Sharp About Your Prayers

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Who Has Blessed You?

September 26th, 2011 · 35 Comments · Faith and the City

Hey Good Readers,

This coming Sunday I am going to be preaching a sermon about blessings.

I have a favor to ask of you.  Would you be willing to share a story of a time when you felt blessed by someone?

Let me prime the pump…  A friend of mine recently told me about an occasion when he was about 12 or 13 years old, and his grandmother grabbed his hand and said, “Young man, I think you have an amazing future before you!”  He went on to say, “She’s been dead for seven years now, but I carry her blessing with me every day.”

Dare to share!  Post your blessings here.  Just click on the comments button…

SBJ

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35 Comments so far ↓

  • Bob BrennanNo Gravatar

    When I was 10 I contacted polio. It was late in the season and the hospitals had put away their treatment equipment so I was treated at home. For the first several weeks I was in really bad shape, but whenever I woke up there was my Dad sitting there in a chair next to my bed — he was there for two weeks. I really felt loved. And when I recovered after about three months my Dad hardly ever left my side, every spare minute he spent with my brother and me.

  • MaggieNo Gravatar

    I receive blessings everyday, if I notice them or not. About ten years ago, I fell down the back stairs faceforward when I fainted from stress. My friends, Jeff and Karyn, were there helping me move and were there when I fell. They called the ambulance, than at my hospital bed when doctors were determining what happend. I am so grateful to them for being true and I feel blessed to have great friends. We are still friends. And to my dad for paying that bill as I did not have insurance.
    Let me say that blessings come in all sizes and shapes and more often than we are aware. I am grateful for having a job while others struggle to pay essentials. Thanks be to the Lord for all, noted and not.

  • Charlene Han PowellNo Gravatar

    I tried thinking of a more cool and dramatic story but the memory that keeps coming to my mind is of a time in college when a friend of mine in campus ministry prayed over me.

    During his prayer, he prayed things for me that I don’t think I could have prayed for myself. With great confidence in the gifts of God he saw in me, he asked that God use them, multiply them, and impact lives with them. Oddly enough, in that moment, I had never felt so small. I had never felt so small under the weight of the calling and expectations God has placed upon my life and all of our lives.

    It was a “blessing” because in that moment I felt the fullness of what it meant to BE blessed beyond my own capabilities and talent. The blessing felt both wonderful and terrifying at the same time, but I knew it was from God because it was indeed bigger than what I could imagine for myself.

    More than 8 years later, I stand on the precipice of being ordained as a minister of the Word and Sacrament. I guess that blessing is still alive!!!

  • Heidi McKinney Keller

    This may be cheesy, but I am blessed by FAPC. As I walked up the stairs in January 2003 I read, “This is God’s House, All are Welcome”. I felt the holy spirit and I said to myself, “this is going to be my church”! I moved back to my home state of NC a few years later and started church shopping with no success. A year later I decided to move back to NYC and a big part of that decision was FAPC. I am blessed by this faith community!

  • Roslyn R GregoryNo Gravatar

    Almost 18 months ago: it was two days before my father’s impending death. My mother called me from her nursing home, wanting desperately to somehow get over to my dad’s bedside to sit with him, to hold his hand. It also happened to be Easter Sunday and I admit that I was skeptical about being able to find a transport company either open or available. “Something” told me to call the company that had recently been taking my dad back and forth to the hospital for his radiation treatments. When presented with our request, their answer came back: yes, they were available. Then the question: when could this occur? Answer: “how about within 30 minutes?” Next question: how much would this cost? After putting me on hold for a short time for a consultation, the answer came back: “we would like to do this complimentary…” — at which point I broke down in sobs! How good God is! How much He loves us! Every detail of those very sad days were under His watchful and loving control, and mainly His presence was so very evident. It was like being hugged by God. He continues to hug us daily. Praise be to our Lord and Savior!

  • SBJNo Gravatar

    These stories of people (and whole communities) being a blessing (and bestowing blessings) are incredible. Keep ’em coming, friends!

    Gratefully,

    SBJ

    • Katie FarberNo Gravatar

      I feel particularly blessed in general for the supportive people in my life, with two examples to give:

      The first was when my father had pretty serious heart surgery last October, and during that time while I spent a few days at home in Pennsylvania, I had a lot of friends reach out to see how everything was going. But what I was most surprised with was how many of my coworkers were the first people to phone and send text messages the morning of his surgery and they also directly sent my father a plant for when he recovered. I was deeply touched at how much they went out of their way, and it made me realize that the definition of what a “family” is transcends the traditional definition.

      Another time I realized I was blessed with special people in my life was when I hosted a small dinner party last year. A friend of mine who attended followed up with a note (an actual, handwritten note!) thanking me for the dinner and the planning/time behind it. She specifically noted that she wished I could see just how creative and talented I was in the way she and my other friends saw me. It was the highly personal and supportive nature of this letter – purposely noting something specific about my capabilities that I might be a bit insecure about – that really meant a lot to me, and I definitely feel really blessed to have friends who will support me and always let me know what my gifts are.

      • Katie FarberNo Gravatar

        I realize I kept saying blessed “for” or “to have,” but to me, it’s synonymous with “blessed by [God, my friends, these people].”

  • Jean ErishNo Gravatar

    A few years ago when I found out I had cancer, my friends drew a protective circle around me. They lifted me up when I was down, understood my tears and my crankiness. They prayed for me and I was never alone when I went for the endless treatments. They knew when I needed to be alone, but somehow were always there when I needed them. They were and are God’s blessing.

  • Merideth HiteNo Gravatar

    Growing up in a big family, we had this little joke between my father and all 4 of us kids. Whenever we’d do something particularly kind or good, he’d (half mockingly) put his hand on our head and say: “This is my beloved son/daughter, with whom I am well pleased” (quoting Matthew 3:17).

    We would all just shake it off and sort of laugh at him, but when I think of it now, it was a type of formal blessing. That moment where he showed how proud he was of each of us (when we deserved it!), stays with me today. And, perhaps all blessings come with commission to do more. It reminds me of all the good I could and should do.

    As silly as it seemed to me then, remembering my father proclaiming my value outloud—blessing me for everyone to hear— that’s surely one of the ways I have come to understand God’s love for me, too.

  • Persis Luke

    I have expereinced so many blessings and second chances in my life! One that comes to mind…My mother died in 1990 from pancreatic cancer. One of the most ravaging and painful cancers there is. I was a young adult. She had decided several weeks before that she wanted to spend her last days in the comfort of her own home. I was sitting with her at her deathbed. She had not been awake for about 18 hours or so. I was just sitting there looking at her face when she woke up and looked at me and said “My Beloved” and smiled. This was not something she usually called me, normally it would have been more along the lines of “honey” or “dear”. In that moment, I not only felt blessed, but convinced that nothing, even a devastating illness and death, can separate us from the love of God. My mother died 21 years ago this week, but that blessing has carried me through many vicissitudes of life. I experience a multitude of blessings every day of my life.

  • Robin TempelmanNo Gravatar

    When I was a kid, I remember someone (I think on a TV show) saying, “whenever you feel happy or grateful, you have been blessed.” I feel blessed almost every day. Even on days when I think things are crappy, gratitude usually helps me out. (And, by the way, these stories are great.)

  • AnnelieseNo Gravatar

    When my father died under rather tragic circumstances 16 years ago (he was just 55), we were blessed by the many friends and family members that came to his service and shared memories with the family and brought food and other comfort. Daddy was a lawyer by trade but also a very talented jazz musician who had toured, cut a few albums, played jazz regularly. To their credit, the leaders of our very traditional Presbyterian church let us have a New Orleans style ending at his memorial service. Daddy’s jazz band played many fine tunes, and the family exited to “When The Saints Go Marching In” with lots of clapping from all the attendees who were on their feet. However, a couple days later when we interred Daddy’s ashes, it was just 5 of us. My newly widowed mom, myself, my husband, my brother, and my sister. There were no words. We felt so lonely and sad. The cemetery is across a small street from a huge medical complex. As we stood there at the grave in the middle of a quiet afternoon not quite sure what to do next, don’t you know a bunch of jazz riffs from a trumpet blared from across the road and reverberated around the concrete campus of the medical center. It went on for several minutes. We never found out who that trumpet player was, but he/she gave us such a blessing. We even had to laugh as it was something that Daddy would have loved to do himself.

  • MeganNo Gravatar

    My children are young and I feel in them the presence of God — their love is my biggest blessing.

  • TC

    I don’t know that this story really counts because I didn’t realize the extent of the blessing at the time, but Bob Brennan’s story reminded me of one of my own. When I was 9 I had to go into the hospital for overnight “sleep study.” Even though it wasn’t for anything life threatening it was a very scary prospect to me since I had been born in a hospital but basically never set foot in one since. In the weeks leading up to the sleep study my father kept joking with me saying that at least I would get a bed — he would be out in the waiting room sleeping on the chairs and that the custodian would have to wake him up in the middle of the night saying “move over bud!” to clean the floors and chairs around him. At the time I appreciated that Dad was trying to keep me smiling through my worry. But it wasn’t until quite a few years later – probably after college – when I was telling someone that story for some reason and it hit me like a ton of bricks how much my Dad loves me. I mean the humor was much appreciated at the time, but beyond that – what I did NOT appreciate then — was he was willing to spend all night on hard waiting room chairs because I was frightened of something that really wasn’t that big a deal. At the time I felt blessed by the humor but now I realize the real blessing was (and is) his love.

  • Adam

    Two years ago around Christmas I shattered my arm requiring major surgery. My physical therapist provided me with exercises that I could continue while I was visiting my family in Georgia for the holidays. One morning I was doing a few exercises that proved to be painful. My 4 year old niece walked in the room and noticed my discomfort. She sat down next to me and began to mimic the exercises with me. When I asked to her what she was doing she said “I don’t want you to hurt alone Uncle Adam”. Almost instantly, the discomfort I was feeling was gone.

    I have never felt such incredible love in one moment being poured out by another person, especially one so small. The blessing I felt that day is something I will never forget.

  • Mary JoNo Gravatar

    There is a delivery man from Africa that works for Morton Williams Grocer. He is young and helps support his family. Has been delivering our groceries for years. He is so determined to make a good life. He has completed his English classes and is not enrolled in classes to receive his GED. He goes to school all day and works afternoon and nights and never complains. Always smiles. He knows all his customers by name. He is an amazing man and I feel blessed to know him and interact with him.

  • LaurenNo Gravatar

    A few weeks after moving to India from NYC I went through a tough personal experience and was lost without a faith community to turn to. My prayers felt empty, and I couldn’t figure out how to open myself up to let God in. While lamenting the loss of the fellowship and support I had found in NEXT at FAPC, I desperately reached out to Charlene Han Powell. Despite the 10 1/2 hour time difference (yes, there’s a 1/2 in there … I don’t know), Charlene responded immediately and subsequently took 2 hours out of her early morning to walk me through the experience and my doubts about my faith in a Skype call. But she also walked WITH me. Not only as a mentor but as a friend. An 8,000 miles away, different hemisphere friend. And in reflecting upon our conversation later I realized that even when I felt so alone and refused to open my heart to God, He just found an alternative way in … through Charlene. I am blessed by God with friends and mentors to whom I can turn when, in all of my human pride and fear and doubt, I can’t bring myself to turn to Him.

  • Tamra

    In 2005, I was very ill and was struggling to stay afloat. I had been working 3 jobs at a time since moving to San Fracisco and was trying to make through grad school. In the last semester, it became clear that I would be unable to finish school. The illness was taking over and in order to get better and also finish school, I would have to quit 1 or 2 jobs. As you can imagine, this was devastating. I had sacrificed everything for this dream and couldn’t afford to quit.

    I survived by so many friends during my years in SF, but on this particular occasion, one of my closest friends and her husband stepped forward to help me. Anna insisted that I take her year-end work bonus so that I could quit my jobs and make it to the end of the semester. Everytime I remember this, I am so overwhelmed by the thought of it. I LITERALLY don’t know how I would have made it without them. All my years struggling as a student and artist speak to me now of God’s provision. Had I not had to depend so heavily on my belief that God would take care of me, I’m not sure I’d be as confident as I am now that He ALWAYS will.

    3 years later, I moved to New York and was blessed with a job. My friend Anna and her husband were then living in India and struggling to make ends meet. I cannot express how humbled I felt to be in a position to help them get through that season. My life looks nothing like I imagined it would but God has truly blessed me beyond what I could have imagined.

  • Laura FissingerNo Gravatar

    I’ve had some specific challenges in the last year that people hear about and go “whew, I’m glad that’s not me! Sorry to say it, but I’d freak out.” Yes, I come real close at times. However, at those exact moments, I think of the Bowery Mission men’s special prayer: “God is good…All the time!” To that I add “Praise the Lord!”, and repeat the whole prayer out loud several times. I think of the specific challenge that “freaks people out” as I pray. Within a few repetitions, I am convinced that God is creating blessings for me and other people out of this precise unwanted challenge. Within those few repetitions, I feel deeply joyful and blessed.

  • Joy Canfield

    Blessings in the Form of a Permanent Marker

    Blessings, I’ve had a few. When I think of my children, I think of my greatest blessings. Too many to mention? Probably. But I could start with the reciprocity of love, trust, and respect. Not to mention consideration and fairness.

    I could list many examples of trust living among two growing teens, but I think one of the examples that stands out most dearly is a familiar family story that I recount at most Thanksgiving dinners. If you’re busy today, it might be a good time to step out for a breath of air…. I had put my psychology practice on hold and the onset of my small company was only in the thinking stages. My primary goal was to be with my young tots — they were ages 2 and 3 and I didn’t want to miss a moment. I thought that they needed me desperately; truth be told, I think I needed them more than they needed me. So I began grant writing out of my home, juggling childcare and research as well as I could. Sometimes I didn’t juggle very well. Panicking that I would not please the person for whom I was writing, I worked through the night so that a conference call would show respectable output. The call came, and I commenced a shaky outlining of my work to the gentleman. He seemed tense — a state that he was known to demonstrate liberally. About that time, my two youngsters came toddling in — thrilled to see me and ready to play. They had giggling on their minds and a happy outburst was burgeoning. I shooshed them and looked wildly around my makeshift office, grabbing a stack of paper and the only writing implement I could see — a brand new, wide tipped, blood red, permanent marker. Four wide eyes stared back at me and with a thrill in their step, a chubby little hand grabbed the marker and took off. I knew what I was in for, but in that moment, I thought it was worth it. I needed this job, they needed me, and a room full of red drawings was worth it. I flatly continued my dry reporting, expressionless and blindly, silently reminding myself that I could paint the walls, put a throw rug on the carpet, and strategically cover the chairs and bedding with a few quilts and throws. Red drawings were not life threatening. It would be fine.

    I finished my call, and moved toward the room where I knew my artists were working. It was quiet, but then, why wouldn’t it be? Artistry is rarely noisy. The door was open a crack, so I courageously opened it fully. Something was not right. All was as I had left it an hour before. With one exception. On the chest at the end of the bed was a single sheet of paper with a slightly wiggly but firmly constructed large red heart. There was a picture of what seemed a large person surrounded by what seemed like two small people. And two squiggly lines. The work had been signed by both artists.

    I’ve never again held these two people to such a high standard of trust as this — after all, perfection leaves room for only one right answer — but I do thank God perpetually for providing two first class offspring and a lot of good sense and trustworthiness. A blessing in the form of a permanent red marker? I guess so — it’s a reminder of a couple of blessings that are indeed permanent.

  • David SinclairNo Gravatar

    I received a blessing from FAPC that changed my life. On Ash Wednesday in 2003, the sermon was about using our whole selves in the service of God; we are all created uniquely in His image. At the end of the service, the congregants had the option to be blessed by the pastoral staff. The woman I approached put a drop of baptismal water in my hand and said “you are a child of God”. That was the moment I began to reconcile my faith with my sexuality. In that moment, I began to understand that being gay is not sinful (as I was taught growing up). After much prayer, meditation and study, I have come to realize that my greatest sin – the thing keeping me furthest from God – was denying the person He created me to be and rejecting His gift of sexuality.

    • Laura FissingerNo Gravatar

      I’ve had too many gay friends who have suffered too much, trying to reconcile Christianity and being gay. Your story here helps me believe that my friends and acquaintances may well find the blessing of accepting love, as you have. Thank you, David.

  • Jennifer GliereNo Gravatar

    Three days after I moved to NYC in 2008, my purse was stolen off of my shoulder a block and a half away from my new apartment. I was shocked and devastated; I was on my way to pay my security deposit and first month’s rent in cash, now gone. A couple of days afterward, I was walking around a different part of town with a friend who had come into town, and started crying out of frustration. A gentleman stopped, asked if we were Ok, and I told him what had happened. He took out his wallet, pulled out a $100 bill, and handed it to me, saying, “That’s what I would want someone to do for my daughter. You have a friend in NYC.” He left without so much giving his name. His gift tided me over until I could get back on my feet at a time when I needed it most. Whenever frustration with NYC surfaces (which is admittedly often), I think of this gentleman and remember his blessing and goodwill.

  • Susan TobiasonNo Gravatar

    In 1993-1994, I had a horrible year. In between two brain surgeries, my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I came into work one day and greeted my officemate, Shari, whom I hadn’t seen in about a week. Then I dissolved into tears, telling her that my family had called to tell me that my father didn’t have long to live, but they didn’t want me to drop what I was doing to come up to MA because I was dealing with my own problems. “What are you doing here?” my office mate replied. “You should be at home with your family. ” She walked me down to our boss Becky’s office, and my boss practically pushed me out of the hospital, telling me to go home to my family, and not worry about anything at work. Because of Becky and Shari’s blessing to me, I got home to see my father for about a half hour just before he died. It still gives me goosebumps to think of how I might have missed that opportunity if it hadn’t been for their blessing.

  • CNNo Gravatar

    Last year, around this time, I was in a lot of pain. After being in pain for over a year and nothing coming up on tests, one specialist decided to do an exploratory surgery. By this point, all I wanted was for the chronic pain to go away.
    With my family being overseas, me being new to this area and most of my close friends in other states, I felt a bit alone in the days leading up to my surgery but God has a way of providing for us. A friend drove 8 hours to pick me up and take me to the hospital and stayed with me.
    I was terrified of having to go under anesthesia and to make matters worse, I am terrified of needles. I was terrified in part because this was something I had absolutely no control over but it needed to be done. As the anesthesiologist explained the process to me, I told him to please not let what happened to Michael Jackson happen to me. He reassured me and said he’d be right with me as the medication took effect and will be right there when I woke up. He kept his word.
    Right before everything faded, I remember praying and asking God to be with me and my doctors and it may sound a bit weird but I also felt prayed for. You know, the powerful sort of prayers that make you feel the wind of God in your back.
    Once I had the surgery, between the care packages and the incredible support of my work colleagues, it occurred to me that family comes in different forms and so do blessings. God ALWAYS provides.
    To this day, I am forever grateful to the doctor for deciding to have the exploratory surgery as it uncovered the cause of my pain and would have gotten much worse had it gone unchecked. I am also grateful to all medical personnel. Whenever I see a person who works in the medical field, I say a silent prayer that God blesses their hands and heals their patients the same way he healed me. As I am typing this, I am also thinking that perhaps I should take a chance (this being NYC and all) and utter those words of appreciation to them as I see them go about their daily lives.

  • Holly HendrixNo Gravatar

    In January 2005 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was the moderator of the board of deacons at fapc at the time and had been since June of 2004. I was very concerned that my treatment would make it difficult for me to fulfill my commitments to the board. I explained to the board what was happening and instead of being put on injured reserve, I was celebrated in every way. The board supported me throughout my chemo and radiation and I received 45 of the most loving, heart warming cards and letters that anyone could ever receive. I was and am truly blessed. Thank you Board of Deacons.

  • LB

    Just today I received a huge blessing simply by sharing an elevator with a major benefactor for my career. At the subway, we had to part ways, but several minutes later he walked into my subway car. These random meetings gave me the opportunity to make a great networking connection.

    The blessing for me was being in the right elevator and the right subway car at the perfect time. It really was more than coincidence, it was a true blessing.

  • Laura FissingerNo Gravatar

    Dear Rev. Scott –

    I feel joy-filled and blessed by all these stories of blessing! Thank you so much for asking the quesstion. God’s love just beams out of each answer.

  • JohnNo Gravatar

    Scott – I have been blessed several times ( like the image on this blog) with someone putting their hand on my head and saying a blessing. It is a very humbling and recharging ( an important word) thing to have happen. I will describe one blessing.

    There was a time in the early spring of 1998 that I was sitting at the table with my wife, my mom and my dad. We were discussing the future and what direction our lives were headed. At the time, work was not going the way I needed it. Money was not there and debts were piling up. I felt helpless but more as husband, father, and son, I felt hopeless. That was a bad place to be. I remember talking frankly with everyone and everyone listening and talking with me. It was very much like a confession. Not that I had done anything salacious but more confessing that I was not living to my perceived expectations of others and my own expectations of myself. I was, in my mind, a failure.

    After this time sitting at the table feeling embarrassed, broken, and useless my dad came over to me and put his hand on my head and said he was pleased with me and that he knew that there was a plan for me, and then said a simple prayer. It was a simple blessing that was a re-charging of my purpose in life and what I was supposed to do. That was a powerful blessing.

  • ChrissyNo Gravatar

    I was laid off in the Spring of 2008. After working so hard for 23 years in the same industy, I thought it might be time for me to soul search to find my true passion, and find a way to make that my new career. A gentleman at my church in CT offered to have coffee with me and help me draw out what I might have a passion for. I have plenty of passions like shoes, playing tennis, spending time with my family and friends, and MadMen, but I didn’t think I could earn a living at any of those. We had a wonderful chat over that coffee. I never did my passion that day, and am still working on finding it. What I did find that day was something more.

    When we spoke of things I might be passionate about, he would give examples of what he was passionate about. He was taking religion classes in his spare time, with the hopes of entering the seminary some day, even though he was in his mid-50s. I remember him speaking of being in and out of the “flow of love” and that as God/Jesus is love, he wanted to be actively in the flow. He then asked me when did I remember being out of the flow of love? I paused for a moment, thought about it, and realized that I have NEVER felt out of the flow of love. He was in absolute awe over my response, and at that moment I realized just how truly blessed I have been.

    I have always considered myself a level-headed, stable over-achiever; a textbook Capricorn. I selfishly credited my upbringing by my parents (not including their religious influence) and my own drive for shaping who I am. I have always felt very grounded and never thought twice about that feeling or what else could be contributing to it. I was humbled and joyed at my revelation, but at the same time embarrassed for having taken so long to realize that I have always been, and continue to be, in the flow of Gods love. I thank Frank so much for the blessing he gave me. Ever since that day, I thank God for letting me be so blessed to always be in that flow.

  • SBJNo Gravatar

    Thank you all. It really has been a joyful thing to read these stories. Yes, it has been a blessing.

    SBJ

  • Mary GNo Gravatar

    I am late to this game, but thought I’d share just the same. My parents and I have been working on breaking down my grandmother’s apartment up in Duchess County New York. She is still with us, but now lives in a nursing home on the Upper West Side and we are facing the fact that it’s time to return her apartment to someone who needs/can use it.

    As my grandmother’s only grandchild, this has been particularly sad for me. After the first ‘work day’ that my father and I had, going through her possessions, and consequently going through all of my memories, the sense of what I had lost, all those visits to my grandmother in her cozy apartment, weighed heavily on me. My friends, especially my FAPC friends, have been great ears of sympathy, and many of them knew that today, October 1, was me and my father’s second ‘work day’ at her place.

    It’s funny how you can always tell when someone is thinking of you/praying for you. Today in the midst of piles of chaos from eras long gone by, I suddenly had a feeling of calm pass over me as I smiled at ALL the birthday, Mother’s Day, and Valentine’s cards my grandmother had been sent (many by me) and saved over the years, most of which I tossed and a few of which I kept. While I was doing this, the sun came in and flooded her apartment. Driving home tonight I realized that memories don’t live in Places, they don’t really even live in Things. They live in your Soul, so really, there isn’t as much loss as I think. The peace of this realization is the blessing I’ve received today. Tomorrow, I hope to visit my grandmother in the place she is now.