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2008 Manna Blog

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I posted a new meditation today in the "Listening with Lisa" files, called Look, and Live. Hope it blesses you!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Creative Coincidence

I want to "testify".

You know, there are times when things just seem too "coincidental" and beautiful to be "coincidental". Today was the culmination of several such days filled with beautifully intermingled events.

In order to protect the identity of the real people in these stories, I'll change their names to the following, even though I realize these would likely never be "real" names: the "Blessed" family, the "Honored" family, and the "Musical" family.

Now, the husband and wife of the Musical family know some of the members of the Blessed family, but the Honored family members only know each other. I know the Musical family quite well, and some members of the Blessed family, but also don't "know" any of the Honored family, although I did briefly interact with a few of them the other day.

But God knows each and every one, and He orchestrated some really wonderful, simple, gentle and precious miracles in their lives, that I think are worth recording.

It all started a few days back. Thursday or Friday, to be precise (my best guess is, Friday).

The husband of the Musical family called me to ask if I would be available to sing/play at a funeral. He had been asked to do the music by a Pastor friend, but was unable to be there due to some essential meetings he needed to attend. The funeral was for the 80-something-year-old father of the Honored family, who happened to be a Veteran with many honors for his service. (And I was honored to do the service for such a man...)

Since I was free, I gladly agreed, and began working up some nice guitar parts for the hymns they had requested to be sung at the funeral. Obviously, when you're asked to sing at a funeral, you only have two or three days to get ready, so I prepared when I had the time over those days.

Meanwhile, probably the next evening, his wife (from the Musical family) happened to call me "last minute", and invited me to go with her to a concert featuring a couple members of the Blessed family, since someone had backed out last minute from going to the concert with her. I agreed and quickly got myself ready, and went. We had a GREAT time. We both already knew one of these men from the Blessed family quite well, but I hadn't seen him or spoken with him in a LONG time.

During their concert, they "happened" to mention that their mother had been ill recently. After the concert, I asked how she was, and apparently she (and they) had some pretty tough struggles going on, and she was currently in a rehab type situation at the very least.

On my way home that night, I found myself wishing I had offered to go see their mother sometime and do some Music Therapy with her, if she and they would like (since that is basically what I do quite often at nursing home and assisted living facilities, etc. Of course, for them, it would be "on the house".) I hadn't thought of it earlier, and I didn't know if I'd see them again anytime soon (since our paths rarely cross), so I felt bad about not thinking quickly enough to ask--especially since I remember being told in the past that she was "quite the musician" herself...

"Oh well", I thought.

Next day was Sunday, and I was very surprised to see one of the daughters from that same Blessed family (whom I knew also) at church that morning. I don't think she usually attends our church, but she was there that day. I was so happy to see her there to begin with, but also because it gave me the opportunity to ask if her mother might like a music therapy visit from me. She said she thought it would be a great idea, and that her mother would probably LOVE it.

Their mother was scheduled to be at a fairly local facility for this week, and after that, might be moved somewhere else. So I said if I could work it into my schedule, I'd try to swing by during the week.

That was Sunday. Well, all that day, the newscasts began forecasting the biggest snowstorm of the season to hit that night into Monday morning (the day of the funeral for the Honored family). I was hoping and praying that the forecast would get less foreboding, however all day it just seemed to get more treacherous sounding. By the time the day was winding down, it looked like it would start raining in the evening, and then turn to heavy snow overnight, dumping around 6 inches or so.

For some people, that would be nothing ... but we live in a very hilly area, and I have a very small car that can rarely make it up or down an ice covered hill without slipping and sliding all over. Our particular street is also not usually high on the "plowing priority list" in our town.... I kept praying throughout that day silently....

My husband began to ask what on earth I was going to do about getting to the funeral. It sounded like our son's school would be cancelled, and my husband didn't even know if HE would be able to make it to work.

I knew from past experience though, that funerals don't just "get cancelled". If the weather's bad, they usually just go ahead somehow. I was confident that indeed the Lord would pave the way for me to get there if it were His will. I didn't know if my car would somehow make it through the storm, if there would be a way for me to have someone bring me there, or if He would graciously blow the storm away, but I trusted that He would make the way.

So ... in the evening, sure enough, the rain began, and it quickly became a steady and strong rain. It didn't "look good". It appeared to be going right along with the forecast. If that heavy rain turned to snow, it would be falling at a very fast rate for sure. All through the night, as I would periodically awaken, though, I was comforted with the sound of rain (which told me it hadn't turned to snow...) I looked out the window a couple of times too, and saw that the street was not snow covered. Very comforting.

So when I awoke, I was thrilled to see (and our son was surely quite disappointed:) that the pavement was not snow covered in the least, and it looked WET, not icy. What an answer to prayer.

I had to drive our son to school that day, and as I drove him (and then a bit later as I drove to the funeral), I was struck by the beauty that my eyes beheld. The pavement WAS simply wet, and quite passable. Not a snowflake on it, and no ice either. However, since we do live in the "hills", in the higher elevation areas, the woods around the road and the trees were coated thoroughly with beautiful white snow, like they were sugar coated. It was quite lovely, and my heart rejoiced as I went to the funeral.

It was a very touching (and I think beautiful and honoring) funeral. Obviously, this man was loved and cherished by many family members and friends. Even the Pastor of the church seemed moved by the loss of this dear "saint", who apparently was a steady "rock" at their church, being the "head usher" from what I remember him saying. They were of course happy for him, that he was "at peace", and in the presence of Jesus.... At the same time, their hearts were saddened by the loss of this precious man.

The (Honored) family members had written short memorial readings about their loved one. As I listened, I heard an interesting theme come through the various family members' memories. From what I remember, it seemed that at least three family members mentioned this man's concern for their safety. A couple mentioned his cautioning them when teaching them to drive in snow, and one mentioned his urging them to be careful about wet leaves. It seemed to be this gentleman's way, to watch over his loved ones, and desire to keep them safe from these dangers.

After hearing that, it touched me enough that I asked if I could share my story from that morning with them (and I did). It struck me that here was this nasty storm barreling our way, and just "coincidentally", it missed us. Not to read too much into things, but it certainly blessed me, not only that I believe God made a way for ME to get to that funeral ... but He made a way for all those family members and friends as well.... And somehow I also wondered if somewhere in heaven, there weren't a "new guy on the block" tugging at God's sleeve, asking PLEASE to keep his family members safe as they made their way there. Who knows? You can say it's all coincidence. Somehow I wonder how so many coincidences can "coincidentally" happen.

See, it all goes on. That was the Honored family ... and don't forget, unknown to any of them, there was the Blessed family as well...

That day was Monday, and it was taken up with the funeral, and then some other impromptu visiting and "ministering" to various friends (and I even was able to use the hymns I had prepared for the Honored family, to bless my Godmother, to whom I sang later in that day). Then, Tuesday was booked up as well. One thing I did that day was to share a couple of those same hymns with a group of friends who had met for a Bible Study. I was glad to have the lyrics ready to print out, and the chords all worked out nicely.

Now, remember that one of the Blessed family members had said that their mother might soon be moving from the facility at which she is staying, after this week. Thus, I wanted to visit her as soon as possible. Monday and Tuesday were fully booked. I had hoped to keep this Thursday and Friday free if possible, to continue work on some personal projects that require intense concentration and time.

Today (Wednesday), however, I had to be out of the house for the morning, for a seminar, that "happened" to be quite close to that same facility at which the Blessed family's mother was residing. So, I decided to drop by to visit her on my way home from the seminar. It was wonderful that I "just so happened" to have these lovely hymns all prepared with songs sheets, etc., because I had worked them up a few days before for a completely different reason (the Honored family). Before I left for the class in the morning, I put those hymn lyrics and chords, along with my guitar, in the car.

After the seminar, I drove over to see the Blessed family's mother. In the car, I was listening to a radio program that I enjoy. When I arrived at the facility, the program was at a stopping point, and it was about to progress into a live call-in section. I contemplated staying in the car and listening to the rest of the program (another half hour) to listen to the calls, because I like to listen to them, and because I knew it would likely be lunchtime for Mrs. "Blessed". It just so happened that there were no live calls at that moment, so there was going to be a little lull in the radio program. Since I didn't exactly want to spend an extra half hour sitting in the car (I wanted to see Mrs. "Blessed", and then get back home to try to get some other things done), I decided to go ahead and go in, and see if she were free and able to have me visit for a while/sing with her.

I went in and found her in her room. She was so sweet and welcoming. Smiling and thanking me for coming. I spoke to her of her children that I knew, and saw some pictures of them posted on her wall, and I was commenting on them.... She seemed to absolutely love the singing, and did her best to sing along a little with the hymns. She would periodically give the most beautiful smile over at her roommate who was apparently listening in and enjoying it as well. Mrs. "Blessed" even made the cutest joke as I sang. The hymn was "What a Friend We Have in Jesus". As I played the section in which the lyrics say, "Oh, what needless pain we bear", I hit a couple of wrong chords a bit clumsily. She said jokingly, "Now THAT was a needless pain". I told you she was a musician :) and I could tell from her responses. She was so delightful.

As we were singing that song, I heard voices coming down the hall, and then realized some people were entering the room. As I turned to look, I was quite surprised (and pleasantly so) to see her two sons walking into the room (whom I had heard at the concert several nights before). After we finished the song, I learned that they had just finished a meeting together with several family members and some others, and they were coming to see their mother. What TIMING! It was hard to believe. They went out and got their sister (the one I had seen at the church) who was also there, and their father...

We proceeded to sing another song or two, and the best thing to me, was that her children joined in singing, and we had a time of singing together "In the Garden" ... "And He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own. And the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known".

I realize they are all going through some "tough stuff" right now.... At the same time, it is not lost on me that that little "moment" was well orchestrated and timed to perfection, and not by me, them or anyone else.... Except for that unseen Hand that moves among us in such grace. He knew they would be there at that time, He knew that my class would let out shortly before, and "coincidentally" there were no callers on that radio program, so I went in earlier than I otherwise would have....

Again, you can say it's ALL a coincidence if you like. The way I look at it, I see the simple, gracious hand of Jesus, moving lives into position to softly say "I am here ... even in all your grief ... don't forget ... I live, and I love YOU." Lives, that for some amazing, unfathomable and merciful reason, He honors and blesses with His presence....

May His gracious Name be honored and blessed forever.

It would be so easy for me to simply let the moment pass, or just overlook it.... I could keep it all to myself, along with so many other daily little miracles such as this that I (and many others) experience as we listen to His leading voice urging us to walk with Him each day. Or I could sit down, write this out, and share it with you, so it's not just lost and never known.

That's what I just did. I hope you enjoyed reading it, and more than that, I hope Jesus whispered to YOUR heart "I am here ... even in all your grief ... in all your joys ... in all your days ... don't forget ... I live, and I love YOU."

In His love,



Thursday, January 3, 2008

Love to a Thousand Generations

First of all, HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope your holidays have been thoroughly filled with blessings, and that 2008 will bring peace, joy and hope...

I have a very simple word to share today. I was reading a scripture that blessed my heart, from the most unlikely place. I happened to be reading in Exodus 20, at the section where the "Ten Commandments" are first shared. As I got to verse 6, the words surprised me, and my heart rejoiced to see the amazing love and mercy of God, right smack in the middle of the "law".

Let me quote that whole "commandment", and then share the detail that seemed to jump off the page.

"You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments."
(Exodus 20: 4-6)

Did you catch that last part? We so often focus on the negative ... to the fact that God is so "hard" in our eyes, that He would punish children and grandchildren for sins that were committed by their parents or grandparents who "hate" Him. But how about the next sentence? He follows that up with His goodness to a THOUSAND GENERATIONS to those who love Him.

I can see how trouble comes to three or four generations when we walk in ways that are "against" the goodness of God. Yet it's pure mercy and grace that would pour out love to a THOUSAND GENERATIONS to those who love Him and keep His commandments. It shows the tender mercy of God to lavish love for so long ... in fact, hundreds of times as long as His judgment might endure.

Then I think "surely many of us love Him, but who truly is able to keep His commandments perfectly"?

Well ... Jesus did. And surely He is our "spiritual Father". Yes, we are blessed and loved immeasurably, as part of a thousand generations for sure. God is good. His love and mercy endure forever, and His mercy triumphs over His judgment.

May His mercy flow in and through you and "yours" in 2008, and for generations to come.

In His love,


The stories and entries in this Manna Blog are written by singer/songwriter Lisa Prokopowitz

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