Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Remember

 


Today was another one of those days I dread. My nephew, Daniel Leon, passed away. He went suddenly, without warning. We were not ready to say farewell. 

Daniel was an intelligent, fun and entertaining young man. He could make a party out of the simplest gathering. He always had a good story to tell or an intriguing idea to toss into a conversation. He was a great cook and at most of our gatherings he would end up in the kitchen. His life wasn't easy. It was complicated and challenging, but he always had a smile for those around him.

There is a big hole now, where he lived his life. Like so many others we've loved, he has moved on. We've lost too many, more than I can count. But I know with little effort I could recall everyone who has touched my life and then stepped into eternity. 

Every time we lose someone to death, I am confronted with the complexity and mystery of life and death. How can a person's powerful spirit be here one moment and then gone the next?

I am reminded of how precious the time we've each been given is. We dare not take it for granted. And I remember the moments when I allowed small-mindedness, petty complaints or a lack of gratitude to take residence in my thoughts - Such a waste.

The Lord God tells us to love one another. How different our world would be if we could do this one thing. And then to remember to tell one another how much we love them. 

I love you, Daniel. And I already miss your big smile and your powerful bear hugs. 


Grace and peace to you from God,


Bonnie Leon  

Friday, September 09, 2022

New Beginnings

 


An important anniversary passed yesterday. It has been two years since the Archie Creek Fire hit our little town, eating up 72,000 acres in twelve hours, destroying 109 homes, and a total of 856 buildings. It then went on to gobble up 131,542 acres in all. 

When the fire came through, people in this community were devastated, shell-shocked and struggling to get their feet under them. Why would God allow such loss and sorrow?

I can't answer that question, but in all the months since, I've witnessed the goodness of God and of the people here. In the days immediately following the fire people came together, helping one another in any way they could, even giving up trailers for neighbors to live in and donating so much clothing and household goods we had difficulty finding enough space to store the items. People gathered together in the kitchen of one of our churches and prepared food for those in need. And one of our local restaurants served meals free to everyone who walked through their doors. It was remarkable.

Even after two years, help is still being offered.

To this day, we remain a closer community. 

When I look out my windows, I can see my neighbors. Before the fire we all lived tucked away among the forest, and it's been difficult getting used to the change in my view. At first, I felt exposed and uncomfortable, but I'm growing used to it. I will always miss the lush forest that used to surround us, but I like being able to see my neighbors. There's something about looking out at other homes that makes me feel more a part of the world.

A few weeks ago, my husband and I took a drive to look at some of the more devastated areas. We were happy to see that the forest is slowly coming back and there are new homes sprouting up everywhere - beautiful homes. 

So much of what was lost can never be replaced, but we do have a new beginning going on all around us. I was reminded of Romans 8:28, which says, "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them."

The enemy may have meant the storm that came upon us for evil, but God has used it for good. I know there are many who are still heart broken, whose wounds will never fully heal, but with God it is possible for us all to grasp the positive changes that have been bestowed upon us.




When I look out upon my neighborhood, I am reminded of what a blessing it is to be part of this exceptional community. 

So blessed. So loved. So grateful.

Grace and peace to you from God,

Bonnie

Even as I write this, there is a fire north of us near the community of Oakridge. Last I heard, it is blowing up and some are on a level 2 evacuation notice. Please keep the people of Oakridge in your prayers.

Monday, August 08, 2022

A Bright Light

 

While in Las Vegas a few weeks ago I had an interesting encounter. At the end of a long day of therapy, I walked out into the evening heat. I was looking forward to a quick meal and a visit with my husband. A man I'd never met was waiting for AAA to help him with a flat tire. He and the doctor were standing in the parking lot visiting. The doctor introduced us and then went on his way. 

While I waited for my husband and he on AAA, we had a brief chat. I'd never met the man who was also a patient at the clinic. He seemed very nice, and we visited for a few minutes. 

He stopped talking and fixed an intent gaze on me. I couldn't imagine what he was thinking. Then he said something surprising. 

"You're a bright light," he stated while lifting his lips in a whimsical smile.

I didn't know how to respond. A momentary silence settled between us. Finally, I responded, "I'll accept that. Thank you."

His smile grew even warmer.

Just then, my husband arrived, and I said farewell. I never saw him again, but his words have stayed with me. 

A Bright Light.

I can't know for certain what he meant, but wouldn't it be wonderful if I was a bright light in this dark world? A scripture comes to mind, one I've heard many times through the years.

Matthew 5:14 - 16

"You are the light of the world - like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket, instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your Heavenly Father."

I know that I am not always a shining light, in fact, I can sometimes be more of a candle snuffer. But I want to be a light. I want others to know the same Heavenly Father I do.

We all can be a light that reveals the love and hope of our Lord, which is needed especially in these dark and uncertain times. For no matter what evil may befalls us, it is not greater than God nor more powerful than Him. Our Father holds us in His hand, forever loved and protected.


Grace and peace to you from God,


Bonnie Leon

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

LEAP


Life is interesting, isn't it? Sometimes challenges come up that require a leap of faith. I've had to do that a few times over the years, but it's never easy. It kind of feels like I'm launching myself into space without a guide wire to hang onto. One of those leaps confronted me a few weeks ago. And because I decided to leap, I ended up in Las Vegas for more than a week where I received healing treatments that I wasn't completely sure I even believed in.

Since 1991 I've lived with chronic pain that began with a serious auto accident. I have a list of painful conditions that I'll leave for another day, but recently I was diagnosed with of renal cell carcinoma. Ugh. 

I was scheduled for surgery to remove the kidney and the tumor and was all set to get it taken care of, but then I heard about another possible option. It could be like a miracle, not just for my kidney but for the rest of me as well. New clinics popped up all over the country, but there were long waiting lists. When I called the office in Las Vegas I was surprised to discover the clinic had room for me, but I had to go right away. I had only a few hours to decide and when I discovered that making the trip meant I'd have to postpone my surgery by almost two months I was anxious about such a dramatic change of plans. But God was waiting for me when I reached out and took his hand. I knew He had my life under control ... no matter what. I took that leap of faith, my hand firmly in his. 



In recent months I'd been hearing about new technology for health care and hoped that someday I'd be able to give it a try. Well, July 4th was my day, at least that's when I got a green light from the clinic in Las Vegas. On the 5th Greg and I set off for Nevada. That was on a Wednesday and Friday morning I walked into the Las Vegas Holistic Clinic. 

The clinic offers many paths to wellness, but I was there for EES, the Energy Enhancement System. If you'd like to do some personal research on it here is a link,  https://www.eesystem.com

I've never taken part in a healing process like the EESystem. But the science is good, and I am convinced that it works. There are some incredible new technologies being released for the general public.

I can't take the time here to explain the intricacies of the system, but in a nutshell, it creates an atmosphere where our body can do what it was designed to do - heal itself. The poisons on our planet have made it nearly impossible for our bodies to function the way they were intended.

I spent eight days in Las Vegas, and a total of 60 hours using the system. I do not know yet what has happened to my cancer. I had a CT scan this morning and I'll keep you updated. What I do know is that my body underwent many changes. The arthritis in my hands, feet, neck and back is much improved. What had been excruciating is more of a nuisance. My vision, which had become very poor due to macular telangiectasia type 2, is much improved. The vision in my left eye is markedly better and my right eye is coming along. Most of my life, I've been a terrible sleeper and I am now sleeping well and waking feeling good. I have a lot more energy and, my balance is much better. I stopped using my cane two weeks ago. These are just the most obvious changes. There are others.

I believe my healing will continue as long as I treat my body and spirit well. I don't know if this is the answer for others, but it has benefited me. Even if my cancer is unchanged or even if it's worse, I am glad I went to Las Vegas. I learned a great deal. Some is just about practical living, how to take better care of myself (now more motivated). I learned some interesting things about me during the long hours of quiet and prayer. One is that I'm braver than I thought. I can do the hard things. I can take a risk.

While at the clinic I met some remarkable people. I am grateful to them for their kindness and their concern for me and for others.

My message? Sometimes we need to step out of our comfort zones. Life is uncertain and can be downright scary, but if we're to reach out and taste the variety and beauty of life we can't stay locked away in a place where we feel safe.

From time to time I will let you know how my health journey is coming along. And I pray that each of you will embrace a way of living that serves you well and brightens your days with hope and joy.


Grace and peace to you from God,

Bonnie


Saturday, July 02, 2022

You Can Do It!

 

We all have challenges. Granted, some are more difficult than others, but through our lives we're going to experience some tough stuff. 

Gardening is a big part of my life right now. See my smile in the photo. I'm loving it. 

I grew up in a family that gardened. My mother had a gorgeous dahlia garden. People driving by our place would sometimes stop to admire the profusion of flowers and my mother often sent them on their way with a bouquet in hand. That garden gave her such joy.

My father worked hard at his job and when he came home, he went to work in our vegetable garden. We had less than an acre of land but managed to grow enough to feed our family of seven through the year. We worked together planting, harvesting and preserving what we grew. It was hard work, but I have many fond memories of those summer days.

After settling into a family of my own I was drawn back to what I knew when I was young. Over the years, I've made many attempts at raising vegetables. Some years I've had a plentiful crop and some not so plentiful, but I've always enjoyed my time outdoors among the plants.

This year is no exception, but I can't lie, it's getting more difficult. My seventy-year-old body is complaining, actually it's been complaining for many years due to injuries I sustained in an auto accident in 1991. Being active has been taxing for me. Staying busy can hurt, but there is something in me that refuses to give up. Some of the years between the accident and now I've been sluggish and sedentary. It just seemed too hard to do more than was necessary. And as I've aged it's become a bigger obstacle.

Three years ago, I told myself that I wasn't going to allow another day to go by when I wasn't moving. I started taking more steps, finding reasons to walk from place to place. And I began strolling through the beauty of my country neighborhood. When spring came that year, I decided to put in a garden. With the help of my husband, children and grandchildren we created one. 

It wasn't easy. The effort created more pain but getting out in the sun and working in the dirt was good for me. It was such fun to put seeds in the ground and watch them sprout and grow into edible food. It warmed me from the inside out. I had so many fun conversations with my grandchildren and heartfelt conversations with my daughters. 

I treasure those memories. And the people I love most will have those special moments to hold close when I am gone.

I want to encourage you to try harder. Reach for those things you know nurture you. If the challenges in your life have pulled you down, made you want to give up, or to curl up with a blanket in front of the television or a computer, maybe there's a better choice. Maybe it can be different. Better. 

If your challenge is a physical condition you might need to get an okay from your doctor if you want to push a little harder, but if he says okay, then do it. Oftentimes we can do more than we think. Tune out the commercials on television that try to convince us all that we're sick and need more meds. I'm not against medications, but so much of that stuff we see is more about making money than helping the human race.

God gave us the garden, He gave us the earth, He gave us His creation for our benefit. Just taking a walk out in the fresh air with the sky above us and the earth beneath our feet will raise our spirits and feed our soul. Challenging our minds and our bodies makes us stronger.

Sometimes vegging out on the sofa is what we need, but it's not all we need. What is it that you love to do that you've given up on because it seemed too difficult? Pick up again and let it nourish you. 

I can't spend hours in the garden or walk difficult trails through the forest, but I can do some of it. I thank the Lord for spurring me on to do more. And I'm continuing to seek out new delights. 

We have limited days on this planet, let's make the most of them.


Grace and peace to you from God,


Bonnie

Friday, June 17, 2022

For The Children

 


If anyone asked you if you love your child, almost certainly you would say, "Yes. Of course I love my child." And we do. Yet, we sometimes we let them down. 

We can't be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect. It's an impossibility. So I want to say right up front please do not beat yourself up for what you may see as failures. Failure is part of life. It helps us to learn and to grow. However, I encourage you to listen to the Lord. He can change your life and that of a child.

What can we do as parents to nurture and teach our children in the ways of the Lord? How can we fail less?

Children need so much. There is a long list that begins with love and not enough space or time here to cover it all. It would take a book or two or three. And I'm not qualified to write those books. But here is what's on my mind today.

 All this week, our church has been putting on a VBS program for local kids ages 4 - 12. There was a good turnout of children eager for fun, goodies and news about Jesus. There was singing, stories and games. Experiences laid down in a child's memories.

Of course, many weren't there.  I understand extra activities can't always be fit into a parent's schedule, but we need to try ... for the kids. Some children were ill and others had conflicts or were out of town on vacation. There were multiple reasons. But some were not there because they had no one who cared enough to get them there.

Even as I write those words I cringe. It sounds harsh. And maybe it is. I apologize if I'm being unfair. All of that must be between you and God.

 I have a soft spot for VBS. It was part of what motivated me to seek Christ. It planted seeds in my little girl heart. Those seeds remained hidden until I was an adult and sent me in search of my Savior. He was waiting for me and knew I was coming to Him. Just the idea makes me teary and so very thankful for the neighbors who invited me to VBS and who made sure I got there. 

I grew up in a good solid family. So much of who I am is because of the honorable and upright lives of my mother and father. But Jesus wasn't part of our life.

We went to church on an occasional Easter or Christmas, but that was pretty much it. My mother in later years used to tell me of an incident that was wedged in her heart like a thorn. I was about ten years old and had a terrible, tragic kind of day at school. When I came home I was distraught and I asked her if she could tell me how to pray. I needed Jesus. As my mother told the story tears would well up in her eyes. All those years ago, she didn't know how to answer my question. And felt that she had failed me. 

I didn't meet my Lord until I was twenty-three. A long and painful journey led me to Him. Even if my parents had introduced me to Christ as a child I still might have taken that same terrible journey. Only God knows. But I know Him now and I'm thankful for that.

I wouldn't undo my life. It has so much to do with the person I am today. I am imperfect in many ways, but I know my Savior and we're walking the path of life together. Sometimes I think about how wonderful it would have been to grow up in a family that placed God and His Son Jesus at the center of our lives. That would have been a beautiful gift, but that's not how it happened. Yet, God had a plan.

Children don't know that the world is a dangerous place where evil does its best to bring them down. They don't know that satan hates them and longs for their eternal damnation. We want to protect them from the ugliness. We want them to have a beautiful and joyous childhood. We, the parents, grandparents and friends have the opportunity to protect them and teach them of God and His love and of the beautiful world that He created for us. In fact, kids are counting on us to do that.

Are we letting them down?

How many Sundays have we decided that getting ready for church is too much trouble? Or that a special program for the children is too much work? Or we're just too weary to spend time sharing the love of God with the little ones and helping them discover who God is? It is pure joy to experience the happiness of a child who giggles at a frog in their palm or a butterfly on their fingertip. And Bible stories shared and discussed can be riveting, especially when the questions a child asks cut straight to our heart.

What if this is the time, the only time for that child - the one who is counting on you? Will you take a few moments to pray with them, hold them close, or discover God's beauty together, maybe travel to a VBS meeting or children's church while your little one chatters on about the wonders they see in the world?

We can be the difference. There is no greater blessing than to partner with The Father as He draws children close and tells them how much He loves them.

Experience the wonder with them. You will not regret it.


Grace and peace to you from God,


Bonnie Leon

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Brothers

 

A few weeks ago, a band of men in our church headed out into the foothills of the Southern Oregon Coast. They spent four days together at a remote campground.

In the weeks preceding the retreat there was a lot of talk about shooting guns, sleeping in, and kicking back around a campfire while eating roasted meat. All that sounds fun, but I was curious about the real reason most of the men trekked out of town to band together.

My husband has attended many retreats through the years and most often has returned rejuvenate and ready to jump back into life. I asked him about why he was going on this one and after chatting about it I decided it might be fun to send a questionnaire along with the men to see if I could gain more insight. 

I know what women's retreats are generally like. There are activities planned to encourage fellowship between the ladies, good teaching, quiet time allowed for meditation and big chunks of time just for fun. And usually if we have a dedicated hospitality leader the women will likely find a chocolate on their pillows. 

So, what is it the men are looking for? 

The guys were good about answering the questionnaires. They offered me a better understanding. 

In recent years it has been my observation that society has done a great disservice to our men. We have insisted that our guys should be something they are not. And if I deciphered the questionnaires properly it's clear that that is part of reason the men gather. Proverbs 17:17 says, "A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in a time of need." It's not easy to maneuver through this life without good and true friends. Time away, together, encourages bonds to be developed and deepened. It's an opportunity to put down the roots of true and lasting friendships.

A few men mentioned Proverbs 27:17. "As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend." The men are serios about their faith. They recognize the need to be held accountable, which requires true friendship. With the help of others and the Holy Spirit a man will learn what it means to walk humbly and upright before the Lord.

Yes, the guys wanted to have a good time, to kick back, have some delicious and likely unhealthy food, talk about things like cars and football and they did a fair amount of shooting. I even heard that some of the teen boys had a hands-on lesson in how to skin a fox.  Eww ... yeah, I'm a female who doesn't find that appealing. But that's the point ... I'm not a guy. Men need to get away from the daily grind and spend time with other men. It's part of building Godly relationships.

The "fun" activities help to break down barriers and to encourage the men to connect. And then they can get down to what is really important and why they showed up in the first place.

When I went through the questionnaires it was clear, the guys wanted to close the distance between one another and get acquainted on a deeper level. They valued the teaching and personal time with God. They found things to admire in each other and they began to see some of the men as role models. We all need those.

Several men brought their sons. Offering time for fathers and sons without the distraction of cell phones or other devices was appreciated by the dads and I would guess after a bit of grousing, the sons were also glad for the opportunity to disconnect. Creating an opportunity for meaningful interaction cannot be overrated. 

Although the world would like us think that none of this matters to our men they would be dead wrong. The enemy lies to us. We need to stop listening to him. 

Something else happens at these retreats. Men are reminded that it's okay to be men. There is pressure placed on men to be more sensitive, kinder, to be in touch with their feminine side, but maybe we need to rethink this a bit. I do want my husband to be sensitive and kind but I also recognize that he is not me. He's a man. Men think and behave differently than women. And that's how it should be. I Corinthians 16:13-14 says, "Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love."

I think we need to step back a bit and recognize that our guys need to be guys. If they were meant to be women, God would have created them as such. Though I have whined a bit through the years about my man sometimes being too tough, I am thankful he possesses that part of himself that drives him to be strong and protective. Me and the kids have depended on him. We've trusted him to watch out for us. And to be tough when we needed it.

The men won't find a chocolate on their pillow when they turn in at night, but the friendships and valuable conversations, and spiritual growth that takes place on their forays into the forest will stay with them and help them along life's journey. 

Yes, retreats are fun, but they are so much more. The next time you hear of a retreat being organized for the men in your church, encourage the one's you love to join in. They will be happy they took the plunge and so will you.


Grace and peace to you from God,

Bonnie

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