Angels from Heaven

~~ Psalm 91:11-14 (NIV84) ~~  For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.  You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.  “Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.

by Carley Cooper

(Adapted from a post entitled “Angelsfrom Heaven”, that I wrote and originally published on December 20th, 2011 on my other site,  TinRoof Sundae)  - This article is the first in a series about angels. 
Photo by Carla Cooper
One of many Angels in my collection

All Copyrights Reserved
Angels.  We see them in all sorts of places.  Plus, they seem to come in all shapes and sizes; much like people.  I’ve seen pictures of them as tall and thin wearing long flowing white gowns.  Some are males and some are females; all with beautiful large wings.  Then there’s the chubby little ones with cheeks so cute that you just want to pinch them.  But we don’t ever really see them in the realm of our real world.  Or do we?  There are many people out there who have stories that cannot be explained any other way. 
God has assigned us angels that are with us all the time; kinda like body guards that stick with us for life.  The only difference is that they’re not about to clobber someone on our behalf like the body guards that we see in the movies.  They just protect us from getting hurt or killed before our time.  I think that God also send angels to us for special occasions.  A little bit like a special assignment case when we are about to get ourselves into some seriously big trouble that’s just too much for the regular guards to handle alone.  Or maybe it’s a case that calls for a special agent due to a situation that the regular guys just aren’t trained to handle.   
I also believe that God also uses people for some of these special assignment cases.  Why pull an angel away from somewhere else, or from Heaven; if He can just use one of the people that are already here?  Sometimes God can use other people in our lives to fill in as an angel in our lives when we need them the most.  You know those times when a friend gives you something, or unexpectedly does something for you, at exactly the moment you need it.  Have you ever said, or had someone say to you “Oh, you are an angel!  Thank you so much for this!”  Well, that’s it exactly.  They are an angel sent by God at that moment.  They may not realize it, but God has used them to be your angel.
For me, one of those people is the pastor at my church.  Pastor Henry has helped me in more ways than one person deserves from another.  Some days I really would feel lost without him.  A few weeks ago; before the holidays, I decided on a Christmas gift.  I really wanted to give him something special.  It was a collection of four small glass angel ornaments with touches of gold trim.  I thought it was very appropriate considering how I felt about our friendship; and all that he’s done for me.  The collection, was a beautiful set; but I looked at them and thought “it’s not enoughIt needs to be more personal.  Maybe I should buy something else.”  I thought about it for a while, and decided that I would write a poem to go with the angel collection; to tell him how much he helps me and how much I appreciate it. 

I've written a lot since I discovered my talent for writing words and my love of the craft.  However, I had never in my life attempted poetry.  I had absolutely no idea if I could do it at all.  I sat down one evening after dinner to write a poem for Pastor Henry.  For several hours, I dribbled many words and phrases onto my keyboard; but nothing that made sense.  I tried writing something funny, then something serious, something that rhymed, and something that didn’t.  After a lot of frustration; and even more laughter at what I was writing; I decided that poetry obviously was not my gift!  But it was still bothering me.  I needed to see this through to the end one way or the other, or it would make me crazy.  I don’t like leaving things unfinished.  So, I prayed about it, and suddenly the words started to come together and they made sense.  At about midnight, that night, I finished this poem.  Let me know what you think. 
Angels from Heaven
by Carley Cooper

A stranger willing to say a prayer,
or a puppy with lots of kisses to share.
A friend who loves enough to sit in silence,
and a pastor with an endless patience.
All are angels sent from Heaven,
to help those like me that’s for certain.

This fancy package that comes from my heart,
is especially for you with my thanks to impart.
Four little angels are contained within,
each a characteristic of our friendship akin.
Lectures, advice, and guidance you extend;
my angel, my pastor, my counsellor, my friend.

I had planned on going to the church office the next morning, a few days before Christmas, to fulfill my own little tradition of taking in the huge gift basket filled with lots of homemade Christmas treats to the staff.  I do this because I love all those in the church office so much for all the work that they do for the church, for Jesus and for me.  I figured it was the perfect time to deliver Pastor Henry’s Christmas gift. 

So, I delivered it right on schedule.  I walked into his office with a big smile and a very cheery “Merry Christmas!”  I gave him the gift and said that he could choose to wait and open it at Christmas, but I really was hoping to see his reaction.  I sat down.  He opened it.  He read it.  Then he said something like "Wow, that's nice.  Thanks".  

Hmmm!  It wasn't quite the response that I had hoped for.  I really had expected a little more enthusiasm.  So, I sat and looked at him for a few seconds, waiting for something more.   Then he responded with "I'm not going to look at you because if I do, I'll cry".  HA!  I knew it!  He was very touched by it; which made me very happy.

Oh, and just for backup I also gave him a batch of deviled eggs... one of his favorite treats!  My Grandmother told me “A way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”.  Granted, Nanny meant it in terms of finding a husband; but I figured that I could apply that theory to this situation as well; just in case the poem wasn’t a hit.   

The reason that angels come in all shapes and sizes like people, is because sometimes they are the people!

~~ Dear God ~~    Your works and Your ways are more than we could ever hope to comprehend.  Thank You for those that You put in our lives, in our paths; that help save us and guide us in Your direction.  Please use me to be someone’s angel so that I may help them in the same way that others have helped me.  In Jesus name, AMEN.

OK, So the Story Goes Like This...

~~ 1 Chronicles 16:8-12 (NIV1984) ~~  Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done.  Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.  Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.  Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.  Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced,

by Carley Cooper

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Have you ever stopped long enough to look around and pay attention to how often you see it happening?  People are doing it in books, in the movies, at parties, at the office, on blogs, in the newspaper, magazines, on Facebook, Twitter, on the bus.  Some might even venture to say that you even see it on “reality TV”.  Of course, that last one depends on one’s definition of “reality”, but that’s another topic for another blog.  What am I talking about?  I’m talking about people telling their own stories.  They are true stories; talking about what happened at some point in the past in their lives.

Have you ever wondered why?  That is, why do people want so much to talk about their own lives; to relive and share the past?  It’s gone, over, done!  The credits have rolled and you can’t go back and change any scenes.  So, why talk about it so much?  Wouldn’t just accepting it and moving on from here make more sense?  Well, there are a list of reasons, and I’m sure this list is just a fraction of the complete list of reasons.  First, some people just feel the need to express themselves; whether it be pain, happiness, or just the need to clobber someone.  Others just like to talk about their favorite subject; ME!  Eh, well, not me, Carley; you know; themselves.  Others hope to gain something from sharing their story; fame, fortune, sex, material items, and the list goes on. 

From a Christian perspective does the picture change?  Does it become a different story?  Is it a good thing for Christians to be telling our stories?  After all; boasting, gossip and the like are sins.  James 4:16 (NIV1984) tells us "As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil".  We certainly don’t want to intentionally do that.  We also know that once we truly surrender all to God and allow Him to shape us, mold our hearts to be like that of Jesus, and to help the fruit of the Holy Spirit become who we are; then some awesome things will start happening in our lives.  Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV1984) "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law."  Once your heart truly belongs to Jesus you will start to see some supernatural things happening in your life; and at a rate that you could never hope to write them all down or share every incident.  There will be just way too many.  Sometimes Christians are afraid to share their stories because of fear of judgement from others.  Other times, Christians are afraid to lay everything down at the foot of the cross.  Thoughts of fear fill their minds about not having any input or control over their own lives if God is in the driver’s seat.  I mean “what if He wants me to do stuff that I don’t want to do?”.  Well Worshiper’s; guess what?  That’s a given.  Even though you may not be able to see it now, He will insist on you stepping out of your comfort zone.  But, in the end you will be blessed and thankful for it. 

This kind of supernatural activity can only happen because of the sacrifice that Jesus made when He willingly died for us on the cross.  Once you let Him in to your heart and life, you are allowing Him to do His best miracles that He has in store for you.  Until then, you won’t see the miracles, blessings, or supernatural events.  The Word won’t be as clear in your mind.  2 Corinthians 3:16 (AMP) tells us “But whenever a person turns [in repentance] to the Lord, the veil is stripped off and taken away”. 

This event of Jesus dying for us is the single most amazing and wondrous thing that has ever happened in history; or ever will happen.  Nothing else even comes close.  For that matter, everything else combined still doesn’t come close.  The story of Jesus deserves to be told to every single person on earth.  God wants us to tell our stories because  it is evidence of His amazing love for us, and what He has done for us.  He wants our stories to be told and remembered.  Psalm 111:4 (ESV) says “He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and merciful.”.  It is our responsibility to tell our stories to others. 

So, is it scary sometimes?  Absolutely!  As a matter of fact we are even warned about who we share with.  Matthew 7:6 (NIV1984)Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs.  If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces".  I think “dogs” is a adjective to describe not only non-Christian’s, but also Christian’s who do not have a true relationship with Christ.  Those that don’t stop to pay attention, or have some fear of preventing them from allowing or believing in God’s miracles in our daily lives.  The best course of action, when in doubt, is to use your common sense and to listen very closely for God’s voice in your heart leading you.  We are meant to plant a seed.  If there can be any growing inside, it’s up to Jesus to do the watering.  We are not meant to stick around and put ourselves in a situation that could cause temptation, risk our salvation or our safety.

I have started writing a book about my life.  To be completely honest, it is very unnerving for me to be that open to the world; so that all is exposed.  Will I get judgement from others?  Absolutely.  I fully expect it.  It is also possible that there will be people that I love that will walk out of my life.  However, I know that He will be with me every step of the way.  Psalm23:4 (NIV84) says “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.”  My story shows how much God loves me.  He loves me enough to go through a lot of trouble to shape me and teach me.  He loves me enough to send His Son to die for me!  My story is just one small example that displays how awesome God can be for each one of us.  So I will tell it, and I won’t be ashamed.  Psalm119:46 (NIV1984) says “I will speak of your statutes before kings and will not be put to shame”.

Next time you hear someone telling their story, stop and listen... really listen for the true message.  There are as many different ways for you to tell your story as there are people that have stories to tell.  You could write book, a blog or a poem; make a video or go on TV, chat on social networking, make a photo journal, stand on the roof of the tallest building in town and shout, or simply alone with a friend who really needs to hear the lesson you have to teach.  How are you going to tell your story?  You really do have a story worth telling, and there are people waiting to hear it.

~~ Dear God ~~ Thank you the journey you have taken me on, and for giving me a story that shows Your awesome love and mercy.  Please help me tell my story in a way that will touch people’s hearts.  Open their eyes, ears and heart so that  they will see Your peace within me, say “I want what she has”.  Please protect me from the “dogs”, and surround me with people that will love me no matter what my story has to say.  In Jesus name, AMEN.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

~~ John 14:27 (NIV84)~~ Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

by Carley Cooper

Carley - Christmas 2011
Photo by M. Cooper
The new year is here Worshipers.  Have you made any resolutions?  Are you sticking to them?  Have you cheated on that diet, skipped a workout, or watched just one more episode of that TV show for old times’ sake?  I’ve been sticking to mine so far, but I’m pretty stubborn most of the time.  When I really set my mind to something I tend to hold on to it like a dog with a bone.  The fact that I made any resolutions is probably a step forward.  The only resolution I ever made before was that I would never make any resolutions!  I try to think of it more as ‘Goals’ instead of ‘Resolutions’.  It seems a little more solid somehow. 

Don’t you just hate it when you try so hard to hold on to something, only to get so weak because of the fight that you have no choice  but to let go; only to come to the realization “Wow, I really wish I didn’t hold on so long!”  Sometimes it’s even hard to remember why you were holding on so long in the first place.  It feels a little like someone told you that you’re wrong, or having to admit you were wrong.  Just based on that alone, I feel like I should hold on longer.  Now that Christmas is over that’s how I’ve been thinking... wishing that I hadn’t held on for so long.  If you read my last blog “Sliding on the Ice”, you’ll know that holidays are always very difficult for me; with Christmas being the worst.  It’s been almost two decades since I had a truly happy Christmas.  That is, until this year.  I was telling my doctor about this the other day.  He said “so what was different about this Christmas”.  Honestly, I had to say, “nothing”.  It was the same Christmas that my family has had every year since... well, always. 

Tigger Christmas-Tree
(The topper was accidentally cut off
in the shot... it was an angel Tigger)
Photo by Carley
We carted all our Christmas gifts and stockings to my brothers house.  After we piled them all around their Tigger Christmas-Tree, we practically filled up his living room.  Yea... the tree.  Well, my nephew, who’s 26 now (the baby of the family) has collected Tigger’s his whole life, so they decided to do a whole tree dedicated to Tigger and put all his little stuffed Tigger’s on the tree as the ornaments.  Well, except for a 6 foot inflatable one wearing a Santa hat, which had to sit outside the front door.  It’s a very happy tree actually.  I mean, have you ever seen a sad Tigger?  Anyway, I’m getting side tracked.  We have Christmas at my brother’s house because he has the biggest place.  His home can actually fit us all, along with all the stuff.  Well, I went to church on Christmas morning and had a wonderful time with my Church Family.  Then, I went to spend the rest of the day with my ‘other’ family at my brothers house.  By the time we got around to starting our gift-opening it was noon.  It’s a good thing we don’t have any little kids anymore... ‘cause it took us four hours to get them all open!  My first thought after it was done was “Wow, we really are in a society with way too much stuff”.  Anyway, we finally got around to eating my Mom’s Christmas Quiche for breakfast in the middle of the afternoon.  It was really yummy!  Then we finished off the feast with an awesome turkey dinner, a glass of wine, and way too many treats.  Also, really yummy!  I gained 10 lbs through December because of Christmas baking and Christmas eating (refer back to the resolutions section!)  The family spent the day laughing together, loving the family-time, listening to Christmas music, and watching a fake fireplace burning on my brothers big screen TV (which sits on top of the real fireplace).  Oh, yea, I almost forgot.  We also spent some time watching the 3 doggies learn to use their new little staircase that my dad built so they could get up on the bed by themselves!  Some Chihuahua’s are fast learners; others, not so much.  Anyway, I was on top of the world all day, and I couldn’t stop thinking about the fact that we were celebrating Jesus’ birthday.  I had a truly happy Christmas.

So why was this year so different, when the past 18 years were so overwhelmingly painful?  Well, in a “nut shell”, the difference was that this year I let God join me for Christmas.  The very slightly longer version is this... I prayed for God’s peace to be with me for Christmas; then, there was a very timely sermon about God’s peace by Pastor Jenn, and I topped it off with a talk with Pastor Henry about it.  All this helped me learn to be open to the idea of having a good Christmas.  I allowed my heart to be open to let the Holy Spirit do His work within me. Boy, that was a long time to learn that lesson!

But wait, my lesson wasn’t over yet!  In the lobby of my apartment building there is an awesome Nativity set as part of the seasonal decorations.  I have one of my own that I sit on top of my fireplace and it’s very charming, but I love looking at the one in the lobby because it really is an incredible scene.  It makes me feel good when I look at it and think about the awesome gift that God gave us in Jesus.  Sometime during Christmas week, following Christmas Day, some Grinch stole the baby Jesus figurine from our lobby Nativity set.  Since then, I’ve thought about that fact many times.  I think, it’s obvious that someone wanted to show some sort of symbolization that Jesus doesn’t belong to Christmas.  The only thing that I can get out of my brain about the idea of this Grinch attempting to steal Christmas is “sad”.  That is, it’s just so very sad that someone could steal the baby Jesus.  Over and over this kept running through my mind. 

Then, it hit me.  That’s exactly what I did to my own Christmas’ for such a long time.  I wouldn’t let go of the misery that I needed in order to keep the focus on myself instead of Jesus.  I stole my own happiness, and refused to let God give me His peace.  So who’s the bigger Grinch?  Now, I just have to think “Wow, I really wish I didn’t hold on so long!

~~ Dear God ~~    Thank You for the awesome Christmas celebration of Jesus’ birthday.  Thank You, also; for the gifts, family time, fun, food and laughter.  Mostly Thank You for the most incredible gift of all when You gave us Your Son so that we may be saved from ourselves.  Please don’t ever let me hold on to any more pain that will steal Your peace from my heart on any holiday; or any day of the year.  Father, please let the person who stole the baby Jesus figuring also be open to seeing and receiving Your peace.  Please make them an awesome servant for Jesus.  Oh, and Lord; Thank You also for Tiggers and Chihuahuas.  In Jesus name, AMEN.