Wednesday, December 28, 2016


Over and over and over again for the past month, GOD has been getting my attention.
Instead of focusing on the election (yet again) or being fearful of what a Trump presidency means, or getting so frustrated that my husband has limited my time to watching the news, I am being reminded that it is JESUS who I am to follow. Who I am to obey. Who I am to serve.

It has never been about me. 
It has been and always will be, ALL ABOUT JESUS.

There is so much going on in the world that breaks my heart.
So much that can terrify me.
Between the refugees from Syria (now over six million have been displaced from their homes), the sex trafficking all over and the atrocities being committed against women and girls and young boys, to the heinous dictators (or leaders) in Syria and North Korea and Russia, and the so many I don't know about, I can become totally paralyzed with fear.

I choose not to be. 
Instead I choose each day to pray and ask God to intervene, to protect His children. And although I do not see the answers to my prayers right now; I know that the ONE who created life, who created us, will one day soon, have HIS way.

I am choosing the word "FAITHFUL"  for my word this year. It has been on my heart and spinning through my mind for a month now. I had been planning to write this blog all day and just now read a blog by Sarah Bessey, a much younger follower of Jesus who has challenged me over the past several years and she too chose the word, FAITHFUL ( I guess great minds think alike!!

FAITHFUL to GOD and what He has called me to be: His servant in this world, to be obedient to what He has asked me to do. To pray for what He has put on my heart. To give to where He leads me to give. To be a LIGHT that shows others the reality of living a life following CHRIST. To TRUST Him in the midst of my uncertainties. To be mindful again and again of the HOPE He gives. To CLING to Him, no matter what.

NO MATTER WHAT I hear on the news or what I read online. No matter what happens to those I love. No matter who is president. I am called to be FAITHFUL  to my GOD.

One way that I can be faithful is to listen to His Words, to let sink in His way of life. So for the year of 2017 I am going to read the Gospels each day. I did this a few years ago and it was incredible to hear and soak in just Jesus' words. Because they are always TRUTH.
I will read one chapter a day. It takes about 3 months then to read through the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
This way I will read through the Gospels four times this year. Each time I will read it in a different version. Most likely I will use the NIV, the Message, the NLT and ESV.
The gleanings I will receive each day will be immeasurable. I remember when I did this last, that I was so surprised each day that the LORD would speak to my heart in a new way and remind me of His truths.
I have tried to follow Jesus for 45 years now. I have read through the Bible over 25 times. I know the Gospels. I know the stories and the miracles. I have heard them since attending parochial school as a child. 
But when I come with an expectant heart each day, Jesus reveals Himself to me anew.
I would love to have you join me in this endeavor. To soak up the words of Jesus each and everyday in 2017. I think I can guarantee that you will be surprised and grateful at the end of the year.
When we get our perspective from JESUS, our fears will lessen. We will be more focused on Him, on what He wants and His will.
And as I've said before, "Its all about Him and not us".
It will change how I (we) think, how we pray and hopefully how we think and how we act. 
I for one, NEED to do this.
What about you?

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Trying to Turn over a New Attitude.

Oh this month. What a ride! Not necessarily a fun ride, but one that has had more downs then ups, and one that won't be forgotten soon.

The presidential election has left half the country so disheartened, questioning everything that has transpired.
I am one of them.

I could not, would not, vote for Donald Trump if he had given me all his money. More than anything, I am absolutely confused and baffled by those who say they are followers of Christ and voted for him. 
How do you vote for a man who wants to build a wall across the border of Mexico and the United States? Who wants to throw out anyone who is a Muslim? Who says he wants to change the immigration Laws? ( mind you, he has had 2 wives who are immigrants). Who changes his mind on issues like women change their clothes? Who tweets unbelievable things? Who has groped women and boasted of it?

This man is definitely someone who does not resemble Jesus Christ to me. As I have pondered for a month now, I have wondered if those who proclaim to be a follower of Christ, and voted for Mr Trump, actually have an american worldview of Christianity?  The kind of view that believes we are superior to the rest of the world and that we don't need to be concerned about "them".  I do not believe that 81% of white evangelical Christians voted for Trump; they didn't poll me or so many of my friends.

I have to admit, a Trump presidency scares the heck out of me. He is so irrational at times, speaks without thinking often, and bullies so many people. I thoroughly believe that God remains in control and that many times I often do not understand His ways. This may be the end of the US as a world power and that may be part of God's plan, but I have chosen to trust Him in spite of my fears.

Today I read the book of Nehemiah from the Old Testament. It is the story of how one man took a risk and asked a king for a favor so he could re-build the wall in Jerusalem. The reason the wall needed to be rebuilt is that the Jewish people had continuously disobeyed God, discarded His commands and pridefully thought they could run their lives better without Him. 
Sounds so much like us in the United States today. We were founded as a country granting religious freedom. We included God when our country began and today, we are much like the Jews of old; we think we know better than God, we discard His views on loving one another and we wonder why His favor does not rest on our country anymore.

In Nehemiah 1, he writes:
     "When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I
     mourned and fasted and prayed to the God of Heaven"

Is that what we need to be doing?  Can the answer to our anger and grief most likely can be found in prayer and fasting? I am beginning to think it is. 
Not so that we could change the results of the election (but maybe we could change the electoral college-oh sorry, I could only wish), but maybe in prayer and fasting, in trusting God with our questions, our fears, our extreme disappointment, we might gain His perspective. And I for one, need it.
What if each of us who almost despaired in the days following the election, set aside a day or two to fast and seek God and His will, and to hear His Word. Because if you are anything like me, you have heard too much from what the world is saying, getting riled up reading the news, looking at social media and being disgusted. What I need to hear, and most likely you too, is the TRUTH. And God's Word has always been and will always be the truth. We need to hear from the ONE who created life, created us and who holds all of us together.

Further on in Nehemiah 1, the prophet writes:
     "I confess the sins we the Israelites (or us americans),            including myself...have committed against You. We have
   acted wickedly toward You. We have not obeyed the commands, 

   decrees and laws..."

This stopped me this morning. Why do we think we God would bless America, when we don't listen to Him or follow Him? I am like Nehemiah, just as guilty. I have disobeyed, have acted wickedly, and now is the time to repent. For myself and for my country.
2 Chronicles 7:14 states:
     "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble them-
    selves 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 heal their land."

This is what we, as followers of Christ need to do. WE need to humble ourselves. We need to pray and seek God's face. We need to turn from our sin-our pride, our anger,our holier than thou attitudes, our judgmental thoughts, and ask God to forgive us.
Then and maybe then, He will begin to heal our land.
Because we NEED HIS HEALING. We have said things we should not have said, we have been angry and NOW is the time for us to start the process. WE, who profess our faith, who say Jesus is our Lord, need to begin the healing process. To release our frustrations and our fears and to TRUST God, that He is the ONE who does the healing.

NOW is the time for us to be humble. To drop the accusations and to just do what He requires of us. To love others, regardless if we agree with them or not. To show kindness-to EVERYONE. To be respectful because this is exactly how Jesus is to each of us. And to be forgiving, because WE HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN.


Monday, September 26, 2016


I was born in the 1950's and grew up in the 60's when the Civil Rights movement really became a focus once again.

I was never aware that I had so many advantages being born white in America.
I have never been looked down on because of the color of my skin. I have never been pulled over because I am a white woman who "looks suspicious".

I grew up where Negroes (as the African-Americans were called then) were a part of my life.
The foreman on my father's construction company was to a young girl, the biggest man she had ever seen with the largest hands imaginable. I didn't know he was different. We had a Black housekeeper, who when my mother died, we had to beg her to quit working and sit down and be with us.

I remember watching the news when James Meredith wanted to enroll at the University of Mississippi and had to have the US Marshall accompany him, so that he would be the first Black admitted to a university in the south-ever. I remember last year being at Ole Miss, requesting my friends to take me to the administration building where it all started, and saw with pride the statue of James Meredith on the Ole Miss campus.

I remember being at my grandmother's beach house when the Watts Riots started. I remember asking why this was happening. I just didn't understand as a ten year old what would cause this.
I remember when Martin Luther King Jr was murdered. I was a sopohmore in high school and I marched in downtown Palo Alto with my friend Nancy. I was devastated that a man who wanted to promote racial reconciliation was gunned down by a white man.

I remember my father building two apartment complexes in East Palo Alto for the Black people at an affordable price in the 1960's.

I imagine I have always been a civil rights advocate in my own life.

As a follower of Christ, I believe firmly that God has created all men (and women) equal. That we have no color in His eyes; that He sees us just as His children. And yet for the past year, my soul- the deepest part of me that is true, has been at unrest at the racism in our country.
For the past 3 months I have been with such a heavy heart of what has transpired in our country.
I began praying everyday for racism to be obliterated. I have been asking God what I could do. What can I, a white woman in my 60's who lives in the middle of nowhere (seriously, I live one hour away from the 3 closest towns) can do.

I came to the realization that politics won't fix our problem. That communities can do what they can, but will it only be for their particular city.
Only the Church of Jesus Christ can begin the process of reconciliation in our country.
Do you know that as of today (September 26th) that 703 people have been documented deaths by police in this year alone? and that 173 Deaths have been Black Americans.
Believe me, I am not condemning our policemen. I like the police; they protect me. I realize that there are good cops who deeply care about the people they protect (they are the overwhelming majority) and there are bad cops as well.

But it TIME WE DO SOMETHING. It is time for the Church in America to lead the change.
This morning I read in a book by Tony Evans, a Black pastor in Dallas, about fasting.
When our prayers don't seem to work or produce the change we need, we need to consider fasting.

I am not famous. I will never be one of the bloggers who has thousands of followers. But I am a woman who follows Christ with all that is me and I want to be obedient. Today, I feel like God has begun to answer my prayer for racial reconciliation.

I am asking you who follow Jesus, to share this post.
I am asking that on Sunday October 9, 2016, Followers of JESUS across the country to fast and pray for the racial tensions to end.
Fasting, according to Evans "is the abstinence from some form of physical gratification, for a period of time, in order to achieve a greater spiritual goal." Tony Evans goes on to say that in fasting, "you deliberately show God that you are serious about getting His attention and that you are intently listening for his voice". When we choose to fast, we choose God and His word over our own physical appetite. We see things with greater clarity when we fast because we are seeking God and His answers , instead of our own. When we fast, we choose intentionally, to come into God's presence for His wisdom.

What if on October 9th, The Black Faith Community joins with the White Faith Community across our country, and we fast together, pleading with God to change the course of what is happening in our country in regards to race. What if we ask heaven to move mountains so that God's purpose is carried out on earth.

What if 53 years later, the end of Martin Luther King's " I have a Dream" speech spoken at our nations capital can begin to come true.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream that we, the followers of Christ can make a difference.
Will you join me On October 9th please?

Wednesday, August 31, 2016


I was almost horrified this morning when while talking to a dear friend, I realized that tomorrow is September 1st.
Not that September 1 is a bad day, it is just that it crept up on me without even thinking about what that day signifies for me.

Twenty years ago ( or maybe it was 19 and this will be my 20th year), the pastor of the church we attended, informed us that he prays a particular verse for each of his family members.
I was so impressed with this idea, that I began searching for a verse for each different family member. I believe he told us about this endeavor the first weekend in September.

So now for the 20th time, I will begin to look for verses for our family members. When I started it was just the six of us. Now with spouses for each child and three adorable grandsons, I will be finding 13 different verses for each member of my immediate family.

I can almost guarantee you that it will take me the entire month to find them; unless by some "miracle", the LORD gives me these verses more quickly.
Truly it is an amazing time searching through the Bible looking, wondering, deciding (with the Holy Spirit's guidance) which verse is for which person. This allows me to see Scripture in a whole new light as I get to review verses from the past that have ministered to me when I deeply needed them, see verses that I had chosen for family members at different times in their lives, and be grateful again that the Word of God is still so relevant for today.

I often have wondered why the LORD would lead me to a specific verse for someone, but have believed that this indeed was THE right verse, even when I didn't understand; only to be amazed and grateful as the year went on and the reason was made clear.  

This year will be the 20th year I have prayed verses for my family; specific verses for each particular member. It has been an honor and a joy to do this. It has helped me memorize Scripture; although I must admit that I can't always tell you where it came from (book and verse), I do remember the actual words of the verse.

Yes, I was taken aback this morning that today was the last day of August. On the other hand, I am totally excited and looking forward to the month of September ( I always love this month because it is my birthday month!) because I am awaiting the new promises God will give me to pray for my family members.

When my kids were in school, they always started in September, that doesn't happen much these days, when so many schools begin in August, which is why I always pick my verses in September. It was the beginning of a new school year and a perfect time for me to reflect on challenges they might face, milestones that could occur, and wait for God to reveal His particular word, for each of those that I love the most in this world.

It is a beautiful thing to see how God works through the years. It is an even more splendid thing to see God work in the lives of your family and watch them become who He has envisioned them to be.

My encouragement for you today is to find verses for your family. It may take awhile. You may not be able to do it now for the season of life you are in. But if you can do this, not only will your family be blessed, you will be blessed as you watch God's Word come alive.

A  very special thank you to Dave Sawkins for this wonderful idea!!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Displaced. Replaced. Misplaced. What to do next.

How many times have I lost my keys, or really misplaced them.
How often do I reach for my glasses and can't seem to find them?
Or how often have I followed directions on my "smart phone", only to be totally lost?

Realistically, I could not give you a number for any of the above.

But what if your mind doesn't work the way it used to, and you forget people's names, or tell your children the same story yet again? Is my mind being misplaced? Or is it displaced? I am not quite sure.

What if you had a job that you were successful at for years and all of a sudden your boss walks in and says: "I've decided to go a different direction", and no further explanation was given? 

What if your spouse walks in your home one day, and says "I'm done, this just isn't working for me anymore."

What if you answer the phone in the middle of the night and hear the words, "there has been an accident"?

Or the doctor calls and says "I need to see you today. Your results are in". (for the record, if you get a phone call like that, it is never good news; great news can be conveyed on the phone).

What if your child who has been exemplary all their life, gets in trouble with their friends and you wonder, "where did I go wrong?"

What do we do in times like this?
We have choices; yet how and what we choose determines how we deal with change.
I have to admit that I kick and scream (not loudly, more in my mind) long before I ever get to the acceptance stage.

Our choices in how we respond tremendously affects us.
Unfortunately for me, so often I react instead of think and act. It has caused me some tremendous heartache in my life. And how often I wish I could backtrack and respond differently.

I wish I could be like some friends of ours. The grace they show and extend to others totally blows me away. One night they received the tragic news that their youngest son had died. They told their family but kept the news from the rest of us for over 24 hours, until we could celebrate the blessings of sixty years of Young Life in our city.

I am amazed and caught off guard by the grace and love and concern for others this couple felt in the midst of the worst day of their lives.

What if we all reacted like them?
What if we showed grace when it wasn't deserved?
And isn't that just what grace is. Undeserved favor and blessing.
Exactly what Christ offers each of us every single day of our lives.

What if the job we had been displaced by, the partner that replaced us, the things we lost and misplaced, could be seen as opportunities for us to respond the way God envisions us responding?
 I ask myself, Is that even possible?
It is. But only if we involve Jesus in the process.

The times when we most feel like lashing out are the times when we just need to be quiet, to sit in the hurt, the pain, the bitterness and let God begin to transform our minds and our hearts.

One of my favorite verses to meditate on is Romans 12:2a.
The New Living Version states:

                      "Don't copy the behavior and customs of this
                        world, but let God transform you into a new
                         person by changing the way you think."

Oh my, forty plus years of walking with Jesus, trying to be who He sees me to be, and yet I am still holding on to my ways far too often. I so desire for Him to transform my thinking. But I must make the conscious decision to turn to Him immediately when my world has been rocked. Slowly, very slowly, I am letting this happen, but why did I not realize this decades ago?

So when life throws you curve balls that were so unexpected, and it always will do that because who plans for tragedy, and job loss and a divorce, or a wayward child, practice turning to God before you say a thing, before a word leaves your tongue.
 Cry out to God.
Keep your mouth shut.
 Listen. Keep listening.

Don't miss what HE has for you in this trial and pain that snuck up on you. One thing I have learned and know for sure: GOD NEVER WASTES THE PAIN in our lives. He will use it to transform us, to encourage others, to bring Him glory.
That's the one thing I tend to forget most often; I am here to bring GOD glory. It is all about Him, not me.

So in those deep hard hard moments, cry out to Him before you respond. He is there, waiting for you. It won't be easy but you will never be alone.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Oh My Weeds

Spring brings life to the dead of winter.
Winter living in the mountains results in completely dead grass, grey skies, dreary days and long nights. Wood burning stove heats the house and frequent trips to the wood pile to re-stock the wood, reminds one again that winter is in full swing.
The torrential rains that were desperately needed, produced an over abundant collection of water in the lakes throughout our county; which in turn furnished the landscape with the lushness of greenery as the calendar moved forward.

Spring is by far my most favorite time living in these hills east of Sacramento. The colors of green that decorate the landscape are such a contrast to the nothingness of winter. And then, the sides of the roads became brilliant with the bright orange of the poppies. Everything along the drive to town and back brings smiles. The cows grazing on the fresh and abundant grass, the goats and sheep wandering the countryside, the horses cantering along an open field. Different bushes illuminated with shades of purple and fuchia are amazing to behold.

With the arrival of spring, everyone begins to think of planting and updating their gardens. It is very hard to begin planting before May when you live at an altitude of 3200 feet. As I looked at our yard today, I thought it was about time to start weeding.

Have you ever realized how weeds can take over everything? It is almost as if you pull one up and you see one hundred more. As I was beginning the weeding process today and feeling a bit overwhelmed at the magnitude of them, I stopped for a moment and contemplated how weeds often look like the sins in my life that keep popping up. Just when I think I have destroyed one part of ugliness that seeks to dwell in my life, it rears its ugly head; exactly like the way you pull the week up from its root and weeks later it comes back.
 I have often contemplated how gardening reminds me of my relationship with God. I weed and plant and water and wait for the harvest of beautiful flowers and sweet tomatoes and strawberries and various herbs and vegetables. I imagine that God does the same with me: weeds the awful things that cause me to not be the person He envisions to me, and then plants more of His life into mine and waits to see how I will re-produce His Grace into the lives of others.
Those nagging weeds also reminded me today of the doubts that keep coming back trying to de-rail my relationship with my Creator. I can walk along smoothly for a time, seeking and enjoying the fellowship of Jesus, when all of a sudden-out of nowhere, the nagging questions re-surface wondering where God is, does He see what is going on, how long will He allow me or someone else to suffer, or wonder what the heck He is up to.
I am in one of those times right now. I know that God is good. I know He cares deeply for me and those I love, but I read some of the Psalms where people cry out to Him and He answers them and I wonder why He won't answer me. Does He not hear my cries of desperation?
I know He does. My doubts are the weeds that keep showing up. Even when I carefully watch over my garden, weeds still come back, making sure I know that there is more work to be done. Those weeds that remind me of my sin and resemble my doubts that keep showing up, are ways to keep me grounded to my Savior. I can't take care of them on my own, just as the weeds in my garden do not disappear on their own. I know I need help to work through these times. 
These are the times when the enemy of God would like me to walk away, to fall into the trap that God doesn't care, that He is never there for me when I need Him to be; but I know different. I know and remember that God has shown me His faithfulness for over Forty-four years. He has shown up when I couldn't get up. He shows up in my husband who understands me in these times and hugs me with words of encouragement.  He has shown up via my friends who have cared and prayed for me, He has shown up in phone calls and texts and emails. He has shown up in His Word. I just have to keep at it-even when I don't feel like it.
Like the pesky weeds that try and take over my garden, I have to keep weeding them out. So the same applies to the sin that keeps creeping back or the doubts that resurface, I have to do my part and wait for God to do His.
Not ever easy. Not ever fun. Always worth it.

Monday, March 28, 2016

An Unforgettable 72 Hours

So much life can happen in just 72 hours. Who can fathom going from celebrating, to a profound sorrow and deep grief, to again having HOPE that can carry one through anything? That is what my last weekend looked like.

Thursday evening Scud and I were absolutely privileged to attend the 60 year celebration of Young Life in San Jose (now known as Silicon Valley Young Life). For over 30 years, we were immersed in this wonderful ministry in San Jose. From being on staff, to being volunteer leaders, to serving on the Young Life Committee, we spent the first 30 years of our marriage, doing whatever we could to reach the adolescents in San Jose so they could hear the best news they could ever imagine by speaking the Truth about Jesus Christ and how much He desires to have all of us know Him and the love of His Father.
It was truly a remarkable evening put on by the YL staff in San Jose, the committee of capable and industrious adults, the amazing YL leaders and so many of the kids we try to reach.
It was quite the nostalgic evening, and tears slipped out of my eyes, realizing how extremely blessed we have been, along with our children, to serve in this ministry, along with some truly incredible people who have become our life long friends.
I went to be with the most incredible grateful heart and truly thanked God for what He has done in the past 60 years in San Jose and what He will do in the next 60 years of Silicon Valley.

The next morning I received a phone call telling me of the heart breaking news, that dear dear friends had lost their 28 year old son in a horrific series of events.
Unfortunately, I have learned too many times how fragile and precious life is and that we will never be certain of the number of our days. I, along with countless others, grieved deeply for and with this family. It is not supposed to be like this. Parents are not supposed to lose their children first. Having been a pediatric nurse for a number of years, I have seen this occur way too often.
My heart aches and breaks for these dear friends, and for their large extended family. I ache for the one surviving friend of a trio of childhood best friends. I am sorry for those of you who never got a hug from Sammy, who never knew his gentle spirit and generous heart. I can't fathom what his family feels, when my heart grieves too. I can't get them off my mind and heart. All I can do is pray for the peace that transcends all human understanding and for God to comfort the family and to bring others to comfort and walk with them through this.
The Okun's are the first thing on my mind each morning and the last thought and prayer I have at night. I don't understand such tragedy; none of it makes sense. I know this is not how it is supposed to be. This is never what God intended for any of us to experience.

Sunday was Easter. That is where the HOPE comes in.
When I stated that this is never what God intended, it is because when He created the world thousands of years ago, He envisioned perfection and peace. When Adam and Eve were deceived into believing the devil's lie, that they could be as smart as God, sin entered the world, and from then on life was no longer perfect.
But God couldn't let sin take away His love for us.

He had a plan. God the Father would send His Son, Jesus Christ, to earth to take on our sin so that we might again, be able to be in the relationship with God that He had always planned on.
Good Friday is really more than good. It is the Best Friday, because Jesus died for our sins that day over 2000 years ago, and because of His suffering and death, for those of us who know him, we will be able to spend eternity with Him.
Saturday to me, is always the "in between" day. In between the reality of Jesus dying for us, in between the silence, the doubt, the questions, the grief, He knew that Sunday was coming.
On that very first Easter morning, Jesus Christ conquered death and defeated his enemy forever. He gave us the hope that how it is supposed to be will happen again.
The HOPE that all our tears will be gone, that the sadness and grief we experience here on earth, will barely be remembered. The things we have suffered and endured, will not matter. What will matter is that we will be with God for eternity. And THAT IS THE HOPE I am clinging to. The HOPE that I count on. The HOPE I believe with all my heart.

The HOPE that Joan and Dave, and Andy and Christina and Daniel, and the Davis family and all the DiSalvo's will someday be reunited with Sammy. The peace that they long for, will ALWAYS be present.

I am grateful to know that Sammy is with Jesus right this minute. He is at peace and living eternally with the God he loved deeply.
Someday, I will see him again. Someday, the way it is supposed to be will be.

For all the emotions that we have experienced these past few days, for all the emotions still to come, I pray that all of us will cling to Jesus Christ. He alone will be our Peace. He alone will sustain us through the grief. I am so thankful for the HOPE; I would be lost without it.
PS Sammy give Robby a hug and Robbo give Sammy a hug for me.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016


Oh how I remember promises.
As a child, when your parent promises you something, you believe that what they are saying will happen.

"I promise I will pick you up and not forget you."
"I promise that if you do not pick a fight with your sister, that I will pay you."
"I promise that if you improve your grade, you can drive the car again."
"I promise I will not miss your game. (or your performance).
"I promise I won't drink that much again."
"I promise I won't hit you."

What happens when we do not get what we are promised?
Our faith in the person crumbles a bit. If promises are never kept; we learn not to trust what they say..
But when promises are fulfilled, we are delighted. We believe and our trust is not challenged.

One promise that was broken to me was when I was a senior in high school. My dad promised that he would not miss my high school graduation. My parents had officially divorced in my junior year, but to me, it seemed like an amicable divorce. 
I loved my dad. I was definitely a "Daddy's girl."
My dad was an alcoholic. I think that was what tore my parents marriage apart.
I don't remember my dad making many promises to me, but this one I remembered because he had moved from northern California where we lived, to San Diego.
Of course I expected him to be there. Isn't that what parents do?
What I didn't know is that his new girlfriend (who he eventually married, and later divorced) had a daughter who graduated the same night I was.
When he didn't show up, I remember being hurt. And sad. But as a high school-er, I was more into what was going on in the life of my friends, than my family.

It was years later that I realized how much that really hurt me. It appeared that my dad chose her daughter over me. I remember asking him about it just once and he apologized profusely. Maybe its that over 45 years have passed, and that hurt is forgotten and forgiven that I don't care about that anymore. What I realized from that occurrence, is that I didn't want to break promises to my children.

Unfortunately, I did.
The promise that our home would always be a welcome home for their friends was broken in my anger and own brokenness. For that, I am always going to have remorse.
I wonder how many of us have never had a promise broken to us or who we have never broken a promise that we made. In the year of a political election, I am very skeptical when the candidates promise things. I think they say what we want to hear-just to get our vote.

In the fourth chapter of Romans, it says:

     "Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping-        believing that he would become the father of many nations.
   Abraham never wavered in believing God's promise. In fact his        faith grew stronger and stronger, and in this he brought glory      to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do what He
   promises."  New Living Translation (Romans 4:18,20-21)

For those of you who do not know the story, God had promised that Abraham would have an heir, a son who came from his own body. It was well past the time that Sarah, his wife, was of child bearing age. In fact, Sarah when unable to conceive, had Abraham father a child through her maid. But this was not what God had promised. So years later, many years later, when Abraham was one hundred and Sarah was Ninety, she gave birth to their son, Isaac.

Wait, What?
Didn't I just quote Romans saying that Abraham never wavered in believing God's promise?
Yes, yes I did.
For almost positive, I would have wavered, I would have had many periods of doubt. 
" Did God really say that? Did he really promise me?"
Abraham never wavered. In fact his faith grew stronger and stronger.
I believe that happened because for me having doubts and struggling with my faith, always ends up in me growing closer to God. In fact, I even wrote about it this past summer (

Doubting God always seems to make me draw nearer to Him after I have struggled through whatever it is that I am doubting. Wondering if He is indeed Good, all the time. Wondering if He hears me. Wondering if He cares. Wonder if He sees what is really going on.

One of the main lessons I have learned in following Jesus is that He does not break His promises. Ever. God's promises are always true; always come at the perfect timing.

     Hebrews 10:23 says:
  "Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for
   God can be trusted to keep His promise."  

People make promises and break them. Sometimes on purpose; sometimes unwillingly, sometimes without even realizing it. Because of that we get dis-trustful, have doubts, become angry.
People will always fail us at times. Even the most perfect spouse. Even the most obedient children. Even our most trusted friends.

God is the only one who will NEVER break His promises to us. He is the ONE who will NEVER fail us or forsake us.
O Lord God, help me, help us to believe like Abraham. To never waver and to always believe you.

Monday, February 1, 2016

No news is GOOD NEWS-except for ONE

February 1st marks the start every year in the United States of Black History month.
I care deeply about racial reconciliation between Blacks and Whites in the US.
I don't pretend to understand anymore what my Black friends have endured. For awhile, I thought I knew; but in reality, I have no clue of what it is like to be targeted by police because of the color of my skin. I have no relatives that were slaves. I can't fathom the injustice of having "white bathrooms" compared to "Colored bathrooms". Or faucets that were ear marked for Whites or Coloreds. Or that Black citizens were not allowed to vote or enter a public university.

Growing up in California, all this was mind boggling to me. Why did the South mistreat Black people because of the color of their skin? Why did slave owners basically rape the Negro women on their plantations? How did Christian churches go along with this?

And why for the love of anyone is this still an issue?

Recently I began reading, "Between the World and Me" by Ta-Nehisi Coates.
For a white woman, this book has been very hard to read. I can't even begin to explain the guilt, the pain, the outrage I have experienced in this book, and I am only half way through. It really opened my eyes to see that " I just didn't get it". I thought I did, but no, I don't.
My heart breaks and aches as I read the pages, and am reminded once again of all the evil in the world.

I need to remember that there is evil in the world, because right now, the world is the domain of the enemy of God. As my heart ached this weekend of reading of Boko Haram's latest ambush of a village in Kenya that took the lives of 86, to reading of a Virginia Tech student who killed a 13 year old girl that he met online and preyed on her broken heart from  the bullying she received at school because she was a little overweight and had scars on her body due to a liver transplant. I am aghast at what goes on. Imagine surviving a liver transplant (which is the hardest transplant to endure), only to be bullied at school for the marks it left on your body, and then losing your life to a sadistic and twisted individual.
I read this morning of a Taliban suicide bomber killing 20 people at the police station in Kabul.
So in case you might be disagreeing with me about the evil in our world, these are just three brief stories of what happened over our weekend.

I began reading the book of Romans this morning. This book in the New Testament is the gospel wrapped up in 16 chapters.
Even with all the evil in this world, there is HOPE.
There is ONE who came to set us free from the lies, the distortion, the accusations that we are never enough, that we will never amount to anything, that our life is hopeless.

The devil has been after us from the time Adam and Eve were the first to be seduced into his lies. To believe that they could become just like GOD. That God was holding out on them. And he has been after us humankind, distorting the truth, ever since.

There is so much just in the first chapter of Romans that I was overwhelmed this morning.

     "Through Christ, God has given us the privilege and authority
      ... to tell Gentiles everywhere what God has done for them so
      they will believe and obey Him, bringing glory to His name."

How great is that? We, who know and believe in Jesus, get to tell others about Him. To share with them that there is HOPE. That things can be DIFFERENT. That we are LOVED and CHERISHED by the God who pursues us, desires us and loves us wholly beyond our comprehension. We have the privilege of sharing this GOOD NEWS. 
Yet, I wonder why we don't do it more. Is it because we are afraid of how people will respond or how they will then perceive us? This news That JESUS CHRIST came to earth, to die for us, so that we can be restored into the relationship with God the Father, that we were always meant to have, is THE BEST NEWS we could ever tell anyone.

For the Black population in America, this news transcends the crushing blow of racism. JESUS came to save all of us; skin color was never even considered.
For the Nigerians, that have been brutalized, been killed and lost family members due to the atrocities committed by Boko Harem, can be comforted by the words in Romans 2:2

     " And we know that God in his justice will punish anyone who does such things."

The horrific acts committed by those who murder others WILL NOT GO UNPUNISHED.

There is a GOD who cares deeply for us, so much so that He sent His Son, His Precious Son, to take our place, for paying the price of all the things we have done wrong, so that we might know again of His love, His compassion, His mercy, His forgiveness, His un-ending Grace, to all those who believe in His Son.

My prayer is that evil will be obliterated. That racism would end. That injustices that are being committed all over our world would be done away with. That is written knowing that the chances of this happening in my lifetime are miniscule, but knowing that with Jesus, there is ALWAYS HOPE, and that we each are given the opportunity and privilege of telling others, telling anyone, telling everyone of this Hope.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Freedom in Forgiveness

Why is that when life throws me lemons, I don't make lemonade.
I make a mess. A mess of me and often times, others.
Instead of adding water and sugar and maybe a hint of mint, I tend to add anger, that can lead to bitterness, I add judgement and doubt. Then to make matters worse, I plan retaliation or maybe just my come back answers.

Oh LORD, help me.
Help me Listen to YOU.
Help me cry out to you, instead of lingering in the anger.
Help me to hear it is that YOU want to say. To ask you what is you want me to know.

I want to learn from others who have been in similar situations.
I want to find someone in the Bible who relates to my messiness.
I desire to honor you, even in the midst of pain and sorrow.
I want to pray for those who mistreat me, who malign me, who make me feel like I don't matter.
Because that is what YOU did, Jesus.
You prayed for those who persecuted you.
As you lay suffering and dying on the cross, you said,

       "Father,forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."

It is in forgiveness, that we can be free.
Free from the anxiety.
Free from the anger.
Free from the bitterness.
Free from the pain that wounded us.
Free from being judgmental.
Free from the fear.
Free from the consuming thoughts of revenge.

That is what I desire. What I ask God for throughout my day.
I want to be the person who learns the lesson quickly.
Unfortunately, it often takes me much longer.

The good news is that God understands me.
The good news is that He wants me to know He is there.
The good news is that He can relate.
The good news is that He can forgive me. Over and over again.
The good news is that this is the Gospel.
That Jesus came to bring me back to Him.
That Jesus came to restore my relationship to the Father.
That Jesus came to restore relationships.
That Jesus came bringing healing.
That Jesus came bringing Peace.
That Jesus came bringing His Forgiveness to me-for everything I have ever done wrong, and everything I still will do wrong.

That Jesus came to bring GRACE. His unending mercy, His undeserved love.

GRACE is what brings me back to Jesus. Time and time again.
GRACE is what I am basking in at this moment. Relishing His love and Forgiveness.
GRACE is what makes it easy for me, but cost Jesus everything.

So when you make a mess, instead of a message, when you kick and scream, instead of remaining calm, remember the Good News of Jesus. He came to set the captives free.