Wednesday, October 16, 2013

WHEN THE MIRACLE ISN'T WHAT YOU EXPECT--by Rachel Phifer



I was looking for a miracle. I’ll admit that miraculous answers to prayer in my life have been few and far between, but I’ve had them, and a miracle was most definitely what I needed now. My family had erupted into a volatile mess. Our finances were dwindling and my health wasn’t that great either. I prayed, oh I prayed for that miracle. 

In the meantime, inspired by Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts, I started a notebook of gratitude. At first, it seemed laughable. Give thanks? I couldn’t even breathe.

But as I took my daily walks, I began to wake to things that had slipped by unnoticed in my focus on my many pressing problems. The way the massive oak tree on the creek slimmed into a silhouette at dusk. The mother egret guarding her chicks with her wings. The smell of baking apples coming from a neighbor’s house. Gentle sunshine warming me into a sense of well-being. My walks began to seem full of little gifts from the hand of God.

For months prayer had been impossible. You know how Charlie Brown’s teacher speaks: “Wah, wah, woh, wah, wah.” That’s what reading the Bible had become for me. There was just too much static in my head to make sense of God’s words. But I began to make a scrapbook of my favorite scriptures and illustrate them with pictures I found on Google Images. Somehow, cutting, pasting and illustrating the lines of comfort and promise made them speak again. I interspersed the lines of scripture with poetry, quotes and snippets from my book of gratitude. That scrapbook kept me going.  

There were no lightning strikes. My prayers didn’t bring healing to my family or financial situation.  It became increasingly clear that there would be no miracle on a silver platter. But as time went by, I began to hear again, see again, feel again. I could pray again. Here and there, I felt good again because 

I knew God was beside me, faithful in the midst of chaos.
Hearing of miracles from men and women who have fed orphans and smuggled Bibles and overcome drug habits builds my faith to no end. But I’ve experienced the daily miracles of fallen leaves the color of wine, restoring psalms and long lunch dates with my sister. Whatever life is, it is sacred.
 
About the author and her debut novel  
The Language of Sparrows:


Brilliant and fluent in too many languages to count, 15-year-old Sierra Wright can't seem to communicate what is important to her in any language. 

Though April Wright stubbornly keeps an upbeat attitude about her daughter's future, she has let her own dreams slip away. Just across the bridge lives old Luca, scarred from his time in a Romanian gulag years before. Though he has seemingly given up on people, Sierra is drawn to him despite his prickly edges.

No one else is comfortable with the unpredictable old man spending time alone with Sierra, not even Luca's son. Yet it is this unconventional relationship that will bring two families together to form friendships and unearth their family stories, stories that just might give them all the courage to soar on wings toward a new future.

Bio:
As the daughter of missionaries, Rachel Phifer grew up in Malawi, South Africa and Kenya, and managed to attend eleven schools by the time she graduated from high school. Books, empty notebooks and cool pens were her most reliable friends as she moved from one place to another. She holds a B.A. in English and psychology, and lives in Houston with her family.



 



5 comments:

Heather Day Gilbert said...

Loved the book, and part of why it resonated with me was that it asked those hard questions. We all go through horrible valleys in our Christian walks. I will say that the Ann Voskamp book helped me look upward a bit more during my own...I loved her phrase "thanksgiving always precedes the miracle." And sometimes, that miracle looks NOTHING like what we've expected and planned (sudden financial stability, etc). I always enjoy your posts, Rachel. Will share.

Rachel said...

Heather, I'm so glad you enjoyed the book. And you're right, no one gets through life without walking through a few valleys. I suppose that's why I write: to find the hope in our walk through that valley.

Joyce Bell said...

Rachel, wish I was near by, so I could give you a hug. I, on the other hand, have a loving husband, good family life, ok financially, but in spite of all that good stuff, problems still beset me. I'm constantly looking for encouragement. Just read Philip Yancey's THE QUESTION THAT NEVER GOES AWAY. Your blogs always speak to me. I look forward to every one. Thanks for reminding us that, even when things aren't so good, there's still plenty to be thankful for.

Rachel said...

Thanks, Joyce! Your encouragement means the world to me.

Rebecca Middleton said...

Rachel, you are a source of constant encouragement to me...and pride, too, in having such a genuine, loving, and creative daughter!