Jessica Learns God Empowers Women During Study Group

Thank you for visiting my blog and reading my stories.

In this story we return to The Harbor Coffee Shop and Jessica’s story continues. If you haven’t read the first story about Jessica, I would suggest reading that one- Jessica’s Encounter at The Harbor Coffee Shop.

Also there is a first story involving Billy’s Study Group.

Jessica Learns God Empowers Women During Study Group by Matthew Kohrell

Tuesday afternoon and time for Billy’s study group to meet at The Harbor. His students were making a lot of progress and were close to finishing their GEDs or had finished them which meant talk was beginning to focus on what they wanted to study in college. Jose had grown a lot and had overcome his low-self worth due to the bullying he endured. Pah’s confidence level had risen considerably to the point that he did not think of himself solely as a refugee but now began to see himself as God’s child with a future. Justine came in beaming because she had already started the process of getting enrolled in Nursing College after getting her GED. As a teacher Billy was in tune with his students and felt good about how Jose, Pah and Justine were doing and feeling, but he was concerned about Jessica. Something was up with Jessica that he couldn’t quite put his finger on, but he instinctively knew not to pressure her or it might shut her down. Jessica had thrived in her new environment, but the past still haunted her and dragged her down.

They all got their favorite coffee drinks and sat down to start group. To break the ice, Billy threw out a question, “So what do you see yourselves doing in five years? It’s good to have goals.”

Justine jumped in barely able to contain her joy, “I will be starting Nursing School next term. My hope is to be working in a hospital hopefully in pediatrics.”

Pah shared, “I talked with an adviser at the community college about the computer department. I hope to start there and then transfer to the university.”

Jose was smiling widely, “Well, I have seen how much difference a teacher can make thanks to you helping us Billy. I plan to start at the university in the fall and I want to be an education major. Hopefully in five years I will be in my first year as a high school teacher.”

Jessica was having one of those days that she wished she could just curl up and hide. Occasionally the thought that she was freed from her past was more head knowledge that hadn’t sunk in yet and feelings of despair would come over her and today was just one of those days. She just wanted to sit quietly and secretly wished she could just disappear into one of the big chairs on the other side of the coffee shop.

Billy noticed Jessica was having an off day, “Hey kiddo you don’t have to share. It’s okay we can get started on today’s lesson.”

Jessica reminded herself of a bible verse she loved that she could do all things through Christ who gives us strength and spoke up, “It’s okay Billy. I have a few things on my mind. I have a dream but am not sure if it can happen. My dream is to one day be used by God to reach hurting people. I am not sure how it can happen and the other day a man at church told me that maybe I can’t because…..”

A voice from the table next to them interrupted Jessica before she could finish her sentence, “Remember Jessica that you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.”

They all turned to see who the woman was that broke into their conversation. Jessica realized the woman had just spoken the bible verse that she had reminded herself of a few minutes before. “Who are you? What message do you have for me?” Jessica asked while also recalling her encounter with Mary Magdalene.

The woman came and sat at their table, “My name is Deborah. You can call me Deb if you like and Jessica we need to chat.”

Jessica took a drink of her caramel frappe knowing this was another appointment sent by God and mustered the courage to ask, “What do you want to tell me? We can talk here in front of my friends.”

“Very well,” Deb replied, “Jessica I know about your conversation with Mary Magdalene and how that impacted you and your life. I know that you have experienced many positive changes in your life since then, but another thing I am aware of is that you feel inadequate, am I right?”

Jessica held back the tear that was about to trickle out, “Yes, uhm. You are correct.”

“Well my friend, I am here to talk with you about that. As a woman I understand the feeling of self doubt in a world of men but I know something else too. I experienced first hand how God empowers women and works through women.” Deb encouraged her.

“How did you experience that?” Jessica meekly asked.

“I realize the Old Testament isn’t as popular to read as the New Testament but there are treasures in the Old too. Try reading the Book of Judges chapters 4 and 5 and you will see something you would not have thought possible. God raised me up to guide the people of Israel and we ended up having peace for forty years after that.” Deborah explained.

Jessica looked up Judges 4 and 5 on her bible app and read them. Then she looked up at Deborah, “Wow, so at a time only men were supposed to lead, God worked through you.”

Deborah continued, “Yes, he did work through me, but throughout the history of God’s people whether Israel or the church there have been countless women God has worked through. Think of Mary Magdalene who you met. Jesus delivered her from being an outcast and empowered her even making her the first witness of his resurrection. Jessica I know you have been through ordeals most people cannot fathom, but God is greater than your past. He not only can but will give you the strength to rise up to serve him by reaching out to hurting people.”

Jessica couldn’t hold back, “But I still remember what happened to me. I feel like I have scars. I think I can reach hurting people but I don’t know how with all of scars I have on the inside.”

Deborah took Jessica’s hand to reassure her and looked her in the eyes, “Dear one, someone else has scars and his scars are there to heal your wounds. You know who and what I am talking about.”

“Jesus has scars from when he was crucified, Is that what you are talking about?” Jessica asked.

“Exactly,” Deborah confirmed, “and it is by his wounds we are healed, spiritually, psychologically,  and emotionally. He frees people from oppression, darkness and traps in life to live for and with him and then to share him. Jessica God has freed you. You are free. God is with you. If God is for and with you, who can stand against you?”

“I guess no one when you put it that way. It is hard to remember being my size.” Jessica responded.

“Your size is not the issue. It is God’s size that is the issue. How big is God?” Deborah challenged her.

“Oh yeah, well God is, well, eternal.” Jessica smiled as she answered.

Deborah confirmed, “Yes, he is eternal and has all power. He will guide you step by step Jessica. First step is finish your GED. The second step he will show you soon. As for me, it is time to go back. Goodbye my dear one.” Deborah left the table and was gone.

The group sat there dazed for a few minutes until Billy spoke up with that sparkle in his eyes, “See kiddos, just as I always tell you.”

The group looked at each other rolling their eyes a bit and went back to studying.

Thanks for reading. Please let me know your reactions or thoughts by leaving a comment.

God Bless

 

Rooms- A Personal Story from me on my other blog Jesusluvsall.wordpress.com

In thinking about rooms in my life and what rooms mean, I wonder what rooms come to mind for my readers. When I think of rooms, to be honest, some rooms evoke pleasant wonderful memories, but some rooms I would prefer to forget and leave millions of miles behind me even though they are etched […]

via Rooms — Jesusluvsall’s Blog

Witnesses of The Passion Week of Jesus- A Grieving Single Mom Meets Mary The Mother of Jesus.

Mary has been an example of faith to me for a long time. I think her story can resonate with many people whatever their church affiliation is. I admire her courage to say yes to God’s plan and her devotion to our Savior Jesus.

Grieving Single Mom Meets Mary The Mother of Jesus by Matthew Kohrell

“Grieving is a process that differs for each person, so there is no one way to grieve that is the right way. You will find your way through the process.” Marlys tried to find reassurance in those words as she left her grieving support group, but she wondered if anyone could really understand the depths of her loss. She was weary of cliches she was hearing from acquaintances at church, people she only knew in passing. Emptiness was her constant companion and it was relentless in causing her agony. Still after group, for some reason she thought it might be helpful to stop for a caramel frappe at The Harbor, so she drove over after her support group.

Cindy and Jessica knew Marlys from church, so when they saw Marlys approach the door they looked at each other and nodded the mutually understood need. Jessica went to the backroom to pray while Cindy chatted with Marlys as she took her order.

“Marlys it is good to see you here,” Cindy sought to reassure her friend.

Marlys mustered a slight smile, “It is good to be here Cindy, How are you?”

Cindy didn’t want to press too hard, “I am good. I am glad you are here. Do you want your usual?”

Marlys nodded yes and then stepped back to wait for her frappe.

Cindy finished the frappe, turned around and handed it to Marlys, “Here you go sweetie.”

Marlys managed to whisper a simple thanks and went to sit down by the window. It seemed safer to just sit alone and stare out a window looking at many things but actually not focusing on anything at all. She was lost in her thoughts and memories of her late husband Dan and her son Joshua. Dan had died of cancer several years ago. She had moved on with her life as a single mom of two, her son Joshua and her daughter Anna. It is one thing to lose a spouse. Losing a child is a pain too terribly deep to handle at times especially for a mom. She could still vividly remember the night when her Joshua was born and holding him in her arms for the first time. She treasured the memories of his first steps, his first words, when he learned to ride a bike, his first day of school, graduating high school. He was just about to begin college when that drunk driver hit Joshua while he was riding his bicycle to work a few months ago. Marlys was deep in in her mind oblivious to all around her when there was a gentle voice trying to get her attention.

“May I join you Marlys?” the kind voice asked.

Marlys turned to see the woman. The woman had kind eyes and a gentle spirit about her. Marlys nodded yes as she looked down a bit.

The woman looked into Marlys’s sunken hollow eyes. Marlys’s spirit was broken and it showed through her eyes. “Marlys I know you just came from the support group. I am here to chat with you if that is okay.” The woman explained.

Marlys was confused, “How do you know I was at the group? How do you know my name? Who are you?” Marlys asked not in a demanding way but more from a sort of dazed curiosity.

“I know you were at the group and I know your name because God told me. My name is Mary. I wanted to talk with you because I can understand what you are going through,” Mary replied.

“How can anyone understand me?” Marlys was skeptical and  felt it wasn’t possible.

“I can understand because I have experienced the death of my husband and my son,” Mary confided.

“How did it happen?” Marlys asked. She was beginning to feel a slight glimmer of hope.

“My husband Joseph died of natural causes years before my son died. My son was executed as a criminal even though he was innocent.” Mary shared.

“A criminal? Who was your son?” Marlys wanted to know.

“My Son is Jesus the Son of God and I am Mary the Mother of Jesus. My son Jesus was crucified for our sins. The religious leaders conspired for it, The Roman governor agreed to it. But the charges were baseless.” Mary explained.

“So you are saying you are Mary the Mother of Jesus?” Marlys inquired more out of a desire to clarify.

“Yes, I am and I am here for you Marlys because my Son Jesus loves you. He knows you are hurting. He also knows you are his faithful daughter. I am here because as a mother I can understand what you are going through.” Mary elaborated.

“It’s just that I feel so empty, so hollow. I don’t want Jesus to think of me as a failure, but when I go to church, I feel nothing. The pastor is kind and his wife is too. I just feel numb.” Marlys was able to finally confide in someone.

“I understand Marlys. I felt so empty myself. More so when my son Jesus was crucified, My husband Joseph was a good man and took me as his wife even though I was pregnant with God’s son. He was older than me and had been sick for a while, so it was not a surprise when he died . Life was difficult but Jesus was old enough to take over his earthly step-dad’s carpentry business, so that made life somewhat easier.” Mary shared.

“My husband Dan had a great life insurance policy, so I could focus on my kids after he died. But my Joshua. He had so much life ahead of him. I can’t handle this.” Marlys was finally starting to feel she could express feelings for the first time.

Mary continued, “I know. The death of someone young is hard especially the death of one’s child. No matter how old they are, for us moms, they are always our children. My son died when he was in his early thirties and at what seemed to me to be the height of his ministry.”

Marlys was feeling a calmness in her spirit for the first time in months, so she expressed, “I don’t know why, but I feel I believe you when you say you are Mary the mother of Jesus. Can you tell me more?”

“Certainly,” Mary replied. “Jesus had been active in public ministry for about three years when his passion week happened. I shouldn’t have been surprised. Even when he was a baby a man named Simeon warned me that a sword would pierce my own soul too. I had seen the religious leaders of the day, the Pharisees, oppose Jesus. But when he was arrested, it surprised me. I was there at the cross and watched him die. He was barely recognizable because of the severe beating they inflicted on him. I wanted to comfort him but all I could do was stand there so he could see I was there. I wanted to hold him, to hug him like I did when he was a boy, but he was up on the cross and I couldn’t reach him. Even if I could reach him, I would not have been able to because of the soldiers standing there. Even in his suffering, he was such a good son. While he was dying he gave me over to the care of John his close friend and follower. In those days a widow needed to be cared for by someone because we did not have anything like life insurance. Even as he was dying he showed he was truly God’s son when he asked The Father to forgive the people who did it to him. When he took his last breath and died, a sword of suffering cut through my soul and spirit. I couldn’t believe that my beautiful son who healed people had just died. Strange things were happening all around us that afternoon, but my son Jesus was my only focus. When he died, all of us thought it was over. He was supposed to be the Messiah, the promised one. He was supposed to be the Savior of the world and there he was dead. The grief was so sudden and overwhelming that I could barely walk. John and my friend Mary Magdalene had to help me walk.”

Tears were flowing down Marlys’s face as her lips quivered, “You do understand how I feel. Death is so horrible. My beautiful boy is gone.”

“But not gone forever my friend,” Mary reassured. “Jesus was dead but not done. He died on a Friday before sundown. On the third day, Sunday morning, he arose from the dead. He defeated death. He was alive again and forever more. The good news is that he will share that eternal life with anyone who believes in, trusts in him. And I more have good news for you Marlys.”

Faith was bubbling up in Marlys. For the first time in what seemed like eternity, Marlys felt hope. She jumped at Mary’s comment, “What good news?”

“Your son is in heaven. He has no pain. He only knows the wonderful joy of being with Jesus in heaven. And because of your faith in Jesus, one day in the future, you will see your son again.” Mary encouraged Marlys.

“Oh yes, I can see my Joshua again.” Marlys responded. “I feel sorry for not remembering that. I am so sorry for being in such a fog. I am, I mean I don’t know how to tell Jesus.”

Mary stopped Marlys by tenderly taking Marlys’s hand. “Dear, Jesus understands you. Remember, he is our sympathetic high priest. He lived in this world. He was there when Joseph died and helped me through that experience. He understands you. There is one more thing my dear.”

“What is it?” Marlys asked.

“You still have a purpose in this life. Your daughter needs you. You have friends here. Let them in. God has more for you in this life and when the time comes, many years from now, you will see your son again and also your husband. I need to go now dear. I think your friend is coming over. Bye for now.” with that Mary was gone.

“Hi Marlys, Can I join you?” Cindy asked.

Marlys looked up to see Cindy’s soft brown eyes that reminded her of Mary’s eyes. “Yes, please.”

From the author- I hope you have a blessed Good Friday and Easter and I hope this story blesses you as a part of the observance of our Lord suffering, death, and resurrection.

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Friends Struggling with PTSD Meet the Man Who Carried the Cross of Jesus.

Friday afternoons were the time a few people struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder would stop in for coffee after their support group. This afternoon only Megan and Billy had time for a cup after their group. Megan suffered from flashbacks from her time in the war which at times caused her to have debilitating anxiety attacks. Billy was trying to emotionally recover from the terrible car accident his wife of thirty years died in when they were hit by a drunk driver. Billy being a retired teacher in his sixties was kind of a father figure for Megan, so they often had coffee after the group. Megan enjoyed playfully helping Billy get the hang of social media, and for Billy, well it was time away from the loneliness of an empty home. The Harbor had become Billy’s home away from home even though he had not shared much with the people working there. He usually would stop by in the mornings to do his crossword puzzle while enjoying a cup of coffee, so he was one of the regular gang, so much so, that everyone knew what he would order before he spoke. Megan loved to tease Billy about trying something different.

“Maybe next time you can try a mocha,” teased Megan.

“No, no, just a cup of joe is all I need.” Billy quickly asserted.

“How about a frappe?” Megan smiled as she was having a little fun with her friend.

“If God wanted us to have those fancy things, coffee beans would have grown flavored.” Billy retorted with an impish grin.

“Billy, I really appreciate you joining me after group on Fridays. I don’t know if I will ever get control of my anxiety, but the group helps me a lot.” Megan confided partly to share her heart and partly to encourage her friend. She knew Billy felt so alone since his wife died.

“Well anything to help a vet even if she is pushy about me changing my beverage of choice,” Billy replied in his usual playful banter. Megan liked the way the the old Irishman would joke with her.

“But seriously Megan, please don’t stop the group. I hope you can heal up from the anxiety. I just wish there was more I could do.” Billy tried to comfort the young woman he had grown to think of as a daughter.

“There is healing available,” interrupted the man sitting beside them.

Surprised, they turned to look at the man who seemed to rudely interrupt their personal time.

“Hey now, who are you?” Billy promptly responded. The protective papa bear was coming out of him.

The man sought to reassure them, “Let’s just say I am a person who once witnessed one of the most gruesome violent acts but that act led to my healing in all ways and I would love to share a little with you about it”

Megan jumped in, “Let’s start with who are you, what is your name and why are you imposing?”

The man apologized, “I am sorry. I don’t mean to cause any distress. My name is Simon. I originally came from a place called Cyrene. I am only visiting here for a brief time this afternoon and actually God sent me here to talk with the two of you, Billy and Megan.”

Startled, Billy inquired, “How do you know us? Were you at the hospital when we left the group? Have you been eavesdropping?’

“Oh my, no. My name is Simon. I just sat down, but I do know a little about both of you. Megan you are having troubles with post-traumatic stress from being in the war. Billy for you it is from being in the car accident your wife died in. I too once witnessed a terrible ordeal.” Simon reassured.

“Who told you all these things about us?” Billy insisted.

“As I told you, God sent me here to talk with you. Could I share a little about what I watched happen to an innocent man?” Simon asked.

Intrigued, Megan agreed. Billy did too but he was wary of the stranger.

Simon continued, “I left my home in Cyrene with my two sons Rufus and Alexander to go to Jerusalem for the Passover. That was the most important religious observance for Jews and being a Jew, I wanted my sons to experience one Passover in Jerusalem. We traveled with a caravan and I felt safe knowing Roman soldiers patrolled the roads. Then we arrived in Jerusalem and got a room. The next day we went out to get some food, but people were lined up in the streets shouting and shaking their fists in the air. I was concerned for the safety of my sons, so we got close to some Roman soldiers thinking we would be safe.”

Billy was growing impatient, “Nice little story, but what does that have to do with us?”

Simon calmly replied, “I understand. Let me get to that. The reason for the almost riot was a man was carrying a cross down the road for his own crucifixion. That was how Romans executed people. The man stumbled. The Roman soldiers all of the sudden grabbed me and ordered me to carry his cross. I heard his name yelled out, ‘Jesus’. I was shocked. I had heard about a Jesus who healed people and did miracles even back in Cyrene. So there I was carrying the cross of an innocent man, not able to understand why he was on his way to his death. The cross was heavy, so I was surprised he could have even carried it that far. He had been beaten badly. I was forced to carry his cross all the way to a place called Golgatha where prisoners were crucified. I stood there frozen in a dazed stunned fog. I couldn’t move. I was numb. I watched as the soldiers nailed him to the cross and then hoisted him up. It was the most horrific scene I ever observed.”

“So you are saying you saw Jesus killed? You were there?” Megan asked hesitatingly.

Simon wasn’t upset, “I realize this is hard to believe, but how else would I have known about you unless God had told me?”

Billy wanted to get to the point and let Simon know it.

“I think the main point is that I understand trauma whether it be experiencing it first hand or watching someone else go through it. That night after Jesus died, I couldn’t sleep. Images of Jesus and his beaten body hanging on the cross kept flashing through my mind. It was the longest night of my life. When sunrise came, I did the best I could to put the events out of my mind and focus on my sons, but emotionally I was still there at the cross and my heart was pounding in my chest,” Simon sought to share why he understood.

Megan was moved, fought back a tear, and asked, “So how did you get over that? What does all of that mean to us?”

Simon realized the moment was right, “What I was forced to do and what I saw done to Jesus was brutal to say the least, but my story doesn’t end there. I stayed in Jerusalem for a while because the journey was long back in those days. I needed to try to recover. I ran into some of his followers in the days after and they recognized me. They expressed their concern for me and wanted to know if I was okay. I heard rumors that Jesus was alive again, but that was unbelievable for me. Then one day some of his followers invited me and my sons to a gathering of about 500 people. While we were together, Jesus suddenly appeared. He was there. He was alive again. I realized that he was truly the one and only Son of God. I came to trust in him and when I did, I felt a rush of healing emotionally.”

Billy was close to bursting when he exclaimed, “So don’t leave us hanging. How does that apply to us?”

Simon gently looked at them and answered, “For anyone who receives Jesus, who trusts in him, Jesus will come into their lives. Jesus promised that anyone who believes in him that he and The Father will come live with them. We are also promised that anyone who believes in Jesus receives a spirit of adoption to be children of God and not slaves of fear. For some the inner healing happens quickly. For some it is step by step, but we can know he is always with us. There is healing in his name for our emotions and for our minds. That can be a process, but he will stay with us each and every step of the way. We can know that we will never be alone.”

Tears were running down Megan’s face as she asked Simon, “Does Jesus want to do that for me? I need help so badly. I need peace.”

Simon reassured her, “Yes, he wants to do that for you and he can give you peace for your soul.”

Billy ever the skeptic asserted, “I am almost there, but I am not sure about all of this.”

Simon smiled as he replied, “Yes, Billy, I was told you would need more. You will have another visitor in the future. Your life isn’t over. You still have things to do here”

Billy sighed, “oh great, another visitor.”

Megan laughed a little, “Papa bear, I think it will do you some good.”

Simon politely thanked them, “I appreciate you listening and letting me share about my experience. It is time for me to go. God Bless.”

With that Simon was gone. Megan looked at Billy and for the first time seemed lighter in her spirit, “You know Papa bear, I think it was supposed to be just us having coffee after group today. I feel like God might help me after all.”

Written by Matthew Kohrell

Note from the author- Thank you for reading my stories. If you have a person from the bible you want to see incorporated into a story or a story idea, let me know by sending me a comment.

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God Bless