Monday, August 28, 2006

The Words I Long to Hear

Soon I may be facing a decision…this time one of my own choosing.

In some respects…I’m in the enviable position of not caring about what happens one way or the other. I have two job interviews coming up with good companies in the line of work that I like best. So there is a part of me that would jump at the chance of taking one of these jobs if offered a position.

Yet…I have reservations. Each job has its good points and downsides too. What I would be giving up if I left my current company is substantial…but if presented with the right offer…I might take that risk.

Things are improving overall as my current job transition progresses…but I still desire something else. I like taking on a challenge…and learning new aspects of the business. So I guess I’m a bit conflicted and uncertain as to what I should do.

At this point…I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t have a clue as to what choice I will make.

Even as I face the prospect of making a choice…I find that there are words I long to hear that would sway my decision.

Like every woman…I long to hear those words from my future husband, “I love you.” But right now…those aren’t the words I long to hear.

There are two words…just two…that I want to hear. Now I know…that’s not going to happen. But hey…I’m a girl and I can hope and dream now can’t I?

After the hoping and dreaming stops…at the end of the day…I’m going to have to make a decision. It is my prayer that God will make the path He desires for me to take crystal clear. That He will give me wisdom and discernment to make the decision He would have me to make.

My Peaceful Place

Encounter with a Butterfly

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Something’s Got to Give

So it’s been a while hasn’t it? Yes siree bob.

It’s not for laziness, nor lack of ideas that my blog postings have been a little on the sparse side lately. Alright, alright…alright already…downright absent if the truth be told.

Why? Well…the reasons are multifaceted. For one thing…I have zero energy these days. I call it a scary tired. When you are so tired…that you are concerned and know that it’s more than just not getting enough sleep. It feels like something is wrong. It takes every bit of energy to get through eight hours at work…when I’m use to working a lot longer than that. Normally at eight hours…I’m just starting to reeve up my engines.

If I’m a betting person…I’d guess it’s low iron again. For a while now…when I attempt to give blood with the Red Cross I get the “thanks, but no thanks” line.

Adding to the mix…I figured I’d toss in a week or so with precious little sleep. After all when I die…I will get to rest. I don’t have time now…my time is surly at a premium.

And while I’m at it…why not toss in some pour eating choices…like sweets and salty food. Water…I hear it’s highly overrated. Okay…well not really…but I’m just trying to paint a picture.

Now when you don’t get enough sleep…and aren’t eating the right foods…it’s kind of hard to wake up in the morning. When you run on a really tight schedule in the morning that leaves little room for leeway and when you don’t get up when the alarm first rings…well something’s got to give. That something would be my morning walk.

My morning walks are what gives me energy for my day. When they are absent or shortened…I’m starting a bad cycle. To tip things over the edge…I have the added factor of jaw pain as my wisdom teeth are on the move again. Good gracious…I’m forty-seven years old…when does this stuff stop?
During this time…I’ve had plenty of ideas on what to write about…but not enough energy to carry it out. Then there’s the foggy thinking that accompanies the extreme exhaustion.

So…as the week begun…I decided to make some better choices. Eating better, drinking more water, getting more sleep…eating some iron rich food…and even taking some vitamins too. My goal…by the end of the week is to be feeling better than how I felt at the beginning of the week.

With these changes…prayers from my faithful friends and God’s help…I hope to be feeling better soon.
So…what’s on the writing horizon? Well…Mike Wallace and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad…you two are on my horizon. I’m chomping at the bit to take a whack at you on paper Mike. I’m not sure that there are enough words to express how foolish you were and nothing more than a mere pawn in the hands of an evil, sick dictator.

I’d like to deal with the media and their hypocritical stance against Israel as they choose to support terrorist organizations. When you look at their words and actions…and willingness to be so easily duped, into believing lies and being used by terrorists the word anti Semitism come trippingly off my tongue.

And of course…I’m still dealing with a lot of feelings over losses. Recently loss of co-workers and job changes…but also significant anniversaries of the deaths of loved ones. I’m sure that faith and forgiveness will be factoring into these subjects.

Then there will be a labor of love…as I remember my step-father Joe’s birthday. He would have been 92 come August 25th. My sister Denise did a lovely job in remembering her Dad. From the first moment I read it…I thought it was perfect…and it made me cry.

Hope to be blogging right soon.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Tears of Profound Sadness

I know that for a while…I’ll have good days and bad days…as I still grieve the loss of so much in the past year. It seems like now the good days out number the bad. But I have an occasional hick-up…like I did this week.

It wasn’t because folks that had interviewed me for a desired job were in town…that was irrelevant for the most part.

Why I was so sad…and a trifle on the touchy side this week…had to do with an anniversary. Each year in August at work…we held an annual Loss Prevention meeting. We would invite in to the office all the LP folks for a big old meeting. It was their turn to shine and showcase what they had learned or what they were doing in their stores to make a difference for good.

Getting ready for the meeting was lot of work for everyone involved. Planning the meeting…making necessary arrangements. Coming up with just the right presentations…to make their district shine. Of course there was always a little healthy competition…that spurred on each group. I’d get to see the up and coming talent…and the people who would likely be promoted in the coming years.

It was also a really fun time. A time in which I’d finally get to meet people who had been hired over the past year. Finally put a face to a name and meet someone whom I had only known through phone calls. Or catch up with old friends. We’d say we had been around much longer than we would have ever imagined.

The following day...we'd have an outing at the beach or at a park. A day of fun for all.

Each day in my old job…I’d get calls from the LP folks that worked in the stores. Someone of them I didn’t know from meeting personally. But we instead had developed a relationship from our conversations. I’d get to know about what was going on in their life…from marriage to the birth of a child…or a death of a parent. Sometimes it involved their personal issues that necessitated a phone call needing information or forms.

While I only met these folks once or twice a year…they were people that I knew and cared about.

With the recent changes…a number of folks have changed jobs…either within the company…or moved on to other opportunities. It is my prayer and I believe that God will help them, carry them through and bring them into something better. A new place that he has especially designed for them.

I miss them so much. I miss the phones and chatting if only for a couple of minutes to find out how things are in the stores…and where they are working now.

We never got a chance to say goodbye. No meeting…or goodbye dinner where people would linger afterwards and catch up. No schmaltzy awards handed out in love. It was just over…almost like they never existed.

Right now…when I look back at some of the photos from those days…it makes me very sad indeed. Because right now there is an emptiness and hole where they use to be. I know over time…that I will grow to love and care about the people with whom I’m working with now. In fact…that has already started. But there is that hole that remains.

The new people…won’t replace them…because you can’t replace people whom you love and care about. But they will instead add richly to my life and the lives of others.

So as Friday approached…on what would have been that annual meeting…I was feeling pretty tweaked. Add to that, the phone calls that still come my way that are related to my old job. What I’d really wanted to say to them…well I’d best not go there. Oh it’s not dirty…or potty mouth stuff. But it’s bitter…and better left unsaid.

Just writing and remembering about these beloved people helps me to work through the feelings.

Back when I was overweight…which I was for the better part of my life…to varying degrees from about the age of 12 to 39 years old…I kept those feelings inside. Oh I might have been nice, polite and kind on the outside…but those feelings were expressed through overeating. Which is one reason why I was fat for so long.

(The above picture is from my days of "stuffing feelings".)

Now I’m certain that the folks around me would rather I be fat and shut my mouth. Because these days…I do speak my mind. Normally its kind…well mostly…but very direct. And I do have moments…where I am not restrained in my come backs. I guess restraint in my old life had a price…that of being fat.

I don’t let people get away with much these days. Between my passion to speak the truth…and my desire to not keep stuffing down feelings…I say what I think. I’m sure I annoyed a couple of people in the process this past week.

I found I had writer block this week. In part because I had so many ideas and things I wanted write about, but was unable to focus. In part…I had that block because of the feelings of sadness I wasn’t letting out until now that I’m writing about it.

When I reflect on one person...I have been so annoyed and angry with during this whole process…he seems to be immovable. That only served to make me frustrated. But when thinking about him…I just wanted to cry. I think if I saw him…I would do just that. Not out of anger or bitterness…but out of relief. Relief…that even though he has been absent for a season we are still friends. I’m sure I would cry and give him a big hug to boot.

Perhaps I am deluding myself…and what I think would be tears of relief are only tears of sadness instead. Tears of profound sadness…at least for today.

Tomorrow…well I’ll take that as it comes. I better choose to trust God and his plan and his ability to bring me through as well as those whom I love. My tears and sadness are not a reflection of not trusting God or not believing him. They are just a reflection of the loss of people whom I love, care about and miss greatly.

I miss you guys…and hope you are doing well…and that God’s hand of protection is upon you, guiding and directing you. Lord bless you my friends.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Firemen's Revenge...Priceless

Reflections on…Courage, Character, Integrity and Respect

I find myself reflecting on the qualities of courage, character and integrity…and the resulting respect or lack thereof.

I suppose it’s always easier to see these qualities in someone else…and it’s glaringly obvious when it’s lacking. It’s difficult is when someone you’ve respected falls from grace and when they’ve displayed a lack of courage, compromised their character or their integrity is in question.

Disappointment causes me to take a second look. When I have low expectations of someone…when they fail or fall…I am not disappointed. I didn’t expect much to begin with. Their failure only serves to confirm what I already believed. In some instances my expectations may be accurate. In other instances…I may be selling that person short and not leaving room for God to work in their life, change them and transform them.

But when I hold someone in high esteem and they fall from grace…then I keenly feel that disappointment.

I’ve heard it said that God is not disappointed in us…because he knows all. He knows our good points and bad…and our failures don’t take Jesus by surprise.

But we humans…don’t see the whole picture. Sometimes I unwittingly have higher expectations of others than what a real, frail human being can deliver. Sometimes…it’s because a person fails or compromises. I’ve been blinded by my expectations, hopes or beliefs. That fall takes me by surprise…and that hurts.

Sometimes I’ve have been deceived by a pretty picture painted for me…and I fail to take a closer look when I see signs that reveal things aren’t quite as they first appear. I guess one question is…did I paint that picture or did they?

Respect…there are different levels of respect. Some people I respect solely because of their position of authority. But outside of my immediate interaction with them…I have no respect for them. But I “respect the position”.

Then there are folks that I respect their work or the quality of the work they do and their ability to deliver on what they promise.

Some people…I respect their personal character. They display a high degree of personal integrity, honesty and have a good work ethic. They treat everyone with decency. The way they act with me…is the way they act with other people. What’s said in private is consistent with their public persona. I can take their word to the bank.

When someone whom I respect falls…it’s painful. I have to ask myself…did I have too high of expectations of them…and not allow them to be human, frail and room to fail? Did I delude myself into believing a lie? Is it simply a stumble that we all do along life’s pathway of life? Or is it a serious character flaw that I failed to see clearly?

Sometimes I find it easier to “act respectfully” towards people whom I don’t respect…because I know it’s just an act. It means nothing…it’s just because of their position of authority.

But more and more…I find it difficult to show respect to people whom I once respected. I find it difficult to be silent...not speak out. Yet…the wisest course of action may be to be respectful anyway…and to just plain shut up and keep my opinions to myself. After all…I’m the only one that gives a hoot and holler about what I feel.

One question I want to ask is…what will it take for someone to compromise their character? What’s the price that keeps someone from doing the right thing? Do they see it? Do they know it? Or are they blinded all the while deceiving themselves? If they are aware…what does it take for them to make things right? Those questions I have no answer for. Frankly I’m too chicken to ask directly. Now is that a lack of character on my part…or prudence?

I also need to ask what charter flaws do others see in me…that they choose not to bring up? If they said it, would I listen? If it came from someone whom I don’t respect…would I care?

But even as I look at others…I ought to keep a mirror close by and examine and measure myself in these areas too. Being ever mindful of Jesus’ admonition to, “Take the beam out of my own eye before I try to help my brother take the splinter out of his eye.”

Perhaps it’s time to break out Chuck’s CD’s on forgiveness: A Genuine Servant Forgives and A Genuine Servant Forgives and Forgets. I think I need a reminder on forgiveness…and to be ever mindful of my own sins and failures.

Not to excuse or says those failures don’t matter. But in the light of God’s plan and purpose from my life…the only one I should be looking to is God. Not frail man who will disappoint me at one time or another. I need to respond to the failure of others…in the manner I would want them to respond to me when I fail. I need to respond with grace and mercy…as God has towards me. I think I’ve got some work to do…on this score.

Monday, August 07, 2006

I Will Testify of the Grace & Mercy of the Lord

I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior relatively late in my life…at the age of 32. When I look at the statistics on how many people are saved as they get older…I am even more grateful for my salvation in Jesus Christ.

Let me tell you how God worked in my life. As a child growing up…we did not go to church. I’m not sure I can answer exactly why that was except my father Frank was not a Christian. He was more of an intellectual…and while he believed that there was a God…he did not know the God of the Bible. He did not accept Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.

My mom Gayle on the hand had been raised as a Lutheran. She and my dad met during World War II…and were married. While my mom was raised in the church…I don’t think her faith was very deep…nor her knowledge of the Bible extensive. After all she had been willing to marry an unbeliever and raise her children without going to church or teaching them about God.

As a child…our family didn’t read the Bible or pray. I don’t even remember going to church on Easter or Christmas.

While I never witnessed my father’s belief in God…it is my hope that before he died when I was ten…he may have accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. He died a few short weeks after being diagnosed with cancer. He was taken to a hospital a couple of hundred miles from home…and I never saw him again. I wasn’t even told he was dying nor given the chance to say goodbye.

Following my dad’s death…my mom and I started attending church. When we moved to California and we went to church with my grandparents Mary and Henry. We went to a St. Olaf’s Lutheran church in Garden Grove.

This was the first time in my life that I had ever gone to church…at least on a regular basis. While my parent’s faith was not readily apparent…they did have me baptized as a baby. Not sure I exactly understand why my parents had me baptized when God was not a part of their everyday lives.

As a child…I did have a curiosity and a desire to go to church. Now this will sound strange…but I even remember lying to a friend when I was about 8 years old…telling her that we attended church.

When I started attending church with my mom and grandparents…I was still not a believer…but God as working on my heart. Even back then…I always wanted to sit in the front row. Whenever possible…I do so today. I love it…no distractions…and I can focus on the sermon and what God wants me to learn.

The Pastor at the St. Olaf’s church was pretty hip as I recall. This would have been back in the early 70’s. A few years after we had moved…he broke his back while body surfing. To an 11 or 12 year old girl…he seem older…at least middle age. But now I wonder how old he was during that time. It will be an interesting conversation with him when I get to heaven.

While living in California for the first time…I went to summer camp through the YWCA. I was terribly homesick…my first time away from home. But within a week or two…the home sickness wore off and I fell in love with camp and stayed the entire summer. At camp…I remember singing songs around the campfire…song about God. Songs like “Rise and shine and give God your glory, glory.” Through those songs…God was wooing me to Himself. But it would still be many years before I would make a conscious decision for Christ.

However during this time…Satan was also planting seeds. My mom was now attending nursing school full time. We had moved and lived in an apartment complex…and I had a lot of time to myself. What filled that time? Food and TV…both of which were destructive influences in my life…both then…and long term.

About this time…is when I started to use food to sooth my pain. Going down the path would lead me to being overweight during much of my life until I was 38. I also used another mind numbing agent…TV. You’ve heard the term…latch key kid. Well I was one of them. I watched soap operas…and while not as bad as they are today…nothing good came of that activity. During this time…I started watching the show Dark Shadows…a show about vampires. Supplemented by a diet of other TV shows including Bewitched eventually lead me down a path of new age during my late teens and into my twenties.

In 1972, my mom and I moved to Prescott, Arizona and my grandmother moved in with us. My grandfather was still alive…but in a nursing home. We attended a Methodist church and I went to Sunday School for the first time.

A couple of years after that…in 1974 my mother remarried. She married Joseph Lorenat…and man with a deep abiding faith in God. As we became a “blended family” one of the new things was attending church each week as a family. Joe was Catholic…and we attended Saint Joseph’s Catholic Church in Placentia, California.

The worship service in the Catholic church is different than a protestant church. It’s more formal and structured. But I had a regular diet of the word God during that time. One Priest that I clearly recall was a visiting Priest, Father Kenney. He was very dynamic…and captivated my attention. He was an on fire Bible believing, Bible teaching preacher.

During this time…I attended church…because it was what we did as a family. My faith was not my own. Yet…it exposed me to God and planted seeds that God would use to bring me to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. After high school…going to church became optional…and at a certain point I stopped going.

That’s about the time…when “new age” teachings caught my attention. Everything from astrology to palm reading to crystals. I read oodles of books…by the likes of Edgar Casey and the Seth books. Jack Addington and Terri Cole Whittaker also held my attention with their teaching of Religious Science. This led me down a dark path that could have easily ended with me spending an eternity in hell.

One scene that stands out in my mind was visiting a local new age teaching center. They had a fair which I attended to get some new materials. While I was there perusing the booths I ran into a lady and her husband. The lady was there to get some book on astrology or some other new age philosophy. We started chatting…and what blew me away is when she said she was a Christian. She was incredulous that I didn’t believe in Jesus Christ. Even back then…I thought to myself, “Lady I’m not the one who is confused. Jesus Christ and Christianity are not compatible with the new age movement.”

That encounter really stuck with me. When I finally accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior I was a passionate about Christians being educated and well grounded in their knowledge of the word of God.

I kind of muddled around in that new age philosophy for quit some time. At one point…I was just plain angry at God because of how my life was turning out. For a while I decided that he didn’t exist and I would live my life however I pleased. That didn’t last for long…because I realized that even if I decided to not serve Him…that indeed God exists.

During this time of my wayward travels…God was with me…and planted seeds for His kingdom. He did so with the likes of a long term Christian friend Kathy. While not the person who directly lead me to Christ…hers was a steady influence of Christ in my life. If it had not been for Kathy…I’m not sure who would have been that witness in my life.

God also brought other Christians into my path. When you are not a believer…Christians can be down right irritating…a real annoyance. One such person was a lady by the name of Eleanor. I worked with her at one of my first jobs at Wineman’s Department Store. She was a quiet, humble Christian woman…firm in her faith. I was a young, know it all kid who wanted nothing to do with her or her God. I wish I could speak with Eleanor now…to let her know that indeed I eventually did come to know and receive Christ as my Lord and Savior.

In 1989, I moved into a home in Fullerton, California. I shared that place with several friends…Kathy, Julie and Dawn. This home would be the place where God would wield the death knell to my days of unbelief. He did so…in a very subtle, unassuming fashion. Not beating me over the head with doctrine and debates over the truth of Christianity…but instead through the gentle force of love.

God brought into my life the Bock family. Then it was only four members…Nancy and David and their children Monica and Brandon. They were a boat load love and embraced me. They didn’t debate faith…they just lived it out. Always one to reach out and include my roommates and me. Include us in their lives…and special events. Their love is what watered the seeds that God had sown earlier. I lived in that house a short two years…but those years would transform my life. Praise God.

I then moved again to share an apartment with my friend Dawn. Shortly thereafter…within week, if not days…I received Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I picked up the Bible…and said “God I believe it’s true…and I want to know you.” I wanted the peace and love that the Bock family had. Not exactly knowing the full significance of that decision I can’t tell you the exact day…but I remember it clearly.

I started going to church…the church that I knew I wanted to go to was the Crystal Cathedral. I had on occasion attended that church when my mom and I had moved to California in the early 70’s. While I was there I was baptized…sprinkled. I only attended the Crystal Cathedral for about a year or so. While it wasn’t the deepest Christian teaching I’ve sat under…it got me on the road. I do remember one associate Pastor, Bruce Larson who was a good Bible study teacher.

During this time…I was also heavily listening to Christian radio…I couldn’t get enough of it. I was listening to KWVE...and Chuck Smith from Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. I started attending Calvary Chapel…and did so for a number of years. They have some awesome teaching…that is well grounded in the Bible. One of my favorite teachers was David Hocking.

David started teaching at Calvary Chapel after he had fallen from grace at his former church Calvary Church Santa Ana. David is a great Bible teacher…and he made studying the Bible very exciting. During this time…I was getting some great Bible teaching. But I was also growing restless. That’s when I made the leap to another church.

I ended up changing churches and started attending Saddleback Church. It was so alive and I loved the music and worship. Saddleback Church is where I was baptized for the last time. Baptism according to scripture…full emersion.

But this change also proved damaging to my walk as a Christian. While the music and worship is great at Saddleback…the Biblical teaching is watered down to make the Sunday worship service enticing to non-believers. Indeed an unbeliever could attend that church and feel fine…and not fall under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, not acknowledge that they are a sinner on the way to hell and in need of a Savior.

The holiness and righteousness of God was lost in the translation for me. Instead of a regular diet of God’s word…I was given a weekly message that made me feel good. I now have a deep abiding passion for the word of God…like never before…and a distain for churches that water down the gospel. Yet…I blame only myself for my fall.

I like Paul can say with assurance…that nothing good lives in me.

17As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. – Romans 7:17-19

During this time…I knowingly chose to step into a relationship with a guy who is a severe alcoholic. You see I was desperate to be married…and wasn’t too keen on God’s plan for me that said wait or no to marriage. So like Abraham I decided to help God out and take some action of my own. By golly this guy was in deep need of help…and I was ready to step right in.

Like Abraham’s choice to disobey God…my choice proved to be a bad one. The hurt, pain and scars of this relationship…went very deep. But I thank God, He did not leave me there. Instead He brought Nadine into my life. Nadine…would introduce me to Bible Study Fellowship.

I’m not sure how many times Nadine asked me to attend BSF. But my “no’s” did not deter her from asking again. Praise God!

In 1998, I started attending Bible Study Fellowship. Intimidating and overwhelming to a person relatively new to an in-depth Bible Study. But oh my goodness…it transformed my life. That transformation…combined with some awesome Bible teaching from a Pastor whom I would soon meet has given me a deep abiding passion and love for the word of God.

I’ve been in Bible Study Fellowship since 1998…but did drop out for a little over a year. During the Albertson’s strike…I was working a crazy amount of hours…and stopped just as the study of Israel and the Minor Prophets was getting underway. It would be about a year before I realized the deep hole that was there since I had stopped BSF.

I am crazy about Bible Study Fellowship. Each year I’m in the class…even if it’s a study I’ve done before I grow and get something new out of it. It’s wonderful bonding with the other women in our group during the school year. This year…we will be studying Romans. I would encourage you to go online…and sign up. You will not regret it.

The Bible Study Fellowship class I attend is at Calvary Church Santa Ana. One evening the Pastor David Mitchell came to briefly address the class. Through the Bible teaching of BSF I came to realize that I needed to get rooted and grounded in a church that uncompromisingly taught the word of God. So I made the leap from Saddleback Church to Calvary Church Santa Ana…a change I will never regret.

That first Sunday…I went to just the first service…but got info on the many Bible studies that took place each Sunday. The next week…I decided to attend one of the studies that took place at Calvary…it was called Kindred Fellowship. God used this Bible Study to make another profound change and leap in my faith.

The guy who taught this Bible Study was excited and passionate about the Word of God. He gave it to you in a straight forward, no nonsense kick-butt kind of way. I loved it…and loved Chuck Obremski…from the first time I heard him preach. I thank God daily for bringing Chuck and the people who would become my church family into my life.

Chuck was just crazy enough to feel sorry for the poor slug who would rather go golfing on Sunday instead of going to church and studying God’s word. That passion and the excellent Bible teaching was infectious…and grew my love for God and His precious, holy word…even deeper.

Well Kindred’s Bible Study…continued to grow…and soon we ventured out to start our own church Kindred Community Church. God had His hand on our Pastor and on our church. We studied the Bible in depth each week…a wonderful process that has given me a love a passion for the word of God. We spent about 70 weeks studying the book of Luke.

During this time…my beloved Pastor Chuck Obremski was diagnosed with cancer. At first it seemed unimaginable that it would be part of God’s plan to take Chuck home while all this great Bible teaching was going on. We were growing closer and more tightly knit as congregation and learning to trust and depend on God, not our circumstances.

Well God’s plan varied from our own…and indeed it was His will to call home His faithful servant Chuck Obremski on September 18, 2005. But our God is faithful…and He has remained with us. We as a church…and as individuals have a passion for God’s word…and love sharing that word with a needy, hurting sinful world. When you run into a person who attends Kindred…don’t be surprised if they take out a CD, hand it to you with the admonition that you really need to listen to this one. Of course they will be ready to hand you more at a moment’s notice.

I can thank God alone that I am one of those people who have a passion for handing out the word of God to people whom I encounter.

I know first hand the power of God’s word in my own life, in the life of our church…and in the life of my beloved Pastor who finished well and finished strong. He heard those words that I long to hear when I meet Jesus Christ face to face, “Well done good and faithful servant.”

So that’s my story and my testimony on how I came to know Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. How God poured out His grace and mercy upon His servant. God who loved me and chose me before the foundation of the world. God who is faithful when I am faithless. God who sent His Holy Spirit to dwell within me to lead me guide me and direct me. Jesus Christ who sits at the right hand of the Father…who is preparing a place for me and intercedes for me daily. Jesus who will one day welcome me home.

Well…that’s my story. Now I’d love to hear yours. Please click on the comments icon or e-mail me your story of salvation and God’s work in your life…and I’ll post it.

May the new website "The Grace & Mercy of the Lord" be one that brings honor, glory and praise to our God. May we be keenly aware and ever mindful of the presence of God in our lives.

Lord bless…and I look forward to hearing from each of you.

New Venture...I Will Testify of the Grace & Mercy of the Lord

Launching a new website tonight solely devoted to people giving their testimony about how they came to the Lord. I merely kicked it off with my own testimony…now the rest is up to you.

The Grace and Mercy of the Lord

Please click on the above link to go to the new website
The Grace and Mercy of the Lord. I hope that you will participate and click on comments or e-mail me with your testimony. I look forward to publishing the testimonies and know that many will be encouraged by your witness about God working in your life.

Lord Bless…Susan

Friday, August 04, 2006

I Just Don’t Understand

I just don’t get it…I don’t understand anti-Semitism. It makes zero sense to me. Not only as a rational thinking human being…but even more so as a Christian.

How can you be prejudice against Jews and be a Christian? After all…your Savior was a Jew. On one hand you hate Him because He was a Jew…and other hand…you love Him because He is your Savior. Your Savior…whose death and shed blood on the cross cleanses you from your sins. Sins like hatred and prejudice? I don’t understand.

Oh make no mistake…I know I am chief of sinners. While prejudice is not my sin of choice…I have equally ugly things within my soul. Thus…I am grateful each day for Jesus sacrifice on the cross for my sins.

But prejudice I never quite got. I guess in part I can thank my parents for that. Ugly racial epithets were not used in our household. When someone of another race or culture walked by…no one stared or made a remark after they passed by. They were just people…some good, some bad…just regular people.

Now my Grandmother on other hand…was not quite so untarnished. She was definitely prejudice. I remember with certainty…she was prejudice against black people. Not sure if Jews were another group of people whom she disliked…I don’t recall. What made it so odd was the fact that she was a Christian. A woman who loved God and tried to live a righteous life. But this was one area where she failed.

It was area where I felt disrespect towards her. The words hypocrite came trippingly off my tongue because I knew…even as a kid…long before I became a Christian…that prejudice was wrong. And you know how Satan likes to use whatever he can to keep us from coming to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. If he can stir up hatred and disrespect among Christians and family members…so much the better.

My parents were not prejudice. When they lived in Puerto Rico for a number of years…they adopted my two brothers Mike and Pat…two little Puerto Rican boys.

To a certain degree I attribute my grandmother prejudice to her being a product of her generation. She was born in 1893…not too awfully long after the end of the Civil War. Grandma lived during that ugly chapter in our nation’s history…where people treated people of color quite shamefully. Shameful and beyond…even to the point of committing horrific acts of murder toward innocent human beings.

Now Grandma would never treat people in an ugly manner to their face…or say something to them directly. Instead it was a comment after they left…or a look of disgust. Yet she and my Grandfather managed to raise my mom…who to my knowledge…is prejudice free with regards to race and religion.

What demons my Grandma must have struggled with…being a Christian…yet carrying the sin of prejudice. While prejudice was quite normal in the days in which in which she lived…she had to have known it was wrong. After all…you don’t whisper and say in private that which is good, holy, righteous and pure. But you try to keep those sins well disguised from the outside world. But it does come out…as it did with Mel Gibson during his recent arrest.

You might be wondering if it’s right and proper for me to be writing about my Grandma and exposing her flaws like this. But I must tell you…she is in heaven now. Not because of those sins…but because her Savior Jesus Christ died to pay the price for all her sins…even those sins that seemingly contradicted her Christianity. I’m quite certain that now…she wouldn’t mind exposing that ugliness…in the hopes that it helps even one person to repent of their sin of prejudice.

As a kid…when my Grandma would make a comment about a black person…I didn’t understand it. I thought it was ridiculous…just plain stupid. To think that a person is less of a human being because of their color of their skin…was ludicrous. I would think to myself…you have a pet that is black or brown…and you love that animal dearly. If it’s all about color…why wouldn’t you be prejudice against them?

But a human being created in God’s own imagine…it’s okay to think less of them because of their skin color, race, religion or ethnic background? Ah…I don’t get it.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Phone Calls, Disappointment and Choosing to Believe God

Today…for some reason nothing went quite right. It was one of those days…where everything required a lot of effort…and even then it was off kilter.

But it was also a day…where God revealed a lesson for me to learn.

As it so happens…today was my anniversary date of employment. I would say it was with the same company…and it really is. But that company has undergone many, many changes over the years. None more so than this year.

I once had a boss…that made a big old deal about things like that. For everyone…from the rookie celebrating their first year of employment…to the person celebrating forty years. Today I especially missed you Peter B…and I know if you had been here…you would have been the first to say “Congrats”. Oh how thing have changed. Today marked twenty-two years of employment. Kind of bitter-sweet…since I would have never anticipated getting to this milestone…even just a few weeks ago.

Today I also had a phone call from my worried sister Denise…checking in to make sure I was okay. I am very much a creature of habit…and since I haven’t written anything of late, nor responded to e-mails…she was concerned for my safety.

The writing thing is a combination of writer’s blocks, exhaustion…and perhaps a little depression or resignation mixed in.

It’s odd because…I’m working many less hours these days…but I’m much more tired. I’m getting more sleep…but don’t feel rested. I know that when I’m learning a new job…it’s tiring. Tiring because I have to concentrate all day long…instead of everything coming naturally because I know it so well. I know in’ll come together. But for right now…it’s an effort.

I don’t feel much like doing much talking these days…because really I don’t know what to say. For so long…I had been praying regarding my job situation...but still have had no clear cut answer one way or the other. How long and how many ways can you say…you have no news? Now I don’t think I’ll be getting that job after all this time. But what makes it hard…it’s been left opened ended…no final answer has been forthcoming. I guess at this point…that’s fine. But having an ending…a period at the end of a sentence…psychologically helps me to lay things down and move on. I guess my challenge on this one…is to lay it down even without the official ending. I guess that’s where the resignation comes in.

The disappointment…well that’s related to people. That’s been the hardest part of this whole deal. Usually I have the perspective that I’d rather deal with the truth. It’s better to know a person’s true character than to believe an illusion. The truth shall set you free. Right? Especially the truth about yourself.

Truth like when I’m hurt and choose to be angry or bitter…that I’m putting more faith and confidence in my circumstances than in God.

One of my favorite scriptures is Roman’s 8:28 - “God causes all things to work together for good for those that love the Lord and who are called according to His purposes.” I realized today…that when I’m disappointed or angry at circumstance or people because of what happened or didn’t happen…I’m not believing God or trusting God to work all things together for good.

When I choose to not to trust God…then I’m more hurt or angry at the circumstances or people who rendered my God seemingly incapable.

In the crunch time…do I real believe God? Do I believe that my God is able to do all that He says He can do? I have a choice…am I going to believe God? Or am I going to believe my circumstances?

Am I going to trust God…even when I can’t trust people?

Obedience…the Next Step

I’m finding more and more…or to more accurately state it…I’m more aware that God’s desire and aim is to keep me in close step with His commands and for me to be quick to obey His instructions.

For such a long time now…my life had been very busy. So busy in fact…that I found it a challenge to keep up with the everyday ordinary things like balancing my checkbook, or reconciling my mom’s financial records or even cleaning out the closet.

During this recent change of pace in my life…I felt that God was impressing upon me that I need to start taking care of these projects that I’ve let slip or set by the wayside. But now is the time to execute and get these things done.

Actually…a few weeks ago…is when I should have started on it. But did I? No…true to form…I found what I felt were valid excuses to delay even further. After all…I’m really tired these days. I’m learning a new job…having to get up earlier. Not to mention…this hot whether drains my energy. And by golly with the time and energy I do have…I love to write for my blog…and its faith related kind of stuff. Wouldn’t God want me working on that?

Well…no…not exactly. Does God want me to write about Himself and faith? Can God use my experiences to help others also going through trying times? Absolutely! But more than that…God desires that I obey Him. Obey Him in the big things and the little things. Obey Him in the things that seems important and of consequence…and that which I don’t quite understand the importance of.

So what’s so important about cleaning out a closet…or balancing a checkbook? I mean really…compare that to writing about God and testifying about what God is doing in my life. Actually all sorts of things make it important…but none more so than the fact that God made it clear to me what steps I needed to take next.

God knows my future…I don’t. When I look towards the future…I figure I can do this ordinary stuff any old time. I think…what’s a few papers lying around…or a closet that’s a little too full?

But God…omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent God knows what my future holds. I think I have all the time in the world…but God knows what my tomorrow holds. He knows what He has planned for me and what will be required of me.

If I’m weighed down…by the clutter of my life I will not be able to fully invest or dedicate myself to that which God has in store for me. If for no other reason than I feel distracted or stressed that all this “stuff” I shoulda, coulda, woulda…gotten done if I had listened to God at the time.

God is a God of order…and He has a purpose and plan for my life. Disorder and clutter are not reflective of God in my life. Instead it’s reflective of me not being obedient to God…and not using the common sense that he has given me.

What I’m also finding out…is that God will not give me the next step, until I obey the directions and steps He had given me before. Instead…He will be quite and wait…until I obey. God will also exert some inner pressure from the Holy Spirit…pressing me until act in accordance with God’s instructions.

When I delay in completing a task…it seems to grow before my very eyes...and almost becomes insurmountable. Which in turn…makes me want to delay even more.

But that delay…costs me peace. Peace with myself and my life…as I look around me and only see many things I need to accomplish. It causes confusion…because I feel overwhelmed and hardly know where to start. I feel overwhelmed and incapable of accomplishing even the simplest task…I don’t know where to begin.

But even more important than that…my delay and failure to obey God’s instructions impacts my relationship with God. He doesn’t love me any less…nor does He desert me. But my disobedience…puts up a block in our relationship. I’m willing to listen and obey only the things I want to do or feel are important…but not obey the things I feel are of less consequence.

Perhaps it’s similar to a parent telling their child to take care of this task…or a boss giving an employee an assignment. Until that task or assignment is completed…the focus and the aim stays on that point.

So this past week…I started working on those tasks that God has made clear He wants me to complete. As I complete them…I feel relief and the pressure starting to let up. When I walk into my home...instead of seeing pile of papers that need to be attended to…I see have a clear counter. Or I have just one month worth of receipts to be reconciled at the end of the billing cycle…not two or three or more.

I also have a clear conscience…so when I want to sit down and write for my blog…or even watch a movie…I can do so guilt free. Not sit there half divided…thinking about all that I need to get done.

When I kneel down to pray…my conscience is not pricked by the fact I have still not completed that which God wants me to do next. Instead my focus can be on God. Praising Him for who He is and His character. Thanking Him for His hand of protection on me and blessings in my life. I can freely bring my prayers and petitions to God…without having to avoid or dance around an area in which I know I have been disobedient to God’s instruction.

Waiting on Love by Tracie Peterson – Characters Refreshingly Honest with Integrity and Faith

I am grateful to have rediscovered Tracie Peterson’s writing and her recent book Waiting on Love which is part of the Ladies of the Lake s...