>Stopping in the Fast Lane

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This morning I was driving to church to attend my weekly bible study. I love praying aloud in the car. It is the only place I am always alone and no one but God can hear me. There are no disruptions. I can not answer my phone as driving and talking is illegal in California. I know that as I have already been pulled over twice. So this is the one of the most peaceful times I have to pray.

I came to a time in my prayer where I asked God to impress on my heart anything He desired. I drove silently, waiting for Him to speak.

It dawned on me that I was driving in the fast lane and that this was a pattern for me. It had nothing to do with the speeding ticket, laying on the kitchen counter, due to be paid (Yes, my driving record is not flawless). I actually live in the fast lane of business and over commitments. I long for slow walks in the mountains with my dog Pencil, leisurely lunch with friends and time to read the many books I have started but remain unfinished. I have so many commitments that I can not afford to move to the slow lane.

As I was listening for God to speak, the fast lane came to a sudden halt and I was sitting, unmoving on the interstate. Could He have said it any plainer? I did not need to move to the slow lane, I needed to get off the road all together and just stop.

I always think, “Next week will be less busy. Next week I will have more time” However, next week never comes.

So here I sit, back at home, silent and still for a few moments until my family returns and life gets crazy again. But I am making a decision.

I am going to take out my calendar and write, in permanent ink, a day next week, not to just move to the slow lane, but to stop. I will take a walk, not just with Pencil but with my Bible and my notebook. I will stop someplace on the way where there are no people, no noise and no cell phone. I am going to take some time for me.

One cannot erase permanent marker. ‘Next week’ will come!

Posted in hearing God, over commitment, tiime management | 3 Comments

>Purses That Don’t Wear Out

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I have a Kenya bag that I bought while in college. It is sturdy, has strong handles and does not wear thin. My other purses last about a season. Buckles break, handles tear and the leather wears off. More importantly, they go out of style. So they are replaced often.

My last purse got stolen and I really missed it. It had zippered pockets on the outside, was big, black, shiny and the latest style from Hollywood. So I returned to my previous bag that was wearing thin on the bottom and missing buttons.

Off I went shopping for the perfect bag. I had my mind made up before I went. I wanted black ruffles and small pockets for my cell phone and money. I never did find what I was seeking for. That often happens when one searches too specifically with the perfect picture in their head.

Jesus said in Luke 12:31-34, “Seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is there your heart will be also.’

Jesus said to seek purses that will not wear out: ones that hold only heavenly treasures. These purses are not leather bags filled with money to shop, lipstick to enhance our beauty nor a phone to keep up with friends. Rather they are filled with treasure that we hope for and are certain of but do not see: a heavenly treasure.

We have this kingdom, this eternal hope. Knowing this we can bless the needy with our possessions, give help to the poor and extend mercy to the hurting. For the blessings we possess in this purse are bottomless and overflowing. The more we give of ourselves, the more we are given; for if we have been faithful with a few things, we will be put in charge of many things.

If our treasure is in heaven, our heart will be there also and our purses will never wear out.

Posted in compassion, giving, heavenly treasure | 4 Comments

>The Art of Confrontation

>Isn’t it just like God? I wrote out homework for a four week bible study I am leading, praying each day would touch the women where they are at and while drawing them closer to God’s will for their lives.
One lesson this week dwells on the fact that David was unaware of the sin in his life until confronted by Nathan, God’s ever faithful servant. This situation was major and Nathan, with God’s help, mastered the art of confrontation. I closed the study that day challenging the women to pray about if God wanted them to be a Nathan in someone’s life.
Confrontation is hard and something I avoid at all costs. Although I remain forever grateful to the few Nathan’s in my life who dared to talk to me about some tough issues, I have a hard time extending that same favor to others. I don’t like conflict.
Yet here I sit, having written the study for the other ladies in my group, faced with the realization that God wants me to confront another about the sin in their life. I am fighting it will all my might and hating the fact that God gave me that lesson for myself as much as anyone else.
I haven’t mastered the art of confrontation; in fact, I have very little experience with it. But before I can stand up in front of my ladies next week, I have to obey God in this matter. It leaves me fearing what the rest of the month brings to my plate.
I have studied the scriptures about confronting in love and without passing judgment. I have read how Nathan approached King David with all the wisdom God bestowed upon him. Now I am left with praying for boldness, for faithfulness to obey God, and for the art of confrontation.

Posted in confrontation, friends | 4 Comments

>College: Memories of Insecurity

>Via Facebook, I just viewed pictures from Homecoming. Everyone looked so happy, friendships kept up with and enjoyed often. It stirred up old feelings and realizations. I don’t enjoy those college friendships because I never really got close to anyone andhat make me feel sad.

It was the plague of insecurity that reared its head there for the first time and has kept up its crippling attacks. People don’t see me as insecure. I can stand before large numbers and speak without nervousness. I am secure in my abilities. I can walk into a group of people and immediately make conversation that puts all at ease. Yet it is there.

I never felt like I fit in at college. Even though it was a small Christian college, I was the missionary kid from Africa; just a little bit different. I’d never been to a football game, found it childish to watch cartoons, was unfamiliar with the American teenager mentality and, though confident in myself, was untrained at anything musical, sporty or…..anything for that matter. I found their world a bit small and confusing. They found me different, maybe weird.

In Africa we didn’t ‘date’ so I didn’t know if a guy asked you out that it might mean he liked you. So I accepted every invitation and soon bore the scorn of the other girls. I was focused on returning to Africa as a missionary and that alienated me from many with broader dreams. I came with three pair of shoes and clothes that didn’t fill up the closet. Other girls, with clothes overflowing the drawers and storage spaces, came that first month asking to look at my wardrobe and the picture of my boyfriend. I thought it was because he was so good looking but in reality they could not believe I would actually date a black guy. I was proud to show them my room until I learned they just wanted to confirm rumors they had heard. Plus, their rooms were carefully decorated. I had zebra and snake skins on my wall.

That really didn’t bother me and there were plenty of incredible nice people but I just never knew how to get close to anyone. Graduation was a relief.

Yet, now, when I look at all these pictures, I wish I had developed stronger friendships. I wish I had felt more like them. They didn’t alienate me. I think I alienated myself.

I’m finally getting a grip of my insecurities and have overcome many obstacles. Pictures of Homecoming, however, brought it all back.

Posted in college life, insecurity | 2 Comments

>Which Way Home

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People always ask me what country I liked living in the most. That is easy to answer. Honduras! Why? I fell in love with the people!

Last night I watched Which Way Home, a documentary following the stories of several minors from Honduras, facing harrowing dangers in their desperate journey to reach loved ones in the U.S. Unnaccompaied, they seek to cross through Mexico by train hoping to sneak into the United States. They know the dangers; not only of being deported, but the possibility of death in the desert, rape, falling under the train, hunger and abuse.

The story followed closely two thirteen year old boys who were eventually caught and sent back home, only to try once again. Two boys died, one girl fell under the train and had her legs amputated, while two others, age 9, are unaccounted for.

These were stories of hope and courage, disappointment and sorrow.

Their stories of what brought them to the point where they were willing to risk death to have a better life flooded my mind with memories and compassion for the people of Honduras once again.

One boy had been abandoned by his mother at age three and lived on the streets, addicted to drugs. All he wanted was someone to love him and he hoped by getting to the US, he would find that love; find a family to take him in.

The other boy wanted to better the life of his mother and younger siblings. His mother was married to an abusive man who not only abused his mom but also did not want him in the house.

My heart goes out to the children of Honduras. So many of them live in extreme poverty, unable to attend school, forced into abusive situtations. Some children have loving parents who try hard but are caught in a web of poverty and unable to properly care for then. Then there are those living on the streets, so many of them, addicted to drugs, hungry, turning to violence, sex and gangs.

The orphanages in Honduras are full of both orphans, children abandoned, and those placed there by parents who are incapable of caring for them.

I would go back there to live and work in a heart beat if I could. I could go on a mission trip and spend a few thousand dollars to give me the experience of helping for a week, or I can send money to some dear missionary friends who work with these children. I was reading their blog this morning and they mentioned a family they were helping. $67 a month would ensure the children of the family were fed and sent to school.

My friends and I went out for banana splits yesterday and the bill came to $45.

Posted in honduras, invisible children | 1 Comment

>I Believe in Dreams

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“Wait, Granny! Come back.”

It was October 19, 1983 when I received a call from my uncle that my granny had suffered a heart attack. It has been twenty eight years now and my memory of that day is sketchy from the passing of time. I was home alone and cannot remember where my mother was; but my dad was fishing. I called the lake patrol to reach him with the news. People came to visit, some called. All that is a bit muddled but the dream is not. It has replayed itself many times in my head and is still as clear as when I was asleep.

I dozed off, though I don’t know how when my world felt as though it was in fast forward mode with no pause button. But I had a dream. My granny was walking in the clouds, away from me and towards the light. Everything was white, foggy, fluffy and quiet.

“Wait Granny, Come back,” I cried out in desperation.

She turned and looked at me. Then she gracefully turned two cartwheels. Granny looked at me again and smiled. In a split second the last three years of her life flashed before my eyes: the car accident, breaking her neck, the braces, and the pain. She was only sixty one and life had been so hard on her. Was she really turning cartwheels now? Was she healed? Is there time in heaven? For just as quickly as I saw the past, I could see the future.

“It’s ok, Granny, you can go”, I said softly with tears running down my cheeks.

She turned and walked away, never to turn back.

It could have been one minute later, it could have been thirty. As dreams go one never knows. But the phone rang and it was my uncle. Granny had gone home.

I still have memories of my Granny; how she would have a pot of chili waiting for us every time my sister and I visited her while in college. Mom and Dad were in Zambia so Granny’s house was home. She made canned biscuits for breakfast. She had an old car that idled and one day I drove it all the way to the supermarket without putting my foot on the gas pedal. One time I left her twenty dollars to cover food and when I got in the car to go back to school, there was an extra twenty in my purse. She slept on her couch in front of the wood stove. When she got up she would stoop over, shuffle to the bathroom and say, “Lordy, Lordy”. Her last Christmas Eve, my sister and I decorated the tree and put presents underneath while she was sleeping. We hung gaudy lights around the kitchen windows. She awoke as a child, in awe of the wonders of Christmas. She gave out of poverty; never having but always giving. Granny had one of the kindest hearts on earth. Now it is one of the kindest in heaven.

Sometimes people speak of dreams in an almost apologetic tone. There is a fear that others will think them excentric, crazy or overly religious. But if one dares bring up the subject in my presence, I always offer, “I understand. I believe in dreams.”

Posted in heaven | 2 Comments

>My Private Garden

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I have a private garden where only the most beautiful of flowers and hardiest of trees are planted. There is a mix of textures, colors, height and fullness. Only the best soil was used in cultivating this garden and daily it is tended to by the most loving of hands.

In the middle is a tree; an oak tree; the tree of righteousness. It requires daily pruning to cut off any branch that has become disconnected and has begun to show signs of stress or discoloration.

All sorts of fruit trees have been grafted into this tree. There is love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness and self-control. It is fertilized daily to keep these fruits in season and they bear fruit year round.

Along the edges of my garden are flowers of all colors, species and beauty. I love the white daises as they represent pureness. The red roses are cut daily and given to friends to show love. Morning glories creep up the fence to remind me that His mercies are new every morning. The hibiscus is full in hopes that my lips would always flow forth in praise and gracious words.

There is a nourishing river running through the garden and the sound of the waterfall creates a soothing sense of peace.

Weeds grow up and tending to them is a never ending process to ensure they don’t choke the life out of my carefully sowed garden. Nor do I want them to grow and distract from the heavenly, lush beauty. Once they take root it is difficult to eliminate them.

With my eyes closed I can visualize my garden. Yet, the human eye cannot see it as my garden is private, within the walls of my heart. It is the planting of the Lord. He is the gatekeeper and this is the only place I am truly alone with Him.

I let others in at times. I share the fruit and the flowers.

But this is my own private garden and I love my time there with The Gardener.

Posted in prayer, quiet time | 4 Comments