A 7 week book club for two! Draw closer to a friend and to God this summer

Hi Friend!

Do you want this summer to include a fun way to strengthen your relationship with a friend/relative and with God? Do you have a friend or loved one who lives far away? How about a half hour each week chat on the phone after each reading the short chapter on a real life story about love and let the fast fun favorite questions start the laughter and next let the deeper end discussion questions allow for a deeper sharing of hearts.

In the 7 short chapter book Love.Always.Wins the fun fast favorite ice breakers include “What is your favorite comfort food?” to “How old were you when you had your first crush?”. Then, after reading a story from the author’s messy life, the discussion questions include looking up God’s answer in the Bible for answers to life’s many challenges.

A recent quote was sent to me by reader:

“Amber shares her own vulnerabilities as a Christian woman –not perfection– moving to love and forgiveness with God’s help. Her beautiful poems accentuate this Love. ” Sharon P.

Perhaps buy two books and suggest having “a book club for two” as a gift for a friend or mom/daughter. What could be a greater gift then spending time with a friend and learning together how much God loves you ………a love that will Never end ….a love that will Always Win!

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=amber+obrien+love.+always.+wins&crid=36D6AV6LKTO0C&sprefix=amber+Obrien+%2Cstripbooks%2C163&ref=nb_sb_ss_fb_1_13_ts-doa-p

St. Patricks Day: why we should celebrate it everyday


by Amber O’Brien


Top o’ the morin’ to ya!

Long ago this was a common greeting in Ireland meaning “the best part of the morning to you” and you my friend would say back to me, “And the rest of the day to you”.

I am an O’Brien, which on the Emerald Isle means “House or descendant of Brian”. (Brian Boru was the High King of Ireland until 1014) Since I now hold the Irish married last name of O’Brien, I am often asked how our family celebrates St. Patty’s day. While most people drink green beer and focus on the modern symbols of leprechauns, four leaf clovers and wearing a green piece of clothing so they won’t be pinched ; my thoughts have gone deeper to an awe-filled pondering, the more I learn about the amazing real -life hero of St. Patrick.

How did he do it? I wonder.

How did St. Patrick forgive the Irish pirates that enslaved him? At age 16 he was kidnapped from Britain and taken away far from his homeland and family to a wet and chilly island called Ireland and for six years was mistreated as a slave.

But this is the part that really blows my weak and unforgiving heart and mind……..after arriving home he studies to become a priest and then travels back to share the good news to the very place where he was enslaved.

Whoa Nelly…..hold back that unicorn jumping over a 7 colored rainbow and slowly and carefully Ponder with me what appears to be humanly impossible.

So St. Patrick not only forgives the people who enslaved him, he spends 20 years traveling the island of Ireland to share the truth of how Jesus came to set them free. For the Irish people of the 5th century this included being free from druidism and all kinds of paganistic practices. He was beaten during this time and robbed and put in prison and enslaved again for 60 days yet he keep helping those that continued to try to hurt him.

How do you think he was able to forgive and then spend his life shepherding these lost people who worshiped false gods and people?

“After I arrived in Ireland, I tended sheep every day and I prayed frequently during the day. More and more the Love of God increased, and my sense of awe before God. Faith grew, and my spirit was moved, so in one day I would pray up to one hundred times and at night perhaps the same.” St. Patrick’s Confessio

He states that before he was captured, “He knew not the true God” and I believe that those years of prayer including much confessions and sweet forgiveness. In fact, he begins his autobiography as, “My name is Patrick. I am a sinner.”

After six years of working as an enslaved shepherd and most of all six years of prayerfully waiting: God spoke to Patrick in a dream, saying, “You have fasted well. Very soon you will return to your native country. Then a later voice in a dream said, “Look—your ship is ready.”

He escaped and walked 200 miles to the Irish coast, boarded a ship and eventually home to his family.

God rescued him and brought him home! One would think that would be the end of the story. But God. But God and His love for the Irish people who were involved with all types of paganism and perversions.

Patrick knew the Joy and the gift of being spiritually and physically set free and he quotes this verse that so speaks to his experience in his autobiography.

“Call on me in the day of your distress, and I will set you free and you will glorify me.” Psalm 50:15

St. Patrick knew deep in his soul that he had been forgiven much and so he wanted to extend that love, as a shepherd seeks to protect and care for his sheep.

After Patrick’s escape from slavery and reunion with his loved ones; He decides to become a priest. This took 15 long years of study and preparation. It was not until Patrick was 40 years old that he traveled back to Ireland because of another dream.

He dreamed that he was given a letter from the Irish people and he heard their voices saying, ” We beg you, holy boy, to come and walk again among us”.

Guess who is believed to be the first Irishman that St.Patrick successfully shared about the One True God to?

Milchu, a high priest of druidism, who was Patrick’s former master. (Druids believed that there were many gods and worshiped nature. Ritual Sites were built all over Ireland as they literally worshiped the sun)

Imagine Milchu’s surprise to have a former slave of his come back and not only forgive him of his own personal sins, but share how All his sins could be forgiven. Patrick came back to share the truth that there is only One True God who has three names: the father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

( Did he use a three leaf clover to teach the trinity? or is this just tradition? either way He told them about the trinity and Patrick loved his former master and the Irish people so much that he came back and walked among them)

Patrick explains:

“His (God’s) gift was that I would spend my life, if I were worthy of it, to serving them in truth and with humility to the end.”

The ripple effect of Patrick’s forgiveness and mission is astonishing. What a beautiful ripple of Love: Patrick asks God for forgiveness and is set free of sin and forms a personal relationship with the good shepherd as he himself is shepherding. Then he forgives the people who kidnapped and enslaved him, and comes to tell them how to be set free of their own sins and come to know the One True God. Then Monks who came to know the one true God through the ministry of St. Patrick, lovingly write out the Bible by hand and preserve the precious Word of God. (Book of Kells) Then these monks left the Emerald Isle to share with other European countries about how to be set free. The ripple effect of love and forgiveness continues.

Patrick’s joy shines through as he writes:

I am greatly in debt to God. He gave me such great grace, that through me, many people should be born again to God and brought to full life”.

God Gives His Best to us and so we should want to Give God our best.

Just like the Irish greeting about wishing a friend the best part of the day.

Top O’ the mornin’ to ya!


For My Sisters Who Are Grieving this Christmas/ How to help Our Grieving Sisters

   My experienced friends warned me that certain days of the year could pull a bereaved person down into a quicksand-like spiral as the memory of the past rubs salt into the still-wounded present. Holidays and anniversaries magnify the loss of a loved one, each event having the potential to drag under the people left behind. As a new Christmas season approached, I hoped that during the second anniversary of my baby girl Megan’s birth and death, I would resist both fighting the pull of grief and trying to speed through this potentially heartbreaking time. For as a victim in quicksand soon learns, both thrashing around and trying to rush through it could result in more loss. Continuing to fight causes the quicksand victim to further sink, just as I could further sink into my grief and self pity. Panicking and trying to speed the process of escape causes the victim to sink faster, just as I could push myself further into the pit of despair by not taking my time to acknowledge and face my grieving.

The Key with both quicksand and with grief is to move slowly, take small steps, and be willing to let others pull you out.

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     Two years before, I gave birth to a premature baby girl on December 23. The most intense forty days of my life followed her emergency birth as my husband and I watched our baby girl go on and off a respirator and survive bowel surgery, only to watch her take her final breath in my arms. Megan weighed just 2 pounds 4 ounces, but she was perfectly formed, a true gift from God. As she struggled for her life, we struggled against two major snowstorms to bring her my breast milk. I felt so torn between visiting the hospital and caring for my other two daughters, Mary Jo and Katie, at home.

As Megan took her final breath, however, I felt God’s complete peace and an awareness of his sovereignty. She shared forty days with us on earth, the number the early church fathers held as “the necessary period of cleansing or testing and strengthening which allows the fullness of wisdom to become a reality.” According to the Bible, Jesus spent forty hours in the tomb between good Friday and Easter morning, as well as forty days in the desert while being tempted. Noah and his family spent forty days on the ark. Moses fasted for forty days before he received the Ten Commandments, and the Israelites wandered for forty years before entering the Promised Land. Megan completed her forty days on earth and was now free from pain, praising God in her own Promised Land – Heaven.

The name Megan means “will achieve might and strength,” and I knew in my innermost depths her life was complete at forty days. While most days I could trust in God’s perfect wisdom for my family and me, as a sensitive and shortsighted human I still felt the loss of a loved one. Grieving is a healthy and necessary process whose emotions and tears should not be buried or ignored. I spent the following year writing in my journal and creating a scrap/photo album to include the photos, cards, and letters sent to commemorate Megan’s short life. A room was dedicated to her at my home church and Mary Jo, Katie, and I made frequent stops to hang bulletin boards and set up supplies. A year and a half later, a baby boy named Jacob blessed our family (Jacob means “the supplanter”). The waves of grief diminished as time and understanding increased. I turned to Jesus and His Holy Word for comfort and I felt my own faith strengthen. At times, I relished in the thought that I had a child in Heaven, for is that not our ultimate goal as parents?

However, as Christmas and Megan’s second birthday approached, my fears of how I would handle the days increased. Christmas was centered on a baby boy who was miraculously born. The absence of a miracle for Megan would seem greater with one less stocking to fill. On the other hand, if I filled a stocking as some bereaved parents do, I have one less child to unpack all the goodies. The sore empty wound that I still carried (and will always carry in a lesser degree until I am reunited with my baby) seemed such a contrast to the cheery hustle and bustle of Christmas. What could I do instead of planning her birthday party? What could I buy instead of party favors, cake and ice cream? Would anyone but me remember Megan’s birthday?

     Christmas surrounded me with its cinnamon smells, jingle bells, glitter and gold tinsel. Could it have been only two years before, alone in my cold sterile hospital room that I spent Christmas morning? I was supposed to be six months pregnant, I thought. Instead, my little baby girl struggled for life in intensive care. My staples stung from the emergency cesarean, a physical reminder of the stinging feeling of sitting alone in a hospital bed trying to imagine the reactions of my girls as they opened their gifts at home. Two years later, especially during anniversary remembrances, the sore emptiness of loss was ever present and I feared I would sink into the quicksand of self-pity and depression. “Lord, I can’t let Megan’s birthday take away the peace and Joy of Christmas from my other children. Help.”

     The Sunday before Christmas, we stopped by Megan’s grave after church. Before I opened the car door, I spotted something lying on her tombstone. I burst into tears of joy as I realized someone had left a tiny Christmas tree in Megan’s memory. Little ornaments of angels, Mary and Joseph, adorned the little tree. Attached was a card inside a plastic bag. Who could have been so kind? Who remembered Megan? With trembling hands, I ripped open the bag. As I read the card, my questions melted into understanding. Of course –  It was from Irene and Rich, friends of ours who had lost their own baby a year before mine to SIDS. “Merry Christmas, Megan,” the card read.  “Keep an extra eye out on your Mommy and Daddy, Mary Jo, Katie and Jacob this Christmas. You are forever in their hearts.”  

     I felt God’s love through the gift of that tree. As I thought about how Rich and Irene were able to comfort me because of their own loss, an idea sprouted. Now I had a plan as to how I was going to celebrate Megan’s birthday. My excitement grew as I planned our birthday surprise, and I no longer felt the quicksand pull of self-pity. On December 23rd, I bundled up my children and stopped first at a florist shop and selected a colorful bouquet with roses.

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Next, we stopped at a local bookstore. I did not know the owners personally, but I had briefly met their preteen daughter before she died in a bicycling accident years before. She had watched my older daughter at church, and so five-year-old Mary Jo handed the father our bouquet. “What’s this?” he asked. I nodded to the picture of his daughter behind the cash register.  The words sputtered out and my eyes blinked back tears. “This is in memory of your daughter.”

     Later that night, as I pulled into our driveway, I noticed a white rose with a note attached lying in our path. I recognized my friend Terry’s handwriting, but the message felt straight from heaven.  “Mommy, Thank you for giving me a ‘birth’ day.  Love, Megan.”

     Tears of gratitude and release flowed. Like a balm for my wound, the tears flowed as I again felt God’s love and understanding through a friend. More ideas began to spring up as if my tears provided the moisture necessary for germination. Many neighbors, relatives and  friends were approaching quicksand pools of their own, and I hoped to help pull some of them out. The strongest pull is love, I will tell them, and the only escape from a pool of quicksand is to receive God’s love and then to love-pull a friend out of their own.

Do Not be afraid on Election Day

Greetings my special sweet sisters and brothers 🤗

You have all been on my heart as I know that these times are especially stressful… and esp. election day today.  It’s times like this that we need to stay focused on Jesus and not be sucked down by all the negative noise around us. 


Remember the assignment to find a verse to focus on… to counteract the negative reel  in our heads? I thought about it and I felt like lately my struggle has been with a lack of trust in God To protect my immediate family and beyond.

So I found these two verses to encourage me and I hope they will do the same for you:

Isaiah 44 :2  Do not be afraid (your name) my servant (Your name) whom I have chosen. For  I will pour water on the thirsty land and streams on the dry ground. I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring and my blessing on your descendants. ( blessing!!!) 

Wow! Not only does he promise to protect us as in Psalm 91 but he also promises to bless you and your descendants. 

I also am meditating on this verse as well: For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord plans to prosper you plans to give you hope and a future. ( Prosper!!!!) Jeremiah 29:11 
So remember sweet sister that God has good plans for you and your household….. and since we live in USA…. I believe for our country as well. 

You are His chosen daughter and He takes care of His own.(DO not fear, for I have redeemed you, I have summoned you by name; you are mine. Isaiah 43:1) 


So our job for today is to :

  1. Praise and thank him for what He has done and is doing and will do in our lives and in our country. 
  2. To humble ourselves and ask God to forgive us for our sins and our country sins. 
  3. To pray for God‘s will to be done and for his peace to cover our land.
  4. Pray that God’s love would flow out of us to all those we meet today. 💦💕May we point others to Jesus who is the “Prince of Peace”. This is the day the Lord has made let us rejoice and be glad in it! 
  5. Keep repeating these 3 when an anxious thought comes : God  is good. God is love . God is in control. His  Amber 

Love Kit

Dear Sweet Sister:

A Love kit consists of special verses created for a precious brother or sister to savor. What better gift to give a struggling or grieving sister or brother ? Or perhaps to celebrate a sister or brother during a joyful time? You can place these on index cards and attach the objects and place in a pretty bag. Perhaps place on sticks and put these in a flower pot or perhaps in a fresh baked pie as my video on the @sistersneedeachother facebook displays. Have fun! let me know of any verses and objects you add. You will be refreshed and blessed as you put a Love kit together.

Love kit

I lift up my eyes to the mountain. Where does my help come from? My help come from the Lord, the Maker of Heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip-He who watches over you will not slumber; Indeed, He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. Psalm 121-1. (wiggly eyes)

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Luke 12:6-7 (two pennies or yarn for hair)

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 1 Peter 5:10. (glue sick)

For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, “Do not fear; Will Help You”.   Isaiah 41:13. ( life-savor candy )

Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, you whom I have upheld since your birth, and have carried since you were born. Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you and I will rescue you. Isaiah 46:4. ( gray yarn)

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Luke 12:6-7 (two pennies or yarn for hair)

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3 12-14  ( band aid)

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. John 3: 16-17 ( a candy mint or peppermint life-savor- you are worth a mint)

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:8.    ( a magnet- plastic letter magnet)

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. For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. Romans 8:28-29. ( rubberband- be flexible while you wait)

He will cover you with His feathers; Under His wings you will find refuge;His faithfulness is a shield and rampart. Because you have made the LORD your dwelling—My refuge, the Most High—No evil will befall you,No plague will approach your tent. For He will command His angels concerning youTo guard you in all your ways. Psalm 91:1  ( feather)

How to Rise Above the Winter Blahs by Amber O’Brien

Feeling a little blah? The secret to rising out of the winter-blah pit can be found in the fabulous peacock feather.

On one end of a peacock feather is a bare, white stick but the other end displays the delicate, stunning plumage of greens, blues and purples which the male peacock so proudly displays to attract a partner.

So, I have a very important question for you my sweet sister: How do you balance a peacock feather with one hand?

While at a recent business convention, a motivational juggler used peacock feathers as an object lesson and so I brought the beautiful feathers back and added a spiritual twist for the local sweet sister group.

First, we were told to look at the ugly white point and balance the feather in the palm of one of our hands. As the audience tried to balance the tall feather and looked down at the stark, ugly end, the feathers kept falling as did our attitudes.

But………. when we looked upward at the top of the gorgeous peacock feather, then balancing became so much easier and our smiles turned upward as well.

Soon laughter and joy could be heard throughout the room, as we soon learned that we could toss upward the feather from one hand to the other, if we just kept our eyes on the top of the fabulous feather.

The spiritual secret of the Peacock feather is also found in the book of Philippians. Paul is under house arrest after experiencing so many hardships within the church community and outside as well. He tells his brothers and sisters to Rejoice ! and then gives his secret for not being sucked under into despair:

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal toward the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians Ch. 3:13-14

then Paul encourages his readers to focus on whatever is: “true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. ” Phillipians 4:8-9

Who is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable? only the Great I Am – the one and only God who sits on His mighty throne.

So what or Who are you focusing on today?

Perhaps you are frozen and stuck looking back over past mistakes and regrets? Or the let down after the excitement of Christmas and New Year has you a little down? I recently heard from a sweet sister who shared she wasn’t excited about her birthday. Is the passage of time getting you down? Or like me when I was younger, is the rise and fall of monthly female hormones causing you to see only the negative? (My poor dear husband) or perhaps you are living with fear over the choices of a child or the medical failings of a loved one? God hears your heart cries and He does not want you, his precious daughter, living in the pit of fear, or shame or despair.

No matter the reason you are stuck in the weeds, there .is. a. way. out.

Focus on the character of God and the hope and promise we have in the days to come. In Philippians we read that : God will provide us the strength for whatever situation we may face.

1. “I can do All things through Christ who gives me strength”

phil 4:13

and then we are promised that God will provide just what we need:

2. “God will supply All of our needs according to the riches of His Glory in Christ Jesus. “

Phil. 4;19

While you are waiting to see how God will work this all out for good (Romans 8:28) , take out a pen and write out the beauty of God’s character. What adjectives describe God? Every morning I write out a word or more during my adoration time during my date with Jesus. I’ll start you off : God is so: faithful, forgiving, generous, good, powerful, loving, caring, In Control, merciful, kind, Just, Great, etc………..

Now: Write out 10 good things about yourself. Or 10 good things about the person you are frustrated with. (During those hormonal days I would write out 10 good things about me, my husband and my life.) Or how about 10 ways that God has been faithful in the past.

By the time you have reached number 10, I guarantee you will feel light as a feather with a renewed perception.

So back to my original question: How do you balance a peacock feather with one hand? or really, “How can you stay balanced with all the strife going on around you? “

  • Keep your Eyes upward and forward at the beauty and truth that exists only in our Lord and Savior.
  • Then record this beauty and truth with a pen.

Recording God’s love and continued care with a pen will raise you out of the pit of lost perception and soon the winter Blah’s will become full of springtime hope and victory.

What are 10 adjectives that describe God (Jesus)?

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On the third day, a Wedding took place in Cana. John 2:1

The best things in life need to be savored. Like a a fine dinner that one needs to chew slowly to truly appreciate the Chef’s choice of various spices and unique fresh vegetables meant to dance on the taste buds. In fact, one should ideally first relish the presentation of the meal with ones eyes before even beginning to eat. Imagine your favorite gourmet dessert and how it is best to slow down and then close ones eyes and linger over every bite so one can appreciate the sea salt that has been sprinkled in or the nuts that add just the right crunch.

Recently, the sweet sisters have been slowing down to savor the Gospel of John. Instead of watching a video or reading about another sisters take on a portion of scripture we are feasting on this finest of foods for ourselves.

We started with the story that begins Jesus’ ministry, when he changed ordinary water into the best wine and his disciples saw the glory of God and believed.

Gathered in a circle in my family room, we held our Gospel of John booklets and started reading the first 12 verses in chapter 2 and then I said, Let’s read it slowly through again. And then we started for a third time and carefully chewed on each verse and started to ask observational questions.

We carefully asked the observations questions for the inductive OICA study which includes: Observation, Interpretation, Correlation and application.

Observation: Who, What, Where, when, why and How.

Who: Jesus, his mother Mary, his first disciples, a bride and bridegroom, the servants, the master of the banquet Where: the town of Cana, just north of Nazareth (where Jesus was raised) When: on the third day.

but when the question of “why? needed an answer:

We. were. stumped.

We kept coming back to why did Jesus’ first miracle/ sign happened on “the third Day”. What is the significance? Why would this be significant to the first disciples who were guests at the wedding?

And then it happened. Sweet Sister Marni flipped to Genesis Chapter One and read to us what God did on the third day.

And God Said, “Let the waters under the earth be gathered into one place,and let dry land appear,” and it was so. Genesis 1: 9

On the third day, God (the Creator God) transformed water into dry land. And then “God saw that it was good”.

What an “Ah Ha !” Moment for us.

Only God could change water into dry land.

Only God could change water into wine.

What is God telling us through this first miracle/sign of Jesus’ ministry on earth?

Jesus IS God.

Jesus was there at Creation as God refers to himself as “US”

“Let US make God in OUR image, in OUR Likeness” Genesis 1:26

and as John continually declares in his prologue,

“ In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word WAS God. John 1:1

And Oh sweet sisters, as I have delved deeper into this Special 3rd day of creation, I have discovered that God also created all the vegetation, and plants and trees that bear fruit and seed. Of course when I read about fruit and seeds, I thought of God’s sweet echo in the story of Cana of the wine that is made from grapes.

Grapes! Sweet grapes that were crushed to create wine.

Can’t you just see the gears turning in the heads of the disciples (present and future) when they see and taste that it is “the best wine” and they are reminded of how God on the third day “saw that it was good.” ?

Do you believe that Jesus is God?

What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which He revealed His. Glory, and his disciples believed in Him.

(John. 2:11)

Who Will Fill the Hole?

By Amber O’Brien    

I should have used my big girl voice

I should have said, “Will you please fill the hole?” as the family

Packed up their plastic toys and shovels.

For I knew what they did not; for  

A hole left open can lead to heartache.

Years before a woman on a nearby shore stumbled in the dark

And she fell into a neglected hole;

She couldn’t climb out and she soon fell asleep.

Early the next morning a sand -cleaning machine

 Pushed the sand over her and

She. Was. Buried. Alive.

The reporter urged the viewers “to please fill in the holes”

After scooping sand and sculpting sandcastles.

But, there are some gaps we cannot fill up

On. Our. Own.

I thought of my own regrets:

As a mother. As a friend.

A sister, daughter, wife

Would my regrets ever end?

So many pits, so many pangs of regret

How many people have fallen into the holes that I’ve continually dug

With clenched fists of selfish pride and fear?

 Or on the other hand,

How many people have hurt me and bore huge holes in my own heart?

 But I worsened my wounds with unforgiveness and

 Allowed the gaping holes to fester from self-pity.

 This huge hole left in the sand in front of me

represented all my failures and  

I sat anxiously in my beach chair pondering what to do.

I didn’t have a shovel,

Or the strength…………… for I now finally comprehended that

All these holes together form a Grand Canyon sized chasm that separates

me from holy heaven.

Who will fill the hole?

Downhearted and distressed,

I grievously sat gazing at the ginormous gulf

Paralyzed with despair.

Who Can fill the hole?

Then a lifeguard

Wearing a blood-red tank top

With a white cross sealed across his chest

Climbed down from his high white stand,

Kneeled in the sand and

With his open bare hands,

He gently and carefully pushed the sand from the rough edges

And Filled. In. The. Hole.

Above all, Love each other deeply, because Love covers a multitude of sins.

I Peter 4:8

Love Drives out the Hamsters: How to find Peace when faced with a Storm.

Superstorm Sandy swirls around our home and I ponder the fear and anxiety that so many people must be feeling right now. The year is 2012 and Hurricane Sandy is predicted to be the largest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic and as I type she blows through the densely populated east coast threatening nearly 60 million people. I say prayers for our home and for all those who may be in Storm Sandy’s path and then I keep typing. We have hunkered down our home and now we much wait. When one is grieving or afraid or worried the advice I remember author and missionary Elizabeth Elliott giving is to:

“Just do the next thing.”

Elizabeth Elliott

So I keep typing.

Some people deal with severe anxiety all the time. Like my friend Lucy. She shared with me over Mexican food,

“Sometimes I feel there are hamsters running around in my brain” and then she leaned in and whispered , “and lately the hamsters are having a party”.

I smile because even though Lucy deals with ADHD and other learning challenges she has kept her sense of humor. She also has a childlike wisdom. “Ms. Amber, could you write down something I can look at when I am worried?”

So after finishing lunch, I bring Lucy back to my office where I grab a big black marker and a piece of white clean paper and Alice intently watches as I write out the Word of God. She tries to tell me what to write and what she wants to hear but I insist that I cannot make this up but to truly bring peace the words need to be from the book that points always to the “Prince of Peace”. So I write out:

#1– Cast your cares on God, for He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)

Just as Peter cast the net out as a fisherman, we need to throw out to God our cares and concerns. Write them down or symbolically open your hands and ask Him to take control and take over your concerns.

#2- There is No FEAR in LOVE, but perfect LOVE casts out Fear. ( 1 Jn. 4:18)

What can help push out our fears and anxieties? Love.

Who is Love? The. Prince. Of. Peace. Jesus.

Lucy, I urge, “If you invite the Prince of Peace into your troubled heart, there will be no room for all your hamsters”.

What about your hamsters? What is running around in your head? Are they having a hamster party? Each day we have new hamsters (anxieties) running around in our heads. So each day we need to sit in quiet and invite God’s perfect Love and truth to drive out those pesky little rodents. We need to write out our cares and cast them out to God. Then we should thank Him for all the storms He as already carried us through.

This is how I concluded my piece seven years ago, “Our electricity is out and as I type the laptop uses up its last juice. Night falls and I will listen in bed as my home creeks under the constant rain and the howling winds rips through the trees. Tomorrow we will pick up the debris and check to see if we have permanent damage from flooding.

I will rest in God’s Love for I have God’s peace in my heart.

Below is a poem dedicated to all my sisters who are facing storms….literal storms and emotional ones as well. Keep your eyes on the King of Heaven who is on His Throne.

No Storm is Greater Than I

by Amber O’Brien

You’re sitting in a rain cloud

Don’t know which way to go

You’re dreaming of your future

and Hoping for a rainbow

But the winds are ripping faster

Your life’s falling apart

Your can’t see through a rain-cloud

But God can see you heart

Chorus:

Child jump aboard my hands

Above the Storm we’ll Fly

Let Abba’s Love enfold you

Daddy’s hands will hold you

No Storm is Greater than I

I know you heart is heavy

I feel your every pain

while I catch each precious tear

On my throne I remain

Chorus:

Child jump aboard my hands

Above the storm we’ll fly

Let Abba’s Love enfold you

Daddy’s hands will hold you

No Storm is greater than I