Posts Tagged ‘God’


Have you ever asked yourself that question?IMG_0368

I don’t mean in a skeptical, it-won’t-do-anything kind of way. What I’m talking about is that deep searching of what prayer means. It’s not like God needs us to tell him what’s going on in our lives. He knows everything. And he knows what we need, so do we need to remind him? Besides, He is God Almighty, creator of the universe and the one who holds everything together and controls it all. Does he need our input?

So what is the purpose of prayer then?

Well, I asked Him. After all, in James he tells us if we lack wisdom to ask and he will give it to us. So I asked. And I guess that is the first purpose of prayer. God wants to give us things and he’s waiting for us to ask. He says if we ask, we will receive. And wisdom is a good thing to start with. But sometimes we can feel like we’re asking Santa for a Christmas list, and that’s not the point. Even though God longs to give us the desires of our heart.

I thought there was something more.

Partnership is a concept we’ve discussed in church. A former pastor, Daniel Brown, used to describe God wanting to partner with us in doing his will. Like a father asking his son to help him take out the trash. Dad doesn’t need his little boy’s help, but it’s about the relationship. Doing something together. I like that.

But, I still believed there was even more.

So when I asked, I was reminded of the Lord’s Prayer. We call it that because it is how Jesus told us to pray. Hmm…maybe there’s something in that.

I grew up reciting that prayer as a rote tradition. Even singing it, while deeply moving, didn’t impart the depth of it’s meaning to me. But the day I asked Jesus about praying, this is what struck me…

If God is all about us talking to him, and asking him for things, and partnering with us, then maybe praying that prayer would look something like this (translation my own):

Our Father, who is in heaven, I praise your holy name! I honor you as Almighty God. You are so holy! You are so worthy of my praise. Because You want to do good things for us, I invite you to bring your kingdom into my life and do your will just as you have purposed it already in heaven because you are great and good and have wonderful things planned for me. Whatever that is, I want it, so I ask you for it. Please, Lord God, I ask that your kingdom would come here to earth. That your will would be done here on earth. And please, since you know all I need, will you provide it. Just for today? I won’t worry about tomorrow, but trust you to give me what I need today. And about forgiveness, Lord. You forgive me for everything so will you please make me willing and able to forgive others the same way? Thank you that temptation is never from you. Will you please deliver us from evil? That awful enemy, Satan, who is looking to distract us from you and destroy our lives? I know you can and will do all this because your kingdom is glorious and powerful, and you love me so very much.

What do you think?

I’ve begun to pray this way, acknowledging who God is and inviting him to bring his kingdom to earth. That his will would be done in my life, in my home, my marriage, my children’s and family members’ lives, my friend’s lives, in my church, community, city, state and nation, as well as the world. Because if I believe God is who he says he is then I have to be open to and accepting of what he wants to do here on earth.

And I’m seeing incredible things happening.

Not always what I expect, but always great and good. In my life, my husband’s life, our marriage and family. Truly amazing.

God is a gentleman and never forces us. But he longs to do good for us, with us and through us. As soon as we invite him, remembering who he is and what is truly important, he will bring his kingdom to us.

I challenge you to give this a try and let me know what you see happen in your life.

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Last week I slipped out for a morning walk as the sun crept up into the morning sky.Sunrise in Aptos

Birds called, lizards skittered across the sidewalk and a couple squirrels chased each other up and around a tree. A few blocks into my outing, the bright pink blossoms of an oleander bush brought a smile. I longed to pick a few and take them home, but didn’t want to spoil the view for someone else. Then I noticed a dozen or so scattered on the ground. I felt okay about carting one of those beauties home with me.

But when I bent to take hold of it, I was disappointed.

Small, brownish spots marred the petals. Naturally. The flowers had fallen from the bush because they were dying. But from afar, I hadn’t noticed. They looked as unspoiled as the ones still blooming.

God had a picture in the petals for me.

In our new home, the paint marks of a darker hue mar the surface of most of our walls where the previous tenants tried to touch up nail holes. For some strange reason, the paint that is supposed to match, doesn’t. I had been so disappointed with the messed up walls that I had been focusing on it for days. What could I do? How could we match the paint? Should we repaint or ask the owner to?

In that narrow focus, I was losing sight of the our home being a gift from God.

Like viewing bacteria under a microscope, I saw things hugely disporpotionate to their actual size. It changed my perspective and created an attitude of discontent and worry instead of thanksgiving. Before my scrutinizing, my home was a beautiful blessing from the Lord. Just like the blossoms dropped on the sidewalk.

And there was more.

I contemplated these things as I continued my walk and entered the nature trail. The wide sidewalk was cool and shady, a respite from the growing heat. But I also began to feel nervous in this new setting. Trees emerged from the dark, swampy ground on each side of the path and hung over the top like a canopy. Thoughts of alligators began to plague me. What if they were lurking within grabbing reach of my hesitant steps? Fear crept into my heart where none resided before.

On the left!

A cheerful voice called out from behind me.

An older couple smiled and waved as they rode by me on bikes. I smiled as the fear melted a bit inside me. Within a few steps, another biker rounded a bend in front of me, calling out

Good morning! Beautiful day, isn’t it?

Yes. Yes it was. Especially with a change in my perspective.

I hadn’t seen or heard the approaching neighbors because they were outside my scope of vision. Once again, I couldn’t see the bigger picture because of the narrow focus of my situation.

God reminded me that morning that if I look too intently at my circumstances, I can miss the beauty in what he has for me, or what he is doing. I lose sight of him and his goodness, his provison and his love. Which is exactly what had been happening as I contemplated our dwindling finances, my husband’s lack of job, our belongings damaged by the movers, and of course, the paint spots on my walls.

Our pastor said something similar this weekend.

If all we see is short range, then the long range will always look fuzzy.

His words reminded me of my morning walk.

I don’t want to miss the clarity of the Lord’s perspective and trusting that the big picture is a good one from where he sits. I don’t want to let my narrow view draw me into fear or discontent or thinking that the beauty and goodness of what’s he’s done for me has been lost or ruined by the markings of life.

So, what’s your perspective?

 

 

 

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The lab results came back positive.

I did more research and found that the mold in my system is the same type used to kill people in biological warfare. So scientists know enough about mold to use it for destruction of lives in war, but most doctors don’t take it seriously enough to be informed about the serious environmental danger when we live, work or go to school in an environment that is killing us?

The information I found astounded me.

I went to another doctor and showed her my lab results. She was kind but very apologetic as she informed me she had no knowledge about mold illness. My test results meant nothing to her. But at least she listened to all I told her and was willing to order an ultrasound of my liver because of the constant upper abdominal pain I had been in off and on for months.

The results?

Liver functioning normally, but I have nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. One of the causes is an overabundance of toxins the liver can’t handle. In addition, I’ve been plagued with various infections that attack a weakened immune system.

The system battling mold.

So we decided to move. Through a blog, I discovered many people have relocated in an effort to eradicate and control their environment and exposure to mold. Just knowing I’m not the only one encouraged me.  Within a few days of leaving our home and area, I began to feel better. Thank God!

The only setback came from us staying in a hotel that had mold in the room while on our travels. It was late, and we had already changed rooms once so felt we had no other option (though I considered sleeping in the car). Withing a few minutes I felt like I had been hit with the flu. I choked through the night with a splitting headache and very little sleep. It took about a week to feel better again.

Brendan jokingly calls mold detection my super power.

I can tell my body is still struggling to recover from the prolonged mold exposure, and I will continue looking for the best treatment options. Recent research has alerted me to the use of hydrogen peroxide which seems to be very helpful to those suffering with cancer and various infections.

At the very least, after two years of dragging myself around feeling awful, energy is like a brand new commodity. Being tired at the end of a long, physical day is very different than the debilitating exhaustion I’ve been living with. My hope is that something I have experienced will end up being beneficial to others.

Here are some things that have helped me:

  • I watch my diet. At least half to two-thirds of my diet consists of vegetables and fruit. I eat meat, but find that I feel best eating fish or eggs, then turkey, chicken and finally a dose of beef here and there. I try to go easy on grains, dairy and sugar. Avoid or limit coffee and wine. Drinking at least 6 – 8 glasses of water a day is helpful. My day starts with the juice of 1/2 a lemon in one.
  • I must supplement daily with multivitamins, 500-1,000 mg L-Glutamine, 3000+ mg of vitamin C, and 5,000 IU of vitamin d3 (per week). Sunshine is wonderful for vitamin D production so I try to get outside in the sun for 15-30 minutes per day.
  • 7-8 hours of sleep per night is critical, and I rest/nap in the afternoon if I feel tired. I used to feel guilty about this but find that pressing through exhausted is worthless and detrimental. Stopping for 30-90 minutes of napping gives me a little more energy to go on.
  • Gentle exercise is good, but I have to be careful not to do too much as that can set me off into a cycle of over-exhaustion which then keeps me from sleeping which makes me more fatigued, etc.
  • Licorice and chamomile teas are my friends. Licorice is a natural cortisol which is what gives us energy, as well as a purifier of the liver and endocrine (lymph) system. I really notice if I forget to eat my Panda licorice or drink the tea. Chamomile is a natural relaxant which calms the adrenal system and soothes the stomach. I owe many a good night’s sleep to this wonderful tea.
  • Essential oils. Thieves blend kills mold and immune blends strengthen me. I run a diffuser at least a few hours per day.
  • A positive outlook comes from focusing on Jesus. It can be so discouraging to feel bad all the time and difficult to explain to people (even loved ones) how I’m feeling and why. I am learning to keep taking one day, one step at a time looking at Jesus like Peter walking on water. I keep worshipful songs playing most of the time or play my guitar, read my Bible and talk to God as if he’s in the room. (He is.)

On the horizon…

  • I’ve recently learned that Pau d’arco is great for killing mold and fungus.
  • Milk Thistle apparently helps our livers detox.

Hoping to continue finding good ways to health. I gladly welcome your experiences in the comments below.

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It depends on where your focus is.

Every year, right after school lets out for the summer, our church hosts a week long day camp called VBS. Or as we VBS 011affectionately call it “vibs.” In most parts, Vacation Bible School is a well known event among church goers. Children gather for a few hours and participate in Bible stories, crafts and maybe learning a few songs about Jesus loving us.

At our church, we believe that kids relate to fun so we make VBS hugely fun with an entire morning and afternoon production, sports games, crafts, special events — a climbing wall, bounce houses and a petting zoo (to name a few).

The kids are in age/gender teams and create banners, team cheers and close friendships. They spray water guns and fly down a zip line. Stories are acted out on stage in front of them and discussed during team time with their adult leaders and teen assistants.

It’s a week of special treats like the snack bar, snow cones and ice cream. Songs are sung with dancing and hand motions in an outdoor amphitheater with the words displayed on huge banners. A dance team worships the Lord, encouraging the kids to learn the moves and dance along. Bible Buddies, or B Buds, act out the verses for the day which all fit with the theme for the week.

Today is the our day and will end with an amazing barbeque and final production to give the parents a glimpse of what their children have experienced all week – the reason they are all smiles, dirt and good tiredness.

Sounds like fun, huh?

Did I mention that approximately two hundred volunteers donate their time, often their vacation time from work, to help make this event a success? From that first year I stepped into the role of “team leader,” I couldn’t imagine not helping with VBS.

But last year, I became ill and as we got closer to the event, I realized that my acting role that year was not going to happen. Others stepped in for me at the last minute, and I traveled out of state for some rest. I watched my husband and daughters perform online via live streaming. I missed it. And this year, while I’m better, I’ve still been sick.

I didn’t think I had the physical strength to participate.

And I didn’t have the energy to care. I decided I would stay home and pray. People asked what I would be doing.

Nothing this year,” I’d answer.

But one day a few weeks back, a friend made a simple request. The man directing traffic was desperately in need of help. Since my husband and I had been in charge of traffic a few years ago, my friend wondered if I would consider helping out at all. Even for a day or two. I didn’t think it would work, but I agreed to pray about it. After all, it would only be a couple of hours in the morning.

I said yes.

The traffic director said I made his day. Imagine that. Something so simple brought such joy to him. Monday I arrived in the fog with excitement stirring in my heart. I greeted cars and directed them to the appropriate places. God gave me the energy to run around even when an unexpected situation arose that required way more than I thought I had to give.

After I finished, I watched my daughter sing and dance, kissed my two grand kids and went home to rest. Tuesday I woke with a migraine, but since I felt better standing rather than lying down, I took some pain medication and headed off to VBS again. Within an hour, my head wasn’t threatening to explode anymore. During the singing and dancing, I held my grand daughter.

And so it continued. A few hours of  chatting with friends, welcoming strangers, and participating in song and dance with my grand children in the morning, and then I’ve rested in the afternoon.

It seems like I haven’t done anything much.

But something has happened to my heart. Each day as I’ve worshiped the Lord, waved to parents, cheered for my daughter, watched my son with his team and snuggled my grand kids, I’ve been infused with joy. Overflowing, tears pouring down my cheeks joy.

Nothing in my circumstances has changed. I’m still sick. Our finances are tight. My husband is battling with job issues. We still don’t know what to do about mold, and our landlord has raised our rent, but not made needed repairs. My son sprained his knee and got hit in the chin with a baseball. Life kind of stinks. As do the lives of many of the people I’ve been serving with this week. Illness, injuries, and tough life challenges abound.

But my focus changed this week.

What I see is different. A smile goes a long way to cheer someone. We are in this together, joined by Jesus and our trials. My daughter’s face radiates the joy of the Lord as she belts out worship songs and dances on stage in front of hundreds of kids and adults. Our son rejoiced when one of his friends accepted the Lord. I wake and go through my day with the lines from songs echoing in my head. Words like:

I know You love me. You are for me, not against me …You only think good thoughts about me.

Or

Take me. This is all I can bring. (this little bit of sick, weakness) I feel alive. I come alive. I am alive…

It’s ended up being a great week. I’m no more tired than usual, but my heart is far less heavy. And I’ve found that having joy in the midst of life’s difficulties all depends on our focus.

To check out our VBS FUN visit www.coastlands.org and find us on Facebook.

 

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This post is my response comment on Diana Rasmussen’s site.

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk – photo from Google Images

My eleven year old son was on a field trip to a local amusement park with his class this past week. He was disturbed that while he and a friend waited in line for a ride, a male couple in line in front of him was kissing. It really bothered him and his friend. We happen to live in an extremely liberal area where any and all sin is accepted, condoned, and promoted as the best way to live so this situation isn’t the only one to which my children have been subjected.

What should I say to him?

I’m so sorry that you were subjected to the sinfulness of other people’s choices.

I explained that the Bible is very clear on this issue of homosexual relations using the verses you shared here(Romans 1). And that God loves us all. We all choose to sin in various ways every day. That sin affects others too.That is why Jesus died for us.

He understood that and said,

But Mom, it really bothered me. A lot. Why would someone want to choose to do that?

He instinctively knew it was wrong – meaning not the way God created us, even though we haven’t really talked a lot about homosexuality. It has come up in discussion, but we haven’t had an agenda about it. I also explained that it used to be that if people wanted to participate in a sinful lifestyle, it was private. Maybe affecting their life, but not so much the public. By law certain behavior choices were not allowed (and still aren’t in some places) to be exhibited in public. At least others didn’t have to be subjected to the depravity of drunkenness or drug use or cursing or stealing or….name it.

I guess all that is to say that I agree we need to pray and love others.

Can we or should we mandate sin? The Bible does. For God’s chosen people (the Israelites and those of us grafted in who follow Jesus). But as you say, the world lives according to the world standard, not biblical standards. What is our role then? I think of Paul in Greece who acknowledged the gods of the people while pointing out the one true God. (Acts 17:16-32) Many sneered at him, but many were open to hearing him speak. I guess that means that in love and kindness we should be willing to confront as we feel led by God in order to share the gospel-his love and plan for us.

We’ll be laughed at, but we will also be heard.

How does that apply to lawmaking? Maybe the same way – in love and kindness those in authority must stand for what is right and make good laws that will protect all not only cater to a small percentage. Then be willing to be maligned by some for those laws on behalf of those who want to live in the truth. And continue to pray and love and pray again.

Also, remember we are aliens in our world that is dictated by Satan. There will come a point, according to the Bible, in which the Holy Spirit’s influence to hold back sin will become less and less and our world is going down. I think we are in that time or coming quickly to it. So our focus may need to be on loving and sharing with individuals more than legislating sinful behavior. Just a thought :)

What are your thoughts?

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Today I visited a friend.IMG_0642

I dropped my daughter off to ride horses and ambled through country roads under marshmallow studded cerulean skies. Pastures rolled across the landscape embellished with the white arches of raspberry tenting. One ribbon of road cut through apple orchards stretched out towards a quaint farm house. Crisp spring air blew through my open sun roof whipping my hair.

Ah, the delightful beauty of the day.

In that moment, I savored the presence of the Lord in the wonder of his creation. Yes, I was on my way to a particular place for a planned reason. I drove my car.  But for that short span of ten minutes, I was being not doing. No emails overflowing my inbox, no Facebook poking me with notifications, no cell phone beeping, buzzing or sending me alarms for my next activity. The superhighway fast lane sped to various destinations five miles away from my peaceful world.

In cherishing this space, I longed for a simpler life.

Outside pressures of job, kid’s sports, church activities and social media clamor for our attention. The world’s technology has caused our tight knit communities to welcome the world. On one hand, that’s great. I’ve many blogging, Twitter and Facebook friends and connections that I am thrilled to have because of that technology. On the other hand, I don’t have the capacity to hold the world in my heart or hands. I don’t think anyone does. And I’m not so sure God asks us to. So what do we do with the needs, demands, and interests of the world?

Internal pressures abound as well.

We use busyness as an escape. Insecurity drives us to be responsible and in control of every situation. Legalism reminds us of all the shoulds and should nots. Expectations, perceived or actual, command us to do more, do better, achieve at any cost to claim success and abundant life. Performance driven, we jump through hoops to prove we are worthy of God’s love and others’ favor.

But Jesus calls us to sit at his feet.

And go into the world making disciples. Can those two realities co-exist? This week I read the story of the good Samaritan. I believe I saw the simplicity of being in the presence of Jesus as the Samaritan man reached out to be the “church” to his neighbor. This dear man traveled along attending to whatever business was at hand for him. Maybe he was headed to work, or a friend’s house.  Or on his way to worship. Perhaps he was enjoying his journey simply for its own sake.

But he was open to interruption. Jesus calling.

Willing to give a bit of his time and some of his resources, he cared for a wounded fellow traveler and went on his way. He also made a point to check back to follow up on the man’s well-being. It didn’t seem an inconvenience to him nor a new project to seek out every hurting person in the country. He simply helped someone in need who happened to cross his path – or rather whose path he crossed during his everyday life.

Am I going to or “doing” church, or am I being the church?

Am I running around like Martha so concerned about getting everything done, checked off, accomplished, worked out, served, made, corrected, or controlled? Or can I sit at Jesus’ feet soaking up his love, grace, mercy and wisdom – the peace of his presence? Not only in my life circumstances, but in the posture of my heart.

These are questions I’ve been asking myself.

While I don’t read this version often, I kind of like how The Message puts it in Micah 6:8:

But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do,
    what God is looking for in men and women.
It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,
    be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don’t take yourself too seriously—
    take God seriously.

Mary had it right.

She didn’t escape or neglect her life, but she knew the best place to be was at Jesus’ feet. And Jesus commended her not for all her activities or service or community projects, but for being with him. Isn’t that why we were created?

How about you? Are you able to sit with Jesus? What kind of external or internal demands drive you?

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I confess I don’t have time to write a blog post today.

The truth is I am in the final pages of my first novel and all the good stuff is happening. Since I never know what my characters may do, especially in the heat of crisis, I’m afraid to leave them alone too long. I already took too long over dinner. (My son needed really needed me.)

So now, I beg your leave with apologies. I will come back next week and attempt to offer something helpful, challenging (thinking of last week…) or encouraging. May God bless you.

Until then, I hear my protagonist calling. She’s in a real dilemma and doesn’t know what to do…DSC_0002

 

Oh, and FYI my first book, The Miracle of Us: Confessions of an Online Dater, is on sale on Amazon in paperback or kindle, or you can order a slightly imperfect copy for a great deal (thanks to a printing error) on my website.

 
What do you do when your characters start doing things you didn’t plan?

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