Tuesday, January 27, 2015

An Important Announcement for our Subscribers

Thank you for following The Manorwood Cafe blog!  Some of you have followed us for many years!
We have great news for you! Our blog has been moved to a new website.  

We hope you will find our new location more user friendly and will choose to follow there as well!

Your subscription does not transfer to our new place--you will need to re-subscribe using
the "follow " button" on the right hand side of the page. 

Our new location is:  www.manorwoodcafe.wordpress.com

Again, thank you for following us-- see you over at our new page!

Friday, January 23, 2015

On The Edge

I was inspired to write this prayer/poem after a particularly busy day in the Emergency Department where I work. I was assigned to the “Assessment/Waiting Room Management area” which is most of those walking in, although many ambulance patients also end up here when there are no beds left in the acute care area, as was the case this past Sunday.  We had a great volume of patients, many of whom were complaining to me about the long wait times, apparently oblivious to the overwhelming numbers of ill people coming into the ER, and unaware that we had 5 nurses call out for this particular shift. Midway through this shift, the other nurse I was working with, had to leave and I was left alone to care for most of the walk-in’s and those reporting “chest pain” requiring timely intervention.  A Physician’s Assistant came in to help the doctor I was working with in this area, but that only doubled my workload as now twice as many patients were being seen in half the time, meaning twice as many patients required blood tests, throat cultures, medications, assessments, treatment, care and discharge instructions.

During the last hour of my shift, having not had a lunch break due to the volume of incoming, and painful feet having run around all of those hours, I found I had exhausted all of my reserves and was “running on empty”.  I responded to patient’s complaints in less than a Christ-like manner, and I felt the grief of that ever since. I wondered aloud, “ Lord Jesus, How did you handle all of the throngs of people making demands upon you? I took the time to pray before going in to work, but what about when I’m in the midst of chaos, demands and complaining? God bless the few who were patient, but the many that were not, were shooting arrows at my reserve tank, and I was draining quickly!”

 I do believe that the Lord gives us more than we can handle, contrary to that popular saying insisting otherwise. I believe He does so in order to bring us to the end of ourselves and to yield ourselves in greater measure to Him. I’ve often prayed that the Lord not give us more than we can safely handle in the ER, but these past few weeks demonstrated that sometimes the Lord is allowing more than what we can handle, so that we give Him more of ourselves. So this is the background and genesis of this prayer:

When I come to the end of myself
Let it be Jesus alone that they see
Not the struggling, desperate gasps
and outbursts of a drowning me.
While the fiery darts of the devil
Be launched in my weakest hour
Let Christ assert His presence, His
patience and His power.
I can do nothing in my own strength, my failures
Convince me that this is true
When I come to the end of myself,
Let me draw all of my strength from You.

Deborah Claypool

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Testimony of A Life

As many of you know,  my daughter and I just returned from a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. In preparation for the trip, we each needed to prepare our testimony. My daughter sent me the rough draft of hers about a month ago and the first sentence of her testimony has been on my mind ever since. She started by saying, "I feel like I am in the middle of my testimony."

That sentence continues to reverberate in my mind. I wonder, shouldn't we all be saying that about our testimony? Shouldn't we always be smack-dab in the middle of it?
The testimony of a life doesn't only involve the incident that made us decide to accept Jesus. It should be an on-going tale, with new chapters being added of what God is teaching us and how we are growing and changing. It should be a story of becoming more and more like Jesus. A story of him building character in us and pruning away anything not pleasing to Him.
I was reminded of the story of the little boy who fell out of bed. When his parents rushed in after hearing the thud and asked what had happened, he answered, "I guess I stayed too close to where I got in."
I have lived too many years not adding one sentence to my testimony. Years where I was trying to find meaning and contentment in the things of this world. Pursuing my own version of what the perfect life would feel like and look like. What I found was heartbreak and discontent. I never stopped loving Jesus during that time and I never stopped being a Christian. I was just foolish enough to stay "too close to where I got into" my faith. 
I'm so grateful that we serve a patient God. He knew I would eventually get it through my hard head that the only story of my life that I would be proud of is one where He is the main character, not me. I want my story to be His story.
How about you?
There is a new year ahead and for as many days as God gives us breath, let's decide to add new experiences with Jesus to our testimony. It really is a choice.
Philippians 3:12-14 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Inviting HIM in

As we head into a New Year, it’s important to think about how we want to be different this year.  I feel like God has been teaching me new things about how I interact with those HE puts in my path.  HE’s been teaching me to invite HIM into all of these interactions.  

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, my family and I were traveling and met relatives at a hotel for a few days.  We had a great time catching up, hanging out by the pool, shopping and going out for a delicious pre-Thanksgiving meal.   As our time came to an end on Thanksgiving Day, we checked out of the hotel and were about to go on our way until noticing that our hotel bill was over $100 more than it should have been.  We had had some issues with customer service while we were there and I was dreading this conversation. 
As I made my way back into the hotel, I prayed asking God to help me handle this in a way that would honor him.  I had been in this situation before and I wanted this time to be different. 

I made my way to the counter and spoke with one clerk who quickly took off a small portion that she recognized was a mistake.  Then, she called the supervisor to deal with the additional overcharge.  The supervisor said that she couldn’t change the amount and that I would have to speak to the manager who wasn’t coming in for another 3 hours.  I expressed that we were heading back home and couldn’t wait to speak with him; I also stated that I didn’t want to leave when I didn’t agree with the charges that were made to my card.  My husband and I asked questions and she did her best to answer them, but we weren’t getting any closer to a resolution.  We were getting more and more frustrated, but somehow kept our cool.  Then, all of a sudden, she said that she’d be able to adjust the charges.  We profusely thanked her and then she told me that this was her first Thanksgiving without her mother.  I told her I was sorry and would pray for her today.  She made her way around the counter and proceeded to give me a hug.  I then said, “Is it OK if I pray for you here and now?”, and she said yes.  There we stood at a busy Sheraton hotel front desk embracing in a hug while I prayed with her.    
She was grateful, and I was in shock that I just did something that was totally out of my comfort zone.  Somehow, I wasn’t worried about what others thought of me or how it looked.  Somehow, I was able to do what God had prompted me to do at the moment he prompted me to do it.  I didn’t argue with God as I had done so many times before.  Why was this time different?  Prayer.  I asked for help and HE gave me strength.   

I know this experience was not by chance:  God had planned this moment and had orchestrated these events.  I thought about how many times before I had failed miserably at extending grace to others.  In situations like these, I sometimes get mouthy and say things that I regret.  I only think about my life – my time, my money, etc.  I wonder how many opportunities I’ve missed because I’ve been focused on me.   
I pray that as a New Year begins, I will see more of HIM and less of me in my everyday life.  I pray that I will not miss opportunities to do things of eternal significance because I’m wrapped up in myself.  I pray that I will have more concern for others and where they are than worrying about my to-do list.  I pray that when HE gives me another opportunity, I won’t miss it.  I hope that I will remember how important prayer is in my everyday life.  HE wants to be invited into all of our interactions with others because it is only in HIS strength that we can do what HE calls us to do.

  “…clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” 
Colossians 3:12

Angela Sutsakhan



Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Purpose of Christmas.....

“Glory to God in the highest, 
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” --Luke 2:14

I took part in a short Bible study this year entitled The Purpose of Christmas, by Rick Warren.  It is a study which describes Christmas as a time for celebration, salvation, and reconciliation.  I was particularly ministered to as I studied the chapter on Christmas being a time for reconciliation.

Reconciliation is the restoration of a broken relationship.  It is peace on earth, good will toward men.  Rick Warren runs down the progression of peace this way:

We will not have peace in the world until we have peace in nations.      
We will never have peace in nations until we have peace in communities.
We will never have peace in our communities until there is peace in families.
We will never have peace in our families until there is peace in individuals.

And individuals will never have peace until they invite the Prince of Peace to
reign in their hearts, and Jesus is the Prince of Peace.
"Therefore, since we are justified (acquitted, declared righteous, and given a right standing with God) through faith, let us [grasp the fact that we] have [the peace of reconciliation to hold and to enjoy] peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One)."--  Romans 5:1 ( Amplified Bible).

Peace begins with us, the individuals who know the peace of Jesus and who are very aware of the transformation He has done in our own lives.  It’s not what we’ve done in us; it’s what He’s done in us.  

“For by grace you have been saved through faith.”-- Ephesians 2:8 (NIV).

I attended a wonderful Celebration of Life service recently.  I had never met the man who had died.  He was the brother of a co-worker.  There had obviously been a time in his life when he was involved in some events in the community that did not produce peace, but a lot of strife over a period of time.  It was important to hear that part of his story, but that was not the focus of the service.  The message of the service was who this man was after he came to Jesus and received His forgiveness and peace.  There was a picture in the program of him coming out of the water after his baptism with such joy on his face.  His pastor said he worshiped God on Sundays as if it were only he and God in the sanctuary.  It was said he always had a smile on his face and a song in his heart because of Jesus.  Oh how he loved Him!  Over and over his family members, young and old, talked about how they’d find him each day at the kitchen table with his Bible, a pad of paper, and a cup of coffee.  A few days after he died, one of his family members gave his life to the Lord.  Praise God!

I had to leave the service early, but just before I left one of the pastors asked if anyone in the sanctuary, who did not know Jesus, would like to stand, come forward, and receive Him. As I sat there knowing there were people there who had known him in his former life, I thought surely someone would stand.  And so they did.  When I left, two men were headed down to the altar, and I prayed for them as I walked to my car.  I thought about the celebration I’d just been to and the party that was going on in heaven!

"It makes no difference who you are or where you’re from—if you want God and are ready to do as he says, the door is open." -- Acts 10:35 (MSG)

God has given us the ministry and the message of reconciliation, which is helping others find peace with God and with each other.  We cannot do this without realizing the unconditional love we are given and the forgiveness we have and continue to receive each day.  Jesus has forgiven you, but have you forgiven yourself?  The truth is, unless you do, how can you share the gift of His grace?  Where is the strife in your life?  Can you work toward exchanging it for God’s peace as we begin a new year, so others will want what you have?

“God… reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation… And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation.  We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors."--  2 Corinthians 5:18-20 (NIV)

Let’s do it!

Donna Bowles

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Santa is Real

I have a sister who never let her son believe in Santa and who stopped celebrating Christmas a few years ago.  Her reason was related to the pagan origins of the winter solstice and her conviction that celebrating Christmas would upset God.  We had a few discussions on the subject via email, each one citing Scriptures and finally left it at: 

 One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it...  For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself… (Rom.14:5-7)

In my experience, Christmas was a time when it was acceptable to hear songs played overhead about Jesus.  Christmas carols were my hymns. Our experiences may be unique in the details, but carry a common human emotion. If I was a young thirsty soul for God, there were bound to be others who felt the same way. If there are others who are spiritually encouraged upon hearing Christmas songs about Jesus Christ, why would I want to do anything that removes the thought of Him, from the public square? Play on “Silent Night”, “Go Tell it on the Mountain” and “Angels We have Heard on High”!

Over the years, I came to appreciate Santa as I participated more in making Christmas happen for someone else, as well as for my own children.  Christmas offers abundant opportunity to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, God’s gift to us.  Every soul insulated from love is touched by the expression of love from others, even strangers, especially at Christmas.  My list of people to buy for has only grown over the years as my oldest married and is now the father of 5. Those additional little people and daughter-in-law added a bit more strain to the pocket book so I had decided before venturing out recently that I was not going to buy anything for my daughter’s boyfriend’s son whom I never met. This six year old boy had been one of the many who crossed the border this past year from El Salvador with his mother, who was never married to his father.

I convinced myself that I had enough people to buy gifts for, but the Lord placed in my heart the thought, “Why give anonymously to strangers if you are going to walk past this little boy knowing that he has needs? Whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? (1Jn.3:17)  When the Lord places such things in the heart, we don’t buckle under the burden, we are energized by the opportunity. We also know that the Lord is very intentional about His dealings with us, and so if He is leading, He has a reason to do so.

It doesn’t get very cold in El Salvador, so it seemed obvious he would need warm clothes. After purchasing a few winter outfits and toys, I included 2 bilingual books about Jesus. Christmas was such a lifeline to me, and it may be the same for this little boy who has left all of his friends behind and now lives in a country where another language is spoken. Setting politics aside, every soul matters to God and His word says much about caring for strangers and doing for the “least of these”. Santa is a friend to Jesus and makes it possible to give without leaving a sense of obligation to the recipient. Santa is simply the vessel through whom God gives to the world around us.  Santa simply means “saint”. Every Christian, according the Bible, is called a saint.  It is not a rank, but a title for all true believers. I can truly appreciate Santa for the good that he does in the name of Jesus Christ, inspired by the love and Spirit of God. Of course Santa is real! He’s been sharing the love of God for generations.

Deborah Claypool

Monday, December 15, 2014

Unhealthy Vines

Every year my family and I venture out to choose a Christmas tree to cut down and put in our house.  My husband has always gravitated to the largest trees. About 13 years ago, we built an addition to our house, which is larger than the original house, and my husband specifically designed our living room with cathedral ceilings solely for the purpose of accommodating a 12 foot Christmas tree.  I don’t know if that is normal or not, but he’ll tell everyone that’s the only reason we have cathedral ceilings.

Because our usual Christmas tree farm was closing, we all went to another Tree farm in the Hagerstown area where my son and his family live.  He came with us looking for a smaller tree for his home, while we were looking for a humongous tree to justify our cathedral ceilings.  We happened on this farm and were directed to where the “big trees” were.  We trudged up and down the snowy aisles of trees and were dismayed to see that every single tree was bound with vines. These vines caused the trees to have dead branches and grow awkwardly.  After an hour of walking around, it was evident that we were not going to find our tree there. We wondered how the owners could have allowed these trees to become so overrun by vines.
We reasoned that the younger trees were probably better cared for, so off we trudged to the other side of the farm to help my son look, only to be disappointed that these trees were also wrapped with vines and disfigured.  Even the baby trees were weighed down to the earth and entangled. As we were leaving without a tree, I commented to the owners “You know… all your trees have vines growing over them”.  One man responded “Oh yeah, I know.  We’ll cut them off for you when you bring it up here”. Then I added “But the vines are killing your trees!” I thought that might make an impact, since the trees are not much use if they are sickly and dying. I never gave it another thought until the Lord impressed upon me this morning how we can be like those trees.

When we have earthly vines weaved into the ever-green life we have in Christ, these vines bind us and eventually weigh us down. It is sometimes difficult to discern what these worldly entanglements are, since we are well accustomed to them, having been born into their lecherous grip.  I believe the Lord would have us realize that these vines are asphyxiating the spiritual life out of us. We are warned by the Holy Spirit speaking through PaulAll things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any… All things are lawful for me…not all things edify….(1Cor.6:12/10:23)
See then that you walk circumspectly…(Eph.5:15).  If we do not, the world has a way of attaching to us like one of those vines, hindering our growth and fellowship with our Father. Clearly there is much of the world infiltrating the church, but do we recognize whether we ourselves have worldly vines wrapping around us? The truth is, when we are born again, we are born into spiritual warfare. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life. (2 Tim. 2:4) The victory we have in Christ is dependent upon our separation from the world. Whatever thing of this world that exerts any power over us is a worldly vine.  

Do we indulge ourselves or deny ourselves? Do we yield to cravings or fast from them? The quickest way to determine if one is enslaved to something is to try to walk away from it.

Deborah J Claypool