Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Swirling Storms

As I struggled to explain, my friend said, “Alone?”

“Yes.” I nodded. It was hard for me to admit when I know that I am never alone. I know God is there, yet, that is how I felt in the middle of the struggle. I felt like I was trying to just survive through the challenges of the moments…moments that went into hours…into days…I felt…Alone.

“I know faith isn’t based on feelings, but I really would like to 'feel' Him.” I admitted. “My brain knows He is there. He blesses me. I have faith.”

“But it’s tired. Worn.” She added, understanding as she's had her own battles to deal with lately.

“Yes.” I agreed.

Have you ever felt alone? Isolated? Grasping at the frail end of a rope of faith.

Have you ever felt so tired that even though you have all the knowledge that aids your faith, stored in your head, you can’t hear it? You want to. You know…you know…God is there. He loves you, but the words come as if from an echo down a dark distant hallway.

It’s a time. A time to decide. Do I strain to listen to those whispers of hope that seem so far away? Or do I stare at the struggles in front of me and let the whispers grow more and more faint. 

My struggle tells me it will get darker. My faith tells me if I listen, it will get light again. I need to use what strength I have, to strain to listen. I heard Him clearly when He called to me while I walked as a part of the darkness. Though a faint whisper, I can hear Him now as I walk through the darkness.

I have a choice. I can get through the storm believing in His truths no matter how I feel or…not.

That is a test of faith.

I have never suffered to the degree that Job did, all in one sitting. I have never been locked in chains or faced the sword of death for my faith.

I have gone through storms where I felt like I would never reach the shore. When I finally reach the shore, I am banged up and tired, wishing to be able to bask on the shore to rest for a long time. However, no matter how banged up I am, when I do stand up at the edge of that shore, I always have a renewed knowledge of God. I walk away from the storms of life seeing the work He did on my behalf and it makes my faith stronger.

As I walk through life and things from the past fly my way, my shield of faith blocks them from hitting me like they did before, because I now know more about Him. I know He is bigger and greater than those things of the storms.

However, as the new storms I encounter today, swirl around me, pushing me away from the safety of the shore, the knowledge from the past can seem so distant. The roaring of the wind is so loud it blocks out His voice. Yet…it’s there. I know it is. Despite how I feel. I know it is there.

I must choose between listening to the roaring of the wind, or the whispers of my God until He says to the storm, be still.

Then the water will lap around me. I will grope for the shore.  And stand once again with the knowledge that my God is bigger than the storm. 

 Photos by Wayne Swanson 2015

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Bring Your Request

Another shooting! So many stories of one murder after another. Mass murders are becoming a norm in the news. Along with murder suicides, racist murders, young girls and boy’s murders, and now the cops are being purposely murdered.

Is anybody safe anymore?

There are hate messages and arguments over the Presidential election. We fight, disregarding relationships, when we only know the candidates by whatever records are revealed through the media, and through the promises of their speeches that are written by a publicist, so they can seal their place in the Presidential seat. Yet, I read and hear things, that separate the people, who are voting them into office to serve.

Will the hate messages stop after the election? I don’t see how. Not everyone will be happy with who is in the Presidential office.

Hate grows and grows like a raging fire.

How easy is it for a person to just flip someone off or call them a foul name in traffic, then drive away with no remorse?

Words of venom easily slip from lips.

We fight among ourselves to protect those who are victims. Yet, the definition of victim has changed in many arenas.

There is the argument that it is racist if we try to protect our country by screening those who follow a certain belief system that is Anti-American. Certain followers have killed people randomly for their cause.

A belief system is not a race. It is a choice. A choice people make or are forced to make and follow.

Yet…they are victims if we make an extra step to protect our country.

We fight for the protection and lives of children. Yet, we fight for the right to end a child’s life that is in the womb, because the mother becomes the victim if she has to carry the child. I know the in’s and out’s and the arguments. The fact is the new life has no rights, and is not a victim. Though they cannot speak and are completely innocent. The baby unknowingly depends on their parents to let them live.

Yet…the baby is not the victim, the mother is the victim.

All of this is so overwhelming to me. I wonder how America is going to look for the future generations.

I pray and pray for the protection of my daughter, my nieces, and friends, from any of the horrible things I hear the terrorist do to young girls when they attack a city.

If we aren’t going to screen backgrounds. They are coming in. That is reality.

I pray for the doctors who are paid to take the lives of children each day. That somehow, someway they will stop what they are doing. How many abortion doctors are there in ratio to the number of deaths by abortion? The abortion death rate is in the millions. How many lives will each doctor be accountable for if they do not turn and ask for forgiveness? God’s eyes are everywhere. God knows there is a life in the womb. God knows that life, that innocent life is being taken. The making of a law does not erase God’s law.

I pray for the moms and dads who although they have a choice to end their child’s life, because it is legal while in the womb, will someday face the reality that they ended their son or daughter’s life. The decision of abortion may seem the convenient answer, but having counseled and been in this arena for a long time, usually the aftermath is very hard to deal with.

I pray for our new President, whoever it may be, to be able to start to turn America back into a strong country. A great country for future generations of my family and yours.
I love America. I am sad for America.

It can be very overwhelming.

Until…one morning I opened the Word of God to the book of Esther. Chapter 5. “On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the palace, in front of the king’s hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the hall, facing the entrance. 2 When he saw Queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased with her and held out to her the gold scepter that was in his hand. So Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter. 3 Then the king asked, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be given you.” (NIV) Verses 1-3.

When Haman set up to destroy Esther’s people, she went to the king and made her request. He ended up taking care of everything that threatened her and life was better than before.

Bring your request before the King.

Though overwhelmed I have a promise. I can bring my request before the King.

Hebrews 4:14-16 New International Version (NIV)
“14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, [a] Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
Revelation 19:16
“On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: king of kings and lord of lords.”

1 Peter 5:7 (NIV)
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

2 Chronicles 7:14 New International Version (NIV)
“14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
I don’t know if God will speak and bring peace to our land.  
I do know He hears, He is faithful, and He sees everything.
Hebrews 4:13 (NIV)
“13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”
I will bring my request before Him and trust in His loving mercy and grace for our land that we call America.

Will you? Share with me in the comment section below.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

I Know Your "Type"

“Oh. I know your type.” The new physical therapist, at a place where I used to work, growled at me when introduced.

I gave him a questioning look. I had no idea what he was talking about. He had just met me and the others in the office.

He nodded and gave me a look of disdain. “Yep, I do.”

That was our relationship. Many times when we had to interact he would respond with, “I got ya. I know.”

I would sit there baffled because he would not “get me.” And I would have to work extra hard to communicate to him.

Each time he invited the people in the office to his house for a barbecue, I would be excluded. And excluded from the conversations about the fun at the barbecue after the event.

Very often he would lash out and snap. It appeared to be quite a feat for him to have to be polite, in a professional way, when we interacted with the patients together.

I never did find out what “your type” was and how he determined “my type” so quickly. And he never did get to know “me” as an individual. During our entire working relationship, he interacted with “the type” of person he believed me to be, and not who I really am.

Since I started following Jesus, I have often had people tell me how I think and feel. Usually, they are completely off base or take what I think out of context. It’s not very often in those situations where I get a chance to tell what “I” am thinking or feeling, because they know what Christians think about all situations.

I can name many, many situations where I have been placed in some sort of “group.”

But…I GET it.

Before I started following Jesus of the Bible, I had many racist ideas, myself. Now, I need to say upfront…this is not how I THINK or BELIEVE now. The following is from years ago, I have changed dramatically, and don’t think this way now.

I used to have a lot of anger toward the Vietnamese. My Uncle died in that war when I was young.
I had anger toward Koreans. My other Uncle fought in that war and it was beyond horrible.

Although I had quite a few African American friends, I did not agree with dating them. One really good friend, that I got along great with, I would not go out with him, because of that belief. I got mad at my friend when she did. That belief came from some guys talking about blonde white girls being trophies and wiping out the white race. Stupid of me to hold it against all African Americans, but when I was younger I believed it.

I looked at the RACE. Not the person.

The same way the Physical Therapist looked at me. He looked at me and saw “that type” and that was it. He saw no further. He didn’t see “me.”

Now, had he looked a little further at me, as an individual, I don’t know if he would have still believed I was that “type” or not, but he may have found out I wasn’t. And there wouldn’t have been that angst in our work place every single day.

That is what Jesus taught me.

Just before I turned and followed Him, I got a job where the owners were a husband and wife right from Korea. Yep! I had to help her to understand what the customers were saying, take orders, answer her phone, and interact with the delivery people. We worked together every day, soon I was invited to her house and met the rest of her family. I even got to style their beautiful hair.

I found out they were incredible people, because I gave them the chance and didn’t put them in a group. I had a fabulous opportunity to get to know the couple, their family, and friends, and determine my opinion from a one on one relationship with each of them.

Last week I was making lunch. I pulled out a gushy rotten apple from the bag I had recently bought. I was perplexed as to how on earth a rotten apple got in the bag when I am pretty picky about the one’s that I buy. I checked the other apples and they were fine. So I threw the rotten one out and used the good apples.

Wouldn’t it have been ridiculous of me to have thrown out the entire bag of apples before I checked to make sure they were good apples?

Isn’t it ridiculous for us to be looking at a person only seeing them as a group? And holding the act of one, two, or three rotten people toward every single person in that group?

Isn’t it ridiculous to look at a group of police officers who every day put their lives in jeopardy for us to keep us safe, and call them bad, because a few of them over-stepped their boundaries?

Isn’t it ridiculous to put their lives in danger, attack, and kill them, because of the few?

Police officers aren’t a race. They are a group of people who choose a very dangerous career and they work to protect us from the worse of the worse. That’s the job they chose.

I am so glad I have them to call. And if and when I have to call on one, I hope it is a good one of the group. Yet, if not, I can’t group all of the others into a group of bad.

Police officers swear to protect us.

The thing that totally and completely baffles me, is we had an event awhile back called 911. A group of extreme terrorist attacked our country and killed some of our people. We’ve also had attacks here and there since then.

This is a group, who HATE American’s, and want to kill us.

A person is called a RACIST if they are leery of letting people of that belief into our country. They are called a RACIST if they agree that they should have a background check to make sure they are not connected to the extreme radical version of this belief. A belief is not a race. It is a choice or a learned belief, but not a race. A person can be careful when interacting with a belief that hates their country and what it stands for. It does not mean they are a racist. It means they are wanting the government to be careful and protect our country.

I am reading and hearing the people in our country saying, let them in, love them, and accept them, don’t be a racist, even though their belief says to annihilate infidels and the extreme radicals do just that. It’s reported in our daily news!

Yet, we have a small group of police who have failed at their job, and certain American’s are protesting against the entire American police force. Attacking them. And worse…Killing them.
America! Really? Really?

One guys hate…spreads to another guy…to another guy…to another…

The cop shootings didn’t happen in Texas yet some sniper starts ticking off cops? Hate spreads fast. Violence spreads fast. And it’s no different than the very hateful violence that started it all. Same seed…HATE. It spreads like wildfire. Leaving hurting, broken hearts behind, that may if not steered right, start to hate.

Do we even realize through all of the hate, fighting, and violence what it means to live in this country? 

Do we really know who we are?

We are American’s. No matter the color. No matter where we have come from or our ancestors have come from, we get to be AMERICAN’s. Even in our hard times, we have it better than a lot of countries in their good times.

We are to unite and care for this beautiful country we are blessed to live in. There is no place in this entire world as beautiful as our country.

We need to let go of the pains and mistakes of the past. We need to love one another and stop forcing one another to accept every single decision a person makes or wants to do or else the RACIST label is slapped on a forehead. Spread in the news. Spread in the neighborhoods.

Hate spreads far…I used to believe in abortion. I was very, very pro-abortion. I met Jesus. I learned about life and the value of it from the very beginning. I studied what happens during an abortion procedure and what it does to the baby inside. Now, I write and speak hoping other’s will see, but because of Jesus teaching, if someone went and had an abortion, I wouldn’t hate her. If I was in the right position in her life, I would want to be there for her, because I know the pain. I know the years of sorrow. I know the changes that happen from within. I also know the healer. And I would want to share His healing with her.

And she has the choice, to listen, to come along, or she has the choice to walk her own way. That is her choice.

I cannot force her to see things that I now see.

I may not agree with same-sex sexual relationship’s, it doesn’t mean I don’t care about the person as an individual because I don’t agree with their sexual preference. It’s their life. Just don’t try to force me to agree with the choices in order to have a friendship with you. If one thing I am so tired of in this country is being subjected to being forced to agree with this act that I don’t agree with, and being subjected to being labeled a racist if I don’t. I would still gladly have a relationship with the person. I just don’t agree. I am sick of the whole sex argument.

In saying that, Jesus taught me a really great lesson. He taught me it’s important every day, to look at myself and all of my short-comings. He keeps me busy with all the changes He has made inside of me as He cleans up my heart on a daily basis.

Psalm 139:23-24. “Search me, O God, and know my heart’ test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

If people would stop pointing fingers at other’s and look in the mirror and work on that important person in front of them, lives would change.

Second, when Jesus told the story of the good Samaritan, it was a story about how to love your neighbor. And who your neighbor is.

The Jews and Samaritan’s were enemies. Yet the Samaritan helped the beaten up Jew.

That is how Jesus tells us to be. To help one another. To love one another. To tell others about His love. To forgive as He forgives.

When I come up against the verse that tells me to forgive as He forgives…it stops me in my tracks. I had a lot to be forgiven for and He forgave me. Sometimes, it may take me a while, but I know how forgiven I am, and how bad I mess up, so I work toward forgiveness daily. When I can’t forgive, I keep working.

It is literally impossible for me to forgive the men who steal young girls and hurt them. And it is a real struggle for me to forgive pedophile’s. It is extremely hard for me. Extremely. I can’t even stress that enough. I have to pray and pray to do it. And be reminded, forgiving does not mean condoning.
So I understand the anger when we hear of someone making a mistake in the line of duty that may come from a heart of racism, or power struggle, but God doesn’t tell us to go and tear the person apart. He tells us to forgive. He tells us to love.

America as a whole need’s to turn their hearts to the God who loves us so much, He sent His Son to die for the sins of the entire world. We need to listen to His message of love and forgiveness.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

I Will Not Be Disappointed

Isaiah 49:23
"...Then you will know that I am the LORD;
Those who hope in me will not be disappointed." NIV

I was reading chapter 49 of Isaiah today and when I came to the tail-end of verse 23, I stood to attention.

My heart knows this, but it needed to hear the comfort of these words today.

When the people I love struggle it can tear my heart apart. 

I have been bringing many petitions to the Lord for them, still...

This verse reminded my heart that God will not disappoint me. God loves the ones I pray for and I will not be disappointed.

As always, I just need to trust. Believe. 
He has always been faithful to show me, He is the Almighty God who cares for me, and those I love.

Saturday, March 26, 2016


That’s what Jesus said on the cross, “It is finished.” And then he died.

If we could only grasp that to its fullness.

He IS the final sacrifice for sins.

There is not one thing you can do to add to the payment needed for your sins.

Not. One.

Nope. Not that.

And not that either.

The price is paid.

When we paid off our car. There was absolutely no reason to give the bank any more of our money. Our car was paid for and legally all ours.

We paid all we needed to pay for the car. There is a zero balance.

We could keep paying for the car, but it is completely paid off.

Just like we can do things to try to pay for the price of our sin to God.

Are there consequences to sin? Yes. Sometimes. You can do things that will send your little self to jail, or break up a relationship, or make you suffer physically.

But between you and God, Jesus death on the cross paid the price for our sins.

Can you believe that?

Will you believe that?

I used to struggle with that and make myself pay penance for when I messed up. Until I realized, I was living like I did not believe Jesus died on the cross as the final sacrifice for my sins.

I had to have faith that if I confessed my sins Jesus would be faithful to cleanse me from all unrighteousness and that He was for me, not against me. He wants me to be victorious.

The more time I spend in His Word, the more I get it.

Jesus said, “It is Finished.” I’ve learned to believe it. I hope you believe it too.

Friday, March 25, 2016


My husband and I are back at school. Our brains are being used in a way they haven’t been in a very long time.

The teaching is fast and it takes a bit more of an effort to store the knowledge in our brain’s files and not let it float in and fly right out again. Sometimes it was like a very windy day in my head. I would go over and over and over a formula before the information actually took.

I did a LOT of note taking, while it seems most of the younger students were actively participating.
The teacher for my first class had a gift of teaching. He and a few of the students actually enjoyed figuring out different problems.

Did I forget to tell you I took a Pre-Algebra class?

And they seemed to be having fun working out all of the formulas.

I am so glad I took the Pre-Algebra class to get my brain warmed up again. I had to go down into the cellar and pull out the drawers of some rusty file cabinets to draw out information that had been stored for ages.

I was quite surprised to realize how much a person does use the information I was reviewing and re-learning in Algebra in ordinary life.

Once you get the easier formulas down, you can easily compare the price of one item to the next and pick the least expensive if you so choose. You can figure out how far to go on your tank of gas or even your tire that may need replacing soon. You can get the best discounts on clothes. I knew this before, but did not connect it to Algebra.

Then as a person advances and learns other formulas they can figure out how long a shadow of a tree is, or how tall a tree is in ratio to a person’s height, how many games a person won or lost in a season. A person can get really good at statistics.

And when you figure out some really hard, and mind tiring formulas, you can measure circles, cylinders, squares, houses, buildings, and then…you can measure the speed of light! You can measure the distance to Mars if you so like.

In every formula there is an order of operation, Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition and Subtraction. You can remember this order, by remembering or saying “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally.” If followed correctly, you will have the right answer. If not…One time I did a problem over and over again and kept coming up with the wrong answer. I did everything according to the ORDER of OPERATION. The problem is, a person can do the order, but you still have to do what’s in the parentheses, exponents, division, multiplication, addition, and subtraction correctly to find the variable x or y, which is a missing number.

It can be very frustrating and take up a lot of time to figure out the right way. 1y + 1y = 2y
Well after doing the formula a person discovers, ‘y’ is the number “1.”

Almost thirty years ago, I thought I had the right answers, and then I had to start studying the Bible for a reason that is a story in itself, and discovered something that allowed me to discover who “Y” is in my life.

I’ve always believed there was a God in heaven. I’ve always known that Jesus died for me on the cross.

Up to that point, I didn’t have the formula that connected the variable “y” with my life.

I still remember the first day I understood the “Y” in the Bible, John 1:1, “In the beginning was the WORD, and the WORD was with God, and the WORD was God. He was with God in the beginning.”


I read the next verses that explained the Word = Him. And that through Him all things were made, without Him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

So “y” is a him.
WORD(him) = God(him)

The Bible goes on to say that anyone who believes in His name, He gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

But what is His name? So WORDxy = Godxy

John then explains in verse 14 that the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. And then in verse 17 it lets us know who the Word is…Jesus Christ.

Word(Jesus)(Him) = God (Jesus)(Him)

I discovered a truth that opened my heart and mind to want to discover more about this Jesus. It was obvious by this formula that He wasn’t made on Christmas day. That wasn’t his first day, because as the formula states, He is the WORD and the Word was in the beginning with God doing all of the creating.

He came down to earth as a man and walked among us.

He left everything and became a man. He wasn’t a created man. He became a man.

After walking among His people for about thirty-three years he made his way to the city where he would give the only sacrifice needed for all of our sins.

Jesus(y) = final(y)
His life was the final sacrifice for sin.

When He was in the garden He prayed and told the Father, not my will, but Yours be done.

He wasn’t taken by surprise when the soldiers came. He knew they were coming for him. He knew Judas would betray him and Peter would deny him. He knew.

Still he went.

He knew he was paying the price for all of man-kinds sins.

Still he stood when they were beating him. He stood while they spit in his face. He stood while they put the thorn of crowns on his head. He stood while the crowds cheered for Pontius Pilate to crucify

Jesusy = Steadfasty

When I read the account of Jesus death with the knowledge that He was God the Son. He could have called down a legion of angels to wipe out the people who were torturing Him. He could have walked away, but didn’t.

He walked TO... He struggled, weak from the torture, he needed to be helped, but he didn’t stop, he went to the cross. He didn’t call on the angels or command the men to stop when they hammered him to that cross.

Instead, as He looked over the city, He asked God the Father to forgive them.

Jesusx = forgivex


He determined to keep to the Father’s plan and be the sacrifice that was needed so I could be with the Father in eternity. If I only believe.

Not just me but YOU too!

When I realize what He did for me and you, it makes all of the promises of scripture became real and true.

He says, He will NEVER leave us, nor forsake us.

He says, NOTHING can separate us from His love, NOTHING.

Not even ourselves, if we believe.

God has taken the most tortuous kind of execution and made it so it is a picture of absolute pure love.
Jesus hung on that cross, beaten to a pulp, because He, the Father, and the Holy Spirit, were determined we would be with them in heaven for eternity.

Good Friday has the color of love.


Friday, March 18, 2016

There Are NO Such Thing As MONSTERS!

 “There is no such thing as monsters or ghosts,” I said those words many times to comfort my daughter at night, but still I checked in the closet and under her bed to prove it. She didn’t always trust me and believe she was okay enough to close her beautiful eyes and go to sleep. There were many times; I ended up lying beside her bed until she fell asleep, to protect her from the fears that come from the shadows of the night.

I got it.

Are there really no monsters or ghosts? (I know in the real sense of the word, there are not.) As an adult the monsters that keep me awake and peeking out from under my sheets at night are different.

Some of them are real. I just watched a forensic show yesterday that had a criminal who was very close to my worst night fear. (Do not ask me why I watched it. My curiosity got the best of me.)

Monsters really are out there! You can read about them and hear about them.

And then there are the type of monsters that wake us up at night, finances, jobs, health test, health issues, relationships. It can be a very long list.

When I had an undiagnosed illness, I had a very hard time letting myself sleep, because I didn’t know what I was going to deal with physically the next morning.

My friend, Chris, gave me a verse, Psalm 4:8 I will both lie down in peace, and sleep;
For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

At that time, I made a decision to believe that verse and trust God when I went to bed. There wasn’t anything I could do to stop anything from happening to me, but He could.

Still things DO happen. God does watch over us. Yet, in this world, people are caught up in things, and we sometimes feel the repercussions of those things. Disease also happens, job loss happens, disasters happen.

I have a clear remembrance of when this monster bird poked his head into my window wanting to eat. I screamed and pushed the button to get my window up while my husband and daughter laughed...hard. (NOTE: I have a big fear of birds.)

This monster bird and the others with it, stretch their necks into cars that pull over to the side of the road to feed them the food they just purchased at the booth. Exciting and fun for some. It was terrifying for me.

When those big monster birds poked their heads into my car to get food from my daughter’s hand that was even more terrifying for me.

My screams were loud, my husband and daughter’s laughter was louder.

Nothing bad happened. All was good when we left the ugly, scary, monster bird area.

A few weekends ago, my daughter and her friend got to go to a movie by themselves for the first time.  I was in the building in another movie, still they were on their own.

It was probably a fun adventure for them.

Yet for me; giving a child freedom to be on their own in a public place isn't an easy decision in this day and age.

It is a very scary decision to make as the parent. There are a lot of horror stories out there. Stuff DOES happen. Yet, a child has to learn to handle themselves and be prepared for adulthood.

Back in the day, I pretty much hopped on my bike and was gone for the day with friends. I had my boundaries. In all my "playing with friends," I don't recall a mom or dad having to tag along unless it was an occasional event where parents had to drive, or we were at a home where a parent was home.

It's a lot different now. I have tagged along on almost every play date my daughter has been on.
At this age though, I am going less and less on play dates with her, unless I am hanging with a friend while our daughters hang out.

This is the age the apron strings start to be cut. It’s not easy making the decisions though of when I need to be nearby or when I can just let her go.

Last summer, my friend, Bilinda and I had to make a big decision about letting our daughters go to youth camp for five days and four nights without us.

Both of us had concerns about letting them go to the youth retreat, and it would also be the longest time they had been away from us.

There were many things we worried about. Would they fit in? Would they be homesick and lonely? What about the river? Would they be safe playing in the river during the afternoon free time?

Big worry, What if there was a lunatic around the camp? It happens!

There were many other things that went through our mind. Things scarier to me than those big monster birds.

One night while on a walk after camp was over our conversation went something like this.

"Just think two weeks ago we were on our walk feeling all anxious about our daughters going to camp." I said to my friend Bilinda.

"Now that we are on this side of it, we can see there was no reason to be anxious. And if we would have taken them home early like we wanted to, they would have missed out on all He had in store for them."

Bilinda's birthday was on the Friday of camp so we went over to the camp to visit them on Friday afternoon.

They seemed bored and would have come home with us if we let them.
We gave them pep talks.

One of the things that was mentioned - this was a time set aside for them to hear God and to see what He had to say to them. He knew they had this time set apart in their lives so what was His plan for it?

We left them at the camp and drove away wondering if we should turn around until we started talking about how we didn't want to stop the work of the Holy Spirit.

When we returned on Sunday to pick them up, we were met with tired, but excited girls who had incredible stories to share about what had happened in the group and in their lives.

And it started Friday, after we had left them behind at the retreat instead of bringing them home early.
What if we had decided to cut short their adventure? They would have missed out.

As a matter of fact, I had toyed with not letting Sarrah go at all, because of a circumstance I was afraid MIGHT happen. It didn't. It actually worked out really well.

Fear. Worry. It hinders our lives in so many ways.

I have had times where I stayed awake at night. I have fretted an entire day, weeks even, and talked and talked about something that never happens the way my mind conjures up the way it could be.

I am way, way better. Still, there are those things in my life that can send me straight to worry and fear, instead of to my knees in prayer. I do pray, always pray, but then I battle against the thoughts in my mind.


I had such an intense fear of flying. The first flight I took was a big emotional ordeal for me. I was fortunate enough to sit between two ladies who saw my fear and entertained me the entire flight.

Despite that...I did not want to fly home. Ended up driving home.

My next flight I didn't have too much time to get riled up because it was an emergency in the family kind of flight. On the way home when we flew over water...well...that was a different story. My brother entertained me during that time.

When I am flying somewhere...I could really conjure up some scary thoughts and be curled up in fear.
But I've learned...curling up with fear. Spending the day with worry. That's not what God wants in my life.

Now, when I get on a plane. Yeah, the thoughts threaten to fill my mind. And I still hate the take-offs, and I ignore looking out the window if we fly over water.


I have filled my mind with God's truth to help me walk with Him instead of with fear and worry.

The number one fear breaker for me was when I read in Psalm 139 that GOD had numbered my days. That He knows how many I have.

So, here is the deal. Whether I am driving a car. Walking down a street. Or flying in an airplane. If today is the day. It's the day. Worry. Fear. Have absolutely no power to change that day.

Instead, I have to choose (as we tell my daughter) to be the best me to glorify God today. I may not have tomorrow. I may not have tonight, the next hour, the next minute, the next second.

What I have is right here. Right now for sure.

The number two fear breaker for me was I know where I am going after my last breath here on earth. One breath here, the next in heaven with Jesus.

The Bible tells us that He who believes shall never die. We will die physically but not spiritually.
The more I read in the Bible about God's plan for me and everyone else, the less fear had a hold on me.

The third and absolutely hardest thing that is breaking the power of fear and worry for me is TRUSTING God.

That is a hard one for me. I don't trust very easily at all. And here is the ridiculous, embarrassing thing about not trusting God...Uh...He is the one I run to. And He is the one with the answers. He is always good.

But sometimes, I struggle, is He really going to be there for me?

And the other struggle. The biggest struggle...Is He going to be there for me the way I want Him to be there for me? Or does He have another plan and that other plan might hurt.

Such as the well-being of the people I love. I realize God wrote their days too. Am I willing to accept their day may not be another tomorrow? It will break my heart. It's not like I have a choice or not about accepting the days God has written for me and others. What is written is written.

Still, I have to trust and know there will be days in my life that may be filled with pain. And on those days...turn to the one who brings comfort to His people.

My prayers are still for what I hope will happen, but they are also; prepare me for what may happen, along with; letting go and letting God run this world, my life, the way He has planned.

Whenever I am on the other side of pain, I have always been able to look back and see something wonderful He has done. Also, I have been able to be there for others because I have more than sympathy, I have empathy.

Learning to stand, and believe in the promise that "All things work for GOOD for those who love God and are called according to His purpose." Is a hard thing to do during adversities in life. It's is an easier thing to do after each adversity because there is the discovery that He is there even when it feels like He is not.

On Facebook, I have been seeing so many people going through scary, painful trials. Health issues, job issues, deaths, etc. The other morning I read about one girl in particular who is suffering so from cancer and has been leaning on God even when it seems He is not there.

I remembered some times when I cried out from deep within my being and it seemed there was no response. No one there. I just had to deal with the pain. Those are moments I will not forget.
I also will not forget the discovery that He was responding. Just not the way I thought He should at that moment. He has moved me on. He has dealt with the issues. And when I look back. My faith grew as I got to know Him and see how powerfully He worked in my life.

Fear. Worry. Can be Hindrances.

Unless...the minute they creep up and start talking and filling my mind full of stuff that terrifies me...I turn and tell my heavenly Father those things...and then take His hand and let Him walk me through the valleys that have shadows of death. Life is better when I turn my eyes to Him and not the shadows, not the valleys.

Psalm 23

Saturday, January 16, 2016

I Have No Gloves!

"I have no gloves." The girl standing outside of my car said after I handed her some money. Then she showed me her red, cold hands.

I looked around our car to see if we had a spare pair and then checked to see of any of us in the car were wearing gloves. "I don't have any gloves," I said apologetically.

She showed me her hands again. "I don't have any gloves." Her face was sad. I noticed her skimpy skirt with leggings underneath; a pink backpack lay on the sidewalk.

I asked my daughter to look under the seat to see if we had any hand and foot warmers.

"I have hand warmers," she said a little frustrated. "But I have no gloves."

"I don't have any gloves." I had shaken my head before we drove away. I felt sad for her.

My first response - go to the nearby store and buy her a pair of gloves.

Until I saw the parking lot filled with cars waiting in line to park. Last minute shoppers on Christmas Eve.

Then after I bought the gloves we would have to get on the northbound freeway, curve around to catch the southbound freeway, then take the exit that led to her, who knew how long that would take.

Traffic was thick and getting thicker. People were on their way home from work and on their way to start the holiday fun...she would probably be gone by the time we got back to her.

I prayed for her.

As we drove, I wondered about her. Why was she on the corner begging? Where was her family? Where would she spend the holidays, with family, friends, under a bush for shelter? Why wasn't she a part of society? Would she be alone on Christmas Eve?

I prayed another prayer for her as we went to continue our Christmas Eve festivities. We were coming from our first family gathering, and on our way to church, and then onto another family gathering. We would be warm, safe, and with people we loved, who loved us back.
I wondered about the girl and hoped she wouldn't be alone. I prayed for her.

Years ago on the first Christmas night, Joseph was knocking on doors, "We have no place to stay."

"We have no room." He would hear.

Until finally an innkeeper allowed them to stay in his stable.

There the Lord, who came down from heaven to live among us, came into the world as a baby.

While others were in their warm shelters, Jesus was born in a dirty, stinky manger. The angels appeared to shepherds, who were not high on the social scale, to let them know that Jesus was born.
The shepherds went to see Him. They were among the first to know that a Savior of the world had been born.

Jesus could've been born anywhere, yet, God the Father planned for him to be born in a humble place.

It wasn't a fanfare beginning.

But it is so true to how God works in this world.

He goes to the stinky, dark places and reaches out to those who don't fit in society. He hears those who are brokenhearted; he heals those who are sick and hurting; he loves those who feel unloved.

He came down to walk among His people and do for them what His people could never do for themselves.

He paid the price. He gave His life.

When I heard that girl say, "I have no gloves." And I didn't have the means to help her, I prayed. I say that with confidence because of who I prayed to about her. I know, He is capable of doing more than finding her a pair of gloves.

I know just like on that first Christmas, He is faithful to show up and meet that girl right where she is at and do for her what she cannot do for herself.

Christmas is the incredible story of Jesus, who showed up.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

I LOVE the Red Cup

The day after Thanksgiving one of my friends posted on Facebook that the Starbucks holiday cup was out. She included a picture of the red cup. It enticed me to know there was steaming hot coffee in it. Typically, I like iced coffee, but leading into the holidays, I love to carry around warm coffee in a red cup.

A few days later, though, I started to hear and see some negative things about the holiday Starbucks cup. Ridiculous things.

Shortly after I saw a post on another of my friends Facebook wall that hurt my heart. It was a post about "the stupid CHRISTIANS" and their attitude about the Starbucks cup.


STUPID Christians? Attitude?

I'm a Christian.

Along with the post, the comments about Christians took me by surprise.

Obviously, I didn't participate in that conversation.

I hadn't paid too much attention to the issue since it seemed non-legit to me, but all of the sudden I was put in a group that was "STUPID" because I am a Christian, and it was on a friend's wall, and other friends agreed.

I felt disheartened that such a silly thing would cause such an attacking conversation. I mean really, who cares?

Truth? I happen to love the red cup that comes out every Christmas season.

In all honesty, it saddens me that the Christmas holiday has lost its beauty to a lot of people. It hasn't lost its beauty to me, regardless, the red cup has absolutely nothing to do with it.

I am grateful that every year at Starbucks, during the Christmas season, they distribute their coffee in a holiday colored cup. And right after the holiday is over they go back to their white cups. How many companies take the time to do something like that each year?

So with all of this swirling through my mind, it struck me as funny, although I wasn't surprised, to read something in the Bible, which connected with the issue.

I opened my Bible to the book of Esther, chapter 3 verse 5, it told a story about a man named Haman who the King had given a place of honor too, higher than all of the nobles. Everyone was to bow down to him. When he walked by Mordecai, he wouldn't bow, and this infuriated him, but instead of just getting mad at Mordecai, he wanted to kill all of Mordecai's people. His anger spewed onto people who didn't even know what happened between him and Mordecai.

When I read this verse, it stirred my thoughts about the silly controversy and the time people spent on this whole cup thing, and the horrible things that spewed from people’s mouths, and how they grouped ALL Christians into the same category.

Although there are many good uses for social networking, it seems it has also created a platform for people to spew their opinionated stuff and stereotype another with no regard for their feelings. And for other's to jump on the bandwagon without really thinking the issue through. Some of the stuff I read completely shocks me.

Is there that freedom to cut people down and not have relational consequences?

I have been witness to people I care about arguing on their wall with each other, and saying horrible things about one another. Really? And then, other people join in.

I've had people hop on my wall and say things negative things about my faith, instead of private messaging me. I've deleted it, and private messaged them.

What is up with that? When a person is on the receiving end, it can hurt. And yes, on the other side of those words written, somebody is reading them. And that somebody has feelings. That somebody could be someone who cares but is hurt enough they stop the relationship.

Shouldn't we consider the words we write? Be responsible about who may be reading them, and be considerate to the minds and hearts that are receiving them?

A man asked Jesus what is the greatest commandment? He answered, "Love God with all of your heart, your soul, and your mind. And to love your neighbor as yourself." (Can find story in Matthew 12:29-31)

I think that applies even when posting on a social network.

Back to the "CUP" controversy - maybe there are a few Christians who are offended by the cup...but, not me (and probably not many others). When I carry that red cup full of warm coffee, it has nothing to do with my belief in Jesus. It does, however, add to how I celebrate Him coming to earth as a man. It also stirs up sweet memories of all the past birthday’s and Christmas’s.

I love to pick out a fun winter cup to use during the Christmas season where I take the time, along with other believers, to celebrate the Lord's gift to those who believe. And even those who don't believe in Him enjoy the season in their way.

I love to say Merry Christmas to people. I don't expect them to say it back because they may not believe in Jesus yet.

I do wish everyone loved and believed in Him. I do wish everyone wanted to follow Him. And that is His desire too, I know this because that is the story of Christmas. Not how a company decorates their Christmas cup.

John 3:16 tells us, He sent His Son into the world and whoever believes WILL be saved.

I can't force someone to see how wonderful Jesus is. I can't force them to do things the way I do because I love Him.

But I can carry a red cup as part of MY proclamation that I am celebrating the best gift I could ever receive.

And just a note - You will not find me wearing an ugly Christmas sweater. That - I just...will NOT do!

I hope that you had a wonderful Christmas and having a great start to the New Year.