Sunday, August 2, 2009
God Will Make a Way
It’s early in the morning when a woman dressed in sport clothing came through my line. She placed her small order on the belt and asked if I would scan the greeting card and borrow a pen so she could sign it. As I was checking out her order, she asked if I knew what John’s (not his real name) wife name is. I answered, “You know, I never heard him say what his wife name is. “ When John talks about his wife, he always referred to her as ‘my wife’.
John has been taking his wife to Chicago every week for cancer treatment. John has strong faith in the Lord’s healing. He also works part-time at a nursing facility and is taking classes online. As you can see, John’s plate is full.
The woman finished writing on the card, sealed it and asked if John was working. I told her that John had the night off. She was little disappointed and left saying that it was okay.
About a week later, the same woman came through my line. John was coming up behind her with tears in his eyes and said, “Thank you!” She smiled and said, “No, Thank you!”
She went on to say, “I come in here asking you how you are. Your answer constantly is, ‘fine as always’ even though you are going through tough times with your wife sick, working two jobs, going to school and trying to raise a family.”
Tears started to flow as she continued, “Every time I hear “fine as always”, it makes my day because if you can still say that everyday, then I cannot complain about my day.”
John told her that the day before he received a phone call from the insurance company requesting payment. The payment of $100 was not due until the 20th (it was near the 1st of the month), but they wanted the money sent that day to continue their health coverage.
The money they had left was accounted for their next trip to Chicago. John mailed the money he had left to the insurance company and told his wife that God will make a way. So when he came into work today there was an encouragement card from the woman with $100 gas card in it, the exact amount that was sent to the insurance company the day before. Therefore, God made a way when there seems to be no way.
God made sure I witnessed that event that morning because I was wondering how I was going to make ends meet when I was cut to working only 24 hours a week. I was also thinking of about my ministry career and how God was going to use my degree and experience since I am no longer a licensed minister. Along with other burdens I was carrying. The answer is, God Will May a Way and this song has been on my heart for the past month.
What burden are you carrying today? Take a moment to listen to this song. My prayer that this song, God Will Make a Way, will give you hope and remain on your heart as you surrender your burden to God each day.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Be True to Thine Self
Over the years, I have prayed for him to return to the Lord. I did not have any contact with him, but I always wondered how he was doing. I also prayed that someday, the Lord will let me know. Recently, through another friend on Facebook, he showed up. I had the opportunity to review his Facebook pages. It appears that he has reconciled with is family and with the Lord. His daughter has graduated last year and she is in the Air Force. His eldest son, graduated from High School this year. His youngest son appears to be doing as well in school. He and his wife are communicating better than eleven years ago. Praise the Lord! After about three days, the connection to his website was close for me. But that is okay, because my prayers were answered and I am content with that.
While in Clinical Pastoral Education, I met someone who had shown me what a Christian brother is all about. I witnessed his loving relationship with his wife as he talked with her on the phone. I also heard stories how he came to Christ through his wife and his wife shown him what God’s Love is.
His relationships with his patient at the hospital were of empathy, patient, and God’s Love. He also passed the same relationship to his co-workers. We talked over McFlurries many occasions about patients, my troubled marriage with Jerry and Nazarene theology. (He is also a Nazarene) Because of his Christian Brotherly love, I placed him high on my list of trust next to God, until recently.
God has shown me that no man (or woman) can be placed next to Him or be equal to Him. All men have fallen short of the glory of God. We, as human, are not perfect. We make wrong choices. We place a mask over our face, when we are face to face with other people. We put on an image or persona that we want others to see. Base on our trust in others, is how high the walls is built or taken down. It is when the wall is down, we see the true person for who he/she is.
God says to be true to thine self. This is the image I have been striving for since my salvation. In the movie “Pretty Woman”, Vivian (played by Julia Roberts) was asked by Edward (played by Richard Gere), “How do you like your eggs cooked?” Vivian would choose how her current boyfriend like his eggs cooked. She did not know for herself how she like her eggs cooked until she was face to face with herself, asking, “Who am I as a person?”
When we meet other people, we tend to take on the quality and nature that we like in that person. It’s like a chameleon effect. We merge in to our environment around us, whether consciously or unconsciously. How we act when we are with family is usually different than how we act with friends.
There was a time that I was considered “wild”. I got around a lot and could talk about anything a guy could talk about. But I didn’t like who I was as a person.
The day I accept Christ into my life, I went from one side of the pendulum to the other side of the pendulum. I went from being “wild” to being a conservative Christian. I was trying to “fit in” to what I thought people wanted me to be. Not who I am.
Recently a short term relationship with a Christian brother, whom I highly trust, shown me that the image I seen as a friend was not the same image he portrayed after the walls were lowered when getting to know each other as more than friends. As I am sure, my image has changed for him as well. He thought I was very conservative in nature and I thought he was very conservative in nature. Knowing where I came from, I had fear that he would not like the “whole” me as a person. Therefore, I had only shown a part of me.
Yesterday was Lola’s funeral. Lola is an aunt of my first husband. Lola had requested me to do officiate her funeral years ago if her nephew was unable to do so. The family honored her request and I was honored they called me. As usual, I was nervous before the service. I wondered why God chose this day for the service.
Afterward, we went to Vicky’s (Lola’s daughter) house for the reception. Unlike the last ten years, I felt for the first time that I belong in the family. When I was “wild”, many have shunned me, especially when I divorced Everett. Now I am accepted. More importantly, I am content with who I was yesterday and who I am today. My goal is to find a balance between the wild child and the very conservative religious child. Be who God has created me to be.
Now that you have read this story, I want you to know that this journey has taken years to get to where I am today. My questions for you; “Who are you?” “Are you being true to yourself or to what someone want you to be?” “Who do you want to become?” “Do you like yourself the way you are today?” “Do you want to change?”
If you desire to change who you are, then start with a prayer. Ask God to come into your life. Ask God what He wants you to change first. Then ask God to help you to make this change and become a child in His image.
When you do this, be ready for change in your relationship with others. Some changes may not be welcomed by others in your clique. While others will open eyes and make them wonder what has happened to you.
The change may come quickly or it may take awhile. Sometimes it takes other changes to occur before this change can happen. Be open. If you can’t trust anyone or yourself, then trust God. After all, He created you.
May your journey be blessed and an adventurous one. God Bless.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
As I go to the marketplace to hire a person for my farm, the parable of the workers comes to mind. If you stand around the marketplace, you will hear people begging for work. It is up to the owner to hire the best person for the job. As for me, I like to hire the person that does not beg.
When you accept the job on Farm Town, you may get a big job and earned a lot of money, or a small job which earns little money. The purpose of earning money is to build your farm.
Lately, Wal-Mart has been cutting hours because sales are dropping. I listen to the employees complain about hours being cut, how they will not be able to pay bills and keep up with their style of living, while others are happy to have a job to go. These people who have taken jobs after being on unemployment and not able to find equal jobs as before, also learned to cut back on their unnecessary expenses, spend more time with their family, and count their blessings.
Unemployment rate is at their all time high. People are learning to get back to basic by going to restaurants once a week or not at all, taking the kids to the park and having a picnic, spending the day with relatives, going to the library instead of buying books, spending time at museums and zoos.
In the parable, the people who worked all day for the same wage as the people who worked just an hour were upset and angry with the owner. People at Wal-Mart, who has worked several years, are upset because their hours are getting cut as those who just started a month ago.
As Christian, whether you have been a Christian all your life or accepted Christ as your Savior five minutes ago, the gift is the same for all. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16) Christ has given his life for all who believe in him. He paid the ransom when he laid down his life for us. Not just a few of us…all of us.
As for those of us who is begging for more, whether it’s a job, bigger house, a new car, a new I-pod or Wii….(the list goes on and on), how about finding ways to spend time with the people you love and get back to basic. Donate your time at a non-profit organization or your church. Become a community who is not afraid of their neighbors, but is happy to help those in needs. It all begins with you.
Quote From Benjamin Button
Friday, June 5, 2009
Keeping It Simple
As a child, we are dependent on our parents to provide for our basic needs. Some of us were lucky to have food on the table, a roof over our head and clothes on our back, whether it was designer clothes or clothes from yard sales it did not matter. Some of us had love in our homes and was able to strive and become a mature adult. While others had to fight for survival to get through the day.
As a teenager there is a sense of being invinsible. We take on more risks without considering the consequences. Based on our nurturing experience as a child, we tend to carry it into our teenage years and adulthood. Some of us were able to break the cycle of abuse, whether physical, emotional, financial, mental or spiritual. While others continue to be trapped in a world where forgiveness and redemption is unheard of. Therefore it is difficult to understand or experience the relationship of God.
We teach children in church the ABC of salvation. A= accept; Confess to God that you are a sinner. Repent and turn away from your sin. B= Believe; that Jesus is the son of God and that he was sent by God to save people from their sins. C= Commit; Give your life to Jesus. Ask Him to be your Savior and Lord. Sounds simple? Not always, especially when the first time you have heard it was when you are an adult and have experienced the hard and/or troubled life.
In Matthew 18:1-6, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
A customer came through the line with last minute shopping for his son's graduation party the next day. He brought a beautiful cake to my check out, but without a price tag on it. I called the customer service manager for a price check and he called back saying it was 11.88. I proceeded with the order and congratulated his son for graduating.
Two nights ago, I was told that I sold a syroform display cake to a customer that did not have a price tag on it. The customer found out it was syroform when they actually tried to cut into the cake. Thankfully they thought it was hillarious as it was an unplanned joke for all of them.
Needless to say, they brought the cake back to exchange it for a real cake. The situation brought laughter to all who witnessed and heard about this. As my boys will say, "It's a mom!" For I would do things that makes them laugh and remember it for a lifetime.
I may not have a beachfront property in Arizona to sell you, but I do have a beautiful cake to sell that just might make you laugh for a lifetime.
Friday, May 29, 2009
Field of Dreams
It's about a character, Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner), an Iowa corn farmer, who becomes convinced by a mysterious voice that he is supposed to construct a baseball diamond in the middle of his corn field. The film's underlying themes are the fulfillment of dreams, and how people can overcome any regrets they may have about the life choices they make. It's no secret that I had many regrets in life because of the choices I made.
Ray has helped several people made amend with the choices they made along the way. Shoeless Joe Jackson who brought a team together to play in the field that he thought was heaven. Terrance Mann, 1960 author, who had once written about the golden days of baseball and became a controversial author later. Archibald "Moonlight" Graham, a 1920 baseball player who later became a doctor. "Archie" Graham gotten the chance to play once again as a young man, but later when Ray's daughter was choking on a hotdog, Archie crossed over the line and did what he was called to be and that is to be a doctor.
At the end of the show, Terrance was asked by Shoeless Joe if he would like to go with them and write about baseball, which he has always dreamed of doing for he loved baseball. This made Ray angry and wondered what was in it for him. He followed everything the voice told him and sacrificed his farm and family. Shoeless Joe then said, "If you build it, He will come." Ray's dad was in the field. Ray wanted another chance to introduce his dad to his family and play catch with him and he got that chance.
Over the years, I have heard from many people how I have helped them and inspired them move on with their lives. That I must be an angel sent down from heaven and how I deserve someone better. For all this, I will have to give God the glory for he has created me to be a loving and caring person.
Once again tonight I was told, that if anything, I helped this person laughed, joke around, have joy and to live again. I'm truly glad of this.
Regrets, I have one, my last marriage. A marriage that turned into a divorce. A divorce that changed my call in life to be an ordained chaplain. A divorce that prevents me to build a relationship with widowed ordained elder due to church laws.
On a positive note it was a marriage and divorce that changed me when ministering to others in similar situations, even without my ministerial license. I can now empathetic and provide resources to these women.
Jeremiah 29:11 says: "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
"What's in it for me?" Kinda selfish, huh? God has a plan for me as well as for you and he promised that the plans will prosper and not harm us and to give us hope and a future."
We are in seasons of life as stated in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
1. There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
2. a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3. a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,
4. a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5. a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
6. a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7. a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8. a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
Even though this possible long-term relationship has ended. We are still friends. I pray that God will be able to use this situation for His greater good in the future. For now it is time to weep and heal.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Take a moment to write down on a piece of paper your burden that you are facing right now. It could be health, relationships, financial, addiction, or employment issues. After you have written it down, take a few minutes and take to God in prayer.
The burden you are carrying seems like a GIANT and sometimes you wished God or someone could take this burden away from you. You may also believe that no one could possibly understand what you are up against. True?
There was an exercise that I participated in a seminar years ago and it was never forgotten. We were sitting at a round table for eight and the speaker asked us to write down a health issues that were experiencing in which we wished we did not have. We took that health issue that we wrote down to prayer and listened to the speaker for awhile. In the meantime, that piece of paper was still faced down in front of us. Some of us was thinking about that burden we put on that paper and others forgot about it and listened to the speaker.
Later in the seminar, we were asked to pass our paper to the person on the left. Can you imagined the anxiety that was felt in that room as we were about to disclosed what was on that piece of paper to another person?
The speaker went on to say, "The burden that you once carried is now gone, now you have a new burden. Open up that piece of paper and see what it is." Gasp and murmurs were heard throughout the room. The next question was, "How many of you want your old burden back?"
Most of you have heard that God does not give us more than we can bear. David, a small shepherd boy, standing before a GIANT with only a sling shot in one hand and stones at his feet. He did not approached this challenge without praying first for God's wisdom, strength and courage. David picked up the stone, placed it against the leather strap and swung it over his head. The stone was released and hit Goliath between the eyes, which killed him instantly.
What GIANT are you facing today? Are you willing to take it to God in prayer at this very moment?
Some of you might say, "I don't know how to pray." or "What do I say?" Do not worry, God knows what is on your heart. He is waiting for you to talk to Him and ask for help.
What you are asking for may not seem to be "killed" as quickly as David seemed to killed Goliath. For even with David it took time before he found himself ready to battle against the enemy.
Rest assure that one of God's promises is that he will be with you as long as he is invited by you into your heart.
Are you ready to face your "Giant?" Let's pray...
May the peace of God be with you. Blessings.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Remembering Mom on Mother’s Day
As soon as May came upon us I knew that Mother’s Day will soon be here. I was pushing away what feelings I may have when this day comes. Now the day is here.
Mother’s Day was a day that I would spend time with mom and be in the moment. I found such joy in giving her a card and/or a present. But mom didn’t care if she didn’t receive a card or a present. All she wanted is for her children to spend time and talking with her.
Last night we were busy at Walmart. There were so much joy in children, young and old, buying that special card or gift for their mom. I have seen pretty cards go into the brown card sack, beautiful flowers of all colors being wrapped up in the plastic sack for protection against the weather and candies of all kinds; not just chocolates.
A co-worker who is pregnant with her second child asked if I would work for her tonight so she could spend time with her 2 year old son and her husband for mother’s day. I told her yes and then thought about generations and life itself. We don’t know how long we will have our mom with us on this earth. Many have lost their mom in childbirth, as a young child or teenager, as a young adult with small children, as grandmother or grandfather with a grandchild along the way, or as an elderly themselves. In the past year I have met or talked to people who have lost their mom in all these generations and wonder how they are grieving on this special day for Mom's. My prayers is out to all those who are grieving on this special day.
I’m on the third series, “Someday” of Karen Kingbury’s book. This book is really touching my heart. Ashley has lost her mother three years ago and her daughter shortly after birth a few weeks before due to a birth defect. Yet, God’s timing is right and good things are spring out of a painful experience.
As I was talking to a special friend last night about Mother’s Day and the impact that it may have to those who have lost their mom recently, I was wondering what impact it may have on me. My plans included going out to Mom’s grave, put flowers on it and just sit, talk, and probably cry my eyes out. Today I can hear mom saying, “Don’t waste money on flowers just visit and talk with me.”
A few minutes ago I was listening to Vince Gills’ song, Go Rest High On That Mountain, which brought tears flowing down my cheeks. It was one of the song mom had requested to be sung at her funeral. The other was In The Garden, which was mom’s all time favorites. I found that I don’t need to go out to the grave to talk with her. She is in my heart right here and now. There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t think about her and talk to her. I do miss her laughter, her smile, and her constructive criticisms (and believe me, she gave plenty). She has not been a mentor to just me, but to everyone she comes in contact with.
Although the tears are falling, they are tears of joy, peace and love that only mom can bring to a child. May this day be blessed with wonderful memories of your mom on this special day.
Sunday, May 3, 2009
Kiss An Angel Good Morning
As I remembered Aunt Alice, the memories of the song, Kiss An Angel Good Morning, also came to mind because Aunt Alice loved Charlie Pride as well as I did.
Every Friday night (payday) when I was a teenager, dad and mom would load four kids (me and three brothers) into a car and go up the street to Alfanos Pizzeria, the best pizza in town. We would walk into the door and sit down to a table of six covered with red and white checkered vinyl cloth and a red candle in the middle.
Pizzas and drink were ordered and as we wait for the pizza, I would get permission to go to the jukebox in the corner of the restaurant. For fifty cents one could play six songs or twelve for a buck. There were two songs I would play every friday nights, Kiss An Angel Good Morning and Kaw-Liga, both by Charlie Pride.
The pizzas were so good and greasy that the orange color juice would run down your hand to your wrist. You had to hold the pizza with two hands or partially fold it in one hand.
This was another family time moments that I will always remember.
It’s fascinating how a familiar song will bring back memories. Last night I was flipping through the channels on the television and stopped on PBS Gaither Gospel music. When mom was alive, I would go over on occasions and watch the Gaither with her on Saturday nights. Dad and Mom would watch it every Saturday in their green recliners. Dad with his coffee cup on the end table and popcorn bowl in his lap while Mom would sing as they sang. Mom loved to sing. Unfortunately and as her health deteriorated, she had a difficult time catching her breath when she sang.
Mom loved Guy Penrod because she thought he looked like the photo of Jesus himself. As he came on last night and sang "Why Me Lord" part 1 part 2, I stopped everything I was doing or thinking and focused on the song and the memories, which led to Aunt Alice.
Aunt Alice is my dad’s aunt and my Grandma’s sister. She was a wonderful inspirational woman who loved the Lord. Aunt Alice is a woman from the Kentucky hills with an “hillbilly accent” that I loved to hear when she talked. She had long gray braids that she wore in a wrap on top of her head. She also worn a simple cotton printed dress and she was pleasingly plump. (I can hear dad laughing at this description).
As you walk into her home through the back door, there was the kitchen with white metal cupboard sink and chrome leg kitchen table along I believe red vinyl seat covered chairs. The table was full of medicine bottles, salt and pepper shakers, butter dish and today's newspapers. She had a red utility cart and Aunt Jemima figurines throughout the kitchen. The old vinyl floor had seen it’s better days as the prints were worn off and there were some tears. Her kitchen had a smell of bacon or sausage that linger from the morning breakfast. Among the clutters, one would have the feeling of warmth and love that only a grandmother or in this case Aunt Alice can bring.
From the kitchen is the dining room. The dining room table was also full of papers and items that makes one wonders where a person will put their elbows when they eat. Not that we were allowed to put our elbows on the table when we eat. Also on the floors there were boxes of materials and swatches for quilts that she hand sewn throughout the years.
On the far side of the room is a phonograph player. She had several albums she loved play and listen to. One of those album was Kris Kristofferson that had the song “Why Me Lord” on it. When she played it, this little girl of twelve would sing her heart out along with Kris. Now mind you, I cannot sing a tune in a bucket, but Aunt Alice didn’t mind. She found joy in listening to me sing to the Lord. As she said, “Jesus loves it when I made a joyful noise unto him,” which made me sing all the more even though I didn’t understand what she meant at the time.
There were other inspirational songs and artist that she played, but when I heard Guy sang this song, the memories of Aunt Alice flowed. She passed away many years ago. Her legs were amputated due to diabetes. But through all this, she never lost faith in the Lord.
She is sadly missed, but her memories will live on in my heart.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
When Plans Change
Many of us make plans when there is a marriage onn the horizon, a new baby, a home, college, work and so forth. We have goals, either short-term or long-term goals, for work, family, relationships, and personal life. How many times when plans are made and it doesn’t turn out the way it was planned? Whether it would be an intimate time with your spouse, vacation or something as simple as a get together at your house. How did you feel when these plans were interrupted or didn’t turn out as planned?
This month has proven to be a month where plans were changed for my family, which I will share with you because many of you can relate to these stories.
Allison and Steve were expecting their second child on May 1st. They were in the process of purchasing their first home after several years of renting. They were in the process of packing, and planning the move before the baby came. They have decided when the baby is born, Allison will be staying home with the baby and Ryan, while Steve continues to work due to high cost of daycare, especially for infant. Ryan will complete his school year and enrolled in a new school district in the Fall. Sounds like a good solid plan, right? Well……
William Everett came earlier than expected. He was born on April 10th, three weeks earlier than the expected due date. He also was born the day before the help is expected to come and move their furniture to their new home. Their plans were unraveling.
While Allison was in the hospital, the move to the new place continued as planned. Only the small stuff still needed to be packed up and the old place needed to be cleaned. They were planning to give the landlord the keys on the 15th. Now I don’t recall if they asked for another week extension or not. But they managed to get the rest of the stuff packed and cleaned up to get their deposit back last week.
Allison and William came home from the hospital the day after the move. William had jaundice and over the next few days his blood count for jaundice went up. The doctor recommended pushing fluid and being in the sunlight at home. It took about a week of blood tests and doctor’s visit before his count returned to normal, which we all were relieved. Even though William was jaundice, he was a good baby through all this.
Brad is involved in a relationship with a young woman who has two children. They have been very careful about disclosing their relationships with the children until they both knew that they are ready for the next step in their relationship. They had set a date when the girls will meet Brad. Unfortunately, someone had disclosed to the girls about Brad before the planned date, which speeded up the plan a week or two early. As a result, Brad and the young woman talked it over and decided it was time to take children out to dinner, which resulted in children trusting Brad, which I had no doubt. Children seems to be drawn to Brad. As Brad can be a kid himself when playing and being with the kids.
Recently, Keiko (shi’zu) was due to have pups on May 3rd. I was in the middle of tearing up the carpeting and getting ready to put down sub-flooring in the computer room. I wanted to get this done as well as finishing the trimming work in the kitchen, and putting up new walls in the bathroom before she had puppies. Needless to say, she had six puppies on April 25th.
Plans were interrupted as I called everyone involved to help me with the deliverance of the puppies. There were concerns that the puppies would not survive because they were premature. I had one box ready, but it was too small for mama and six puppies (I expected 3 or 4) and I had to run to Farm King to get milk supplement for the puppies.
Three days later, the vet removed the dew claws and stated that the puppies are healthy and doing well. Keiko will need additional calcium supplement of mozzarella cheese daily to keep her and the puppies healthy.
Brad made a box out of an old bookcase for them and all seems to be working out. The puppies will be ready to leave to their new homes by the end of June. In the meantime, I will just let nature takes its course.
Yesterday, Steve was laid off from work. I was thinking about God’s timing in all of this. If William waited until May 1st, would there be health insurance for the delivery and the testing for jaundice? As it worked out, they had insurance when William was born. Allison may have to go back to work for awhile, but in the meantime, the time off for Steve will enable him to get the house painted and repaired, garden put in and time to be with his children.
We all make plans and sometimes our plans do not turn out the way we thought they would. Either someone else interrupt our plans or we jump ahead of God’s plan for us. We become impatient and take control because we want it NOW! But if we trust God’s timing, it usually turns out for the best overall.
Is there something going on in your life, which didn’t turn out the way you planned it? Was it because you jumped in front of God and took the wheel? What would happen if you give God the wheel of your life? Are you afraid or at peace with giving Jesus the wheel?
These are hard questions. Take a moment to reflect on your life in the past. Were there times when an event fell apart or were there times when all fell into place? My guess is there were both. What happened in those times? What were your reactions?
Life is full of twist and turns. We can embrace life or struggle. Which would you rather do? May God gives you peace.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
As I cried out to the Lord before drifting off to sleep, I was awaken in the early morning hours crying out to the Lord in prayer. I asked God to show me His Words and yet I knew where he was leading me. For the past two days, God has been revealing stories in the Bible about relationships between men and women, between God and Israel, and between God and man. I am inviting you to join me on this journey of relationships in the Bible. For this is not just my story, but stories of many men and women as they struggle with pains as they find their way back to the Lord. Pains that runs deep into the inner core of beings.
You are invited to repentance by the Lord, with promises of His mercy and grace as you restore your relationship with Him. Once that relationship has been restored, that love will spill over and intertwine with other relationships; marriage, parent and child, brothers and sisters, as well as friends. Are you ready?…..
Who is Hosea? Hosea is a prophet who prophesied during a long period of time when the Israelites have turned away from God due to their desiring the life of sins, particularly idolatry. They committed adultery against God. Adultery… A commandant that was written on a tablet along with nine others and given to Moses for God’s people, the Israelites. A commandment that simply states: Thou shalt not commit adultery.
When we think about adultery, we think about a man and a women who has a relationship outside of marriage. We don’t think about adultery being related to our “marriage” or relationship with God. When Moses came down from the mountains with both tablets in hand, he saw that God’s people have broken the commandments by worshiping the golden calf. Not only the commandment regarding adultery, but other commandments as well. Such as, Thou shalt have no other god before me, and, you shalt not make yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth. No wonder Moses got upset and broke the tablets on the ground. The Israelites had broken their relationship with God when they saw another way out.
The Israelites are a community of people. Although they were slaves in Egypt. They were taken care of. They were given all the food they wanted, water, and clothing. They were taken care of by Pharaoh. But did they see that it was God that provided for them?
Have you ever noticed how the community affect you? In school, there are peer pressures from friends, the opposite sex, and the self desire to “fit in”. Peer pressures usually leads us into temptations. To do things that we would not have done if we were in a close relationship with God. Temptations to skip class and hang out with friends, plagiarism, to gossip or belittle someone who is not in your clique, to smoke do drugs, or having sex.
The Israelites were influenced by the community as well with the power of “peer pressures” rather than the power of “prayer”. The kind of peer pressure that leads some of us into temptations and lose focus on our relationship with God.
The Israelites have been unfaithful and wanted to return to their “lover”, their idol. They wanted to return to a place they believed was comfortable. They wanted to return to Egypt where their basic needs were provided for. Yet, they did not see that they were in bondage to slavery…to sin. And if they did see it, they didn’t care. Because it was better than where they are in the desert.
Soon we may find ourselves in deep despair. All the joys that resulted from our idols will taken away. We find ourselves stripped and naked (vulnerable) as we knock on the heavy wooden door. A door that can only be opened by God himself.
What are you enslaved to…what is your bondage…what is your sin? What is the motivation behind the sins you committed? Is it to receive the finer things (materialistic) in life or is there another reason?
This would be a good time to take these questions to prayer with God. As you are in prayer, God may lead you into the desert as he did with the Israelites. He will speak tenderly to you. And while you are in the valley, He will give you hope. The hope can only be found in Christ. God’s arms are opened for acceptance out of unconditional love. The same love as when the prodigal son returned to his Father after all the sins he has committed. The Father forgave his son and celebrated his return home. Are you ready to return home, admit your sins, and repent. Are you ready to accept the Father’s forgiveness? He is waiting….
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Until recently I had been working seven days a week between Casey’s and Wal-mart. My days were filled with sleeping, house cleaning and work. About three days ago I received a message from my brother, Roy,saying, “It’s been over a month since you have posted a blog.” I told him that I would post one by Wednesday. Again, he reminded me last night that it has been a month and four days since I have posted a blog. Here is the blog Roy, as promised. I hope you enjoy it..smiles.
I was thinking of what to write about and “my mind is always going going home.” A Joe Diffie Song that Roy brought to my attention over a month ago. A song that brings comfort and memories to me and my brother(s) while growing up in our house.
It will be five years since I came home in May, 2004.
My Dad, my brother, Pat, and my son, Brad, came to my apartment in Kansas City, loaded up the rental truck a week before I took that long road home.
The only thing
I see ahead is
Just the heat a rising off the road
The rainbows I've been chasing keep on fading before I find my pot of gold
But more and more I'm thinking, that the only treasures that I'll ever know
Are long ago and far behind and wrapped up in my memories of home
Home for me is filled with pleasant memories and a safe place to be. It’s a place where I can go and be “me.” A place that is filled with unconditional love. A place I needed to be after traveling down a hard road I was on.
Home was a swimming hole and a fishing pole and the feel of a muddy row between my toe
Home was a back porch swing where I would sit and mom would sing amazing grace
While she hung out the clothes,
Home was an easy chair with my daddy there and the smell of Sunday supper on the stove
My footsteps carry me away but in my mind I'm always going home
As a child, I remember rolling up my pant legs, leaving my shoes and socks behind next to the tall grass and walking along the bank of a river. The feeling the muddy row between my toes were soft and warm compare to the cold water in the springtime. All the while, the smell of the fishy river water would fill my nostrils, which reminds me of the simple times in life. Afterward, we would wash our feet in the cold water before putting back on our shoes and socks and hop into the old green station wagon to go home for ice cream at Tastee Freeze for Mom’s favorite flavor of the week on Sundays, which was lemon.
Swinging in the porch swing with mom would bring endless conversations and words of wisdoms that will be cherished forever. Although mom is no longer with us physically, memories of her will always be in our hearts. The porch swing is still there, and I am looking forward to sitting in that porch swing, watching the traffic go by and listening to her words of wisdom in my heart this spring.
Do you remember the old wringer washer? The washer was in the basement next to the outside cellar entrance door. As you walked down the basement stairs from the kitchen, it was dark, musky and full of spider webs. The shelves were covered with green Mason jars that my grandmother had canned from the many vegetable garden years before. The same washer that my brother, Todd, put his arm through when running down the cellar steps.
On laundry day, the heavy wooden cellar door would open up along with the outside cellar door and bring light in to the basement. There would be the washer and tubs for rinsing. The clothes lines would be filled with clothes flapping in the breeze.
Every week, mom would put fresh sheets on our bed after they were washed and hung out. Every week I would look forward to climbing into bed that night and take in the smell of fresh linen. There is nothing like it.
The chair I remembered dad sitting in was a salmon pink color chair with arms big enough for us kids to sit on. He would be watching a John Wayne or Clint Eastwood movie. We would be at his feet as he would shaved off a piece of block cheese with his pocket knife and give each of us a piece. On other nights he would also have a big mixing bowl of popcorn to share.
Every sunday, mom fixed roast beef dinner with potatoes and gravy, carrots and onions. I can almost taste them now.
Now the miles I put behind me ain't as hard as the miles that lay ahead
And its much to late to listen to the words of wisdom that my daddy said
The straight and narrow path he showed me turned into a thousand winding roads,
My footsteps carry me away, but in my mind I'm always going home.
When I listen to these verses, it takes me back to the Father. The road taken was away from the Father when I became a teenager and got married. Both my dad and my Father in heaven gave me words of wisdom while growing up, but I chose to ignore them. As a result, I traveled on long winding roads. When at the crossroad, I would choose the more traveled roads that were full of twist and turns and not the narrow road that was chosen for me by God.
On September 12, 1999, I returned home. I was in my easy chair in the living room and gave my life back to the Lord. There were many crossroads since then and it has never been easy. But it’s the road that I want to be on. A road that leads to eternal life. A road where I would meet people along the way and show them the door to the Father.
The heavy wooden door…. will you knock? I assure you that when you knock, the door would open and the room will be filled with light.
My footsteps carry me away, but in my mind I'm always going home. Come home.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Sunday was my first over night working at Wal-Mart and I was tired as I usually go to bed at ten o’clock. It was dark when I got into my car to go to work. I turned on the car headlight so I can see where I’m going. Every block or so I met the illumination from the street lights. When I got to the stop light, it was brighter for the convenience store lit the corner up. The light turned from red to green and I drove on. I pulled into a semi-dark parking lot, parked the car, got out and started walking across the parking lot to the doors of Wal-Mart. The first set of doors opened to make way for the next set of doors, which led to a brightness that you can see everything! Everything that is good when you first walked into the doors. Bakery goods, fresh flowers, pizzas in the freezer and clean wide aisles. There were a few customers and workers, unlike the day shift the week before. There was a sense of harmony and quietness.
Now let me take you to another place, Las Vegas, Nevada, a city that never sleep. Where the nightlife comes alive with shows, gambling, noise, and lots of people. There are lights everywhere! In the hotel, the signs, the car headlights going bumper to bumper down the road. In downtown Vegas at night, you can’t see the dark sky, let alone any stars.
Two different places. Two different environment. Two different light. Yet both can trick the mind into thinking its daytime and keep you alert and going. Going where?????
There is an advertisement that says, “What you do in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” Now there is two sides of the coin in that advertisement. On one side of the coin, Vegas takes your money, your integrity, and can take your life. On the other side of the coin, you take your experience of Vegas with you for the rest of your life, whether good or bad.
Wal-mart advertise, “Save Money, Live Better!” Wal-mart has two sides of the coins as well. You do save money compare to the higher price stores in the mall or shopping centers. They have Roll-back prices and clearance items in the stores. But on the other side of the coin, to live better, well there are temptations in the store as well. Temptations that you do not see when you first walk into the store. Temptations that is located in the midst of the good. Not only tobacco and alcohol, but even chocolates!
Both are somewhat deceiving. Both are focusing on bringing people to them through advertising.
Yet there is a greater light to follow. A light that not deceive you and promise you eternal life. A light that does not give you temptations. A light that is to be told everywhere! A light that can cleanse you and give you peace and joy. What is that light? That light is Jesus.
Light can be deceiving, whether you are in Vegas or walking into a Wal-Mart store. But there is One True Light to follow that will not deceive you, Jesus.
Which light will you follow today?
Saturday, February 28, 2009
I just received an email from my brother, Roy, which made me chuckle and smile. He enjoyed reading my post about mom because it took him to a place in his life that he has forgotten and “it’s nice to hear it.” Also reading this blog provided him with a flashback to another time in both of our lives.
Birthdays are very important in our family and mom made sure we celebrated them (not hers, which brings another memory :-) ). When I was a teenager, I had a portable fisher price record player and a lot of 45’s. (remember those? I still have them in storage somewhere, lol) I was dating Everett and my brothers were teasing me about being 16 and have been kissed. I didn’t remember whether it was Roy or Todd, but Roy put on one of my record, “You’re 16 by Ringo Starr, and played it as a birthday present for me. Some of you may not remember the song. If you dare to listen to the lyric and watch the video of You're 16 by Ringo Starr, be prepare to laugh. My…how technology have changed over time!
I was touched that my brother would remember my 16th birthday in a special way. I also remember playing another song, but for the life of me I can’t recall the title and I’m not going out into the garage to dig out the old records at 2:09 in the morning. If it was 2:09 in the afternoon, I would be out there searching through my boxes looking for that record!
I don’t remember much else about turning 16, but that memory has been burned into my heart. The memory of plugging that record player into an outlet by the pool table/dining room window, which was turned into a kitchen later. We sat on the floor and played those records. I remember a tear or two dropped. I was truly touched.
It’s amazing how memory works and is connected in some way or another. What trigger one memory for one person usually triggers another memory for another person. There are stories, whether good or bad. They are the make up of our lives and keeps us connected.
Many people doesn’t see this side of my brother, Roy, because he keeps his feelings inside of him. But when he does something special, it is truly special. Thank you for the memory, Roy.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
First Will Be Last…
Over the past year I have applied at several places for employment. First part of the year I applied for jobs that I was educationally qualified for and the latter half of the year I applied for jobs that are minimum wages. Last month I was hired at Casey’s.
Over the last week, the parable of the workers in the vineyard came to my heart (Matthew 20:1-16). It is a story how the landowner went out every few hours to hire men to work in his vineyard for one denarius. It didn’t matter whether they worked 12 hours or one hour, they all got the same rate of pay.
The workers who worked all day for the same pay as those who worked for a partial day became envious and angry. They felt that they were not being treated fairly and complained to the landowner. The landowner offered each worker a rate of pay for the day and each worker had accepted the offer.
As stated in my previous post, I was able to obtain a part-time minimum wage job at Casey’s last month. Today I started part-time with a little higher than minimum wage with Wal-mart, which is a far cry from what I made from my previous employments. Although my wages has decreased, the humility, healing and faith continue to grow in strength as I was able to spend more time in God’s Words.
When I was thinking about this parable, there were similarities. Whether it is a white collar job or a blue collar job, we both worked about the same amount of hours per day. Both jobs are stressful, the former has more mental stress and the latter has more physical stress. The white collar job requires high education and the blue collar job require experiences. Yet the more education you have, the higher rate of pay you get.
Not always so. As with me, my high education disqualified me for many employment because of being “over qualified”. In this economic time, to have a job is a blessing.
The workers who worked all day for the same pay as the one who worked a couple of hours for the same rate of pay were envious. How many times we get envious of those who gets better pay than we do?
The ones who did not accept the offer the first time around ended up wishing that they had employment and were getting hungry as well as thirsty. They were simply not ready to accept the offer.
As time goes by, the offer became more attractive and the workers were grateful to have employment and with such a generous wage, which they did not deserve. They did not boast about it, they just accepted the pay.
The Lord is also generous with his offer as well as the landowner. Sadly, many will wait for a better offer (job) to come along. But the offer is free, all we have to do is believe in Him. When we believe, we will have eternal life with the Lord. How can it get any better than this?
Although my wages has decreased from my previous employments, I have been blessed abundantly with a lesson of humility, dependency on God, not self and an opportunity to minister to more people through my writings and my secular employments.
Where is your focus? Are you focusing on what you don’t like in a job you are in? Are you focusing on what others have and you have not? Or is your focus on what God is doing in your life to help prepare you for what is next in the plan He has for you?
After all, first will be last and last will be first.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Cost of Everything
Have you noticed how high things cost lately? Working at Casey’s made me more aware of the cost of foods and general merchandise. First thing I noticed was the cost of a candy bar, which is 1.10 with tax. I can remember a time when I use to go to the nearby mom and pop store and buy a sack full of penny candies for a quarter (which was bout 40 years ago).
Now I see kids come to the store and not blink an eye when they buy candies and sodas with five dollars and smile. I know it would be hard for them to imagine their grandparents getting a sack full of candies for a quarter, just as it was hard for us to imagine our parents or grandparents walking 2-5 miles to school in snow up to their waist.
When I was talking to dad the other day, we were talking about when they had a hard time financially. But as a child, I could not even remember the hard times because we had food on the table, clothes on our back and shelter. Dad would hunt and fish so we would have meat on the table. We were also raised with unconditional love.
When I got married, my husband and I were able to save our money and invest in a retail business. Over the years we had everything in the world we needed financially. One of the downfall in owning a business is that it takes 24/7 of your time. My husband would remodel fixer upper homes for additional investments. All this sacrifice took away from family time. I soon went out with my friends. Over time it put a strain on our relationships and we ended up in a divorce because we were both selfish.
Jesus was not selfish when he laid down his life for you and paid the ransom for your sin. Through his life, he taught us how important relationships with the Father in Heaven is as well as how important relationships with your family and neighbors are. My husband and I did not have our priority straight. There was no balance. Although we loved each other and our sons, we thought it was more important to be comfortable in life financially.
Would you lay down your life for your family? How about for a stranger? What is the order of your priority in life? What are you sacrificing? Is what you are sacrificing building relationships or destroying relationships?
I believe many of us are having a hard time economically. Because of the hard time, we are taking inventory of our own life. Just like businesses take inventory to find out what is moving and what is not moving in the store as well as the profit and loss of the store.
From rag to riches. Then from riches to rags. What is consistent is that although I have nothing (financially), I have much, which is love.
Friday, February 13, 2009
Normally I don’t do this, but I thought it was funny and wanted to pass it along.
This has to be one of the funniest country songs ever written........
not the perfect one mind you.....
no trains, dogs, pickup trucks, jail or Divorce..........
But a great country song.....turn up your sound
There are many definition of Age due to what you are talking about. One definition is how long an organism have lived (dare a woman tell?). How about aged cheese or wine? Another is a period of time or history. The Biblical Period, the Renaissance Period, the Baroque Period, the Ice Age and so on.
Age also determines our rite of passages. When we start school, lose our first tooth, go through puberty, go to High school, when we get our driver’s license, have the right to vote, to be an adult, to buy alcohol, get senior discounts or Social Security Medicare.
In the social realm, we put much emphasis on age. When working, I encountered two men (do you notice that things happen by two?) who were talking about how old they are because of being tired and the ache and pains they have after getting off work for the night. I commented to both of them that they are not that old! They replied saying I was not near as old as they were. One said he was 40 and the other 42. Now I took that as a compliment for I am 50!
Why is age so important? In the Biblical Period, women were getting married at the age of twelve and in our culture, women are getting married in late 20s or 30s. Some never get married, but live with their significant others. Puberty age has changed over the decades. Maturity and immaturity determines if we act our chronological age. How we dress determines our age. Our cultures determines our age, what is appropriate and what is not.
What if we don’t go by age, but by experiences? Then the whole perspective changes. A child who lived a sheltered life vs. a child who lived a life for survival. A family of two parents vs. a family of one parent. A person who lived in low income family vs. a person who lived in a high income family. A person who lived a healthy life vs. a person who has been ill most of their life.
Our past experiences determines are age and maturity as well. It also defines who we are as a person. What is your story? What defines you as a person? Does age really matter in a social realm? These are questions to ponder. Age….
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Have you ever known someone for most of their life or your life and when you see them again in a different environment that person seem so different? That happened to me not just once, but twice last night while I was working at Casey’s.
I am a cashier and one of my job is to turn on the gas pump when someone lift the nozzle and hit start. As pump one was initiated to start, I noticed a small older model maroon car, but I could not see the person pumping the gas. I went about my business and saw that the pump had finish pumping gas. I looked up and saw a man walking about six feet tall into the door. I was shocked to see my son, Steve, who lives in the Quad Cities. He was only in town for a short time and came by to get gas, soda, and beef jerky (which was high priced I thought).
Later in the evening, I looked up to greet another customer and I had to look twice! Standing before me is my other son, Brad. He was getting ready to go out of town and stopped to get some Dew!
Now I have given birth to these boys and raised them. They are adults. But what made them look so different? It was as if I was seeing them in a new perspective and I was. I was seeing them as customers who happens to be my sons.
I cannot remember a time where the boys came into my workplace as customers. When I was a waitress or a night manager in a grocery store, they were too young to be in the store or restaurant without adult supervision. Later I worked in social services and they were not my clients. However, when I was an associate pastor, they did come to listen to one or two of my sermons and I saw them in a new perspective then too.
You see, it’s not that they are different, but my role or personality changed while in a different environment. We all wear different masks while we are wearing different hats in life. How we act with our children is different than how we act with our parents. How we act with our friends is different than how we act with a new acquaintance. How we act at home is different than how we act at work. And unfortunately, for many of us, how we act in church is different than how we act the rest of the week.
The personality of these boys were the same as before last night, when I look at the situation closely. What I saw in Steve is that he is a tall big guy who loves to joke around and laugh at the small stuff. What I saw in Brad is that he has dark eyes, a great smile and a great laugh. In addition they both love to catch me in a “mom moment” (when I say or do something that is funny unexpectedly). Of course there is more to them than what is said here and I am at risk of embarrassing them. (Love you both :-) )
There are many stories of people in the Bible who sees others in a different perspective because of their physical ailments, their financial status, their marital status or their social status. Many times the way we views others is how we unconsciously view ourselves in the same situation. Matthew 7:5 says, “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.”
The next time you find yourself seeing someone or something in a different perspective, ask yourself, “what is different about me?” Do I like what I see in me? If not, what do I need to change? Am I being true to myself?
As I see the boys more often in the store, I suspect that my role as a mother will come through more. However, the “mom moments” will always be there for all to enjoy in laughter including me.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
I was sitting here wondering what to write next on this blog. Valentine’s Day continue to pop into my head. Possibly because all this week on 7th Heaven show, they are showing reruns of their valentine shows. Possibly because Valentine’s Day is on Saturday and I do not have a date (although I have to work). Possibly I do not have a loved one who I can celebrate this day with because I am single. Then I think of those who have lost loved one this past year and how difficult it must be for them as well.
As in some of the episodes of 7th Heaven, I found myself wondering who I can call so I won’t be alone. Now I realized that I was starting to have a pity party and stopped myself.
My mind shifted to, how did Valentine’s Day started? Was it by greeting card companies as many would say? What is the history behind this? That is when I look this up on Wikipedia. This is what I found.
Valentine's Day or Saint Valentine's Day is a holiday celebrated on February 14 by many people throughout the world. In the West, it is the traditional day on which lovers express their love for each other by sending Valentine's cards, presenting flowers, or offering confectionery. The holiday is named after two among the numerous Early Christian martyrs named Valentine. The day became associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished.
The day is most closely associated with the mutual exchange of love notes in the form of "valentines." Modern Valentine symbols include the heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten notes have largely given way to mass-produced greeting cards. The sending of Valentines was a fashion in nineteenth-century Great Britain, and, in 1847, Esther Howland developed a successful business in her Worcester, Massachusetts home with hand-made Valentine cards based on British models. The popularity of Valentine cards in 19th-century America was a harbinger of the future commercialization of holidays in the United States.
I also looked at Valentine and here’s what I found under the same reference.
Saint Valentine (in Latin, Valentinus) is the name of several martyred saints of ancient Rome. The name "Valentine", derived from valens (worthy), was popular in late antiquity. Of the Saint Valentine whose feast is on February 14, nothing is known except his name and that he was buried at the Via Flaminia north of Rome on February 14. It is even uncertain whether the feast of that day celebrates only one saint or more saints of the same name.
The first representation of Saint Valentine appeared in the Nuremberg Chronicle, (1493); alongside the woodcut portrait of Valentine the text states that he was a Roman priest martyred during the reign of Claudius II, known as Claudius Gothicus. He was arrested and imprisoned upon being caught marrying Christian couples and otherwise aiding Christians who were at the time being persecuted by Claudius in Rome. Helping Christians at this time was considered a crime. Claudius took a liking to this prisoner -- until Valentinus tried to convert the Emperor -- whereupon this priest was condemned to death. He was beaten with clubs and stoned; when that didn't finish him, he was beheaded outside the Flaminian Gate. Various dates are given for the martyrdom or martyrdoms: 269, 270, or 273.
It amazes me at times how much we take for granted is rooted back to Christian history. But why should it? After all, our country was founded and developed under Christian roots. But for the same reason as many who sees the true color of a woman’s hair when the roots show, they want to cover it up as soon as possible. Are we ashamed of our history?
As for all of you, I wished you a Happy Valentine’s Day. May you treat your loved ones as special on Valentine’s Day every day of the year.
Sunday, February 8, 2009
Yesterday marked the six month anniversary of my mom’s death. There are many times I find myself wanting to go to the phone to call her or drive over to the house to visit. When I do stop by the house to see dad, I vision her being in her chair snoozing with the television on Court TV or CSI reruns. She would wake up, look at me, and say, “What are you doing here?” or “I didn’t hear you come in.” I miss the update from her about my aunts, uncles, cousins, brother, niece or nephews.
Before her illness nine years ago, my mother was an active person. She worked at retail stores all her working life. She enjoyed learning new skills in craftsmanship, whether it was in needlework, crotchet, china painting, oil painting, sewing, quilting, refinishing furnitures or remodeling houses. There was nothing she could not do when she set her mind to it and go after the goal she set out for. In addition, she was also a perfectionist. If what she was making has one mistakes, for example, she would rip the stitches out and start over. Unlike my dad and me.
Mom and Dad had many opportunities to travel. They would save all year so they can go places on vacation the next year. We were able to visit relatives in other states; Michigan, Texas and Louisiana. Mom and Dad also traveled on their Honda Goldwing with a motorcycle group they belonged to see the country or take day trips to a restaurant or truckstop for coffee or coke.
Mom and Dad love to go camping and took four kids with them. At first, it was a tent. Then we upgraded to travel trailer as a family. Later they had a fifth wheel trailer, which they sold to my uncle Dean when mom got sick.
When I was a freshman in High School, I had tried to make their camping life miserable by refusing to participate in fishing, walking around the park, or sitting outside. I just stayed in the trailer and read books. What I really wanted was to talk on the phone or visit with my new boyfriend, Everett. We didn’t have the luxury of cell phones back then like teenagers do today. Everett did come out on his motorcyle to visit on that Labor Day weekend.
I remembered that I had an art project due on Tuesday after Labor Day. We were camping and Mom asked Dad go into town to take a Polaroid picture of our front door and bring that picture, my art pad and charcoal pencils to me. I thought she would let me go home to do the project but she had found another solution and I was not going to win. :-)
This is one of the story Mom and Dad love to bring up. Especially when I mentioned wanting to go hiking, go out to the lake, go camping or fishing. I do love nature as much as my parents, but one wouldn’t think so back then.
My brother, Todd, his family and my dad loves to go fishing in the boat every year. They would catch a lot of fish and give some away to relatives.
Dad also loves to hunt. He told me a story when mom went hunting with him because she didn’t want him to go hunting alone. Mom shot at a deer (I think). It must have bothered her, because she would not shoot at another animal again. But she would target practice with dad from time to time.
There are so many stories about mom and I hope to get them written down so the grandkids and great-grandkids can enjoy them. Mom’s stories are full of wit, wisdom, smiles, and love. Although mom has done many things, the one thing she treasured the most was family. We still miss you, mom.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Friends During Hard Times
Today I read an email requesting another post. I called a friend to get an update from his wife on his health condition and their struggle with getting government funding. Recently, I had to apply for health funding myself, for new hearing aids. In both of our cases, we had white collar jobs and insurance. Due to different reasons, we found ourselves in a place we have never been before, needing assistance.
If any of you are following my son’s blog, then you have read “That’s What Family is For”. If not, take a look: That's What Family Is For. (While you are there, go ahead and read some of his other blog. They are good! :) )
When you are struggling physically, financially, emotionally or spiritually; it is during this time when you will out who your friends are. This same friend and his wife have been there for me through many of my hard times. They listened to my story, they wept with me, they got angry with me, they prayed with me, sent encouragement cards and they even provided financial help when I needed it. Now, they need help. Although I cannot provide financial help, I can pray, listen and provide emotional support.
As I was writing this, I was reminded of a story in Job 2:11-13 NIV
“When Job's three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him.
When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads.
Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.”
These friends set out from their home, met and set off on a journey to provide comfort to a friend in need. A man who was blameless and upright. A man who feared God and shunned evil. A man whom God blessed through the work if this man’s hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land (Job :10b, NIV) A man who God allowed to be put to the test by Satan himself. But Satan was not to lay a finger on the man himself.
The first test, Job had lost all his livestock, his servants, and his sons and daughters who were drinking and feasting at his oldest brother’s house. After Job was told of all this, he went into mourning by tearing off his robe, shaving his head, and fell to the ground. But he did not blame God for any of this wrongdoing.
Satan was not happy because Job maintained his integrity and God allowed Satan to give Job another test. God had given Satan permission, but Satan was to spare Job’s life.
This time Satan “afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head” (Job 2:7, NIV). Then Job took a piece of pottery and cut himself with the pottery as he sat in ashes and mourned.
His wife could not understand why Job would hang on to his integrity and not cursed God. So she went out to asked Job, “why?” Job replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:10) Job’s integrity remain intact as he did not blame God for this illness.
I can only imagine what some of you may be thinking at this point. If a person has lost all his assets, been afflicted with an illness like Job has and tumbled into deep despair, how could he maintain his integrity with God? God knew Job’s heart and Job knew God.
Now we come to the scripture where Job’s friends saw him from a distance and barely recognized Job due to his sores. They tore off their robes and sprinkle dust on their heads in mourning as this was their custom. Then they sat with him without saying a word. They were not afraid that they too may get sores like Job had. They were there for him and mourned with him as friends.
Therefore, when we are in trouble, we will find out who are friends are. Which friend will sit down beside us and be there with and for us. Not only friends, but family too. I give thanks to God for my friends and families who have been there for me and I am happy to be there for them as well when they need a friend, a sister, a daughter, or a mother.
The best friend of all is God/Jesus/Spirit. God knows your heart, do you know God?
Sunday, February 1, 2009
Calm Before the Storm
We were busy last night at work. A group of African American guys came in. Right away I could tell they had good spirits about them and having way too much fun! They were on their way home to settle down for the night so they can get up in the morning. I asked, “To worship?” He said, “Yes, ma’am!” He gave me a brief gospel of this being “bad times”, but if we believe in the Lord’s coming, we will have eternal life with him.” I smiled and then He smiled and said something I didn’t quite hear, but ended with “God Bless You!” as he walked out the door.
For me that was the calm before the storm. Later as I was cleaning up, I remembered that I still need to bring inside the four washer buckets. The air was humid and warm from the snow that had been melting all day. After having temperatures in the teen digits with wind at night, 40 degree is warm in Illinois at this time of year and I loved it because that means spring is around the corner.
As I was saying, I went out to get the buckets and noticed that an arching stream of water shooting from the roof around the pole where one of the bucket was hanging. The bucket was overflowing to the ground from the water above.
Well, as some of you may guess where this is going, I had to get under the iced cold water from above and remove this bucket. The bucket was heavy and trying to get it off was a struggle. I ended up emptying 1/2 of the bucket of washer fluid and water onto the ground. In the meantime getting baptized with iced cold water from above.
After retrieving this bucket, I went and got another bucket from another post and went into the store drenched from head to toe. The look on LeaAnne’s face when she saw me was hilarious. When I said, I got wet out there and started laughing, she started laughing too.
Some of you may know the story of Jesus calming the storm. For others, the story is in Mark 4:35-41 NIV
That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, "Let us go over to the other side." Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.
Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?"
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?" They were terrified and asked each other, "Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!"
It was towards the end of my shift when the episode of being nearly drowned occurred. I went about the rest of my cleaning duty and headed for home. I parked my car in the garage and went inside the house. I took off my wet shoes and coat when a shi’zu came running from upstairs to greet me. She was also letting me know that she wanted go outside to do her duty.
As I was waiting for her to finish, I looked up to the midnight sky. The air was still warm and damp. There were many twinkling stars out. It was peaceful. At that moment I wished I had the patio table and chairs out so I could sit and enjoy the moment for awhile.
When Keiko was ready to come inside, I noticed that I didn’t have my coat on. Normally I freeze easily. But tonight I was warm. Warm from the inside out.
Saturday, January 31, 2009
Connecting with people
I was asked to post something about work. As stated in earlier post, I started on Tuesday at Casey’s. The first night I met someone that I graduated from high school with. My brother, cousin and her daughter came in. We had a young man trying to steal a dollar bag of candy. He was told not to come into the store again.
Learning the cash register was easy for me as I have been on cash register before. The cleaning was more difficult, because I have not done physical work other then around the house in a long time. Most of my previous employment involved mental work, little to none physical work whatsoever. However, the second night at Casey's became easier as my feet and muscles were not as sore as the night before.
It feels great to get out in the public again. Meeting old and new people from all walk of life. I enjoy talking to each one of my customers.
One night an elderly lady came in buying dry cat food for a gentleman. She knew that the cat food was more than the person wanted to pay. But it was snowing outside and she did not want to go to the other side of town to Wal-mart. Therefore she bought the cat food. The next night, she came in again. I asked, “How the cat food work out last night?” She laughed and was surprised I remembered. We connected through communication.
I have worked with the elderly for a number of years. Some of them are very lonely and want connection with a person. Last year, I worked in a nursing home. Many of these elderly only have the staff to comfort them because their family does not come by as often due to living out of town or out of state. Which make some of the elderly feel like they are forgotten.
These elderly does not know what the computer is about, let alone know how to turn one on. But they do know what a card or letter is. Before the time of computer, I used to write to Grandma Whitcher, who lived in a very small town in Kansas. In the beginning, I wrote to her weekly. Over time it turned into monthly and then maybe six times a year before it trailed off to a letter with a Christmas card before she died. Busyness and time can take away what is really important, being connected with the ones you care about.
Earlier this week, I went to get the mail. Of course the mail consisted of a bank statement, advertisement and a couple of bills. I turned to Brad and said, “You know what I missed?” “I missed getting letters in the mail and writing them back.” In today’s world, we communicate with emails, text messages on phones, and other technology that I’m not aware of. (maybe I’m getting old too :-) ) Is this way of communicating as personal as writing a letter with a paper and an ink pen?
I watch my son, Brad, who is in his twenty, glide over the phone text messaging to friends. I see him laugh and make expressions on his face when that person responds back. It seems that he is as much connected to the person he is writing to as I am connected to the person when I write a letter with an paper and a pen. Those who knows me that my favorite aisle is office supply. I love pens! Those stationaries are pretty too.
On the news, they said that teenagers text hundreds to thousands of messages a day. When I heard this, I thought that there is no way, people my age would text that much until I saw my friend, Kim texting several messages to her spouse, children, and friends. (maybe not hundreds, but a lot). At first she was slow in texting back. Today, she whipped messages back to me in no time. I am sure it helped when she got a new phone with a qwerty keyboard.
Connecting with people by technology can be personal. But I have seen it become a relationship hinder to the person sitting next to you. I remember being at Apple Bees having dinner. Behind me in a booth, a man was talking on his cell phone while his wife was eating dinner across from him. The man talked on the phone the whole time they were at Apple Bees and did not talk to his wife. No wonder relationships are failing. I wanted to turn around and say, “Put that phone away and pay attention to your wife!” But I didn’t.
Connection with people is very important in building a relationship. Whether it is customer relation, client relation, friends or family relation, we all need to feel connected with someone else. God wants us to build a healthy relationship with others not destroy relationships with people.
If you have been feeling disconnected or if you disconnected yourself with someone over time because of busyness or other reasons, maybe it’s time re-evaluate that relationship and get connected again. Put away that cell phone and get away from the computer and have a meaningful night (quality time) with a special friend, spouse, children. If you cannot visit your grandparents, great aunt or uncle, then write them a personal letter or send a card. I promise you, that will be the highlight of their day. By doing this, you will be able to grow stronger in a relationship with that person and stay connected.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Starting Over or Second Chances
Yesterday I got a call from the Manager of Casey’s General Store. She offered me a job as a cashier. I was so happy that I got the call and called three other people to let them know. Within the hour, I went in and filled out the necessary paperwork for employment. My hours will be 4-11:15 pm Tues – Saturday this week for training.
Of course the salary will be almost half of what I was making before I became unemployed. With the economic in recession and tumbling towards depression, unemployment rate increasing every month, and consumer prices at it’s highest then ever before, I am happy that I am able to get employment. Unfortunately, this will not pay all my bills, but it’s a start.
My first job was at Andris Waunee Farm as a busgirl. I worked most Wednesday, Friday and Saturday night. I enjoyed the work there because I enjoy interacting with people. I was looking at my ring this morning and remembered that I bought this ring for $59 with my first paycheck from Waunee Farm. I am glad I bought this ring, because it bring back wonderful memories which I can cherish for a life time.
This morning as you may have read in Steve’s post, he found out that he is a diabetic. He will be on medication and learn a healthy lifestyle of eating and exercises. Although this is not the news anyone want to hear, but if we all can change our lifestyles then we can live a long life for us and our family.
Recently, there has been a new saying in the media, advertisements, and spiritual messages. That saying is: “I am putting ME back on the list.” When we learn to put ME back on the list by taking care of ourselves first, then we can extend ourselves in serving others.
As we take a good look at ourselves in the mirror, sometimes we asked why am I not happy or I am the luckiest person in the world. What do you see when you look in the mirror? What are the questions will you ask? Do you focus on the negative or the positive?
If we go after our dreams, our purpose in life, then we are able to look in the mirror and see how much we love who we are. If we don’t love who we are after we look in the mirror, then how we see ourselves will reflect on how others see us too.
Many of us have the notion that it takes someone or the material things to make us happy. If only I could be with so and so....If I can win the lottery, then my troubles will go away...If I buy a new car, then people will love and respect me....(reminds you of the what ifs I wrote :-)) These things or person will only provide instant gratification or temporary happiness (conditional). It is not up to someone else to make us happy, it is up to “ME” by loving and accepting who we are as a person.
As you reflect on your life or maybe find yourself in a place of "deja vu", maybe it's your second chance in life to make the right choices. Have you ever had a relationship with someone and moved on and later in life they show up again? It is usually a person that had a significant impact on who you are as a person. That is what I call the circle of life.
When I was young, I had a babysitter named, Hazel. Both my parents worked to make ends meet. I was with Hazel until I was able to stay at home alone. My brothers continued to stay there until it was time for them to move on. The times I visited Hazel were the numbers I could count on one hand. Then one day as I was working as a social work for the elderly population, Hazel's name came up as my client. At one time she served as a babysitter, then I was able to give back by serving to help her with her needs. The full circle of life.
Sometimes the deja vu mean to start over and get a second chance in life. A chance to see if you have learned from your past mistakes. A chance to make the right choices so you are able to love what you see in the mirror.
So what does this have to do with getting a job at Casey’s. It’s finally getting a chance to do what I enjoy doing. Being with people and interacting with them. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed working with my clients in social work. But working at Casey's will enable me to be humble and enjoy relationships with others rather than material things.
If you are going through life that is not where you want to be or going through a deja vu for the second, third or even fourth time in your life, maybe this is your second chance to start over by looking at your situation in a new perspective. Maybe this is your chance to make the right choice that will put you on track to loving that person you see in the mirror.
Why not take the time to look in the mirror and ask yourself questions. No one is looking, no one can hear you. This is the time to answer honestly. When you are able to answer honestly, then pray and listen. Listen to that still small voice. The answer is within you.