Paths of Peace

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Psalm 103:1-2 (ERV)

“My soul, praise the Lord!
    Every part of me, praise his holy name!
 My soul, praise the Lord
    and never forget how kind he is!”

PATHS OF PEACE

All Glory to our wonderful God who has blessed me with a new book!  My publishing company, Wings of the Morning Publications, LLC,  just recently published my first book, “Paths of Peace, Illustrated Prayersong Book,” in print and eBook editions!

I have very good reason to celebrate because as someone with very little time, and yet who must work within the boundaries of an autoimmune disorder that causes me to have chronic migraines that are often so severe I cannot do anything but lie in a dark room and pray to the Lord, it is miraculous that I can accomplish the things the Lord inspires me to do.

We serve a wonderful God who gives me the grace to bear my cross through the faithful prayers and encouragement of my church, family, and wonderful friends. I could not do a thing apart from Christ and the faithful prayers of His people. I know this.

Despite my often debilitating affliction, God has helped me to compose music, write songs and poems, paint pictures, make albums, and videos, to manage my Etsy shop, and now through His strength to write and illustrate this book to comfort and encourage people.

How but through God’s amazing power and grace could I have done or do what I do? People who know me in person realize this more than anyone else because all they have to do is be with me for a few hours before they notice that my energy fades, my face turns pale, and I begin to wilt like a flower without water.

Activities that most people take for granted, I am unable to do or can only do for a little while before exhaustion takes over and I must go home to take a long nap. If I overdo anything one day, I will pay a price of being bedridden sometimes for three days or more, losing precious time off from my work.

But those days when I must spend time in bed, I will worship the Lord. Time away from work is never wasted when it is spent in the heart of God abiding in Christ.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is not an affliction I would wish on anyone. For as of now there is no cure. Since 2006, when I got CFS, many people, churches, family and friends have prayed for my healing. I’ve been anointed with oil, and even gone to special healing services, but the Lord seems always to say “no,” as He told St. Paul. “My grace is sufficient for Thee.”

There is an interesting verse in Psalm 33:

“No king achieves a victory with a large army.
No warrior rescues himself by his own great strength.
Horses are not a guarantee for victory.
Their great strength cannot help someone escape.
The Lord’s eyes are on those who fear him,
on those who wait with hope for his mercy” ~Psalm 33:16-18

In other words, God is not impressed with strength, power,  health and beauty and youth like the world is. What does impress Him though is our willingness to step out in faith no matter how weak we are and trust that He can do the impossible with us no matter how broken we are. Because our weakness shows how strong He is. His light shines best through the broken pots. His glory cannot be seen through an unbroken vessel.

If God is glorified in my brokenness then I will praise Him no matter how many migraines I must suffer on this earth! Because I love my Lord Jesus Christ and I know He loves me. He suffered far more than I will ever suffer when He was nailed to the cross and when He was beaten and lashed for my sins to make me His own. He had to wear a piercing crown of thorns and I think about His excruciating pain He suffered for me when my head is engulfed in pain and so I just lay it all at His feet and worship Him.

Praise our wonderful God with me for the book of prayersongs that He gave me! Praise Him with me for every album of prayersongs and instrumental music He blesses me with, for they are all from Him and gifts for His people to encourage them and to encourage me also! The Lord encourages me as He gives me prayersongs, paintings, musical compositions, and poems. I am just a conduit of His grace.

Watch the video below to take a peek inside Paths of Peace Illustrated Prayersong Book and to listen to one of the songs from the book. The book features the lyrics that I sing on my album “Paths of Peace, Songs of Love and Peace.”

Please pray that God will use both the book and song and album to comfort and encourage many people for the Lord! And thank Him with me that He enabled me to accomplish this wonderful book! For truly this is miraculous!

God bless you all! ~Suzanne

Heavenly Father, thank You that with You ALL things are possible. It doesn’t matter who we are or what our abilities or weaknesses are, You are more than able to work through any broken pot and do amazing things through each of us if we will only step out in faith and trust in You. We praise You for Your great power and strength and love for us! In Jesus’ mighty name, amen.

Follow this link for the eBook edition of  Paths of Peace Illustrated Prayer Songbook
Paths of Peace Print Edition is available at Wings Publications

The Rusty Nail

Detail, Worshiper, Painting by S.D. Harden © 2013 All Rights Reserved
Detail, Worshiper, Painting by S.D. Harden © 2013 All Rights Reserved

The Rusty Nail

A few weeks ago I posted a blog and music video based on Psalm 51:10, the Psalm King David wrote after he’d committed adultery with Bathsheba, gotten her pregnant, and then murdered her husband to cover up his sin.
God sent Nathan the prophet to confront the king and David repented, praying, “Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.” ~ (Psalm 51:10-11)

For those readers who did not have an opportunity to read my original post about this beautiful psalm and how David repented of his sin, I encourage you to take a moment to do so.
I took down my music video a few days after posting it with the promise that I would repost it again for you soon.
I created my original music video for my prayer song “Create in Me a Clean Heart” as a worship aid for a special prayer night at our church. The Lord gave me the song the day of the prayer service!
Our Lord is very generous with His gifts! I had not asked Him for the song; in fact the worship leader and I were planning to do a different music video I had already created.  But the Holy Spirit had a different plan so I got busy preparing the song and video the Lord gave me. I had only 3 hours in which to record the song and create the video that day.
I am not a trained videographer. All my training is in art and writing. I never sought to be a musician, a singer, or to create videos. One day a few years ago, I went to the altar at church to pray about some burden I had. The Lord spoke to my heart and asked me if I would sing for Him.
“My Suzy, will you sing for Me?”
This request had nothing to do with my issue I was praying about. And besides that, to sing for anyone was the LAST thing I wanted to do, having a terrible phobia of public performance of any sort.
I didn’t want to be disrespectful of the Almighty, but I couldn’t help but think He HAD to be joking. I like to draw cute little dressed up animals. If I were to draw myself as an animal I would be a shy little, timid mole hiding behind her little art desk painting and writing and drawing. Never singing.
“Lord,” I said, to Him, “not to be disrespectful, but I don’t think You are remembering who I am…I can’t sing, I’m an artist.”
He only said, “My Suzy, won’t you sing for Me?”
I peeped around as I knelt at the altar wondering if anyone could see how exasperated I was.
“Lord,” I said, “Have You forgotten how bad a singer I am…so bad that when I sang “Jesus Loves Me” to My child when he was 6 years old he HOWLED?!”
I felt like crying because I had once sung praises to The Lord in my quiet times up until that had happened. Many years had passed and I no longer sang to Jesus because of that incident with my little boy. The enemy used it to make me think I had a terrible voice and I kept silent after that.
When Christian grew up he said, “Mama, I only howled because the dog across the street was howling with the wind that night. I was howling with him. I loved your singing.”
But when I was at the altar that day I didn’t know that.
I only knew that I believed I had a terrible voice and that there was no way I wanted to sing for God because I was so ashamed of my voice ever since that day.
“My Suzy, will you sing for Me?” Jesus asked me for the third time.
I knew it was God’s voice. And I could not say no if I loved Him.
Then He said, “My Suzy, will you trust Me?”
I knew I had to lay down something. I had to lay down my fear, my pride, and give God my will and allow Him to make me what He wanted me to be.
Singing was the last thing I wanted to do because I never believed I could be good enough.
Though I never trained to be a musician, nor did I ever sing until I became a Christian and then only in my quiet times, yet God has blessed me with many beautiful songs inspired by His word. Whether piano solos or prayer songs, The Lord continues, ever since that day at the altar when I reluctantly said yes, (though I was terrified) He has given me over 350 pieces of music for His glory. I have recorded them all.
My new video includes my worship painting based on Luke 7 that I’ve been working on for the last several months. It was not finished yet when I made the first video. That video made heavy use of a lot of images pulled from the Internet that may have been copyrighted and I did not have time to get permission or check the copyright status of all those images I used.
My new video includes more original content and makes use of some classical works of several great artists from the past and present whose works are in the public domain.
I’ve always believed that God can anoint a rusty old nail if He chooses to use it for His glory. So it does not matter what I have to give Him, as long as I give it by faith in humble obedience to His will, He can bless it and use it to bless others.
My prayer is that this music video will bless and inspire you, and draw you closer to the God who died on the cross for each of us in order to create in us a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within us.

Heavenly Father, Help us know that you do not desire perfection from us in what we give You, just trust & obedience. You will supply all the rest.
Create in us clean hearts that serve You & worship You in sincerity & truth. Thank You Lord. In Jesus name. Amen

Trusting God’s Guidance

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From the Painting “The Good Shepherd” © S.D. Harden 2013 All Rights Reserved.

                       Trusting in God’s Guidance

Psalm 23 is known as The Shepherd Psalm. It’s one of my favorite Psalms in the Bible.

Jesus Christ is our Good Shepherd. He said, “My sheep respond to my voice, and I know who they are. They follow me, and I give them eternal life. They will never be lost, and no one will tear them away from me.” ~ John 10:27,28

Sometimes our Good Shepherd may ask us to go down a path we may be afraid to follow. Yet God’s word assures us that Christ always leads us in paths of righteousness. (Psalm 23:3).

The dictionary defines the word “righteousness” as “justice, decency, honesty, blamelessness, virtue, and morality.”

The NIV bible translates Psalm 23:3: “He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.”

The way I understand it, God won’t ever guide us to do something that is contrary to His word.

In my painting above, I have illustrated the idea of our Good Shepherd inviting His child to go with Him on a journey. He looks gently into her eyes and she gazes back at Him as He holds her hand suggesting that they are good friends.

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Detail: “The Good Shepherd”

Jesus said, “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.” (John 15:14)  Jesus loves His child deeply. Because He is the Good Shepherd as well as her Creator, He knows what is best for her. He encourages her to do what He knows is the right path for her.

Yet the child hesitates to go with Her Master. There is that tiny sense that she does not fully trust the Good Shepherd.

She stands just behind him in the painting. Her feet seem paralyzed and rooted into the sand like some sort of petrified tree as her Shepherd lovingly assures her that He will always be with her throughout the journey and that His rod and staff will comfort her.

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Detail: “The Good Shepherd”

Though she has given one of her hands to her Lord in partial submission to His will, she holds the other behind her back, symbolizing her reluctance to step out in faith with Him on their journey and her inner fears. Yet He lovingly smiles at her. He knows every weakness, every fear. He neither judges, nor condemns her.

How often do we, when presented with new unsettling challenges to our faith, or a new dark journey in life, question the wisdom of God? How often do we hold back from fully trusting our Lord when He asks us to follow Him down a new unfamiliar path?

Like the little child in the painting, we have given Jesus one of our hands, but we reluctantly hold the other behind our back and stand with our feet rooted in the ground when He asks us to please trust Him though we may not understand the way He is asking us to follow Him.

Jesus once told His disciples on the cusp of His crucifixion: “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.” ~John 16:12

He then said that the Holy Spirit would come to them and lead them into all truth.

Our Lord asks us to walk by faith, to trust Him and to listen for His voice every day, one day at a time, with our hands in the hands of our Good Shepherd.

Just as the little child in this painting is walking with her Shepherd, so we must walk. And though like her we are often afraid, despite our fears, like her we must keep our hand in our Shepherd’s hand and our eyes on Him, abiding in Him in our hearts daily if we are to hear His voice.

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.” ~John 16:13

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Detail: “The Good Shepherd” © S.D. Harden All Rights Reserved.

*Lord Jesus please help me give You both my hands in total surrender when You ask me to journey with You down the road You have prepared for me before the foundation of this world. Help me not doubt but believe all of your promises to me and live by faith. In Thy holy name I ask. Amen.

A copy of this painting is reproduced on my greeting card called, “The Good Shepherd.”

If you would like to purchase a copy of this card please visit my Etsy store at http://www.etsy.com/shop/WingsPublications

“The Good Shepherd” Illustration © Suzanne Davis Harden 2013 All Rights Reserved.