A merciful miracle story

By Erika Rizkallah

Have you ever heard the phrase: Be careful what you pray for?

It’s often said after something dreadful or amazing has happened, and my case is no different.

A few weeks ago, on Father’s Day to be exact, my family decided to take an evening boat ride. It also happened to be my son’s 16th birthday and he wanted to ride our jetski instead. He’s experienced and has his boating license so we thought nothing of it.

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We decided to go to one of the many waterfront restaurants for dinner but they were all packed. The sun began to set and beautiful streaks of pinks and oranges blazed against the sky — it was quite magical.

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Then the dolphins began to appear but my daughter and I kept missing them. Each time my husband slowed the boat they’d disappear beneath the water. Dolphins are as common as squirrels here and normally we wouldn’t stop to see them, but my photographer daughter wanted to get a sunset shot.

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After a fruitless search we turned the boat and sped home, happy and hungry. A few minutes later, my husband yelled, “Dolphin!” and pulled the throttle. We heard a horrendous crunching noise and were thrown forward.

It took a minute to realize what happened and I was stunned. My daughter and husband started screaming in fear but from my vantage point I could see the problem.

My son, still on the jetski, was wedged vertically between the engine and the roof.

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We went into crisis mode. We yelled at him to jump off the roof and so he did, landing in the water. The current was strong and even though he had a life vest on he’d had a bit of a shock. A boat pulled up and offered to bring him in.

By this time a crowd had gathered to help, ask questions and stare. People began taking pictures of the astonishing sight. We called a tow boat and on the agonizingly long ride home — with us sitting in the back of our boat – the reality sank in.

In my quiet time that morning, I had foolishly prayed, Lord, show me your glory.

He not only showed me, but everyone else! Hundreds of pictures were taken by gawkers. We appeared on a well-known Instagram boating account with thousands of views.

The next day, we were on the news and the story appeared in headlines across the country. Reporters called the Fish and Wildlife Department trying to get interviews. Our response was “No comment.”

Until now.

Anyone can see that this was a perfectly timed miracle. Consider the speed of the boat and the velocity of the jetski combined with the lift of the wake and position of the engines and roof. Any variation in these factors could have proved deadly, but no one was hurt.

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As believers, we’re called to report on the mercy of God and the daily miracles he provides us. We’re to shout his praise and glory from the rooftops and sing out with joy.

I haven’t stopped thanking him for what he did that day but I won’t ask to see his glory again. That was enough for me!

Your turn: Do you have any miracle stories you can share?

 

 

God still does miracles. Do you believe?

For you make me glad by your deeds, O Lord; I sing for joy at the works of your hands. How great are your works, O Lord, how profound your thoughts! Psalm 92:4-5

Do you believe God still does miracles?

I ask because in this day and age, many don’t. Even Christians. Over the years I’ve heard some influential preachers say the time for miracles is over.

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As if God chose to bless only those living in the first century.

I don’t believe it. The story I’m about to tell you is long overdue because, frankly, I didn’t know how to explain it.

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I also wasn’t sure about the “whys.” I’m a “why?” kind of girl; I spend chunks of time ruminating about the reasoning behind things and events.

In this case, I now know why.

Earlier this year I read a friend’s status update about Facebook having a type of automatic spam filter. I didn’t know this. When she accessed it, she discovered scores of hidden messages. Most were spam, but some were from friends and were several years old.

I was intrigued and decided to check it out. My results were much the same. Nigerian princes wanting to deposit millions into my bank account if I gave them access.

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People offering to help me with my erectile dysfunction, which I, um . . . do not struggle with.

There were also legitimate ones dating as far back as 2012 which were actually important. I had to apologize to several people for not responding. However, one in particular caught my attention because the subject line mentioned my maiden name.

That name is intentionally left off my profile so people can NOT find me.

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Now I’m going to pause for a moment to give you a quick backstory. My beloved father died in 1989, and although I was his next of kin, his ashes were divided. His partner, Charlie, got the bulk of them and I have some in a small box. Charlie and I lost touch and the whereabouts of my dad’s ashes were a mystery.

Deep inside, I’ve carried resentment about it. Not much, but a bit because my grandmother wanted my portion to be buried with her. She doesn’t approve of cremation and wanted him to have a proper burial.

Reading the “spam” message has enlarged my ideas about the universe and shrunk the distance between God in heaven and on earth.

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It came from a young woman I didn’t know existed – Charlie’s granddaughter. She told me she and her father had been searching for me for years. When Facebook became popular she decided to give it a shot.

She had my father’s ashes.

The box they’re in was passed down through her family for 25 years (long after Charlie died) in hopes of returning them to me.

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Mind blown!

For the past several months, I’ve had them in a place of honor in my home. They were a daily reminder of God’s faithfulness.

They’re proof that His love bridges the gap between space and time to answer even our unspoken prayers.

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Now they’re gone again.

A few weeks ago my aunt called saying my grandmother was on the verge of death. Emergency surgery was scheduled for the next day and she wanted me to send the ashes to be buried with her.

I hopped on a plane, lugging the box with me and praying I’d make it in time. I wanted her to know her son was with her.

God answered those prayers too; she made it through surgery. When she came to she told my aunt that God was with her during the surgery. She said she couldn’t see him but she could feel him. This is a HUGE deal – my grandma isn’t (wasn’t) a believer.

Before I gave them to her, my aunt took pictures so I’d have memories of this sacred event.

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Friends, He does answer prayer. Even today. Even the unspoken ones.

 

 

 

 

Election 2016 – A reason to celebrate!

By Erika Rizkallah

“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”   Abraham Lincoln

Today is election day and what a day for rejoicing and celebration ! In a few hours all the haranguing and caustic rhetoric will end.

I know that’s unlikely. In reality there will be plenty of rhetoric and accusations to last the rest of the year. But at least the tv ads and fake political texts will cease.

That alone gives us reason to celebrate!

Did you know that the quote from Abraham Lincoln came directly from Jesus? Lincoln used it in a political speech about ending slavery in 1858. By his own admission he wanted a frame of reference that (at that time) everyone could understand.

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In Jesus’ case, the statement was in reference to driving out demons. People brought a demon-possessed man to Jesus who was both blind and mute and Jesus healed him. The Pharisees witnessing the miracle said that Jesus healed the man through the power of demons. This judgment call obviously made no sense.

Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.” Matthew 12:25

Friends, this is still true today. There’s an enemy at work trying desperately to divide our country, our states and our homes. He wants us to hate instead of love each other.

And no, this isn’t a political statement about any candidate. As Christians we are called to be at peace with our fellow humans whenever and wherever possible.

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We’re also called to respect authority and to understand that whomever becomes President of the United States is placed there by God.

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men – the testimony given in its proper time. 1 Timothy 2:1-6

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. Romans 13:1-2

So whatever happens, let’s heed the apostle Paul’s message and live out our faith in all godliness and holiness. And let’s intercede for our leaders in prayers and thanksgiving.

That’s the end of my PSA . . . I’m off to the voting booth!

 

Surviving seasons of sorrow and slobber.

By Erika Rizkallah

I thank God summer is over. Well, kind of. I live on the Southeastern coast and even though leaves are starting to fall and acorns litter the sidewalks, it can feel as hot as Hades.

From my windows I watch boats drift by with girls in bikinis dancing on the bow. I watch egrets stand as still as statues in the tall grasses at the water’s edge. I see fish jumping as they try to avoid the jaws of a gator who has no business being near my dock.

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I saw a lot out of my windows this summer but rarely got out of the house. Even though I can see the beach, I didn’t get a chance to spend even one day on it.

I know I sound like a baby . . . a little woe is me. But I don’t mean to. It’s simply that this summer season was hard.

So hard.

I watched the health of my loved ones deteriorate. I tried to provide comfort, safety and aid and I guess in that regard it was successful. We made it through but at times I questioned my own sanity.

And in the middle of it all, my husband ( bless his heart ) made a ridiculous decision. He brought home a puppy – a Rottweiler. Somehow he thought this would be a great thing, even though I’ve continually said, “Not one more thing that poops is allowed in this house!”

I told him I’d rather have a baby and he told me not to worry. I wasn’t going to have to care for this baby. No, he and my son would do it all. Yeah, right. He made it through a month before he realized he’d  made a big, messy, slobbery mistake.

Yet, in spite of all the chaos and sorrow, I watched God working out things for our good. It’s one of the promises I held onto through the tears, hospital visits and sleepless summer nights.

His plans are good. His ways are higher. His love heals our wounds.

I hope you know that friends. I pray you will cling to Our Father, keep your eyes on His son and understand that His grace is sufficient for us.

Here’s our promise . .  .

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Every day is a blessing from God

By Erika Rizkallah

“Every day I feel is a blessing from God. And I consider it a new beginning. Yeah, everything is beautiful.” Prince

2015 was a hard year for me – filled with physical, mental and emotional challenges. I can’t remember how it began but it’s fresh enough to remember how it ended.

November and December was like a slow moving hurricane whirling off the coast toward a direct hit on my home.

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Last year my husband and I decided it was time to renovate our highly outdated home. We’ve been wanting to remodel certain areas; get rid of the mirrored backsplash in the kitchen, replace broken appliances and get rid of the gold fixtures in the guest bathroom.

But you know how those things go. Once you decide to change certain  areas, you may as well go big and do it right. So what started out as a simple kitchen/bathroom remodel turned into a full scale renovation of our middle and upper levels.

There were many disagreements between us along the way. Multiple meetings with the contractor and interior designer that came with the job. And packing up EVERYTHING. This was no easy feat for a homebody homeschooling mom like me, but I did it (for the most part). In order to give the contractor a good start we decided to take a trip so we left the country for two weeks and spent time visiting family in Dubai.

And we came back from this life-changing vacation to this . . .

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Goodbye kitchen

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My favorite room in the house – our heritage room

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Just like a man …the tv still remains

So that’s where I’ve “been” – metaphorically and physically speaking – and I have so many new things to share with you in 2016.

I’ve resolved that this year will be different – I’m saying goodbye to the physical, mental and emotional challenges of last year. And even though I’m living in a literal mess, I agree with Prince’s assessment that each day is a blessing from God and yeah, everything is beautiful.

Walking on The Way of Holiness: Joy of the Redeemed

By Erika Rizkallah

This morning I woke up in tremendous pain (more than usual) and couldn’t move. My husband rushed to get my medication and I stayed in bed waiting for it to kick in. For those of you who know me, I live with a rare pain disease that doctors say will never go away.

Good man that he is, he brought me coffee and my Bible study tools. I lay in bed, mulling over the thought that today, I’d remain bedridden. I hate these kind of days; I’m used to them, but it’s Friday and I had shopping plans!

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Somehow in my study I turned to Isaiah 35. Isaiah is one of my favorite Old Testament books and his name means “The Lord saves” or “The Lord is Savior.” It’s filled with prophecies about the Messiah and was written by a man who answered God’s call and became a prophet to kings. More than that, Isaiah’s writing is filled with gorgeous imagery and hope, as well as warning.

Isaiah 35 is subtitled “Joy of the Redeemed.” As followers of Christ, we are people of redemption and I highly suggest you read this short chapter. The last few verses talk about the highway called The Way of Holiness. Here’s what it says:

No lion will be there, nor will any ferocious beast get up on it; they will not be found there. But only the redeemed will walk there, and the ransomed of the Lord will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

As I read, gladness and gratitude overtook me and though I sigh, my spirit is filled with joy. I can move now – although with difficulty – but I know that one day I will run along that highway, dancing and singing with gladness!

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Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. Hebrews 12:12

Helping kids understand prayer

By Erika Rizkallah

The other night as we were praying together my son, Sam, said, “Mom, how do you talk to someone you can’t see?”

“Well, it’s the same as talking to anyone you have a relationship with. Like me or dad.”

“Yeah, but how do you know God’s real? We can’t actually see him.”

“We can’t see the wind, or germs, or sound waves but we know they’re real. We may not be able to see them, but we know they’re real because we can see the effects. We see trees sway, we catch colds from other people and somehow we can hear music on the radio.”

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“I know but it’s still hard.”

We joined hands and I prayed, thanking God for all the things he’s given us and for helping us “see” him through answered prayer.

The truth is, sometimes it does feel awkward to talk to God in our heads or out loud in front of others. But it’s a gift to be cherished. To be able to speak to the creator of the universe and have him answer is beyond comprehension.

And that’s ok. He already knows how we feel about it. He searches our hearts and minds – so keep talking! As with all new things, eventually it will get easier.

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Sunday blessings to you friend!