  I asked the Lord.  “My grace is sufficient for you” He replied. I understood I was to ask for His grace, his tender compassion, when I needed to forgive someone and He would give me the grace to do this, and subsequently, ‘the peace of Him will guard my heart and mind.”

So today, when I woke, I took Jesus hand in mine and told Him “Lord today I will trust you to take care of me, to lead and guide me with each step I take, and to spend time loving you and people through you today.  And I did.  And just for today, I was blessed with peace.  I got to start all over again.

Do you need to ask the Lord for a new beginning…to find the forgiveness in your heart to set yourself and others free?  It’s easy.  Ask Him into your heart to take your sin and give you a new eternal life in Him.  He is faithful and will do it.  After all He is the great Physician and Healer, and Savior of our souls.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Colossians 3:12-16.

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Bottom on Chair Time

Bottom on Chair Time

Where I spend my BOC time

Today I spent a whole day doing what is known amongst the writers clan as Bottom on Chair (BOC) time.  It is really called something else besides ‘bottom’ but I want to be politically polite on my blog site!

BOC time means you sit at your desk with your laptop and write…it doesn’t have to be a lot of writing, just that you are in your chair and writing.  It is like a rite of passage, one must spend quality BOC time in order to become a good and successful writer.  I joke with my writer friends, saying to them “Have you spent some BOC time lately?” or “You’d better go do some BOC time sweetie, this piece needs it!”

I had an agenda for today, rewrite my devotion, what my writer friend Jenni calls ‘the smelly roses’ piece, for an  international publication that was considering me for publication.  I had met the nice editor at Mt. Hermon’s Writers Conference and she had challenged me to write for them.  So three and a half months ago, I submitted my piece and forgot about it…until yesterday when her email showed up in my inbox.  “OMG” I said to myself, “she wants me to rewrite it to fit their guidelines, I don’t think I can give her what she is looking for – help me Lord.”

I chewed on it all night then this morning set out to write at my favorite cafe in Redwood City.  I hoped on the bus (as my car was totaled and I am without one at the moment) and made my way there.  Now the bus is another entirely different experience than say, BART or the train – but that’s another blog post for another day.
My cafe is across from the movie theater and I knew the new Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones flick was opening today called Hope Springs.  I LOVE Meryl Street and Tommy Lee Jones and it is the first time they are together in a movie.  Oh and Steve Carrell is in it too, another of my favorite actors.I got my coffee and sat down at an outside table procrastinating what I knew I had to do. Write my devotion over.  The heat of the day started in and I just couldn’t do it.  So I went and bought a matinee ticket to see the movie.  Well the movie is FABULOUS, I loved the Maine scenery and laughed throughout, but had a nagging guilt behind my ear.
So I took the bus home, had a chicken salad salad for lunch and went into my bedroom to my desk and turned on the fan.  I reread the editor’s instructions, looked at my devotion. Blank. No words.  I got up to get a popsicle and sat down again at my laptop.  Stared again at my devotion.  Got up to get another popsicle.  Prayed.  Finally a few words started to form in my mind and I wrote them on the page.  More words flowed.  Rewrote one paragraph.  Got up to get some naan bread with butter.  Rewrote some more. You get the picture.
Three hours later, full in my tummy, I finished my piece and sent it out to my writer’s group to have them critique it for me.  Ahhh, the beauty of a writer’s group, you receive free input and better writing than your own!  We meet monthly and are all former Mt. Hermon attendees.  It is a prerequisite to join. Jenni and I started the group as there wasn’t one in our area.  We are all serious about getting published and encourage one another on in the process.

Took a cold shower as I was all sticky from the heat and popsicles and went out in the dusk of the evening for a long walk, to get all the kinks out from my BOC time.  By the way, my chair is a hot pink swivel chair that I got free on Freecycle and I love it.  The color pink makes me a serious writer, don’t you think???!!!  Anyway it was on my walk that I thought about doing my next blog post on BOC time.  The Lord is good about that, He gives me a subject each week when I think I have nothing to write on. Now I can reward myself with a session on Pinterest, which I have grown to LOVE.  I have one board on Israel called “Ani Ohevet Yisrael – Everything Hebrew” which is picking up followers.  I so enjoy sharing my faith and art even on a social media such as Pinterest.  Come follow me!

I hope one day you will be able to read my ‘smelly roses’ devotion in print. Say a little prayer for me it will be so…

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I am interviewed! Helping girls in sexual slavery…

There comes a season when the Lord blesses your ministry and gives you free publicity and brings Glory to himself.  Such is the season that She is Safe interviewed me and GIfts of His Glory on my art ministry since I am now an advocate for them helping rescue girls in sexual slavery and abuse.  I was thrilled it went to hundreds of people who had a heart for human trafficking.  Will you help share even more by sharing this with your friends and clicking LIKE/facebook or twitter below?  I and the Lord would so appreciate it. The interview is below:

She Is Safe has posted a new item, ‘Gifts of His Glory

We are thrilled to see artists using their gifts to free and empower enslaved women and girls. Miriam Sarzotti is an artist and writer who learned about SIS and decided to dedicate 50% of the income from her sales to the work.

We were deeply impressed by her decision, and we are big fans of her work, so we asked her if she’d be willing to do an online interview to tell us a little more about her work, how she connected with SIS, and where she sees it all going. Read on to learn more about this gifted artist and her advocacy work for SIS:

“Pink Potted Tulips” by Miriam Sarzotti

When did you begin painting, and what role does it play in your life today?

I began painting at the tender age of 3!  There is a picture of me at the easel in nursery school, with my paint-spattered apron on, painting away.

I painted through college then stopped for a long absence, starting my art ministry Gifts of His Glory, which features Scripture, two years ago. I feel the Lord has given me back my gift of painting after all these years and I now use it to give Him glory. I paint often today, and enjoy being inspired by the Holy Spirit in my artwork, believing each painting is an evangelistic tool expressing God’s beauty and His Word which “will not return to Him void.”

How did you connect with She Is Safe?

I met Kay Marshall Strom at a Christian Writers Conference in northern California when I took her “Write with Sizzle” class.  I saw her books, Daughters of Hope and Forgotten Girls in the author’s bookstore, co-written with SIS President Michele Rickett. It intrigued me to read about other women in ministry around the world who were being persecuted. I had served as a Christian missionary in Israel and knew persecution as a messianic Jew in Israel, as well as the persecution of Arab Christians in Israel. When I returned home, I read Forgotten Girls, and my heart was broken for the girls and women trapped in sexual slavery.

We love your idea of creating and selling artwork to help SIS work around the globe. Where did this idea come from?

After reading Forgotten Girls, I had such a burden for your work.  I prayed and asked the Lord what I could do to help.  I was  praying  for a new vision and purpose for my artwork at the same time.  His answer was for me to dedicate the art ministry to Christian ministries dealing with human trafficking through donation of paintings for their auctions and fundraising venues.  In particular He directed me to give 50% of my sales to SIS and your work around the globe and to become an advocate for you here in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Do you think that working for this cause will motivate you or influence your art?

Yes it will motivate me! I have a particular heart for the orphaned child victims, and as I paint, I imagine how the money from the painting will go to help rescue them.  I know I am doing my small part to end this horror of human trafficking. I am also motivated to attract a Christian art merchandiser to turn my art into posters, greeting cards and such, bringing donations to SIS.

Is there anything else you would like to share with the SIS family?

“Cross with Petals” by Miriam Sarzotti

YES!  I am currently writing my first book on my life experiences including the trauma I experienced, both in my childhood from sexual abuse and on the mission field in Israel, and how the love of Jesus Christ healed and restored my life.  I am blogging on my writing and art journey’s on my blog www.giftsofhisglory.com/ miriamsblog .

I am working to start an advocacy group on the San Francisco Peninsula for SIS work. We will study Forgotten Girls and then raise funds for selected SIS work.  We will begin meeting in early fall, so anyone who lives in the area and has interest can e-mail me at miriam@giftsofhisglory.com.

To look at or purchase Miriam’s artwork, learn more about her story, and follow her writing, you can visit giftsofhisglory.com. If you have ideas for how you can put your gifts to work t0 help free and empower women and girls, leave a comment or drop us a note at info@SheIsSafe.org.

You may view the latest post at
http://sheissafe.org/2012/08/gifts-of-his-glory/


Eternity in Our Hearts

Colorful Zinnias Ecclesiastes 3:11

He makes all things beautiful in its time….He places eternity in their hearts..
Ecclesiastes 3:11

Yes He does.  Jesus that is.  He is in the business of making all things new.  Including me and you.  We are his precious works in progress, once we accept His free gift of grace.  He forgives our sins.  He places the Holy Spirit into our hearts to restore and renew all our fuzzy places and sinful spaces.  He changes us into the image of Himself.  And to give us hope, He puts eternity in our hearts.
What beautiful Words.  I thought a lot about this Scripture as I painted my next biblical Scripture painting today.  As always, I prayed about what to paint as a subject and what Scripture to go with it.  This time it was the colorful zinnias in a patch at Filoli Gardens.  I was drawn to their colors and sizes and how beautiful they were in the sunshine, with their petals reaching upwards to the sun.  How we will be one day in the glory of the Lord’s brilliance as we step into Heaven.  I imagine His smile of happiness on seeing me will be so bright. And I will radiate happiness and light in my new glorified body. Halleluiah. Just like the zinnias.

Do you ever think about eternity in the day to day struggles and problems of life here on earth?  I have to be honest and admit it is a passing thought now and then but lately I have been thinking of it more,  Maybe its getting older.  Knowing my time and work here on earth is going to come to an end.  Thinking thoughts such as “Lord, I feel I am not making enough impact for the Kingdom here on earth.  It seems I spend so much time waiting on you (!) and so little time leading others to you. Will my life matter in the scope of things?”
And then He whispers this Scripture in my heart….”I make everything beautiful in its time”….and I realized just for today, I used His gift of creativity in me and made a beautiful painting of His creation to bring joy to someone else’s heart.  And my life was made more beautiful for today…and I realized eternity IS in my heart.  I imagine seeing my Nana again and my baby daughter Lynley who did not live past the womb.  I imagine talking to Jesus’ mother Mary, who is my namesake of Miriam, (the Hebrew way to say “Mary” ). I will ask her to tell me what Jesus was like as a little boy, how it felt to be used by the Holy Spirit for a miracle. I imagine what it will be like to live FOREVER in peace with no tears or weight gain!  To have my family all restored, no longer dysfunctional, and not talking to one another.  To have a pure love for my mother and father despite the abuse and shame done to me as a child.

Because that is the kind of God we have.  He cares enough about us and our times of despair and hopelessness to give us the hope of being with HIm in eternity.  Heaven is real.  All it takes is being like a zinnia, turn your face up to the Son, Jesus, and ask Him to come into your hearts and forgive you for your sins.  To be your Lord and Savior.  It really is that simple.  And He will come and give you His Holy Spirit to make you all beautiful in His time…and deposit a little piece of eternity in your heart as a safekeeping and promise.
Please take a moment and share my post/painting by clicking on the “LIKE” button below and share the gift of eternity with your friends….
What do you look forward to most about eternity?  Leave me a reply..

I hope you enjoy my new collage “Colorful Zinnias”.  It is for sale for $100 at my art website.  Just click on ‘my art’ above or go to www.giftsofhisglory.com
Shalom and peace.

 

 


Summer Surprises

Today was one of those great summer days, it wasn’t too hot, and had a nice breeze.  I found myself waking up at 6a.m. which I never do, unless the Holy Spirit has something in mind.  I had a summer adventure planned not quite an hour away in Livermore and Pleasanton, two bedroom communities somewhere East on the way to Stockton. That’s all I knew.

I love exploring new places.  I love California architecture and how it reflects the Spanish influence of the early missionaries and the wild west salons that still stand in some towns.  When I found myself in downtown Livermore at 7a.m, I admired its quaintness and quickly found the local cafe.  Spending some time journaling all my worries and frowns, I sipped my cup of decaf (yes decaf, that’s all I drink) and asked the Lord to take my hand and plan some surprises for me on this day.

The first was stumbling on the open doors of St. Michael’s Catholic Church.  I swerved the car over to the side and went in.  I love the quiet stillness of Catholic churches, the smell of incense, kneeling down on the kneelers, seeing Mary’s statue  in the corner so comforting, and sipping real wine (surprise) in the chalice for communion. The priest’s sermon was just 10 minutes long, but touched on the Scripture that I so needed to hear this morning, (another surprise) from Mattew 6:25-34.”Do not worry”. I chuckled to myself.  The  basic premise being to live in each moment today, experiencing God’s love and grace for that moment and don’t worry about tomorrow.  I vowed to enjoy today with the Lord as my travel companion.

Next I was off to Trinity Church, for the Christ Centered Art Exhibit.  I had entered my painting entitled “Cross with Pearls” based on the parable of the “Pearl of Great Price”.  No one was there yet so I tiptoed into the sanctuary to peer at the artwork, all by Christian artists depicting the parables of Jesus. SURPRISE, the commentary on my painting was missing, I had sent it in but obviously, it hadn’t been received.  I heard a voice and turned to see the Pastor, greeting me.  When I voiced my frantic concern of no commentary in sight, he warmly replied, “Miriam, come into my office and you can type up your commentary there.”  I quickly found the email I had sent with the description and printed it up.  Hmm…lucky I was here early, I thought…The Holy Spirit nudged me “SURPRISE, this is why I got you up at 6a.m.” he whispered to my heart.

I was so in awe of the beautiful artwork inspired by the Holy Spirit that hung around me on the sanctuary stage.  A warm and knowledgeable professor of ‘spiritual art’, from a local seminary, went around the room stopping to reflect on each piece of art, acknowledging the artist.  When he got to mine, I was nervous as I wondered if He would like it and think it as good as the others, “Surprise” said the Holy Spirit again, “It was my vision I gave to you to paint, you used your gifts to create it for me.  Remember this.”  I was humbled.  Yes, the glory should go to the Lord.   After eating lunch of chicken and egg salad sandwiches, prepared lovingly by the hands of the women of the church, I dashed off to my next destination.

I drove toward the hay colored, rolling hills sprinkled with green vines, into the heart of Livermore’s wineries.  I had decided to visit a few small wineries for a tasting of these local wines I had never experienced.  Not quite the beauty of the Napa Valley, still there was a cow here and there, and many pink limos carrying brides nervously awaiting their special moment at the winery venues.  I pulled into the Crooked Winery and put my $5 tasting fee on the counter.  The woman served me 6 tastes, which was 5 tastes too many for this lightweight. Worrying I might now get a DUI, and not wanting this SURPRISE, I got back in my car and vowed not to visit any more wineries.

Soon I was in downtown Pleasanton which was a surprise, a quaint old western town with many cute cafes and shops.  “I could really live here”, I thought, but remembered how hot it got there in the summer.  I had a scoop of cold strawberry ice cream and let the cool breeze run over me as I watched people go by.

Next stop was the Alameda County Fair at the fairgrounds.  I love this fair and go every year.  I headed for the art, which exceeded my expectations.  So much talent. I lovingly stopped at each painting that caught my eye and marveled at the technique of these artists.  What is a county fair without a corn dog? and SURPRISE! mine was lukewarm and chewy.   YUK.   I walked through the beautiful flower gardens and next watched children racing on sheep! What a SURPRISE that was to see them hold on for dear life!  I ended my day, sipping a diet coke and eating a whole bag of kettle popcorn, listening to the country music singer, sing about lost love and how women love cowboys. Amen. The Lord sat beside me tapping his foot to the music and I swear I saw Him in the Spirit get up and dance a country jig!

As I drove home, trying to maneuver all the confusing freeways, I thanked Him for the day full of fun and surprises that only He could have orchestrated.  Once home, I glumly discovered  that bag of popcorn had 25 weight watcher points.  SURPRISE!

What surprises has the Lord brought you this summer?  I would love to know.  Leave me a comment or reply.

To see my painting “Cross with Pearls” go to my earlier blog post on the home page entitled: Our Pearl of Great Price.  To see all my art, click on the menu above on ‘art website’ or go to www.giftsofhisglory.com