Susan Jane King

Thriving with Jesus in life's ongoing challenges

Choosing to Love

 

Kinsley Bear 2

The Kinsley Bear

I received the bear pictured at the top of this blogpost a couple weeks ago. It means a great deal to me because it was given from a place of great pain . . . and tremendous love.

The bear is called the “Kinsley Bear,” named after a local couple’s beautiful newborn daughter, who lived only a few hours after being born with unexpected health issues. Kinsley’s grandfather gave me the bear after Patrick and I spoke at their church.

The back of the tag on the Kinsley Bear reads, “This bear has been among the congregation of Faith Lutheran Church. It has heard the Word read, prayers prayed, praises sung and sermons preached. It has been loved by Faith Church Family and has soaked in God’s love. Now it comes to you with blessings of the love and grace of Jesus.”

My family had seen many of the bears sitting in the back pews of the church on the Sunday we spoke there. We didn’t know the special meaning behind them until we received one—with an autism ribbon attached.

My eyes brimmed with tears as I held that bear and read its special note. I was overwhelmed by that family’s choice to continue to love others in the midst of their own personal pain. When tragedy strikes, we can be tempted to pull away, to harden our hearts so they can’t be hurt again, to try not to feel any more. That’s why Kinsley’s brave family made me cry . . . they were choosing to love, and I knew that choice was going to impact countless lives.

A tender heart:

Keeps caring

We are told in Ephesians 4:32, NASB, to be kind and tender-hearted toward one another. It is written in a verb structure that means to keep on doing something. Being kind and sensitive toward others truly reflects the heart of Jesus. He was always sensitive and responsive toward the people around him, stopping to talk with them and reaching out in love. Whether it was the woman at the well, a religious leader who came to Him at night, the desperate father of a sick little girl, or a Roman commander who was concerned about his servant, Jesus kept caring about every person who crossed His path. He wants us to do the same for one another.

Reaches out to others

I was touched that Kinsley’s family had made the effort to get and attach an autism ribbon pin to the bear they gave me. Patrick and I spoke at their church about the hope we found in the Lord while living with autism for the past 22 years. The autism pin on the Kinsley bear communicated love, understanding, and acceptance to me and my son. The members of Kinsley’s family had set aside their own pain and struggles in order to reach out in love toward us. It was such a picture of Jesus’ sacrifice to me:  “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13, NASB).

Lets Jesus fill it

I know the only way Kinsley’s family could love like that was because Jesus filled their broken hearts . . . and His light and His love was flowing out of the broken places. They refused to close off their hearts to Him.  Instead, they chose to receive Him and what He had for them in the midst of the pain, and they opened their hearts and hands to share the gift of Him with others.

I know this is what has happened and is happening to them. I’ve seen it in a cuddly little bear wearing a bright autism ribbon.

Question: How have you experienced the tender heart of Jesus through others who have chosen to love? Comment at the link below.

Visit Susan’s website: susanjaneking.com

Susan Jane King

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Looking for Jesus

The Lady of Daldriada

A few years ago, I started reading the Daldriada series by Christian fiction author Phyllis Keels. What I loved most about the series was how I could see Jesus moving in the world around the characters, in the hearts of the characters, and through their lives to touch others. I was always looking for Jesus as I turned the pages, and I found Him all over the place.

I have already read “The Lady of Daldriada” and “The Yeoman of Daldriada,” so I was super excited when the last book in the series, “The King of Daldriada” just released on May 15. I’ve already read it, and it perfectly completes the trilogy. The writing is powerful, beautiful, and thought-provoking. I would recommend it to anyone wanting to read an inspiring, meaningful and entertaining book. Plus, as I said, images of Jesus are tucked into much of the writing!

Here is a link to learn more about the book (click on book cover image):

http://www.amazon.com/King-Daldriada-3-Phyllis-Keels/dp/1511645245/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1431859111&sr=1-1&keywords=phyllis+keels

I attended Phyllis Keels’ “Author of the Spirit” writing classes a couple years ago. The Lord touched my heart and encouraged me to write my own book, “Optimism for Autism,” while I attended Phyllis’ class. She is a gifted writer, teacher, and speaker, as well as a wonderful mentor. Learn more about Phyllis at:

http://www.phylliskeels.com

My “looking for Jesus” goes beyond the books I read. I want to be aware of His presence as I go about every day. I ask Him to help me see Him in the people I meet and the experiences I have. When someone is kind to me, I think of the Lord’s kindness. As I watch a movie and see a character give up their life for a friend, I think of Jesus, who laid down His life for us. When I come across a beautiful sunset, I think of the Lord’s great artistry and creativity, a gift He uses to bless us and show us His glory. His presence is everywhere.

I also see Him in the presence of my friend Phyllis. She exudes His love and grace. Her writing shows it too.

In conjunction with the release of her latest book, I invited Phyllis to submit a “Guest Blog” for today’s blogpost. Here is what she had to say:

How does it feel to finish a series?

Really great, and a little scary too. No matter how happy or relieved we are to finish something, the satisfaction of it begins to slide down into a fear that we’ll never be able to accomplish a feat like that again, doesn’t it? Well, we all know where that kind of fear comes from, and it’s not from God!

When I remember that I wasn’t the one to accomplish the feat in the first place, my fear melts into gratitude. This Daldriada series was the Lord’s accomplishment, not mine. His Holy Spirit breathed out the words and brought the characters to life. He did it, and if He did it once, He can do it again.

The fun part of all this is in getting to be with the Lord as He writes and brings a book into being. All the while, I can feel His presence and can simply rest in the sweetness of His fragrance – much like when we were children and we’d lie in the clover on a warm summer’s day, soaking up the beauty around us.

When I remember all these things, I am no longer filled with stress about the next book, whether there will even be one, or whether it will be any good. I am filled with an excitement about whatever He has in store for me.

When we train ourselves to depend on God’s Holy Spirit, and not on our own efforts… Only then do we see His power, His beauty, His miraculous transforming of lives. Only then.

When He gives us eyes to see His hand in our lives, He also begins to show us what He has for us next. And it is always wonderful!

As for me? He has already given me snippets of the next book series. I can’t wait to start on it! Not only for the thrill of a new story, but mostly to have that sweet writing time with Him again!

All of this is possible only because Jesus took my place. Yes, everything good comes from Jesus’ sacrifice. You see, because Jesus paid my debt of sin and was forsaken in my place, I get to be in the favor of my Heavenly Father. I get to have His sweet Holy Spirit dwelling in me all the time.

And that, my friend, destroys every fear, because nothing can stand against the full weight of the unearned favor, the grace of God!

All praise, honor, glory and blessing to the Lord now and forever more! Amen!

Keep looking for Jesus, my friends!

Question: How have you seen or experienced the Lord’s presence lately? Comment at the link below.

Visit Susan’s website:  http://www.susanjaneking.com

Susan Jane King

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Responding to the ‘Bump-ups’ in Life

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Last week, I was backing out of a parking space at a local mall when . . . wham! I felt the impact of hitting another parked car. My heart started racing as I realized I had misjudged the distance and had hit another vehicle.

I pulled my van into another parking space and jotted a note to the owner of the pickup truck I had just hit: “I hit your truck while backing up. I will cover any necessary repairs. Please call me. I am very sorry.” I closed the note with my name and phone number.

A few hours later, an unknown number popped up on my cellphone. I held my breath as I answered my phone. Was it them? What kind of person were they? Would they respond in anger to what I had done? (I wouldn’t blame them.) Was I about to be on the receiving end of a lot of hurtful words? Would they remind me of the damage I had done?

“Susan, this is Becky. You hit my truck in the parking lot.”

I braced myself.

Her next words took me completely by surprise.

“I don’t want you to worry about what happened,” she said. “I was driving my husband’s truck. I will have him take a closer look at it when he gets home, but I didn’t see any damage myself. We’re not the type to go after people, so you don’t have to worry. It’s going to be okay.”

That was not the response I expected. Becky called me back a few hours later.

“We could only find one scratch, and we are going to chalk that up to normal wear and tear,” she said.

But our conversation didn’t end there. I told her I was at the mall to try to find a gift for my Bible Study teacher. That opened a door for her to ask me about my church and my faith. We rejoiced to discover we were sisters in Christ. She asked about the Bible Study and said she might even come to it. She ended the conversation by saying, “Well, now you have my number, so call me any time you have a prayer request. I would be honored to pray for you.”

Wow! I walked away from that interaction in awe. I thought about Becky’s response to my bumping into her. I realized that when others hurt, offend, or “bump into” me in life, I can choose to do as Becky did. I can choose to:

See the worth in others

Becky treated me with great respect and compassion. I felt valued by her. She interacted with me in a gentle and kind way. I had caused some harm; yet, she chose to look at me above what had happened.

I thought about how the Lord created all human beings in His image (Genesis 1:26). Each one of us is precious and valued in His sight. The Bible tells us, “For God so loved the world”—that’s all of us!—“that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, NASB). If God loved each of us enough to send His Son to die for us, then we should take special care in dealing with one another.

Extend grace

I heard grace described once as “the act of giving us something we don’t deserve.” I expected anger, criticism and judgment, and I received compassion, love, and encouragement from Becky. She shifted her gaze from how she had been wronged to how she might be able to help another person. She asked herself what I might need, and she chose to give it.

Philippians 2:4, NASB, says, “Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” That’s what Becky did. The Bible also says, “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you” (Luke 6:31, NASB). Becky did that too.

Jesus did that. He gave us what we didn’t deserve. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, NASB). He looked ahead to what was best for us, and that’s how He endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2, NASB). He laid aside His privileges as God and put all of us ahead of Himself. What he did was in our best interest, not His (Philippians 2:6-8).

Make Jesus known

As I reflected on my conversation with Becky, I thought to myself, “If I didn’t know Jesus before I spoke with her, I certainly would have wanted to know about Jesus after talking with her!” She made Jesus known to me by the way she chose to act and speak. She showed me His love, His grace, His longsuffering, His willingness to forgive, His refusal to condemn His own, His understanding, and His acceptance. I felt closer to Him after my encounter with Becky.

And Becky was willing to pray for me. My experience with her reminded me to pray for the people who “bump into” me as I go through life. “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you,” Jesus said (Matthew 5:44, NASB). He prayed for those who hurt Him as He was dying on the cross (Luke 23:34). He prayed for us before He died (John 17), and He prays for us now (Hebrews 7:25).

We can always pray, “Lord, what does this person need to know about You in this situation?” We can ask, “Lord, please empower me and use me to teach them about You.”

Becky did that for me. When I ran into Becky’s truck, she let me bump into Jesus.

Question: How did you meet Jesus in one of life’s bump-ups? Comment at the link below.

Visit Susan’s website: susanjaneking.com

Susan Jane King

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It’s Good to Need Comforting

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Are you hurting and in need of comfort? Good! . . . because the Lord is doing something special in that place.

This past Sunday, Patrick and I got to share our story with the members of Faith Lutheran Church in Faith, NC.  As I watched the members of that sweet congregation respond to our message, I realized once again, this is not all about us!

God was moving. He was doing something through our words.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4, NIV, says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

Whatever we are experiencing, God wants to do three things:

God wants to comfort us

It says, God “comforts us in all our troubles.” He is “the God of all comfort.”  In the Bible, that word comfort means to “console, encourage, refresh, instruct, give peace, and advise.” The Lord provides all of these things. Every difficulty represents an opportunity to draw near to Him, where we can find all these gifts in abundance. We come to know Him better and love Him more when we do.

For the past 22 years, while living with Patrick’s autism, Patrick and I have been comforted over and over by the God of all comfort. His arms have been wide open to receive us the entire time . . . and they still are today. We know and can speak about the deep comfort He provides.

God wants to use us to comfort others

After we have that deepening experience with the Lord, we are equipped by experience to comfort others. When we share our story, those listening can receive it because they know we have lived it. God receives the pain we lay on His altar, and He gives us the gift of compassion in return . . . our hearts are moved toward others who suffer because we have suffered ourselves. The Lord empowers us through our trials to love as He loves.

On Sunday, Patrick and I shared about the many gifts of hope the Lord has given us through living with Patrick’s autism. We watched the members of the congregation shed tears and receive comfort from our message. The Spirit moved to comfort others through our message. We saw the scriptures come to life before our eyes: “if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer” (2 Corinthians 1:6, NIV). The Lord did that, and it was beautiful.

God “comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:4, NIV).

God wants to make Himself known

Through our experiences, we have the opportunity to know the Lord on a deeper, more intimate level . . . and then to share what we have learned about Him with others. That’s what Patrick and I got to do on Sunday. We were able to share about how we got to know the God of hope through our journey, and the Holy Spirit used our words to reveal more about Him to the members of Faith Lutheran Church.

We all have a story to share, and the Lord is the main character in each of our stories. Our lives are meant to display Him to the world, like a candle in the darkness, drawing others to the light of His comfort and love. By His power and grace, the Lord can make Himself known through us.

Patrick and I never could have imagined in the early days of his diagnosis that we would have the opportunity many years later to tell others about the God of all comfort. Yet, that is what has happened. We are witnessing the truth of how He works everything together for good (Romans 8:28) . . . for us, for others, and for His glory.

Now that’s something worth talking about!

Question: How do you need to be comforted? Comment at the link below, and we will pray for you! Would you run to the God of all comfort today, knowing you might have a story to tell tomorrow?

Visit Susan’s website: susanjaneking.com

Susan Jane King

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